Philip Shenon’s 2013 book, A Cruel and Shocking Act, reconstructed the story of the assassination of President Kennedy with an unusual focus: not on the perennial question of conspiracy but rather on a narrower issue: the destruction of evidence that followed in the wake of JFK’s murder on November 22, 1963.
Students of the JFK story already know much of the dismal tale, and Shenon adds story-telling verve and amazing detail to the trail of destruction, some of it human.
The book opens with the unnerving untold story of Charles William Thomas, a State Department official in Mexico City. In the mid-1960s, Thomas picked up on information about Lee Harvey Oswald’s famous trip to the Mexican capital in October 1963, six weeks before the president was gunned down in Dallas. Thomas insisted his superiors re-investigate the story. They responded by destroying his career. Thomas went on to commit suicide. The government later admitted error and compensated the family without much explanation of what had actually happened.
You have to wonder: If Oswald was a lone maniac, why destroy the man’s career for calling for a second look? You don’t have to agree with Shenon’s position on the larger conspiracy question to be impressed by the detail he brings to this story.
Shenon’s latest piece in Politico revealed that David Slawson, a Warren Commission investigator — and defender — now says the commission was deceived by the CIA and FBI and that Oswald may have had accessories in Mexico City. Read more
“What if the answers to the many, persistent questions surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy lie not in Dallas or Washington, D.C., but in the streets of a foreign capital that most Americans have never associated with the president’s murder? Mexico City.”
So begins Phil Shenon’s new piece in Politico, What Was Lee Harvey Oswald Doing in Mexico? Shenon is surely correct that the U.S. government’s response to Lee Oswald’s visit to Mexico City in October 1963 is key to understanding the JFK assassination story.
And before Washington and Havana can reach any real rapprochement, renewed allegations that the Cuban government aided JFK’s accused assassin demand clarification.
A faithful reader calls attention to this passage in Phil Shenon’s POLITICO Magazine article on the former Warren Commission staff David Slawson and his change of heart about the Commission’s conclusions:
“He [Slawson] was outraged, in particular, when I showed him an eye-popping June 1964 letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the commission that described how Oswald, in an outburst at a Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City during his trip there, had reportedly been overheard threatening, ‘I’m going to kill Kennedy.’
For the record, I deny that I am a JFK “conspiracy theorist.” But I freely concede I’m pro-vaccination. I got my flu shot last month. I had no objection to having my children vaccinated. I never yearned for the Paulian liberty not to vaccinate.
So I was intrigued to see Jonathan Alter, writing in the The Daily Beast, link the anti-vaccination movement to those who doubt the official story of the assassination of President Kennedy:
It has never been any secret that many serious people at the top of the U.S. government did not believe that President Kennedy was killed by a proverbial “lone nut.” But the elites of Washington have always preferred to ignore such suspicions.
Until today, when former New York Times reporter Phil Shenon reports in Politico magazine on the conspiratorial suspicions of one David Slawson, a retired law professor who investigated JFK’s assassination for the Warren Commission and now admits he got it wrong.
Slawson’s views are not unprecedented in elite power circles of Washington. Far from it.
John R. Tunheim, the federal judge in Minnesota who served from 1994 to 1998 as the chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), says in a television program to be aired this month that while the Warren Commission “did a thorough job,” the investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 was “somewhat primitive” and riddled with “too many holes.”
From Jane Henderon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch comes a useful rundown of some — but not all of the upcoming JFK books — that will be published this fall.
She has missed a couple of important one and mercifully skipped many of the less worthy tomes. JFK Facts will continue to report on other JFK books coming this fall, along with your recommendations about which are worthwhile and which are a waste of time.