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From the Editors Desk
By Mark Evans
Sixty years ago today (Nov. 22), one of the 20th century’s truly stunning events took place.
The President of the United States was gunned down in broad daylight in front of thousands of onlookers, in Dallas, Texas.
Despite this, there has never been certainty or clarity about who may have been involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination.
The official story – which some argue, had apparently been put in place well before the shooting – was that Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old former Marine, shot Kennedy, firing three shots from a sixth-floor window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository with a World War II surplus Italian Mannlicher Carcano rifle.
Oswald, who had defected to the Soviet Union, then returned with a stunningly attractive Russian bride, was said to be an avowed Marxist, who shot Kennedy either out of a hatred for American Democratic capitalism, or simply to make a name for himself.
A blue ribbon committee put together by the new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, known as the Warren Commission, supported those findings.
This column is too short for an in-depth study of the case.. I am only touching on a handful of the myriad details that are, at the very least, suspicious.
With the 60-year anniversary coming on a day on which a Herald issue is dated, I could not help taking at least a short look at the subject, brief as it may be.
There is a cornucopia of conspiracy theories and many of them include Oswald as one of the shooters.
To me, the real entry point into the mess is Oswald himself.
WHAT ABOUT OSWALD?
Who was he, what was he about, and … above all … did he fire any shots at the president – or at Officer J.D. Tipitt?
Oswald’s Marine career is intriguing. He had an extremely high security clearance, working in radar at Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan. As a Marine private, he was taught Russian. This was not a usual course of study for Marine privates.
Oswald, though usually portrayed as a somewhat dull-witted slacker, excelled at the language. In fact, when his future wife met him at a party in the USSR, his Russian was so good, she thought he was a native Russian.
The US operated a fake defector program during the late 1950s, including several Marines who went to Russia. Although no ironclad evidence has emerged to prove Oswald was part of this program, it appears very likely that he was. The program did not fool the Soviets, who apparently assigned Marina Prusakova, niece of Ilya Prusakov, a colonel in the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs, to seduce Oswald. The Soviet Union had its own clandestine programs, including one that involved what some have called “honey pots,” beautiful women who were to seduce and marry foreigners, then gather intelligence.
The pieces certainly fit for the gorgeous Marina to have been such a pawn.
The ease with which Oswald got into and out of the Soviet Union and especially how he was allowed to return to the US (with a Russian bride, no less) with no punishment, no interrogation, and almost no red tape, should be one huge red flag among many.
Space limits a detailed rundown of Oswald’s activities and who he dealt with after returning. Let us just say that a convincing case can be made that his apparent pro-Soviet and pro-Castro activities in the early 1960s were undercover assignments from either the CIA or the Office of Naval Intelligence.
To jump ahead, it would certainly appear that a plan was in place to eliminate Kennedy well before 11.22.63 (again, space will not allow me to elaborate on the possible who’s and why’s) and that the plan included pinning it on Oswald.
For one, there is the bogus “Oswald” visit to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover himself, in a phone call to President Johnson, admitted that photos and voice recordings of the alleged Oswald, trying to gain entry into Cuba, did not match Oswald in appearance or voice.
Then-Vice President Johnson and his best friend, Texas Governor John Connally had fought hard to get the president to go back to Dallas that November and Connally had insisted on the Dallas Trade Mart as the site of Kennedy’s speech – instead of an more easily-defended site on the Texas Fairgrounds the Secret Service preferred.
Then, the route was altered, taking it down Main Street, with a sharp right turn onto Houston Street, then a sharp left turn onto Elm Street. These turns caused the 1961 Lincoln Continental to slow down to an estimated 11 miles per hour, far below Secret Service protocol.
The fact that the Dallas Mayor Earl Cabell was brother of Charles Cabell, former deputy CIA director whom Kennedy had fired (along with Director Allen Dulles), and that the Texas Schoolbook Depository building was owned by D. H. Byrd, a close friend of Johnson are, at the very least, strange coincidences.
When Oswald was in custody, his older brother, Robert, visited him. Lee told him not to believe “the so-called evidence” against him.
He had a point. The gun found on the sixth floor was originally identified as a 7.65 German Mauser by a deputy who owned a sporting goods store and was a gun expert. It only morphed into the unreliable and badly-scoped Mannlicher Carcano as time progressed. Oswald had supposedly ordered the Carcano by mail, when he could have walked into any gun shop in Texas and bought a rifle for cash, with no identification and no paper trail.
No prints were found on either gun until a funeral home worker reported agents of some sort visiting Oswald’s body one night. After that, a smudged palm print was suddenly found on the Carcano.
Oswald was seen just before the shooting, eating lunch calmly on the first floor and was seen immediately afterward, calmly getting a Coke on the second floor.
Three women had been on the noisy wooden stairs, on the fourth floor, during the time Oswald supposedly went sprinting down those steps from the sixth floor to the second floor. They saw and heard nothing.
Then there is the “He did it for attention” argument. Why, then, with the world’s press in front of him, did he vehemently deny shooting anyone?
I will not even get into questions about Kennedy’s autopsy, Oswald’s elimination by Jack Ruby, Johnson’s behavior, alleged intimidation (and even possible elimination) of witnesses who challenged the lone-nut story line, etc.
The evidence on the Tipitt shooting has even more holes, in my opinion.
In any event, six decades ago today, an event shook the world that has still not been adequately explained.