Fifty years later, we’re still suspicious.
A Gallup poll released this month finds that more than 60 percent of Americans believe others besides Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Over the years, more than 200 people and three dozen groups have been accused of being involved in Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, author Vincent Bugliosi recently told CNN. So it’s understandable that conspiracy theories of all degrees of plausibility have gained — and lost — popularity in that time.
“There’s a strong tradition in this country of cultures of conspiracy,” said Edward Linenthal, a history professor at Indiana University. “Very often, major events for some people are never quite what they seem. Whatever it happens to be, I think behind the surface appearance, there’s always some more interesting forces at work.”
In the case of Kennedy’s assassination, Linenthal said the magnitude of the event — the murder of the most powerful man in the world and one of the country’s most popular presidents — immediately led doubters to look for alternate explanations.
“The results of what (Oswald) did were so immense & I think that’s part of it, as well,” said Linenthal, who also works as a consultant for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. “The idea that a huge, transformative event like this couldn’t have been carried out by one nobbish little man — I think that carries weight with a lot of people.”
Official attempts to settle doubts about the assassination — beginning with the Warren Commission report in September 1964, which concluded that Oswald acted alone — have only fueled alternate versions of history.
Answers to many lingering questions may lie in classified CIA documents related to the assassination that are due to be released in 2017. For many, though, the circumstances of Kennedy’s death will likely remain shrouded in mystery.
“It’s certainly a vibrant part of American culture,” Linenthal said, “and I don’t think it will stop.”
Here is a look at some of the more enduring conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, according to Gallup and Wikipedia:
The Lyndon Johnson Theory
The theory: Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is the focus of what Gallup cites as one of the most widely believed conspiracy theories pertaining to Kennedy’s assassination. Johnson, it is thought, used his influence with both the FBI and the CIA to have Kennedy blackmailed, then killed.
It gained prominence because & Johnson’s involvement with the FBI, a perceived feud with the Kennedy family and a scandal involving financier Billie Sol Estes detailed in a book by Phillip F. Nelson were cited as motives for Johnson’s role in the assassination.
Has it been debunked? No one can say for sure, given the theory’s enduring plausibility in the minds of so many. An Associated Press poll taken in 2003 found that 20 percent of Americans thought Johnson had something to do with Kennedy’s death. However, other competing theories — most notably that Kennedy was murdered, in part, out of revenge for the Cuban Missile Crisis — have blunted its popularity over the years.
The KGB Theory
The theory: Humiliated by the conclusion of the Cuban Missile Crisis, officials at the main security agency of the Soviet Union “programmed” one of their agents, Lee Harvey Oswald, to kill Kennedy.
It gained prominence because & Oswald’s Russian wife, his extensive travel in the USSR and his purported contacts with Soviet diplomats all provide context for its legitimacy. Intriguing circumstantial evidence — including Oswald’s trip to the Russian embassy in Mexico City a few weeks before the shooting provides ample fodder for research into this theory.
Has it been debunked? Not completely. Although the House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 concluded that more than one gunman may have been involved, its findings also cleared the Soviets of any involvement. That conclusion has failed to satisfy many conspiracists, however.
The Mafia Theory
The theory: Facing deportation and seeking revenge on a president whose policies aimed to dismantle organized crime, mafia boss Carlos Marcello masterminded the assassination with help from Santo Trafficante and Johnny Roselli.
It gained prominence because compared to other theories, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Members of the mafia had worked with the CIA in an attempt to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro, according to documents declassified in 2007.
At the time, members of the mafia had the expertise to take out important people. And, compared to today’s measures, security around prominent elected officials was primitively lax.
Has it been debunked? “Complicated” is a better word.
With suspicions of CIA involvement — and JFK’s brother Bobby, as attorney general, leading the charge against organized crime — the mafia had plenty of incentive to direct its vengeance toward others besides JFK. They had the motive and the means, but we may never know for sure if they actually pulled the trigger.
The CIA Theory
The theory: The nation’s main intelligence gathering arm had a number of high-profile disagreements with the president, including one about the agency’s purported involvement in plots to assassinate foreign leaders, and another over Kennedy’s handling of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. This, the theory goes, spurred several “rogue” CIA agents to mastermind the killing of JFK.
It gained prominence because it ties many of the other conspiracy theories together — perhaps too neatly.
But whether it was Lyndon Johnson, the mafia or Federal Reserve, the CIA came to be seen as having played an important role.
Has it been debunked? Not even close. The CIA theory remains so popular, in fact, that the agency’s website includes a page dedicated to discrediting its involvement in the assassination.
Fifty years later, we’re still suspicious.
- Nation & World
July could be coolest in weather record books
With chances for soaking rains and unseasonably cool temperatures becoming frequent, a weather expert is increasingly convinced Oklahoma will end up with a historic July.
At mid-afternoon Tuesday, the National Weather Service forecast for Edmond called for the high Wednesday to be near 73 with a 90 percent chance of heavy rain, followed by the high Thursday near 78 with a 30 percent chance of showers.
Highs are expected to remain in the 80s into Monday.
More cameras monitoring Edmond motorists
The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.
Shootout of a sale
An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house
Oklahoma sales tax takes a holiday
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and ending at midnight Aug. 3, Oklahomans will be able to participate in a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax.
Yes, retailers may not charge tax, including state and local sales taxes on items that are tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday weekend. The sales of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempted from sales taxes.
Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint
The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.
A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings
On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.
Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.
June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs
Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
Former OSU line coach having impact on Texas staff
It was quite possibly the biggest coaching coup of the offseason and Oklahoma State was at the wrong end of it — former Cowboy offensive line coach Joe Wickline joining the staff for Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns.
“It’s always good when you go hire staff and you look at just getting the right people within your program. And, a lot of times, guys know a lot of Xs and Os, but it’s all just about developing a player,” said Strong, Tuesday during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days. “Joe and I, we’ve coached together at two different places. But just with him being within his conference and knowing the conference, he’s been a great asset.”
University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment
The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.
Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.
Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.
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