President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza, Texas in 1963. He was driving in an open-topped limousine when a high-velocity rifle bullet hit him from behind. The head of the president exploded and the limousine is spattered with blood. In the front seat, Texas Governor John Connally is injured. For Kennedy, many Americans sense that events were spinning out of control. A suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested and showed before the press. He was asked if he killed the president Oswald replied that he had not been charged with that.
In truth, nobody had said that to him. However as Oswald was being transferred to jail from a man stepped out from the crowd and shot him dead. The whole world saw what happened and yet could not quite believe it. Oswald’s killer was Jack Ruby, the owner of a Dallas strip club, and a man allegedly had connections to organised crime. The plan that Oswald killed Kennedy then Ruby killed Oswald and that was all there was to it seemed strange. As the historian Robert Goldberg states that the very first poll about the assassination was done that same weekend.
That poll showed that two thirds of Americans already believed in a conspiracy against John Kennedy. A majority of Americans still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. The idea that a lone assassin could kill the president of the United States was too much to bear. The Kennedy conspiracy case has always been strong however seems to have gained importance as the event became more distant. In 1966, 36% of the respondents in a Gallup poll thought that Oswald acted alone. The percent was 11% in both the 1976 and 1983 Gallup polls and 13% in a 1988 CBS poll.
JFK Conspiracy Case: A Critical Analysis Before the release of the Warren Report in September 1964, the history of JFK’s killing was being debated by the media, in particular the print media. Many researchers seem to have a fixation with how the Kennedy assassination is reported in the media; whole books have been written on the subject (such as Lane, 1966; Zelizer, 1992). Despite the fact that several questions were raised about the commission’s actions, doubts as to the level of involvement of its distinguished members or concerns about possible links between Lee Harvey Oswald and agencies of the U. S. government, the big majority of majority news reports were consistent with to a story initially distributed by the Associated Press and United Press International.
That story, created within an hour of the assassination, parts of which would remain intact in the official government account, claimed that three shots were fired at the presidential convoy, all three coming from the Texas School Book Depository building to the right and behind the president and all three fired by a single killer named Lee Harvey Oswald. The alleged killer was caught one hour and twenty minutes later in the Texas Theater.
Nevertheless, the version given in early press releases, stating that the first shot hit Kennedy, the second hit Governor John Connally, and the third hit Kennedy again, would be changed in the version offered by the Warren Commission in September of the following year. Forced to account for one bullet’s totally missing the motorcade and for the time limits imposed on Oswald’s supposed firing by the evidence, the commission revised the initial details and concluded that one bullet passed through the bodies of both Kennedy and Connally.
This would come to be known as the magic bullet. In the seventies, the critical literature started to look at the political nuance of a possible conspiracy that ultimately led to a new investigation. That investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), underlined the scientific side of the assassination and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had in fact fired and killed Kennedy. Besides, the HSCA concluded, mainly on account of the acoustics evidence that a gunman on the grassy knoll fired at Kennedy.
The HSCA dealt with many of the issues raised by the critics in the sixties. Since then, the literature has taken on an alarming tone that is one that rejects any piece of evidence contrary to findings of conspiracy. If the examination of X-rays and photos show evidence of a single head- shot from the rear, clearly, they must be fakes. If the cuts on Kennedy’s body are consistent with a single-gunman, clearly, the body must have been altered (Lifton, 1980). If the neutron activation analysis shows the single-bullet theory to be correct, well, the evidence has been tampered with.
Moreover, if one does not like the conclusions of a professional panel, clearly, they must have links to the government. This development is exactly opposite to the legitimate process of theory-building and testing. In the conflict between evidence and theories, theories have to be rejected. It’s true that evidence is often weak and susceptible multiple explanations, although to argue that evidence is false is to challenge the possibility that any theory might turn out to be true. To disagree in such a style is to cause the failure of the whole experimental structure of assassinology.
Howsoever weak, evidence could at least disprove theories; now the evidence can’t even do that (Ford, 26). So, the critics are doing two things. They are rejecting many pieces of evidence. This rejection then forces them to spread a horrible conspiracy and plot. The House Select Committee on Assassinations performed many tests that answered or questioned many of the above allegations. Of course, it is in fact very difficult to find references to these important studies in the critical literature.