The Insider Magazine

JFK Assassination – The Killing Of A President

“It appears as though something has happened in the motorcade route. Something, I repeat, has happened in the motorcade route. >> Bob: It was over half a century ago, but for so many, it seems like only yesterday. >> From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time. ”

For more than 5 decades,, there have been questions about the official story. Was Lee Harvey Oswald really the killer? Did he act alone? Was it a conspiracy?

“Did you shoot the president?”

“I didn't shoot anybody. No, sir.”

The official story just doesn't hang together, and so, people are still hungry for information about this shocking event, and they realized that the story they've been given is false. >> Bob: But now, thousands of secret files have finally been made public, classified documents about the Kennedy assassination, hidden away for decades at the National Archives in Washington, triggering a kind of historical feeding frenzy, online and on air.

They said it was today's most anticipated release. Highly anticipated documents. The release of previously classified documents. Thousands of never-before-seen classified documents.

Classified documents from the FBI director two days after the assassination said: “We need to “convince the public Oswald is the real assassin.”

So, can recently released records explain the inexplicable?

Actually, the president's death was preventable and may have been easily prevented if somebody had just read through the files of the FBI and the CIA.  The fight over the documents that may disprove the official story of what happened on November 22nd, 1963, and why.  “There was this fella Oswald, and we didn't really know much about him, and he came out of nowhere and shot the president, and what these files show is that's a cover story. That was not true.”

The story goes something like this…Friday morning, 11:37. The president's jet lands at the Dallas Airport, Love Field. It all began on the morning of November 22nd, a Friday. But the outwardly warm reception in Dallas masked the outright hatred many in Texas felt for the president. 1963 was the height of the Cold War, and that morning, full-page right-wing newspaper ads called him a traitor, with accusations of being soft on communism.

Anti-Castro Cubans seethed at his reluctance to invade and liberate their homeland. But as the presidential limousine carrying the Kennedys, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, made its way through Downtown Dallas just before 12:30pm, the route was lined by a crowd many deep. Suddenly, there were gunshots. The president's head jerked back and to the left, then the motorcade sped away.  “It's official now– The president has been assassinated. ”

But consider this. In the months before that killing, a most unusual movie was shot in and around Washington, DC.  “And I will not resign voluntarily. I'm going to fight you and then we'll see which one of us the United States is willing to follow.”  Seven Days In May was the story of a military coup against the American President.

“I'm suggesting, Mr President, there is a military plot to take over the government. ”  There are some who will say it can never happen here.  Incredibly, at the same time, it seems President Kennedy was openly worried about the possibility of a coup. The story made its way to Brian McKenna, then a young Montréal Star reporter, from a Canadian admiral assigned to the Pentagon.

“And he told me he couldn't understand how openly they talked about a coup, how openly they talked about Seven Days In May, which was a novel that was being turned into a movie.  That brought a secret presidential messenger to death in a plane crash in Spain, the day a senator of the United States was held against his well. And he found it shocking, actually. He found it– he said it was basically sedition they were speaking, but they were– they were planning something. He had this sense they were planning something, definitely. ”

What's more, when McKenna contacted the movie's director, he learned the film had been encouraged by none other than President Kennedy. And he said, “Pierre Salinger, the “Press Secretary to John Kennedy, called me one day and, “said, The president will give you the White House for a weekend to shoot, that he wants you to make that story, that book, into a movie, as a warning to Americans of what is possible out there.”

It was a shocking scenario, a government takeover, the killing of a President, but in just a few weeks John Kennedy himself would be dead. The tragic events have been a journalistic touchstone for Brian McKenna ever since.  “Nothing comes close. Nothing comes close to the Kennedy assassination, and the– and the greatest murder mystery of the 20th century, clearly. ”  – And before long, McKenna joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where he produced this. The Fifth Estate investigation of the Kennedy killing, on its 20th anniversary, drew almost 3 million viewers, the show's biggest audience ever.

“20 years ago today, President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.  The president's brother Robert Kennedy, then Attorney General, was haunted by the possibility of a conspiracy. ” And it started with this man. In the fall of 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was on the move, based in Dallas, but seen distributing pro-Communist pamphlets in New Orleans, and travelling to Mexico City, where he sought visas from the Soviet Embassy and Cuban consulate. However, the new documents reveal that if Oswald thought he was under the radar, he certainly was not. Oswald kind of came to the attention of the CIA in 1963 in two places– in New Orleans in August 1963, and in Mexico City about six weeks later in October of 1963.  Investigative journalist Jeff Morley says the newly released files detail the extent of American surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald, especially in Mexico, by the CIA.  “Mind you, everywhere Oswald goes on this– this little adventure, he's tripping off CIA surveillance activities. When he walks into the Cuban consulate, they have an impulse camera on that door, so when he penetrates the plane of the door, that camera goes off, when he goes in, when he comes out.”

“Same thing down the street at the Soviet Embassy, impulse camera. When he gets into the Soviet Embassy, he talks, his voice is picked up on a CIA wiretap. ” – What's more, Jeff Morley says, the files also show that back in 1963, in Dallas, the FBI had its eyes on Oswald, too. They knew where he was, and they were visiting him and his wife on a regular basis just to kind of check in with them.

Incredibly, given all that, somehow, Lee Harvey Oswald found himself in Dallas, at the very same time as the president, armed with a rifle, and apparently away from the prying eyes of the CIA and FBI. How could that be?

“And so, the question is were they incompetent? Nobody in the CIA or FBI does anything, and they're just asleep at the wheel. That's one theory. That's the official theory. Everybody was just asleep at the wheel and he just slipped past us. The other theory, which I lean more towards, is somebody was watching Oswald the whole time, and that's proven by these documents.  But what role do those new documents show the CIA played in the assassination of JFK?  There are two crimes here.

One is the murder itself, and the second is the cover-up to the murder, and what we are witnessing with all of these things happening was the cover-up for the murder.  It is known as the JFK Records Act, and back in 1992, the US Congress made it American law, ordering the government to make public all records about the Kennedy assassination within 25 years, by 2017, releasing tens of thousands of documents kept secret for over half a century.

The intense media coverage shows that people are looking for an answer. They're looking for a better explanation than the one that they've been given for 50 years. Over the years, Jeff Morley has had many unanswered questions. The former Washington Post reporter now writes a JFK website, and has authored several books about the assassination and the CIA. Morley says those declassified documents have focused attention on the connection with JFK's accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, that the Central intelligence Agency has tried so long to hide.  “You've gotta wonder, why go through all that effort if it's so obvious that this one guy killed the president for no reason, so to me, it's almost self-evident the government is hiding something that's highly embarrassing to them about all of this. ”

Which takes us to Dallas on November 22nd, 1963,  along with the material recently released, it is more troubling than ever. The president's car is now turning onto Elm Street and it will be only a matter of minutes before he arrives at the trade mart.

It was all most 12:30pm as the Kennedy motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository and gunshots rang out. From the beginning, there were questions about the fatal shots. “It appears as though something has happened in the motorcade route. Something, I repeat, has happened in the motorcade route. ” – After the first bullet struck, just 5.6 seconds elapsed until the final shot. This FBI simulation concluded Lee Harvey Oswald, said to be a poor marksman as a Marine, had somehow fired three bullets in those few seconds, hitting the president, wounding Texas Governor John Connally, then the lethal shot that killed Kennedy. Ever since, it's been the official ç story, there was only one shooter, the lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Another question was about Oswald's weapon, supposedly this 21-dollar bolt action rifle, but even an expert marksman couldn't fire three shots in 5.6 seconds with it. That's when the official story changed, deciding the president's and governor's wounds were caused not by three bullets, but just two. The first shot, they now argued, hit both men.  This bullet, same ammunition. It looks like a… In our original report, Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht explained what was called the “single bullet theory”.  The single bullet theory says that one bullet struck the president in the back, coursed through his upper chest, exited from the front of his neck, reentered John Connally's back, pierced the right lung collapsing it, severed a vein, artery and nerve, broke the right fifth rib destroying five inches of that bone, exited from the front of the governor's right chest, reentered the back of the governor's right forearm, caused a comminuted fracture of the distal end of the radius, a very thick bone, partially severed a vein, artery and nerve, exited from the front of the governor's right wrist, reentered the governor's left thigh, went all the way down to the femur, the big bone in the thigh, bounced back, came out through the same small hole in the skin, fell into the governor's clothing, from his clothing onto the stretcher, and was fortuitously found a few hours later, in the afternoon on Friday November 22nd, 1963 at Parkland Memorial Hospital by a maintenance employee who was trying to get to the men's room and found the corridor blocked by stretchers.

“My take on the magic bullet theory is nobody in the car believed that that's what happened. ” – According to author and journalist Jeff Morley, the four other occupants of the presidential limousine rejected the magic bullet theory.  Jackie didn't think that's what happened. She said, “I don't remember it that way.” Governor Connally said it did not happen, flatly, that the first bullet hit President Kennedy and the second bullet hit him. Governor Connally's wife who was sitting in the jumpseat with Governor Connally, Nelly Connally, said the same thing. The Connallys were both hunters, experienced with guns, and Roy Kellerman, the Secret Serviceman sitting in the front seat said, “We were hit with a flurry of shots, “including one from the front.”. Then came this, the eight millimetre film of the fatal shot, taken by Abraham Zapruder, and kept secret by the CIA since 1963, was finally released, 12 years after the assassination.

For the first time, the world could see John Kennedy put hands to his throat as the first bullet rips through him, from back to front. But watch as another bullet strikes. The president's head snaps backward, convincing many of a second gunman in front of the car. In other words, a conspiracy. In just over an hour, the Dallas Police allegedly found that gunman in a nearby movie theatre, then whisked him to headquarters. He was former Marine and known communist sympathizer, Lee Harvey Oswald. The only record of what he said was as police escorted him through the throngs of reporters and cameras.  “These people have given me a hearing without legal representation or anything.  Did you shoot the president?  I didn't shoot anybody. No, sir.” – And another question– on his arrest in Dallas, what did the US government know about Lee Harvey Oswald? Now recall, the story was, there was this fella Oswald and we didn't really know much about him, and he came out of nowhere and shot the president.

And what these files show is that's a cover story. That was not true. High-level CIA officials were paying attention to Oswald from November 1959 to November 1963. And the newly released records support that, files that fly in the face of the official story. What this release tells me more is CIA's capabilities to monitor and manipulate Oswald. And the documents show what he did, and with whom. For example, this CIA cable dated October 8th, 1963, about Oswald's visit to Mexico City, and his meeting at the Soviet Embassy with Valeriy Kostikov, head of the KGB's Department 13, its assassinations branch.

That cable went all the way to the top of the CIA, the head of the US counterintelligence, legendary American spy James Angleton. The CIA cover story is, our interest in Oswald was merely routine. Well, it wasn't routine. It was intensive and it was at a very high level. And there is another recently declassified document that raises questions. Two days after Oswald was arrested, FBI Director J Edgar Hoover sent a memo marked “Secret”, in which he reveals the FBI had got a warning that Oswald would be killed, which he says was passed on to the Dallas Police… “to ask that Oswald be given sufficient protection,” he wrote. If so, it didn't work. A few hours later, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought down by elevator to the basement of police headquarters. “He's been shot. Oswald has been shot! ” – For Jeff Morley, Hoover's memo begs the question, was it incompetence or wilful ignorance? No, and that portion of the memo compounds the travesty of the chief assassination suspect being killed in police custody, because the Dallas Police had been warned, and they ignored the warning and took the prisoner into an unsecured area.

The man who shot Oswald, was Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner and smalltime mobster. Authorities described him as insane with grief over President Kennedy's death. They concluded that after Oswald killed Kennedy, Ruby killed him, and they both acted alone. But what about Jack Ruby's ties to the mob? What might they indicate? In our original show, Eric Malling spoke to Richard Billings, a congressional staff member who investigated the Kennedy assassination in the late 1970s. The main piece of evidence of organized crime complicity in the conspiracy is Jack Ruby. According to Billings, Ruby was a bona fide Mafia member. He was working for mobsters. He was a runner for Al Capone, messenger boy when he was a kid. He– he worked for the mob in Chicago. Ruby was nothing else but mob.  And insiders said Ruby's killing of Oswald had the hallmarks of a gangland hit– quickly approaching the victim, jamming the gun in his stomach, pulling the trigger. So, why would the American Mafia want to be complicit in the assassination of the president? This CIA document, also recently released, refers to the, “strong drive to get after the Mafia,” by the Kennedys, both JFK and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

By 1963 it was no secret the mob was fighting back. Before he died, Jack Ruby told friends and family his role in Dallas have been part of a much larger plot. And consider this, the memo written by FBI Director J Edgar Hoover after Kennedy was killed, also recently released. It's seen by many as proof that Lee Harvey Oswald was the US government's patsy in JFK's death. Hoover wrote..And so in that moment, the president's been dead for less than 48 hours, and Hoover has already dictated the result that the official investigation, which has not begun, will reach, so the conclusion of the assassination was dictated before the investigation began.

That's what that J Edgar Hoover memo tells us.  There are two crimes here. One is the murder itself, and the second is the cover-up for the murder.  For former CBC producer Brian McKenna, the more he dug into the JFK story, the more he was convinced a conspiracy killed Kennedy. He says the most telling clue was the dramatic change in the condition of the president's body from the emergency room in Dallas, to the autopsy outside Washington. When we come back… I mean, you don't alter a body. You don't mess with dead people, and certainly not a president's body.

How, then, to explain this? We got the last part of the sheet off and there was just a gasp through the room. And I looked down and I said to myself, “My God, there's no brain. It's all gone.”  And just now, we've received reports here at Parkland. The first unconfirmed reports say the president was hit in the head. That's an unconfirmed report, and the president…” – To this day, the official story is that the shot that killed John Kennedy hit him in the head from behind, but is that what the autopsy showed? It's an important question because doubts about the integrity of JFK's medical records are among the most contentious issues surrounding the assassination.

When Kennedy was declared dead, the doctors who'd tried to save him at Parkland Hospital in Dallas gave a briefing. Little attention has been paid to it, but incredibly, what they said was the opposite of the official story. The doctors described the fatal shot, small entry wound in front, as the Zapruder film seems to show, massive exit wound in the back. What's more, they said Kennedy's brain was largely intact when they put his body on the plane for the autopsy in Bethesda, Maryland.

So, in Parkland, all of these doctors and radiologists, and whatever, saw this hole in the back of Kennedy's head, and then– then the body and the story switches to Bethesda, the American Naval hospital. Brian McKenna, who produced the 1983 Fifth Estate investigation “Who Killed JFK?” concluded that when the body reached the Naval hospital outside Washington, its condition had drastically changed. And there the doctors saw that damage to the head was not there, and– but there was the whole top of Kennedy's head was gone. And it was like, this can't be happening. I mean, it's so beyond outrage, but the facts were very clear.  Everybody remembers where they were on November 22nd.   In McKenna's landmark documentary, he followed author David Lifton, who presented evidence that he said proved the president's body had been tampered with.  “I mean, you don't alter a body. You don't mess with that people, dead bodies, and certainly not a president's body. And on the other hand, there's evidence of all these different activities altering the body.”

David Lifton had located and interviewed the people who'd been part of the chain of custody for Kennedy's body after he died. At Parkland Hospital, an orderly named Aubrey Reich wrapped the president in a white sheet before placing him in a coffin and closing the lid. “You didn't use a body bag for the president?> No, sir. No way.  Absolutely no question about that? No way. How can you be certain? I was there. And you remember?I remember taking him out. I was the one that had the blood on my shirt and everything from the body. ” – And Aubrey Reich says the presidential casket was an expensive one, made of bronze.

And at Dallas airport, that's what we saw loaded onto Air Force One. After Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the new US President, they began the flight back to the capital. Upon landing, the bronze coffin was removed from the cargo bay and loaded into a hearse for transport to the Naval hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where the autopsy would be performed. Dennis David was a Naval officer on duty at Bethesda when the body arrived, but in 1983, he said the casket he unloaded wasn't bronze. We offloaded a casket, and it was carried into the autopsy room. This casket is a plain grey box, if you will, metal box. Anybody's ever been in Vietnam would know what I'm talking about. We shipped hundreds of bodies out of there in the same type of casket. It's just a plain shipping casket. There was a very plain casket and when I say… It was medical technician Paul O'Connor who opened the casket in the autopsy room.

There was nothing fancy about it. As far as being bronze, it wasn't bronze. At the end of this hall at the Bethesda Naval hospital, the autopsy begin. If the president's body had left Dallas wrapped in a white sheet, that's not what Paul O'Connor found, “We opened the whole casket up and there was a grey body bag zipped shut. We unzipped the body bag and the president's body was lifted out of the body bag. It was completely naked except for a sheet wrapped around his head, a bloody sheet. ” But there was more. Remember, the doctors in Dallas reported the president's brain was mostly intact when it left there, but that's not what they discovered in Bethesda.

“We got the last part of the sheet off, and there was just a gasp through the room. And I looked down and I said to myself, “My God, there is no brain. It's all gone.”. X-ray technician Gerald Custer, says when he x-rayed John Kennedy's skull, there essentially was no brain remaining. “I could fit both my hands right inside the skull cavity, and like I mentioned, that I brought my hands back and there were still little pieces of brain cells that I had to take off my hands and there was still blood on it.”

But for some reason, the final autopsy report stated the brain they'd examined was almost complete. I don't know where they got it from. It surely wasn't the president's. As outlandish as it may sound, David Lifton believes the evidence suggests that between his death in Dallas and arrival in Bethesda, John Kennedy's body was secretly removed from the bronze coffin, his wounds surgically altered, then he was sent ahead in that grey metal casket to arrive before the autopsy.

Essentially, it was a medical forgery, seemingly intended to prove the fatal shot could only have come from Lee Harvey Oswald's gun. Now, 30 years since our first story, more than 50 since JFK died, the issues surrounding his assassination remain the focal point of writer David Lifton's career, if not, his life. After so long, it's been 50 years now, half a century, what does it matter if Oswald acted alone or not? >> Well, I'm gonna use the word that I don't like to use, but basically we had a coup. That's what this is all about, not about a second assassin or whether there's somebody hiding behind a fence or a bush. Is the story that Oswald shot the president a true story or a fictional story? If it's a true story, Johnson became president by a quirk of fate. If it's a fictional story, he became president by design. Now, I say it's a fictional story because the evidence is fraudulent.

It was a conclusion former producer Brian McKenna came to agree with. And what we were witnessing with all of these things happening was the cover-up for the murder, and the most graphic, in a sense outrageous, piece of the puzzle was what happened to the Kennedy– to the president's body. The declassified documents released recently say nothing about the president's body or his brain, but not all the Kennedy files have yet been made public, and that is why, as you will see when we come back, there now is growing pressure to release those final secrets. “The overwhelming majority of Americans are on our side– Release it all no”– and when that happens, we're going to learn something very new and very interesting about the assassination of JFK. I'm quite confident of that.”

JFK is, unquestionably, an American icon, the most glamorous president ever, with a White House called Camelot for a reason. So, it should come as no surprise, John Kennedy's assassination would generate five million pages of documents, of which, even after the recent release, thousands remain in the National Archives in Washington, still kept secret.

According to many who've followed this story for decades, like investigative journalist Brian McKenna, those final files are likely the crucial ones. “Well, I think we're in the crown jewels now, the fact that they're still trying to hide this stuff, there is something explosive there. I mean, all of the principal players are dead, so why– why are they still defending this? Why are they still, you know, putting a stone circle around it and saying no one can go there? ” – Yet in the name of national security, President Donald Trump has pushed the deadline for release of the final documents to April 2018.

Author Jeff Morley isn't convinced it will happen even then. “What the fact that they didn't comply with the law tells us is they intend to keep this, some of this material, secret indefinitely, and what– and I say it stands to reason, it's almost axiomatic, that the things that they don't release are going to be the most sensitive. Now, some people say, Well, they're just hiding nothing. I wonder about that. If they're hiding it, they're hiding it for a reason, and they're gonna try and hide this story.” – So, what is still being hidden? Perhaps CIA secrets.

Morley has investigated the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald by both the CIA and FBI, especially after Oswald met KGB Assassinations Officer Valeriy Kostikov in the months before Kennedy was killed. Oswald comes back to the United States, and the CIA never says to the FBI, “You know, why don't you go introduce– you know, go interview that guy and find out, why was he talking to Valeriy Kostikov?” – That never happened.

It wasn't that the CIA ignored evidence that Oswald was a threat to the president. It's they ignored proof that he was a threat to US security. It's a dog that didn't bark in the old Sherlock Holmes story. It's like, why– that's the thing that you would've expected to happen. The dog should have barked at Oswald, and it doesn't. And that enables him to go to Dealey Plaza.  Given all the revelations, former Fifth Estate producer Brian McKenna says he's come to a troubling conclusion. “I think it's pretty clear that Oswald was a CIA agent at this point. And it's– I mean, the evidence is now just piling up and piling up that they were, you know, they were running him.”

They were controlling him. And I think we're getting closer to the possibility that CIA officers were manipulating Oswald before. Now, they could have been manipulating him for other purposes, like to gather intelligence or, you know, lure the KGB into something, or they could be manipulating him for something that was going to happen on November 22nd. That part of the story we don't know, but what these documents do for me is they heighten that possibility. The possible rationales for killing Kennedy abound. Reports he intended to withdraw US troops from Vietnam. A change of heart about deposing Fidel Castro. His initiatives to end the Cold War with the Soviets. Any or all could have made Kennedy a target at home or abroad. Indeed, Brian McKenna believes that by 1963, John Kennedy's policies made him persona non grata to many in the US government and military. “I mean, I believe that it was a coup d'état, that that's what happened on November 22nd, 1963. There was this violent change in power in the United States, and– and it's never been the same since.”

Years later, in Havana with former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, McKenna met and spoke with Fidel Castro. Castro and Kennedy certainly had differences, but they both clashed with the CIA. It made for an interesting chat with the Cuban leader. I said, “Can we talk about the Kennedy assassination?” And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “So, was it the anti-Castro Cubans?” And he said, “A lot of them were involved but they couldn't have “been alone.” And– and he just said, “The CIA.” There may well be an institutional reluctance to release, but for those seeking the secrets, there's always hope. Do you ever expect to see that released?  “Yeah, I do expect it. I do expect it to be released. It's not going to be easy. The thing that people like me have going for us, the overwhelming majority of Americans are on our side.” – “Release it all now and as long as that's true, I think that the public pressure will be able to push all of this material out into the open, and when that happens, we're going to learn something very new and very interesting about the assassination of JFK.”

“I'm quite confident of that.  I think something's going to happen. I really do. It may take another five, ten years, hopefully not beyond that, but I think that something explosive is gonna happen in the Kennedy story, and I think we're gonna find out that there is a real reason why they're hiding documents even now.” – More than five decades later and counting, many are convinced the killing of President John F Kennedy goes far beyond the lone gunman and the magic bullet that are still the US government's official story. But unless and until those remaining records are finally released, the haunting question will remain as well, who killed JFK?

Derek Reilly

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