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Conspiracy Theory Still Surrounds JFK

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The History Channel is all about UFOs and Nazis. They even had a show called "Nazi UFOs." And don't forget the Nostradamous marathons.

Kathy C

:lol:We do not get it up here any longer as we once did, unless you pay extra for it on your cable bill, no thanks..:D ..cannot even watch it accidently.. b

Edited by Bernice Moore
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Conspiracy theory still surrounds JFK

October 2, 2010


USA Today


By Gregory Korte

For a generation, the nation's largest cultural touchstone could be summed up in a single question: "Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?"

Today, about three out of five Americans would answer, "Not yet born."

The events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, are now almost five decades past. Much of the scene seems dated today: The idea of a president riding in an open-top limousine through crowded streets, the fears of Cuba as a top threat to national security, an old-fashioned perp walk in which the chief suspect in the assassination of a president could himself be gunned down on live television.

Yet the assassination remains vivid in the national imagination. It's spawned an endless cycle of official reports, criticism, conspiracy theories, rebuttals and more conspiracies. It's inspired more than 3,000 books and a number of Hollywood movies. Phrases such as "lone gunman" and "grassy knoll" are part of the national lexicon.

The passage of time has changed public opinion of the assassination and specifically who or what may be behind it.

Within days of the shooting, pollster George Gallup asked people, "Do you think that the man who shot President Kennedy acted on his own, or was some group or element also responsible?" Just more than half thought others were involved.

After the release of the Warren Commission report a year later, 87 percent said they believed the official version that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The 1970s brought a cynicism of government prompted by Watergate, and the first broadcast of Abraham Zapruder's home movie of the shooting, spawning new interpretations of the event. The result: A near total reversal of public opinion; 81 percent told Gallup they believed in a conspiracy.

Even 40 years later, 75 percent said they believed more than one person was involved. The demographics suggest the conspiracy theories are gaining more traction. In Gallup's 2003 poll, nearly 90 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they believed in a conspiracy.

Among those who believe in a broader plot, there's little agreement on who's to blame. Those old enough to remember the event are more likely to blame the conspiracy on Cuba or the Soviet Union. Younger Americans more often mention the Mafia or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to Gallup.

Paul Santa Cruz was born 20 years after John F. Kennedy's assassination and is one of those who believes that Oswald did not act alone.

He first became fascinated with the assassination in elementary school, when he read Judy Donnelly's Who Shot the President? The Death of John F. Kennedy. "It left me with a very idealized image of President Kennedy," he recalls. "And a lingering sense of sadness."

Santa Cruz, who works as an archivist at the George W. Bush Presidential Library, wrote in his 2008 master's thesis that Kennedy's assassination helped keep his image frozen in time.

"But the popular memory has also fed a willingness to believe conspiracy theories," Santa Cruz says. "Because people believe President Kennedy was a great leader, the idea that his life was ended by some 24-year-old loser with a mail-order rifle just seems ridiculous."

Few academic historians have tackled the shooting itself, so that much of what we know or think we know has come from the official reports or from amateur historians who formed a sort of proto-blogosphere.

"With Kennedy, conspiracy theories become democratized, and ordinary people decide they're going to cover this," says Kathryn Olmsted, a history professor at the University of California's Davis campus and author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11.

"It's the first conspiracy theory where people start having meetings in their living room about it," she says. "They don't have the Internet, but they do have newsletters. It really was a grass-roots movement."

Olmsted says subsequent conspiracy theorists — say, those who question that terrorists attacked the World Trade Center or the place of President Obama's birth — owe a debt to the Kennedy "assassinologists."

The Kennedy theories have more staying power, she says, because they seem more plausible.

Congressional hearings in the 1970s confirmed that there were indeed secret U.S. plots to assassinate foreign leaders, and even President Lyndon Johnson (the subject of a few conspiracy theories himself) was said to harbor suspicions of a Cuba connection.

Seven presidents later, assassination was on the mind of President Clinton. In his memoir, Clinton associate Webster Hubbell wrote that Clinton offered to appoint him to a top Justice post so he could find the answer to a question: "Who killed JFK?"

The year before, Oliver Stone's film JFK, which suggested a vague plot by forces who wanted a perpetuation of the Cold War, helped prompt Congress to pass the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act.

The Warren Commission originally sealed much of its work for 75 years — until 2039.

In 1992, Congress gave a five-member commission the power to overrule intelligence agencies and release even top secret documents, with the president having the final say. Clinton sided with the commission on the few appeals that came to him.

As a result, 1,100 of the 5 million records — or about 0.02% — are still sealed, although others have portions blacked out, says Martha Murphy, chief of the special access staff at the National Archives. Even the original autopsy photos are available to qualified researchers, though they must first get permission from the Kennedy family.

Most sealed records belong to the CIA, and they automatically become public in 2017. "More documents were released under the JFK Act than there would have been if someone had asked for everything under the Freedom of Information Act," Murphy says.

The documents released since 1993 failed to shake the foundations of either the official or unofficial versions of the assassination story.

"Will there ever be any resolution? I think no," says Lindsay Porter, author of Assassination: A History of Political Murder. "The more alleged data that's accumulated, the more muddled things become. It's now become a dialogue separate to the event itself.

"The death overshadows the life, to the extent that for a lot of people it kind of obliterates it."

Edited by William Kelly
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