Friday, September 7, 2007

The Enduring JFK Mystery Will Never End


The debate over who killed JFK and why will never go away. That much is certain. The reasons why vary. Many suggest that the general population cannot imagine someone as powerful and charismatic as John F. Kennedy being gunned down by someone as insignificant as Lee Harvey Oswald; hence, some sort of power structure was behind the slaying. I believe the explanation is much simpler: the love of misinformation - and lots of it.

This is no better illustrated than in the recent blog postings of Brit Simon Barrett. In his musing "JFK, Conspiracy Or Just Bad Luck?, Barrett writes, "I doubt that the whole story will ever be told, and I doubt the exact truth will ever meet the cold light of day."

Barrett's declaration is so common it has become a cliché. Sadly, there is little truth to it. The "whole story" has been largely told - "exact truth" and all. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population has never been exposed to the truth. Instead, they - like Mr. Barrett - have been steeped in conspiracy-think via books, magazine articles, and movies for better than four decades. How can anyone possibly learn the truth in that avalanche of mis-information?

Mr. Barrett doesn't profess to be a "student" of the assassination. He simply reads conspiracy books, and plenty of them. From this pulpit of mis-information, Barrett has seen the light; to wit - the preponderance of evidence shows that the young and charismatic Kennedy, who represented a new political way forward, ticked off "the hard core Republicans" in America. The result? Kennedy was murdered.

Like a lot of conspiracy theorists, Mr. Barrett is unable to separate his own political leanings from the reality that Lee Harvey Oswald, a leftist, shot Kennedy.

Barrett says that about the only thing his fellow conspiracists agree on is that the Warren Commission did a horrible job, writing, "Much hard evidence was either ignored, or conveniently went missing. Just how do you misplace a dead presidents brain?"

Of course, this is absolute nonsense, as anyone remotely familiar with this case knows. But that hasn't kept folks like Mr. Barrett from perpetuating these myths for more than forty-years, has it? If Barrett had even the inkling of a clue about the facts in the Kennedy murder he would know that the "hard evidence" in this case has stood the test of time - despite conspiracy theorist attempts to dillute it - and that the facts have been neither ignored nor conveniently disposed of, as he suggests, except by he and his fellow conspiracists.

For instance, doesn't Barrett know that it was Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, not the Warren Commission, who likely disposed of JFK's brain and tissue slides between 1965 and 1966, long after the Warren Commission was dissolved? Apparently, not.

No, Mr. Barrett, like literally hundreds of conspiracy theorists, has been too busy reading conspiracy books to bother with the facts. It's from these books that Barrett has discovered that the Zapruder home video of the assassination, that "everyone has seen 8 gazzilion times," was originally (gulp!) a "super 8 film" that had rarely been seen until MPI rephotographed each frame of the original film and made it available to the general public.

It seems that even the basic facts about the assassination can't escape a good mangling in the world of theorists. The original Zapruder film, of course, is in standard 8mm format, not Super 8mm as Mr. Barrett writes. But, that's a minor point compared to the over-the-top suggestion that the Zapruder film has been hidden from public scrutiny by sinister forces opposed to the truth about Kennedy's death.

None of this is surprising, considering that Barrett's head is firmly buried in his conspiracy library. His book of record on the Zapruder film? The recent Dan Robertson tome, "Definitive Proof: The Secret Service Murder Of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy," in which Robertson claims that the fatal shot to Kennedy's head was fired from the front seat of the presidential limousine which was occupied at the time by Secret Service agents William Greer (driver) and Roy Kellerman (passenger), now both deceased. Convenient, uh?

Robertson says that he bases his conclusions on the photographic evidence presented in the MPI DVD as well as the analyses of Dr. David Mantik, a radiation oncologist (one who treats cancer and other medical problems using x-rays), and Dr. Charles G. Wilber, Ph.D., a forensic scientist. Both claimed that Kennedy was shot from the front (Wilber concluding that the fatal shot was fired from a handgun at point-blank range).

Too bad every forensic pathologist who ever reviewed the autopsy x-rays and photographs agrees that Kennedy was hit only once in the head, by a bullet fired from above and behind. That includes Dr. Cyril Wecht, the darling of the conspiracy community who, while clinging to the notion that a second bullet also hit Kennedy from the front, acknowledges that there is evidence of only one bullet striking Kennedy's skull - a single bullet fired from above and behind. These are all inconvenient truths for conspiracy theorists.

Besides Robertson's goof-ball book, Mr. Barrett was also captivated by the writings of Robert J. Groden and Harrison E. Livingstone in "High Treason." While most intelligent researchers familiar with the Kennedy case find "High Treason" to be among the worst-of-the-worst on the subject, Barrett found the conspiracy book "impeccably researched" adding "yet more gold nuggets to the illusive story" of Kennedy's murder.

According to Barrett, "The official version that the Warren Commission released seems to have little to do with the recollections of the people involved. The preponderance of evidence shows that at least one, and more likely two shots did not come from the back, rather they were shots from the front. Yet the Warren Commission still insisted that the ‘lone gunman’ was responsible."

So, what does Mr. Barrett derive from the hours-upon-hours he spent conspiracy reading? Barrett writes, "The answer is, I have no clue. The more I read, the more confused I become. I doubt that the actual truth will ever come out. Even though these events happened over 40 years ago, there does seem to be a reticence to release much of the information from the event."

Holy cow! Is it any wonder the world is so topsy-turvey? Here we are, forty-four years after the fact, and a good portion of the population - represented here by Mr. Barrett - cannot accept the simplest of facts: (a) All of the physical evidence collected at the scene shows conclusively that Lee Harvey Oswald, alone, murdered President John F. Kennedy (and killed Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit, and wounded Governor John B. Connally); (b) millions upon millions of pages of official records have been released and none have resulted in proving Oswald innocent; and, most important of all, (c) you will never learn the truth from reading conspiracy books.

No, my friends, the debate over who killed JFK and why will never go away. And the reason why has nothing to do with the balance of power between good and evil. It's much simpler than that. In fact, Mr. Simon Barrett, says it all at the end of his blog article:

"What’s not to love about a great conspiracy?"