Christmas present suggestions number Two; The Kennedy Assassination and the truth of Oswald's guilt

If you are an obsessive looking for a good read, how about a 1000 page book on the Kennedy assassination and accompanying CD? I haven't read it yet but am going to treat myself to it for Boxing Day.

For very many years, I read everything I could get in my leisure time on the assassination of John F.Kennedy. It was the Dreyfus case of late twentieth-century America, in which I developed a professional historical interest as well as a longstanding fascination.

Many many people wanted to believe in the fact of vast conspiracies that ended the last chance of the USA to achieve something of its liberal promise before years of war, stagflation and the rise of the conservative right signified the cultural civil war that took place in that western republic.

I am therefore somewhat familiar with about 200 'theories' of the death of Kennedy and the subsequent events, not to be too self-regarding about it. In a conversation with one of the Masters of the Middle Temple the other night, I realised that there are highly intelligent people around who still base their view of conspiracy on things that we now know to be easily explained. There are of course some things that cannot be, and I promise to list them too. I've put links into relevant sources.

Here, however, are the most salient pieces of evidence that have emerged in recent years that have made me think that Oswald, or somebody in his position with his rifle and that alone, killed Kennedy.

First, the computer reconstruction of the car in which Kennedy, his wife, Governor John Connally of Texas and his wife, and two secret service men by Dale Myers has proved as conclusively as one could that the so called 'magic bullet' was not magic at all. It was deformed, and passed in a straight line through JFK and Connally. Only a bullet coming from the Book Depository could have been responsible. Fragments of the bullet found in the car have been conclusively matched to the bullet recovered from a stretcher in Dallas Hospital.

Secondly, the bullets used by the shooter were supersonic. They would have hit before small sonic booms were heard. The acoustics of the place where Kennedy was shot are such that no ear witnesses as to where shots came from are reliable. Recordings which some said showed when analysed a shot from the knoll do not. The Grassy knoll did have smoke on it, from a steam pipe; but modern bullets do not emit smoke and anyway, no shots fired from the knoll can be circumstantially be shown to have hit anything in the presidential car. There cannot have been any grassy knoll shots.

Thirdly, Kennedy was wearing both a medical truss and a corset and also had longstanding spinal problems. His body could only have moved in the way that it did. The fact that the front of his head exploded suggests that the shot came from behind, and corroborates the Myers projections.

Fourthly, The car Kennedy travelled in did take an unusual S-turn rather than carrying straight on when he was driven to his death. There were traffic-calming measures in the straight line direction. In the event, the road sloped down in front of the book depository and up away from it. That meant that a shooter would have taken the shot from the direction facing Kennedy's back rather than that facing his front if they were in the book depository.

Fifthly, Dallas doctors were not well educated in sniper of rifle fire in 1963. There is some suggestion that Kennedy's body may well have been confused with that of a policeman shot later that day when it was removed illegally to Washington, but in Dallas it was clear that Kennedy had lost a large part of his skull and brains. This leads to two observations. Firstly, there were almost certainly small but supersonic bits of bone ricocheting over the grassy knoll, and anyone who heard them fly past them could easily have mistaken them for a bullet. Secondly, appeals to the authority of the doctors on the scene are not highly probative.

I should mention that many dispute this point and that their view is that officer Tippit, the policeman shot by Lee Oswald whose body may have been confused with that of Kennedy in autopsy photos was implicated in the assassination.

So; one shooter, in the position Oswald was alleged to be in, would have had the effects that occurred.

Lee Oswald's probable connections with the margins of the intelligence world and also his apparent desire to be connected to Castro's Cuba and to embarrass anti-Castro groups has been well-documented. He appears to have been an unsettled and angry man who did have shooting skills. He could have arranged the Book depository snipers nest in the way it was arranged, and for all the post-hoc validation I think he could have made it down the stairs without being seen. I think he may have known Jack Ruby, may have touched upon the criminal or homosexual underworld in Dallas, and may have been connected as a source with any number of government agencies. The woman he lived with and his estranged wife both believed immediately that he was guilty, as did those who knew him.

I think there were numbers of reasons to cover up the real events of the day. The Secret Service had failed to protect JFK, and may have deeply resented him and his sexual escapades as much as they worried about the exposure of their own drinking and partying. The FBI may have been in touch with Oswald. The family would ave been worried about the exposures of a proper autopsy that would have shown adrenal gland disease and a persistent STD; the mafia would have had every reason to boast and to claim responsibility. The government would have worried that revelations of a Cuba connection since Oswald was a communist would start a war; the CIA may have been worried that some of their members and anti-Cuban associates were planning an assassination, though not in Dallas.

It has now been shown, for instance, that there were immediate, continuing and effective soviet attempts to shift any blame from themselves by interfering with evidence. This involved, inter alia, forging letters from Lee Oswald to various oilmen who coincidentally had the same name as CIA agents in the case of H.L.Hunt and Howard Hunt.

At any given time, there are quite a few people plotting to kill Presidents. Those who have died who made deathbed confessions should be seen in this light. Off the top of my head, I can think of five separate 'confessions' to participation in separate plots to kill Kennedy; those of Trafficante, Hoffa, Hunt, Easterling and Harrelson. I'm sure there are more. People often confess. The first DNA evidence in the UK was used to disprove a confession, and Sydney Carlton (to be flippant for a moment) was one of many characters built on a charitable interpretation of why people allow themselves to be associated with shameful things.

So, there is no need for a conspiracy, and little evidence. Yet, like the Dreyfus case, there is a need to explain social division, inflation, the exposure of the political class as untrustworthy, and the emergence of great social and cultural division. This is what I think happened, aided by the reconstruction of memories and the simplifications of the media over the years.

I remain to be convinced that Oswald, acting alone, did not kill Kennedy, and I think that the truth may never come out. I've left out a lot of the other details I could have put in. My hope is that, as the Dreyfus case faded when the pressures that created it faded, so the election of Barack Obama and the departure of the baby-boom generation will confine Oswald to the ranks of Czolgoz, Guiteau and Hinckley, forgotten except by the curious few, nutters and lawyers.