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Jfk Assassination Essay, Research Paper
AP United States History- Period 6
Mr.Gelb- Room 217
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and only one man was arrested in the hours following the assassination. Was Lee Harvey Oswald the lone assassin, or a just a decoy as he claimed? Oswald was set up from the day the plot was formed as he embodied the perfect scapegoat in an elaborate plan involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mafia, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, the Dallas Police, Lyndon Johnson, the Military, and the Texas Oilmen–they were involved in a cover up. These facets working together, masterminded and attempted to get away with the murder of President Kennedy. The organizations and persons each held their own influential power which they used to manipulate the truth, and deceive the nation.
John F. Kennedy was the son of a wealthy business man from Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy. John’s father was a determined man, and he wanted one at least of his four sons to enter into politics. Joe had both the power and money to influence his ambitions unto his four sons (Menninger8). John’s father put a lot of pressure on his children–he told his son, “We want winners. We don’t want losers here.” Joe Kennedy eventually decided that his oldest son Joe Jr. would run for the presidency. Though Joe Jr. was unfortunately killed in a dangerous bombing mission during World War II, his father s hopes and dreams never faltered (Menninger10-13). After Joe’s loss of his oldest son, he told John, that he should enter the life of politics. John Kennedy was to have remarked, My father wanted his oldest son in politics. Wanted isn’t the right word. He demanded it.” (Menninger12). In 1946 John Kennedy ran for congressman from the eleventh district in Boston, and won. He was then reelected for a second term (Menninger12).
After John began to learn more about politics, he decided to run for United States Senate. The whole Kennedy family went to work to help insure a victory for John. John Kennedy’s urbane manner led him to his victory (Pietruza29). Soon after this election he met Jacqueline Bouvier and married her.
Kennedy had established himself as a prominent democrat and his popularity had soared among voters. As Kennedy climbed the political ranks he hoped for a Vice-President nomination. The opportunity passed him when Estes Kefauver was chosen instead. John was disappointed, but made a speech praising Kefauver in which the public was so touched by JFK’s graciousness that he was reelected in 1958 to serve another term as a Senator. In 1960 John Kennedy did it; he was selected to be the democratic candidate for the presidency. He persevered over Lyndon B. Johnson, who Kennedy later picked to be his running mate (Pietruza37).
The election for Kennedy was not going to be easy, for he was running against Richard Nixon who served as President Eisenhower’s Vice President (Menninger14). John would also be the first Catholic president, a charecteristic which worried voters that he might be easily influenced by the Pope (Pietruza42). Along with John’s diligent campaign work, his father was contributing financially as well. Joe Kennedy wealth was estimated to be about 250 million dollars in real estate, the stock market and rumors of bootlegging profits (Marrs177). Joe Kennedy had numerous Mafia connections, which were used to help win votes for John under the condition he would not attack organized crime once in office. With the aid of the Mafia and his father’s money, John Kennedy won the closest election ever, defeating Nixon by point one percent of the votes (Pietruza36).
In January of 1963 just weeks before Kennedy was inaugurated, Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba (Russo20). Fidel Castro, a communist dictator, took control over Cuba in 1959 and immediately established ties with the Soviet Union. Americans became unnerved by the possibility of a Soviet military base merely 90 miles off the coast of Florida (Russo23). On March 17, 1960 a top secret committee dealing in covert operations was formed to take action against the Castro’s reign (Marrs138). The CIA synchronized with Mafia funds, set up training camps for Cuban exiles to help overthrow Castro (Marrs139). With Castro eliminated, there would no longer be a Soviet threat in America’s sphere of influence and the Mafia would be able to take back the casinos and other money-making deals they had lost when Castro took power. Months later, after large sums of money had been spent on the training the exiles, and Kennedy still had not yet taken office, the to-be President was briefed on the Cuban operation (Marrs139).
When the operation was only months away, Kennedy began having second thoughts about the invasion (Marrs140). He publicly stated he did not intend to use any US forces to aid in the overthrow of Castro. On April 17, 1961, the trained Cuban exiles landed on the beaches and Kennedy decided not to provide the air support the CIA had promised the exiles (Marrs141). The CIA, the Mafia, and the Cuban exiles all felt they had been betrayed by Kennedy. Robert Davis, a CIA station chief described the feeling of the people who felt betrayed by Kennedy. He said, ” if someone had gotten him close to Kennedy, he’d of killed him. Oh, they hated him!” (Marrs141). After the Bay of Pigs incident, the CIA wanted to attempt to overthrow Castro again. Kennedy was outraged with by the guile of the Agency and threatened the CIA, vowing to ” smash the CIA into a thousand pieces.” (JFK). The CIA was now clearly on opposing sides with Kennedy. They wished to seek revenge because Kennedy had betrayed them, and soon the Agency could lose all of their highly feared power (Marrs142).
Only a year and a half after the Bay of Pigs disaster, American attention was focused on Cuba again (Menninger18). The Soviet’s Premier, Nikita Khrushnev shipped intermediate-range nuclear missiles to Castro, to which Kennedy responded by sending 63 ships to form a blockade (Menninger18). There may have been a nuclear stand-off, as the world was on the brink of war, but Kennedy made a deal promising never to invade Cuba again if Khrushchev removed all of the nuclear weapons.
An agreement was reached and Kennedy was praised by the media for handling the crisis well (Menninger18). The CIA again, felt provoked by the way in which Kennedy handled the Cuban missile crisis. When Kennedy discovered the CIA had ignored his direct order to stop all plots against Castro, he sent FBI and local law enforcement agencies to break up the exile training camps (JFK). The Agency was then further infuriated with JFK’s policies so much so that they felt they had to stop him at all costs.
When Kennedy was elected, he made more enemies than friends. John soon after taking office, appointed his brother Robert to be Attorney General (Pietruza17). As time passed, the Kennedy administration took a strong stand against organized crime and worked harder to stop the Mafia than any other Presidency had before (Pietruza16). The Mob was agitated with the administration, because they had helped to elect Kennedy become President. He had turned on them. The Mafia already held a great deal of resentment for Kennedy due to the Bay of Pigs affair, and his policy against organized crime only increased the tension. The Mafia allegedly ” stole the Illinois vote for JFK in 1960, thus delivering the White House. The Mafia supplied Kennedy with mistresses such as Judith Campbell Exner during the first year of his White House tenure.” Despite such aid from the Mafia, Kennedy nonetheless went after their organizations (Russo214).
Robert Kennedy deporting Carlos Marcello Guatemala was the straw that broke the camel s back. The Mafia was through with the Kennedy s (Marrs165). They wanted revenge. They had their motives, they had the professional assassins, and they had the CIA as an ally (Russo240).
John Kennedy had more to worry about than the Mafia and the CIA. J. Edgar Hoover was not a man to be reckoned with and he happened to carry a great deal of contempt for John and his brother. Kennedy’s politics supposedly had Hoover being replaced when John was be reelected in 1964 (Marrs239). Hoover would have been a difficult man to get rid of, even from the standpoint of JFK. He amassed such a large amount of damaging evidence on John, that even trying to hurt him would be committing political suicide.(Marrs222). Hoover was a man of immense power, and could easily manipulate evidence and harass witnesses without being second guessed (Marrs251). Ironically enough, Hoover had no policy against organized crime.
Hoover acted as if there was no such thing as the Mafia even when there was so much evidence to the contrary. Hoover didn t want to tackle organized crime. He preferred his agents spend their time on more quick, easy cases he wanted results, predicable results which produced statistics Hoover thrived on (Marrs217).
Hoover turned the other way to Mafia activity and may have given the mob bosses immunity for their aid in the assassination of President Kennedy. It is not likely though that Hoover planned or initiated the assassination of JFK, however he may have looked the other way when he heard of such a plot. He knew that it would only benefit him–having JFK out of office (Marrs240).
As well as possible involvement in the assassination, the Bureau definitely manipulated the investigation. (Marrs238) The FBI lost Beverly Oliver’s assassination film, which an agent had taken from her. The Bureau also took the assassination bullet from police which was also mysteriously disappeared. The FBI in addition, was blatantly disregarded many important leads (Marrs238). The day following the assassination, Hoover, without knowing all the facts, came to the conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin (Lifton98). It was not until some years after the assassination that Oswald was suspected of being an informant for the FBI. Though never proven, many things would logically fit in place if Oswald worked with the Bureau. Had the FBI done their job properly, the Dallas Police would have been given a file on Oswald, but that never occurred(Marrs232). The FBI had numerous files on Oswald for security and informant reasons but when agents were questioned on the files, they denied their very existence (Marrs228). The most damaging fact relating to the FBI’s possible involvement, is that on November 17, 1963 just five days before the assassination, a wire was sent warning against a possible assassination in Dallas (Marrs228). Hoover, after the assassination told everyone that they disregarded the received wire, to make sure that there wasn t anything that could “embarrass the Bureau.” Hoover wanted the evidence of possible prior knowledge destroyed (Marrs229). The Federal Bureau of Investigations with all probability, was one of the main conspirators in the assassination, and cover up of the murder in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy’s protection in Dallas was to be handled by the Secret Service, his private security, and the Dallas Police (Menninger8). In the week prior to the assassination, Kennedy’s motorcade route was shown in the local papers, giving potential assassins time to prepare. The route chosen forced the motorcade to incur a number of slow turns, making a quick escape difficult (Menninger8). The limousine that Kennedy was sitting in had a bubbletop which was ordered to be removed by the Secret Service. The President s seat was also raised, making him an easier target for assassins (Menninger8). The night before the assassination, the Secret Service agents assigned to Kennedy were drinking, which is strictly forbidden while on duty (Pietruza9). The owner of the bar where this occurred was later shot and killed with Oswald being the proposed assassin. As the motorcade moved on, it was slowed down by a man who appeared to be suffering from an epileptic seizure (Menninger10). The unidentified man was taken away in an ambulance but never admitted to the hospital. Many theorists now believe that it was staged as an act to distract the law enforcement in Dallas (Marrs240).
Dallas Police Chief Curry had asked Secret Service Agent Lawson, if they could place four police motorcycles on each side of the Kennedy’s limousine for increased protection. Lawson denied the request, and evidently reduced the number of police motorcyclist in half; two on each side. Lawson also ordered the police riders to stay on the back fender of the limo a pointless order. The motorcycles were supposed to form a shield for the President from potential gunmen but the reasoning was apparently one of poor assessment (Marrs244).
The Secret Service moreover made a number of additional fatal mistakes in Dallas. One main mistake was to allow spectators to watch from open windows nearby. The Secret Service was severely undermanned; only fourteen percent of the men in the Secret Service were brought to help protect Kennedy in Dallas (Marrs242). The most obvious mistake made came when the first shot was fired and Kennedy hit. The agent driving the Kennedy’s limousine brought the car to nearly a complete stop, turned around, and watched the President until he saw the fatal head wound (Marrs245). The driver, William Greer later testified to the Warren Commission, that when he had heard the first shot, he thought it was a motorcycle backfire. He further professed that when he heard second shot he turned around and saw Governor Connelly slumping down to his left, he accelerated the car. Furthermore, he claimed that in the commotion he never even glanced at the President. Contradictions in Greer s testimony are seen in the films, and he appears to be looking at Kennedy until the final shot–then he accelerated (Marrs244).
The Secret Service obviously made too many mistakes in Dallas to be coincidental of each other. They are one of the smaller agencies in the government, therefore it is not likely that they initiated the plot that killed Kennedy. It is however possible that they were working for someone else. One of their roles in the assassination may have been to react sluggishly, to insure a fatal shot (Marrs250-251). The role of the Secret Service did not end with the shots fired. A number of men who claimed to be Secret Service agents confronted witnesses, taking the film from their cameras, explaining it was for security reasons (Pietruza32). All of the twenty-seven agents assigned to protect Kennedy in Dallas denied ever making such confrontations with the crowd (Marrs250).
“Investigation by the Secret Service of a possible assassination conspiracy was terminated prematurely when President Johnson ordered that the FBI assume primary investigation responsibility.” (Marrs250). Lyndon Johnson, then President, essentially gave the responsibility of the investigation to Hoover his long time friend. Johnson had a grudge against John Kennedy for stealing the democratic candidacy from him (Marrs294), and the two men disagreed with each other on nearly every issue, so it was a great surprise when had Kennedy asked Johnson to run on his ticket as vice president: Kennedy needed Johnson’s southern votes to help him win the election (Marrs294). Johnson had many wealthy friends in the oil business and those oil friends were making illegal payoffs to him for his lobbying aid. (Marrs293) Kennedy gained yet another enemy in the Texas oil men when he formed a plan to reduce the oil depletion allowance (Marrs299). The Texas oil men were enraged because they would lose millions of dollars. The oil men may have contributed money to help finance the assassination but otherwise not instrumental in the planning of such (Marrs307).
Johnson in addition, had various Mafia connections where he received payoffs; in return, he would not support anti-crime legislation (Marrs292). The Mafia preferred Johnson to be president because of Kennedy’s war against the Mob.
Johnson stood for everything JFK despised. It was rumored that he was most likely going to be replaced during JFK’s next campaign for the Presidency anyway (Marrs295). Johnson may have decided to act to secure his place in the White House, and with Kennedy out of the way, he began to escalate America’s involvement in Vietnam. Johnson s escalation policy had gained the support of military and the CIA, who benefited greatly from being involved in Vietnam (Marrs308).
The CIA already held a grudge against Kennedy when the Agency realized that they had the military’s support in an assassination, they were infuriated. Military spending was being reduced by Kennedy, but they knew that if Johnson were in power, the military spending would have to be increased to aid war efforts (Marrs305-312). It is possible that the military helped plan and execute the assassination, as they would have only benefited with Johnson in power.
Johnson’s actions directly following the assassination further incriminated him. The actions he took seemed to appear as if something was hiding from the public. In the hours following the assassination, the limousine Kennedy was shot in was cleaned and refurbished by direct order from the new President. The interior of the car and the windshield were important pieces of evidence which may have been able to disprove the lone assassin theory (Marrs297). Johnson furthermore ordered that all files pertaining to the assassination be locked in the National Archives until 2039 (Marrs297). In 2039, Johnson and everyone else that was in some away involved in the assassination would be dead. He secured the files as protection for himself and the other conspirators involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Maybe only in 2039 will the actual truth be revealed.
These motives and examples are additional proof that there was an intricate web of peoples and organizations wishing to rid the world of President Kennedy. What happened in Texas that day was not a single man s act, it was a well-deliberated, well-executed demonstration of the power syndicated and domestic crime has in American. Lee Harvey Oswald has been made a household name as he took the fall for the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy just as planned
1. JFK: The Day the Nation Cried Video recording
New York: VIEW Inc. 1990
2. Lifton, David S. Best Evidence
New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. 1980
3. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot the Killed Kennedy.
New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1989.
4. Menninger, Bonar. Mortal Erros: The Shot That Killed JFK.
New York: St Martin s Press, 1992
5. Pietruza, David. Mysterious Deaths: John F. Kennedy.
San Diego: Lucent Books, 1997
6. Russo, Gus. Live By the Sword.
Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1998
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