On 22 November 1963, President John F. Kennedy, the popular and young President of the USA, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Immediately there were highly emotional scenes of distress not only in the USA but in many other countries as people wept openly, at homes and in the streets, in a spontaneous mass outpouring of grief.
The CBS Washington Correspondent Roger Mudd stated, “It was a death which touched everyone directly and instantly – rare was the person who did not cry that weekend.”
In the UK, Queen Elizabeth spoke of the “unprecedented intensity of wave of grief, mixed with something akin to despair.” Two days later the man accused of the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald(who had been denying any role in the killing) was also killed. Immediately there were widespread allegations of some wider planning behind these two killings (as well as of a local police official).
Fifty-nine years later, these questions remain. Various polls reveal that 60 to 75 per cent of US citizens do not believe the official version of Oswald killing Kennedy on his own.
In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that Kennedy was probably assassinated in a conspiracy and that Oswald did not act alone.
In view of the continuing intense public involvement in this issue, a special law was passed in 1992 to preserve and make available all records relating to the assassination, and subsequently, a records review board was created.
After returning from the funeral of President Kennedy in France, President Charles de Gaulle confided to his information minister AlainPeyrefitte (as described in the latter’s book L’etait de Gaulle), “What happened to Kennedy is what nearly happened to me. His story is the same as mine…The security forces were in cahoots with the extremists…But you will see. All of them together will observe the law of silence. They will close ranks. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out!”
Despite the huge cover-up, researchers have over the years exposed widespread official efforts to tamper with evidence, ignore evidence that is not in line with the official line, and intimidate witnesses. In fact, many witnesses whose testimony may have gone against the official line have died in mysterious circumstances.
Lists of between 50 and 100 such witnesses have in fact been drawn up by researchers and published. Many flaws have been found repeatedly in official accounts. It is extremely difficult to believe how the police could have failed in the elementary duty of transferring Oswald to a nearby jail, how someone running strip clubs and known to be close to criminals was allowed to enter police premises and later get so close to someone who had been accused of assassinating the President. This man, Jack Ruby, was allowed to kill Oswald when he was surrounded by policemen in broad daylight, in the presence of reporters, and covered live on TV.
On the day of the assassination, many serious security lapses were noticed and a local police officer who was courageous enough to draw attention to this faced several threats later. Earlier monitoring of related intelligence and action based on this was also found to be deficient.
The HSCA Report stated that the secret service, tasked with the protection of the President, was deficient in the performance of its duties. Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel of HSCA stated that they were not able to conduct an appropriate investigation of the CIA as it had obstructed the availability of important information to the HSCA and also to the Warren Commission. Senior officials tasked with implementing the 1992 law confirmed in writing that the CIA had obstructed efforts to unravel the truth.
Many researchers and books on this subject have pointed the accusing finger at the military-industrial complex, powerful intelligence officials, mafias, and hostile politicians who opposed the increasing tendency of President Kennedy to favour an agenda of peace, disarmament, reducing the nuclear weapon threat and decreasing hostility with the Soviet Union. These forces were not happy also with his increasing emphasis on civil rights, curbing racism, and the strong legal actions, led by the President’s brother – Attorney General Robert Kennedy – against organized crime.
The role of the military-industrial complex and intelligence agencies was also emphasized in Oliver Stone’s popular film JFK (1991) which has been an important part of this discourse since its release. Therefore, the cover-up attempted by the Warren Commission has been badly discredited by now.
The former CIA head Allen Dulles, responsible for much evil, who had been fired by President Kennedy had been put in as one of its key members.
Member of US Senate Select Committee Senator Richard Schweiker had called it “one of the biggest cover-ups of history.”
One hopes that public pressures will lead to the availability of all important records so that there is a better understanding of the factors and forces behind this huge tragedy and based on this better systems and policy reform can be taken up.
Five years after the assassination of President John Kennedy, in 1968, his younger brother Robert Kennedy, who was then a candidate for the presidency and was expected to follow the ideals of his elder brother, was also assassinated and just a little before this, the famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. too was assassinated. Both these assassinations were also followed by a lot of questions that have not been answered satisfactorily.
So along with the assassination of President John Kennedy, attempts to arrive at the truth regarding the death of these two leaders should also continue as these three leaders were important for the voice of peace and justice. Knowing the truth about their extremely tragic and sudden deaths at young ages is very important for history.