October 21st, 2017

Dueling headlines

Seen at memeorandum:

Datelined yesterday, a Politico article headlined “Trump Likely to Block Release of Some JFK Files.”

In the WaPo this morning we find: “Trump Authorizes Release of JFK Assassination Documents Despite Concerns from Federal Agencies.”

Those documents will keep the conspiracy buffs very very busy.

[NOTE: I’ve already weighed in many times on my own opinion on the assassination, in particular here and here, as well as this, which is that Oswald was the sole assassin. Some of the arguments go on in the comments section of those posts as well.]

31 Responses to “Dueling headlines”

  1. Mike K Says:

    I think he was the lone assassin but do wonder if a KGB connection has been suppressed. Epstein has written a couple of books suggesting that Oswald was a KGB asset when in the Marine Corps.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike K:

    I’ve done voluminous reading on the subject. The evidence is very strong that the KGB and the Russians in general washed their hands of Oswald because they found him unstable and unreliable.

  3. huxley Says:

    Ever since my high school history teacher read parts of Mark Lane’s “Rush to Judgment” in class I’ve been hooked on the JFK assassination.

    I too read voluminously on the subject. Although I started solidly in the conspiracy camp, after a while it became more of an epistemological investigation into how we know what we know when it comes to a complex historical event — an exercise which has stood me in good stead while navigating American politics since.

    It was Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History” which convinced me to switch to the lone assassin theory.

    Nonetheless I’ve never regretted taking the conspiracy side. There were plenty of red flags (like Oswald being shot inside a police station before he could testify or the Warren Commission’s unconvincing account of the shots fired) which should have concerned any open-minded citizen.

    It spoke poorly of the Commission’s defenders that they largely brushed aside such concerns and instead focused on attacking “conspiracy buffs” for their paranoid psychological functioning.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    “Conspiracy Dragsters, start your engines!”

  5. parker Says:

    We will see, or we won’t see. I know bolt action rifles, and have long thought LHO’s choice suspect. A crap rifle (yes, I have shot one) when so many options were available? Never made since to me. Don’t rain on my parade…. the options were six great, accurate rifles easily obtained in the 60s for less than $100.

    Aluminum hat off. Except explain Ruby..

  6. huxley Says:

    parker: As I recall, Oswald was paid $1.25/hour at the Book Depository. He was supporting a wife and child. So spending $20 books on that rifle and scope was a not-insignificant outlay. A $100 rifle would have been two weeks salary.

    As to Ruby — he was a fluke. A wannabe mobster sucking up to cops. He was well-known at the police station — in fact he appears in video footage at the station asking a question about the assassination that evening — so no one paid special attention when he showed up the day Oswald was being transfered.

    I don’t like coincidences, but from what I can tell this was one. Ruby became obsessed with Oswald, the assassination and Jackie Kennedy. While running errands, he stopped by the police station during the transfer and took his shot at Oswald.

  7. FOAF Says:

    Supposedly then-Kennedy aide, later Senator, Daniel Moynihan warned about the lax security at the Dallas PD and predicted that if something happened to Oswald, “we’ll never hear the end of the conspiracy theories”.

  8. FOAF Says:

    I’m sure I’m not the first person to suggest this but aside from various political motivations some may have for proposing JFK assassination conspiracy theories there is also a strong psychological need. The President of the US is supposed to be the most powerful man in the world. If he cannot protect himself from a loner/loser like Oswald then where does that leave the rest of us? So it is comforting to invest Oswald with more significance than he deserves.

  9. FOAF Says:

    While I have never visited the site myself, I have heard that if you go up to the School Book Depository 6th floor and look down on the street it is not really all that far. In other words the shot did not require extraordinary skill or equipment.

  10. neo-neocon Says:


    Read Bugliosi’s book. It demolishes every single conspiracy theory. Here is the link to much (although not all) of it. Of course, no fact can ever dissuade most of the firmly-convinced conspiracists.

    Also, if you want to see a thread with a great deal of discussion of Oswald’s rifle, see this. Pay special attention to this as well.

  11. huxley Says:

    I thought the JFK assassination would end up being one of those “We’ll never know” things.

    “Reclaiming History” is an astonishing one-man labor of love. I can’t think of any book comparable in its encyclopedic thoroughness to dismantling an entire conspiracy theory cottage industry.

    Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton were going to do a ten-part mini-series on the book. Guess it didn’t happen.

    It’s a shame Bugliosi followed up with that horrible “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” (2008) which didn’t get traction anywhere.

  12. huxley Says:

    I’m sure I’m not the first person to suggest this but aside from various political motivations some may have for proposing JFK assassination conspiracy theories there is also a strong psychological need.

    FOAF: There can be. But I sure got tired of that argument, actually a deflection from the troubling aspects of the case.

    Until Bugliosi, Gerald Posner (to an extent), and the computer recreations of the shot trajectories in Dealey Plaza, the lone assassin theory was dubious.

    The Warren Commission’s account of the shooting was nearly impossible, not because Oswald was a poor shot or used a poor rifle, but because under the Commission’s scenario there just wasn’t enough time to aim and fire all those bullets in the alloted 4.8 seconds with a bolt-action rifle.

    I’ve forgotten how this timing problem was resolved but in later reconstructions Oswald had eight seconds for the shooting, which was a far easier feat and one reproducible by others.

    And then there was the Oswald Factor — how he managed to be in so many weird places at weird times. Like becoming good friends with an anti-Communist Russian who may have been working for the Nazis in WW II.

    Anyway. Those who bought the Warren Report, as is, were to my mind as credulous as the conspiracy theory zealots on the other side.

  13. parker Says:

    Well neo, I don’t have to read. Have you personally fired a caranco a springfield, mauser, enfield, or nagant? No? I thought not. So how fast can you and yout scoped caranco put head shots on anyone including jfk? Reminder, he was in a car moving slowly, btut moving nonetheless. Ever shot a pronghorn moving across Wyoming within your line of sight at 400 feet? Ever made that clean kill? No you have not, and nor has anyone on the Warren Commision.

    It is always a bad idea to lecture those who know rifearms and shooting about firearms and shooting. It is the difference between a round in your forehead and a round 10 feet over your head.

  14. huxley Says:

    Oh, and lest we forget, the House Select Committee on Assassinations released its findings in 1979 and concluded JFK was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.

    There were a lot of ins and outs to that finding, which largely hinged on an acoustic analysis performed by a top-flight hi-tech company (BB&N) in Cambridge, later refuted by a rock drummer.

    My point is there were many good reasons, aside from psychological needs, to doubt the lone gunman theory. The government did not make a coherent, ironclad case. Defenders of the Warren Report mostly depended on sneering at “conspiracy buffs.”

    We didn’t get to the polls showing the majority of Americans believed the assassination was a conspiracy just because Oliver Stone can make a powerful propaganda film or because Americans are dim-witted.

  15. parker Says:

    If the best marksmen in the country, always non military, can not replicate the Oswald markmanship for a $10,000 annual prize….? Oh, I am a nutball. “When you belive in things you don’t understand you suffer…”.

  16. huxley Says:

    parker: That’s old news.

    The best marksmen couldn’t replicate Oswald’s shooting in 4.8 seconds, which was the Warren Report scenario.

    In eight seconds, though, it’s a different story. That’s the currently accepted timeline.

    That’s why it’s good to read.

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    Before you refuse to read something, you’d do well to at least know what it is you’re refusing to read.

    Do you really think it’s something I wrote that I’m linking to? Of course not. I’m no firearms expert, and I’ve never presumed to write much of anything technical about them.

    The links are to the writings of people who know a great great deal about the subject, however, and there’s plenty more in the Bugliosi book about it. The book is long and detailed, however, and obviously you’re not going to read it today (if ever). But the other links are to fairly short explanations of relevant subjects, written by people who have a great deal of knowledge about this. Here’s one more that’s related, too.

    You are repeating falsehoods, by the way, when you say the shots can’t be recreated. From the link I just gave:

    Luke Haag is a forensic scientist specializing in ballistics, also the former technical director of the Phoenix crime lab…Michael Haag is also a forensic scientist specializing in ballistics. He’s a senior forensic scientist with the Albuquerque Police Department and he joins us from Albuquerque…

    FLATOW: Michael, you started by looking at Oswald’s rifle. Is it possible to get off three shots in the time Oswald had to do it? Do you have to be a good shooter?

    HAAG: You know, as long as you look at the physical evidence and come to the conclusion that the president and Connally were hit by the same bullet, that gives you multiple seconds of time to make the shot between the next shot and the head shot. And in fact, with this mechanism, it’s a bolt-action rifle, it’s a very simple action, it is absolutely possible.

    And we’ve shot this set of trajectories, if you will, numerous times, and it is doable. It is absolutely something that is realistically possible, to come on target, fire one shot that would be quote-unquote the magic bullet, if you will, extract, eject, rechamber a cartridge, come back on target, and fire again to make the head shot.

    The first shot is nominally about 60 yards, 60 to 65 yards, and the second shot, the head shot, would nominally be about 90 yards. With a four power scope on top of this gun, these are not difficult shots.

    FLATOW: But they said there were three shots fired. Could it be that there were only two shots fired?

    HAAG: No, I think that it’s very realistically possible that three shots were fired. It’s just that there’s no absolute recovered physical evidence that indicates where that first shot was. Now, witnesses are notoriously horrible when it comes to recording what actually happened in an event. But many witnesses indicate that as soon as the president’s limousine turned from Houston onto Elm Street, when he’s right below the sixth floor depository window, that’s when they hear the first shot. And actually one of the things that is online now with PBS’s website – with the Nova website, is some videography and high-speed filming that we did to document what happens when you put bullets of this type into asphalt at the correct angles as would’ve occurred from the sixth floor down into the asphalt in the street.

    MIKE HAAG: And there’s some very revealing, interesting results there. And even though there’s no physical evidence to unfortunately examine, I think it’s a very realistic possibility that that first shot is the miss and it occurred right as the president was below the 6th floor window.

    See also this, as well as this.

  18. Jerry Dunleavy Says:

    To anyone who believes that it was impossible to hit Kennedy and Connolly with two out of three shots, even under the old time line, and that “no one has ever been able to duplicate this”…you are simply wrong
    The shooting – even under the older timelines – has already been duplicated multiple times
    As documented on page 318 of Gerald Posner’s “Case Closed”, for example, CBS reconstructed the shooting in 1975 with three marksman who duplicated the same two out of three hits on simulated targets with a Carcano in times ranging from 4.1 to 6 seconds
    None of these shooters had the opportunity to work the bolt back and forth for days/weeks in advance as Oswald had (as attested to by his wife) and develop the muscle memory that would have allowed even faster and more accurate shooting
    In addition, for the recreation, they operated under a constraint concerning shot timing – they had employ the minimum intra-shot intervals that it was assumed that Oswald had used
    As an aside, in 1977, based on reconstruction tests, the House Select Committee reduced the assumed time interval between shots on the Carcano to 1.6 seconds, meaning that all three shots could have been fired in 3.3 seconds

  19. huxley Says:

    Jerry Dunleavy: The FBI tried and failed to replicate Oswald’s shooting for the Warren Commission.

    Which meant the Warren Commission told Americans, here’s how Oswald must have done the shooting, however, we can’t replicate it so you’ll just have to take our word that Oswald was the lone gunman even though our finding absolutely depends on Oswald making all those shots in that time frame and as far as we know it can’t be done.

    Some of us did not find this satisfying.

    If ten years later CBS could manage the trick with one or two marksmen, while at least one marksman failed, that’s interesting but not compelling. As I recall, other marksmen in other tests failed, making the CBS work less impressive.

    The real solution, as far as I was concerned, was to widen the time window for Oswald to shoot. Now that Oswald is not required to make those shots in 4.8 seconds, the problem goes away and I am happy.

  20. huxley Says:

    The plausibility of a JFK conspiracy also involved the larger, near-apocalpytic context of the 60s and 70s.

    First there was the nuclear brinksmanship over Berlin and Cuba, then JFK was assassinated, followed by Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and RFK. In 1970 the National Guard fired upon a student protest, killing four. In 1972 George Wallace was shot and almost died, so Nixon kept those conservative populist votes.

    Meanwhile, there were the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate revelations and the Church Committee (which revealed that yes, the CIA was actively attempting to assassinate Castro).

    When RFK was confronted with his brother’s assassination, he thought the CIA was behind it, and as far as I can tell he never let go of that suspicion.

    In private LBJ didn’t believe the Warren Commission account of the shooting, while supporting it in public.

    Then Mae Brussell, who some call the Godmother of conspiracy theorists, noticed that the same anti-Castro operatives from the Bay of Pigs showed up in the JFK assassination, then Watergate, then in the Iran-Contra scandal.

    Taken all in, it was enough to make any sensible person IMO wonder just what the heck was going on and how plausible it might be that a conspiracy got JFK.

  21. neo-neocon Says:


    I’m not sure what you mean about the Warren Commission requiring a 4.8 second interval. This is taken from the report [emphasis mine]:

    Witnesses at the assassination scene said that the shots were fired within a few seconds, with the general estimate being 5 to 6 seconds.365 That approximation was most probably based on the earlier publicized reports that the first shot struck the President in the neck, the second wounded the Governor and the third shattered the President’s head, with the time span from the neck to the head shots on the President being approximately 5 seconds. As previously indicated, the time span between the shot entering the back of the President’s neck and the bullet which shattered his skull was 4.8 to 5.6 seconds. If the second shot missed, then 4.8 to 5.6 seconds was the total time span of the shots. If either the first or third shots missed, then a minimum of 2.3 seconds (necessary to operate the rifle) must be added to the time span of the shots which hit, giving a minimum time of 7.1 to 7.9 seconds for the three shots. If more than 2.3 seconds elapsed between a shot that missed and one that hit, then the time span would be correspondingly increased.

  22. huxley Says:

    neo: That’s a long discussion and my books are in storage.

    What I wrote is what I remember. I’ll not get to the bottom tonight but start another JFK topic another time and I’ll come back booked.

    However, the broad strokes I believe are true. The Warren Report shot timeline based on the Z-film was too short. The FBI couldn’t replicate. The problem has gone away because the time window has been extended.

  23. huxley Says:

    Another thing — the Church Committee also revealed that the CIA had a mind control program which included a project to create mind-controlled assassins.

    I do lose patience with the Establishment types and conservatives who wring their hands over the paranoia and gullibility of citizens attracted to conspiracy theories. Dennis Prager comes to mind.

    I’m happy to have my worst fears disproved. But I wasn’t wrong to be concerned and those who reflexively dismissed those concerns I don’t consider intellectually honest.

  24. huxley Says:

    neo: Here’s a Newsweek quote in the vicinity of my claim:

    No one realized that the commission, despite its crucial revision of the FBI’s analysis, had also been Zaprudered. Squeezing the shooting sequence so that it fit inside the film made Oswald’s feat of marksmanship appear to be much more difficult than it actually was. The commission’s scenario, the one that reduced the shooting down to not just six but as little as 4.8 seconds, was all but impossible for expert marksmen to replicate. The commission’s riposte was that the report didn’t claim it happened that way—just that it could have. Since this legalistic answer verged on the absurd, the net effect was to cast doubt on the commission’s probity.


  25. neo-neocon Says:


    But that Newsweek article misrepresents what the Warren Commission actually wrote. Newsweek writes:

    The commission’s scenario, the one that reduced the shooting down to not just six but as little as 4.8 seconds, was all but impossible for expert marksmen to replicate. The commission’s riposte was that the report didn’t claim it happened that way—just that it could have. Since this legalistic answer verged on the absurd…

    The Commission’s answer was neither “legalistic” nor “absurd.” I have no idea why Newsweek characterized it that way. The quote I gave from the Commission makes it clear that they were almost certain that three shots were fired and that one missed, but they did not know whether it was the first, second, or third shot that missed, and they did not know the time frame between the missed shot and the others. They gave three possible scenarios because of this uncertainty.

    The film gave them the interval between the neck shot and the head shot, but the film could not give them the timing of the missed shot. And they acknowledged that, and gave all the possibilities. The longer interval for all three shots turned out to have been the correct one.

  26. Lizzy Says:

    It’s nice that the documents will be released while there are still people who were alive when it happened.

    Without knowing all that much about the various conspiracy theories, it strikes me as weird that there are some who want the information kept secret. Get the info out there and let the theories stand or fall based on what new details are revealed.

  27. Richard Saunders Says:

    Pfui! Arlen Soecter was Counsel to the Warren Commission. Had he found a conspiracy, he would have been President. There’s no amount of money or threats in the world that would have prevented him from finding one, if there had been a conspiracy.

  28. Ymar Sakar Says:

    CBS reconstructed the shooting in 1975

    See BS reconstructed something? Like what, how Trum took bribes from Russia to win the election or how Bush II went AWOL?

    Maybe Alt Right propaganda only goes back 8 years due to Hussein, but I still remember why the US made a mistake putting up a “4th estate” outside of the Constitution.

  29. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Richard Saunders Says:
    October 23rd, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    The only reason you know about Hollywood rapists, pedos, Russian uranium kickbacks to DC and so on, is because people rejected the main stream status quo belief of the Orthodoxy.

    So the news decided to deal with it in front, so you hear about it, and now talk about it, as if you know something.

    That’s not the case for people living before the internet or the Alt Right or wiki leaks.

    If the Alt Right belief that the Deep State has existed for centuries… then all they have to do is to crack or wiki leak the contents of the archives of the Deep State, to figure out what was going on in the past. They don’t need history or historical evidence, because the people involved may have kept records.

    Some of us figured out what Hollywood was before Hollywood told us about Polanski. The old belief is that these conspiracies don’t work because “somebody will find out”. The truth is that people did find out… they just never told anybody else.

  30. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The largest secrecy ring isn’t an espionage plot from a Hollywood movie. It’s the Manhattan Project, as far as I know. That included hundreds if not thousands of shell like front industries, corps, and projects that covered up for the Manhattan Project’s real work (the A bomb).

    Even the work who worked in the project, didn’t know the full details. Compartmentalization, something picked up from the Germans if I recall.

    This is the same reason why people think something unusual or corrupt has been going on with NASA since its inception.

    The Manhattan Project, whenever somebody was able to get close to the truth, would find a way to explain it away using disinformation. So long as Patriotic Americans at least tried to toe the line, hundreds upon hundreds could work on a secret project and it didn’t leak.

    That’s the extent, to a large part, of how large a circle of humans can keep a secret. The usual amateur methods of sub 25% humans can’t get above 3 without leaking. That is to be expected. Master Manipulators, are playing a whole new dimension of game there.

  31. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Trum said Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination, or at least he acted like he believed that on social media.

    Trum, for Democrat, is pretty obsessed with JFK and other interesting things like that. Even though he calls christians nutty for talking about the Egyptian pyramids… heh.

    Takes one nut fruitcake to know another, right.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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