The John Kennedy
Fitzgerald Kennedy, destined to be
the first and to date
Catholic President of the United States, was born in Brookline,
Massachusetts, at 3 p.m. May 29, 1917.
His father Joseph P.
Kennedy, Sr. was a controversial millionaire (known for unsavory
business practices) and political figure, who after being appointed
American Ambassador to Great Britain by President Roosevelt in 1938
promptly became a proponent of appeasement. During the Second World War
he argued voraciously against American aid being given to the British,
before finally imploding his political career with an infamous
statement to the Boston Globe “Democracy is finished in England. It may
Jack’s mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, was the
eldest child of a prominent Boston family who after marrying Joseph,
October 7, 1914, gave birth to what became known as the Kennedy clan,
nine children fated for lives of controversy, tragedy and greatness.
it was the first born, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., who was to be groomed
America’s highest political office, a position which due to his gaffes
the senior Kennedy could never attain. Unfortunately Joseph, Jr. died
while taking part in a secret mission during World War Two and the
family turned to the second eldest sibling, Jack.
violet Jack rose to the occasion, a war hero in his own right he
entered the political arena with gusto, his background, rugged good
looks and family connections insuring success. First as a congressman
then as a senator Kennedy climbed the ladder.
1953, Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and then on January 20,
1961, with his wife at his side and Lyndon Baines Johnson as his Vice
President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President
of the United States of America. His term in office was to be
tragically short, however, when on November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m.
Central Standard Time he was shot in Dallas, Texas, ostensibly
by a clerk at the Texas School Book Depository named Lee Harvey Oswald.
Thirty minutes later the political leader of the most powerful nation
on Earth was pronounce dead and the controversy began.
That Presidents make enemies is a given and JFK was no exception:
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was launched April 17, 1961,
what followed was a fiasco of monumental proportions.
a legacy of the Eisenhower administration, entailed the training and
arming of 1500 Cuban expatriates by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The hope was that after landing in Cuba they would form a nucleus
around which the Cuban people would rally and overthrow the communist
regime of Fidel Castro.
Unfortunately a combination of factors would eventually lead to failure:
Intelligence, aware of the impending incursion, imprisoned or killed a
number of native counter-insurgents thus
nullifying any help they might have given the expatriates.
Against the CIA's advice Kennedy
changed the landing site from close to the Escambray Mountains, where
in the event of a military reversal guerrilla warfare would have been
to the swamps surrounding
the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos).
almost total lack of
American naval and air support (Kennedy
wanted to give the impression that the
invasion had been planned and was being carried out solely by the
the final nail in the coffin making
failure inevitable and
after some initial success, surrounded by heavily armed Cuban troops
and running low on ammunition, the exile ground troops of Brigade 2506
Losses of a 114 dead expatriates and thousands of dead and missing
Cuban regulars/militia grim testimony to the battle's ferocity.
It was almost two years
before over 1100 imprisoned survivors were finally exchanged for 53
million dollars worth of goods, food and medicine. The veterans
addressed, following their return,
by a chastened American President at a "welcome back" ceremony the
Orange Bowl, Palm Beach, Florida.
On October 16, 1962, Kennedy was shown high altitude
photographs of a Russian ballistic missile site under construction in
Cuba, because of its proximity to the American mainland the threat was
obvious. The president was seemingly in a no win situation his options
limited, attack and face possible nuclear retaliation by the Soviet
Union or live with a Sword of Damocles aimed at the nation’s heart.
Kennedy chose a third option, a naval blockade of the island nation.
The Russians blinked, negotiation followed and a resolution was
reached. The Soviet Union promised to remove their missiles from Cuba,
and the United States, after promising to never again participate in an
invasion (of Cuba),
quietly removed their missiles from Turkey.
Kennedy laid the
foundations for what would eventually become full scale American
involvement in Vietnam and assisted in the overthrow of South
Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem.
It was a direct jab at both communism and its major sponsor the
Soviet Union, when Kennedy while on a visit to West Berlin, alluded to
the Berlin Wall in his famous “I am a Berliner” speech (“Ich bin ein
Berliner”) with the statement “Freedom has many difficulties and
democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put up a wall to
keep our people in.”
Civil rights and an
end to the inequalities that were a result of state-sanctioned racial
discrimination were a prime concern of the Kennedy administration. In
the early 1960s, segregation, especially in the south, was a fact of
encompassing almost all public places and in spite of a Supreme Court
ruling many public schools were ignoring new laws demanding racial
integration. Resistance to change by many southern whites was rampant
up to and including the highest levels of state government. (Alabama
Governor George Wallace was forced to step aside by federal marshals
after attempting to block the enrollment of two black students at the
University of Alabama.) In an effort to deal with the chaotic
disharmony, created by racial issues, and heal a divided nation,
proposed legislation to outlaw segregation in public places and insure
equal opportunity for all, legislation which, after his death, would
become known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Powerful men or
women and their agendas, social, religious, economic and political
shape world events, enemies are a natural by-product. The machinations
of Kennedy’s public life, both foreign and domestic, produced a
long list of those that wished him harm; the question is how many had
both the motivation and wherewithal to orchestrate his assassination?
(the President’s Commission on the Assassination of
President Kennedy) was established by order of Lyndon Baines Johnson on
November 22, 1963. The information gathered included thousands of
exhibits along with the testimony of 552 witnesses and was published
an 888 page report followed by volumes of supporting documents. It’s
conclusion, three bullets were fired, two struck the
and the gunman Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
For his part
Oswald claimed he was an innocent patsy and while in the process of
being transferred to the Dallas County Jail was himself murdered by
Jack Ruby a Nightclub owner with links to the Mafia and other elements
of organized crime.
Already suffering from lung cancer Ruby
died on January 3, 1967, of a pulmonary embolism. In a declaration
prior to his death he declared that he alone was responsible for
After 15 years of widespread criticism, plus public,
media and government pressure the House of Representatives established
a committee to re-evaluate the evidence. Formally known as the United
States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations
sought to finally lay to rest the questions of who was involved, how
The HSCA eventually concluded that:
Oswald killed Kennedy firing three shots two of which hit the
President the last being decisive.
A fourth shot was fired from the area known as the grassy knoll but
failed to hit its intended target.
The assassination was part of a conspiracy.
Neither the governments of Cuba or the Soviet Union were involved.
Anti-Castro groups as a whole were not involved but individual members
may have been.
Organized crime as a group was not involved but individual members may
government agencies such as the FBI, the CIA or the Secret
Service were not involved in a deliberately subversive way,
in both job performance and the protection afforded the President were
obvious and unacceptable. It did not rule out the possibility of
individual involvement within these organisations.
Many conspiracy theorists are still not convinced and offer the
humiliated by Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crises, used Oswald
a Soviet resident for several years to even the score
possibly with KGB operatives in support.
Though possible it’s not very probable for a number of reasons:
are that the Soviet leader actually liked Kennedy and considered
dealing with him to be infinitely more preferable than a more hard line
successor such as Johnson.
Kennedy had given Khrushchev an out
during the Cuban Missile Crises by agreeing to remove American missiles
from Turkey thereby allowing the Soviet leader to save face.
extremely unstable (he attempted suicide a few days after arriving in
Russia) and was also, according to recently released KGB dossiers, a
second rate marksman.
Proof of any involvement by the Soviet Union
in the murder of an American President would be considered an Act of
War and might easily have triggered a nuclear response.
vagrants were questioned by police at a train depot shortly after the
assassination and according to records were identified as three
drifters named Harold Doyle, John Gedney and Gus Abrams. Based on what
is admittedly shaky evidence (mainly provided by Lois Gibson a police
artist) some believe that two of these “three tramps” were none other
than Watergate burglars Frank Sturgis and Everette Howard Hunt, others
identified as possibilities were Charles Harrelson (father of Woody
Harrelson the actor) and Chauncey Holt.
Harrelson, who did
assassinate a U.S. District Judge with a high powered rifle, did make a
claim to being Kennedy’s killer, a claim he afterwards recanted. It was
later proved that he was in a public restaurant in a different city at
time of the murder.
claimed he was a double
agent for the CIA and the Mafia in Dallas to provide fake Secret
Service identification to persons unknown. According to
witnesses a great many persons claimed to be members of the
Service that day
Sturgis implicated in the Watergate break-in and involved in the
Bay of Pigs invasion, was accused by Marita Lorenz an agent for both
the CIA and FBI of being along with Oswald and others a member of an
organization called Group 40, whose raison d’etre was allegedly nothing
less than the murder of both Castro and Kennedy.
Howard Hunt was a CIA agent involved with both the Bay of Pigs and
Watergate (for which he spent time in jail) and in 1961 a leaked CIA
memorandum implicated both him and Sturgis in JFK’s murder. Years later
Hunt struck back with a deathbed confession both taped and written,
alleging government involvement in the assassination at the highest
levels up to and including Lyndon B. Johnson.
Johnson was Vice President during the Kennedy administration, but it
a role of little consequence and only modest influence; real power was
held tight to the vest by JFK and his brother Robert (“Bobbie”) the
Attorney General. This all changed when within two hours of the
assassination Johnson became President.
The smoking gun
for those who would believe Johnson a prime conspirator comes from a
2002 interview between author Robert Gaylon Ross and LBJ’s alleged
Mistress Madeleine Duncan Brown.
In the interview
that Johnson, upon emerging from a meeting the evening before Kennedy’s
murder, a meeting purportedly comprised of powerful politicians and
millionaire businessmen as well as CIA, FBI and Mafia kingpins, took
the arm and told her “After tomorrow those goddam Kennedys will never
embarrass me again. That’s no threat, that’s a promise.”
the 1950s Jimmy Hoffa was head of the Teamsters Union and heavily
involved with the Mafia. As part of the US government’s war
organized crime John Kennedy, then a junior senator, served on the
Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management
brother Robert as chief counsel. The brothers charged the teamster
boss with corruption and misappropriation of pension funds and although
convicted Hoffa became their mortal enemy.
becoming President, John, with Robert as Attorney General, renewed his
attacks on Hoffa, again charging him with misappropriation. A jury
trial resulted in acquittal but was overturned, and in 1964, after
Kennedy’s assassination, a second trial found Hoffa guilty this time of
misappropration and jury tampering.
Hoffa was finally
imprisoned in 1967 only
to be released with a full pardon in 1971 courtesy of Richard Nixon,
the President having allegedly received campaign funds from teamsters
on Hoffa’s release.
in 1975 and was declared legally dead in 1983. His
body has never been found.
Edgar Hoover was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for
almost 50 years (1925-1972), his longevity and the power his position
afforded, placed him on a level with and often intimidated the
presidents nominally his superiors who came and went with the fickle
dictates of politics.
For whatever his
reasons, Hoover, prior
to the Kennedy’s short term in power rarely acknowledged the Mafia, the
FBI seemingly adopting a hands off policy to what should have been
their mortal enemies (some have argued that Mafia kingpins
blackmailing Hoover over his sexual orientation, others that their was
an uneasy truce between the two organisations). The Kennedy’s war on
organized crime upset the applecart so to speak and added the Director
to their growing list of enemies.
In an effort to
insure that no
bureaucrat will ever again wield such power over elected officials, the
tenure of present day FBI directors is limited by law to a single term
of 10 years.
Robert Kennedy first
assassination when the phone rang at his Virginia home and the voice
of J. Edgar Hoover informed him bluntly and purportedly with relish
“The president has been shot.”
In the uncertain
immediately following JFK’s death, Bobbie used his waning power as
Attorney General to try and get a grip on the situation. As federal
marshals assumed responsibility for his and his families personal
security (the more traditional security providers, FBI, Treasury
Department and Secret Service were no longer trusted), distraught but
determined, the brother of a slain president manned the
putting together a snapshot of what had happened.
conclusion, a shadowy
group drawn from the Mafia along with CIA operatives and militant Cuban
refugees originally gathered together to kill Castro had turned rogue.
His brother’s assassination was a revenge killing motivated by the Bay
of Pigs fiasco. From that moment his primary goal was to find and bring
to justice his brothers killers and to do that he needed the full power
of the presidency.
about 12:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, June 5, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy
candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination was wounded by 24
year old Palestinian Sirhan Bishara Sirhan  in the kitchen pantry of
the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. He died the following day in the
emergency room of LA’s The Good Samaritan Hospital.
posibility of a second gunman has never been ruled out. In his 1983
memoir "Coroner," Dr.Thomas Noguchi, Los Angeles County Chief
Medical Officer/Coroner at Robert Kennedy's autopsy, pointed out that
he never officially ruled that Sirhan fired the fatal shot.
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