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The sane person's conspiracy theory
on 14 February 2016
The assassination of JFK, as an undeniably powerful event, attracted both masses of serious scholarship and some seriously nutty theories. (My favourite among the latter came from a young man I knew back in the day - he took my place as ward secretary of the Labour Party, later turning out to have some pretty scary right-wing views and shagging Hayley Mills. I kid you not. He was researching a book that would prove that the assassination was a Masonic ritual murder, with the coup de grace being applied by Kennedy's driver, William Greer. But I digress.)
Anthony Summers co-authored, The Longest Day, the seminal debunking of all the crazy rubbish spouted about 9/11, so his scholarship holds real credence. This book is a dense - sometimes impenetrably so - analysis of the movements of the main suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the tangle of links between him, elements of the CIA, the Mafia, pro- and anti-Castro Cubans in the hall of mirrors that was the world of American intelligence operations in the Cold War. It's a sobering thought that this, coming only a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, could have tipped the world into nuclear war.
Unlike most writers on the assassination, Summers does not have a particular solution to peddle, so he is able to give a calm and detailed analysis of the pertinent facts. He does pull a couple of rabbits out of the hat towards the end and clearly leans to the idea that the assassins were Oswald and a long-dead Cuban hitman, but does not bash the reader round the head with it. This has its disadvantages, of course, in that there is so much smoke and mirrors involved that it is almost impossible to know what one can believe. As a basic primer on the theories for someone who knows the basic facts, this book will take some beating.
But anyway, you want to know the solution? Here it is. Lee Harvey Oswald, a bright but frustrated underachiever, who knew he was passionately angry about the state of the world but had no clue what else he really believed, entangled himself (or got entangled, it doesn't matter much) in the murky world of political activism in the southern US. As someone with a seriously unusual background - an ostensibly Marxist ex-Marine with a Russian wife and a stint in the Soviet Union - he was potentially useful in a minor way to every side in the endless war of words and propaganda. For a while. He was used, flattered, fed money when he was dirt poor.
By October 1963, though, mundane reality was setting in: he was a zero, who had achieved nothing, was estranged from his wife and no longer of much use to anyone. Through personal introduction that no-one has ever seriously suggested was fixed from the outside, he got a dead-end clerical job working in a school book depository, outside which, it was later decided by processes that were not, could not be 'fixed' and which was only decided, President Kennedy's motorcade was to pass. 'Right you b*stards,' he thought, or words to that effect, 'here is my chance to make a mark on the world'. He did it. No-one else did it. No-one else put him up to it. But he had enough links to enough people to cause serious embarrassment to many people who were not unduly upset that it had happened. Hence all the subterfuge. You're welcome.