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Who will debunk the debunkers?
May 25, 2007 5:17 AM   Subscribe

Texas A&M Paper presents evidence to show that evidence used to rule out second shooter in JFK murder was flawed. New testing on the type of ammunition used in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy raises questions about whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, according to a study[PDF link] by researchers at Texas A&M University.
posted by psmealey (103 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
But.. wouldn't this challenge the universally-accepted conclusions of the Warren Commission?
posted by imperium at 5:24 AM on May 25, 2007


Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which focuses on Kennedy's life and assassination, questioned the study's methods.

"Their study can't answer anything about the assassination," he said. "That's my understanding of it because they didn't test the actual fragments. They tested similar fragments and found that the test itself is flawed."

...

The last time the fragments were tested was in 1999. The examination was inconclusive.


Yeah, see, not exactly conclusive. "But, dude -- these bullets are so much like the real ones! So we're right!"

Conspiracy theory once again proves nothing but the insistence and agenda of the conspiracy theorist.
posted by grubi at 5:34 AM on May 25, 2007


coming up next: how dick cheney personally directed 9/11.
posted by quonsar at 5:39 AM on May 25, 2007


how dick cheney personally directed 9/11.

Kids' stuff. I'm waiting to see someone demonstrate a direct link between the JFK assassination to 9/11.
posted by psmealey at 5:44 AM on May 25, 2007


The JFK killing would be pretty easy to explain as a non-conspiracy if his brother, also running for President, wasn't killed just a couple years later. (Not that I subscribe to any particular theory or have any axe to grind, it just seems like populist politicians have "accidents" an awful lot more than anyone else.)
posted by DU at 5:49 AM on May 25, 2007


I blame a giant 8' tall giant dry erase board. But that's me. YMMV.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:55 AM on May 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


But... there were no STARS in the photographs! And the flag was WAVING!

For fucks sake, get over it already.
posted by bondcliff at 5:55 AM on May 25, 2007


Overall, I have similar thoughts as DU, but it's always a difficult admission. The problem is that conspiracy dismissers tend to be as intellectually lazy as conspiracy fetishists; if you express any doubts about the official account, you are quickly tarred with the same brush as the tinfoil hat crowd. As we've exactly seen a handful of times on this thread already.
posted by psmealey at 5:58 AM on May 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Vincent Bugliosi is going to be pissed.
posted by drezdn at 5:59 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok, people. You think you're so smart and all. Tell me this:

How do you know JFK existed?

Think about it. Have you met him? They say he was in the service during the war. How do you know the war happened? What, were you there? Huh, punk?

Oh, you say, oh, he was a charismatic president, the media revolved around him like he was the sun. Well let me tell you something. Heliocentrism—Hah! Fraud of the millenium.
posted by Firas at 6:01 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


This controversy will be put to rest once and for all when nobody cares any more. In, like, about two minutes from now.
posted by unSane at 6:04 AM on May 25, 2007


(Not that I subscribe to any particular theory or have any axe to grind, it just seems like populist politicians have "accidents" an awful lot more than anyone else.)
posted by DU at 8:49 AM on May 25


You're forgetting that Reagan had an accident too. And OK City appears to have been a solitary group of a couple nuts.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:05 AM on May 25, 2007


it just seems like populist politicians have "accidents" an awful lot more than anyone else

Maybe there just aren't enough conspiracy theories involving rock stars?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:06 AM on May 25, 2007


Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which focuses on Kennedy's life and assassination, questioned the study's methods.

"Their study can't answer anything about the assassination," he said. "That's my understanding of it because they didn't test the actual fragments. They tested similar fragments and found that the test itself is flawed."


My understanding is that Gary Mack doesn't even seem to understand what the study is saying. The original chemist said that the bullets came from the same gun, and these researchers are saying that there is no way to tell what gun the bullets were fired from.
posted by delmoi at 6:09 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


You're forgetting that Reagan had an accident too. And OK City appears to have been a solitary group of a couple nuts.

psmeasley's comment about the intellectual laziness of conspiracy dismissers seems apropos here.
posted by DU at 6:10 AM on May 25, 2007


Conspiracy theory once again proves nothing but the insistence and agenda of the conspiracy theorist.

I don't know much about the various conspiracy theories, but if you visit the site of the murder you get the feeling that Oswald must have been some kind of genius to pull off that headshot. As the Warren Report recorded "The first shot was fired from the far east-end window of the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository building, entered JFK's back; exited from his throat; entered Connally's back; exited his chest near the right nipple; went through his right wrist shattering the radius bone; entered his left leg embedding itself in his thigh bone,then dropped out later, in pristine condition, on his stretcher in Parkland Hospital."

For a guy as unlucky as Oswald, it just seems so unbelievable that he could have made that shot. That was my impression and I sort of understand why so many people have sought to create an alternative narrative for what happened.
posted by three blind mice at 6:11 AM on May 25, 2007


I heard a brief snippet of this interview on NPR yesterday morning. If I heard right, David Talbot reports in a new book that Bobby Kennedy told friends and family in the weeks after JFK's assassination that it was the result of intra-governmental disputes.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:14 AM on May 25, 2007


Actually my theory is Castro had Kennedy killed. Think about it: Kennedy had tried to kill Castro on multiple occasions, so why wouldn't Castro try to kill him? We couldn't invade Cuba in revenge because of the Missile Crisis and the promise to Russia not too. So Castro kills Kennedy, and the government is afraid that if they say that, people might demand some kind of military action, fucking up our relations with Russia. So, they pretend Oswald acted alone, and then kept up this seemingly irrational grudge against Castro for the last 40 years (While being friendly with China, Vietnam, etc). Oswald seems to have connections with Cuba.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Firas writes "Think about it. Have you met him? They say he was in the service during the war. How do you know the war happened? What, were you there? Huh, punk?"

PT Boat Veterans For Truth
posted by brundlefly at 6:18 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bill Hicks and JFK.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:22 AM on May 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


*checks the graves of Kennedy, Oswald & Ruby for movement*

Nope. Still three dead bodies. Everything's fine.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:22 AM on May 25, 2007


ZachsMind: the USA is holding political prisoners by Cuba's help. No, er, spinning motion roundabout JFK's coffin?
posted by Firas at 6:25 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dear God, I would like to file a bug report.
posted by lysdexic at 6:27 AM on May 25, 2007


the USA is holding political prisoners by Cuba's help

Huh? Guantanamo Bay is hardly a US military base voluntarily on the part of Cuba.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:28 AM on May 25, 2007


ITS A JOKE LAFF
posted by Firas at 6:28 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually my theory is Castro had Kennedy killed. Think about it: Kennedy had tried to kill Castro on multiple occasions, so why wouldn't Castro try to kill him?

The influence of Cuba is still not inconsistent with a lone gunman theory. Oswald was a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which is a political motive for the assassination of JFK that doesn't get discussed much in depth.
posted by jonp72 at 6:35 AM on May 25, 2007


Putting aside the usual wiseass remarks in the comments, the post suggests that the findings were not done in the best possible manner. This post suggests that thee may have been another shooter but it does not state that there had to be one. Now, whether it was Oswwald alone or two people, is one issue; a separate issue is who conspired to bring about the assassination. Conspiracy advocates tend to dwell on this aspect of the case.

In this and other "conspiracies," I have finally to ask: ok. some evil forces were or still are at work. What will YOU do now, knowing this as you do.
posted by Postroad at 6:39 AM on May 25, 2007



Maybe there just aren't enough conspiracy theories involving rock stars?
Derek: 'You know they can't prove whose vomit it was...they don't have the facilities at Scotland Yard....'
posted by MtDewd at 6:41 AM on May 25, 2007


some evil forces were or still are at work. What will YOU do now

Exorcise?
posted by Firas at 6:44 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


For a guy as unlucky as Oswald, it just seems so unbelievable that he could have made that shot.

As you may recall from Full Metal Jacket, Oswald was trained in marksmanship by the USMC.
posted by TedW at 6:51 AM on May 25, 2007


SCENE: EXT: CEMETERY

Firas: "ZachsMind: the USA is holding political prisoners by Cuba's help. No, er, spinning motion roundabout JFK's coffin?"

Zach stands near the tombstones wearing a bright yellow rain slicker. He holds a microphone near his mouth and one earphone in his ear as he looks at the camera. He talks rather loudly as if he were standing in a hurricane, but it's only slightly windy. Just off camera, a curious repetitive thud can be heard.

Zach: "Well, Firas you're right! I probably should have been more specific! There is no out of the ordinary movement with regards to the gravesites known affectionately to all conspiracy theorists as The Bed of the Big Three. However, the curious thudding sound that's been heard off and on since 1974 is again continuing and I put my investigative talents to work! I believe we here at MeFi News have uncovered the answer! Walk with me here Eric."

Zach takes a few paces back until the camera clearly sees JFK's tombstone, which appears to be vibrating a bit.

Zach: "Eric's my camera man by the way say hi Eric. Okay, here we have Kennedy's gravesite. Got that in the shot Eric? Good. As you can see it's curiously moving, but in the same way we've reported it moving off and on for years. I'll put the microphone close to the ground so we can hear the well documented thudding sound."

Zach moves microphone from face to ground, where the thudding sound becomes more significantly pronounced. He then returns the microphone to his face. He continues to talk as he moves away from Kennedy's grave, walking backwards just shy of the foot of several graves all in a row.

Zach: "It's been going on for about ten minutes or so. Previous reports have shown that Kennedy's grave vibrates and makes thudding sounds about once or twice a day, on average for about twenty to thirty minutes at a time. Many theories have been attributed to this phenomenon. I think I found the answer.

"Now if you'll follow me as I talk Eric, we'll go down the row of graves here. Be careful Eric, you're walking on John Belushi's grave there. Walk around the graves, Eric. It's bad luck.

"Okay in a second here we'll come across an indentation in the ground that's very significant. ..Here we are.


Eric gets the indentation in the ground on camera.

Zach: "Eric can you get that in the shot? Do we need more lighting? We're good? Okay. Here, and if Eric can get the tombstone in the shot you'll see, this is Marilyn Monroe's grave, just about a half dozen or so plots away from Kennedy's. Apparently his is a better place. She digs her way over there and back twice a day.

"So as I was saying before. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a pleasant visitation among friends. So we can clearly see from this that the USA holding political prisoners with help from Cuba is the furthest thing of interest to our former president's mind. He's a little preoccupied with more pressing matters.

"This has been ZachsMind reporting from the Famous Dead People All In One Place Cemetery. Back to you Firas."


FIN
posted by ZachsMind at 6:52 AM on May 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Huh? Guantanamo Bay is hardly a US military base voluntarily on the part of Cuba.

Well it depends on what you mean by voluntarily, I'm sure cuba could probably get the prison part of the base shut down if they really pushed for it. I don't even see them trying, are they?
posted by delmoi at 6:52 AM on May 25, 2007


if you visit the site of the murder you get the feeling that Oswald must have been some kind of genius to pull off that headshot.

You're assuming he was going for a headshot. A reasonable assumption perhaps, but an assumption nonetheless. If he was going for some other shot, and missed and got a headshot, that would make him a lucky but shitty marksman. And where does that "pristine condition" quote come from?
posted by Pastabagel at 6:53 AM on May 25, 2007


The influence of Cuba is still not inconsistent with a lone gunman theory.

I didn't say that it was.
posted by delmoi at 6:55 AM on May 25, 2007


So there was probably a second gunman. Why is this controversial? That's exactly what the House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 6:56 AM on May 25, 2007


It would help if the government didn't act like there was something to hide. The CIA is blocking access to information that was supposed to be released according to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

Salon excerpt from David Talbot's book (New York Times review). He recommends Mary Ferrell Foundation and The Education Forum as "the two best Web sites for information and discussion."

The Cuban government has considered the US presence at Guantánamo Bay to be an illegal occupation for decades without that changing anything, so they probably don't have much say about what facilities are there. (The US leases the base according to the 1903 Cuban-American Treaty, but Cuba doesn't cash the checks.)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:02 AM on May 25, 2007


C'mon, we all know that the shooter on the grassy knoll was a CIA hit man operating under the direction of LBJ.
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on May 25, 2007


Castro's been pushing to shut the whole of Guantanamo since before he took power, why would it matter to us if he didn't like the prison part now?

If Cuba is so complicit in Gitmo's existance why do we bother having the fenceline and the Marine patrols?

Come on didn't anybody around here see A Few Good Men?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:08 AM on May 25, 2007


What delmoi said. One study conducted in the 1970s to bolster the lone-nut theory was flawed. This is not an earthshattering news item.
posted by gubo at 7:08 AM on May 25, 2007


And where does that "pristine condition" quote come from?

On review, it came from a pretty dodgy source Pastabagel.

I'm not gonna argue the details ('cause I don't know them) but the general impression I got in Dallas was "WOW, that was one hell of a shot." As a non-expert, one assumes a sniper would go for a head-shot, and (to the same non-expert shooter) the perceived difficulty of Oswald pulling it off is just one of those things that gives the various conspiracy theories so much traction. An expert sniper might consider it to have been piece of cake, but to the average joe like myself, one cannot help but be a bit skeptical.

Now throw in Castro, Ruby and the rest of the characters and it's no wonder at all that conspiracy theories about JFK's murder abound to this day.
posted by three blind mice at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2007



From the wikipedia page on the assassination

From 1992 until 1998, the Assassination Records Review Board gathered and unsealed many documents. However, tens of thousands of pages of other documents will remain classified and sealed, away from the public, until 2017, including:

* 3+% of all Warren Commission documents;
* 21+% of the House Select Committee on Assassinations documents;
* An undeterminable percentage of CIA, FBI, Secret Service, National Security Agency, State Department, US Marine Corps, Naval Investigative Service, Defense Investigative Service and many other US government documents.


Based on this alone, the fact that so much of it is secret for so long, I'm assuming (a) he was killed by some part of the government, (b) with Vice president Johnson's knowledge and approval, (c) with the knowledge of some members of the legislature, (d) with the knowledge of some high ranking members of the military, and (e) with the knowledge of some members of the Supreme Court.

There's no other reason to keep so much of this secret for so long. If so many people in politics today have such vitriol for people of different religions, different positions on abortion, gays, etc. I can only imagine there would have been people in the government and in the military who were boiling at the popularity of an adulterous Irish-Catholic Massachusetts liberal who failed so utterly in Cuba and elsewhere in the world to stop communism.

Does anyone know how much of the 9-11 Commission report is classified?
posted by Pastabagel at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2007


I recall reading somewhere that most of the JFK evidence has been locked away for the last 40 years, and that some ill-meaning politicians just voted to keep it sealed up even longer. Is this true?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:19 AM on May 25, 2007


It's all Clinton's fault.

JFK ↔ Clinton ↔ 9/11.
posted by ericb at 7:19 AM on May 25, 2007


You're forgetting that Reagan had an accident too.

reagan was a populist, too

In this and other "conspiracies," I have finally to ask: ok. some evil forces were or still are at work. What will YOU do now, knowing this as you do.

it's history, what do we have to do? ... if we were given a list of the 10 or 12 senators who stabbed julius caesar, what could we do? ... nothing ... but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be valuable to us to know

i suppose some of the people might be alive and be prosecuted ... but politically, there's been too much water over the dam and too much time passed for it to be as relevant as it would have been

i think it was some small group of right wing nuts ... in fact, maybe it was two lone gunmen who just happened to pick the same day
posted by pyramid termite at 7:21 AM on May 25, 2007



So there was probably a second gunman. Why is this controversial? That's exactly what the House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 9:56 AM on May 25


According to that (same?) Committee, James Earl Ray assassinated MLK as part of a non-governmental conspiracy. I had never heard that before.

But this Committee's basis for a second gunmen in the JFK case is based on acoustical evidence, which I'm guessing is based on audio recordings of the event. I don't have a lot of faith in the audio fidelity of 1963 recording technology. And I'm not convinced by the ability today to acoustically model gunfire from within a building exiting into a public area with an indeterminate number of cars and people, let alone in 1979.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:24 AM on May 25, 2007


"Maybe there just aren't enough conspiracy theories involving rock stars?"

Mia Zapata?
posted by klangklangston at 7:24 AM on May 25, 2007


I recall reading somewhere that most of the JFK evidence has been locked away for the last 40 years, and that some ill-meaning politicians just voted to keep it sealed up even longer. Is this true?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:19 AM on May 25


According to wikipedia, President Johnson ordered the Warren Commission report sealed until 2039, but a 1992 act of Congress shortened this to 2017.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:28 AM on May 25, 2007


At least we had Oliver Stone to create an incoherent but somewhat compelling narrative about JFK conspiracies.

With 9/11, all we have is stupid old Michael Moore and the equally annoying Eugene Jarecki.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:30 AM on May 25, 2007


Getting shot was the best thing that happened to JFK, legacy-wise. Had he lived, he'd have been as disappointing as LBJ, perhaps even more so.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:44 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Someone needs to get to the bottom of this Kennedy assassination.
posted by PHINC at 7:52 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


In this and other "conspiracies," I have finally to ask: ok. some evil forces were or still are at work. What will YOU do now, knowing this as you do.
posted by Postroad at 9:39 AM on May 25


Sorry I missed this earlier, because this begs a lot of very interesting questions.

First, are the same evil forces at work today that were at work then? Think about Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex. If the evil forces are different, i.e different camps come and go, it suggests some theater of conflict between powerful camps "behind the scenes", or some framework in which one can come to power over another that at least relies on the electoral process to elect the respective camps' figurehead politicians. Not great, but better competing evil interests rather than the alternative below.

The alternative is that it is the same evil forces, which is staggeringly bad for the world but much worse for Americans. It implies that the constitutional and legal framework of the country is horribly defective and has been defective from at least the turn of the 20th century but, worse, we don't know about it. We don't see the giant loophole. (Did Kurt Godel see it?) Perhaps after the Civil and Spanish American Wars, the political elites saw another potential civil war in the making, and established control over both parties to deny any political voice to this issue?


In any case, if the same power structure extends at least from the 60's through now, it must transcend the parties and the press (who ostensibly investigate things), but also must be large and sophisticated enough that new generations of people can be brought up within it or can enter, and that entirely new industries can rise and be brought under its scope.

E.g., is Google part of this power structure? The original PageRank patent is not owned by google, but by the National Science Foundation. Google bought Keyhole, a CIA-funded company. If there are such 'evil forces', the implication would be that Google is part of it.

Who were the kids of the 60's who somehow earned the right to reign in the 2000's? Dick Cheney was a child of nobodys, how does he rise to orchestrate the activities of this power structure? It can't simply be "oil companies" because T. Boone Pickens is the quintessential oil guy, but his name never comes up in these conversations. What code did Cheney put out as a young Congressman that signaled to the JFK era people that he could be the next generation?

I'm not talking about some goofy secret society, but more of the social circles/business networking. Furthermore, I'm not suggesting there are such evil forces, but simply that if there were such evil forces then and now, and they are the same, then we are beyond totally screwed.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:57 AM on May 25, 2007


There's no other reason to keep so much of this secret for so long.

There are lots of reasons, depending on what's inside those folders, not least of which is the fact that government is monolithic. If Congress changed a date from 2039 to 2017, you can bet that somebody took home thousands of dollars for producing a report that explained exactly why those 22 years made a difference.

I'll go you one better: If the scenario you describe were true, it would never be declassified. (Maybe it won't.)
posted by cribcage at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2007


E.g., is Google part of this power structure?

What better way to track your citizens than to set up the best search engine and then track what everyone is looking for. Why else do you think we haven't been attacked again after 9/11?
posted by caddis at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2007


This many comments, and this Onion headline hasn't been trotted out yet?

But seriously folks.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2007


I don't know much about the various conspiracy theories, but if you visit the site of the murder you get the feeling that Oswald must have been some kind of genius to pull off that headshot.

It wasn't even 100 yards, for crying out loud. Actual no-shit snipers kill people from more than a mile out. Hitting a slow-moving, man-sized, target in almost full view, that's not even attempting evasion, from 100 yards should not be the world's greatest feat of marskmanship.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 AM on May 25, 2007


Getting shot was the best thing that happened to JFK, legacy-wise. Had he lived, he'd have been as disappointing as LBJ, perhaps even more so.

Nice try, but you need to wait for a better opening for this kind of troll.
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on May 25, 2007


You can't deny it DU. I don't remember the line but there was a rap lyric that said something like "you know you'll sell more records from the bottom of the lake". Dying young and unexpectedly is the best thing that happen to legacy of anyone even mildly well-regarded.
posted by Firas at 8:18 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


T. Boone Pickens is the quintessential oil guy, but his name never comes up in these conversations.

But... but... that's exactly what he'd want!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 8:21 AM on May 25, 2007


The alternative is that it is the same evil forces, which is staggeringly bad for the world but much worse for Americans. It implies that the constitutional and legal framework of the country is horribly defective and has been defective from at least the turn of the 20th century but, worse, we don't know about it. We don't see the giant loophole.

There is a theory that suggests hunter gatherers imposed themselves as leaders on early agrarian civilizations. The early agrarians wouldn't have had the skills with weapons that the hunters had.. This prototypical power structure then influenced later cultures, and evolved.

Today we have a highly sophisticated version of that system, which includes Manufacturing Consent, and Disciplined Minds. The problem then, is in defining what a conspiracy is, and what constitutes an evil force.
posted by Chuckles at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2007


I like James Ellroy's version.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2007


foxy_hedgehog, that onion link is awesome in so many ways. I highly recommend people click through, it's the front page of a paper the day after the assasination.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY CATCHES HUSBAND'S BRAINS WITH GRACE, APLOMB (see Fasion, page 10)
posted by Firas at 8:31 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have not bothered overly much to worry about this or that conspiracy, believing, perhaps, that there is not much I can do if something was revealed to be some sort of conspiracy, no matter what the case involved. I had, though, for some time, wondered about one simple fact in the JFK "case." It has always been assumed that the starting point is to begin with the Zapruder film. But then I have always wondered why seldom does anyone ask about who got hold of the film, and for how long did they have it, and could it have been altered in some way. One place that deals withthis issue and in fact asserts that the film is a forged document is
http://www.assassinationscience.com/johncostella/jfk/intro/index.html
you decide...I am going looking for food for my barbeque for Memorial Day.
posted by Postroad at 8:32 AM on May 25, 2007


you know what? i think the second shooter got away clean.
posted by bruce at 8:42 AM on May 25, 2007


quick, bruce, let's scour the dry cleaning establishments of dallas ... one of them MUST know something
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on May 25, 2007


the perceived difficulty of Oswald pulling it off is just one of those things that gives the various conspiracy theories so much traction

Exactly. The biggest reason for this conspiracy theory, and teh 9-11 theories, is that it always hinges on fundamental misunderstandings of the facts involved and the principles as well. The idea that the bullet was "pristine": not true at all. They've shown this supposed pristine bullet plenty of times. The basic theorist's idea of "pristine" is more flawed than I'd imagined.

Sheesh.
posted by grubi at 9:10 AM on May 25, 2007


I like conspiracy theories better when they involve the 10th planet, Rosicrucians, 10 feet tall lizardmen, Atlantis, Schubert's Unfinished Symphony,* Tau Ceti, the vengeful god Baal, King Arthur and time cubes. Preferably all at once. JFK? He was just some dude.


*or is it?
posted by Kattullus at 9:32 AM on May 25, 2007


It's harder to imagine a society where a single man can kill the president than it is to believe that a dark cabal with special powers is responsible.

In a way, it's the same reason why some won't believe that Shakespeare was just an ordinary schlub who could write good, or that Mary Shelley couldn't have written Frankenstein.
posted by drezdn at 9:38 AM on May 25, 2007


I like conspiracy theories better when they involve the 10th planet, Rosicrucians, 10 feet tall lizardmen, Atlantis, Schubert's Unfinished Symphony,* Tau Ceti, the vengeful god Baal, King Arthur and time cubes. Preferably all at once. JFK? He was just some dude.


*or is it?
posted by Kattullus at 12:32 PM on May 25


You're correct, the Symphony is in fact finished. However, it must never be played, for it is the song that ends the earth.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:40 AM on May 25, 2007


I'll go you one better: If the scenario you describe were true, it would never be declassified. (Maybe it won't.)
posted by cribcage at 10:58 AM on May 25


It'll be extended along with the copyright term. Probably in the same bill: The Mickey Mouse Heritage and [REDACTED] Act.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:46 AM on May 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


JackRuby is the wild card. What possible motive did he have for killing Oswald? How did he get close enough to oswald to kill him? Thats what the conspiracy deniers have never been able to explain.
posted by afu at 9:57 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I faked the moon landing to cover up my involvement in the JFK 'assassination'. We filmed both of them on the same sound-stage. Fun trivia fact: the whole 'small step for man' line was actually Kennedy's idea. He was on the set that day and it just popped into his head.

Last I heard, him and Monroe had moved to Brazil to retire.

(Though I heard the real story was that they were actually Nazi hunters trying to track down the religious artifacts that Hitler had put together. Something about the Spear of Destiny... Whatever. Probably just a rumor.)
posted by quin at 10:00 AM on May 25, 2007


I don't care for the tinfoil hat crowd, but I think the "there's no such thing as a conspiracy" people are more intellectually lazy and dishonest.

Look, your current government lied to you about the reasons for going to war against Iraq. The sitting President, Vice President, most of the sitting cabinet, and former Secretary of State, all conspired to take the country to war for fabricated purposes.

We have JUST EXPERIENCED a governmental conspiracy, in the wide open, and so poorly executed that most people don't even consider it a conspiracy. But that is precisely what it is.

Almost noone in this thread would deny that we have been lied to, recently, by our government, over an issue as important as going to war. But yet question the official report for 9/11, even a bit, and you are suddenly viewed as a crazy. What makes you think that the extremely paranoid government of the Cold War would not have lied about Kennedy's assassination?

People who denounce all conspiracy theorists as wing-nuts make me so angry because of this. We are victims of a massive government conspiracy, reaching throughout an entire administration and entire industries, within the last 10 years.

Basically, if it was anything EXCEPT a lone gunman acting independently, there is no way the government could have allowed that to be known. Not at this time in history.

If it had been the Cubans or Russians? There would have been public outcry for war and we would have ended up nukes a-flyin'. If it was the CIA? Could you even imagine the fallout from that?

During this extraordinarily fragile and tenuous time in our history, there simply could not have been any other explanation given to the American people EXCEPT a lone gunman acting independently.

Now, let me be very careful to say, that doesn't mean it *WASN'T* a lone gunman... but just momentarily think about what other possible outcomes there could have been from the Warren Commission? It was a PR and damage control ruse from the start. Its decision was made the day it was formed. Oswald had killed Kennedy, and Oswald had been killed by Ruby. Seems fairly simple, why the need to keep the documents classified for over half a century after the fact? What aspect of the "lone gunman acting independently" explanation could POSSIBLY merit keeping the documentation secret that long?

Basically noone seriously believes the Warren Commission report, but yet, noone wants to believe a conspiracy either.

There is no reason to have key documents sealed for 50-75 years unless it was to mask dark motives by our government. They put the date far enough out that anyone involved would be dead and therefore could not be held liable.

This censored material must hold incredibly damning and inflammatory material, otherwise the date should have been shortened to 1993 instead of 2017. Ten more years, and maybe we'll know. Or not. I expect all the good stuff was destroyed, as it always is.

I think anyone would be able to admit that Oswald had a PROFOUND amount of contact with intelligence agencies in the east and west for an ordinary citizen.

Of course, the only conspiracy that holds any real interest to me is one of the least widely held. I believe that Ronald Reagan was never shot. The reason I say this is because I do not believe that a 70 year old man with a gunshot wound and a punctured lung walks himself into the hospital. No way. I'll never believe, so long as I live.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:06 AM on May 25, 2007


To clarify: I don't doubt there was an attempt on Reagan that day, as Brady so terribly proves. I just don't believe that Reagan was actually hit.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:16 AM on May 25, 2007


These things go back to the Lone Senator theory of the Caesar assassination. Only a +1 gladius (aka magic shortsword theory) could have administered 20 simultaneous incisions from as many directions.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:22 AM on May 25, 2007


if you visit the site of the murder you get the feeling that Oswald must have been some kind of genius to pull off that headshot

Funny, I had exactly the opposite reaction when I visited Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. I'd been under the impression from most of what I'd read about the assassination that this was some kind of incredibly skilled/lucky/genius shot, when in fact standing in the window (or a bit farther along, since the actual corner is glassed-in), I thought that I probably could have made that shot with a reasonable amount of practice (settle down you conspiracy theorists, I didn't do it, I wasn't born then). It's nowhere near as far away or as tricky as I'd thought, and there's quite a long stretch of road there for someone to have taken time to set their shot up. I remain open-minded about what actually happened, but I don't buy that the supposed difficulty of the shot is any evidence of a conspiracy.
posted by biscotti at 10:22 AM on May 25, 2007


I did it.
posted by stavrogin at 10:31 AM on May 25, 2007


JackRuby is the wild card. What possible motive did he have for killing Oswald? How did he get close enough to oswald to kill him? Thats what the conspiracy deniers have never been able to explain.

It's been pointed out before that Ruby was 1) unstable and 2) fixated on Kennedy. He was under the impression that he would be a hero for killing Oswald. He was incredibly upset at Kennedy's murder and acted on that. How is that not plausible or explained?

It's nowhere near as far away or as tricky as I'd thought,

From what I understand, it's 80 yards from the rifle to Kennedy's head. *I* have fired off a semi-accurate shot from more than twice that distance, and I'm anything but a crack shot.
posted by grubi at 10:32 AM on May 25, 2007


I did it.

Yeah, sure, now that Ruby's dead, you're all brave and stuff. Feh.
posted by grubi at 10:32 AM on May 25, 2007


JackRuby is the wild card. What possible motive did he have for killing Oswald?

Golly, could it be that he thought Oswald had killed the President? This is something that's normally frowned upon, and something that might make some citizens rather angry.

How did he get close enough to oswald to kill him?

Here's a list of Very Difficult Activities. Go ahead, look through it. I hate to break it to you, but you won't find "Outwitting the Dallas police" on that list. Instead, you might find "Outwitting the Dallas police" over here on this other list, Things A Retarded Chipmunk Could Manage.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


He was incredibly upset at Kennedy's murder and acted on that. How is that not plausible or explained?

Well, it seems pretty implausible that a guy with well-known mob ties would be so upset at the murder of a Kennedy that he'd personally take revenge on the killer.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:10 AM on May 25, 2007


For those of you who have never been to Dallas, just south of Dealey Plaza a couple miles is the Trinity River, and over that is something called the Trinity River bridge. Just a few years ago, it used to stink like crazy, cuz sewage from north Texas and Oklahoma used to go down this river, and get stuck in the swampness that passed for flood basin just northeast of said Trinity River Bridge.

I dunno what she did exactly, but mayor Laura Miller yelled at a bunch of people, and made faces at them, and gave them stern looks as if she was their mother, and apparently this made those people do something northeast of the Trinity River bridge to get water flowing more smoothly through the basin, so it doesn't look as much like swampland now. It almost looks like an actual river.

In the past few years the Trinity river has actually started flowing again. It doesn't usually smell all that bad anymore. One can drive over the Trinity River bridge without holding their nose or fearing puking on the floorboards of their car. This is actually a monumental and significant step forward for the city.

Oh, and Laura Miller also took care of a few potholes, one of which wasn't too far from Dealey Plaza. She took care of it by looking at construction workers sternly and making faces at them.

I tell you all this to explain that in the years between Kennedy's death and now, a LOT OF WATER has gone under that bridge. Thirty some odd years worth, and some of it stank to high heaven, but it's all in the Gulf of Mexico probably by now. So if you guys still wanna argue over all that water under the bridge? It's down there. Gulf of Mexico. Have fun.

As for me? I drive over that bridge to get to work every day, and worrying about the water under that bridge? Not something I can afford to do any longer.

I also live a few blocks away from the house where Oswald used to live. Cool, huh?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:17 AM on May 25, 2007


drezdn, are there people who question the authorship of Frankenstein? That's really strange. Mary was the daughter of awesome public intellectuals, married to an ace romantic poet, friends with Byron, aware of Darwin, boating in Switzerland.. it all seems so likely. She wrote other books as well. In fact given her parentage it's more incongruent that she wasn't a great writer.
posted by Firas at 11:27 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, it seems pretty implausible that a guy with well-known mob ties would be so upset at the murder of a Kennedy that he'd personally take revenge on the killer.

Yes, because people with mob ties are well-known to have a lower propensity towards violence as well as highly-developed impulse control faculties. Also, everyone with ties to the mob has no nationalistic or patriotic feelings at all, and has loyalty to the mob and mob alone, so naturally anyone with mob ties would react to the assassination of the president with calm detachment and the sublime rationality that mobsters are renowned for.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:28 AM on May 25, 2007


Astonishing cognitive dissonance here and it blows my mind back and to the left that anybody still buys the Oswald-as-lone-nut crap. I wonder how many foreign intelligence service professionals bought that explanation?
posted by well_balanced at 12:01 PM on May 25, 2007


Firas, I got that from here.
posted by drezdn at 12:05 PM on May 25, 2007


Lots of contradictory things were said by Jack Ruby.
A year after his conviction, in March 1965, Ruby conducted a brief televised news conference in which he stated that "everything pertaining to what's happening has never come to the surface. The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives. The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive for putting me in the position I'm in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world."
This page has some interesting (on record) quotes.
posted by anthill at 12:11 PM on May 25, 2007


back and to the left

Yawwwwn. Still believe that the Governor was seated directly in front of and at the same height as Kennedy in the car? The six inches to the left and six inches down plus the half-turn he was seated at aren't enough?

Tell us about that magic bullet crap.
posted by grubi at 12:20 PM on May 25, 2007


There’s no way Oswald made the shot he did - given certain premises from the audio and the Zapruder film.
I saw something that examined the possibility that the interpretation of the shots from the film analysis were wrong. If that’s the case then he could have made those shots and those hits.
But it’s still within the realm of possibility for him to make the shot without the analysis being wrong - highly unlikey though given time and circumstance and the odds.
Like getting a royal flush when the other guy has a straight flush - except it’s in the biggest poker tournament in the country.
Technical aspects of the shoot aside - RFK was pretty sure it was a conspiracy. And there’s a lot of other weird things that occured after the fact the loss of his brain being a big one the clean up of the car by the secret service, etc. etc.
Even if it was Oswald acting alone, there was certainly a conspiracy after the fact.
Bertrand Russell raised some interesting questions.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


given certain premises from the audio

The police radio bit? Yeah, that's been debunked already.
posted by grubi at 12:39 PM on May 25, 2007


I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but neither do I accept everything our government tells me as a given.

I'd have to say that much of my skepticism over Oswald being the only shooter on that day in Dallas comes from watching the film we have all seen and from speaking with my parents, who remember the media coverage vividly.

First, the route was changed a few times.

Then, so many people, witnesses (yes, I know eyewitnesses are frequently unreliable) and reporters on the scene soon after, all described the shot coming from the "grassy knoll" area. This was, in fact, taken as the only given in the scenario--the shooter was on the grassy knoll and got away somehow, maybe dressed as a policeman or security officer himself. Then we have Oswald being caught, and that's all retracted.

And the film of Jack Ruby, in the same corridor at the same time Oswald was being walked out--why? It just makes it seem like, at the very least, the Dallas cops were hoping Ruby would pull something.

Then there is the footage of the shooting itself. The very first thing you see is Kennedy's head snapping back. The shot is supposed to come from behind him, go through him and then onward while the car is going away from the book repository--yet his head goes back first, when the car's forward momentum combined with the bullet should have made him slump forward. That makes no sense to me every time I see that film.

LBJ and Kennedy hated each other. It's not very far-fetched to think someone, somewhere down the line saw an opportunity here. That's as far as I go with the whole conspiracy thing, though I always wondered why, if there wasn't anything more than Oswald in the repository, they didn't just open up the records and be done with it, instead of sealing them for 50 years?
posted by misha at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2007


That makes no sense to me every time I see that film.

The contents of his skull shooting out the way they did caused his head to snap back. This sort of thing has been physically proven multiple times. Penn & Teller did it best.
posted by grubi at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2007


*toilet flush sound effect*

Gulf of Mexico, people. Gulf of Mexico. All Your Magic Bullets Are Belong To The Gulf of Mexico.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:28 PM on May 25, 2007


JFK II is an impressive independently produced documentary that attempts to tie the Bush family to the assassination. Most of its conclusions strike me as nuts, but the segment describing George H.W. Bush's connections to the Bay of Pigs invasion blew me away. The evidence that George H.W. Bush was working for the CIA at the time of Operation Zapato is overwhelming, but no one seems to know about it. I wasn't alive for the Ford administration, so maybe everyone just took it for granted that Bush had secret past experience with the CIA at the time that Ford made him Director, but no one seems to realize that today.

Regarding the topic of this post, I think this is slightly old news- scientists out at Lawrence Livermore made a very similar announcement last year. The Texas researchers appear to be duplicating their work.
posted by gsteff at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2007


Oops, forgot JFK II link. And want to emphasize that I'm not endorsing any part of the video other than the section on George H.W. Bush.
posted by gsteff at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2007


/"Operation Zapato"
Yeah, naming one of the ships Barbara...what a dumbass. I come up with false names and information for crap at Home Depot. Bush's running a covert op and he puts his wifes name on one of the ships?

Wasn't Nixon on tape with Haldeman talking about Oswald as lone gunman being the greatest hoax ever perpetuated?
Came out in 2002 I think.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:28 PM on May 25, 2007


Didn't Mythbusters do a thing on this?
posted by Many bubbles at 4:53 PM on May 25, 2007


There’s no way Oswald made the shot he did - given certain premises from the audio and the Zapruder film.
I saw something that examined the possibility that the interpretation of the shots from the film analysis were wrong. If that’s the case then he could have made those shots and those hits.


The shot from the book depository to the car was about 30 yards, isn't that right? Webcam from the 6th floor overlooking dealey plaza

Oswald was considered to be an above average shot at 200 yards. Furthermore, considering he was shooting down, making the shot easier, I think it's reasonable to think he could have made it.

You know what we need? An accurate to the inch Half0Life map of the plaza on that date.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:43 PM on May 25, 2007


Mary was the daughter of awesome public intellectuals, married to an ace romantic poet, friends with Byron, aware of Darwin, boating in Switzerland.. it all seems so likely. She wrote other books as well. In fact given her parentage it's more incongruent that she wasn't a great writer.
posted by Firas at 2:27 PM on May 25


Certainly, but she's a woman. A woman's writing is like a dog walking on its hind legs: it is not done well; what is surprising is that it's done at all.

(There are people who think Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, and Kurt Cobain wrote the songs on Live Through This, and Ted Hughes wrote Sylvia Plath's poems. My husband's reasonably well-spoken, so I expect some asshole will attribute my collected works to him after I die, too.)
posted by joannemerriam at 8:21 PM on May 25, 2007


Yeah, and there are also people who attribute Shakespeare's writing to Queen Elizabeth, and all kinds of anonymous Greek poetry to Sappho. I know, because they used to be my professors. They probably rationalized it by assuming that most of written history is a lie anyways, so why not revise a little to confirm their expectations of reality?

Speaking of revisionist history, the only episode of Frontline that ever let me down was the one on Oswald. Their assessment? Lone gunman, cut and dry.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:42 PM on May 25, 2007


Yeah, I've always loved the Queen Elizabeth theory. Like she wasn't already a bit busy.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:49 PM on May 25, 2007


There are people who think Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, and Kurt Cobain wrote the songs on Live Through This, and Ted Hughes wrote Sylvia Plath's poems.

Given that this is the first time I had ever heard this about Harper Lee and Sylvia Plath's works, I have to believe that only a small group of misogynists on the margins actually believe that. There's really not much you can do about "some asshole" factor. As for Live Through This, Cobain specifically congratulates Love in his suicide note (for chrissakes) on how well the album turned out, so only the most hardened Courtney haters could still believe that he wrote the material. Love her or hate her (heh), there was enough of the raw goods on Pretty on the Inside, recorded before they had ever met, to demonstrate that she was capable of writing music of the quality of what she delivered on POTI.

/OT
posted by psmealey at 3:58 AM on May 26, 2007


Oh, absolutely. I think there's only small group on the margins who believe Mary Shelley didn't write Frankenstein, too.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:21 AM on May 26, 2007


You know what we need? An accurate to the inch Half0Life map of the plaza on that date.

Recently (although it's quite an old thing): JFK Reloaded. I was going to mention it anyway, but your question made it imperative.

Rather than just offering vague hand-wavery about distances and accuracy, folks, try your own hand at Kennedy-shooting and see how tough it actually was.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:28 PM on May 27, 2007


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