week was the 40th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. There
were several television programs devoted to this event, especially
In this report,
I’m going to present a missing piece of the puzzle, one that you
have never heard about. It was not mentioned in the Warren Commission
report. Oliver Stone did not include it in his movie, "JFK."
It’s not that this missing piece has been actively suppressed.
It’s that it was published in a little-known book that seemingly
had nothing to do with the assassination. No one paid any attention.
The book then sank without a trace. I bought a copy in a book
remainder bin years ago, where books that don’t sell well at retail
are sold at dirt-cheap prices, and then forgotten.
assassination has been studied in detail and written about by
thousands of people. The amount of published information on the
event is staggering. The basic outline has been known for years.
But the devil is in the details.
of Americans say that they don’t trust the Warren Commission’s
theory of the lone gunman. Some surveys indicate that as few as
ten percent of the American public believe that Oswald acted alone.
Yet nobody has offered anything like a plausible alternative that
has gained the support of a significant minority of the general
public or historians. That Lee Harvey Oswald doesn’t seem capable
of having fired all those shots is clear. The problem is in finding
evidence for the necessary split-second coordination with a second
trying to defend any assassination thesis must ignore or downplay
implausible facts, either lone gunman facts or coordinated conspiracy
facts. The resulting theories have all been implausible. That’s
the way facts are when you take a close look, from subatomic physics
to the Big Bang.
In this report,
I am going to make three simple points: (1) history is very complex;
(2) the writing of history is an inexact and highly biased art;
(3) our lives and even our world turn on events that cannot be
predicted or defended against.
Lee Harvey Oswald in November, 1963. He was a former Marine. He
was a former defector to the Soviet Union — the first discharged
Marine ever to defect to the USSR. He had renounced in writing
his U.S. citizenship. At the time of this renunciation, he had
written to one American official that he intended to turn over
to the Soviets the Navy’s radar codes, which he did. The Navy
had to change its codes. He was not merely a defector; he was
a traitor. Yet in 1962, he returned to the U.S. with his Russian
wife, and nobody in Washington blinked an eye. They knew he was
back. He was de-briefed by the CIA, which the CIA continues to
deny, but for which there is written evidence: a "smoking
document." The FBI, the CIA, military intelligence, and the
Navy ignored him.
he tried to assassinate an anti-Communist retired general, Edwin
Walker. He then moved to New Orleans, where he got involved with
pro-Cuba activism as a one-man member of a local Fair Play for
Cuba Committee. He was visible enough to have been filmed on the
streets, handing out leaflets, and be recorded in a radio debate.
The films and audio tapes still exist.
been a Marxist since his teenage years. He had been openly a Marxist
in the Marines, yet he was given access to radar codes. In a letter
to his brother, sent from Moscow, he had said, "I want you
to understand what I say now, I do not say lightly, or unknowingly,
since I’ve been in the military. . . . In the event of war I would
kill any American who put a uniform on in defense of the American
Government — Any American." Edward
Jay Epstein, a specialist in the JFK assassination, noted two
decades ago, " Although his letter was routinely intercepted
by the CIA and microfilmed, no discernable attention was paid
to the threat contained in it.” Epstein continues:
failed assassination, Oswald went to New Orleans, where he became
the organizer for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Aside from
printing leaflets, staging demonstrations, getting arrested
and appearing on local radio talk shows in support of Castro
that summer, Oswald attempted to personally infiltrate an anti-Castro
group that was organizing sabotage raids against Cuba. He explained
to friends that he could figure out his "anti-imperialist"
policy by "reading between the lines" of the Militant
and other such publications. In August, he wrote the central
committee of the Communist Party USA asking "Whether in
your opinion, I can compete with anti-progressive forces above
ground, or whether I should always remain in the background,
i.e. underground". During this hot summer, while Oswald
spent evenings practicing sighting his rifle in his backyard,
the Militant raged on about the Kennedy Administration’s "terrorist
bandit" attacks on Cuba. And as the semi-secret war against
Castro escalated, Oswald expressed increasing interest in reaching
It gets even
his wife that they might never meet again, he left New Orleans
two weeks later headed for the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City.
To convince the Cubans of his bona fides — and seriousness
— he had prepared a dossier on himself, which included
a 10 page rsum, outlining his revolutionary activities, newspaper
clippings about his defection to the Soviet Union, propaganda
material he had printed, documents he had stolen from a printing
company engaged in classified map reproduction for the U.S Army,
his correspondence with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee executives
and photographs linking him to the Walker shooting.
applied for a visa at the Cuban Embassy on the morning of September
27th, 1963. He said that he wanted to stop in Havana
en route to the Soviet Union. On the application, the consular
office who interviewed him, noted: "The applicant states
that he is a member of the American Communist Party and Secretary
in New Orleans of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee." Despite
such recommendations, Oswald was told that he needed a Soviet
visa before the Cuban visa could be issued. He argued over this
requisite with the Cuban counsel, Eusebio Azque, in front of
witnesses, and reportedly made wild claims about services he
might perform for the Cuban cause. During the next five days,
he traveled back and forth between the Soviet and Cuban embassies
attempting to straighten out the difficulty.
trust Epstein as a researcher. His biography on Armand Hammer,
is a masterpiece. His investigation of Oswald was detailed, and
his first book on the assassination became a best-seller, Inquest
(1966). He later earned a Ph.D. from Harvard. He is no crackpot.
He is a conventional historian of the assassination. He thinks
the lone gunman thesis is correct. But what he wrote a generation
ago about that lone gunman’s activities before the assassination
has yet to get into the textbooks. Epstein’s findings about Oswald
point either to the utter bureaucratic incompetence of military
intelligence, the CIA, the FBI, and the State Department, or else
to a conspiracy. Textbook writers do not want to consider either
another factor: the media never did want to play up the fact that
Oswald was a long-time traitor and a Marxist. From the day of
the assassination, the media tried to blame the equivalent of
"a vast right wing conspiracy" in Dallas. It was "the
climate of right-wing opinion in Dallas" that pundits said
had killed Kennedy. On the contrary, what killed Kennedy was a
Marxist revolutionary, committed to violence philosophically,
who had been allowed to return to the United States. But this
truth has never been palatable to the media or the textbook writers.
this has changed? Not a chance. On Thursday evening, November
20, PBS broadcast a recently produced one-hour show, "JFK:
Breaking the News." It dealt with the power of television
to cover live news, which was first demonstrated on that weekend
in 1963. The show spends at least five minutes to the right wing
climate of opinion in Dallas. It shows that there were conservative
Democrats who — gasp! — opposed Kennedy’s liberal politics.
The shame of it! The audacity! To oppose this great man! The fact
that the liberal media actively covered up his daily adulteries,
which were security risks, given the Mob connection of some of
them — a fact presented earlier in the week on the PBS documentary,
Kennedys" — is rarely mentioned, and was never mentioned
best-selling books revealed all this in the early 1990’s.
reference to the truth about the political perspective of Oswald
in that documentary was a brief sentence in retrospect by CBS’s
Bob Shieffer (“Face the Nation”), who had been a reporter in Fort
Worth at the time. He admitted that Oswald was a leftist, but
added, “a nut.” Oswald became a nut only after the media found
out about his Marxist politics. Prior to this embarrassing revelation,
which was deliberately concealed by the media at the time, there
was no mention of a “nut assassin” theory. For hours, the national
TV commentators had been blaming the “climate of fear” in Dallas.
The documentary shows Walter Cronkite’s announcement of Kennedy’s
death. Crokite had just been talking on-screen about Adlai Stevenson’s
recent confrontation with conservatives in Dallas. As soon as
it was known that Oswald was a leftist, he was transformed into
a lone nut. The politics of lone nuts is irrelevant, having nothing
to do with their actions, you see. There is never a “climate of
fear” among leftists, producing a Sirhan Sirhan or an Arthur Bremer.
Such assassins are instantly forgotten, as are their political
views. Shieffer’s segment was shown long after Jane Pauly’s voice-over
and film clips had pilloried the anti-Kennedy Democrats in Dallas
as pig-headed, insensitive no-nothings.
have never forgiven conservatives in 1963 for not buying into
Camelot, despite the fact that the myth of Camelot was entirely
Jackie Kennedy’s, who convinced
Theodore White to promote it after her husband died (another
fact discussed on "The Kennedys"). Most of all, they
have never forgiven Oswald for not being a right-winger, and therefore
representative of an entire political outlook.
of this neglect of Oswald’s Marxist roots was made greater by
what followed the airing of "JFK: Breaking
the News." PBS ran an updated version of Frontline’s 1993
3-hour documentary, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" This
superb documentary shows exactly who he was and what he was: a
dedicated lifelong Marxist who wanted to do something big for
the cause and big for his reputation. But it received little attention
in 1993, and I doubt that it received much last week.
also reveals that Lyndon Johnson was briefed on Oswald within
hours, and he deliberately told the press, meaning the publishers
and wire service owners, not to mention Oswald’s time in Russia
and his subsequent Marxist agitation in New Orleans. The implication
— never mentioned — is that Johnson controlled the press.
says that Johnson feared a world war, the assassination having
come only a year after the Cuban missile crisis. I suggest an
additional reason: Johnson did not want to let the American public
know that this was a gigantic failure of the American intelligence
community, meaning the same kind of Keystone Cops failure that
has marked everything associated with 9-11, from before 9-11 until
mentioned the following story. This is the one that has grabbed
my attention ever since I bought and read that remaindered book.
who explain history in terms of impersonal forces, the unique
event is irrelevant. For those who favor a conspiracy view of
history, the unique event has meaning only in terms of the conspiracy.
As for me, I am a believer in the overwhelming significance of
the unique event. Remove it, and everything would have turned
out differently. Here is my favorite example of the unique event,
itself the product of a series of unique events, that changed
Late November can be cold in Dallas. But on that crucial day,
it was warm. Forecasters had predicted cool weather. That was
why Jackie Kennedy was wearing a wool suit.
Kennedy had spoken that morning in Fort Worth, 30 miles west of
Dallas. Instead of driving to Dallas, the President and his entourage
flew from Ft. Worth to Dallas, landing at Love Field. (There was
no DFW airport in 1963. DFW was Lyndon Johnson’s gift to air travel.)
At Love Field were stationed the cars that would carry the President
and the others through the 11-mile motorcade trip to downtown
Dallas. Both cars were convertibles. The President’s car had a
removable plastic bubble, just in case bad weather made it too
cold or too wet for comfort.
Love Field that day had an outdoor phone line connected to the
desk of The Dallas Times Herald. A local reporter used
it to phone in stories about the scheduled motorcade.
a truly unique series of events. Here is the published account
by the on-site reporter.
the plane was scheduled to leave Fort Worth for the short flight
to Dallas, the rewrite man, Stan Weinberg, asked me if the bubble
top was going to be on the presidential limousine. It would
help to know now, he said, before he wrote the story later under
pressure. It had been raining early that morning, and there
was some uncertainty about it.
Stan that I would find it. I put the phone down and walked over
to a small ramp where the motorcade limousines were being held
in waiting. I spotted Forrest Sorels, the agent in charge of
the Dallas Secret Service office. I knew Mr. Sorrels fairly
well, because I was then the regular federal beat reporter.
. . .
down the ramp. The bubble top was on the president’s car.
wants to know if the bubble top’s going to stay on, I said to
Mr. Sorrels, a man of fifty or so who wore dignified glasses
and resembled a preacher or bank president.
at the sky and then hollered over at one of his agents holding
a two-way radio in his hand. What about the weather downtown?
he asked the agent.
talked into his radio for a few seconds, then listened. Clear,
he hollered back.
yelled back at the agents standing by the car: "Take off
the bubble top!"
twelve hours later, I was part of the bedlam at the Dallas police
station along with hundreds of other reporters. I went into
the police chief’s outer office to await the breakup of a meeting
in Chief Jesse Curry’s main office. I had no idea who was in
opened and out walked several men. One of them was Forrest Sorrels.
He looked tired and sad. And bewildered. He saw me and I moved
toward him. His eyes were wet. He paused briefly, shook his
head slightly and whispered, "Take off the bubble top."
of mankind is filled with "what if" and "if only"
events that surround every major event. In American history, this
is one of the big what-ifs, yet it is still unknown to the public.
bubble might not have stopped the bullets that hit the passengers
in that limousine, but it would have given any sharpshooter concern.
A bullet can be deflected. There is no guarantee that an undeflected
bullet will hit its target, and a plastic bubble would have added
greatly to the uncertainty. Would the assassin or assassins have
pulled the trigger(s)?
also no way to know if someone other than Forrest Sorrels might
have decided after the plane landed to take off the bubble top.
What we do know, and what Mr. Sorrels knew that day, is this:
a seemingly peripheral question by a rewrite man, relayed through
a reporter, led to a call downtown by a two-way radio. Assessment:
"Clear." Events in Dallas on that fateful day were never
would be known by almost no one, had it not been for the reporter’s
subsequent career, which justified a book publishing company’s
taking a risk by publishing his autobiography. The Dallas reporter
subsequently became America’s most prominent playwright-novelist-newscaster,
Jim Lehrer, of the "Lehrer News Hour." His book is titled,
Bus of My Own. It was published in 1992. It did not sell
that more people have learned about this unique "what-if"
event today than have learned about it over the last eleven years.
are influenced by events far beyond our capacity to perceive at
the time or understand after the fact, let alone predict in advance.
On that bright, sunny day in Dallas, Lyndon Johnson became President.
He subsequently escalated a war in Vietnam that Kennedy had begun.
America changed dramatically because the sun was shining in Dallas
on November 22, 1963.
optimism of New Deal political liberalism did not survive the
Kennedy assassination and the war in Vietnam. Two months after
the assassination, the Beatles arrived in America, setting off
what was to become the counter-culture of the 1960’s. But what
we think of as "the sixties" actually began in February,
1964. November 22, 1963, remains the great divide.
"guns and butter" spending policies expanded the federal
deficit. The war in Vietnam and the war on poverty had to be paid
for. Johnson preferred to borrow and inflate rather than raise
taxes, except for a minor and temporary 10% income tax surcharge
in 1968. To hide the reality of the deficit, Johnson persuaded
Congress in 1968 to allow him to put the Social Security Administration
surplus into the general fund’s accounting system. Prior to 1968,
the trust funds were outside of the general fund’s accounting
system. Ever since 1968, the government has counted undispersed
trust fund income as present income receipts rather than as long-term
obligations, i.e., debts. That decision made it easier for subsequent
administrations to hide what is happening to the retirement schemes
of Americans. It will have enormous effects for decades, beginning
no later than 2011, when the baby boomers begin to retire.
If the bubble
top had been installed, it is doubtful that any of this would
have happened. None of this was inevitable, humanly speaking.
If there was a pattern here — and I believe there was —
no conspiracy established it. (Read Psalm 2.)
OF AND BY THE PRESS
what America has become since that day in 1963. Presidential motorcades
are no longer organized for public viewing. A convertible for
a President is as old hat as a top hat at the President’s inauguration
— last seen at Kennedy’s inauguration. Presidents no longer
make themselves visible to the public on the streets at scheduled
events. Jimmy Carter walked up Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration
Day in 1977. After "cousin John" Hinckley shot Reagan
in 1981, things changed.
the press played the same game of "pretend it’s not there."
George Bush was in line to succeed President Reagan. Had Hinckley
used a .38 or a .357, Bush probably would have succeeded to the
Presidency. In the ancient game of "Who Wins?" he would
have been the obvious winner.
The day after
the failed attempt, the following story was released on the news
wires by the Associated Press. It was run in the Houston Post.
It was run almost nowhere else. On the day of the assassination,
Scott Hinckley, the brother of John, was scheduled to have dinner
with Neil Bush, brother of George W. Bush and son of then-Vice
President Bush. The Hinckleys were initially reported as having
made large donations to George Bush Sr.’s presidential campaign,
but the family denied this, and there was no follow-up by the
press. The story of the hastily cancelled dinner engagement received
virtually no attention by the media. Only
the Web has kept it alive.
Had the press
investigated the story, some reporter might have come across the
curious fact that the Bushes and the Hinckleys are related. The
genealogical link goes back to the same founding father, Samuel
No one in
the media noticed this until my wife’s brother-in-law began working
on the family tree of my wife and her sister. He came across the
web site, with its link to Samuel Hinckley, whose name did not
register with him, and he sent me the information on the Bush
connection. I saw "Hinckley," and the alarm bell went
off. I looked more closely. The genealogist had not missed the
Hinckley m. Martha Lathrop (see 8732, below)
Hinckley m. Zerviah Breed
Hinckley m. Sarah Hubbard
Hinckley m. Elizabeth Wheeler
Hinckley m. Elizabeth Stanley
Edward Hinckley m. Amelia Smith
Porter Hinckley m. Katherine Arvilla Warnock
Warnock Hinckley m. Jo Anne Moore
WARNOCK HINCKLEY (b. 1955), attempted assassin
I this information
to subscribers on October 5, 2001: “News Stories That Are Somehow
Not Worth Pursuing." This story remains not worth pursuing
in the eyes of the media. No one picked it up. I did not think
If you think
that the media have learned their collective lesson, you are nave.
The same suppression goes on. Consider 9-11. Consider United Airlines
Flight 93 over western Pennsylvania. The media ignore the obvious:
debris was scattered up to eight miles away from the crash site.
Are we to believe that this debris bounced? No, we are to believe
the story of the brave victims who crashed the plane. We are not
to inquire about that scattered debris. We are to forget about
it. No establishment reporter asks the obvious: Was the plane
shot down high above the landscape? Were it not for the Web, these
facts would be lost.
It is a grand
illusion to believe that what we do today can immunize ourselves
from the fallout from the seemingly random events of life. We
can buy gold, we can live in gated communities, but the hard realities
of life penetrate the high walls of our long-term plans.
is a fact of life. This is why we should rejoice that there are
entrepreneurs out there who put their capital on the line to assist
future consumers in their quest to reduce uncertainty. Someone
must deal with uncertainty. Capitalism’s great gift to mankind
is that it allows specialists to do this merely for the opportunity
to reap a profit by opening their wallets to the possibility of
losses. This is a cheap price for services rendered.