Saturday, July 1, 2023

JFK, Oswald and Ruby

A Look at Retired Judge Burt W. Griffin’s New Book


Retired Judge and former Warren Commission Assistant Counsel Burt W. Griffin’s new book, JFK, Oswald and Ruby: Politics, Prejudice and Truth (McFarland & Co., Inc., NC; 375 pp.; softback, 7 x 10”; Kindle) is just out and it’s a humdinger.
Judge Griffin does a superb job in presenting the facts surrounding what conspiracy theorists have turned into a complex case over the last nearly sixty-years.
What is particularly refreshing about Judge Griffin’s approach to the subject is his organization of the material.
The book is broken into five major sections. The first addresses the initial Dallas Police investigation and why President Lyndon B. Johnson came to appoint a commission (later known as the Warren Commission) to look into the case against Oswald.
This is where a Cleveland, Ohio, attorney named Burt W. Griffin comes in. Brought onboard as an assistant counsel to the Commission, Griffin was given the primary responsibility for presenting to the Commission the evidence of whether Jack Ruby was part of a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, or both.
“I made every effort to find evidence of Ruby’s involvement in a conspiracy,” Griffin writes in the Preface to his book. “I found none. I found, however, considerable evidence of a motive that conspiracy theorists prefer to ignore – that Ruby, who was Jewish, killed Oswald because he feared that Jews would be blamed for Kennedy’s death. He hoped that if a Jew killed Oswald, Jews would not be blamed for the Kennedy assassination. The relevant details are crucial to JFK, Oswald and Ruby: Politics, Prejudice and Truth.”
The second section of the book confronts questions surrounding Jack Ruby – his trial, his testimony before the Commission, and – most importantly – a behind-the-scenes look at Griffin and Leon Hubert’s investigation in Ruby’s motives and character.
Section three explores issues of credibility that the Commission faced, including the CIA’s failure to disclose their efforts to assassinate Castro, FBI Agent James P. Hosty’s destruction of a note left by Oswald, disputes related to autopsy and acoustic evidence, Sylvia Odio’s claims that Oswald visited her, and the deliberate false claims Mark Lane made to the Commission.
The fourth section explores, in great detail, evidence of Oswald’s motives with a thorough examination of Oswald’s life – his childhood, Marine Corps experiences, defection to the Soviet Union, marriage to Marina Prusakova, return to the United States, his political writings, his attempt to murder General Edwin A. Walker, his flight to New Orleans, his failure to gain entry to Cuba via Mexico City, and his assassination of President Kennedy.
The fifth and final section focuses on the aftermath of the assassination – Marina Oswald’s testimony to the Commission and what she claimed thirty-years later, the Soviet Union’s disinformation campaign, Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, and much more.
The book contains 44-pages of endnotes, a five-page bibliography, and a comprehensive index. There is a sprinkling of B&W photographs in text, most of them Warren Commission exhibits, but a few personal photos are included.
I found one of the most absorbing sections (Chapters 19-22) to be the build-up to the Walker shooting – a part of the assassination story that often is relegated to the back shelf. In Griffin’s deft accounting, the Walker shooting is a pivotal moment in Oswald’s evolution from political philosopher to political assassin. This section is a must-read for all assassination history students.
In just 318-pages, Griffin manages to cut through the weeds and get the reader focused on the facts that matter in the assassination story. This is not an easy feat, given nearly the six decades of gratuitous, and often pompous bloviating that permeates most of the information available on the Internet today.
Griffin sums up his own book best in his Preface, writing: “JFK, Oswald and Ruby: Politics, Prejudice and Truth sends this message: Oswald and Ruby were lone killers. There is no evidence of a conspirator. Historians and students of history should cease being criminal investigators. They should focus on the super-abundance of evidence as to why Oswald and Ruby committed political murders, the political and social environment as they saw it, and how the public’s knowledge of the lives of Oswald and Ruby may prevent history from repeating itself. They should ignore the political world that fascinates conspiracy theorists.
“Armed with that insight, a student of America’s history may conclude, as I have, that the deaths of President Kennedy and Lee Oswald and the nation’s reaction to those events were turning points in the Cold War and the civil rights movement caused by politically impotent, isolated men acting on the world stage to abet their own insecurities and desires to be important.”
I highly recommended this book for anyone with an interest in the assassination story, but particularly for those who know little to nothing about the subject – in other words, those not infected by the viral nonsense that passes for history these days.
Judge Griffin, who came to the Warren Commission investigation a skeptic, has done the world a great service with his book. Few people are alive today who could provide the unique perspective and intuitive insight that he brings to the subject.
Agree or disagree, Judge Griffin’s book, JFK, Oswald and Ruby: Politics, Prejudice and Truth is a valuable resource that should be on every buff boy’s shelf. [END]