The Assassination Of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Essay

, Research Paper

The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourcountry.” This is one of the most famous quotes said by the late President Kennedy. Hisdeath is a very controversial and mysterious one. In this paper, I don’t plan on trying totell you exactly what happened or who assassinated the President, but rather give you abackground on Kennedy and how that could have played a key role in his assassination. Iwill then go on to talk about two different conspiracy theories, each of which havestrengths and weaknesses to them. Through, reading this paper, I hope that I will giveyou enough evidence to form your own opinion on who shot and killed former PresidentKennedy. First I would like to go into some background information about the formerPresident. John’s parents immigrated to Boston. John came from a well-rounded family. His father was a graduate from Harvard, and then went on the be the youngest bankpresident at the age of 25. John was born to this family on May 29, 1917 in BrooklineMassachusetts. John grew up going through the private school system in Massachusetts. He was also voted “most likely to succeed” by his class. (Grolier Online, 2). Before John decided to run for office, he had been an US Senator. Then inJanuary 1960, he decided to make a run for the Presidency. He first had to conquer theprimaries, which weren’t particularly easy. He first had to defeat Hubert Humphery Jr. ofMinnesota. After he had defeated candidate Humphery, he was a shoe in for theDemocratic nomination. He swept the Democratic convention and then he named LyndonB. Johnson as his running mate. (Grolier Online, 5). After he had won the Democratic nomination, things became tough for Kennedy. His main opposition was the Republican nominee Richard Nixon. As every candidate hashis own slogan Kennedy’s was “We stand today on the edge of the New Frontier.” Thetwo candidates appeared in a number of television debates, and before, during, and afterthe debates, each pole had Kennedy coming out on top. The 1960 election was a tightrace. Kennedy won the election by a mere 119, 450 popular votes. The electoral countwas 303 to 219 in favor of Kennedy. (Grolier Online, 5) Kennedy had accomplished two major items by being elected to office. The firstthing that Kennedy accomplished was that he was the youngest elected President of theUnited States of America. The second major accomplishment was that he was the firstever Roman Catholic to be elected to office. I know these may not seem like majorevents, but those are two of the many things that come to mind when the name John F.Kennedy is mentioned. (Grolier Online,5). Once Kennedy got elected, there were a few major things that tested the Presidentearly on. The first big test was the Bay of Pigs. The Bay of Pigs incident happened inApril of 1961. What happened is the United States wanted to establish a beachhead inCuba. So the CIA worked with President Kennedy to specially train units to go into Cubaand capture the Bay of Pigs. When the Americans reached the bay and were ready toinvade, they were met by Cuban forces and lost the invasion. (Grolier Online, 6). The Second major disaster to hit the administration was the Berlin Issue. This wasa harming blow to the administration because it occurred almost right after the Bay of Pigsincident. The Berlin issue started in the late Spring of 1961 and went on till 1962. TheBerlin issue was between President Kennedy and the Soviet Premier Nikita Khushchev. Khushchev threatened to sign a peace treaty with East Germany that would give controlover access routes to Berlin. President Kennedy responded by reporting this to theAmerican people: “I made it clear to Mr. Khushchev that the security of Western Europe,and therefore our own security, and deeply involved in presence and our access right toWest Berlin; that those rights are based on the law and not sufferance; and that we aredetermined to maintain those rights at any risk and thus meet our obligation the people ofWest Berlin, and the right to choose there own future.” The Soviets decided to go aheadand construct the Berlin Wall, which kept East Berliners from escaping to West Berlin. The construction of this wall didn’t please Kennedy who responded by taking actionagainst Russia. He sent National Guard and reserve units of the armed forces into activeservice. Khushchev decided not to sign a peace treaty with East Germany and the crisiswas averted. (Grolier Online, 7). The third major event that the Kennedy administration faced was the CubanMissile Crisis. On October 16, 1962, the President was shown pictures that were taken ona reconnaissance flight that showed the Soviets had missile bases under construction inCuba. The threat of a missile crisis worried the President deeply. Cuba had thetechnology to shoot the missles at the United States and basically the rest of the WesternWorld. Kennedy addressed the American people by saying this: “This secrete, swift andextraordinary build-up of Communist missiles–in an area well know to have a special andhistorical relationship to the United States and the nations of the Western Hemisphere–isa deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot beaccepted by this country, if our courage and our commitments are ever again to be trustedby either friend or foe.” Earlier that day, Kennedy put into affect a naval and airquarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. To enforce the weapons band,Kennedy sent United States warships to enforce this ban. They had the right to search anySoviet ship going into Cuba at will. The first major test of the quarantine, was a weeklater when Russia tried to get one of their ships into Cuba. The United States stopped theship, searched it, and found weapons on it and ordered that the ship return to Russia. With this latest development, the Secretary of State Rusk said the following: “We’reeyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.” On October 28, PremierKhruschev and President Kennedy met to discuss this issues. It was later announced thatRussia would dismantle and withdraw it’s offensive weapons from Cuba. (Grolier Online,7). The fourth and final test of the Kennedy administration came when the UnitedStates was made aware of nuclear testing within the atmosphere that Russia wasconducing. In March 1962, Kennedy invited Russia to join the United Sates, along withGreat Britain in an agreement not to conduct nuclear testing within the atmosphere. TheSoviets refused to sign this proposal, and order for testing to continue. Then in August,the United States started negotiations with Russia. Kennedy was able to convinceKrushchev to sign a limited test ban treaty. Consequently Russia agreed to stopperforming atmospheric tests. But this did not stop Russia from considering performingnuclear test in space. Finally in October of the same year, the United States was able toconvince Krushchev to sign a treaty banning nuclear testing all around. (Grolier Online,8). I have just given you a taste of the Kennedy’s administration and some of themajor events that occurred during his administration. The reason for this is many of theconspiracy theories begin from those events. Now I will give you two probableconspiracies about the assassination of Kennedy. Since no one really knows what actuallyhappened to Kennedy, I feel that you should have a different taste of what other peoplebelieve that could have actually happened. The fist conspiracy theory that I will discuss is the one that is common to mostpeople. But before I start giving you conspiracy theories, I am going to give a basicbackground to the murder. On November 22, 1963 the President decided to take a trip toDallas. This trip was part of a speechmaking tour. Before the President left the WhiteHouse, his Presidential staff was urging him not to go to Dallas. They thought thatsomething horrible would happen to the President if he made this trip to Dallas. First,before he decided to go to Dallas, he spoke at a town close to Dallas in the morning. After he was finished with that speech, he made his way to Dallas. At approximately12:30 p.m., as the President made his way through the motorcade, several shots were firedstriking the President in the head and in the neck. About a half an hour later, the Presidentwas pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital. (Grolier Online, 10) As stated above this is the main idea as to what happened in the killing ofPresident. How this happened is what I will talk about next. First the theory that mostpeople know. As the motorcade was driving by, a man by the name of Lee HarveyOswald shot the President. The following facts that I will give were part of the WarrenReport. The Warren Report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in theassassination. The information that I took from the Warren Report is the evidence thatplaces Oswald at the assassination. The following is documentation taken directly fromthe Warren Report. “1. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were firedfrom the sixth floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School BookDepository. This determination is based upon the following: (a) Witnesses at the scene of the assassination saw a rifle being fired from the sixth-floor window of the Depository Building, and some witnesses saw a rifle in the windowimmediately after the shots were fired. (b) The nearly whole bullet found on Governor Connally’s stretcher at ParklandMemorial Hospital and the two bullet fragments found in the front seat of the Presidentiallimousine were fired from the 6.5_millimeter Mannlicher_Carcano rifle found on the sixthfloor of the Depository Building to the exclusion of all other weapons. (c) The three used cartridge cases found near the window on the sixth floor at thesoutheast corner of the building were fired from the same rifle which fired theabove_described bullet and fragments, to the exclusion of all other weapons. (d) The windshield in the Presidential limousine was struck by a bullet fragment onthe inside surface of the glass, but was not penetrated. (e) The nature of the bullet wounds suffered by President Kennedy and GovernorConnally and the location of the car at the time of the shots establish that the bullets werefired from above and behind the Presidential limousine, striking the President and theGovernor as follows: (1) President Kennedy was first struck by a bullet which entered at the back ofhis neck and exited through the lower front portion of his neck, causing a wound whichwould not necessarily have been lethal. The President was struck a second time by a bulletwhich entered the right_rear portion of his head, causing a massive and fatal wound. (2) Governor Connally was struck by a bullet which entered on the right side ofhis back and traveled downward through the right side of his chest, exiting below his rightnipple. This bullet then passed through his right wrist and entered his left thigh where itcaused a superficial wound. (f) There is no credible evidence that the shots were fired from the TripleUnderpass, ahead of the motorcade, or from any other location. 2. The weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired. 3. Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission todetermine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence fromthe experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President’s throat also causedGovernor Connally’s wounds. However, Governor Connally’s testimony and certain otherfactors have given rise to some difference of opinion as to this probability but there is no question in the mind of any member of the Commission that all the shots which causedthe President’s and Governor Connally’s wounds were fired from the sixth floor window ofthe Texas School Book Depository. 4. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally werefired by Lee Harvey Oswald. This conclusion is based upon the following: (a) The Mannlicher_Carcano 6.5_millimeter Italian rifle from which the shots werefired was owned by and in the possession of Oswald. (b) Oswald carried this rifle into the Depository Building on the morning ofNovember 22, 1963. (c) Oswald, at the time of the assassination, was present at the window from whichthe shots were fired. (d) Shortly after the assassination, the Mannlicher_Carcano rifle belonging toOswald was found partially hidden between some cartons on the sixth floor and theimprovised paper bag in which Oswald brought the rifle to the Depository was found closeby the window from which the shots were fired. (e) Based on testimony of the experts and their analysis of films of the assassination,the Commission has concluded that a rifleman of Lee Harvey Oswald’s capabilities couldhave fired the shots from the rifle used in the assassination within the elapsed time of theshooting. The Commission has concluded further that Oswald possessed the capabilitywith a rifle which enabled him to commit the assassination. (f) Oswald lied to the police after his arrest concerning important substantivematters. (g) Oswald had attempted to kill Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker (Resigned, U.S.Army) on April 10, 1963, thereby demonstrating his disposition to take human life. 5. Oswald killed Dallas Police Patrolman J. D. Tippit approximately 45 minutes afterthe assassination. This conclusion upholds the finding that Oswald fired the shots whichkilled President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally and is supported by thefollowing: (a) Two eyewitnesses saw the Tippit shooting and seven eyewitnesses heard theshots and saw the gunman leave the scene with revolver in hand. These nine eyewitnessespositively identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the man they saw. (b) The cartridge cases found at the scene of the shooting were fired from therevolver in the possession of Oswald at the time of his arrest to the exclusion of all other

weapons. (c) The revolver in Oswald’s possession at the time of his arrest was purchased byand belonged to Oswald. (d) Oswald’s jacket was found along the path of flight taken by the gunman as hefled from the scene of the killing. 6. Within 80 minutes of the assassination and 35 minutes of the Tippit killing Oswaldresisted arrest at the theater by attempting to shoot another Dallas police officer. 7. The Commission has reached the following conclusions concerning Oswald’sinterrogation and detention by the Dallas police: (a) Except for the force required to effect his arrest, Oswald was not subjected toany physical coercion by any law enforcement officials. He was advised that he could notbe compelled to give any information and that any statements made by him might be usedagainst him in court. He was advised of his right to counsel. He was given the opportunityto obtain counsel of his own choice and was offered legal assistance by the Dallas BarAssociation, which he rejected at that time. (b) Newspaper, radio, and television reporters were allowed uninhibited access tothe area through which Oswald had to pass when he was moved from his cell to theinterrogation room and other sections of the building, thereby subjecting Oswald toharassment and creating chaotic conditions which were not conducive to orderlyinterrogation or the protection of the rights of the prisoner. (c) The numerous statements, sometimes erroneous, made to the press by variouslocal law enforcement officials, during this period of confusion and disorder in the policestation, would have presented serious obstacles to the obtaining of a fair trial for Oswald.To the extent that the information was erroneous or misleading, it helped to createdoubts, speculations, and fears in the mind of the public which might otherwise not havearisen.” (Warren Report, 1-3). That is just one look into the assassination. The other theory that I would like todiscuss might be harder for the reader to believe, but I have obtained this documentationfrom the special that aired on ABC called Dangerous Years The Kennedy Story. Thisreport looks into Kennedy’s Mafia ties and also untold information about the Bay of Pigsinvasion. They proposed an interesting idea as to why the Bay of Pigs was such a disaster. As I stated at the beginning of this paper, the Bay of Pigs was an invasion led by the CIAto capture the Bay in Cuba. The television show proposed through witnesses theyinterviewed that the Mafia had ties with the CIA and played a role in the Bay of Pigsinvasion. They said that the CIA worked with the Mafia in devising a plan to murder FidelCastero before the invasion was scheduled to take place. It was the Mafia’s job toassassinate Castero. They called the connections in Cuba and arranged for a man topoison Mr. Castero before the invasion. What happened is the man who was supposed todo the poising got scared and left the country. (Dangerous World) Later on in the program they talked about how the Kennedy administration wasvery upset about the great embarrassment that the invasion brought them. John’s father,who was an active member in the Mafia, was able to smooth things over between theKennedy’s and the Mafia members for the time being. But John’s father soon got ill andlost the ability to talk and John’s brother took over in advising him. John’s brother wasvery anti-Mafia and didn’t approve of the Kennedy name being associated with the Mafia. He did everything in his power to severe connections with the Mafia. In doing so, thehead Mafia members got very angry because the Kennedy’s had not yet repaid the favorthat they owed them for the attempted murder of Castero. (Dangerous World) So now I would like you, the reader, to take a look at the HSCS Report that findsthere in fact is evidence of a conspiracy to murder the president. It talks about manyorganizations or groups that could have in fact murdered the President. But all but twogroups are ruled out. Those two groups are, in fact, some, but not all, members of theMafia or individuals of an anti-Castero organization. The HSCS Report reads as follows:”The Committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that presidentJohn F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. Thecommittee is unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once simply defined conspiracyas “a partnership in criminal purposes.” That definition is adequate. Nevertheless, itmay be helpful to set out a more precise definition. If two or more individualsagreed to take action to kill President Kennedy, and at least one of them tookaction in furtherance of the plan, and it resulted in President Kennedy’s death, thePresident would have been assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee recognizes, of course, that while the word “conspiracy”technically denotes only a “partnership in criminal purposes,” it also, in fact,connotes widely varying meanings to many people, and its use has vastly differingsocietal implications depending upon the sophistication, extent and ultimatepurpose of the partnership. For example, a conspiracy to assassinate a Presidentmight be a complex plot orchestrated by foreign political powers; it might be thescheme of a group of American citizens dissatisfied with particular governmentalpolicies; it also might be the plan of two largely isolated individuals with noreadily discernible motive. Conspiracies may easily range, therefore, from those with importantimplications for social or governmental institutions to those with no major societalsignificance. As the evidence concerning the probability that President Kennedywas assassinated as a result of a “conspiracy” is analyzed, these variousconnotations of the word “conspiracy” and distinctions between them ought to beconstantly borne in mind. Here, as elsewhere, words must be used carefully, lestpeople be misled. A conspiracy cannot be said to have existed in Dealey Plaza unless evidenceexists from which, in Justice Holmes’ words, a “partnership in criminal purposes”may be inferred. The Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswaldwas not involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the President was, for example,largely based on its findings of the absence of evidence of significant associationbetween Oswald and other possibleconspirators and no physical evidence of conspiracy. The Commission reasoned,quite rightly, that in the absence of association or physical evidence, there was noconspiracy. Even without physical evidence of conspiracy at the scene of the assassination,there would, of course, be a conspiracy if others assisted Oswald in his efforts.Accordingly, an examination of Oswald’s associates is necessary. The WarrenCommission recognized that a first premise in a finding of conspiracy may be afinding of association. Because the Commission did not find any significant Oswaldassociates, it was not compelled to facethe difficult questions posed by such a finding. More than association is required toestablish conspiracy. There must be at least knowing assistance or a manifestationof agreement to the criminal purpose by the associate. It is important to realize, too, that the term “associate” may connote widelyvarying meanings to different people. A person’s associate may be his next doorneighbor and vacation companion, or it may be an individual he has met only oncefor the purpose of discussing a contract for a murder. The Warren Commissionexamined Oswald’s past and concluded he was essentially a loner. It reasoned,therefore, that since Oswald had no significant associations with persons who could have been involved with him inthe assassination, there could not have been a conspiracy. With respect to Jack Ruby, the Warren Commission similarly found nosignificant associations, either between Ruby and Oswald or between Ruby andothers who might have been conspirators with him. In particular, it found noconnections between Ruby and organized crime, and it reasoned that absent suchassociations, there was no conspiracy to kill Oswald or the President. The committee conducted a three-pronged investigation of conspiracy in theKennedy assassination. On the basis of extensive scientific analysis and an analysisof the testimony of Dealey Plaza witnesses, the committee found there was a highprobability that two gunmen fired at President Kennedy. Second, the committee explored Oswald’s and Ruby’s contacts for any evidenceof significant associations. Unlike the Warren Commission, it found certain ofthese contacts to be of investigative significance. The Commission apparently hadlooked for evidence of conspiratorial association. Finding none on the face of theassociations it investigated, it did not go further. The committee, however,conducted a wider ranging investigation. Notwithstanding the possibility of abenign reason for contact between Oswald or Ruby and one of their associates, thecommittee examined the very fact of the contact to see if it contained investigativesignificance. Unlike the Warren Commission, the committee took a close look atthe associates to determine whether conspiratorial activity in the assassinationcould have been possible, given what the committee could learn about theassociates, and whether the apparent nature of the contact should, therefore, beexamined more closely. Third, the committee examined groups, political organizations, nationalgovernments and so on that might have had the motive, opportunity and means toassassinate the President. The committee, therefore, directly introduced the hypothesis of conspiracy andinvestigated it with reference to known facts to determine if it had any bearing onthe assassination. The committee examined a series of major groups or organizations that havebeen alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the President. Ifany of these groups or organizations, as a group, had been involved in theassassination, the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy would have beenone of major significance. As will be detailed in succeeding sections of this report, the committee did notfind sufficient evidence that any of these groups or organizations were involved ina conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. Accordingly, the committee concluded,on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet government, the Cubangovernment, anti-Castro Cuban groups, and the national syndicate of organizedcrime were not involved in the assassination. Further, the committee found that theSecret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central IntelligenceAgency were not involved in the assassination. Based on the evidence available to it, the committee could not preclude thepossibility that individual members of anti-Castro Cuban groups or the nationalsyndicate of organized crime were involved in the assassination. There wasinsufficient evidence, however, to support a finding that any individual memberswere involved. The ramifications of a conspiracy involving such individualswould be significant, although of perhaps less import than would be the case if agroup itself, the national syndicate, for example, had been involved. The committee recognized that a finding that two gunmen fired simultaneouslyat the President did not, by itself, establish that there was a conspiracy toassassinate the President. It is theoretically possible that the gunmen were actingindependently, each totally unaware of the other. It was the committee’s opinion,however, that such a theoretical possibility is extremely remote. The morelogical and probable inference to be drawn from two gunmen firing at the sameperson at the same time and in the same place is that they were acting in concert,that is, as a result of a conspiracy. The committee found that, to be precise and loyal to the facts it established, itwas compelled to find that President Kennedy was probably killed as a result of aconspiracy. The committee’s finding that President Kennedy was probablyassassinated as a result of a conspiracy was premised on four factors: (1) Since the Warren Commission’s and FBI’s investigation into thepossibility of a conspiracy was seriously flawed, their failure to develop evidenceof a conspiracy could not be given independent weight. (2) The Warren Commission was, in fact, incorrect in concluding thatOswald and Ruby had no significant associations, and therefore its finding of noconspiracy was not reliable. (3) While it cannot be inferred from the significant associations of Oswaldand Ruby that any of the major groups examined by the committee were involvedin the assassination, a more limited conspiracy could not be ruled out. (4) There was a high probability that a second gunman, in fact, fired at thePresident. At the same time, the committee candidly stated, in expressing its finding ofconspiracy in the Kennedy assassination, that it was “”unable to identify the othergunman or the extent of the conspiracy.”" (A Probable Conspiracy Section 1 C -HSCA Report, 1-3). As you can tell the HSCS report contradicts the Warren Report a great deal. Thereason why I put both findings into the assassination of Kennedy is simple. I wanted togive you the reader a look at more that one side. You also must remember that theKennedy assassination is still a huge mystery and until more records are released or newevidence comes up that has an affect on the assassination, this murder will still be one ofthe biggest mysteries in United States History. I would like to leave you with thiscomment written by the New York Times:”John F. Kennedy was a man of his generation, an eloquent spokesman for that strangenew world which the Second War had ushered in. More than any President sinceWoodrow Wilson, he believed in the power of ideas. His quick intelligence gave him anextraordinary grasp of the vast scope of the Presidential office; his deep intellect molded aphilosophy of government that rare oratorical powers enabled him to articulate with graceand with distinction. “He was a man of the world, who understood the role of the United States in thisworld. He was a man of peace, who at first hand had experienced war. He was above all aman of political sophistication, who appreciated what the United States could do and whatit could not do in its relations abroad. While a brilliant exponent of American democracy, he never fell into the trap of believing in the myth of American omnipotence. “He was a man of moderation, as he demonstrated repeatedly during histoo-brief years in office; he was also a man of courag


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