As America passes the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, the research community has made little progress in determining the true motive behind the assassination.
The known facts do not, and never have, supported the premise that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin.
However, the meticulously collected data has heretofore been intellectually analyzed in a manner that has left America either perplexed or dissatisfied with all these other conclusions.
Perhaps it's time to consider another motive altogether if we ever hope to understand this national tragedy. Perhaps the memory and the Cold War paranoia over a repeat of Pearl Harbor (but this time with nuclear weapons) was the motive? Perhaps national security brought an unlikely group of conspirators together for one common goal: remove JFK before his next mistake resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Americans.
THE RESEARCHER'S TASK:
In the "Acknowledgements" section of her book, "Grace and Power—The Private World of the Kennedy White House," author Sally Bedell Smith writes:
"Biographers are accustomed to sifting and cross-checking facts, but writing about Jack and Jackie Kennedy also requires separating fact from myth — what might be called the Camelot variations. Whether in hagiographies or attack biographies, the Kennedys are often unrecognizable. Researching and writing this book was like restoring an old photograph: filling in the missing pieces, sharpening the blurred lines, removing the discolorations."
"...the Kennedys are often unrecognizable."
During years of research into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, one constant is undeniable. Almost every single researcher has approached the subject of motive from the biased supposition that John F. Kennedy was a great president.
In searching for a motive, most research begins with the basic premise:
What kind of man (or men) would want to kill a great man like John F. Kennedy?
What could they achieve by doing so?
What would they gain?
Having worked for over thirty-four years in the financial services industry, I have learned how to mine for important data, how to filter data, and how to analyze data. I was taught how to think critically without emotional bias, and how to consider a contrarian approach in the analysis of information. A financial advisor who tends to have an opinion of market conditions at variance with most others is a contrarian. A contrarian often expresses a contradictory viewpoint and may disdain the majority persuasion. Contrarians often consider "what if?" when determining whether or not to denounce prevailing market trends; for instance, they may buy when most investors are selling or systematically invest against the mainstream. A contrarian approach, colloquially put, means "to go against the flow" or "to think outside the box."
Once I began to use a contrarian approach in analyzing the JFK assassination, a clear motive behind the assassination began to emerge. The incredibly complex confluence of sequential circumstances involving a seemingly unrelated myriad of components finally began to make sense when examined in toto.
Let me first make clear that I have always admired John F. Kennedy for a variety of reasons. Deep research into his background provides a more nuanced understanding of how complex and compartmentalized his life was. Many people possessed knowledge of certain aspects of his character which may not have been consistent with his public image. However you care to view him, he certainly did not deserve to be gunned down on a public street while sitting next to his wife. Nevertheless, an unnamed group took it upon themselves to do just that. I've spent fifty years of my life trying to uncover why.
These extraneous threads all converged in Dallas on November 22, 1963:
Joseph P. Kennedy
The roots of the JFK assassination may have begun to take form as early as the 1920's and 1930's with the rise to power of JFK's father, Joseph P. Kennedy.
Joseph Kennedy was a noted and vocal supporter of Neville Chamberlain and his policies of appeasement toward Adolph Hitler.
By November 1940, Ambassador Kennedy was the highest-ranking Nazi sympathizer in the United States government.
Consider for a moment the outrage that must have ensued behind closed doors when, fifteen short years after the end of World War II, Ambassador Kennedy's son was elected president in the midst of the Cold War. That singular event alone would have engendered monumental distrust of Kennedy within the Pentagon and the hierarchy of the American military.
Memory of Pearl Harbor
We need to place that event in the historical context of the Cold War paranoia. The United States was still reeling psychologically from the impact of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. As Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union began to grow, the United States military was singularly vigilant about insuring that another sneak attack would never happen again.
The advent of the nuclear age made it imperative that America remain alert. Our Strategic Air Command was established as an important part of that protection.
Few people today remember that the United States keep rotating squadrons of military aircraft aloft twenty-four hours a day seven days a week as a deterrent to a Soviet sneak attack.
Those SAC bombers all carried nuclear bombs and were sent into the skies to allow the United States to be able to carry out an effective counterattack against the USSR if it were ever necessary. (This was years prior to the creation of our nuclear submarine deterrence.)
The military was determined to make sure America remained strong and safe in the face of the growing Soviet threat.
JFK's problems with the military began the day he was elected president. The Pentagon Joint Chiefs were all well aware that their new commander in chief was a manufactured war hero. JFK was almost court-martialed over the PT-109 incident and only narrowly avoided prosecution in a military tribunal.
JFK was confronted with immediate skepticism by the military—Kennedy lacked the experience and judgment to be supreme commander of the armed forces. Almost nothing young Jack Kennedy had accomplished in life or while in the Navy engendered Pentagon confidence in either his abilities or his judgment. That was further compounded by his attitude toward the man he was succeeding: former General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In Kennedy's first meetings with outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kennedy displayed an appalling lack of respect for both Eisenhower's counsel and his accumulated experience.
Eisenhower had served as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and had planned and directed the D-Day invasion of Nazi-held Europe.
Kennedy, on the other hand, had gone to bed with a Nazi spy while serving in Naval Intelligence in Washington, and then had his PT boat run over and sunk by a Japanese destroyer without a single shot being fired.
President Eisenhower had carefully constructed a chain of command to insure the security of the nation.
One of JFK's first acts upon assuming office was to dismantle the infrastructure of the Eisenhower White House.
Instead of allowing his subordinates to analyze and filter information before passing it up to the White House, Kennedy announced he intended to micromanage all decisions by instituting a wheeled command, where he would sit at the hub and all information would be brought to his desk for his consideration.
The military knew Kennedy's command structure was hopelessly inept, confusing, and unworkable. The young president quickly proved to the Pentagon leaders that he wasn't up to the challenges presented by this new analytical structure. That inexperience quickly manifested itself during the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
JFK's competence was called into question with three major failures in leadership.
The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion can be directly traced by historians to Kennedy's considerable meddling in the planning, dithering in the decision-making, and other strategic and management blunders. The failure wasn't necessarily the fault of the CIA, but it clearly can be linked to the decision-making failures JFK was responsible for.
Kennedy's miserable failure in the delicate negotiations at the Vienna Summit in June, 1961. The president's inability to stand up to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the summit proved to Khrushchev and the world that Kennedy was weak and inexperienced in the matter of foreign policy. Upon the summit's conclusion, JFK freely admitted, "He beat the hell out of me." Khrushchev, however, left Vienna confident Kennedy was too weak to oppose the USSR.
Khrushchev's assessment of Kennedy's ineptitude led directly to the Berlin Wall Crisis later in 1961 and then the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. [Khrushchev's son later wrote in his memoirs that his father had revealed he began construction of the Berlin Wall to test Kennedy's resolve, and that he would have stopped construction if JFK had ever objected. He told his son he was shocked and surprised JFK never objected and never directly told him to stop.]
To the American public, Kennedy presented the image of a family man; in private, he had liaisons with an implausible number of famous and not so famous women. Though many in Washington, New York, Boston, and Hollywood had knowledge of his serial adultery, his philandering was kept "behind closed doors" by those in power. The media was also guilty of collaborating to keep the topic of Kennedy's extramarital affairs a secret.
Many researchers today scoff at the idea that JFK was killed because he slept around. That isn't the point. Many men of power probably slept around. The problem was the character weakness it displayed to men who possessed puritanical views. Modern researchers allow their own biases to be shaped by their own 2012 moral views and fail to grasp how serious a Catholic leaders failings would have been. People elected JFK in 1960 despite their trepidation over the possible influence of the Cathilic Church on our White House. JFK was a man who was elected Catholic and then appeared to privately thumb his nose at the Ten Commandments, the sanctity of marriage, and his vows of fidelity to his wife. If he couldn't abide by society's rules, the other leaders in 1963 may have wondered what else was he capable of ignoring?
J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover certainly was one powerful leader who was concerned by JFK's moral terpitude.
Hoover played the role of America's top lawman and he was perceived by most Americans to be the second most powerful man in the United States after the president. People today do not know or do not remember how powerful FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's. However, even a cursory study of his writings reveals the conflict Hoover would have had with the Kennedys.
Hoover authored numerous articles about his theories on law and order, and many of those viewpoints involved discussions of morality. For example, Hoover proclaimed that any man who could not control his sexual urges was the worst kind of degenerate:
"Any man who lacks sexual discipline displays to all a basic sign of weakness in character."
"A leader of men must especially be a moral man. Without a foundation in morality, that leader cannot lead."
"A man whose mind is clouded with sexual thoughts cannot be expected to think clearly or rationally in times of crisis."
Hoover would have been appalled with JFK's personal life. Regardless, Hoover wasn't the only person in America in 1963 who would have thought that way. The American public in 1963 would have undoubtedly been even more outraged than the 2009 public response to Tiger Woods' peccadilloes had they known about JFK's reckless sexual activities.
The scores of women who had a private audience with the president were well documented. But even more worrisome was the frightening implication that some of his illicit relationships had on national security. Many of his liaisons were never vetted by the Secret Service. In fact, many of the girls JFK bedded were all but unknown by the Secret Service - almost down to their names. One woman who was well known, however, was Mary Pinchot Meyer.
Mary Pinchot Meyer, Marijuana, and LSD
Historians focus on Judith Campbell Exner and her connections to mob boss Sam Giancana, but JFK's affair with Mary Pinchot Meyer was far more dangerously reckless and has been all but ignored.
Mary was a divorcee (her ex-husband, Cord Meyer, was a high-ranking officer at the CIA) who led an adventurous life involving indiscriminate sex and drugs. Mary was a high-profile Georgetown socialite whose lifestyle was both well-known and discussed around Washington, D.C.
She was a friend and acolyte of Timothy Leary, the high priest of psychedelic drugs. Meyer bragged of enticing JFK to try both marijuana and LSD with her while in the White House.
Kennedy's illicit use of amphetamines and other drugs was also privately well known in many circles around Washington, but the introduction of LSD might have taken concerns to new levels of anxiety.
Did JFK abuse drugs such as LSD and marijuana on a regular basis? No tangible evidence exists that he did. However, the mere fact that such rumors existed might have provoked grave concerns over national security issues.
She was murdered October 12, 1964 and her murder remains unsolved to this day.
There can be no doubt that a commander-in-chief who experimented with illicit drugs was a danger to his country in many ways. Pentagon generals would have grappled with the knowledge that their commander-in-chief's lifestyle might gravely compromise national security in an emergency. For example:
What if the Soviet Union decided to launch an attack on the United States while JFK was either stoned on pot or tripping on LSD? Would he be capable of issuing orders to launch our nuclear response?
Could drug-induced paranoia impair JFK's decision making process? What if JFK suddenly decided to initiate a launch command on his own in the absence of evidence of a Soviet threat?
Finally, if he did take LSD along with Mary Pinchot Meyer, what would happen if the Soviets were able to find out when he was taking it? Could that information possibly be used to launch a sneak attack against the United States?
Men in power would have undoubtedly been enraged by JFK's reckless personal behavior. There's no real evidence that JFK's judgement was impaired at any time, but the fact remains that it undoubtedly was due to the reckless personal behavior he exhibited with regard to the drugs he took to maintain his health. However, the fear remained that:
Such recklessness might very well have left the United States temporarily defenseless against a surprise Soviet attack.
That helplessness would certainly never have been tolerated by generals with World War II experience such as Curtis LeMay and Lyman Lemnitzer, or any other senior Pentagon officer.
Was the military unhappy with the murder of President John F. Kennedy? Draw your own conclusions, but there are numerous anecdotal reports of General LeMay watching and directing the entire JFK autopsy while savoring a cigar. Why might that be important? Bethesda Naval Hospital wasn't underneath the command sturcture of an Air Force general such as General Curtis LeMay. Why was he in charge of an autopsy at a naval hospital?
The CIA and Regime Change
The CIA had become a proactive arm of the Eisenhower administration. Under President Eisenhower, the Central Intelligence Agency was employed in a manner in which our military couldn't be. They began to put together a resume which reflected a growing history of experience in regime change around the world. Here are a select few of those events:
The 1953 overthrow of Iran
The 1954 overthrow of Guatemala
The 1955 assassination of the president of Panama
The assassinations of Patrice Lumumba (The Congo) -January 17, 1961
The assassination of General Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic) —May 30, 1961
The assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam) — November 1, 1963
Numerous unsuccessful planned attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro (Cuba)
Was regime change in our own WashingtonD.C. beyond the CIA's ability? Clearly not.
An additional element of motive might have been JFK's dismissal of the entire top command structure of the CIA in 1961 in the aftermath of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. That decapitation of the entire senior command at Langley precipitated immense anomosity toward the Kennedy administration in general and JFK in particular. Research by many authors and historians has revealed the CIA's fingerprints all over the JFK assassination and cover-up but doubts exist that they were solely behind it.
Civil Rights and Social Upheaval
This social context cannot be ignored, either. In fact, it might be one of the most important of all and it certainly ranks as the most-ignored theory in the entire JFK research community. The South was in the midst of a radical upheaval over the push for civil rights for the Negroes by the Kennedys. Racial hatred was at a fever pitch and many, many Americans shared the view that segregation needed to be maintained. Many of the agents in the Secret Service and FBI were Southerners, as were many in the Pentagon leadership. Due to that racial strife, JFK and RFK were viewed as "damned Yankees" (and worse). Was there enthusiasm to follow JFK's orders as a result of that revulsion toward his beliefs? But it wasn't just government employees and military who were upset and angry with JFK's racial policies. What about the Southerners themselves?
Powerful businessmen in Texas were extremely angry at the Kennedy administration in general and JFK in particular. (See the "Belated Warning to LBJ" elsewhere on this website.)
Those same Texas businessmen clearly understood that any Soviet missiles launched from Cuba could easily strike Dallas, Houston, and Austin.
They feared JFK's next foreign policy blunder could result in millions of Americans (and Texans) being killed, and a comfortable way of life destroyed for all.
They controlled almost every aspect of Texas law and politics; they possessed the means to remove this threat.
"Organized crime [was] heavily involved in Texas politics (in the 1950's and 1960's)" —Madeleine Brown, mistress to LBJ.
This ad actually greeted JFK in the Dallas newspaper when he woke up on November 22, 1963:
LBJ's Legal Problems
Vice President Lyndon Johnson was a Southerner and a Texan through-and-through. However, LBJ had numerous and troublesome legal problems in November, 1963:
Johnson was intimately linked to the criminal actions of both Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker, both of whom were on trial in 1963 for their misdeeds. Johnson knew his only chance to stay out of prison was to become president, and his close aides and friends in Texas knew it too.
It's documented that the second telephone call new President Johnson made from Air Force One at on November 22, 1963 was to inquire about whether court testimony in Bobby Baker's trial that day had explicitly tied LBJ to Baker's illegal indiscretions.
(Why is this man smiling and winking at LBJ just after he's sworn in? And why does LBJ appear to be smiling back while Jackie looks devastated alongside a smiling Lady Bird Johnson? This was less than two hours after JFK's murder.)
JFK had already indicated he was planning to drop LBJ from the ticket in 1964—and rumors were that RFK would be his replacement as vice president. To the concern of many, a potential Kennedy dynasty was seen in the making.
LBJ had massive character issues and flaws, especially concerning ethics. After working in the Johnson White House, Secret Service agent Richard Roth declared: "If Johnson weren't president, he'd be in an insane asylum."
LBJ had no qualms about taking over after JFK's death. Was he directly to blame for JFK's murder? I doubt it. Did he benefit from it? Unquestionably. And that brings us to Shakespeare.
A Contrarian View—Right or Wrong?
"Power, war, violence, passion, betrayal—Shakespeare is universal in his understanding of the human condition." - Dame Judith Dench
The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is as compelling as any of Shakespeare's great tragedies. It is an archetype of the darkest elements of human nature—power, war, passion, violence, and betrayal.
Shakespearean tragedy exposes those dark impulses that slumber below life's smooth surface. Shakespeare masterfully crafts heroes who allow power and greed to overtake their lives, often leading to catastrophic betrayals. Shakespeare, a great psychologist in his own right, understood the dark side of power. Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, and Julius Caesar each explore the psyche of powerful men.
Is it possible for men in power to be jealous of other men? Macbeth murders his King for one reason only—vaulting ambition. Iago manipulates Othello for the sheer satisfaction of bringing down a powerful man.
Do men conspire with others in order to achieve power? Shakespeare certainly thought so. He theorized about the morality of a preventive assassination in his play, Julius Caesar.
How far will a man go to achieve the power to which he feels entitled? Certainly, Hamlet explores that dilemma when Claudius murders his own brother to take the throne of Denmark.
Shakespeare's plays hold relevance because they cast human nature in an honest light. Shakespeare delves into not only betrayal and hubris, but he also exposes the illusions that prevent man from seeing reality of a situation.
In the year 2014, why do we assume our own leaders are not capable of similar emotions and human actions? Is it naiveté? Ignorance? Or hubris?
The horror of the assassination instantaneously began to cloud America's view of the late president.
In one fell swoop, all of Kennedy's missteps and blunders were erased from the national psyche. Suddenly John F. Kennedy became a hero, a statesman of great proportion, who was cut down in his prime.
It's quite thought-provoking to examine President John F. Kennedy from a contrarian point of view.
Suppose JFK was not really a great man?
What if he was not considered to be a great president on November 21, 1963?
What if his reckless personal behavior (known to many, many people inside and outside Washington, D.C.) caused moral men to question his judgment?
What if his numerous policy blunders caused powerful men to question his leadership abilities and judgment?
Could the Warren Commission's story about a lone gunman actually be a cover to prevent Americans from knowing the real reason our president was killed? Could this be one of the most shameful acts ever perpetrated upon the American people, done in the name of national security and covered up for the same reason?
President John F. Kennedy may have been killed for one primary reason but many people benefited from his removal from office.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that JFK was killed as the result of a conpsiracy and this remains the official United States government position as of today. But who were the conspirators? What was their motive? Why didn't the committee want to pursue the answers to those questions before it closed its doors?
Perhaps this book will help the reader understand why. Please read it and tell me if I got it wrong.
"What is history but a fable agreed upon?" - Napoleon Bonaparte