Uncovering the truth about the JFK assassination

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It's been 50 years since the shocking murder of President John F. Kennedy. Yet the nation still yearns for the truth of what happened that terrible day in Dallas.

For 50 years the "official" narrative has been based on the Warren Commission assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald, a disgruntled loner, a Marxist, acted alone.

The Warren Commission report

This version is being repeated as part of the current observances and is the subject of new books, television documentaries, articles and remembrances that also include the lie that Oswald was a member of the Communist Party USA. (Not only was he never a member of the party, there is also no indication in his checkered history that he was actually a "Marxist.")

Yet according to an NPR report 75% of the American people think JFK died at the hands of a conspiracy.

A steady stream of citizen investigators and researchers has refused to accept the Warren Commission conclusions.

Upon release, the commission's report was questioned by a chorus of critics including Mark Lane (Rush to Judgment), Harold Weisberg (Whitewash), Sylvia Meagher (Accessories After the Fact), and countless others, along with a skeptical public.

They have battled a powerful cover-up machine, including a CIA-style disinformation campaign employing influential journalists, some with ties to the CIA and other branches of the intelligence community.

The cover-up cited by the researchers includes destroyed evidence (including Kennedy's missing brain), altered and suppressed evidence, corporate media silencing of honest journalists, the killing of dozens of witnesses (and scaring into silence countless others) and the killing of many of the conspirators including some of the gunmen.

Nevertheless, this citizens' movement has poked giant holes in the Warren Commission report (most notably the magic "single bullet theory"), unearthed suppressed evidence and assembled the outlines of an "unofficial" narrative of what occurred, why and who was responsible for the assassination.

Files and evidence now available

In recent times, the body of research has been enriched by the release of U.S. government files in the 1990s and evidence and intelligence information made available from the Soviet Union after the 1991 collapse. One of the best studies of these documents is JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James Douglass.

In addition the Cuban government has released evidence it has compiled of CIA and Cuban émigré terrorist plots to overthrow the revolutionary government, including information about suspected participants in the assassination. These were brought together in ZR Rifle: The Plot to kill Kennedy and Castro, by Claudia Furiati.

The evidence suggests that what happened in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, was nothing less than a coup by powerful interests, executed and covered up using organs of the state and a compliant corporate mass media.

This evokes similar episodes in U.S. history including the attempt to organize a fascist veterans march to oust President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, the Bush-Cheney theft of the 2000 election, and most recently the government shutdown engineered by the tea party and right-wing Republicans to undo the results of the 2012 elections.

1960: A time of broad social change

Kennedy was elected president in 1960 in the midst of a broad social change beginning to sweep the country that challenged the fanatical Cold War anti-communist hysteria, Jim Crow segregation and attacks on democratic rights on university campuses. At the same time stormy global developments were challenging U.S. imperialist domination.

Kennedy inherited the Cold War policies of the Eisenhower administration that included a policy of nuclear supremacy, overthrow of the Cuban revolutionary government and deepening military involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Kennedy held contradictory views on foreign affairs. According to Douglass, while Kennedy's outlook was shaped by the Cold War, his thinking was also deeply affected by his combat experience in World War II and his Catholic faith. Kennedy supported the independence of Algeria and other colonial nations.

Ultra-right domination of the U.S. government

When he became president, Kennedy almost immediately came in conflict with fanatical anti-communist elements that dominated the institutions of government. The military-industrial complex, the national state security apparatus, powerful right-wing business interests, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cubans, pro-segregationists and other power centers all eventually coalesced into a hostile force opposing Kennedy.

Documents show that Kennedy began clashing with the CIA, which by law comprised an autonomous branch within the U.S. government, operating without accountability, and the right-wing military establishment who worked behind Kennedy's back to undermine his policies.

Records show that in 1961, the newly elected president was thrust into a trap orchestrated by the CIA to carry out the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, aimed at overthrowing the new revolutionary government. Kennedy had been assured the Cuban people would welcome the "liberators" and rise up.

While Kennedy went along with the invasion he warned the CIA that he would refuse to provide U.S. troops and air cover. The CIA thought once the invasion began the young president would be forced to respond.

When Kennedy refused to cooperate and the invasion turned into a debacle, the CIA, right-wing generals and anti-Castro Cubans were livid. They never forgave Kennedy for what they considered a traitorous surrender to socialism.

Documents show that Kennedy was equally contemptuous of what he considered efforts to bypass and undermine presidential authority. After the Bay of Pigs, he told one advisor, "I want to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." He quickly fired CIA Director Allen Dulles (who later became a key figure in the Warren Commission), Deputy Director Charles Cabell (brother of Dallas mayor Earle Cabell) and invasion architect Richard Bissell.

At a 1961 meeting of the National Security Council, Joint Chiefs of Staff and CIA, Dulles presented a plan for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. Kennedy listened, shook his head and remarked as he left the room, "And we call ourselves the human race." (JFK and the Unspeakable, Chronology)

Kennedy's thinking was especially affected by the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. With the world on the brink of nuclear war, Kennedy refused to cave in to U.S. generals who were exploiting the crisis to provoke an invasion of Cuba and a massive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.

In the end, Kennedy and Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev negotiated a way out. But this experience left an indelible imprint on Kennedy, who, according to files that have been released, concluded the only path forward was through a policy of peaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union and normalization of relations with Cuba.

He deeply distrusted the Joint Chiefs, the intelligence community, State Department and many of his advisers. According to Douglass, this resulted in his opening a secret back channel to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and prior to his death, steps toward a secret dialogue with Fidel Castro.

Kennedy was also heavily influenced by the dying Pope John XXIII and his papal encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) published in April 1963. Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review and a leader of National Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, the largest peace group at the time, describes in The Improbable Triumvirate how he helped develop a back channel for Kennedy with the Pope and Khrushchev.

Ending the nuclear arms race

Kennedy publicly made a break with the Cold War when he delivered a commencement address at American University on June 10, 1963, known as his "peace speech," which has been largely ignored by commentators. Kennedy called for an end to the nuclear arms race and declared a suspension of atmospheric testing.

By that summer the Kennedy administration successfully negotiated a limited nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union that outlawed atmospheric and underwater nuclear testing. Kennedy bypassed the military brass and opposition in the U.S. Senate, including among his own party. He turned to Cousins to organize an education campaign on the treaty that resulted in a dramatic change in public opinion and its ultimate adoption.

Following the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had promised Khrushchev that the U.S. would abandon attempts to invade Cuba. However, unknown to Kennedy the CIA continued arming anti-Castro Cuban exiles and carrying out attacks. According to Douglass, when Kennedy learned of the operations, he moved to shut them down and close the training bases.


As Howard Jones writes in Death of a Generation, Kennedy also began having serious doubts about U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He was convinced by Sen. Mike Mansfield and others that the U.S. was being drawn into a deepening conflict, which was impossible to win.

He took steps to begin the process of bringing U.S. military forces home, which was to be completed after the 1964 elections. However, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge secretly refused to carry out his orders.


According to the researchers, those who ordered and planned Kennedy's murder hoped that by attributing the assassination to a "sympathizer" of Castro, they could provoke an invasion of Cuba and overthrow of the revolutionary government or a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union or both.

The covert CIA program responsible for assassination of foreign leaders (code name ZR Rifle), especially Fidel Castro, and overthrow of the Cuban government, which employed Cuban exiles and the Mafia, was then turned over to the operation to kill Kennedy, the researchers report.

There were at least two and possibly three attempted assassination plots, including one in Chicago in early November (The Echo from Dealey Plaza, by Abraham Bolden). Perhaps it was no accident that the actual assassination occurred in Dallas, whose atmosphere had been poisoned by right-wing, anti-communist and pro-segregationist hysteria including from key figures in the city establishment, as described vividly in the new book Dallas 1963.

The hysteria resulted in the famed "mink coat" riot against then Sen. Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, during the 1960 election campaign, and the mobilization of a hostile crowd to greet UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson two weeks before the assassination, where he was spat on and hit with a sign.

The right-wing atmosphere and links to political officials made it easy for local law enforcement officials to cooperate in the plot.

Oswald and Ruby

Space doesn't permit the full unofficial "people's" narrative from being told here. However, some information about two key figures in the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, is enough to raise big questions about the credibility of the Warren Commission report.

The official history of Oswald rarely tells the full truth about his past.

Oswald joined the U.S. Marines and was assigned to a top-secret radar spying installation at Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan under the supervision of the CIA.

In 1959 he defected to the Soviet Union as part of what Victor Marchetti (CIA and the Cult of Intelligence) believed was a program to send agents there posing as "defectors." Oswald lived and worked in Minsk but apparently was never trusted by the Soviets.

Oswald married a Russian woman, had two children and returned to the U.S. in 1962. He was never prosecuted for his defection and in fact his return was facilitated by the CIA.

Still only 24 years old, Oswald settled in Dallas where he worked for both the CIA and FBI, according to the researchers. The CIA began manipulating him in a way that left a "trail" to set him up as the assassin "patsy", and to especially leave the impression Oswald was a Marxist or connected to a Cuban and Soviet plot.

Oswald was assigned to New Orleans where he got job at a CIA-related company. Working under CIA direction, he established a branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and organized a street provocation that got him on local television.

The Communist Party USA received a number of correspondences from a person who identified himself as Oswald during this time. And one of the first lawyers sought by Oswald after his arrest was CPUSA attorney John Abt (John Abt, Advocate and Activist). But the party regarded Oswald with suspicion and steered clear of him.

The CIA also cooked up an elaborate scenario to make it appear that Oswald visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City to obtain visas to travel to both countries. The CIA evidently was clumsily trying to make it look like Oswald was participating in planning a plot to assassinate Kennedy concocted by the Soviets.

Jack Ruby, who shot and killed Oswald inside Dallas police headquarters (!), was a member of the Chicago Mafia who was sent to Dallas to expand the mob's drug, casino and prostitution markets. In the late 1950s, Ruby was a gunrunner for the CIA to Cuba, where the CIA at the time supplied both Castro and dictator Fulgencio Batista, so as to hedge their bets, according to Douglass. When the revolution triumphed, Ruby supplied guns to the anti-Castro Cubans.

Ruby was integral to numerous aspects of the assassination plot. Eyewitnesses place Ruby in Dealey Plaza, the assassination site, on Nov. 22, including reportedly dropping off a team of assassins at the fence behind the grassy knoll. Ruby is believed to have been assigned to kill Oswald and easily gained access to police headquarters where Oswald was paraded in public twice.

The evidence unearthed by researchers and contradictions in the official story create grave doubts as to whether Oswald even fired a gun. Instead the finger points to trained snipers among the Cuban exiles and Mafia, overseen by CIA agents. Once their job was done, they were most likely whisked out from nearby Red Bird Airfield by airplane (Vendetta: the Kennedys, by Matthew Smith).

Names of those often associated with the assassination, including Richard Helms, David Atlee Phillips, David Sanchez Morales, Frank Sturgis and others, surface again during the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy and the 1972 Watergate burglary.

The desire to unearth the truth about this crime against democracy still burns 50 years later. In the end, it is interwoven with the broad people's movement to defend and expand our democracy and democratic institutions and to defeat right-wing extremism and corporate power that constantly seeks to undermine it.

Photo: Wanted for Treason." Infamous handbill circulated on November 21, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, one day before John F. Kennedy visited the city and was assassinated. Uncredited on original. Later investigation attributed it to Robert A. Surrey of Johnson Printing Co., Dallas. Wikimedia Commons




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  • 1963-2039
    When the Warren Commission Report on the Kennedy assassination was issued 50 years ago, we were told there were several subjects that wouldn’t be revealed for another 75 years … 2039.
    “Too sensitive, to confusing, not in the national interest.” Take your pick.
    Well, you don’t have to wait another 25 years to find out what the elitist commissioners excised about the subject of one Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. The powers that be wanted us to believe that Oswald was “a loner, with an overriding hostility to his environment;” in another words, “a whacko.”
    Lee Harvey Oswald was far from being any of that.
    He was a Marine Corps radar operator at a U-2 spy plane air base in Atsugi, Japan, 1957-58, where he had a “crypto” clearance (higher than “top secret”), thereby giving him access to information of value to the Soviet Union, our arch Cold War foe at the time.
    Discharged in August 1959, Oswald goes to Russia in October , renounces his U.S. citizenship, and affirms his “allegiance to the USSR,” with a willingness to share with them intelligence information.
    In February 1961, after working in a Russian radar factory, Oswald again shows up at the U.S embassy in Moscow declaring his intention to return to the U.S. The embassy authorized approval, and the U.S. Passport Office (PO) not only gave this defector a clean bill of health, but they also authorized a loan to facilitate the cost of his return. Normally, when a U.S. citizen declares his allegiance to another country, the PO prepares a “lookout” card in case said party ever attempts to renew his passport.
    NO SUCH CARD WAS EVER PREPARED FOR LEE HARVEY OSWALD, and he arrived back in the U.S. in June 1962.
    By omitting such information in their report, the Warren commissioners were able to sidestep any questions arising from Oswald’s past—“crypto clearance,” his knowledge of secret U-2 flights over the USSR and China, not to say his defection to the Cold War enemy, Russia.
    So what was the secret of Oswald’s immunity from being arrested and prosecuted upon his return to the U.S. for having criminally betrayed his country at the height of the Cold War by defecting to Russia? Because Lee Harvey Oswald was a double agent for the C.I.A.
    According to his former Marine Corps roommate, James Botelho, eventually to become a judge, upon learning of the above, “I believe Lee was on assignment in Russia for American intelligence.”
    Oswald’s so-called “defection” was nothing but a U.S. intelligence ploy, according to former CIA finance officer, James A. Wilcott.
    Oswald had been recruited from the military by the CIA “with the express purpose of a double agent assignment in the U.S.S.R,” according to Wilcott.
    The Warren Commission had all the resources to find out and pursue the above information pertaining to Oswald’s C.I.A.’s undercover work, as others eventually did. The commission chose not to do so because revealing such would have belied their simplistic conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was just a “loner,” “a whacko.” His C.I.A. connections would have pointed a finger at others in our government who very well had reasons to murder JFK on November 22, 1963.
    The Warren Commission choose not go there. Keep it simple. Oswald was indeed “a patsy,” as he said. And he paid the price as all patsies do.
    Tune in 2039.

    Posted by Lawrence H. Geller, 03/12/2014 12:09pm (2 years ago)

  • Thanks John Bachtell for having written something that actually has some substance concerning an issue that from my experience has been off limits for polite discussion in our party. I've never understood why the left & our party has always refused to talk about what happened to JFK in terms of a conspiracy. I guess it took James Douglas to finally bring Peoples World around to facing the facts involving a conspiracy to kill JFK.

    Posted by gary severson, 02/11/2014 9:06pm (2 years ago)

  • I thank John for writing this informative and timely article. It was not only persuasive but also very well written, almost like a mystery novel.

    I would only add that in addition to all the events John describes I would add the involvement of the Steel companies to that list. I remember when President Kennedy first proposed that there should be price controls on Steel.

    I think that Corporate America played it's behind the scenes role.

    Posted by Lance Cohn, 11/30/2013 6:40pm (2 years ago)

  • Thanks, John Bachtell for exposing the duplicity and anti-Marxist, nut, terrorist and murderous fanatic, Lee Harvey Oswald.
    Thanks also, for the more important information that he, along with a host of terrorists, racists, gangsters, capitalist dinosaurs, anti-communists and bigots were, it seems, patsies for the notorious Mafia and C I A(let us not forget the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, "White" groups, and other fascistic and anti-human organizations) . These organizations have long worked to destabilize and misrepresent the C P U S A.
    The C I A, then and now, threatens human civilization at large, but has focused for the last 50 yrs., on disrupting democratic and working class movements to vote, think, and organize for human liberation, in the United States(North America, violating its own charter)Asia, Europe, Africa, Central and South America.
    President Kennedy, a Harvard grad, as our own W. E. B. Du Bois, Benjamin Jefferson Davis and John Reed, was bullied, no doubt, forced into the cesspool and whirlpool of fascistic perils of our United States of America-but we have to ask-did he have the opportunity to do better?
    The great Frederic Douglass, a runaway slave and maybe our greatest American, warns us to measure humans not by their height obtained, but by the depths from which they have come.
    All in all, the chilling truth of the barbaric Kennedy episode in U. S. history tells us that we must resist, resist, resist the murderous C I A and all its apologists for human civilization and human liberation itself is threatened by its goals of slavery for all to imperialism, racism and war- humankind's inhumanity to itself.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 11/22/2013 11:47am (2 years ago)

  • It is very easy to get lost in the house of mirrors of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, including conflicting forensic experts and witnesses. However, everyone should ask themselves two simple questions...

    First, if we are to believe the narrative that Oswald was a "loser" from a broken home with a troubled relationship and muddled political history who wished to make his mark in the world and suffered from delusions of grandeur and so assassinated the President then why didn't he proclaim it to the world once in front of the cameras? John Wilkes Booth shouted - "Sic Semper Tyrannus!" Lee Harvey Oswald calls out - "I'm just a patsy!" He took every opportunity in front of the cameras to deny his involvement and protest his innocence. This is the logical reverse of what he would have been expected to do if the deed was his ticket to the fame he yearned for.

    Second, there is this piece of documented evidence. The House Assassinations Committee retrieved a document from the files that included the phone numbers of the calls Oswald requested telephone operators be placed on his behalf while he was in custody. One was to a resident of North Carolina who was a US Army Counter Intelligence Officer. The call was unanswered.How would Oswald know this person and what was the purpose of the call? When asked, the officer denied all knowledge of Oswald. The House Committee investigator called this "provocative".


    Posted by joseph zimmerman, 11/22/2013 7:09am (2 years ago)

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