Toward the decisive clarification of the JFK story in 2014

I had the honor of speaking at the JFK Lancer conference in Dallas on November 22, 2013, and I offered some thoughts about what I think we (meaning the American people and others interested in the assassination of President Kennedy 50 years ago) need to do in 2014.

In my remarks I dared to suggest that American civil society can achieve a decisive clarification of the JFK story in 2014. By “decisive clarification” I mean a deeper and more credible explanation of a great historic crime than we have yet achieved.

If such a breakthrough is possible it will require collective effort, disciplined scholarship and a sophisticated understanding of social media and the Internet.

Any and all reaction to this proposition is welcome.

I will publish the most constructive and interesting responses.




48 thoughts on “Toward the decisive clarification of the JFK story in 2014”

  1. Jonathan, I don’t question your “Oswald-patsy” approach as looking at it. I would just add that another way might be the behavior used by the WC and its lawyers against the witnesses. Many times, witnesses’ statements were answered by the WC with “it couldn’t have happened that way-you must be mistaken”..or words to that effect. How many WC members were there right alongside the witnesses? Point is, the WC was told to make those comments to the witnesses. By who? No doubt, by the Dynamic Duo of Johnson and Hoover, two people who hated Kennedy.

  2. I’ve come to the conclusion JFK researchers (Warren critics) and mere students such as me are not thinking the JFK case the right way. Here’s why.

    Oswald was a terrible patsy if you think about it. He had too many connections with individuals involved in suspicious activities. He spoke Russian, which remains a big question mark: How did he learn such a difficult language so well? He just wasn’t a good patsy. One of the Black guys working in the TSBD, such as ex-con Charles Givens, would have made a much better patsy. Givens had two strikes against him the day he came to work on 11-22-63 (being black and being an ex-con), but unlike Oswald he had no deep and murky connections.

    The only rational explanation why Oswald was made the patsy is that he had set himself up as a Marxist. That gave LBJ a big out: 40 million dead Americans, etc. That surely gratified the anti-Castro Cubans. It played into the Cold War the Pentagon and the CIA were fighting. It was a brilliant card to play. A lot of powerful and dangerous players won when that card was laid on the table. Even Jackie Kennedy referred to Oswald in the immediate wake of the assassination as “a silly little communist.”

    A person who would foresee all this would be a person of broad vision and deep understanding of what was going on and who the players on the board were in 1963. McGeorge Bundy and some others come immediately to mind, not to point fingers necessarily.

  3. Re: JFK’s head wounds.

    Humes testified to the ARRB there was an ENTRANCE wound in the EOP. And a defect in the occipital region lateral and right to the EOP about 2 cm squared of scalp and bone.

    Hume’s entrance wound testimony was based on late-arriving skull fragments that showed beveling.

    Humes was saying a bullet hit JFK’s skull in the eop region. But also that there was an occipital-parietal blow out to his right skull.

  4. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

    The key finding of WC is a lone gunman shooting a magic bullet. The latter is in evidence and ballistic tests have proven that no bullet can exit so after passing through two human bodies. The lone nut is also inconsistent with the charades of both “Leftist Lee at Work” in New Orleans and Castroit Oswald in Mexico City, where he was at least telephonically impersonated.
    That´s enough for dismissing the WC report as the best explanation. Just add that the CIA has provided neither a tape nor a photo of LHO, in spite of his five visits to Cuban and Soviet diplomatic compounds and five CIA-tapped phone calls related to him.
    For finding better explanation than WC and HSCA, transparency is the key. The government should release everything it has.

    1. Is there still a classified HSCA document being withheld that specifically examined Oswald’s relationship to the CIA?

  5. Commendable humility,acknowledging the words of support , and equally commendable self-deprecating humour!
    I do not agree with all Jeff says – not by a long shot – but I believe he is on the right track about intelligence agencies concealing greater pre-assassination knowledge of Oswald than has been,thus far,admitted.
    And I am on the LN side of the debate.

  6. Hear ye! Hear ye! From a “white boy” (old man) raised in the South.
    “We need closure though disclosure of the facts…”

    1. I would agree. Jefferson Morley’s speech was great (I was there).

      BTW, JFK’s two cousins were there to hear it too, and I’m sure they were pleased.

  7. I submit this commentary as an African American who lived through the dark history, yet hidden, written in the blood of our leaders – those who stood up to tel the truth and sought to change the narrow focus of our governments across the United States; stood up for inclusion and urged Americans to be the best they could be: a shining beacon of light in a dark world suffocated with tyranny, despair, poverty, disease, ignorance, and the yoke of oppressive regimes sponsored and supported by the clandestine security apparatuses of Western (and USSR and CHINA) governments engaged in an insane arms race and endless wars of attrition and expenditures of billions of dollars on death and destruction (of human lives and our planet).
    We need healing through truth. We need closure through disclosure of the facts regarding the coup d’etat on November 22, 1963. I am willing to lend my time, effort, abilities and more, to this noble effort and exercise of true citizenship. I applaud and acknowledge all those who made contribution to shedding light on this “darkness of history.”

      1. Joseph Backles and Casey Quinlan did. It’s brother and sister Arthur and Evelyn King. See Into The Nightmare by Joseph McBride pg 551. Someone in a Dallas cop uniform shot from the picket fence/grassy knoll.

        1. She and the researchers seem credible. The snowcone/blood seems to be a Nehi strawberry pop bottle dropped at the sound of a shot over her right shoulder.

  8. Great speech by Morley.
    “We need, I think, a civil society response to the Warren Commission. We need another report on the assassination of the President, not one compiled by four lawyers working at the mercy of the FBI and the CIA and the White House, but by civil society”

    This is so true. Only when an independent panel can sit down and have the power to review ALL documents will we have a chance of knowing the truth.
    This aspect reminds me of the Hillsborough disaster in England. The truth only came out 23 years later, when the Hillsborough Independent Panel was formed with the power to view all the documents. A police cover up was revealed, where 164 witness statements had been altered and 116 statements removed. And this after there had been a government inquiry 13 years earlier which upheld the original conclusions in 1989 and stated there was no need for any further investigation.

  9. Nice and inspiring speech, Jeff.

    I like the idea of a citizen-sponsored information base to be published on September 30 of this year. I think your laser-like focus on the relationship of Oswald to intelligence agencies is a good approach, and could be key to unlocking much of this case to historians and to the general public. I agree with your assessment that an agency (CIA) capable of murdering thousands of civilians and lying about those murders is capable of murdering a US president and lying about it. I would add that cynicism is just as much a part of the American saga as paranoia has been (to borrow from Richard Hofstader). After all, when this republic was founded, power was carefully divided so as not to “corrupt absolutely” as it can do when concentrated in one place. Since WW2 however, as the executive branch and particular agencies of government took much of the power away from Congress, the potential for abuse by concentration of power again began to grow. This happened before Kennedy became president, and even JFK was part of this concentration. He was a fan of Richard Neustadt, who wrote an influential book on this topic in 1960. Today with Homeland Security bloated way beyond what is healthy for a democratic society, and with Congress nothing more than a gerrymandered, money-collection machine for the biggest and richest corporations, I still remain hopeful that our government can work again. I haven’t given up on the idea of a progressive, “do-gooder” national government, one that helps boost the middle class and the poor with the power of collective strength. So although I share the cynicism of many JFK conspiracy folks, I have to side with FDR-style (or Teddy Roosevelt-style) strong national government as a force for good in our society, even though I think I see where the flaws and cracks in our system are. If we take away government, the citizens have nothing. We go back to feudalism and anarchy. We need the strong federal government, but one that is checked by and owned by the citizens, not by the trusts or the powerful special interests. A tall order, but one I think JFK also believed in.

    1. Large corporations sometimes do evil things. The U.S. government, whose uniform I wore proudly as an army officer in Viet Nam, has done far more evil things. Strong national government gives us the CIA and the NSA and other tyrannies I needn’t relate.

      I’m all for checks and balances and ceding power to the citizenry.

      1. Government is supposed to be you and me, We the People. The anti-government cynicism took a strong hold AFTER JFK was assassinated. Prior to that, most Americans thought their government was mostly an institution for good. I believe that Vietnam did a lot of damage to our credibility, and was a stupid war. But the men who served in it should be honored for their service. They are not to blame—I blame Lyndon Johnson and the military-intelligence-Versailles on the Potomac for that involvement. Kennedy inherited Laos from IKE, but he wisely chose to keep it scaled back as far as possible, and intended to draw down our presence there. We were far more effective at fighting communism with our Peace Corps and with positive US aid overseas, not with bayonets and gunboat diplomacy. Although I admire Teddy Roosevelt for standing up for parks and against the special interests, I disagree with his weird obsession with gunboat diplomacy. The military should only be used as a last resort. We’ve forgotten that. War is the stupidest thing people can do, besides ruin the planet with global warming.

        Anyway, I trace most cynical anti-government mass movements to the post-JFK era, starting with his assassination.

      2. Jonathan,

        Thank you for your service to this country. Even though I was opposed to the war in Vietnam, I appreciate the sacrifices our servicemen made.

        Although I share your concern about CIA and NSA getting too big and dangerously powerful, I also believe (as I think JFK did) that we need a strong federal government to ensure that our schools are top notch, our infrastructure is kept up, our scientific programs are well funded at all of the think tanks, our land grant colleges continue to provide alternative choices to those who have lower income but want a higher education, and that our country take a national leadership role in health care, in regulating for food and drug safety, and in stewardship of the environment, to name a few key things. Let’s face it—decentralized, “Jeffersonian” states rights small government lost in the Civil War. The North, with it’s standardization and better organized infrastructure, won. We need to regain the trust in our government which boomers seem to have lost, and that younger generations never had—which began to erode when Kennedy was assassinated.

        And I fully agree that we need progressive checks and balances to keep power as open and transparent as possible. I just don’t buy into the “government all bad” dialog that got enormously popular in the last 40-50 years. The government is supposed to be you and me, We the People. Freeing the hidden CIA files would be a great start toward gaining the trust of Americans in their government again.

  10. I’ve wondered about an associated theme the last few months Mr. Morley alluded to. Can the research community, the 60-80% who don’t believe the Warren Fairy Tale, the various websites and other media unite in support of Mr. Morley’s suit for the 1100+ CIA files relating to the assassination?
    It is the one issue that at the moment can shed more light on the Truth about the big picture of what happened than any other.
    I feel it would be a big step if some of the Major Researcher’s, the websites like marry ferrell, lancer, jfkforum, ctka, copa, and more could come together and focus their combined influence on this one issue for the benefit of all concerned.

    1. Ronnie- you make an excellent point re: the importance of many scholars (which
      include many attorneys who are quite capable of facilitating litigation in support
      of the recovery of the 1,000+ files which the CIA quite suspiciously still holds onto
      for dear life..) websites, etc. along with their supporter’s substantial financial resources-
      to UNITE to settle the matter of who was behind the assassination plot- once and for
      all. Lastly- to those final, lonely few “lone-nut theorists”- your insistence on continuing to
      even mention the Warren Commission’s conclusion’s as the government’s “final word” regarding
      the murder of our 35th President is tiring, to say the least. The HSCA’s conclusion was that JFK was
      murdered by a conspiracy- despite all of its own faults! Those of us who use our brains to think freely
      prefer open-minded scholarship to large, unwieldy government “investigations” replete with fraud,
      perjury, controlling vested interests, etc. U.S. Senator Richard Schweiker, who was able to read the approx. 1,100 files the CIA refuses to release to date- did not mince words when he spoke of the overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy in Dallas. I urge those of you unfamiliar with his unprecedented
      access, and his consequential findings, to do your homework. When you do, you will also find another
      bit of irony. Sen. Schweiker’s successor was none other than the spineless “Republican-Democrat”
      Arlen Specter, who, as a young attorney with absolutely zero ballistics or physics training/education,
      invented the “magic-bullet” theory.

  11. Excellent. Wish I could afford to have been there. As Neil Young said Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World. FREE THE FILES!!!

  12. Jeff,

    Your proposal for a “decisive clarification” is perfect.

    I recommend:

    (1) That the work you envision begin with a statement of and a fact-based critique of the Warren Report conclusions.

    (2) That the record be combed for items that would be admissible into evidence under the Rules of Evidence (e.g., Kennedy’s suit coat and shirt); and that items constituting inadmissible hearsay be so identified. This work will need to be done by one or more lawyers knowledgeable with the case. The point of this exercise is to develop the strongest arguments, whatever they are.

    (3) That the whole enterprise have the goal not of identifying the shooters but of (a) showing that the Warren conclusions are unsupportable and contrary to fact; and (b) showing that the cover-up, which began before the assassination, and was carried forward in the Bethesda autopsy morgue, is more alarming than the murder because of the persons implicated in the cover-up; and (c) showing that JFK’s assassination served many powerful interests.

    Count me as a volunteer to any and all work.

    1. Your three recommendations in support of Jeff Morley’s “decisive clarification” of the JFK assassination story irrefutably present a self-incriminating indictment of one common particular approach to the conspiracy theorists’ “investigation” of the assassination.

      The first fallacy in this indictment is a singular obsession with discrediting various conclusions of the Warren Commission to the exclusion of a more holistic approach to the facts in evidence surrounding the assassination. The CT community’s unrelenting flogging of this deceased equine specimen is as potentially misguided as it is unseemly. There seems to be a CT assumption that deficient investigative procedures, of which the Warren Commission had many, necessarily yield an incorrect conclusion in every instance. While sloppy or inadequate investigatory methods have nothing by which to recommend themselves, it does not follow that a poorly reasoned answer is always wrong.

      Moreover, conscientious, in-depth examination of evidence by subsequent investigators who may nonetheless end up agreeing with Commission conclusions in certain respects should not be denigrated by inappropriate association with their predecessors. It is a character assassination attempt no more substantive than lone assassin adherents insisting that all conspiracy theorists wear the same tin foil helmets of the most rabid lunatics to be found at the extreme edges of their midst.

      Your second suggestion of separating and identifying the evidentiary record according to items which would be admissible under normal rules of evidence versus those that would be excluded sounds laudable on its face, but in fact imposes a condition largely meaningless at this point in history.

      Rules of evidence, like many requirements under the rules of criminal procedure, exist as much for the protection of the accused as they do to establish factual truth as it relates to the criminal allegation. In a case that has been deprived of an obvious defendant for the past 50 years, it is not clear whose rights would be protected by trying to guess what would or would not be admissible at this juncture. Additionally, which evidentiary rules would you propose we use? Those of the state of Texas, where the crime would have been adjudicated, or those within the United States Federal Code? Anyone attempting to determine the whole truth of President Kennedy’s assassination today, needs to accept or reject evidence on the basis of each item’s own strength and credibility, rather than the legal formulation that would govern if we were at trial.

      Your third suggestion, however, is most telling in its revelation of your motivations – not to find the truth of what may yet be hidden, but to affirm that which you already believe to be true; not to convict those who actually fired weapons and committed murder on 11/22/63, but to convict a long gone government panel whose efforts in analyzing the events of that day have been found by you and others to have been wanting.

      If we may take your advocacy seriously, and in many respects it rings quite harmoniously with elements of Jeff Morley’s keynote speech last November, the CT community stands poised to abandon the search for the killers of JFK for the more pedestrian goal of slandering and libeling those whom you believe to be accessories to a conspiracy as yet unproven and whose far more directly culpable members inexplicably no longer pique, much less hold, your interest.

      Now that a conspiracy to murder John Kennedy has been established to your satisfaction in the abstract, you, Jeff and company have apparently deemed it appropriate that further investigation of the particulars give way to a broader “civil society movement” to curb government excesses real and imagined in the area of national security secrets and to move public opinion in whatever direction it presumably needs to be moved.

      Those of us who have waited the past five decades for the conspiracy community to present a unified, logical explanation of the planning and execution of John F. Kennedy’s murder will no doubt find this latest abdication of its responsibility to be grossly premature.

      1. These are a few of my thoughts:

        I believe it would be a rather straighforward (although complex) matter to address the issues at hand using the principles of reasonableness simpliciter, rationality and irrationality.

        One cannot question the WC/HSCA et al vis-a-vis the jurisdictional question as they were appointed to perform their task, however there are logical, procedural and factual aspects that do not and cannot meet the ‘burden of proof’, or other ‘standard’ in regards to procedure and patent unreasonableness.


      2. Lanny,
        “Now that a conspiracy to murder John Kennedy has been established to your satisfaction in the abstract, you, Jeff and company have apparently deemed it appropriate that further investigation of the particulars give way to a broader “civil society movement” to curb government excesses real and imagined in the area of national security secrets and to move public opinion in whatever direction it presumably needs to be moved.”

        By no means am I aligned with your apparent (and correct me if I’m wrong) disdain for any who believe strongly, based on fact, that a conspiracy brought about the assassination of an elected president on 11/22/63; however, in good conscience I weigh in with your challenge.

        I read and reread the transcript of Jeff Morley’s Dallas 2013 speech, and came away with concerns similar to your comment that (paraphrasing) “the investigation is giving way to a civil society movement to curb excesses … in matters of national security…”

        This approach is not and never will be a substitute for determining who assassinated John Kennedy. Full transparency by the CIA or any other intelligence agencies should not be confused with resolving the murder of John Kennedy, nor should it be valued as some sort of consolation prize. In a democracy, the resolution of a crime is not a question of negotiation or consensus; in fact, juries are hung all of the time.

        No amount of spirited devotion to personalities representing either end of the spectrum – those who insist that Oswald was a lone assassin or those convinced that the CIA in its various permutations orchestrated the murder of their Commander in Chief – will serve justice. Americans must dig in their collective heels and demand a trial, albeit it in absentia. This is not a popularity contest, and I worry that Jeff Morley’s proposal contains hints of that dynamic.

        Vince Salandria warned against getting worn down by the detail of the investigation. I hope that reputable researchers do not opt for a self-imposed deadline (Morley’s proposal is I believe the anniversary of the Warren Commission Report) or collapse under the weight of the most pragmatic of issues: “what has this effort cost everyone?

      3. Ramon F Herrera

        “Those of us who have waited the past five decades for the conspiracy community to present a unified, logical explanation”

        That is impossible for two reasons:

        (a) Much of the evidence is destroyed or hidden.

        (b) The terms “community” and “unified” are to a large extent contradictory (unless we are talking about Cuba 1959+ or Germany 1930-40s).

      4. It is very easy to reach unified conclusions when the preconceived conclusion is that the Warren Commission was right, no matter how many times it was found wanting. It is inevitable that separate investigations born to existence from the Warren Commission’s very own performance, will reach widely varying conclusions trying to fill in the blanks left by withheld information. Morley makes it clear he does not want to add to that problem, with another conclusion in the absence of that information and you respond by criticising him for avoiding that which you condemn.
        You describe his concentration on getting more information, rather than naming names without it, as an abdication of responsibility for finding JFK’s killers. On the contrary. Those who have no interest in seeking that information are responsible for that abdication, so that is one of the most laughable examples of the pot calling the kettle black you could have come up with.
        Again and again LN’s demand names, then pillory anybody who ventures one for slandering people without sufficient evidence. Here, you criticise Morley for giving obtaining evidence a higher priority, than naming names of the actual trigger pullers without it. We can be forgiven for thinking LN’s demonstrate more faces than a town clock with this sort of double standard in comments.

      5. Lanny,

        The reason to disparage publicly the W.C. CONCLUSIONS is that they are the bedrock for MSM non-discussion of the JFK case. If readers here want the MSM to tackle the JFK head-on, it’s necessary to get the MSM to back away from the presumption Oswald did it all by himself.

        The conclusions are substantially unsupported by the 26 W.C volumes as well as information uncovered over roughly the last 20 years.

        The task of disparaging the conclusions factually is pretty easy. All that’s needed is a “billboard” to display the disparagement.

        As to finding the individual trigger pullers, that doesn’t interest me. They’re long gone and left no trails. What does interest me is who recruited the trigger pullers. There’s probably no documentary record of recruitment. I’d settle for good, solid arrows pointing toward recruitment culpability. I believe such arrows exist in the historical record. Exist among enormous clutter.

      6. I’m personally not interested in convicting the Warren Commission. They did what they were expected to do – issue a politically acceptable solution to the crime, one that agreed with the official solution already leaked to the media by J. Edgar Hoover and others, before the WC was even appointed.

          1. Yes, but you’re missing my point. They really had no choice but to come to that conclusion. They were in a box. Like the 9/11 commission, they understood that their job was to protect the System, not to get to the truth which could threaten that System.

      7. To search for the actual killers is a red-herring and unnecessary.

        We need not identify the actual shooters to declare conspiracy.

        There’s a plethora of circumstantial evidence that strongly suggests conspiracy.

        There’s still censorship, inconsistencies and secrecy that suggests cover-up if not complicity.

        It is more important to ascertain those parties who planned it and their reasons.

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