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November 20, 2013

House of Burgess: Down the JFK rabbit hole

Assassination remains mysterious half-century later.

Editor’s Note: November is the 35th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre (Nov. 18), the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Nov. 22) and the 35th anniversary of the assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone (Nov. 27.) This is the second in a series of three columns exploring each.

The Umbrella Man. The Badge Man. The Black Dog Man. The Babushka Lady. The Three Tramps. The Magic Bullet. The Wink. The investigation into the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas — which turns 50 on Friday — carries with it its own specialized nomenclature, as research possibilities remain ever-increasing. In his 2007 behemoth, “Reclaiming History,” Vincent Bugliosi estimated “close to 1,000 books have been published on the assassination.”

To accept the Warren Commission’s 1964 version, you must believe a lone shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, fired three shots at the passing motorcade from a rusty, 23-year-old Italian bolt-action rifle with a broken sight, the second of which hit the president once and Texas Gov. John Connally thrice before being found on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital, the bullet nearly pristine.

You must ignore Connally’s and other ear- and eyewitnesses’ contradictory testimony.

You must accept the final, fatal shot was not fired from the so-called Grassy Knoll in the front. Believe it if you can; it’s not easy.

“The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial,” wrote new President Lyndon Baynes Johnson’s assistant attorney general, Nicholas Katzenbach, in a Nov. 25, 1963 memo to special assistant, Bill Moyers.

The commission may have tried to achieve this, but the 1975 first-ever public television airing of Abraham Zapruder’s film, shows no simultaneous Connally/Kennedy reaction and the fatal head shot throwing JFK’s body violently back and to the left, not forward. The fallout led to the formation of the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations, which found a conspiracy likely.

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