Over the years, the JFK conspiracy theorists, or “assassinologists,” have advanced theory after theory of malicious government conspirators (including Vice President Lyndon Johnson), careless Secret Service Agents (the “accidental” bullet to JFK’s head) and murderous Mafia kingpins (not to mention quasi-Mafioso Jimmy Hoffa.) Regardless of the conspiracy, there is one common theme: Lee Harvey Oswald was an innocent patsy, a sucker, and unwitting loser who ended up being framed for the assassination and then murdered himself to keep him from talking. But there are quite a few tenets to this theory that beg critical review. That is the subject of this brief piece.

When employees of the Texas Book Depository were rounded up in the minutes following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, all were present and accounted for except one, and that one was Lee Harvey Oswald. This drew immediate suspicion in Oswald’s direction, given that several witnesses had said that they saw or heard shots coming from the depository building. When the authorities caught up with Oswald, it was for a different reason, however, as his initial arrest was for gunning down Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit in the Oak Cliff section of the city (coincidentally, not far from the rooming house where Oswald lived.) According to the assassinologists, Oswald did not shoot Kennedy, and in most theories, did not shoot Officer Tippit. Rather, the innocent dupe had somehow, either wittingly or unwittingly, been convinced by the evil geniuses behind the conspiracy to park himself at the locations of both murders just at the time the murders had occurred. When arrested, Oswald, they tell us, was baffled as to why he was being picked on. “I’m just a patsy” he told reporters as he was led into one of his interrogations sessions. (Question to all you conspiracy experts: do patsies actually realize that they are patsies so soon after the event for which they are taking the fall?)

In the ensuing days before Oswald was himself murdered, we found out:
* Oswald owned a rifle
* Oswald never confessed
(We also observed that he tended to smirk quite a bit when in front of the cameras.)

The assassinologists claimed:
* The rifle was a cheap, worthless Italian piece of crap (a 7.65 Mannlicher-Carcano)
* Even if the rifle was good, Oswald was a lousy shot
* All political assassins confess because they are proud of what they had done

After Oswald was shot and killed by local night club owner Jack Ruby, we learned, courtesy of the conspiracy theorists, that Ruby had deep connections to organized crime, and was not the pathetic, grief-stricken wreck the establishment media and government had portrayed to the world.  Put two plus two together, they argued, and you get conspiracy. Lee Harvey Oswald, the poor soul, was set up to take the rap by an almost omnipotent collection of conspirators (including but not limited to organized crime, the CIA, FBI, the military-industrial complex, The Secret Service, right wing hate groups, the Dallas Police Department and Vice President Lyndon Johnson) and then killed by a mob associate before he could spill the beans. Make sense? Before you answer, consider the following:

* Why would the assassination conspirators decide to frame a guy who owned a worthless rifle? Wouldn’t they have equipped him with a deadlier weapon, a 30.06 perhaps? I mean, if you listen to the assassinologists, Oswald’s vintage WWII Mannlicher-Carcano couldn’t have hurt a fly at point blank range. Pretty odd weapon to supply to a guy who was to set up to be framed for committing the crime of the century by the most powerful group of conspirators since the Roman Senators killed Julius Caesar.

* And, why would the conspirators set up a phony assassin who, according to the conspiracy theorists, was a lousy shot? Wouldn’t they have picked out a crack marksman instead of a loser who couldn’t shoot straight, using a weapon that was virtually incapable of hitting any target?

* In order to pull off the assassination of the President of the United States and then the murder of the assassin, the mob, a principal part of the conspiracy in almost every theory, reaches out to Jack Ruby, a guy with “organized crime connections.” This is bizarre! If there really was a conspiracy involving organized crime, the last person in the world they would employ would be a guy with known connections--- to themselves.

* The people behind the assassination had to murder Oswald in order to shut him up, but allowed Jack Ruby, a virtual raving maniac, to hang around till January of 1967 (when he died of natural causes.)

* No, Oswald never confessed. But even this weighs against conspiracy. How was it that these almost omnipotent forces, which, as stated before, included the Mafia, CIA, FBI, the military, the Secret Service, Dallas Police, the Vice President (and, depending on what books you read, who knows who else) couldn’t manage to manufacture a fake confession? A forged note written on toilet paper perhaps? A deathbed confession whispered into the ear of an FBI agent/conspirator as Oswald took his last breath? It’s almost a certainty that if Oswald was indeed a patsy, the case against him would have been thoroughly constructed so as to leave absolutely no room at all for doubt. And it would have included a confession.

Put it all together, and the tapestry woven by the conspiracy theorists makes less sense than the official version: Lee Harvey Oswald, a delusional, psychotic sociopath, acting all by his lonesome, shot and killed the President of the United States for motives we can only speculate about. Too simple to be true, or too unlikely to be contrived? Methinks the latter.

Oswald defiant
Credit: Public Domain