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.
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.”
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.