"He who controls the past controls the future; and he who controls the present,
controls the past."
— George Orwell —
"I've read practically every Kennedy assassination book out there to understand the horrible turning point, but I still don't know what really happened (and why)."
— Frustrated Blogger —
Apparently, the two thousand or more non-fiction research books written since 1964 on the Kennedy assassination still haven't provided a satisfactory answer to the mystery of what really happened in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Most people understand various bits and pieces of the controversy over JFK's death, but they crave an explanation for the motive that doesn't require the suspension of both logic and belief.
Many of the theories don't make sense because they make the same intellectual mistakes the Warren Commission made. Many are either intellectually shallow or have incomplete evaluations of the nuances of the period.
The mob killed Kennedy?
Angry Cubans killed JFK?
The military killed Kennedy to escalate the war in Vietnam?
The CIA killed Kennedy to protect the "heroin trade" out of Southeast Asia?
A lone gunman killed Kennedy to become famous?
"What is needed is a meta-analysis of the clandestine social, political, military, and global forces at work at mid-century as they converged upon Dealey Plaza. If you can understand the state of the world, America, and the South as it truly was on November 21, 1963, then the events of November 22 flow inevitably from there, falling into place as neatly as the pieces of a puzzle."
— Gaeton Fonzi, former investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations —
Gaeton Fonzi was exactly right. This quote instinctively guided my research, which opened up fascinating details and leads not previously researched or discovered. The origins of the assassination of President Kennedy can be traced back to events and strands of history as early as the 1920's and 1930's. These isolated events slowly built to a cruel and catastrophic collision - whose nexus was at 12:30 p.m. on November 22, 1963 in Dealey Plaza.
I believe the roots of the assassination are directly related to the actions of Joseph P. Kennedy, the president's father, in the decades preceeding his son's presidency.
"Easy money, sudden fortunes, increasingly powerful political machines and blatant corruption transformed much of the nation...."
— John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage" —
Joseph P. Kennedy was arguably the most detested businessman in the United States in the 1920's and 1930's. A well-known stock market manipulator and swindler, Old Joe Kennedy was also a bootlegger with ties to organized crime. Kennedy possessed political ambitions of his own, with an eye toward challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt for the presidency. In the late 1930's, FDR appointed Joseph Kennedy Ambassador to the Court of Saint James (ambassador to Great Britain).
Kennedy quickly earned the enmity of Churchill and his supporters when he publicly declared his opinion the British should surrender to Hitler. Kennedy's role as a prominent Nazi sympathizer became so politically toxic that FDR was finally forced to recall Kennedy as ambassador, and Joseph Kennedy resigned in disgrace. Joseph Kennedy's personal political fortunes were finished, but his political ambitions remained. He began to groom his sons for the White House.
Fifteen years after the end of World War II, Joseph P. Kennedy succeeded in stealing a tainted 1960 presidential election for his son, John F. Kennedy. JFK was clearly the least qualified of the three men who wanted to be president in 1960. At the time, Vice President Richard Nixon and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson were two of the most powerful men in D.C. while JFK was considered to be a back-bench playboy senator with an unimpressive legislative record. With his young son in the White House, Joseph Kennedy was now the power behind the president in the eyes of a generation of World War II veterans who hated him and everything he stood for.
"John Fitzgerald Kennedy was considered to be a lightweight in D.C. — the sheltered son of a wealthy right-wing bigot."
— Gore Vidal (Jackie Kennedy's stepbrother) —
After the end of World War II, the victorious Allied Forces barely had time to celebrate their hard-fought victory before tensions with the Soviet Union emerged and coalesced into the Cold War. However, the new Soviet threat added yet another dimension to the paranoia: atomic bombs. The next sneak attack against the United States could very well be a nuclear one. The United States had learned its lessons too well from the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and our military and civilian leaders were determined to make sure it never happened again.
The Central Intelligence Agency proved its worth to President Eisenhower by demonstrating how easily a threat could be defused by the simple, expedient of regime change. Starting with the overthrow of Iran in 1953, the overthrow of Guatemala in 1954, and leading up to the planned overthrow of the Castro government in Cuba, the CIA worked hard to refine its techniques throughout the globe.
While serving as president from 1953-1961, former general Dwight D. Eisenhower worked closely with the Pentagon and the CIA to keep all foreign threats away from American shores. The American military felt comfortable with Eisenhower because of the rigid chain of command he implemented and kept in place while in office. However, all of that changed in 1961.
Confidence in JFK suffered from the very start. JFK quickly dismantled the Eisenhower chain of command in favor of a "wheeled command" in which JFK was the hub at the center and everyone else was a spoke in the wheel. The Pentagon instantly knew that it was a recipe for disaster when JFK meddled in, and ultimately ruined, the carefully planned invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The young President then compounded his mistakes by blaming the fiasco on the CIA and then firing the entire top command structure of the Agency.
"Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you."
— Nikita Khrushchev —
Two months later, after alienating the Canadian Prime Minister, JFK traveled to a summit meeting in Vienna with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy arrived completely unprepared for what he encountered. Kennedy was bullied so relentlessly by Khrushchev that his aides watched in absolute horror as he capitulated to the Soviet leader on virtually every major point of the conference. After meeting JFK face-to-face, Khrushchev left Vienna convinced he could easily push JFK around in the future.
To prove it, Khrushchev initiated the Berlin Wall Crisis in late 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Kennedy confirmed Khrushchev's assessment of his weak character when JFK did nothing to oppose the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the president only defused the Cuban Missile Crisis by betraying the United States alliance with NATO in his own private and secret negotiations with Khrushchev, while deliberately excluding our country's experts from the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA.
Powerful men in the military, government, and business may have come to the conclusion that the inexperienced young president's next blunder could get millions of innocent Americans killed. JFK's civil rights blundering stirred up strong emotions in the South where the Kennedy brothers quickly became hated figures. Southern society was in an uproar over the social promises being made to the Negroes by the Kennedys. JFK simply had to be stopped before his reckless personal behavior (sexual recklessness and drug experimentation), political immaturity and bad policy judgments resulted in the destruction of America in a nuclear sneak attack from the Soviet Union.
"If the country had a young President, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there would be a certain uneasiness. Maybe the military would do a little criticizing behind his back. Then, if there were another Bay of Pigs, the reaction of the country would be, 'Is he too young and inexperienced?' The military would almost feel that it was their patriotic obligation to stand ready to preserve the integrity of the nation...Then if there were a third Bay of Pigs—it could happen."
— John Fitzgerald Kennedy —
Even JFK himself understood the precarious position he was in.
Jefferson Morley wrote an article in Salon.com published May 5, 2012, titled "Watergate's Final Mystery" in which he asserts that one of the arrested Watergate burglars, E. Howard Hunt, threatened to reveal deeply-held CIA secrets unless he was helped. Morley writes: "From his jail cell, Hunt let it be known that he would talk about his knowledge of “highly illegal conspiracies” at the CIA unless he was paid off. To underscore his point, he then published a memoir of the Bay of Pigs operation, “Give Us This Day,” which opened with a denunciation of President Kennedy for his “shameful” failure to support the Agency’s anti-Castro rebels. His point was blunt and subtly ominous: if JFK had backed the CIA venture, he might not have been killed by an allegedly pro-Castro gunman in Dallas. Hunt was not one to get sentimental about the playboy president’s bloody end in Dallas. Like others in the CIA, he thought JFK was a contemptible weakling who had it coming."
"What happens when an inexperienced young president's numerous policy blunders and reckless personal behavior collide with the reality of the Cold War and the paranoid fear of a nuclear Pearl Harbor?"
— Chuck Helppie —
No one has ever asked this question before, and it became the crux of my story.
My novel, KENNEDY MUST BE KILLED, is a fact-based story that explores the motives behind the assassination, as well as the historical and cultural environment of the United States leading up to that fateful day in Dallas.
I believe that there were four possible resolutions to the problems presented by the Kennedy presidency.
Defeat JFK in the 1964 election?He was still a fairly popular with the voters in late 1963, despite the blunders of his first one thousand days in office. There was a chance he would be re-elected. This option might not work.
Embarrass JFK into resigning as the result of a scandal?Certain people in Hollywood knew of JFK's and RFK's relationship with Marilyn Monroe, but the public at large didn't find out until decades later. The murder of Marilyn Monroe was perhaps an attempt to link the Kennedy brothers to Marilyn's death and thus force a crisis of confidence in which might force the Kennedys to step down. However, evidence exists that RFK managed to have other people loyal to him sanitize the crime scene before police were called. This option obviously did not work.
Impeach him?We saw what happened with both the Clinton impeachment and the threatened Nixon impeachment. A constitutional crisis could easily create confusion over who had launch authority in case of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. In other words, an impeachment would leave the United States vulnerable to the very attack everyone feared. It would be too easy for the Soviet Union to exploit the confusion over who was really in charge of the nuclear launch codes. This option was far too risky.
Assassinate him? Kill JFK and replace him with Vice President Lyndon Johnson so fast the Soviet Union wouldn't have time to launch a surprise attack. This is the solution that seemed to make the most sense out of the four possible options. (An added side benefit would be to save LBJ from prosecution over his known links to the financial scandals of Billy Sol Estes and Bobby Baker, two of LBJ's trusted aides. LBJ would avoid prosecution if he's president.) Option #4 probably made the most sense to certain men at the time.
Could this finally be the long-sought motive behind the assassination?