Latest talks from JFK scholars: Kaiser on organized crime and the assassination

Historian David KaiserHistorian David Kaiser makes the case in this C-SPAN video that organized crime bosses Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante were behind JFK’s assassination.

Personally I don’t agree with Kaiser’s interpretation but he is an excellent historian whose book The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy (published by Harvard University Press in 2009) contains much valuable original research. Of all the authors who have argued for the “Mafia did it” theory, he is the most capable.

Kaiser spoke at the Mid-America Conference on History, held in Springfield, Missouri in September 2012. Other historians who spoke at the conference include Gerald McKnight of Hood College, and David Wrone of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Watch C-SPAN’s coverage of the entire JFK panel, including audience discussion.


11 thoughts on “Latest talks from JFK scholars: Kaiser on organized crime and the assassination”

  1. Ramon F Herrera

    I have 2 main problem with Prof. Kaiser’s explanation.

    (1) He may know a lot of history but little psychology. Lee WAS NOT the kind of person who is motivated by money. He wanted to do important things and BE RESPECTED (something he never had). Lee was a leftie, and so was JFK (in a sense). Lee demonstrated the ability to shoot FAR RIGHT WINGERS. The last thing you do if you want respect and admiration is to kill a beloved president.

    (2) His theory has a huge hole: How come Prof. Kayser discovered all this, and the CIA and FBI have not discovered it yet?

  2. This has been brought to my attention. I have two comments.

    First of all, the idea that law enforcement dropped neutron activation analysis because it’s bad science is irrelevant to this case. Neutron activation was being used for a very silly purpose: to try to match a crime scene bullet to bullets in a suspect’s gun, or pocket. That’s a completely different matter than using it to show that a set of fragments come from two different bullets and I’ve never seen anything to suggest that that analysis did not hold up. Even the most avid conspiracist would have to give law enforcement and the autopsy surgeons a LOT of credit to believe that they somehow managed to move all traces of the non-Mannlicher Carcano bullet.

    Second, about the Odio incident. In The Road to Dallas I said that it occurred on the evening of September 24, September 25, or October 3. After the book came out an intrepid researcher came up with something I missed: the motel records of Larry Howard and Loran Hall, which showed, as Hall claimed vehemently to HSCA, that they didn’t arrive in Dallas until around September 28th. So the Odio incident had to be October 3, which was the last day they were in Dallas, which fits, because that’s what Odio remembered–they were on their way out of town. And there’s no question but that Oswald arrived back in Dallas on that day.
    It is interesting that members of the Church of the Lone Assassin and members of the Church of the Grand Conspiracy never want to talk about John Martino at all, since he’s the most conclusive evidence about the mob plot.

  3. “For Wrone this is ‘a cornerstone in Kaiser’s argument that Oswald was a mob assassin.’ However, the credible evidence, Wrone argues, is that ‘the true Oswald was on a bus to Mexico.’

    As I said before, Wrone comes across as entirely likeable and quick-witted. However, anyone who says the evidence placing Oswald on a bus to Mexico City is “credible” is guilty of the same charge being applied to Kaiser. Only with a superficial acceptance of the Warren Report, while ignoring all the underling FBI reports, could the bus evidence be said to be credible. The entirety of the evidence makes the finding by the Warren Commission Report a joke. One example: the Warren Report claimed multiple witnesses to Oswald boarding the bus. Not true. No one saw him board the bus at all. The FBI interviewed everyone at the terminal on duty that night and found no one who remembered Oswald. All they had was the ticket seller – but he never saw Oswald board the bus, and it it took 2 visits by the FBI to drag an ID of Oswald from him. In the interim, they went and questioned Marina to see if Oswald owned any clothing similar to the clothing description given. Her answer? “Nyet”. The FBI responded to this dilemma by ignoring it.

    The number one reason this case is still unsolved is a reluctance by most to actually gather ALL the data on specific areas before deciding what is “credible”. Wrone unfortunately falls into that category in this instance.

  4. I expect the “Mafia did it” stories will grow in number as the 50th anniversary approaches.The Mafia didn’t send LHO to Mexico City,and I see no evidence the Mafia was running the CIA photographic and phone tap operations in that city.

  5. The sharpshooter label needs appropriate background to have meaning in this case.
    The Marine Commandant report to the Warren Commission stated that when LHO left the Marines he was “a rather poor ‘shot'”. He did nothing to improve this before Nov. 22, 1963. Col. A.G. Folsom testified on this to the Warren Commission (8H311). In Harold Weisberg’s Chapter 4 in his 1965 book Whitewash (pp. 24-30 he has a nice summary of the official record relating to Oswald’s shooting capability.

    Further, Henry Hurt, for his 1985 book, interviewed many of those who served with Oswald and they were dismissive of the idea that LHO could have shot JFK in the manner asserted by the Warren Commission. Sherman Cooley: “I saw that man shoot. There’s no way he could have ever learned to shoot well enough to do what they accused him of doing in Dallas.” (Reasonable Doubt, photo section following page 138)

    A similar opinion was even expressed in front of the Warren Commission by Nelson Delgado (8H2350).

    There are many other reports of Oswald’s lack of shooting ability.

  6. Mel Gibson’s father, Hooten Gibson is a brilliant historian as well. Unfortunately, he is a Holocaust Denier. Any so-called ‘historian” who supports the SBT today is the JFK researcher equivalent of a Holocaust denier. We were taught as children not to converse with Holocaust deniers as the act of the conversation alone justifies their arguments. The same holds true for SBT conversations IMHO.

      1. FYI, my dad was a better sharpshooter in the Army in WW2. He was in Dallas and looked from the street point (from a car he was in) back at the Texas School Book Depository 6th floor window, to see how far the shot would have been. He told me he thought that was “one hell of a difficult shot to make, especially with an inferior Italian surplus rifle, which he remembered was considered a joke of a gun in the US military, by those serving in Europe. He said a Mauser or an M1 would have been a bit easier, but still “one hell of a difficult shot to make.” I often wonder why Oswald didn’t just shoot the President when he was coming from straight on down before the turn to Elm Street, it would have been a much easier shot to make.

  7. You mention David Wrone in your discussion of Kaiser’s theory. After Kaiser wrote an essay discussing his views for the Chronicle Review (March 28, 2008), Wrone responded with a letter to the editor (April 25) challenging Kaiser’s factual understanding of the JFK case.
    Wrone wrote that a scholar should not accept–as Kaiser does–the single bullet theory because the neutron activation analysis supporting it “has been proved beyond question to be a false and misleading ‘science’ that has been scrapped by criminal investigators…”
    Further, Wrone took issue with Kaiser’s assertion that it really was Oswald who appeared in front of Sylvia Odio’s door. For Wrone this is “a cornerstone in Kaiser’s argument that Oswald was a mob assassin.” However, the credible evidence, Wrone argues, is that “the true Oswald was on a bus to Mexico.”
    Wrone challenged a number of other facts asserted by Kaiser as lacking evidentiary support: that Oswald carried a rifle to work on November 22, that he was on the sixth floor at the time of the assassination, that his palm print was found on the rifle, among others.
    Wrone also wondered why mobsters would rely on a “23-year-old nonentity and rotten shooter—armed with a junk rifle” to shoot President Kennedy.

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