Finian Cunningham, "JFK Files: Cover-Up Continues of President’s Assassination", © Strategic Culture (28 October 2017)
The murder of President John F Kennedy 54 years ago has been described as the “crime of the century”. If US and Western news media cannot discuss this seminal event openly and honestly, let alone investigate it, then what does that say about their credibility?
Such systematic media denial of reality inflicts irreparable damage to their credibility. How can they be taken seriously on any other matter, whether it is claims of “Russian meddling” or about the war in Syria, or the claims justifying Washington’s aggression towards Iran and North Korea?
The astounding media denial over JFK’s assassination is a symptom of the tacit totalitarianism that passes for “Western democracy”.
The release this week of secret government papers on the killing of President Kennedy was billed as a day of revelation and reckoning. Closer to the truth is that the shocking murder of Kennedy continues to be covered-up by the US deep state.
The premise of “revelation and reckoning” is absurdly false and naive. The notion that US authorities would “finally come clean” on what happened that day in Dallas is not only flawed. It also creates the illusion that the controversy has finally been settled, thereby supposedly confirming the official version that Kennedy was assassinated by a lone malcontent, Lee Harvey Oswald.
CNN reported the release of official documents this week thus: “More than 50 years after President John F Kennedy was killed, Americans on Thursday may finally get the US government’s full accounting… to quell conspiracy theories that have long swirled around the assassination.”
The New York Times wrote: “The final trove of sealed government records to be released” will lay to rest the “grand-daddy of all conspiracy theories”.
The evidence and truth about Kennedy’s slaying in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, on November 22, 1963, is already out there in the testimony of dozens of eye witnesses who observed the assassination or who were present in the aftermath. The assumption that the release of secret archives could shed any light is misplaced. But the media depiction of a “final trove” of documents conveniently shores up the official account that any other explanation of what really happened is that of a “conspiracy crank”.
CNN and the New York Times, as with the rest of the mainstream media in the US, claim that the release of declassified papers this week confirms the official narrative that JFK was shot dead by Lee Harvey Oswald firing a sniper rifle from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Store Depository at the president’s motorcade. That was the original conclusion from the government-led Warren Commission, which published its report on the assassination in 1964. For over 50 years, the US media have unswervingly maintained that version of events, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
What the media have studiously ignored for all these years is the evidence and testimony from dozens of witnesses who were either excluded from the Warren Commission hearings, or their testimonies were distorted by FBI investigators. Many of them mysteriously killed.
One of the best compendiums on the Kennedy assassination is ‘JFK and the Unspeakable’ by James Douglass (2008). Other essential titles for details on the murder – details which mainstream media largely ignore – include ‘Crossfire’ by Jim Marrs, and ‘Brothers’ by David Talbot.
Among the many crucial witnesses recorded over the years, here below are a select few. Their testimonies show that the murder of Kennedy was a much darker “crime of the century” than the mainstream media would ever explore.
Shot from the front, not from the back
Doctor Charles Crenshaw led the medical staff at Dallas Parkland Hospital where the fatally wounded JFK was rushed to minutes after being shot. Crenshaw and nearly 20 other medical staff tended to the president’s wounds trying to resuscitate him. All of these medics testified that Kennedy’s fatal head wound was from a gun shot to the front of the skull which resulted in a massive exit hole at the back of his head. That one detail alone contradicts the official claim that Oswald allegedly shot JFK from the rear, as the Warren Commission contends.
The fatal shot must have come from the front, which the famous amateur video footage recorded by bystander Abraham Zapruder near the Grassy Knoll also purports to show. (Notably, a Congressional panel, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded in 1979 after a reexamination of evidence that there was more than one shooter in Dealey Plaza. But this finding has never been thoroughly explored by the media. Why not?)
Critically important, Dr Crenshaw and his medical colleagues were immediately pressured by the FBI and other authorities to suppress their initial observations. They were tacitly intimidated to change their accounts to say the opposite: that the president’s head wound was caused by a shot from the rear. Crenshaw was not invited to testify before the Warren Commission during its year-long hearings. He says for years after, he and Parkland staff were subtly intimidated to keep quiet about their witness to Kennedy’s final moments. However, three decades later, in 1992, Dr Crenshaw published ‘JFK and the Conspiracy of Silence’. Ironically, it became a best-seller on the New York Times book list, in spite a huge media campaign to discredit Crenshaw’s medical expertise.
Lieutenant Commander William Bruce Pitzer was in charge of the Audio-Visual Department at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington DC where Kennedy’s remains were flown hours after the shooting. That was where the official autopsy was carried out, bizarrely, under the watchful eye of senior military personnel. Pitzer was tasked with filming the remains of the president. As he later confided to a colleague, who corroborated the film’s images, JFK’s head had a massive exit wound at the back of the skull, just as the Dallas doctors had initially maintained. Two years later, Pitzer was mysteriously found dead in his studio. He had been shot in the head, a revolver nearby. His death was officially said to be suicide, which his widow disputed. The film of the president’s remains, which Pitzer had been carefully storing, was removed from his studio by an unknown person.
The contention that Kennedy was shot from the front is not a theory. The direction of fire was witnessed by several people who were near the Grassy Knoll, the stockade-fence area which JFK’s limousine was approaching as it drove away from the Texas Book Store Depository, further up on Elm Street. If Oswald was the shooter from the depository, as the official narrative goes, then how could Kennedy have been shot fatally from the front?
Secret Service men at Grassy Knoll
Ed Hoffman, a young deaf and mute man, was watching the approaching motorcade from the flyover overlooking the knoll. Hoffman says he saw a puff of smoke emitting from where a gunman was standing against the stockade fence just as the president’s car was approaching. The shooter then quickly moved to rail lines behind the knoll where he threw his rifle to another man dressed in work overalls. The second man disassembled the rifle in a twist, shoved it into a holdall bag and proceeded to walk along the rail track away from the knoll. The shooter then swiftly walked back to the stockade fence. Several police officers on duty that day, who immediately ran towards the knoll on hearing the gunfire, reported that they were confronted by men purporting to be secret service agents. Ed Hoffman’s testimony was ignored by FBI investigators when he voluntarily came forward. But his account was verified by a railroad operator named Lee Bowers who also observed the shooting from the Grassy Knoll from the vantage point of a control tower he happened to be working in. Bowers testified his observation to respected JFK researcher and author Mark Lane. Four months later, in 1966, Bowers was killed in a single-car accident. This fate of untimely death has met several other people who spoke out about circumstances of the shooting which did not fit with the Warren Commission narrative.
Another witness on the Grassy Knoll was a young off-duty soldier, Gordon Arnold. Years later after mustering the courage, he testified that he felt the discharge of two shots fired from close behind while he was taking photos of the passing motorcade. Gordon said he ducked for cover, and before he knew it, two men lit on him, one holding a rifle and dressed in a police uniform, who demanded he empty his camera of its film. Arnold kept silent about his story for years out of fear for his life.
Jack Ruby was not a random killer of Oswald
Many serious independent investigators have disputed the Warren Commission report as being riddled with anomalies, apart from its exclusion of key witnesses. One of the glaring flaws in the Warren findings is that Lee Harvey Oswald purportedly acted alone, and that he had no connection to Jack Ruby, the Mob-connected nightclub owner who shot dead Oswald while in custody in the Dallas police station – two days after Kennedy was killed.
Rose Cheramie worked in Ruby’s Dallas club. Before her death in a bizarre road accident in 1965, Cheramie claimed that Ruby and Oswald knew each other for years. She said Oswald would often call round to the club where he would sit at Ruby’s table.
Julia Ann Mercer was stuck in traffic in Dealey Plaza on the morning of the assassination, at 11am, an hour and a half before the president’s motorcade arrived. She noticed a man getting out of a station wagon parked below the Grassy Knoll and that this man was carrying what appeared to be a concealed rifle as he proceeded to walk up to the stockade-fence area. Out of curiosity, Mercer then rolled her car alongside the parked vehicle and took a look at the driver squarely in the face. It was Jack Ruby. She didn’t know Ruby at that time. Only days later when his infamous shooting of Oswald at the police station made international headlines did Mercer recognize Ruby’s face. Her testimony was distorted by FBI investigators. It was only when Mercer later talked to various independent researchers that her crucial identification of Ruby at the scene came to light, albeit not in a mass media light.
Other witnesses further substantiate the real conspiracy that lies behind JFK’s assassination. The word “conspiracy” is not used here in the pejorative sense to demean. It conveys the literal meaning of an organized plot.
What was that plot? As James Douglass and others have cogently pieced together, after his election in 1960 JFK was increasingly viewed by the US deep state as a “rogue president”. He was firmly opposed to the unfurling arms race against the Soviet Union and wanted to pursue earnest, radical nuclear disarmament with Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 had jolted JFK on the dangers of a nuclear world war. Kennedy also wanted to normalize relations with Cuba’s Fidel Castro following the disastrous CIA-led Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 for which the president vowed he would “smash the agency into a thousand pieces”. He fired the CIA director Allen Dulles over the fiasco. Ironically, Dulles would later be appointed to the seven-member Warren Commission, supposedly tasked with uncovering the truth behind Kennedy’s assassination.
Moreover, JFK had concluded that the looming Vietnam War would be a disaster. In the summer of 1963 he was preparing orders for US military withdrawal. That move was a formidable threat to the anticipated huge profits for the military industrial complex if the war escalated, which it did after Kennedy’s death.
At the height of the Cold War, Kennedy was therefore seen as little more than a traitor by the military-security apparatus and as an obstacle to the vested economic interests of the Pentagon’s military-industrial complex. In short, he had to be got rid of by “executive action”.
The CIA had the motive to terminate Kennedy. It also had the means. CIA contract-killers were often drawn from the ranks of criminal underworld, the Mafia and far-right Cuban exiles living in Miami. This arrangement affords “plausible deniability”.
Jack Ruby, who had long been a Mafia, CIA gun-runner and fixer, was recruited into the months-long planning of the plot to ambush the president.
Oswald the CIA agent who became a scapegoat
So, what was Oswald’s connection? The 23-year-old ex-US marine had been recruited in the late 1950s by the CIA when he was posted to a U2 spy plane base in Japan. He became fluent in Russian and then “defected” to the Soviet Union. It seems that the KGB did not take Oswald seriously as a reliable would-be agent. He then returned to the US in 1962, apparently of his own volition. Significantly, for an American citizen who had renounced his country and defected to the Soviet Union, Oswald and his Russian wife were not subjected to any recriminations on their return to the US. Indeed, it seems they were given generous patronage to find accommodation, jobs, and connections.
Oswald, who became immersed in both pro- and anti-Castro Cuban political activities in the US, became embroiled in the plot to assassinate Kennedy. How much Oswald knew of CIA involvement or the agency’s true objectives is not clear. But evidence suggests that he was also working as an informer for the FBI to alert them of the plot to kill the president. Oswald was out of his depth. He probably didn’t realize how little a pawn he was in a much bigger nefarious plot.
His close involvement with the bit-player plotters explains how he was an associate of Jack Ruby. What Oswald’s true intentions are not clear. Tragically, he may have had a misplaced belief that his role as an informant for the FBI was trying to save the president.
In the end, tragically, Oswald was made the scapegoat for the assassination. The claim that he fired a rifle from the Texas School Book Depository with three shots in a matter of seconds and hit the president twice – as the Warren Commission contends – defies credibility. Also, according to the Warren report, one of those bullets supposedly exited Kennedy’s neck and then struck Governor John Connally who was riding in front of the Limousine. Dr Crenshaw and the other doctors at Parkland Hospital initially said that the wound on Kennedy’s neck (in addition to the fatal head injury) was an entry wound – another pointer that shots were actually fired from the front, not from the back as the Warren Commission maintains. That’s not to say shots were not fired from the depository. Witnesses say they heard gunfire and saw a gunman in the upper window. But that speaks more to the elaborate CIA plot to frame Oswald, who happened to recently become employed at the depository weeks before Kennedy’s visit to Dallas.
Less than an hour after the president was shot, Oswald hurriedly entered a movie theater. Witness Jack Davis said he noticed Oswald acting strangely, sitting beside individuals, then restlessly getting up and sitting down again beside another moviegoer – this in an almost empty theater! “It was obvious he was looking for someone,” recalled Davis. It is reasonable to speculate Oswald was seeking out a FBI contact whom he was instructed to connect with in a faux-arrangement. Oswald never did meet his “contact”. He was being left out to hang and dry by the plotters.
Another movie-theater customer, George Applin, told how when police officers arrested Oswald, Applin kindly advised another seated man to move to the back of the cinema hall, away from the trouble. The man nonchalantly looked at Applin, ignored his advice, kept sitting in his seat, and then proceeded to intently observe the arrest of Oswald. Days later, Applin recognized the face of Jack Ruby as being that of the man in the cinema hall. Evidently, Ruby had expected the police officers to shoot Oswald on the spot at his arrest, especially because their colleague Officer JD Tippit had just been shot dead minutes before – supposedly by Oswald fleeing from the assassination of the president. As it turned out, the arresting officers did not kill Oswald in the movie-theater, and it would fall to Ruby to follow-up two days later at the Dallas police station.
There are many other such key witnesses to the events surrounding the assassination of JFK, recorded in the reference books cited above, among other sources. All these witnesses were ignored by the mainstream media, or excluded and distorted by the Warren Commission, or were intimidated from speaking out publicly.
State-level organization of assassination
One further crucial story is that of Air Force Sergeant Robert Vinson. On the Friday of the assassination, through sheer happenstance, he caught an unscheduled ride onboard an unmarked C-54 military cargo plane, making his way back from Washington DC to his home near Colorado Springs. During the flight in which he was the only passenger, the pilots announced the president’s death. The plane then banked to another unspoken destination. When it landed on a rough strip, Sgt. Vinson recognized the city’s skyline as Dallas. It was mid-afternoon. During the brief stop, the plane’s engines did not shut off. Two men boarded. The aircraft then took off, landing eventually at the air base at Roswell, New Mexico. It was only when Vinson finally got home on Sunday, watching the breaking news on the TV with his wife, that he recognized the face of the man accused of being the president’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. It was the same facial appearance as one of the two men who boarded at Dallas.
Vinson’s experience confirms what many other witnesses have contended. That in the plot to kill JFK and frame Oswald, there was an Oswald double, an imposter whose task was to incriminate the scapegoat. The double was used to lay down a trail of evidence purporting to frame Oswald as a Cuban or Soviet malcontent. This would explain the strange encounters at the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City only weeks before the Dallas assassination. During those encounters, the Oswald imposter dramatically proclaimed his communist allegiance. Significantly, the Soviet records show that the person claiming to be Oswald spoke very bad Russian, whereas it is known that the real Oswald was fluent in the language.
For years, Sgt. Vinson was subtly intimidated by the CIA to keep quiet about his accidental flight onboard the unmarked cargo plane. However, Vinson did come forward years later to tell researchers of his insights into the plot to kill Kennedy. He also testified that the plane he rode on was not entirely unmarked. On the tail section, the aircraft bore the insignia of the CIA.
But perhaps the absolute key witness in all this was Lee Harvey Oswald himself. His last words shouted out in defiance at the Dallas police station were: “I’m just a patsy!”
Conveniently, Oswald was silenced by the Mob, CIA-connected Jack Ruby before he could tell his side of the story in a court of law. Oswald no doubt could have lifted a very disturbing lid on who really was orchestrating the president’s assassination.
Regime change American-style
The story of JFK’s assassination is one of state-sponsored murder carried out by the deep state power structure in the US. It was a coup d’état against a president elected by the people, whom the deep state viewed as an enemy to their objectives for war and foreign intrigues.
It was a shocking, brutal blow against democracy, a “regime change”, delivered not in some distant country, but right at home in the United States.
Such was the elaborate conspiracy to murder the president, involving contract-killers and secret services, as well as the complicity of police forces, the FBI, the military, judiciary and the corporate media, that the plotters behind JFK’s killing had to be positioned at the highest level of US government – the deep state.
Nearly 54 years after Kennedy’s murder by America’s state apparatus, the cover-up continues in the form of a futile release of “secret papers”. And, suitably, the mainstream media declare that this “disclosure” is the final settling of the matter, which puts an end to “conspiracy theories”. The media’s complicity may simply be due to an inability or reluctance to question the official narrative. This is what we mean by “tacit totalitarianism” – a willingness to believe in indoctrinated thinking, such as the false Warren Commission conclusion.
No wonder the US public – which polls have consistently shown do not believe the official Warren Commission narrative, and who indeed believe instead that JFK was actually killed in a nefarious plot – no wonder the public have increasing distrust and contempt for the corporate media for being dishonest and unreliable.
For the past year, the same media have been trying to slander Russia for interfering in US democracy. The same media have also tried to conceal American state-sponsored terrorism in Syria to overthrow the government there, just like it did when it overthrew the government in Libya in 2011 and killed the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi. And many other illegal regime-change operations carried out by the US and its Western allies, presented as noble endeavors to “defend democracy”, “fight terrorism” or “protect human rights”.
In an era when such commercially-driven mass media pontificate about “fake news” perpetrated by others it is all the more galling that the accusation comes from the very same media who specialize in mass fake news and mass fake narratives.
The US state murder of JFK in 1963 and the decades-long cover-up is perhaps the greatest condemnation of the fraud that is US mass media. The day that the president was assassinated was also the day that American pretensions of democracy took a deadly hit.