Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oswald Did It

Lee Oswald, Dallas Police Department Mug Shot, November 23, 1963.  Oswald was given a few serious smacks during the arrest.  At the time, he was a suspect in the shooting of a police officer, not JFK.  Police usually err on the side of unnecessary violence when arresting a cop killer.  However, in this case Oswald pulled a gun and tried to shoot the arresting officers, so they had a practical reason for clobbering him.  He wasn't charged with Kennedy's murder until the next day, occasioning this mug shot.

The answer to the most closely examined crime in history remains tantalizingly out of reach.  All the information necessary to answer the question is available, but its like a jigsaw puzzle with too many of some pieces, and not enough of others.  You can re-arrange the pieces to incompletely assemble several different pictures.  Its the lack of a clear-cut answer that makes it interesting.  Anyone can grab the pieces and have a go.  But that doesn't mean all the potential solutions are equally valid.  When you strip away the opinion, confusion, ass-covering and self-serving spin, you are left with a fairly complete set of physical evidence.  Unfortunately, much of this evidence is either not conclusive, open to interpretation or tainted in some way.  Nevertheless, in its totality, the physical evidence is consistent with the theory that Oswald did it, alone.  While the story painted by the evidence is incomplete, there is not a single bit of physical evidence incompatible with the Oswald did it theory.  Not a single thing.  In any case of less importance, it would be considered open-and-shut.

This is especially true of the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippet shortly after 1pm on November 22nd.  Shells from Oswald's pistol were found at the scene (the type of revolver used precludes ballistic match of slugs).  There is a chain of witnesses that give an almost complete series of sightings from the murder scene to the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested.  On-the-scene witnesses identified Oswald as the killer.  Oswald was in possession of the pistol when arrested, and tried to shoot the arresting officers.  The jacket he had at the murder scene, but was not wearing when arrested was found in a parking lot between the murder scene and the theater.

Oswald's rifle was missing from its usual storage place, and found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald worked.  A single whole bullet and several fragments recovered from the victims and the limousine ballistically matched Oswald's rifle.  Several people saw someone who looked like Oswald fire a rifle from the sixth floor of the Depository at the motorcade.  Most witnesses recalled three shots.  Three expended shell casings matching Oswald's rifle were found on the floor inside the sixth floor window.  Although many witnesses thought the shots came from the famous grassy knoll, nobody at the time saw anyone there with a gun.  Nobody, including people who would have been less than 30 feet from a grassy knoll shooter and people on the East side of Elm Street, who would have been looking directly at the knoll as Kennedy passed in front of them as the shots were fired.

As the official investigations unrolled, people rightly smelled a cover-up.  We now know that there was more than one.  First, the Dallas FBI were all over Oswald.  J. Edgar Hoover himself knew who Lee Oswald was. How could someone who had the attention of the FBI shoot the President?  If the FBI couldn't protect the President of the United States from a known threat, what were they good for?  These were questions Hoover preferred avoiding.   Second was the botched autopsy at Bethesda the evening of the 22nd.  The doctors failed to follow procedure and failed to nail down important details.  Even elementary points such as the path of the bullet that entered Kennedy's back escaped them.  Third was the showdown at Parkland.  Kennedy's body was evidence in a murder case.  Since murdering a President was not at that time a Federal crime, any charges would have to be laid under Texas law.  The Dallas Police therefore had jurisdiction.  There was a guns-drawn showdown over JFK's body between the Dallas Police and the Secret Service.  The Secret Service agents were 100% wrong in taking Kennedy's body back to Washington, but the Dallas Police didn't feel like a gun battle, so JFK went back to Washington immediately.  As mentioned, there was an about-to-be botched autopsy waiting.  Lastly, this was a crime that should never have happened.  The Secret Service should never have allowed an open car in Dallas.  Assassination attempts were not exactly rare.  Both FDR and Truman had escaped determined, public attacks.  FDR's was in an open car.  Due to the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Rights, Kennedy was a polarizing figure, especially in the South.  Because he wore a corset to cope with wartime back injuries, Kennedy was a sitting duck in a car.  Some people see all this and think conspiracy.  At least partly due to my experience in bureaucracy, I see typical bureaucratic error and ass-covering.

The real key to understanding the event is not to be found in the evidence, however.  The key is Oswald.  Kennedy had nothing to do with it.  He just drove past the wrong building on the wrong day. It was all about Lee.  It was about being somebody, doing something important.  It was about Marina, and his mother, the Paines, the Russians who rejected him, the Cubans who ignored him, the FBI who harassed him, Dallas and his pointless, stupid job.  It was about Lee being powerful for once.  He could reach out, as he always wanted to, and touch important people and important events.  It was, truly, all about Lee.