C.J. Marshall: Significa: Oswald acted alone
I was only 6 years old when President Kennedy was shot down in Dallas. As a result, most of the older people who are still around will have better memories and be able to speak more eloquently about what occurred that day. So instead, what I'm going to talk about is something that has persisted to this day throughout the years in parallel with Kennedy's death.
I'll start by stating that - despite ALL the conspiracy theories that have been floating around for the past 50 years - I'm firmly convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone back in 1963; that there was no second gunman on the grassy knoll; and that all the speculation about anything else that MIGHT have happened remains just that - speculation.
On my desk is the book "The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy: Report." - commonly referred to as the Warren Report. It is an original copy - not a reprint. I obtained it from a man who was one of the many government agents who investigated Kennedy's assassination, and who was kind enough to provide me with some information of his point of view about the investigation.
The gentleman's name was Frank Kelley, and when I met him he was working as the assistant chief clerk of Northumberland County. Frank was a great guy, a "feet on the ground" fellow who was one of the most level-headed people it's been my privilege to know. Previous to working for Northumberland County, though, Frank was a CIA operative, and had been in Washington on November 22, 1963.
About 20 years ago, on the 30th anniversary of JFK's death, certain government documents about the assassination were de-classified and made available to the public. When I learned that Frank had been part of the investigation into the president's death, I asked if he would consent to an interview about the situation, and he agreed. I was a bit disappointed though, when he informed me he was certain the documents in question were going to reveal nothing new about the shooting.
Frank explained that the CIA had galvanized into action about 10 minutes after the shooting occurred, with he and other agents following all kinds of leads, looking into every possibility and angle concerning who may have been responsible for the shooting. The results produced by the CIA, as well as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were documented and eventually incorporated into the Warren Report.
Frank was adamant in his opinion that what was in the report was what had occurred that day in Dallas. When I asked him why then has the government classified some of those documents - some which remain classified to this day - Frank explained that it's simply part of the government's bureaucratic mindset. Some documents remain classified for a specific period of time, while some can even remain classified indefinitely, he said. But he insisted that all the classified documents contain exactly the same information that can be found in the Warren Report.
Having dealt with the frustrations of government bureaucracy myself occasionally over the years, I can see Frank's point. And, ours is not the only government that engages in such shenanigans. For example, the British government classified much of its investigative efforts in the Jack the Ripper slayings for decades, and when that information was finally made available to the public, it revealed nothing that wasn't already public knowledge.
As far as the conspiracy theorists were concerned, Frank said the reason they remain so popular is because they continue to make money off their publications and speaking engagements. And that too makes sense. After all, if you're investigating the assassination, and all you come up with "I've found nothing new to report," people aren't going to be very interested in what you have to say. But if you contend there was a second gunman that day - and the assassination was part of a giant conspiracy organized by left- or right-leaning forces (depending on your political point of view), well that makes things much more fascinating, doesn't it? If people like Geraldo Rivera show a copy of the Zapruder film and contend that it shows there's no way the shots could have been fired from behind, the implication generates a lot more interest as opposed to just showing the movie.
(Incidentally, if you'll recall, this is the same Geraldo Rivera, who a few years later, made a big hoopla when he opened up one of Al Capone's hidden vaults on public television, only to discover it was empty.)
OK, I admit that - doing my own investigations - some of the information contained in the Warren Commission report does falls short. When the commission was put together 50 years ago, some of the members served on it reluctantly, because they contended there was no way a complete report could be assembled about what had happened that day in Dallas. And they were right. But that's the way life is sometimes. Facts seldom fall neatly into place in such situations - in fact, I would be extremely suspicious if the report tied things up in a neat package, because that would definitely indicate unseen forces working behind the scenes.
Now I'm not saying there haven't been government conspiracies through the years that attempted to keep information from the public. I was around when Watergate became a household word, and well-remember that fiasco. However, it's always been my experience that the truth will out in most situations. For 50 years, many have been combing the records trying to find something to reveal that Oswald did not act alone in Dallas - that Kennedy's death was organized by any one of a number of shadowy sinister agencies. The pressure has been so great over the years that even Congressional hearings have been convened in which the Warren Report's findings have been challenged. But such things don't impress me. I'm familiar enough about such things to know that if enough people insisted President Kennedy was killed by a ham sandwich, members of Congress would be investigating the grassy knoll, looking for the bread and mustard.
Despite all 50 years of looking, contending, and investigating, despite all the theories and conspiracies that have been put forth, no smoking gun has ever been produced that conclusively disproves the Warren Report. The evidence might be contested, mind you, but that's not the same thing. People can cite all the publications they like, provide all the website links they want, but it all remains speculation. After all these years, no real solid evidence has been produced that anyone other than Oswald killed Kennedy, and after all these years I believe that's the way things are going to remain.