What would JFK have said about the causes of his death?

What would President John F. Kennedy have thought about the enigmatic circumstances of his murder?

Alternative history (courtesy of Stephen King’s book cover)

Fifty years later, I think we don’t ask this question often enough. Instead we argue about what Rachel Maddow and Bill O’Reilly think. Media criticism is important, but it is no substitute for historical analysis. There are certainly other ways to think about the story.

Counterfactually, for example.

Imagine JFK had survived the gunfire in Dealey Plaza. What would he have said about its causes?

Kennedy, of course, did not have time to comment on the gunfire that claimed his life, other than to say, after a bullet struck him in the back, “My God, I’m hit.” But that exclamation illuminated his instantaneous awareness of a lethal situation. JFK had been a soldier/sailor in World War II. Twenty years before he had faced gunfire. He had seen men die from it. He knew that he had been shot. Before he could say anything more another bullet struck him in the head, fatally wounding him.

That was not inevitable.

There is a useful contemporary comparison. In August 1962, President Charles de Gaulle of France survived an attempted assassination by right-wing military officers opposed to his withdrawal from Algeria, a plot imaginatively depicted in the classic book and 1973 movie, “The Day of the Jackal.” If JFK had survived Dallas, he would have certainly tried, a la De Gaulle, to bring to justice those who wanted him dead.

Kennedy had a keen sense of the political forces opposed to his presidency. As a war veteran whose brother had died in combat, he also had a keen sense of the capriciousness of life’s tragedies.

One school of thought (about the only one that both Rachel Maddow and Bill O’Reilly belong to) holds that JFK, the skeptical, Ivy-League educated ironist, would have accepted the proposition that he had been struck down by a small man — “a fame junkie” in the words of Stephen King — a nobody, an isolated sociopath like John Hinckley and Arthur Bremer, a proverbial “lone nut.” JFK often alluded to the possibility of getting shot,  and then (it is said) Lee Oswald did it for no discernible reason. In this view, JFK would have reached the same conclusion as the Warren Commission.

This feels ahistoric to me. JFK also loathed pat answers, complacent thinking and political illusions. JFK had no doubt that his enemies might resort to extra-constitutional measures to block his liberal policies. In the summer of 1962, he told his friend Red Fay that he believed a military coup was possible in America. In a relaxed moment, Kennedy told Fay the circumstances in which he thought it could happen.

If, for example, the country had a young President, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there would be a certain uneasiness. Maybe the military would do a little criticizing behind his back, but this would be written off as the usual military dissatisfaction with civilian control. Then if there were another Bay of Pigs, the reaction of the country would be, ‘Is he too young and inexperienced?’ The military would almost feel that it was their patriotic obligation to stand ready to preserve the integrity of the nation, and only God knows just what segment of democracy they would be defending if they overthrew the elected establishment…

It was a revealing thought. After all, JFK was a young president and he had had a Bay of Pigs. Not long after he confided in Fay, he negotiated a peaceful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, a decision opposed by all of his uniformed advisers. In Miami, his handling of the missile crisis was explicitly condemned as a second Bay of Pigs. In a 1995 book Cuban-American historian Enrique Ros, (father of Miami congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) dubbed the missile crisis, La Segunda Derrota, the second defeat.

Fay’s story has been cited by historian Arthur Schlesinger, and more recently by theologian James Douglass and journalist David Talbot, among others. There is no reason to doubt it and independent evidence that JFK worried about the possibility of a treasonous Pentagon power play.

7 Days in May

The movie JFK wanted the public to see

He encouraged Hollywood friends to produce a movie version of the best-selling novel “Seven Days in May,” about a liberal president facing a rebellion from implacably anti-communist right-wing generals for his willingness to sign a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey, the Washington journalists who wrote the book, based their fictional villain on Gen. Curtis LeMay who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff under JFK and openly criticized his Cuba policy as dangerously weak. The movie was released in February 1964, three months after JFK was killed.

JFK’s understanding of Dallas would have also been informed not only by his tragic sense of history, but also by his dealings with the Pentagon. In the spring of 1963, JFK clashed with the the Joint Chiefs, which opposed his policy of fomenting a rebellion inside Cuba. The generals preferred “engineering an incident” to achieve the U.S. policy goals of overthrowing Castro.

As envisioned by the planners of Operation Northwoods, the top U.S. generals contemplated staging a great crime against a U.S target and deploying undercover CIA personnel to arrange for the blame to fall on the government or supporters of Fidel Castro, thus justifying a U.S. invasion. When Gen. Lemnitzer proposed “creating a plausible pretexts for using force,” JFK bluntly rejected the idea in a tense White House meeting in March 1962. (You can read a revealing account of the meeting here, courtesy of Mary Ferrell.org.)

Given this history, it seems willfully naive to assume that JFK would have automatically subscribed to the never-popular theory that he was attacked by a supporter of Fidel Castro. He would likely have considered the possibility that he was the target of an engineered provocation by enemies on the right seeking to reverse his accomodating policy toward Castro and justify the invasion they had long advocated.

In my view, he probably would have agreed with his widow and brother who concluded within a week of JFK’s death that he was the target of “domestic opponents.” Jackie and Bobby Kennedy’s conspiratorial interpretation of November 22 is not well known. It was first recounted in Timothy Naftali and Aleksander Fursenko’s 1999 book, “One Hell of a Gamble.” I consider this story especially credible because Naftali is NOT a JFK conspiracy theorist. He is the director of the Richard Nixon Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Calif.

Which more likely?  Would JFK have agreed with J. Edgar Hoover, whom he loathed, and Allen Dulles, whom he fired, that Oswald acted alone? Or would he have agreed with his widow and brother that he was killed by enemies on the right?

Of course, the question cannot be answered definitively. Suffice it to say that JFK — the skeptical, Ivy League-educated empiricist — would have considered the question factually and realistically.

 

 

 

 

 

39 comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Excellent post.

    Question: You report as others have that Kennedy said, “My God, I’m hit.” Is the source of this purported statement Roy Kellerman? And if so, do you consider him credible?

    • jeffmorley says:

      I do. Is there some reason I should not?

      • Jonathan says:

        Deep breath.

        If Kennedy said this, the SBT falls apart. The SBT posits the back shot exited the front of Kennedy’s neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Accordingly, Kennedy couldn’t have uttered any words; he would have been rendered speechless.

        I ask about Kellerman’s credibility for two main reasons: 1) Greer’s behavior as limo driver is suspect; and 2) Kellerman did nothing to protect Kennedy once he saw JFK was in peril. Some have argued — with merit, IMO — that Kellerman should have thrown himself across JFK.

        On the other hand, Kellerman’s post-assassination words do not lend support to the SBT, from what I judge.

        • Jonathan says:

          If Kellerman said this….

          • PLV says:

            And Parkland doctors said his larynx were blown out (regardless of which direction the bullet came from), and he likely would not have talked again had he lived.

          • Jason L. says:

            Bob Harris has postulated that there was a shot much earlier than is commonly believed, closer to the time where the limo executed the hairpin turn onto Elm (which would make sense from the attacker point of view). At least one person reported seeing sparks on the ground and it seems possible that a near miss could have showered JFK with pieces of debris, and he could have been reacting to this. This would have been earlier than the SBT shot.

            Still, this would cast serious doubt on the SBT because you still have to account for the Tague shot. It’s hard to do with a shot that hit JFK and Connally and then the head shot. The MC is a pretty low velocity weapon and it seems unlikely that a fragment could behave like that on a hit at such a weird angle.

            You also of course have the Sibert and O’Neil report which is strong evidence that the back and throat wounds were caused by separate bullets anyway.

        • jeffmorley says:

          A couple of reactions

          1) I always thought the most likely scenario was that JFK and Connally were hit by two different shots. If JFK’s exclamation, “My god I’m hit” undermines the SBT, so be it.
          2) If Kellerman failed to act optimally to protect Kennedy, how does that impugn his recollection of what JFK said? One is not related to the other.
          3) If your implication is that Greer and Kellerman were intentionally not protecting JFK, what evidence supports such an allegation? I don’t buy it.

          • Jonathan says:

            My concern is your second point.

            A question mark hangs over Kellerman, IMO. People react differently to be fired upon. I saw this up-close in Viet Nam.

            I was immune to being shot at. Except it never left me.

            Kellerman failed to respond. That I understand, except I never went through his screening.

          • jeffmorley says:

            But how does his failure to act impugn his recollection of what Kennedy said?

            His comment isn’t exculpatory of his performance. If anything, it is an admission against interest because it indicates that Kennedy knew right away he was under fire and said so, while Kellerman wasn’t reacting. If Kellerman was trying to rationalize or coverup his failure he wouldn’t have said anything about what JFK said. If Kellerman made up JFK’s comment, it is hard to think of his motivation. His comment can’t be an effort to confirm or undermine the SBT because that intellectual concoction would not come into existence for five months.

          • John Kirsch says:

            I’ve never been in the military and can’t say how it feels to be fired upon directly. But I think it would be hard to predict how any given person would react to actually being under fire, no matter how much training they might have received.

          • Jonathan says:

            As to your point 3: Greer braked the limo just around the time of the fatal head shot. Apart from many eyewitnesses to this, there is at least one still photo (Moorman?) showing brake lights on. Further, the Z-film shows the Connollys being thrown forward, which is explainable only by sudden braking.

            Greer accelerates out of Dealey Plaza only after he has turned and seen JFK has been shot and only after the final head shot.

            I, like others, consider Greer’s behavior inexplicable, at best.

            As for Kellerman, because I’m a skeptic, I wonder about him; he was Greer’s partner that day. His job was to protect the president. (Clint Hill’s job was to protect Jackie.) OTOH, Kellerman’s statements post-assassination ring true.

            I’m not impugning Kellerman’s credibility. Just seeking others’ informed opinions of same.

          • S.R. "Dusty" Rohde says:

            Jonathon…..let me correct you on the braking of the limo. The braking did not occur until Clint Hills second attempt to get onto the back of the limo. He tried once, slipped and almost fell, then headed back toward the limo…and that is when the brakes were applied. The limo did not come to a complete stop, but very nearly so. The brakes were actually applied twice, closely together.
            Also….if you have a good quality version of the Zapruder film….you can see the brake lights come on at this time.

  2. Jason L. says:

    I have often wondered about the counterfactual, but more along the lines of whether the plotters had a plan B for if JFK survived. I also wonder if they thought about what if they had killed Jackie instead/also, something that was clearly possible if not likely.

    • Jonathan says:

      Your comment resonates with something I’ve thought: Whoever shot Kennedy (a) stopped firing once he was mortally wounded, and (b) did not hit Jackie. That’s pretty good fire discipline.

  3. John Kirsch says:

    This is an incredibly provocative post. One question for Jeff: is it plausible to consider whether the assassination was actually an example of the Northwoods plan being carried out? I know there’s been some controversy over this. Personally I find the Waldron book implausible.

  4. John Kirsch says:

    I wonder whether Kennedy would have agreed with Garrison’s view that the assassination was a “palace coup d’etat” carried out to prevent Kennedy from trying to end, or at least moderate, the Cold War. I’m not 100 percent persuaded of that view. Sometimes I think people make too much of the American University speech, great though it was. I know Garrison is a controversial, contentious figure and I hold no brief for him or against him. But I have to say I was impressed by the logical way he told the story of his (aborted) investigation. I was struck by one of Carl Oglesby’s points in the afterword, which was that the implications of Garrison’s probe — that the government itself lack legitimacy, that hidden elements can assassinate the nation’s elected leader — are too disturbing for many people to contemplate. But similar events have happened in other countries (sometimes because of our actions). What logical reason is there to believe that such things can’t happen here?

  5. leslie sharp says:

    Kennedy is said to have kept his friends close and his enemies closer, a viable strategy until it doesn’t work. I wonder how comfortable he was dealing with former and future captains of industry within his cabinet, placed there on the recommendation of among others, Robert Lovett, Yale classmate of John McCloy, who opted out of the cabinet to remain in the family firm of Brown Brothers Harriman. Kennedy was no fool, but he was also practical and certainly under the influence of his father the first two years who most likely would have felt that they had finally been invited into the Great Game.

    I’ve read that Kennedy’s final premonition of his own death occurred in Ft. Worth. If premonition is informed by the subconscious, he had every reason to sense that going to Dallas would be a risk. There was no city in the United States that embodied more right wing thinking than Dallas.

    As one sound example: William Criswell, (aside from the black border campaign preceeding Kennedy’s trip) was a strong supporter of Rockefeller’s fundamentalist Summer Institute of Learning (SIL) which functioned primarily in Latin America and thru which the CIA operated frequently (see Colby & Dennett, “Thy Will Be Done”). Criswell led a very large flock of ultra conservative Southern Baptists that influenced most elections and decisions in the city at the time.

    Combine that religious zeal and blatant racism with the economic influence of the Texas oil industry and the emerging banking empires based in Dallas, the military-related industries headquartered in or represented within close proximity, the right-leaning universities, and the strong support for John Birch philosophy with the gun toting, weapons dealing Minutemen on the front lines and you had the quintessential right wing community.

    Where do Allen Dulles, James Angleton, Richard Helms, David Phillips, William Harvey, et al fit into this dynamic other than recognizing opportunity? The Torbitt Document addresses the concern that well-meaning conservatives would be accused of the assassination. But The Torbitt Document, penned by a lawyer from Waco – home of Baylor University – has finally been exposed (reference Linda Monor’s excellent expose.)

    A quick fact check: Joe Jr. did not actually die in combat. The current story says that he was on an exploratory mission involving heavy explosives which detonated prematurely. However, in a (now buried) file of mine, a source stated that it was an experimental plane carrying extra fuel and that Joe volunteered. It was also reported that Elliott Roosevelt was in a recon plane following Joe when the plane exploded. That too is now being questioned. I wish my uncle were still alive so that I could ask him as he flew with Roosevelt.

    • PLV says:

      I happened to read something about Joe Jr.’s fate last night. As you say, his plane was loaded with heavy explosives to destroy the Great Gun emplacements the Germans were building (and eventually abandoned) near Calais. Joe’s plane exploded upon take-off. The piece I read said that Joe was actually supposed to bail out after aiming the plane at the targets like a la a Kamikaze pilot.

    • John Kirsch says:

      Just to give some limited insight into the minds of the Texas rich. When I was a reporter at the paper in Bryan-College Station, Texas, I once had a phone interview with Bum Bright, who in 1990 was listed as one of the richest people in Texas. (He once owned the Dallas Cowboys.) He was famous for his financial support of Texas A&M, which I covered for the local paper and one night I interviewed him about a huge sum he had donated to the school. (I forget how much but it was in the millions). He made the amount of money involved sound like walking around money. Couldn’t have been nicer or more gracious. He was one of the co-sponsors of the infamous black-bordered newspaper ad attacking President Kennedy. The full-page ad ran the day of the president’s visit to Dallas.

  6. Shane McBryde says:

    Gen. Lansdale’s memo summarizing a meeting with President Kennedy at which the “Guidelines” for overthrowing Castro’s regime are discussed seems to assume another attempt, perhaps more overt than the previous one, to invade Cuba with U.S. military force. According to the memo Kennedy puts the kibosh on discussing a military invasion, however it’s clear from the memo the generals persist.

    The memo describes General Lemnitzer telling Kennedy about military contingency plans to invade, and then begins describing plans it had for, “creating plausible pretexts to use force,” by staging attacks in the U.S. or South America and then blaming Cuba. Kennedy of course is quick to shut down that line of discussion.

    But, clearly this idea of creating a “pretext” for invading Cuba was predominant among the military types of that era. It certainly seems entirely plausible that the Bay of Pigs was at its core an attempt at creating just such a pretext. With all this in mind isn’t it plausible that the Cuban Missile Crisis was created to some degree as nothing more than a “pretext to use force?”

    Kennedy of course, again refused to take the bait. But, after having exerted all that manpower, put in all that time, and spent all that money on theses plans Kennedy, twice in as many years now, failed to take advantage of these pretexts to use force. Clearly he was not interested in ordering a U.S. military invasion of Cuba. That must have struck those generals as down right treasonous.

    • Shane McBryde says:

      The meeting is referenced and linked in Jeff’s post above. It took place March 16th of 1962, approximately 7 months prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  7. In April, 2009, I interviewed Bobby Ray Inman at his offices in Austin, TX. Inman happens to live up the street from me.

    Inman, who spent 25 years at high levels in US intelligence, told me that if we ever had a coup in America it would occur just like the movie “Seven Days in May.”

    Inman also told me that he would “take to his grave” his conviction that Fidel Castro was behind the JFK assassination.

    Inman is former director of the Council on Foreign Relations and he is personal friends with the Clintons and the Bushes. (I think GHW Bush is perp in the JFK assassination.)

    From the notes of my interview with Inman: “He told me that Castro knew in advance about the plans for the Bay of Pigs Invasion and that if Castro had penetrated that, then surely he would know of Robert Kennedy’s plans to assassinate him with Operation Mongoose, the CIA and the Mafia. So Inman says that Casto killed JFK before the Kennedys could kill him. The part that Inman could not figure out was the role of Jack Ruby, except as to speculate that the Mafia was using Ruby as a way of covering for the Kennedys, in case any word would leak out from Oswald regarding the Kennedys’ ties to the Castro assassination plans or the mafia.”

    “Inman talked about Casto going to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico and said that Oswald had made a trip to Cuba. I asked if Oswald were US military intelligence and Inman said no he was not.
    I told Inman that I thought that Lyndon Johnson was involved in the JFK assassination and he said, no, LBJ was not involved because the Kennedy’s had shut him completely out of anti-Castro operations.
    I asked Inman if Edward Lansdale or David Atlee Phillips were involved in the JFK assassination, and he said no, they were involved in anti-Castro efforts.”

    Inman’s theory fits precisely in with the same kind of garbage that Lyndon Johnson pushed early and hard in the aftermath of the JFK assassination: Castro killed JFK before the Kennedys could kill him.

    US intelligence has also hopped on that pony and they are going to ride off into the sunset on it.

  8. Hans Trayne says:

    Had JFK survived the attack on him I believe he would have wrestled with how to establish himself as boss of a corrupt government (with elements of it trying to kill him and the changes he made to it) and it’s top military leaders hell bent on war with Cuba and Viet Nam versus disclosing to the American citizens and the global public that he was barely keeping his head above the cesspool swirling below him.
    I don’t believe he would have relied on Hoover to sell him the ‘Oswald snuck a rifle into his work’ story. I believe he would have recognized Operation Northwoods in action with he being the target. I suspect a lot of Pentagon heads would have rolled. I doubt he would place himself & his wife in harm’s way via motorcades after the fact and instead would have relied primarily on TV to talk to the US citizens.
    If anything, the wanted for treason leaflets told him he was in a battle with forces that he could not possibly win. People loyal to Allen Dulles that owed him their careers, the houses they lived in, the cars they drove, the food they ate, the clothes they wore, their kids’ higher education would not sleep until JFK received “an eye for an eye” and I believe JFK recognized this. He might have even resigned and gone to live in another country and raised his kids there.

    • leslie sharp says:

      During his last visit to Ireland, Kennedy said that his desire would be to return as Ambassador after his presidency.

      I am struck by the clear and succinct description of the fundamental, practical circumstances of those beholden to Allen Dulles. Social engineers may have advised the plotters on the reactions they could anticipate by a majority of government employees in particular. It has always been sad to me that more people whom I would think of as “on the inside” did not revolt.

      Also, how similar is the assassination, on reflection, as that of the attempt to unseat Roosevelt which was only thwarted by the wisdom and courage of Smedley Butler, assuming the story is true?

      One last response: could the Warren Caster episode on Wednesday, November 20, 1963 have played a role in getting the rifle into the building?

  9. Regarding Gen. Edward Lansdale who was identified as present at TSBD in the infamous 3 tramps photo by two of his peers Col. Fletcher Prouty Gen. Victor “Brute” Krulak… did you know that Lt Col. Oliver North actually *modeled* himself after Gen. Lansdale and actually is on the record as saying he was “Lansdalized?”

    It’s true. Not only that there is a picture taken in the mid 1980′s of Gen. Ed Lansdale with Oliver North and other Iran-Contra players.

    So you have the “out of control” foreign policy of the 1960′s (Operation Northwoods) meeting the “out of control foreign policy” of the 1980′s. Oliver North probably came across Lansdale years before in Vietnam, probably learning tradecraft at his feet.

    Oliver North also had a caper in the mid 1980′s when he tried to blame drug smuggling on the Sandinistas while at the same time North, the CIA, the Bushes, Bill Clinton and the Nicarguan contras were engaged in *epic* drug smuggling. North’s ploy was a textbook play right out of Operation Northwoods.

    Some of the exact same players in the JFK assassination show up in Watergate and then later during the 1980′s Iran-Contra.

    Here is a book on Gen. Edward Lansdale: http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lansdales-Cold-Culture-Politics/dp/1558494642/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1364527007&sr=8-2-fkmr0&keywords=ed+lansdale+nashtal

    • leslie sharp says:

      RM: on anther thread I was just speaking of James Steele, quite possibly our “real time” Landsdale and North who was outed several years ago and most recently has been the center of an expose focused on his unofficial activities in Iraq. I was mentioning that he now lives in Bryan-College Station (last time I checked at least), home of the GHWBush Library at A&M where Robert Gates served as president after leaving the CIA (I should stop to confirm that it was CIA rather than Defense, for accurate timeline.)

      • re: James Steele, from what I googled: “A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq.”

        Web link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/mar/06/james-steele-america-iraq-video

      • John Kirsch says:

        BTW: After leaving the Bush library, Gates became president of A&M itself.

        • leslie sharp says:

          Yes, and that was what I intended to indicate. In fact I didn’t recall that he headed the library before he became president of the university.

      • John Kirsch says:

        I can proudly claim to having come close to physical eviction from the Bush library at A&M. After I had spent some time in the waiting room, a large, fit man appeared in front of me and assured me that either he would physically remove me or I would leave on my own. I left on my own. When I was there, A&M and Bryan-College Station were known as places where members of the national security state went to cool their heels and await further assignment. It was like a holding pen. I have to give Gates credit. On the night I heard he had gotten the job as head of the Bush library, he returned my call from Ireland, where he was vacationing. And he made himself available for interviews. And he cleaned house at A&M, which badly needed it after the Bonfire disaster.

        • leslie sharp says:

          That explains Steele’s presence, unless he is a native of the area as well.

          Robert Gates withdrew his nomination as CIA Director amidst allegations of involvement in Iran-Contra, although no warrants were issued against him. James Steele was directly involved with Oliver North in the operation.

          In the midst of Iran Contra, Saddam Hussein was receiving cluster bombs (via a Chilean arms manufacturer) developed from International Signal technology . It was during this exact period that Bobby Ray Inman left government service and became president of a division of Austin-based military contractor Tracor, and was proxy director of International Signal whose president James Guerin was later charged with selling arms to South Africa – contrarvening US policies against apartheid. Beginning in 2011, Inman served on Eric Prince’s Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.

          Reference, Gates vacationing in Ireland: It should be noted that Shannon Airport, Co. Clare, Ireland has served as a refueling and flight service base for CIA rendition sites. Richard Helms, and/or his subordinates spent time in Ireland while he was Ambassador to Iran. Tom Corcoran, former CEO of GeminiAirCargo – owner of equipment involved in rendition – sits on the board of Aer Lingus and has long been closely associated with the Carlyle Group.

          A pattern of privatization of military operations emerges through tracking these men, and in some instances, the strategic importance of Ireland surfaces.

          link to Guardian expose on Steele:
          James Steele: America’ s mystery man in Iraq – video – The Guardian
          http://www.guardian.co.uk › World news › Iraq war: 10 years onMar 6, 2013 – Watch a full-length documentary on how General David Petraeus, commander of multinational forces in Iraq, was linked to special forces …

    • My post should read “So you have the “out of control” foreign policy of the 1960′s (Operation Northwoods, JFK assassination)…”

  10. common sense says:

    JFK never spoke after the first shot. Nor did he ever breathe. The House Committee review of the X-Rays revealed a cervical vertebral body fracture entirely consistent with a shock cone sufficient enough to traumatize the spinal cord and stop phrenic nerve impulses to the diaphragm. As such JFK was essentially a quad after the first shot, the arm movements being reflective of that spinal injury. It was a fatal shot; JFK would have died of respiratory failure before reaching the hospital. Neither Mrs. Kennedy,nor the Governor ,nor his wife heard Kennedy say anything after the first shot.

  11. Eric Hollingsworth says:

    I think the first thing JFK would have done would have been to assure the world that the U.S. military was still under civilian control, so the Soviets wouldn’t get spooked and launch a first strike. Even if it meant covering up the plot and letting the conspirators walk free.

    Then, I think he would have sent subtle signals to the politically astute that the U.S. wasn’t going to radically change direction in its policies of rapprochement.

    After that, I expect there would have been a series of covert reprisals, and threats of exposure to keep the conspirators in line.

    The purpose of all of this would have been to enable an RFK presidency unencumbered with the opposition that had plagued JFK.

    • leslie sharp says:

      EH: You bring up a significant point. How threatening was the potential dynasty? RFK, Ted, sons of JFK, RFK, and Ted. Over a century, there could have been a series of 2-term presidencies.

  12. That JFK could have survived Dealey Plaza is certainly a possiblity if SS had been on the back fender and reacted immediately after the first shot, or if Jackie had recognized JFK was hit and pulled him down before the fatal head shot.

    It’s hard to believe however, that as implied by someone earlier, if Dealey Plaza was a very well planned covert op, other assassins were waiting down the street to ensure JFK did not leave Dallas alive.

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