By Douglas Brode
The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For the past half-century, discussions of Lee Harvey Oswald’s involvement in the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy have broken down into two camps. Those who subscribe to findings in the Warren Report are convinced Oswald was the sole shooter. The opposing position rejects what the commission concluded, insisting Oswald operated as part of some vast conspiracy.
Conspiracy theorists break down into splinter groups. Some argue that Kennedy was killed by members of the far right who despised his initiatives on civil rights. Others believe the perpetrators were some on the far left who hated the president for abandoning anti-Castro Cubans who had attempted to retake their homeland during the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion.
Some conspiracy theorists believe the assassination was planned by a coalition of extremists on either side of the political spectrum, entering into an unlikely coalition owing to an ancient ideology: Any enemy of my enemy is my friend — at least temporarily.
The one common thread is that Oswald was their assassin of choice, possibly backed up by others on a grassy knoll across the way from Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
There is, though, a third possibility. One that has not been discussed much, if at all, over the last 50 years. What if Oswald did not kill Kennedy, either as part of a conspiracy or on his own?
At first glance, that sounds impossible. No matter how much of what happened that day in Dallas remains cloudy, there are hard, cold facts. Oswald was indeed in the book depository that day. He absolutely brought his rifle into the building. There’s no question that he fired three shots out a sixth-floor window, then ran away to hide.
Obviously, then, he couldn’t have been innocent.
Obviously — but not necessarily so.
If we open our eyes, and with them our minds, there’s always a third possibility. (More likely, there are many more!) The contrarian sets aside the “obvious” to seek some other conceivable answer. Not that this will necessarily be the correct one. But, once suggested, it allows each of us to take a broad, rather than narrow, view of any event.
So! What if Lee Harvey Oswald fired those three shots not at the president but at those men on the grassy knoll who were even then making ready to assassinate JFK? Most historical sources suggest that Oswald had, at times, been employed as a CIA operative. His apparent defection to the Soviet Union, supposedly a result of his rejection of American democracy, may have been a ruse that allowed Oswald to spy on the Russians for the good of his own beloved country.
True, Oswald’s likely CIA connection might have caused him to, as their pawn, agree to kill Kennedy. Their motivation, in the minds of those convinced the CIA was involved, had to do with the notion that JFK allowed “The Company” to take the blame for Bay of Pigs.
According to this theory, he had to go because they (the CIA) refused to be his patsy.
But what if, when the CIA approached Oswald (if they actually did) to do this job for them, he bridled? Rebelled. Went rogue. What if the very thought horrified him, causing Oswald to turn against the Company?
One possible reaction would be to turn them down. Another (this consistent with Oswald’s personality, his sense from childhood that he had been born to achieve something great) could have been to accept the job, then turn the tables on those who hired him.
Surely, they would have a back-up team in case he missed. Though achieving sharpshooter status in the U.S. Marines, Oswald had failed before. Only months earlier, operating on his own, he tried and failed to kill a former military man, now opposing integration of the South.
That shooting, as historians insist, was factual. If one thing’s certain about Oswald, it’s that he supported the civil rights movement. With this in mind, why would he want to kill Kennedy, who — JFK’s many faults aside — was also dedicated to achieving full equality for all people?
Studied from this angle, it’s more likely Lee Oswald would have wanted to kill the people who planned to kill Kennedy. That he fired three shots out that window in an attempt to do so. But because taking a human life — any life — seemed reprehensible to him, Oswald did what he had done earlier when he fired at Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker. He missed.
At the moment, those on the grassy knoll killed JFK. Knowing that, innocent or not, he would be blamed, Oswald panicked and ran. Perhaps realizing that those powers who wanted Kennedy dead would now necessarily need to eliminate him — only, though, after setting him up to take the fall for what, ironically, he had unsuccessfully tried to prevent.
True or not, such a possibility allows us a fuller understanding of what this doomed man may have meant when, after apprehension, he screamed into the TV cameras:
“I’m just a patsy!”
By Douglas Brode
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