Ideological politics and the JFK conspiracy question

This 2014 Daily Caller piece about Jack Ruby, like the death of Richard Schweicker, reminds me that one of the lamest memes in the discussion of the causes of the assassination of President Kennedy is the claim that the question of conspiracy is actually a left-wing plot to undermine America.

The facts say otherwise.

Richard S. Schweiker

Sem Richard S. Schweiker, Warren Commission critic (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Patrick Howley’s take on Ruby, whether you agree with it or not, bears no trace of left-wing heresies. Schweicker, who famously said “the Warren Report has collapsed like a house of cards,”  was no leftist. He was a moderate Republican who would have been Ronald Reagan’s running mate if Reagan had won the 1976 Republican presidential nomination.

Then there’s Roger Stone, famed hard-right political strategist, who blames  the crime on his bete noir LBJ (without much solid evidence in my view, but that’s another discussion). Is Stone the dupe of leftists out to malign America? I doubt it.

The most sophisticated variant of the argument comes from independent scholar Max Holland, who argues that popular suspicions of CIA involvement were wickedly ginned up by the Soviet KGB. Writing for the CIA’s historical journal in 2007, Holland argued that a 1967 story in a communist-influenced Italian newspaper was the work of  a KGB disinformation program, which influenced New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who then blamed the CIA for JFK’s death. Garrison, in turn, inspired Oliver Stone, whose hit movie “JFK” (it is said) misled America. Therefore America’s enemies used “the lie that the CIA was complicit in JFK’s death to unjustly traduce the agency.”

Roger Stone

Roger Stone, left-wing dupe?

It s a rickety argument undermined by many realities. In fact, the first JFK conspiracy scenario was published two days (not three years) after JFK’s assassination. The theory came from a CIA- (not KGB-) funded group and it blamed Fidel Castro, not the CIA. So any discussion of the influence of intelligence agencies on the JFK controversy ought  to address these facts. Holland and his editors at the CIA neglected to do so.

Garrison may have exploited conspiratorial suspicions when he launched his unsuccessful prosecution of CIA informant Clay Shaw, but he did not create them. Suspicions of conspiracy ran rampant from the start in Dallas itself, one of the most conservative cities in the country. A poll of Dallas residents in late November 1963 found 66 percent of respondents believing that there had been a plot to kill Kennedy. Those weren’t just  liberals talking.

And so it is 52 years later. Skepticism about the official story can be found across the political spectrum. That skepticism is founded not in any one ideology, but in a pattern of facts that still concern Americans, left, right, and center.

7 comments

  1. David Regan says:

    Castro and the Soviets immediately smelled a rat and saw through the plotters facade of setting up a Communist sympathizer as the lone assassin:

    “Now,” Fidel said, “they will have to find the assassin quickly, but very quickly, otherwise, you watch and see, I know them, they will try to put the blame on us for this thing.” The next word came through, in effect, that the assassin was a young man who was a member of the “Fair Play for Cuba Committee,” that he was an admirer of Fidel Castro. Fidel declared: “If they had had proof they would have said he was an agent, an accomplice, a hired killer. In saying simply that he is an admirer, this is just to try and make an association in people’s minds between the name of Castro and the emotion awakened by the assassination. This is a publicity method, a propaganda device.” — When Castro Heard the News, by Jean Daniel; 7-Dec-63

    6-22-99; During the meeting of the Presidents of Russia and the USA in Cologne, Boris Yeltsin presented Bill Clinton with a very valuable gift – a file of documents from Russian archives concerning the murder of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Among them, was a startling letter dated 11-26-63 from Ambassador Gromyko to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

    Secret, Copy No 1

    Central Committee of the CPSU

    26th November 1963

    Must be returned to the general department of the Central Committee of the CPSU

    The American Press is spreading various slanderous allegations about some “connections” between Oswald and the Soviet Union and Cuba. Oswald, accused of assassinating the President of the USA J. Kennedy, was later killed under mysterious circumstances. Some representatives of the American press are trying to justify their insinuations referring to the fact that Oswald had been in the Soviet Union from October 1959 till June 1962.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR and the KGB of the Council of Ministers of the USSR have prepared a statement for the Soviet press with the purpose of exposing these allegations of the American press. The draft for this statement was based on the fact that now, after Oswald has been killed himself, the real face of those circles who are responsible for the killing of President Kennedy, and who are now trying to cover their tracks, is more evident. The question of expediency of such publication requires special consideration taking into account subsequent development of the situation in connection with investigation of the circumstances of Kennedy’s assassination.

    If American authorities contact the Soviet Embassy in Washington with a request to supply them with some information regarding Oswald’s stay in the Soviet Union, they can be provided with a relevant reference document relating to it.

    The draft of the statement attached.

    Asking for your consideration.

    25 November 1963
    A. Gromyko
    No 03381 /GS
    V. Semichastni

  2. Ramon F Herrera says:

    Are we now allowed to mention the partisan aspect?

    The policy of JFKFacts on that category of posts is inconsistent at best.

  3. Philip Zozzaro says:

    It is easy to paint someone with the brush of conspiracy. Your website has been even-handed with the skeptics of the Kennedy Assassination. Two of the major investigations into the assassination were hobbled by conflicts of interest of investigating parties. The Warren Commission relied on a lot of the evidence gathered by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI which was derelict in its duty to stop the assassination and only gave information that didnt reflect poorly on them. Allen Dulles ran cover for the CIA in any role they had. The HSCA was handicapped by infighting over head roles (Gonzalez Vs. Sprague), budgetary concerns and then you had the CIA liaison to the committee being George Joannides, who ran point on the further cover-up. The fingerpointing of left vs right just continues the smokescreen. A moment in history such as JFKs assassination needs to bring both sides together in finding truth.

  4. Gerald Campeau says:

    Its a fact that Richard Schweicker gave only 60 min to Boris Pash’s testimony and Church committee as whole gave less then 2 weeks to investigate Pash’s PB/7 role in Assassinations and Kidnapping’s and his job as Army Counter Intelligence Chief for USSR well LHO was in Soviet Union was totally ignored.
    HSCA as far as we know did not investigate Pash and Robert Ellis Jones testimony was given a pass to his Truthfulness about his carrier in Army and Armies investigation of LHO and its lies about Oswald’s ties with Cuba.

  5. pat speer says:

    It’s absolutely true that the first conspiracy-theorists were right-wingers. While many left-wing pundits and politicians decried the climate of hate in Dallas, which (perhaps unfairly) suggested right-wing involvement in the shooting, very few, if any, came right out and said this was a right-wing plot. Not so, Major General Thomas Lane. His 11-25-63 column on the shooting–written just after Ruby shot Oswald–came right out and said they were communists who were working together. Lane surmised that, as “the assassination of President Kennedy would jeopardize larger communist interests”, Oswald was most probably not shooting at Kennedy. He then asserts that”the assassin had orders to shoot Gov. Connally and that he continued to fire until he did so.” Lane then concludes: “In summary, the available information suggests that the communist underground directed the assassination of Gov. Connally; that Lee Harvey Oswald bungled the job and killed President Kennedy by mistake; and that Jack Ruby murdered Oswald to protect himself and the communist underground.”

    And this was not an anomaly. This kind of stuff was published for months, years even.

    • “And this was not an anomaly. This kind of stuff was published for months, years even.”~Pat Speer

      Yes, this was a full frontal modified limited hangout. “The commies did it meme” that LBJ hoisted upon Earl Warren to get him to chair his bogus committee. A great red herring ruse for the crucial first years after the Report was released.
      \\][//

  6. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Mr. Speer, you have much more knowledge than I of the assassination overall. I defer to it but would like to point out regarding the right wingers included the Birchers, those who spat on LBJ and Lady Bird and Stevenson or who pushed or hit with sings, Harrison LLLafyette Hunt (not just the other Hunt, E Howard of CIA fame),
    Goldwater, LBJ……….

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