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John Simkin
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I don't have a "theory" of Kennedy's assassination. The formulation of, and debate about such theories, while always enjoyable to us afficionados, is also ahistoric and counterproductive. Or to put it more precisely, I have a couple of theories about the assassination but I only discuss them late at night on weekends in noisy taverns with people who are willing to pick up the resulting bar bill.

As for debating JFK theories in print and public, I say its a mug's game that I refuse to play. It relieves the government of its still-unfulfilled legal responsibility to complete the historical record. It undermines the journalistic and scientific standards that should govern public discussion of such an important issue. I just don't see the point.

If the point is to convince the public that there was a conspiracy, theres is no need. A poll taken by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago within a week of the assassination found that two thirds of respondents thought more than one person was involved. Less than a quarter of the respondents thought Oswald had acted alone. The release of the Warren Commission in October 1964 inspired a burst of confidence in the official lone gunman finding but that sentiment soon faded. The belief in conspiracy has commanded a solid majority of public opinion ever since, with one 1993 Newsweek poll finding nearly half of respondents saying the CIA was responsible.

I don't share the goal of trying to convince the public that there was a JFK conspiracy. But if I did, I would say that goal was accomplished by the evident facts of November 22, 1963, the work of early Warren Commission skeptics, the congressional investigations of the 1970s, and Oliver Stone's movie.

If the goal is to convince mainstream journalists and scholars that there was a conspiracy (another goal I do not share), I would say the discourse of JFK theories is not only unpersuasive, it is positively counterproductive.

The well-informed entries in this debate make a plausible case that the political context of the Kennedy's murder was favorable to his antagonists, that various political factions had reason to end his presidency, that these factions were capable of mounting covert violence and that the subsequent investigations were flawed, if not compromised.

All of this interesting but none of it amounts to "proof" of the scenarios offered. Rather the sheer proliferation of named suspects--some plausible, most not-- in these entries is proof that the authors don't really know who was responsible for the crime of Dealy Plaza ie that their theories are unsubstantiated. In my view, honesty and humility requires us to say that the intellectual authors of the crime, there were any besides Oswald, remain unidentified.

Theorizing about an ambigous and compromised body of evidence strikes me as counterproductive at least in the way it is being done here. I say this with no disrespect to the very knowlegeable contributors who are participating. (I have questions for several of them.) I say this because this kind of theorizing strikes me as different than what scientists do when they theorize about evolution or the origins of the universe. They formulate such theories AND THEN SEEK TO TEST THEM. Theorizing without testing is counterproductive because the arbiters of public discourse and the historical record won't respect it. Nor should they.

By saying this I don't intend to let the journalist profession or the academic historians off the hook. The performance of American journalism on the JFK's death is astonishingly mediocre. The JFK Assassination Records Review Board oversaw the release 800,000 previously secret records related to Kennedy's death between 1994 and 1998.

Among this new material were at least five newsworthy developments: 1) the so-called Operation Northwoods records about Pentagon efforts to provoke a U.S. invasion of Cuba in 1962-63; 2) the complete "Lopez Report" on CIA surveillance of Oswald's visit to Mexico City; 3) the deposition of John Whitten, the chief of the Mexico desk in the CIA clandestine service, virtually the only senior CIA official to testify in good faith to the HSCA; 4) the personnel records of George Joannides, the undercover CIA officer who both ran the Cuban exile student group whose members had pre-assassination contact with Oswald and, 15 years later, stonewalled the HSCA; and 5) the sworn testimony of medical personnel who said they took photos at JFK's autopsy that have been removed from the public record. Only the first of these received any news coverage, and that was remarkably superficial.

Even more importantly, no newspaper of record saw fit to review the ARRB records as a group and attempt to educate the public about what the collectively told us about the assassination story. That major newspapers (my employer, the Washington Post included) would avoid new information about a subject of obvious public interest at a time of flat or declining circulation is bizarre testament to the self-destructive powers of denial and the deep politicization of the subject. (To their credit ABC News and PBS Frontline did serious reviews of the story in the early 1990s--but that was before the bulk of the ARRB material was released. )

This lack of curiousity about new evidence related to Kennedy's murder is unprofessional and unworthy of the profession. Journalistic indifference has been repaid with public repudiation of the anti-conspiratorial consensus that rules elite media discussion of the subject. This benefits neither the public nor the profession. To the contrary, it has sustained doubt and confusion in the public mind.

But debating conspiracy theories at this late date doesn't much help either. Rather, I think it detracts from the less pleasurable but more demanding task of summarizing what the public record of JFK's assassination does show and what we might do to clarify it. The public, the journalistic profession and academia obviously need help in this endeavor. To offer them "theories" is to invite rejection. What they need--what America needs--is not another list of (im)plausible suspects but a coherent self-authenticating body of evidence that supports a testable interpretation of the crime.

To that end I would say this:

The historic record, as enhanced by the ARRB's revelations, shows that a still-unexplained CIA intelligence failure contributed to the breakdown of presidential security in Dealey Plaza.

This intelligence failure was the responsibility of a handful of CIA officials in Washington who, upon learning that pro-Castro activist Lee Harvey Oswald had met with Cuban and Soviet diplomats in Mexico City in September and October 1963, deliberately chose not to inform Mexico City station chief Win Scott about what they knew about Oswald.

Specifically, they chose not to tell Scott about Oswald's recent pro-Castro activities, his attempt to infiltrate a CIA-funded group in New Orleans, his arrest in August 1963 and subsequent interview with the FBI, demands from a CIA-funded anti-Castro group for investigation of his one-man chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) or his vocal support for Castro. As a result, Scott attached far less importance to Oswald's contacts to Cuban and Soviet officials than he would have otherwise, leaving the FBI and domestic law enforcement officials in the dark as the presidential motorcade approached Oswald's place of employment.

It is tempting but premature, if not pointless, to ask if this intelligence failure was related to an assassination conspiracy. More to the point is a simpler question that can be answered in 2005: Was this intelligence failure related to an authorized CIA counterespionage operation involving Lee Harvey Oswald and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee?

The answer to that question is found in two bodies of records that the CIA still retains in violation of the spirit and letter of the JFK Records Act.

The first are records related to the Agency's 16 September 1963 memo notifiying the FBI that it was considering an operation to "countering the activities of the FPCC in foreign countries." The Agency has never revealed in which countries it was contemplating action against the FPCC.

The second are records related to the operational activities of undercover officer George Joannides who guided and monitored the anti-Castro Cuban organization that paid the closest attention to Oswald's FPCC activities in 1963.

I don't want to cast aspersions on anyone who accepts that there was a conspiracy behind Kennedy's death. If people as knowlegeable in the workings of American power as Lyndon Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Fidel Castro, J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Daley thought there was a conspiracy, then clearly it is plausible interpretation of November 22. I don't want to cast aspersions on people who believe there is no proof that any named person besides Oswald was involved in the crime. They are correct.

The task, at this late date, is not to speculate or theorize but the contrary, to specify, to test, to clarify, to document and, above all, to eliminate suspects. When we obtain the records cited above,--and I believe we will--then we will have a clearer understanding of who was and was not responsible for Kennedy's death.

This posting originally appeared in the “Who Killed JFK?” thread. It raises some important issues and I think it deserves its own thread. In fact, I intend to start several threads with this material.

In this thread I want to concentrate on why it is important to develop theories on the assassination of JFK. Jeff states:

“Theorizing about an ambiguous and compromised body of evidence strikes me as counterproductive at least in the way it is being done here. I say this with no disrespect to the very knowledgeable contributors who are participating. (I have questions for several of them.) I say this because this kind of theorizing strikes me as different than what scientists do when they theorize about evolution or the origins of the universe. They formulate such theories AND THEN SEEK TO TEST THEM. Theorizing without testing is counterproductive because the arbiters of public discourse and the historical record won't respect it. Nor should they.”

I would argue that the best researchers do work like scientists. The very best scientists require a good imagination. As Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Einstein was not a great scientist because he was able to test out the theory of relativity. He was a great scientist because he had the ability to develop such a theory.

The historian or investigative journalist also need a good imagination. As James Joll pointed out: “The aim of the historian, like that of the artist, is to enlarge our picture of the world, to give us a new way of looking at things.”

That is what the best JFK researchers do. The develop theories based on the evidence that is available. The problem is that most of the evidence available concerning the JFK assassination has been either destroyed, altered or locked away by governmental agencies. However, some evidence is still available and we must do what we can to use it to develop a theory. Without more evidence it will be impossible to completely test out the theory (as was the case with Einstein’s relativity theory). As Einstein argued, that is not a good enough reason not to develop a theory.

JFK researchers also have another serious problem. A lot of evidence that exists has been manufactured by the conspirators and the intelligence agencies. Therefore researchers have to look at the internal logic of any proposed theory. What I mean by this is that you need to look closely at the role being played by the individuals involved within this theory. Are they behaving logically? Could they be victims or supporters of a disinformation campaign.

For example, there is evidence that suggests that Fidel Castro ordered the assassination of JFK. It is possible that some of this evidence has been manufactured for political reasons. Therefore, it is necessary to ask questions about the logic of Castro ordering this assassination.

You make the interesting point that ever since the assassination of JFK a large percentage of the American people have believed it was the act of more than one person. That it was indeed a conspiracy. This is true, but this awareness is at a very superficial level. I am reminded of the story of James Cook when he arrived at Botany Bay on 29th April, 1770. Cook reported that there were a few Aborigines on the beach at the time. They looked up and saw the Endeavour. They stared at it for a few seconds and then looked down and carried on with what they were doing. Cook could not understand what he was seeing. Nor could the Aborigines, that is why they reacted in the way that they did. It was completely outside their frame of reference. Conceptually, they could not deal with this image.

The evidence available immediately after the assassination suggested a conspiracy. However, government agencies and the American media were quick to tell them that this was the act of a lone gunman. The vast majority of the American public decided to do what those Aborigines did, they looked away from what they had seen and carried on with what they were doing. To act in any other way would be to admit they had been lied to. This was not a problem when it came to the government, the public realized they had lied to them for years. The media was another matter. They did not want to believe that the media would be willing to cover-up such a crime. That is only something that goes on in places like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. That is why Operation Mockingbird played such an important role in how the American people perceived the assassination of JFK. (In his excellent book, Rearview Mirror, William Turner agues that this media cover-up was actually called Operation Nightingale - a spin-off of Mockingbird).

People in Europe saw the assassination of JFK very differently. Our press was allowed to report the event based on the evidence available. It is no coincidence that the first books that appeared suggesting a conspiracy were published in Europe and not the United States: Thomas G. Buchanan’s Who Killed Kennedy? (1964) and Joachim Joesten’s Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy? (1964). It is also relevant that the American media portrayed Buchanan and Joesten as communists working on behalf of the Soviet Union.

It is true that most Americans now accept that JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy. However, the vast majority of them believe that it was either a Mafia or Castro/KGB conspiracy. Although they are willing to accept that CIA “rogue” agents might have been involved, the idea that a coup d'etat took place, is not on the agenda. So also is the idea that the American media has (and is) participated in this cover-up. Until recently (when I rewrote the entry), Wikipedia was telling its readers that Operation Mockingbird was an “urban myth”.

I know the American public has a great deal of difficulty accepting that a coup d'etat took place in 1963. But that is not an argument for not telling them that this did not happen. It is only a matter of time until the American public face up to this reality. Then they might be able to set about creating a true democracy in America.

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It is true that most Americans now accept that JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy. However, the vast majority of them believe that it was either a Mafia or Castro/KGB conspiracy. Although they are willing to accept that CIA “rogue” agents might have been involved, the idea that a coup d'etat took place, is not on the agenda. So also is the idea that the American media has (and is) participated in this cover-up. Until recently (when I rewrote the entry), Wikipedia was telling its readers that Operation Mockingbird was an “urban myth”.

I know the American public has a great deal of difficulty accepting that a coup d'etat took place in 1963. But that is not an argument for not telling them that this did not happen. It is only a matter of time until the American public face up to this reality. Then they might be able to set about creating a true democracy in America.

John, as I understand it, roughly 50% of those Americans who believe in a conspiracy(80%) believe the CIA was behind it--this means 40% of all Americans capable of an opinion walk around every day thinking the CIA is capable of killing their President and getting away with it. Not exactly the message we want to send out to the world.

While you seem fascinated by the unwillingness of some Americans to accept that a coup d'etat took place, I am equally fascinated by the ease, even zeal, with which you and some of the others here accept it. Yes, America is a flawed giant. A brute. Stupid. And yet none of this means Kennedy was killed in a coup d'etat. Johnson, Hoover, and Warren may have collaborated on a cover-up for reasons other than their own involvement. Maybe they honestly believed Oswald did it, but knew that he was a CIA contact and thought revealing as much would hurt the country. Maybe they thought it would be bad for business. The cover-up and the crime are not necessarily connected.

On the other hand, there is significant circumstantial evidence to suggest Johnson's involvement. Once Ladybird flies away, I suspect we'll see more media conglomerates willing to say as much.

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I don't disagree with your broad purpose John: to force discussion of JFK's assassination into public discussion as a fundamental truth about the workings of the American government. I just don't think hashing out JFK "theories" with long lists of likely and unlikely suspects is the way to to do it. People have been doing that for 40 years and the results are evident. Massive public confusion and cynicism.

I especially agree with something you said in an earlier post. The JFK research community doesn't have an argument with the government as much as it has an argument with itself. People who think Oswald alone committed the crime all agree on the events of 22 November 1963. Everyone of them. The preponderance of evidence makes this extremely unlikely, if not impossible, in my view. So what did happen? Critics of the Warren Commission are no closer to having a unifed answer to that question than they did 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years ago. I see organized effort to whittle down the variety of interpretations and eliminate the unfounded ones. It is all well and good if JFK researchers do act like scientists and test the internal logic of JFK theories. But I don't see that as the agenda of the forum. The forum would be more useful if it examined the issue: WHAT DID NOT HAPPEN.

The humorous truth is that you would not have to change many of the entries. The evidence and conclusions of many of the authors show very clearly that the authors do not know that what they assert happened on 22 November 1963 actually happened.

I am being perverse and unfair in the service of a point. Your contributors know a great deal about JFK's death. Their information is important and useful. The subject is very important. But that is exactly why it needs a more narrowly focused approach aimed at forging a consensus of knowledgeable dissenters from the official story.

I am not interested in the variety of narratives about 22 November 1963. With all due respect to your contributors, their "theories" don't interest me anymore than my own do. One and only one causal chain of events led to the president's death. That is the only story that interests me. I want to articulation of what we, and any reasonable person, can agree is historical fact.

Let's eliminate the implausibilities. The limited but very real opening up of Soviet archives since 1991 effectively eliminates the Soviet intelligence services as a suspect in the assassination.

The organized crime theory needs more systematic attention, especially in light of ARRB release of FBI wiretap transcripts.

The theory that Castro was behind the assassination and how it was generated and perpetrated by the CIA and others is indeed an important area of study.

I wholehearted support the idea of a systematic and unrelenting attack on these unfounded JFK assassination theories. The indisputable truth that the JFK research community has done little to promote, is that the ARRB releases went a long way toward discrediting conspiratorial speculation in these three areas while deepening questions about the role of the CIA in monitoring Oswald's path to Dealey Plaza.

This is fact. We don't increase the credibility of these facts by installing them in "theory" designed to vindicate the view that unseen political forces were behind Kennedy's death. Quite the contrary. We should use the facts to eliminate the bad theories and work on interpretations of the assassination that are carefully designed to maximize consensus so that people today can understand the forces that culminated in a great historical crime.

Here's what the historical records shows: JFK's assassination was the result of a still-unexplained intelligence failure involving a group of CIA officers who knew of Oswald's existence, his pro-Castro activities and his movements in the weeks before 22 November 1963. This group includes: Dick Helms, Tom Karamessines, John Whitten, Jane Roman, David Phillips, George Joannides and possibly others. What is unexplained is why they deliberately chose not to report their knowledge of Oswald's activities and movements, even when asked by colleagues such as Win Scott, Mexico City station chief.

This is not the final statement on the subject. It is a very narrow statement. But it is indisputably factual and its implications are profound. That's what needs discussing, not "theories."

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Here's what the historical records shows: JFK's assassination was the result of a still-unexplained intelligence failure involving a group of CIA officers who knew of Oswald's existence, his pro-Castro activities and his movements in the weeks before 22 November 1963. This group includes: Dick Helms, Tom Karamessines, John Whitten, Jane Roman, David Phillips, George Joannides and possibly others. What is unexplained is why they deliberately chose not to report their knowledge of Oswald's activities and movements, even when asked by colleagues such as Win Scott, Mexico City station chief.

This is not the final statement on the subject. It is a very narrow statement. But it is indisputably factual and its implications are profound. That's what needs discussing, not "theories."

I accept what you say above is true. How are we to explain it? Surely we need to develop a theory that makes sense of this behaviour. These theories can be placed in one of two categories. These CIA officers were either involved in plotting the assassination of JFK or they were covering up for some CIA agents who were involved in something that had to remain a secret.

My own view is that it involved the second of these categories. The evidence suggests that they were covering up something that David Morales and Rip Robertson were involved in.

It is my belief that anyone researching the past has to start off with a theory. Otherwise you do not know where to look for the evidence. As the historian E. H. Carr pointed out, researchers are very much like anglers. Until you know what fish you are after, you don’t know what part of the river to stand or the bait you need to use. Therefore all historical research starts off with a theory. A good historian will adapt his theory to the evidence he finds. The poor historian will ignore the evidence that does not fit the theory. In fact, he has become a prisoner of his own theory. Unfortunately, the JFK research community has too many people like this and they have made it easy for the media to present us as a group of crackpots.

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On the other hand, there is significant circumstantial evidence to suggest Johnson's involvement. Once Ladybird flies away, I suspect we'll see more media conglomerates willing to say as much.

I will be completely surprised if the media does an about face and discotinues its practice of covering up this event, even after Ladybird's demise. Good points by Jefferson and John. I believe it was a coup, not some renegades, but like Jefferson I believe theories are not productive. We have seen too much competative back-biting over theories. As Jefferson points out we need to focus on what did not happen, on the points we can all agree on.

Time spent wasted on the differeing views of the tramps' identity or whether or not the Z film was altered will get us nowhere.

Dawn

ps Don't like the new color choices. I tried to change the color for the quote from Pat to make it a readable color but it remained at my first choice. (Sorry)

Does that look better? (John Simkin)

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Jefferson Morley wrote:

"I am not interested in the variety of narratives about 22 November 1963. With all due respect to your contributors, their ‘theories’ don't interest me anymore than my own do. One and only one causal chain of events led to the president's death. That is the only story that interests me. I want articulation of what we, and any reasonable person, can agree is historical fact…’

‘This is fact. We don't increase the credibility of these facts by installing them in "theory" designed to vindicate the view that unseen political forces were behind Kennedy's death. Quite the contrary. We should use the facts to eliminate the bad theories and work on interpretations of the assassination that are carefully designed to maximize consensus so that people today can understand the forces that culminated in a great historical crime.

Here's what the historical records shows: JFK's assassination was the result of a still-unexplained intelligence failure involving a group of CIA officers who knew of Oswald's existence, his pro-Castro activities and his movements in the weeks before 22 November 1963. This group includes: Dick Helms, Tom Karamessines, John Whitten, Jane Roman, David Phillips, George Joannides and possibly others. What is unexplained is why they deliberately chose not to report their knowledge of Oswald's activities and movements, even when asked by colleagues such as Win Scott, Mexico City station chief.

“This is not the final statement on the subject. It is a very narrow statement. But it is indisputably factual and its implications are profound. That's what needs discussing, not ‘theories."

I could not agree more.

For eleven years I have attempted to disprove the possibility that General Walker could have met Oswald in October of 1959 and that Edwin Walker was an integral part of the intelligence community of the US Government. I have been unable to disprove either of these points, I wish, in many ways, that I could have disproved them by now.

Instead my attempts to disprove have led to the "discovery" of several alternative routes that Oswald could have taken from London to Helsinki that would also have accommodated the movements of Walker during this same time period. This is fact! It is a provable fact that in 2005 members of this forum have been able to "discover" information that was, for some "reason" left out, although obviously available, of the official Warren Report. It's signifigance may be of importance.

In researching the life of Edwin Walker I have found factual links to people such as John J. McCloy, Maxwell Taylor, Gordon Blake, Chester Clifton, Clifton Carter, etc. and circumstantial links to the likes of Thomas Karamessines, George Joannides and John B. Hurt, etc. I have found factual evidence that supports the involvement of General Walker in intelligence activities that date back to the early 1930's. Circumstantial or coincidental information that correlate Walker's career from October of 1959 until November 1963 to the movements of Lee Harvey Oswald. The Warren Report ties Oswald and Walker together without providing information on the factual past military career of General Walker. Yet, I have a copy of a letter that was written by Warren Commissioner John J. McCloy five months before the assassination of JFK that states: "I am also very familiar with your very fine record in World War II and in Korea..." This makes sense because it is a fact that McCloy was present for one action that Walker participated in (first officier ashore at Kiska) and later, when McCloy "requested" that the movements of Bernard Bernstein be monitored during the closing days of WWII, Walker and his elite military unit were assigned to escourt Bernstein in Germany and France.

I am still perplexed by the November 4, 1963 Hosty note that provided exact information on where Oswald was working in Dallas and the "fact" that previous Hosty notes had been forwarded to the office of Richard Helms. Yet it seems that the Nov. 4th note never received an official WC exhibit number. Why?

If there was in "fact" a conspiracy it was not the events of November 22, 1962 that created the conspirators, as Morley states, "JFK's assassination was the result of a still-unexplained intelligence failure involving a group of CIA officers who knew of Oswald's existence, his pro-Castro activities and his movements in the weeks before 22 November 1963."

The one place where I, as of now, withhold agreement with Morley is that I am not yet willing to concede the fact that the assassination was, "the result of a still-unexplained intelligence failure involving a group of CIA officers who knew of Oswald's existence..." I do not believe that we have the facts to eliminate the possibility that there was a "group of CIA officers" (or others) that might not have called the assassination a "failure."

Jim Root

Edited by Jim Root
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I am not interested in the variety of narratives about 22 November 1963. With all due respect to your contributors, their "theories" don't interest me anymore than my own do. One and only one causal chain of events led to the president's death. That is the only story that interests me. I want to articulation of what we, and any reasonable person, can agree is historical fact.

Most forum participants are united by the logical elimination of one implausible theory: that LHO was a lonely disaffected malcontent who committed the crime alone. Disproving the Lone Nut Scenario is the primary value of all of the attention given to the events in Dealey Plaza. It never ceases to amaze me how unsuccessful this effort has been.

Consistent with Michael Beschloss' observation that "the most likely explanation for the cause of Kennedy's death lies in his policies,"* the convergence of CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile operations with the events surrounding the President's assassination provides strong circumstantial evidence of the motive and means for that crime.

* Jefferson Morley, "November 22, 1963: Why We Need The Real History Of The Kennedy Assassination," Washington Post, (November 24, 1996).

Tim

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Consistent with Michael Beschloss' observation that "the most likely explanation for the cause of Kennedy's death lies in his policies,"* the convergence of CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile operations with the events surrounding the President's assassination provides strong circumstantial evidence of the motive and means for that crime.

* Jefferson Morley, "November 22, 1963: Why We Need The Real History Of The Kennedy Assassination," Washington Post, (November 24, 1996).

Tim

I have no desire to start an internecine war in the Carroll Clan (upon all of whom I wish Peace) but with all due respect to Tim Carroll I know of no reason why Beschloss's work should be considered the bible of the JFK assassination. In a murder investigation we look for motive means and opportunity, and above all we look to see where the evidence from the crime scene leads. I think many/most Americans eg. Beschloss would love to say that the evidence leads to Cubans and/or Italians (or furriners of some description), but I suggest that that it is American conceit that prevents us from acknowledging that the real killers were as American (waspish) as apple pie.

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Consistent with Michael Beschloss' observation that "the most likely explanation for the cause of Kennedy's death lies in his policies,"* the convergence of CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile operations with the events surrounding the President's assassination provides strong circumstantial evidence of the motive and means for that crime.

* Jefferson Morley, "November 22, 1963: Why We Need The Real History Of The Kennedy Assassination," Washington Post, (November 24, 1996).

I have no desire to start an internecine war in the Carroll Clan (upon all of whom I wish Peace) but with all due respect to Tim Carroll I know of no reason why Beschloss's work should be considered the bible of the JFK assassination. In a murder investigation we look for motive means and opportunity, and above all we look to see where the evidence from the crime scene leads. I think many/most Americans eg. Beschloss would love to say that the evidence leads to Cubans and/or Italians (or furriners of some description), but I suggest that that it is American conceit that prevents us from acknowledging that the real killers were as American (waspish) as apple pie.

I don't consider Beschloss' work to be any kind of "bible of the JFK assassination." I also don't understand it to be Beschloss' position that "furriners" did it. The point of the quote, which was taken from an article by Jeff Morley (who's participating on this thread), is that the likely explanation for who would kill Kennedy lies within the issue of who would benefit. Thus, studying Kennedy's policies is an intrinsic aspect of any assassination research. The "CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile operations" to which I refer, were indeed as American as apple pie, even if not waspishly staffed.

Tim

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Consistent with Michael Beschloss' observation that "the most likely explanation for the cause of Kennedy's death lies in his policies,"* the convergence of CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile operations with the events surrounding the President's assassination provides strong circumstantial evidence of the motive and means for that crime.

* Jefferson Morley, "November 22, 1963: Why We Need The Real History Of The Kennedy Assassination," Washington Post, (November 24, 1996).

Tim

I have no desire to start an internecine war in the Carroll Clan (upon all of whom I wish Peace) but with all due respect to Tim Carroll I know of no reason why Beschloss's work should be considered the bible of the JFK assassination. In a murder investigation we look for motive means and opportunity, and above all we look to see where the evidence from the crime scene leads. I think many/most Americans eg. Beschloss would love to say that the evidence leads to Cubans and/or Italians (or furriners of some description), but I suggest that that it is American conceit that prevents us from acknowledging that the real killers were as American (waspish) as apple pie.

"The task, at this late date, is not to speculate or theorize but the contrary, to specify, to test, to clarify, to document and, above all, to eliminate suspects. When we obtain the records cited above,--and I believe we will--then we will have a clearer understanding of who was and was not responsible for Kennedy's death."

I think that I can understand the argument re. theory.

I don't agree. It implies that, as argued the case is basically solved. There is such a thing as civic action. Those who claim a close to 100% certainty could very well make use of that. I'm not suggesting that makes such a claim, but some have.

The American investigators psyche is a factor, mostly recognised by non-Americans. Naturally it is an element that would apply equally to say an Australian investigation of some Australian tragedy. It is a great deal more comfortable to externalise the source of evil than to own it. For example if the obvious strife in America in the 50s and 60s around the issue of segregation could be blamed on some external influence such as Cuba, Communism, or even perhaps some identifiable internal identity such as the Mob, as long as it isn't you or I, there would be a tendency when faced with a choice that one would choose to externalise. This is a natural human response. For some researchers such would be the case. The researcher him/her self is a stumbling block.

To counteract this one needs to encourage open-mindedness. This means to encourage alternative thinking, speculation.

Secondly.

Given the nature of the court room and the way Lawyers are allowed to distort reality in order to win cases, any and all theories need to be rigorously defended against all comers. If a theory cannot be defended from an alternative theory that looks at the same data but with a different perspective, then the likely hood of it failing in court is there. Alternative theories provides a useful service.

Thirdly.

Data is filed in many different formats by many different sources. If I want to find a photograph taken by a member of the Oxford insurrection I might be more likely to find it in some obscure genealogy collection rather than searching in a field of say Federal Crimes. Alternative speculation widens the net.

Fourthly.

An argument against alternative theories serves to sever these sources and to isolate alternative thinkers from the mainstream when those altertnative thinkers may be just the ones to provide an piece in the mainstream puzzle. There is an essential value to all in alternative theories.

Fifthly

I believe there is a need to consider mental instability as well. The act of murder of a President while having practical purposes and consequently looking for solution from rational sources makes sense, there are individuals and motives involved that move in the realm of sociopathy and psychopathy. Mentally ill people often speak and write in an alternative language and format. It's entirely possible that essential evidence is overlooked by, as seems to be implied by Jefferson, focusing the investigation on traditional streams.

A theory is just that, a theory. There are very few things that a scientist can claim to be Law. This applies equally to history or a murder investigation. If the theory is that the custodians of the documents necessary for the whole of the 40+ year long investigation have also guilty elements then the idea of relying on resources provided by them is silly. By learning to accommodate wild speculation and the resultant alternative sources that may result, throwing the net wider, the likely hood of uncovering necessary data increases.

I guess on the whole I reject totally an argument that theorising is counter productive. It belongs in the bin with fatalism.

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