Why The JFK Assassination Still Matters

Discussion of the Week
Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The media coverage leading up to it has largely missed the significance of the tragedy. It has instead separated into two main categories: adoring the Camelot image of the Kennedy family and the celebrity side of JFK himself, or offering the official Oswald-acted-alone conclusion of the Warren Report. The former is unrelated to today’s important anniversary and could have been run at any time. The latter is certainly wrong.

The primary significance of this travesty was never about JFK the man. It was not even about who actually orchestrated the assassination. Fifty years later, the reason it’s still important is that it’s one of only a few incidents illustrating clearly that the people you think are in charge of the country, are not.

While nobody knows exactly who killed JFK, serious students of the subject know that it was not Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, as the official Warren Commission Report contends. There are books filled with reasons to dismiss the Warren Report, but the easy one that even casual observers of the Zapruder film should understand is that Oswald shot from a location behind the president, but the fatal shot to the president came from the front as evidenced by his head snapping back and to the left. Heads shot from behind do not move backward; they move forward. It was not a bullet from a gun fired by Oswald that killed JFK. If you read just one book on this and other reasons to dismiss the Warren Report as a whitewash, make it Best Evidence by David S. Lifton.

Getting people to accept the absurdity of the lone gunman theory is hard when media such as 48 Hours and The New York Times continue supporting it. It’s even harder to accept that dismissing the Warren Report is not synonymous with knowing who killed the president. We don’t know exactly and probably never will. That does not prevent us from drawing important conclusions that help citizens keep government in perspective.

Start by asking who benefited from Kennedy’s murder. Mainly, the intelligence community and military industrial complex (MIC) that President Eisenhower warned against. They embarrassed Kennedy and the nation when they bungled the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, an operation the CIA began planning during the Eisenhower administration. It wanted Fidel Castro out of power and to establish a non-communist government. When this failed, the next opportunity to attack Cuba was the Cuban Missile Crisis, sparked by an American U-2 spy plane photographing the preparation of nuclear missile sites in Cuba by the Soviet Union in October 1962. The military wanted an all-out invasion risking a nuclear war, but Kennedy resisted and eventually prevailed through diplomatic means.

He also began speaking in peaceful overtones about the Soviet Union and the Cold War. He encouraged the reconsideration of stereotypes and urged a non-confrontational allowance for diversity in the world. He established a teletype “Hotline” between the Kremlin and the White House and signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in July 1963. One month prior to signing it, he delivered one of his most memorable messages in a speech at the American University titled A Strategy of Peace: “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” In October 1963, Kennedy issued National Security Action Memorandum 263 discussing “the implementation of plans to withdraw” troops from Vietnam. As far as the military was concerned, this guy had to go. The following month, he was gone.

The war in Vietnam accelerated into the calamity it’s remembered as today, but the pointless wars didn’t stop there, did they? Presidents following Kennedy have continued the pointless wars that seem to have MIC profits as their primary goal. When people as wildly different as George W. Bush and Barack Obama pursue roughly the same senseless military adventurism overseas, you know it’s a systemic problem. Guess when it asserted its chokehold on government? Fifty years ago today.

Not a single president has dared resist it since, and probably none ever will. The perpetrators of the Dallas murder saw to it that all concerned knew the locations of uncrossable lines. They killed Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968 and produced an Oswald equivalent patsy named James Earl Ray. King opposed the Vietnam War and had called the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” They killed Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968. RFK carried the flag of liberalism and looked likely to win the Democratic nomination for president that year. While serving as a U.S. Senator from New York, he championed minorities and wanted to stop the escalation of the Vietnam War.

Americans are relegated to seeing their tax dollars fund military spending of nearly $1 trillion per year when including off-budget allocations to it, such as the CIA, NSA, past war debt, and so on. By comparison, Russia spends less than $100 billion. US military spending alone accounts for some 40 percent of global military expenditures. The country controls more than 700 bases worldwide and now has a sprawling network of spy agencies that infringe ever more on the privacy of its own citizens.

Such costly militarism harms the home front. The U.S. is ranked 17th among nations in education, 26th in infant mortality, and 37th in life expectancy and general health, but first in war.

Meanwhile, how’s the economy been for the average citizen? Consider testimony delivered last week to the Senate Banking Committee by Federal Reserve Chair nominee Janet Yellen. She said that the widening gap between the haves and have-nots is “a problem that really goes back to the 1980s, in which we have seen a huge rise in income inequality … For many, many years the middle and those below the middle [have been] actually losing absolutely and, frankly, a disproportionate share of the gains — it’s not that we haven’t had pretty strong productivity growth for much of this time in the country — but a disproportionate share of those gains have gone to the top ten percent and even the top one percent. So this is an extremely difficult and, to my mind, very worrisome problem.”

Including off-budget expenses, the intelligence networks and military consumed more than 60 percent of federal discretionary spending last year. This misallocation of government resources is one part of what’s gone wrong for ordinary citizens.

The wars continue as presidents pass through the White House while the real powers remain in place behind the scenes. It’s why even supposedly peace-loving presidents like Clinton and Obama order as many strikes as the supposedly hawkish presidents like Bush I and Bush II. Presidents come and go, but the military rolls on. A friend of mine who is a retired professor and expert on the JFK assassination and its aftermath told me that Americans are “just not the type of people to revolt, and so those who carried out the assassination(s), those who covered them up, and those who benefit today — even after all the principals in those murders have passed on — continue to exist with impunity.”

When you vote for a president, you’re not voting for much. This became as clear as a frontal shot to the head 50 years ago today, and understanding it is why the assassination of JFK still matters. The official explanation for who killed him is absurd, as well it should be given the officials truly in charge.

Jason Kelly

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  1. SL
    Posted June 3, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Jason – not sure if you’ll read this since this is an old discussion but I was wondering if you will give your thoughts about the big banks pleading guilty on rigging the currency market that was in the news a couple of weeks ago. I was kind of surprised you didn’t mention it in any of your recent letters.

    When I read about it, I was furious to find out that no one was going to jail for the crime. All they had to do was pay a fine which amounts to chump change to them. These were the same banks that were bailed out by us not too long ago, were they not?

    As a person who likes to dig a little deeper, I read about the bailouts of 2008 again. Then, something led me to read about the Federal Reserve. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t know it’s a private institution. There’s nothing “federal” about it. But the surprising thing was that the big banks are the ones in charge of that entity. And as I learned more about them, I felt a sense of hopelessness.

    The reason why I wrote my comment here is because I found out JFK actually tried to transfer the power of issuing money from the Fed back to the US government with his executive order 11110. I haven’t read much about that but the point is he is the one and only president who tried. I’m not sure if this was another reason for his assassination but he was definitely a president with radical ideas. I mean, the presidents we have these days are just puppets. I feel like whoever I vote for doesn’t really matter.

    Will we ever see a day where we the people control our own destiny or will our futures be forever controlled by these criminals?

    • Posted July 10, 2015 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      At last, I saw your comment.

      I think it’s a travesty that no American bankers are doing jailtime for their repeated offenses at the expense of the American economy and taxpayers, and in some ways the world economy.

      To your final question, I’m afraid I have a cynical response: No, we will not see a day when ordinary people are in control. We never have in history and we won’t in modern times or in the future. People with money will always have greater influence no government. Period. Money speaks louder than picket signs.

      I just assume that attempts to change the nature of big banking will eventually fail, that any new regulations will be undone with time and money, and that crises will continue forever.

      The way the banks have chewed through reforms since 2009 has been sobering. It was recently revealed that they offer special bonuses to officers willing to serve a stint in government to angle for the bank’s interests, bonuses to the tune of $1.4M and up. This is what ragtag groups of “concerned citizens” are up against? Good luck.

  2. William
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Jason needs to watch the terrific episode of the PBS program NOVA entitled “Cold Case JFK” that was broadcast in November of 2013. It is an excellent defense of the Warren Commission. I can’t believe that Jason could be a conspiracy theorist. The evidence supports the conclusion of the Warren Commission that found that Oswald acted alone. The evidence DOES NOT support the conspiracy that Jason proposes. Everyone should watch the NOVA episode. It is currently available to watch at pbs.org . Please watch it Jason !!! You should also read Gerald Posner’s excellent book “Case Closed” which was published in 1993. Oswald acted alone. CASE CLOSED

    • Eric W.
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I have seen “Cold Case JFK” program that William refers to, and I agree that it is an important work. If you have trouble viewing it on PBS, it is also available on YouTube with no signing up required.

    • Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Here’s “Cold Case JFK,” which you can expand to watch full screen:

      I watched the entire program, and find that it does not establish that Oswald acted alone. Detailed books are more informative than are short TV programs of this variety. The book I recommend in the article, Best Evidence, will enable you to see through seemingly convincing re-creations such as this one by Nova when you notice that the photo presented of the president’s head is not the actual autopsy photo, among other issues. This matters because the actual photos show much less of the back of the head being intact. More below.

      Other easily-spotted problems with this program include:

      <> There are too many bullet fragments on display to have originated from the few the show claims to have been fired by Oswald.

      <> If the president’s head moving backward was caused by the jet pressure of a shot from behind exiting the front of the skull, why did so much brain tissue splash backward onto police motorcycles? The car wasn’t moving quickly enough for wind to explain this. It was backspray from a front-originated shot, as police testimony corroborates.

      <> If so few bullets were involved, how do we account for marks on the sidewalk and the fragment that hit James Tague? The Zapruder film makes it plain that the president and governor were not hit by the same bullet, and the governor’s testimony backs this up. Besides, the mark on the curb by Tague was not made by a copper-jacketed bullet like the Carcano rounds allegedly fired by Oswald. There were multiple shooters involved, and Oswald probably wasn’t even one of them.

      <> One of the program’s main points is that a full-metal-jacketed bullet such as the round fired from the Carcano rifle could enter and exit the president’s body cleanly and then injure the governor with a wobble in its trajectory. This is to establish that a single bullet could have caused several of the wounds between the two bodies, thereby explaining away the need for additional shots. However, damage to the president’s skull indicates that he was killed by an exploding round, not an intact, barely marred one of the type conveniently found on the stretcher.

      <> Every doctor said the right rear of the president’s head was blown out, which is inconsistent with the smooth Carcano round entry from the rear. The blowout at the rear explains the material that the first lady was attempting to collect off the back of the car, and the material that spewed backward onto police motorcycles.

      Anybody wanting to study the assassination further should read Best Evidence, Not in Your Lifetime, and other in-depth books. They teach much more than TV programs teach.

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      From the professor:

      Anyone can do the math: At minimum, the president was hit three times, by three rounds — back, head, and throat. Then you have Gov. Connally hit at least once (some say a separate round to the wrist; I am unconvinced, but admit the possibility).

      Next there is the Tague fragment, from a round that went over and past the limousine. That makes no fewer than five shots. Add in the strike to the rear center of the limo windshield frame and you have six.

      Then there were ear and eye witnesses who claim there was at least one other miss (one I say was intentional, to draw attention to the southeast window of the TSBD). So now we’re up to seven. I don’t care how many shells Oswald supposedly brought in (it was three, if he brought them), and I don’t care if he had twelve seconds (nine maximum, according to a frame count of the Z-film and allowing for a brief time when Zapruder stopped filming).

      This dog won’t hunt, and it never has.

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