What we seem to know now that we didn’t know before — or what we seem to understand a bit more than we did before — is that the Soviet Union was surprised and concerned about Kennedy’s death, and that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was frustrated by the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald before a possible confession could have been obtained from him.
ABC News reported the release contained a memo from Hoover illustrating his “urgent desire” to have “something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean Hoover thought Oswald wasn’t the real assassin; it simply indicates Hoover was concerned about having decades of debate over a possible conspiracy, which is what we ended up with anyway.
At this distance — next month marks 54 years since the killing — if a released document made a case of definitive evidence that Oswald fired all of the shots, even if the files included film showing him doing the shooting, there are people who just wouldn’t accept the fact that Oswald acted alone.
Maybe he didn’t.
But there’s been no definitive proof that he didn’t, despite a lot of speculation on both sides of that argument.
I’m an assassination buff of sorts; in my case, I’m most interested in media coverage of the event, since the Kennedy assassination served as the birth of breaking news on television.
For some reason, on that particular day, the nation just seemed to instinctively switch on their television sets instead of their radios to learn what was happening, and they sat in front of their TVs mesmerized for the next four days as they learned one president had been killed, another had been sworn in, the president’s presumed killer was gunned down and the murdered president was laid to rest.
The coverage, by today’s standards, was primitive at best. But still, it was the most technically-sophisticated coverage that could be mustered in 1963, and as such, it serves as a fascinating record of how newsgathering was done back then.
Looking back on that coverage and the conspiracy theories that have persisted for more than five decades, Dan Rather had an interesting take a few years ago on the search for the “real” truth in Kennedy’s killing. Rather explained that all of the journalists who covered Kennedy’s death knew that breaking the story of a real conspiracy would have been the story of their careers. For that reason alone, all of those journalists pursued leads that would confirm a conspiracy. But they just didn’t find it.
Maybe such evidence was hidden very, very well. But it seems that if that were the case, by now, it would have surfaced, and it wouldn’t need to come from boxes of sealed documents in the National Archives.
Just the other day, I saw a clip on YouTube featuring an interview of a sniper who examined several locations around Dealey Plaza where a second gunman could have been positioned to accomplish what Oswald was said to have accomplished on his own. The sniper said the “most likely” place for a second gunman would have been the famous “grassy knoll.”
In the years since the initial conspiracy theories began popping up, forensic science has demonstrated that the motion of Kennedy’s head during the fatal wound was consistent with a shot from behind and that the position of Texas Gov. John Connally (who was seated in a jump seat in front of Kennedy) eliminated the possibility of a so-called “magic bullet” that would have had to randomly zig-zag in mid-air: when adjusting models to allow for Connally’s true position in the vehicle, there was suddenly no zig-zagging required.
But conspiracy theories are more fun for a lot of people, and they’re not about to get provable facts — or their lack thereof — to get in their way.
There’s no telling what’s in those remaining 30,000 files. But I doubt it’d matter.
If the remaining files are ever released, do you think there would ever be a definitive answer about who killed Kennedy?
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.