By Cory Franklin
May 19, 2023
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now a candidate for president in 2024, recently asserted that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was behind the 1963 assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy. Controversial former Fox commentator Tucker Carlson and conservative columnist Mark Steyn have voiced similar opinions.
What’s the most charitable way to put this? To use the fashionable argot, these guys are promoting fake news.
The CIA, always a multifarious organization enmeshed in politics, has prompted many theories why it might want JFK dead. So it’s understandable that people might believe its involvement – but believing does not make it so. The key is that there is not a single shred of reliable evidence that the CIA was involved in the assassination. Never has been.
RFK Jr., in particular, completely misrepresents the facts of the various assassination investigations. To paraphrase the critic Mary McCarthy, every word RFK Jr. says about the JFK assassination is untrue including “and” and “the”.
Speaking on Fox News’s Hannity about the assassination, RFK Jr. told host Sean Hannity, “There’s millions of pages of documents — of CIA documents, of transcripts, of recorded conversations from the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, it’s hard to summarize the evidence.”
It’s hard because no one has ever produced verified documents linking Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA. It would not be a stretch to assert that such documents do not exist and have never existed. Extensive FBI wiretaps of the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City when Oswald visited showed no mention of a relationship between Oswald and the CIA.
RFK continued on Fox, “When Congress, 10 years later, investigated the crime with much more evidence than the Warren Commission had at its disposal, Congress found that, yeah, it was a plot. It was a conspiracy [and] there were multiple people involved.”
The 1970s congressional committee RFK Jr. refers to was the House Subcommittee on Assassinations (HSCA) and its members found “no evidence” of an Oswald/CIA relationship. In fact, contra RFK Jr. they did summarize their evidence, “The Agency’s (CIA) investigative efforts prior to the assassination regarding Oswald’s presence in Mexico City served to confirm the absence of a relationship with him.”
This was supported by, of all people, the head of the KGB during Oswald’s time in Russia. With every motivation to implicate US intelligence, the KGB agent was totally unimpressed with Oswald and reiterated, “It was clear Oswald was not an agent, couldn’t be an agent, for the CIA or FBI.”
None of this matters to RFK Jr., who doubled down again (tripled down?) with Hannity, “There are confessions of people who are directly involved in the plot, who were involved in the planning of the plot, who were peripherals to the plot, there’s a 60-year cover-up.”
RFK Jr. mischaracterizes this as well. The HSCA did conclude there was a conspiracy, although no mention of confessions or how it was carried out. This is frequently cited; not so widely reported is that the HSCA was prepared to support the “lone gunman” theory of the Warren Commission until one late piece of evidence emerged, a Dictabelt recording of a motorcycle cop in Dealey Plaza that day. Academic analysts heard a fourth shot (that everyone agrees hit nothing), meaning another gunman and a conspiracy. This was flimsy. Subsequent analysis by the National Academy of Sciences, Bell Labs, Princeton and the Dallas Police Department (which documented the Dictabelt was not where the analysts assumed) demonstrated that critical piece of evidence was mistaken, discrediting that conspiracy theory.
Here are ten relevant questions no CIA assassination theorist has ever answered plausibly in 60 years. Without concrete answers to these questions, how could there be an Oswald/CIA conspiracy? (Commentors – could you please answer these questions in your comments, just this once, in lieu of the inevitable snark and invective? Thanks.)
Which CIA agent authorized the assassination?
Which CIA agent recruited Oswald?
Did that recruiter help Oswald kill the president or was another agent involved (RFK Jr. alleges multiple people)?
Where is the tangible evidence – paper trail, money trail, phone calls, corroborating eyewitnesses of any contact between Oswald and any specific CIA agent (Did Oswald work for free, and if not, where did the money go)?
Why did Oswald’s family, friends and acquaintances never mention anyone who turned out to be a CIA agent?
Why would a self-admitted Marxist and supporter of Fidel Castro’s Cuba collaborate with the agency that attempted to overthrow Castro (Bay of Pigs) and also planned his assassination?
Why would the CIA collaborate with an itinerant, chronic ne’er do-well, who was intermittently surveilled by the rival FBI?
Why is there no physical evidence of how the CIA actually carried out the assassination?
Why did the CIA allow Oswald to be captured and interrogated for two days by the Dallas police?
Why didn’t Robert Kennedy (RFK Jr.’s father), the country’s top law enforcement officer – with the resources at his disposal of everyone from local police forces to the FBI – attempt to uncover a CIA plot to kill his brother, whom he idolized and was his best friend?
We’ll never know, right? Well, we can come as close to knowing as anyone can about any historical event. No crime has ever been subject to as many official high-level investigations – four prestigious government panels: the Warren Commission, the HSCA, the Church Committee (to investigate CIA abuses), and the Rockefeller Commission on CIA activities. These committees included two future presidents, a vice president, a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a Supreme Court chief justice, some of the country’s best senior lawyers and sharp junior lawyers looking to make their bones. All four panels failed to find any evidence of a tie between Oswald and the CIA, or any CIA involvement in the assassination.
Of course, the rejoinder is the CIA hid its role effectively.
The CIA? The folks who botched the Bay of Pigs, intelligence on 9/11 and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and most recently was deeply involved in the bogus letter about the Hunter Biden laptop? Is it even conceivable that this organization could hide all the assassination evidence and conceal a multilayered conspiracy involving so many people, none of whom is ever named by conspiracy theorists, with no one talking in 60 years and not having one investigation discover it?
Whom to believe? An RFK Jr. who offers zero evidence, or the unanimous conclusion of so many researchers who could have built bigger careers by producing a shred of proof implicating the CIA?
The living memory of historical events is ephemeral: people who lived through those events eventually die. The two most consequential days in 20th century American history were December 7, 1941, – Pearl Harbor, and November 22, 1963, – JFK’s assassination. Soon, everyone who lived through Pearl Harbor will be gone, and with the 60th anniversary of the assassination coming this November the number who remember where they were when JFK died is dwindling. When living memory disappears, even cockamamie bar talk will persuade -3some people that they now have the inside story.
Some say, what difference does it make at this point who killed JFK. Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr.’s revisionism is an unambiguous response to that question and as to why history matters. Because people who believe such fictions as those RFK Jr. propagates will, as the saying goes, believe six impossible things before breakfast.
About the author:
Cory Franklin, physician and writer is a frequent contributor to johnkassnews.com.
He was director of medical intensive care at Cook County Hospital in Chicago for more than 25 years. An editorial ng the pathologists who studied it intently but had no idea what body part it could be. This was before it was known as trolling.)
There is a lesson here. The next time someone tells you, with unmistakable conviction, that he believes in “the science,” gladly offer to discuss science with him over a sandwich. Give him a choice, chorizo or perhaps kosher salami. board contributor to the Chicago Tribune op-ed page, he writes freelance medical and non-medical articles. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times, New York Post, Guardian, Washington Post and has been excerpted in the New York Review of Books. Cory was also Harrison Ford’s technical adviser and one of the role models for the character Ford played in the 1993 movie, “The Fugitive.” His YouTube podcast “Rememberingthepassed” has received 900,000 hits to date. He published “Chicago Flashbulbs” in 2013, “Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Odd Cases” in 2015, and most recently coauthored, A Guide to Writing College Admission Essays: Practical Advice for Students and Parents in 2021.