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Unlike the Union guy who wrote the Op-ed piece for the Huffington Post who calls attention to Oswald, Hinkley and Oklahoma City, Gregory Korte is a Washington and Congressional Correspondent for USA Today who is supposed to be a beat writer who knows his stuff. - BK JFKcountercoup

Gregory Korte wrote about how "Conspiracy Theories overJFK's assassination Thrive" in anarticle published in USATODAY (Sept. 26, 2010) thatrequires my response.


I have no problem with most of what he says, and have nocomment on the first half of his article, but will pick up where he veers off course.

Korte wrote:

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 Dallason 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 fearsof Cuba as a top threat to national security, an old-fashioned perp walkin which the chief suspect in the assassination of a president could himself begunned 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 than3,000 books and a number of Hollywood movies.Phrases such as "lone gunman" and "grassy knoll" are partof 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 shotPresident Kennedy acted on his own, or was some group or element alsoresponsible?" Just more than half thought others were involved.

After the release of the Warren Commission report a yearlater, 87% said they believed the official version that Lee Harvey Oswald actedalone. 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 publicopinion; 81% told Gallup they believed in a conspiracy.

Even 40 years later, 75% said they believed more than one person was involved. The demographics suggest the conspiracy theories aregaining more traction. In Gallup's2003 poll, nearly 90% of 18- to 29-year-olds said they believed in aconspiracy.

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 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 heread Judy Donnelly's Who Shot the President? The Death of John F.Kennedy "It left me with a very idealized image of PresidentKennedy," 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 — and popularity — frozen in time. "But the popular memory has alsofed 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 some24-year-old loser with a mail-order rifle just seems ridiculous."

KELLY NOTES: Okay, we've heard this before, and its not surprising to see it repeated here, using a conspiracy theorist to voice the idea the alleged assassin was a loser and the cover-story ridiculous. But then Korte begins his own analysis and reveals his own ignorance of the subject.

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.

KELLY: Simply untrue. Many academic historians have tackled the shooting itself, and much of what we know comes from all kinds of sources, though the amateur historians have supplied a lot of important material.

"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. Itreally was a grass-roots movement."

KELLY: And there's one Kathryn Olmssted, who like John McAdams and Ken Rahn, seems to enjoy focusing on those who study the assassination rather than the murder itself, and has even written a book about them.

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.

KELLY: Now there's areal twist that betrays here warped studies, as she takes the Grandfather of Conspiracy Theories – and one that was actually a conspiracy and lumps it in with others, some of which are not conspiracies at all, like Obama's birth.Those who believe Obama was not born in Hawaii or is not an American citizen don't owe anything to those who study the Kennedy assassination, and Kathryn Olmssted's attempt to link the two totally unrelated stories shows just how much of a stretch she tries to make, and totally discredits everything else she has to say about the assassination.

Congressional hearings in the 1970s confirmed that there were indeed secret U.S.plots to assassinate foreign leaders, and even President Lyndon Johnson (thesubject of a few conspiracy theories himself) was said to harbor suspicions ofa Cubaconnection. 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 aquestion: "Who killed JFK?"

KELLY: That's pretty interesting, especially since President Clinton, who inherited the JFK Act that was signed by President Bush, procrastinated in the appointment of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which severely delayed its functions.

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

The Warren Commission originally sealed much of its work for75 years — until 2039.

In 1992, Congress gave a five-member commission the power tooverrule intelligence agencies and release even top secret documents, with thepresident having the final say. Clintonsided 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.

KELLY: Thanks for that stat Martha, 1,100 records still sealed nearly 50 years later, and the 2% makes it look small, each "record" is many pages, for example the CIA still has over 50,000 pages of documents still with held under the JFK Act, and that doesn't even include the records being sought in the Morley v. the CIA civil suit, which the CIA considers "Not Relevant" to the assassination.

Even the original autopsy photos are available to qualifiedresearchers, though they must first get permission from the Kennedy family.

Most sealed records belong to the CIA,and they automatically become public in 2017.

KELLY: They don' t automatically become public in 2017, they automatically come up for review and if requested by the CIA, they can remain with held by order of the President.

"More documents were released under the JFK Act thanthere would have been if someone had asked for everything under the Freedom ofInformation Act," Murphy says.

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

KELLY: Wrong again, the records released under the JFK Act have been used by hundreds of historians, scholars, journalists and writers and have fundamentally changed the way we look at the world, as well as confirmed the deeply held suspicions of the majority of Americans that the official version of events is not the way the President was killed and provides solid documentary support that the President was assassinated as a result of a domestic conspiracy hatched by those who took over the government.

"Will there ever be any resolution? I think no,"says Lindsay Porter, author of Assassination: A History of PoliticalMurder. "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 ofobliterates it."

KELLY: Yes, JFK's death has overshadowed his life, but the more we learn about the assassination only confuses those with muddled minds, as the more we learn about how it was accomplished, and how it can be prevented from happening again in the future.

Edited by William Kelly
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