Readers respond to ‘My three JFK theories’

As usual, debate clarifies things.

Lisa Pease says “My three JFK theories” is a “cop out.” But I don’t think it is a cop out to try to develop ways of talking about JFK’s assassination that transcend the dialogue of the deaf that is the “conspiracy theorist” v. “lone nut” debate. In recent years, that debate has yielded a growing percentage of people who believe the official theory of a lone nut. Thus the polling data indicates that Lisa’s preferred approach to winning the argument is failing. She prefers not to try a new approach. I do. This is our chief difference.

I’m looking to expand the number of factual propositions about JFK’s assassination that reasonable people can agree are true. I think my success in calling attention to the importance of the Joannides files — which even mainstream news organizations like the Associated Press and committed anti-conspiracy theorists now agree should be released — vindicates my approach.

Dan Hardway is on the mark when he says, “You have one theory that you are testing by two different standards of proof,” referring to “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “preponderance of evidence.”

Dan also makes an important point when he says, “Intelligence operations are, per se, designed specifically to frustrate any proof beyond a reasonable doubt (the flip-side of ‘plausible deniability,’or, i.e., disinformation). Indeed, that is one of the earmarks of a good, well-designed and executed covert operation.”

This is why I think evaluating the evidence from a “preponderance of evidence” point of view is a useful approach. I think the preponderance of evidence points to some kind of still-undisclosed covert operation targeting Oswald and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the summer and fall of 1963.

Patrick McCarthy draws an important distinction between different types of negligence. I think the CIA’s deceptive and unusual handling of pre-assassination information about Oswald clearly qualifies as simple negligence (failure to take ordinary care).

The key question, elided by Photon, is whether there was reckless disregard, requiring an assessment of level of the knowledge and intent of CIA officers who knew about Oswald. I think the Joannides files will shed light on the issue of reckless disregard.

Bill Pierce makes an unwarranted assumption when he summarizes theory #3 as “Oswald acted alone. All of the evidence of a frontal shot (or shots) should be dismissed. It is possible that a bunch of CIA officers failed to understand that Oswald was a dangerous Nut who probably wanted to murder the president.”

My theory #3 does not assert that Oswald acted alone and it does not dismiss all evidence of a frontal shot. As I should have made clearer, Theory #3 does not actually exclude Theory #2. Per Dan Hardway, they are two different ways of evaluating evidence.

Think of it this way. OJ Simpson was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Similarly, we have no one individual who is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the murder of JFK. But a civil trial established that Simpson was responsible for the death of his victims.

A civil verdict in the case of the murdered president — that a group of CIA officers was responsible for a wrongful death — does not necessarily mean that some or all of them did not plot to kill the president, only that we lack proof beyond a reasonable doubt of their guilt. Per Hardway, this could be because the murder of JFK was a well-planned covert operation.

Is this, as Mitchum22 and D. Olmens suggest, excessively “legalistic”? I prefer to think that it is careful. I am taking care to make factual statements that the maximum number of people will find credible — even people who disagree with me. Unlike Lisa, I think skeptics of the official story have a credibility problem that they need to address by eliminating unsupported claims and focusing on forging consensus, not division.

PMRJohn is surely correct when he says, “We all need to coalesce for the 50th anniversary, for the larger good of informing the public at this historic opportunity.”



32 thoughts on “Readers respond to ‘My three JFK theories’”

  1. In 1964 CBS news had a program where 2 individuals were interviewed who saw Oswald firing the same Carcano rifle on a range near Dallas prior to the assassination.
    Of course his wife saw him with the rifle, but I guess that doesn’t count.

    1. Didn’t the FBI state that they found no evidence in the 40 days prior to the assassination, that Oswald had practiced with the rifle?

      If that rifle range story is true, maybe it was another Oswald impostor? As the story goes, he hit someone else’s target. Hardly a marksman eh?

  2. #1 What Secret Service agents flashing credentials? Who is the source for that statement? How would they know what S.S. credentials looked like? Where is the evidence to confirm the allegation? Even if there were S.S. agents flashing credentials in Dealey Plaza exactly what would that mean? That there was a conspiracy? Why?
    #2 What is the source for your claim of a police car honking its horn outside of the rooming house at 1:00PM? What if it did? Was Oswald the only person that lived at that address? Was Oswald the only person to live in that neighborhood? Did police cars never patrol the neighborhood? How unusual was it for a car to honk its horn-even if what you claim actually happened?
    #3 What about the Chicago plot? Why didn’t you mention that the only source was a former S.S. agent with absolutely no other confirmation? Why didn’t you mention that the same source spent 6 years in a Federal prison for accepting a bribe from a counterfeiter? Has any other source confirmed the source’s reason for cancelling the trip? Is there any evidence that the source in question was even on the White House detail in November of 1963?
    #4 What evidence is there that Oswald was on the first or second floor of the TSBD during the shooting? What credible witness saw him there? Were the witnesses who saw him on the sixth floor within 45 minutes of the shooting lying? Who said “C’mon boy, we’re going down” to Oswald on the sixth floor? I don’t see ANY physical evidence that Oswald was on the first or second floor during the shooting.
    #5 When Frazier testified to the Warren Commission he stated that he never measured the package Oswald had, nor that he actually inspected it,nor that he even looked at it in more than a general way. His sister saw it from at least 10-15 feet away.Why don’t you mention that Oswald asked Frazier the night before if he could bring the curtain rods, when his room had no place to put curtain rods? What evidence is there that Oswald could not have made the paperbag (not a gun case)? Didn’t he have hands? A five year old child could have made the bag out of wrapping paper. Of course nobody saw him with a rifle-but they did see him carry the package with the long axis parallel to his arm pointing down. Who carries curtain rods like that?

    1. #1 NO actual SS agents, since they all went with Sorrels et al. to Parkland. Several witnesses heard or saw these credentials shown or spoken of. Names? Do not have access to that at the moment. Conspiracy indications? Ummm, yeah. Why else would men be claiming to be agents at the scene and moment of the assassination? If there were undercover agents in Dealey Plaze that day (Army intelligence, etc) they would have come forward by now, don’t you think? Why flash them? To spook witnesses to what was going on outsude the TSBD, which is what happened. One Dallas motorcycle cop (name escapes me) who ran up the knoll testified to his chagrin when he confronted a dude who then flashed the creds. The cop then moved on.

      2. Earlene Roberts. Your follow up questions I assume are a joke. Especially since Oswald was arrested for the murder of a cop about an hour later.

      3. Abraham Bolden was not on the WH detail in November ’63, which you must already know since you make reference to his prison sentence and framing. He was assigned to the Chicago office. You really should read Bolden’s book. This is a serious and seriously religious man. Also try Edwin Black’s article on the plot, found here:

      (BTW, I’m going ahead as if you’re educable and these are real questions you’re asking.)

      4. Marion Baker, Roy Truly, Carolyn Arnold, Vickie Adams, Sandra Styles, Lillian Mooneyham, Arnold Rowland (and others I’m forgetting) all add up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Oswald was on the low floors at 12:30pm. Best go here:

      5. That’s the problem with you Kennedy-haters (anti-conspiracists in disguise): all witnesses who prove something else was going on that day (beyond Oswald taking out his mother hatred and lack of a dad, per Norman Bates) are defamed. They are labeled as stupid, mistaken, corrupt, senile, ax-grinders. (Unlike all the official sources, who never have axes to grind.) I’ll take the word of the man who actually shared the same front seat as LHO that morning. Why not you?

      6. The recency of the bag was proven — how I don’t remember — and the gent who controlled the “bag-making table” claimed that he never left that table and that LHO never came near it the week of 11/22. And what about the second bag?

      Now tell us how you really feel about the Kennedys. Were they worthy of being hit by sex haters, race haters, America-Firsters, oil junkies, mob guys, fascist intelligence agents, military dictators, tweed-covered garbage such as Dick Helms and Des FitzGerald, right-wing publishers and editors, drug executioners, psychopathic politicians, Goldwaterites?

      1. Wow.A lot of names escape you. The Chicago plot as described by Black had nothing to do with the fairytale Bolden concocted, which has had zero confirmation from any source. And Black’s credibility on the Chicago plot went down significantly when he claimed that the DIA was following him. How is it so difficult to make a paper bag out of wrapping paper and tape? That is a new one to me.As Marion Baker, Roy Truly, et. al. did not see Oswald until after the assassination how can you claim that they even knew where he was during the assassination? I am surprised you didn’t throw Robert MacNeil in there- of course you probably wouldn’t like it when he saw Oswald at the same time as the others-after enough time to come down from the sixth floor.
        I think that the real Kennedy haters are the people who desperately put out misinformation and fables in an attempt to exonerate one of the most evil and horrible individuals this country has produced- a man who on Nov. 22, 1963 widowed 2 women, destroyed 2 families and deprived the United States of its President.That man was Lee Harvey Oswald.

        1. Photon writes:

          “The Chicago plot as described by Black had nothing to do with the fairytale Bolden concocted, which has had zero confirmation from any source. And Black’s credibility on the Chicago plot went down significantly when he claimed that the DIA was following him.”

          Photon, your default position is to attack the credibility of people when you disagree. You should back up your statements with facts.

          1. What, exactly, is the “fairytale Bolden concocted”?

          The fact is his bribery conviction rested on the testimony of an admitted perjurer. Bolden’s credibility is intact, no matter how you try to dredge up a conviction based on fraudulent testimony. I’m not making that up. Check the court documents for yourself.

          Further, Bolden describes racism in the SS when he served. He describes laxity and alcohol abuse among SS agents. He confirms aspects of the Chicago plot, which Edwin Black investigated, and sourced through government documents and interviews with SS personnel and other law enforcement sources.

          2. To whom is Edwin Black’s credibility diminished, besides you?

          Black was digging into the most sensitive pre-Dallas failures of the Secret Service – the agency’s specific, documented knowledge of sniper plots to kill JFK, there involving 4 Chicago-area Latino men with sniper rifles and Thomas Arthur Vallee, an heavily armed ex-marine with a mental history and witnessed making anti-JFK statements.

          This was not a popular thing for a reporter to investigate in 1975. Whether or not Black was surveilled by DIA or anyone is really irrelevant. How do you know he wasn’t?

          What can you point to in Black’s article about his underlying Chicago plot report that lacks credibility?

          Black’s article and the Chicago plot evidence are reinforced by Abraham Bolden.

          And, most importantly, by the few remaining Secret Service documents on the matter. Look them up for yourself.

          If you believe the Chicago plot facts are false, you should demonstrate why, rather then attempting to impugn the reputations of Abraham Bolden and Edwin Black, who are two courageous individuals.

          Condemn less; research more.

          1. Bolden was tried twice for the crime- the first jury hung 11-1 for conviction, the next 12-0 for conviction. His appeal was turned down and he served 6 years.
            The claims he made about Nov 2 were bogus- he was not on the Presidential detail but was involved with standard S.S investigative work where he attempted to pick up an extra $50,000. You may think he was framed but to Treasury agents familiar with the case he was nothing but a crook.

          2. Photon:

            You continue to attempt to smear Abraham Bolden without addressing the admitted perjurer who testified against him; nor the importance and facts of the Chicago plot.

            You failed to answer what “fairytale” you accuse Bolden of concocting, nor do you explain to whom Edwin Black has lost credibility.

            An 11-1 jury shows reasonable doubt.

            I don’t think Bolden was framed: the chief government witness admitted such malfeasance, when he later testified that he gave perjured testimony in Bolden’s trial.

            What Treasury agents think Bolden was a crook? And what basis do you have for saying Bolden did not have the SS duties he says he did?

            Most importantly, you cannot ignore the mountain of evidence Black collected about the Chicago plot based on Secret Service documents and numerous interviews with law enforcement.

            Let’s recall that earlier you stated that Secret Service could not anticipate snipers in a building shooting at the president in 1963.

            Wrong, based on the Chicago and Tampa plots of 1963.

  3. As the old Chinese saying goes: “When a wise man points to the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.” So let’s expand this a bit here.

    Answer these Qs Photon:

    Who were the men flashing Secret Service creds in Dealey Plaza within minutes of the shooting, when we know all real SS agents stayed with the motorcade to Parkland?

    What was that police car doing outside Oswald’s rooming house at 1:00pm, honking its horn and then driving away? LHO was inside the rooming house for only a few minutes (per his landlady), and the cop car just happened to pull up during those few minutes and honked its horn? Was the rooming house being monitored? Was Oswald followed from the TSBD?

    What about the Chicago plot of 11/2/63 (clearly a template for Dallas)?

    Do you deny that the preponderance of evidence is on the side of Oswald being on the first or second TSBD floor during the shooting?

    How did the rifle get into the building? Buell Wesley Frazier and his sister deny the package LHO carried was anywhere close to the length of a dismantled MC? What about the man (I forget his name) who saw Oswald enter the building at 8:00am that morning sans rifle? What about the strong evidence that Oswald could not have made the paper gun case later (allegedly) found near the sniper’s nest? What about that second paper gun case mailed to his post office, not found ’til after 11/22?

    Frazier here:

    Where is there any evidence at all of Oswald buying ammunition or practicing with the rifle?

    For a start. . .

  4. Lisa, where are the facts that Oswald couldn’t have done it? You and many conspiracy buffs seem to have resolved to believe that the possible is probable, that the difficult is impossible and that which has been proven to be false can be made true if repeated enough times. How can it be a conspiracy fact if there has been no concrete evidence of anybody shooting at JFK besides Oswald? There is no evidence of anybody else shooting that day. So who else did it? It is one thing to make a claim that Oswald didn’t do it- but if you do you should tell us who did shoot JFK- because somebody had to.
    You call yourself a researcher. Well, have you ever seen an autopsy? Because if you haven’t you really are not competent to judge what the record states, what schematics represent, what actually transpires during the procedure.
    Have you ever seen a bullet wound? Have you ever worked in an ER? If not how can you claim expertise about the medical data, about how valid initial perceptions of medical first responders are?
    Do you have any data to substantiate your claim that paraffin tests in 1963 were 100% accurate? Because you seem to believe that a negative paraffin test is 100% proof that the subject of said test never fired a firearm. Even pregnancy tests have false negatives- and they are considerably more accurate than paraffin tests were in 1963.

    1. This is a very dubious statement by Jeff Morley:

      “Thus the polling data indicates that Lisa’s preferred approach to winning the argument is failing.”

      This would suggest that Lisa’s approach has at any point been dominant or even present in the public discourse which it most certainly has not. Even Oliver Stone was pressured or chose to say that his version was just another myth. The radically delegitimizing yet obvious summation is almost never uttered in the mass media: “The guilt for the assassination lies at the very pinnacle of power in state/society relations.” This alone explains the immediacy and the persistence of the cover up.

  5. And the approach that is failing, Jeff, is your approach – pretending this IS open to debate. If we all would stick to the facts that matter instead of wading into unproductive waters, more people would know – not believe but know – that this was a conspiracy. People like you, not me, are the problem.

  6. It’s a cop out because the facts showing Oswald couldn’t have done it are simple, clear, and scientific. That you don’t know that makes you a dabbler, a theorist. That I do understand this makes me a researcher, a realist. It’s not a conspiracy theory if it’s a conspiracy fact.

  7. But at the end of the day, either lone nut Lee Oswald shot Kennedy or else there was a conspiracy. There’s not some kind of third position available to contemplate here, at least in my opinion.

    The official story has always withered under cross examination. Lacking subpoena or investigatory powers, critics of the official story could only point out the ways by which the official position fails and could not present a true account of what actually happened. This has lead to speculation, and it is the speculation which is usually attacked – and sometimes for good reason. But, at the end of the day, the official story is also a speculation. None of the primary evidence holds up. And the official cover-up is, from the contemporary vantage point, all too clear. Vincent Salandria stated the obvious years ago: that if the official narrative was true then the facts should come together neatly, and they never have.

    1. The criminal law’s requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the reason Oswald could never be allowed to go to trial. The case against him would have made the case against OJ look like a slam dunk. With competent legal counsel representing him, Oswald’s defense could have devastated the government’s case against him. Reasonable doubt abounds from many sources in the case against him.

  8. Just wanted to point out OJ was not convicted of failing to pre vent Ron and Nichols deaths. He was convicted of causing them. Only difference from the criminal case was the burden of proof. So, really Jeff, you are only suggesting the application of a different standard of evaluation. I don’t see how that advances the public debate. Most of the public won’t understand the distinction.

  9. Forgive me for making one more post on this topic. I realize that I need to go on a JFKfacts posting diet.

    I just have one more thought about all of this: I think Al Capone, guilty of many crimes of violence and racketeering, corruption etc. was convicted on only one thing that could nail him: Income Tax Evasion.

    So maybe all of the big and involved CT charges won’t get the case to be reopened, but a simple case of say CIA files showing that the Agency DID know more about Oswald prior to the assassination, and lied about it all these years, becomes provable as these final files are released, and it forces open the case of possible conspiracy involving the assassination of Kennedy in a new light, all from the thread of the Joannides files coming out and unraveling.

    Mighty giants have fallen from such simple flaws.

    1. I think the HSCA investigation into Mexico City clearly showed that the CIA “DID know more about Oswald prior to the assassination, and lied about it all these years.” In addition, I think that Jeff’s work on Joannides shows that the Agency not only illegally ran covert operations against Jim Garrison’s investigation, it also illegally ran covert operations against the HSCA. And if you consider the people involved in the latter operation, the issues under investigation and the result, it is hard to conclude that there is some innocent explanation. I’m not sure, but I think most of the skeptics would not accept any evidence. And as to the release of the final files, I just have to wonder, when they are released, if we will be able to tell when they were written.

      1. My dad used to work pretty high up in the “military industrial complex” during that time, and in Washington, D.C. He told me that official papers had watermarks (from GPO) that featured the date (year). The White House has had this system, dating back to at least that time period. Pretty hard to fake documents under this system, although I’m sure not impossible. Anyway, I agree with most of your points and might add that if you read one of Jeff Morley’s earlier posts, he clearly states that the Zapruder film proves that Kennedy was shot from the front (no alteration of the film necessary) and that is why it was not released for so many years. I think the remaining CIA files might hold similar damnable evidence.

  10. Jeff, I respect what you are doing, but as far as I can tell, none of the options presented actually constitute a theory. I don’t think you are under any obligation to provide one, mind you, and I understand the desire to not be seen as too “partisan,” but after reading that post I am no closer to figuring out what you think.

    Another thing that puzzles me is the talk of preponderance of evidence. Like you, I was a journalist for many years, and one of my assignments was covering courts, so I understand legal standards. But they have no inherent meaning. Outside of a court, the concepts are of no use.

    Bottom line is anything that produces facts will help, so keep up the good work. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will ever know the whole truth (if the CIA files were damning, they would have been destroyed, I suspect), and if we did know the truth, I doubt many would believe or care after all these years.

  11. “But I don’t think it is a cop out to try to develop ways of talking about JFK’s assassination that transcend the dialogue of the deaf that is the “conspiracy theorist” v. “lone nut” debate.””

    Well said ! There are committed LNs and committed CTs who disperse vitriol to eachother in the manner of religious zealots. It has reached the point where any deviation from the “orthodox” LN or CT view is considered heresy.There seem to be plenty of people,on both sides,who are more worried about their egos than reasoned debate.

  12. I understand the caution regarding what we know about this assassination and what we don’t know.
    But I have to ask: Do you think David Talbot and Gaeton Fonzi, and Dr. Charles Crenshaw, among others, went too far out on a limb in suggesting that there WAS a conspiracy to kill the president?
    And why is it that when the Warren Commission said or reported something, it’s factual evidence, but when another witness says anything contrary to the WC Report, it’s just “unprovable heresy”?

    I just thought someone should ask the “piss in the punchbowl” questions…

  13. Thank you, Mr. Morley, for this. And my apologies for the flaming.

    Don’t you think the slight poll dip in support of a conspiracy belief is due to factors far removed from Dallas? IMHO, it underlines just how full-court is the full-court press being played across the Western world by the forces of corporatism. There seems to be a clear parallel between Establishment anti-conspiracy propaganda and the massive increase in both the police state and warfare state aspects of the US. The anti-conspiracists are more and more present because they are needed now more than ever — as the United States seethes with plots, devolving into little but dark conspiracies everywhere — on Wall Street, the set-up of the Tea Party movement, stolen elections, Blackwater, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the “Christmas Bomber,” the unprecedented Obama-ian attack on “entitlements,” Libya, and this week — Syrian gas attacks. There is now zero connection between what the national government says it’s doing and what it is in fact doing, while all it is doing in all aspects is seeking to strengthen the corporate/warrior class. Conspiracy belief is more and more demonized because the world is becoming less democratic, less open, a world far less based on action and consequence, and much more on insider knowledge, fixing, and the talent for secrets & intrigue. (And murder.)

    Privatizing everything automatically necessitates conspiracies.

  14. I also agree with your approach which is very scientific and objective. The field needs more of it and this provides a bridge to newcomers and curiosity seekers who don’t know a lot about it but are turned off by “wild” theories and conjecture.

    I have my private theories and hunches but in your position with this web site taking the approach your taking is far more effective for bringing people together and moving towards data collection that may tip the scales in favor of certain theories over others.

  15. Jeff does your theory # 3 conclude with Helms and Angleton being convicted in a civil trial of failing to protect the President from LHO?

  16. Clarence Carlson

    Your careful approach to this topic is, in my mind, much needed.

    It’s a completely understandable human impulse, on both sides of the debate, to review information on the assassination and then want to “cut to the chase”. This must be avoided. In any discussion about this topic it’s important to be very clear about what we “know” (i.e. from declassified documents), what we don’t know (i.e. whats in the Joannides file) and what we suspect or surmise. The latter is the least useful in contributing to our understanding of history, but perhaps useful in looking at patterns and using that to pursue other information.

    After decades of reading information of the JFK assassination I admit that I tend to suspect conspiracy. However the strident voices of the believers, in several different camps, do nothing to clarify anything and more often than not put off the folks who venture into the area in search of truth. If indeed American intelligence was involved in the assassination this is the very thing they would hope for: a lack of consensus or coalescence among those who identify a lack of candor on the part of the establishment.

    Stay the course.

  17. Just to be clear, I don’t see theory #3 as excessively legalistic. It’s simply an idea I wasn’t all that familiar with in terms of the legal approach and was seeking a little clarification, that’s all. Sorry if that was poorly expressed.

    “I am taking care to make factual statements that the maximum number of people will find credible — even people who disagree with me.”

    Sounds like a good approach to me. This is why I have been enjoying reading this site.

    “Unlike Lisa, I think skeptics of the official story have a credibility problem that they need to address by eliminating unsupported claims and focusing on forging consensus, not division.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

  18. I remember my teachers in the 1960’s repeatedly telling me & my classmates, “you can’t fight city hall”. I realize now they meant the Government.

    It’s been said that the Warren Report gave everyone an easy out to put the crime on Lee Oswald & put it behind & move on in life. A lot of the players in the JFK ambush lost theirs.

    Regardless of what the majority of the global public believes happened & who was responsible that FBI analysis of the bullet strike to the Main Street curb that wounded James Tague DID NOT originate from the alleged Lee Oswald murder weapon.

    Until a rational, plausible explanation for that James Tague street curb bullet strike tying it to Lee Oswald’s alleged weapon is made a cloud will remain over the question, ‘did Lee Oswald really do it alone?’

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