Honor John F Kennedy – assassinated 48 years ago today – by learning why he was killed.

by on November 22, 2011 · 23 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, History, War and Peace

Famous frame from the Zapruder film: John Kennedy is being struck in the throat by the initial shot – one of at least six bullets fired at the motorcade. Jackie is turning to see what is going on, and Governor Connolly seems to be reacting to something. The President is murdered by a triangulation of fire.

Editor: Please note this was written 2 years ago. It’s now the 50th anniversary and we are running a series of articles. Here’s the first one. The 2nd on CNN joining the cover-up, and the 3rd  “The Big Lie”.

November 22, 1963, – 48 years ago today – was one of the most terrible days in US history.  It was the day that John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

No one yet has been successfully prosecuted for his murder. Yes, Lee Harvey Oswald was caught and then killed by Jack Ruby – but to this day – no one besides Oswald has been punished for the most despicable act in our lifetime.

Plenty of us boomers remember those days. I was 15 when it happened and I vividly recall that day at Point Loma High when we heard about the shooting. I felt sick and literally tossed my lunch into the garbage can at school.  And I was sitting with my father a day later in our Point Loma home when we both witnessed Jack Ruby assassinate Oswald live on national television.

So, honor the dead president by studying and learning about not only who killed him and how, but more importantly, why was he killed.  Why was Kennedy taken out?

There’s been plenty of books written on the assassination and the theories and conspiracies over the decades.

But I happen to recommend Oliver Stone’s excellent academy-award winning 1991 movie “JFK” for a fairly explicit accounting of the who’s, why’s, and wherefore’s.  Patty and I watched it Sunday during the rain, and everytime I see it I pick up new material and facts.  It contrasted so much with the History channel’s recent replay of all the tired old myths – the lone assassin, the “magic bullet” –  that I also watched several days ago, that I realized the cover-up still goes on.

Let’s turn to impartial wikipedia:

Poster for Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, starring Kevin Costner as DA Jim Garrison.

The film

JFK is a 1991 American film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up, through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner). Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, for which Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) was found responsible by two Government investigations: the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (which concluded that there was another assassin shooting with Oswald). The film was adapted by Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs. Stone described his fictionalized film as a “counter-myth” to the “fictional myth” of the Warren Commission.

Controversy about the film

The film became embroiled in controversy even before it was finished filming, after The Washington Post national security correspondent George Lardner showed up on the set. Based on the first draft of the screenplay, he wrote a scathing article attacking the film. Upon JFK’s theatrical release, many major American newspapers ran editorials accusing Stone of taking liberties with historical facts, including the film’s implication that President Lyndon B. Johnson was part of a coup d’etat to kill Kennedy. After a slow start at the box office, Stone’s film gradually picked up momentum, earning over $205 million in worldwide gross. JFK went on to win two Academy Awards and was nominated for eight in total, including Best Picture.

The real Jim Garrison, D.A. of New Orleans in the Sixties. The only person to prosecute someone for the hideous crime of assassinating the president.


The film opens with newsreel footage, including the farewell address in 1961 of outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, warning about the build-up of the “military-industrial complex”. This is followed by a summary of John F. Kennedy’s years as president, emphasizing the events that, in Stone’s thesis, would lead to his assassination. This builds to a reconstruction of the assassination on November 22, 1963. New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) subsequently learns about potential links to the assassination in New Orleans. Garrison and his team investigate several possible conspirators, including private pilot David Ferrie (Joe Pesci), but are forced to let them go after their investigation is publicly rebuked by the federal government. Kennedy’s suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) is killed by Jack Ruby (Brian Doyle-Murray) before he can go to trial, and Garrison closes the investigation.

The investigation is reopened in late 1966 after Garrison reads the Warren Report and notices what he believes are numerous inaccuracies and conflicts. Garrison and his staff interrogate several witnesses to the Kennedy assassination, and others who were involved with Oswald, Ruby, and Ferrie. Upon Shaw’s informal questioning, Shaw denies any knowledge of meeting Ferrie, O’Keefe or Oswald, but he is soon charged with conspiring to murder the President. Another witness is Willie O’Keefe (Kevin Bacon), a male prostitute serving five years in prison for soliciting, who reveals he witnessed Ferrie discussing Kennedy’s assassination with Shaw, Oswald, and a group of Latin men. As well as briefly meeting Oswald, O’Keefe was romantically involved with a man he knew as “Clay Bertrand”, who was Clay Shaw. Jean Hill (Ellen McElduff), a teacher who describes that she witnessed shots fired from the grassy knoll and she heard four to six shots total, tells the investigators that Secret Service threatened her into saying only three shots came from the book depository, revealing changes that were made to her testimony by the Warren Commission. Garrison and a staff member also go to the sniper’s location in the Texas School Book Depository and aim an empty rifle from the window through which Oswald was alleged to have shot Kennedy. They conclude that Oswald was too poor a marksman to make the shots, and two of the shots were much too close together, indicating that two additional assassins were also involved.

Jack Ruby kills Oswald in front of millions on live television at the Dallas police station.

After discovering electronic surveillance microphones that had been planted in his offices, Garrison meets a high-level figure in Washington D.C. who identifies himself as “X” (Donald Sutherland). “X” suggests there was a conspiracy at the highest levels of government, implicating members of the CIA, the military-industrial complex, the Mafia, and Secret Service, FBI, and Kennedy’s vice-president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, as either assassination pre-planning co-conspirators, or, as having motives to cover up the truth after the assassination. “X” explains the President was killed because of a more peaceful outlook in Kennedy’s foreign policy which meant diminished profit for the military-industrial complex. It also enraged high-ranking military officials who viewed such diplomacy as weakness. Kennedy ordered control of secret para-military operations to be removed from the CIA and handed over to Department of Defense Joint Chiefs of Staff. This would have diminished the agency’s power. Further, the Mafia had helped Kennedy win the 1960 election as a favor to his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr, who had done business with the Mafia dating back to the 1920s, and felt betrayed that he had let his brother, Bobby Kennedy, continue his anti-Mob crusade instead of stopping it as he had promised. Furthermore, the Mob wanted revenge for the Bay of Pigs fiasco, which they had helped fund and support in order to get their Cuban casinos—their biggest moneymakers—back from the hands of the Castro government.

CBS stawalt Walter Cronkite chokes up as he is announcing Kennedy’s death.

“X” reveals how his superior, General “Y”, had “X” sent on an odd trip to Antarctica just before the assassination. One of “X”‘s duties was to supplement presidential security. He points out all the lapses in security during JFK’s fatal trip to Dallas: the open windows along the route, the hairpin turn from Houston to Elm which slowed the limousine, and bystander activities which would not have been allowed. “X” suggests he was ordered out of the country in order to strip away the normal security measures he would have had in place during JFK’s fateful trip to Dallas.

On his way back from Antarctica, “X” touches down in New Zealand. He reads a local newspaper which mysteriously presents a full dossier on Oswald and his guilt in Kennedy’s death. This was hours before Oswald would be charged with the crime and anyone investigating the case knew much about him. “X” views this as clear proof of a cover story (fictitious account) of the type used by CIA black ops. In other words, CIA assets in the media were being used to persuade the public of Oswald’s guilt.

It is clear who “Y” is in the film based on a partial glimpse of the name plate on his desk: General Edward Lansdale, a real life figure who specialized in counter-insurgency. Lansdale established the CIA appartus in Vietnam. There is some evidence Lansdale was in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

“X” further states that Kennedy was intent on pulling U.S. troops from Vietnam by the end of 1965 as evidenced by National Security Order 263. This was countermanded immediately by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, with National Security Order 273. Therein, concludes “X”, lay the foundation of the Vietnam War.”X” encourages Garrison to keep digging and make further arrests.

Some of Garrison’s staff begin to doubt his motives and disagree with his methods, so they leave the investigation. Garrison’s marriage is strained when his wife Liz (Sissy Spacek) complains that he is spending more time on the case than with his own family. After a sinister phone call is made to their daughter, Liz accuses Garrison of being selfish and attacking Shaw only because of his homosexuality. In addition, the media launches attacks on television and in newspapers attacking Garrison’s character and criticizing the way his office is spending taxpayers’ money. Some key witnesses become scared and refuse to testify while others, such as Ferrie, die in suspicious circumstances. Before his death, Ferrie tells Garrison that he believes people are after him, and reveals there was a conspiracy around Kennedy’s death that involved co-conspirators that were involved in the CIA operation named Operation Mongoose.

The trial of Clay Shaw takes place in 1969. Garrison presents the court with further evidence of multiple killers while attempting to debunk the single bullet theory, proposes a Dealey Plaza shots scenario involving three assassins who fired six total shots, but the jury acquits Shaw on all charges. The film reflects that members of that jury stated publicly that they believed there was a conspiracy behind the assassination, but not enough evidence to link Shaw to that conspiracy. Shaw died of lung cancer in 1974, but in 1979 Richard Helms testified under oath that Clay Shaw had, in fact, been a part-time contract agent of the Domestic Contacts Division of the CIA. The end credits state that secret records related to the assassination will be released to the public in 2029.

Cultural impact

The popularity of JFK led to the passage of The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (also known as the JFK Act) and the formation of the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board. The Act was signed into law by President Bush in late October 1992.[60] The ARRB worked until 1998. Witnesses were interviewed (some for the first time), including many medical witnesses, the U.S. government purchased the Zapruder film, and previously-classified documents relating to the assassination were finally made available to public scrutiny. By ARRB law, all existing assassination-related documents will be made public by 2017. [Editor: go to wikipedia for the numerous links.]

Rent and watch the movie. Today is a good day to reflect on the magnitude of this monstrosity of murder and cover-up. And maybe you’ll feel motivated to put some pressure on our politicians, on the mainstream media, and to help educate your children and parents and friends about what really happened 47 years ago.

Editor: This is a version of what we published last year at the same time, same station.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Me November 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

RIP Mr. President.

We need people like you in this country.


avatar Frank Gormlie November 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Sure, JFK was a member of the ruling elite, but as we understand American history, we learn that there are those members who understand the need for a social net and the need not to finance an empire. Kennedy understood both of these, and he was beginning to withdraw US troops from Vietnam when he was murdered. Immediately after his death, President Johnson reversed Kennedy’s direction in SE Asia … and the rest is history.


avatar nunya November 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Love the movie. I think Oliver Stone has done some really great work. I recently watched a documentary called “South of the Border” streamed on Netflix that was interesting.


avatar Shane Finneran November 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm

The BBC just had a fascinating article that says JFK’s 1960 campaign for the Democratic nomination is where “the dirtier side of modern politics has its roots”:


avatar Frank Gormlie November 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Shane, thanks for the link. That particular article does give Humphrey too much praise, painting him as the poor David standing against the Goliath Kennedy. Humphrey was a cold-war warrior, and by 1968 supported the war in Vietnam. Just before his murder, Kennedy was beginning to withdraw troops from there.

In a nice twist in the movie JFK, Oliver Stone has the real Jim Garrison play Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, who of course sullied his reputation by heading up the “Warren Commission”, which in the end was a pack of lies designed to sooth the American public’s anxieties.


avatar Molly November 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm

The Warren Comish also is an important chunk of the coverup. Without it, who knows what officialdom would have us believe. One thing the movie did not do was describe all the witnesses who met their deaths, as I recall. Many, many witnesses simply died in inexplicable ways, one-car accidents was a popular one method used. Saved the government a heap of money, though. No witnesses, no trials.


avatar Old Hermit Dave November 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Why he was killed huh? Well for one thing you don’t fire the head of the CIA. Worse than that you don’t threaten to shut down a money making war for the Military Industrial Complex. The possibility that America could go full out liberal would be enough for the conservative right wing to OK change. The government hasn’t actually proved what they claim happened that day. The Warren Report is 26 volumes bigger than the almost Kissinger report on 9/11/01. Chances are 47 years from now both events will still have the same questions and the same non answers from the government.


avatar Molly November 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Old Hermit Dave – you must be old to remember the firing of the CIA head by JFK. LOL. What was his name? Dulles? Allen Dulles? Just kidding about your age, though. Thanks for reminding us about that little slice of early sixties history.


avatar Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall November 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Why does every generation have to prove who killed Kennedy? French intelligence first solved the mystery in 1965. And New Orleans DA Jim Garrison interviewed every living witness he could find – including one of the sharpshooters – for his grand jury investigation. He concluded the conspiracy orginated at the highest levels of government: the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The the House Committee on Assassinations proved in 1978 that Oswald didn’t do it alone. And Oliver Stone had to prove it all over again in his 1992 movie. I write about this and other antics of the professional criminals who control our government in my recent memoir: THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE (www.stuartbramhall.com). I currently live in exile in New Zealand.


avatar Dave Sparling November 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Dr. Bramhall it is a good thing that the masses remain ignorant and your proofs fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Because if you were able to cause any of these government criminals still alive any real trouble, it would do no good to live in New Zealand or anywhere in the world, they would take care of you in a heart beat.


avatar Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall November 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I agree, Dave. There was awhile that between 1987 and 1989 that people were trying to run me down with their cars. Then someone figured out I had no kind of platform – and that aspect of the harassment stopped. What really makes me sick is that all this stuff is in the public domain – available in most libraries. But no one really cares. One of my friends recently published a book called the Transparent Conspiracy. His theory is the government wants us to know they are doing this stuff – just to remind us that we are helpless to do anything about it.


avatar RB November 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Well, given the incompetency of our government and how they run Arlington National Cemetery, no one should be sure it is Kennedy buried at that grave site.

When liberals believe in Supply and Demand economics and conservatives believe in Evolution, I promise I will believe the Kennedy Conspiracy.


avatar Carl April 29, 2011 at 11:56 am

There were initialy 3 shots fired in that whole seen. First shot hit Kennedy in the neck, second shot hit Governor Connolly, and the third hit him in the head.. killing him.


avatar Frank Gormlie November 22, 2011 at 11:41 am

The cover-up continues in 2011. I just watched a shameful version of the cover-up on the National Geographic Channel the other night – and they concluded that 1) Oswald acted alone; 2) only 3 bullets were fired, and 3) basically the Warren Commission was correct.

I lost a lot of respect for National Geographic. I’ll never subscribe to their publication again, and will never watch their channel again with joy.


avatar Ernie McCray November 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm

REMEMBERING THAT DAY: I was 25 years old teaching 6th grade at Perry Elementary in Bay View Naval Housing in San Diego. We came in from recess and turned on the radio with bated breath because we had heard of the shooting. A voice said: “President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is dead!” We sat, mouths agape in shock, and then nearly every hand in the classroom shot up with questions and suddenly I was not the “expert” in the room. We were all equals. At the end of that day I had gone up several notches as an educator because I learned out of the sadness that we, as a class, were co-learners; we had experienced something horrible together. Oh, the prose and poetry we wrote that year, the “soul” we acquired. We learned a lot about love and respect and the variety of forces at play in the universe.


avatar Rick Chalmers November 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I like a good conspiracy story as much as anyone, however I find Oliver Stone’s story is plausible with one exception: The Kennedy family is too “plugged in” to the democratic (and therefore the Republican side, for deal making reciprocity) for one of them to go down like that.

For that reason alone, I find it unlikely that JFK went maverick on the MIC and as a result got swept away by the machine.

I don’t know anything about the Mexican mafia story angle, perhaps I should watch the movie and research from there.



avatar RErickson November 25, 2011 at 2:03 am

I rather like James Ellroy’s theory in the trilogy beginning with “American Tabloid”. He did his research and sure he wrote it as a novel, but certainly worth reading. Then he went on to Martin Luther King’s assassination in “The Cold Six Thousand”. Finally I am reading the last part, “Blood’s a Rover”.

Even if you don’t believe the theories, these books are a good read.


avatar Realist December 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Three shots. First one missed. Second one hit JFK in the neck & Connally. Third was in the head. All by the same gun & same shooter. National Geographic had it right 100% & I didn’t even see the show. Sometimes the most simplistic thing is so hard to believe. No conspiracy. No cover up. Just a lone assassin who thought he was smarter than everyone else who wanted to leave his mark. No grassy knoll, no switching of bodies, no govermment plan, no multiple Oswalds, no Mafia involvement, no war beneficiaries (preluding Nov 22), no umbrella man or no seizure man giving signals, no fake autopsy photos, no Castro or Marcello vendetta, no NOTHING!

Just one guy & one rifle.. It is hard for people to realize the most powerful man in the world was taken down by a little insignificant man like LHO. But it it is true.


avatar Frank Gormlie December 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I call bull pucky on this. Why do you believe this crap?


avatar Realist December 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

It is far from crap. It is all facts. Physics & facts never change nor do they waiver. Oswald tried assassinating General Walker on April 10th, 1963. He failed. Later in the year to get to Cuba, he was going to hijack a plane to get to Cuba. These are facts in his diary & backed up by his wife. LHO was whacked. Nobody liked him & he didn’t like anybody. A very troubled man. For him, he stumbled on a opportunity of a lifetime when he found out about the motorcade going by the TSD. Chances are LHO decided to do it on Wednesday the 20th or Thursday, Nov 21st. He only took 4 bullets that day & there really doesn’t even seem to be as much planning as the Walker assassination attempt. The motorcade’s route was not published in the paper til the 19th & 20th.

Many people benefited by JFK’s death, no doubt. But that does not mean they had anything to do with it.

LHO-one gunman-one shooter-no conspiracy


avatar Frank Gormlie December 28, 2011 at 9:05 am

You say “facts” in referring to references in Oswald’s diary. He was clearly in the employ of the CIA and was also used. He was arrested passing out supposedly “pro-Cuba” fliers – printed up by a company associated with the CIA and staged a fight with right-wing Cubans to get attention – just for starters. Someone once said that there’s been a thousand books written about the assassination. And for you to simply accept whole hog the Warren Report is very disingenuous of you.


avatar Realist December 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I have been fascinated by the JFK assassination for over 30 years. I would love to debate anyone on the doubt LHO was the lone gunman.


avatar Old Hermit Dave December 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

So you believe a nut shot JFK and then another nut shot the nut that shot JFK? I guess if you read the Warren Report, you know the condition of Jack Ruby’s mothers teeth in 1938.


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