The National Catholic Review
The deadly consequences of J.F.K.’s attempts at reconciliation

The day President John F. Kennedy was murdered, a Divine Word seminarian walked up the hill to our family’s apartment in Rome to tell my wife Sally and me the terrible news. Seeking wisdom, I wrote Dorothy Day, who had stayed with us the previous spring on a pilgrimage to Rome to thank Pope John XXIII for “Pacem in Terris” (1963), his landmark encyclical on global peace and human rights.

Dorothy wrote back saying I should pay attention to Kennedy’s life by reading a profile on him she recommended. She said that in a context of continuing violence, she would pray to John F. Kennedy (her emphasis). And she encouraged reflection on St. Paul’s words: “For those who love God, all things work together unto good” (Rm 8:28).

In November 1963 I was in my first full year in Rome lobbying bishops at the Second Vatican Council to condemn total war and support conscientious objection. Inspired by Pope John’s plea for mutual trust between cold war rivals, I had written in The Catholic Worker newspaper that Kennedy should have resolved the Cuban missile crisis by a (politically unthinkable) exchange of missile bases with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier.

At that time I had no idea Kennedy had taken that leap secretly with Khrushchev while also pledging publicly never to invade Cuba, which infuriated his Joint Chiefs of Staff. By his turn to peace with our Communist enemies, proclaimed on June 10, 1963, in his commencement address at American University, Kennedy risked his life, according to a contingent prophecy by Thomas Merton. In January 1962 Merton wrote to a friend and expressed “little confidence” in Kennedy’s ability to escape the nuclear crisis, since Kennedy did not have the necessary depth, humanity, self-forgetfulness and compassion. “Maybe Kennedy will break through into that some day by miracle,” Merton wrote. “But such people are before long marked out for assassination.”

Internal Opposition

Three decades later, I finally took Dorothy Day seriously by researching Kennedy’s life and death. For 12 years I studied national security documents on his crises during the cold war, especially those declassified by Congress through the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. I traced and interviewed witnesses to his assassination. I began to see the redemptive light of Dallas that Dorothy sensed in November 1963 through her love of God.

Seeking light in a depth of systemic evil that Merton called “the Unspeakable,” which he described in Raids on the Unspeakable (1966), leads one to a Gospel story. Kennedy was learning to see through the eyes of his Communist adversaries. At great personal risk, he was turning from war to peacemaking. I was astounded by the grace-filled story of a president of the United States choosing peace—at the cost of his life.

The darkness of Kennedy’s assassination extends back to the Cuban missile crisis at a meeting on Oct. 19, 1962, when Kennedy refused the pressures of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to bomb and invade Cuba. When he left the room, a hidden tape recorder kept running, capturing the chiefs’ disdain for the president and their determination to escalate the conflict to total nuclear war. They wanted to win the cold war.

Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, chief of staff of the Air Force, carried out that intention. In the midst of the crisis, he ordered nuclear-armed bombers beyond their usual turnaround points toward the Soviet Union and test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile—steps designed to provoke the Soviets to react, which would trigger an all-out nuclear attack by superior U.S. forces. Fortunately the Soviets did not take the bait.

The darkness of Dallas goes back even further to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 by Cuban exiles trained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. In retrospect, Kennedy realized the C.I.A. had deceived him by claiming the imminence of a popular Cuban revolt against Fidel Castro and that the exile brigade could “go guerrilla.” They had tried to trap the president into authorizing an invasion by U.S. combat forces to save the day. Kennedy, however, had the courage to take the loss. As he later told friends, “They couldn’t believe that a new president like me wouldn’t panic and try to save his own face. Well, they had me figured all wrong.” Kennedy was furious at the C.I.A. over the incident. The New York Times later reported that Kennedy told one of the highest officials in his administration that he wanted “to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

In fact, the president had fired C.I.A. Director Allen Dulles and his deputies, Richard M. Bissell Jr., and Gen. Charles P. Cabell. Mr. Dulles was arguably the most powerful man involved in the cold war. He returned to power as a member of the Warren Commission, steering it to the lone-assassin conclusion it issued in its report in 1964 about the president’s murder.

Building a Relationship

In the missile crisis, Kennedy turned toward peace. At the height of the terrifying conflict his own anti-Castro policies helped precipitate, he sought a way out. Kennedy chose a route his generals thought unforgiveable. He not only rejected their pressures to attack Cuba and the Soviet Union. Even worse, the president reached out to the enemy for help. That could be considered treason. Khrushchev saw it as a sign of hope.

Robert F. Kennedy, the attorney general, had met secretly on Oct. 27, 1962, with the Soviet ambassador, Anatoly F. Dobrynin, in Washington, warning that the U.S. president was losing control to his generals and needed the Soviets’ help. When Khrushchev received Kennedy’s plea in Moscow, he turned to his foreign minister, Andrei A. Gromyko, and said, “We have to let Kennedy know that we want to help him.” Khrushchev hesitated at the thought of helping his enemy, but repeated: “Yes, help. We now have a common cause, to save the world from those pushing us toward war.”

How can we understand that moment? The two most heavily armed leaders in history, on the verge of total nuclear war, suddenly joined hands against those on both sides pressuring them to attack. Khrushchev ordered the immediate withdrawal of his missiles in return for Kennedy’s public pledge never to invade Cuba and his secret promise to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey—as he would in fact do. The two cold war enemies had turned; each leader now had more in common with his opponent than with his own generals.

Neither John F. Kennedy nor Nikita Khrushchev was a saint. Each was deeply complicit in policies that brought humankind to the brink of nuclear war. But when they encountered what Thomas Merton identified as “the void of the Unspeakable,” they turned to each other for help. In doing so, they turned humanity toward the hope of a peaceful planet.

The genesis of the Kennedy-Khrushchev turnaround during the missile crisis was their secret correspondence, which began over a year earlier. After their failed meeting in Vienna in June 1961, Khrushchev wrote a groundbreaking letter to the president, dated Sept. 29, 1961. To convey the heart of his message, the Communist leader used a biblical analogy: Khrushchev compared his and Kennedy’s situation with Noah’s Ark. In the letter he wrote: in Noah’s Ark “both the ‘clean’ and the ‘unclean’ found sanctuary. But regardless of who lists himself with the ‘clean’ and who is considered to be ‘unclean,’ they are all equally interested in one thing, and that is that the Ark should successfully continue its cruise. And we have no other alternative: either we should live in peace and cooperation so that the Ark maintains its buoyancy, or else it sinks.”

Kennedy replied on Oct. 16: “I like very much your analogy of Noah’s Ark, with both the ‘clean’ and the ‘unclean’ determined that it stay afloat.”

Thus, through their secret correspondence, the two men struggled to achieve a better understanding of each other and their differences. The Cuban missile crisis a year later was proof they had not resolved their conflicts. Yet it was thanks especially to the secret letters that each knew the other as a human being he could respect. They also knew they had once agreed warmly that the world was an Ark. They had to keep the Ark afloat. And they did, at its most perilous moment.

Seeking Peace Together

Once Kennedy and Khrushchev turned together in the missile crisis, they began conspiring for peace. The breakthrough was Kennedy’s address in June 1963 at American University. By introducing his vision of peace as a response to the Russians’ suffering in World War II, Kennedy bridged the gap with the enemy. Khrushchev later told the American diplomat W. Averell Harriman that it was “the greatest speech by any American president since Roosevelt.”

Kennedy’s announcement at the university of his unilateral cessation of atmospheric nuclear tests and his expressed hope for treaty negotiations in Moscow opened the door. Within six weeks, he and Khrushchev signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It was a confirming sign of their joint decision to end the cold war.

Another sign was Nikita Khrushchev’s counsel to Fidel Castro that he should begin to work with John F. Kennedy. Castro had been furious with Khrushchev for withdrawing his missiles at the 11th hour of the crisis without consulting his Cuban ally, in return for only a promise from a capitalist. Khrushchev, however, wrote a peaceful, reconciling letter to Castro on Jan. 31, 1963, that corresponded to his Noah’s Ark letter to Kennedy. Castro accepted his invitation to come to the Soviet Union.

Castro made that visit to Khrushchev from May to June 1963. The two leaders traveled together around the Soviet Union. Castro said later that Khrushchev gave him a tutorial on their joint need to trust Kennedy. Day after day, Khrushchev read aloud to Castro his correspondence with Kennedy, emphasizing the hope for peace they now had by working with the U.S. president.

Khrushchev was practicing what Pope John, whom the Communist leader had come to love, recommended in “Pacem in Terris,” where he wrote: “True and lasting peace among nations cannot consist in the possession of an equal supply of armaments but only in mutual trust.” The pope had sent Khrushchev a papal medal and a pre-publication copy in Russian of the peace encyclical. Khrushchev was overwhelmed.

In September 1963, Kennedy took another giant step toward mutual trust as the new basis for peace. He initiated a secret dialogue with Fidel Castro, through the U.S./United Nations diplomat William Attwood, to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations. Castro responded with enthusiasm and began to make secret arrangements for a meeting with Attwood. Kennedy jump-started the process by using a back channel to communicate with Castro. His unofficial representative, the French reporter Jean Daniel, was meeting for the second time with Castro on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, when they heard the news of the president’s death. Castro stood up, looked at Daniel, and said, “Everything is changed. Everything is going to change.” The U.S.-Cuban dialogue died in Dallas.

Shortly before his death, Kennedy also moved to end U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. National Security Action Memorandum No. 263, issued on Oct. 11, 1963, says that at a meeting six days earlier Kennedy approved a program to train Vietnamese, so that the United States would be able to “withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963,” and “by the end of 1965…the bulk of U.S. personnel.” President Lyndon B. Johnson quietly ignored these plans. The Vietnam War reignited in Dallas.

Rendezvous With Death

Kennedy’s courageous turn from global war to a strategy of peace provides the why of his assassination. Given the cold war dogmas of his government and his own turn toward peace, Kennedy’s murder followed as a matter of course. It was a transparent act of state, which leaves us in the end with a transforming hope.

Hope? How does one discover hope from the murder of a president who was turning from war to peace?

By confronting the Unspeakable in our history, we can see a redemptive light in the darkness. Pressured relentlessly to wage war, Kennedy ordered his government after the missile crisis to pursue a policy of “general and complete disarmament” (see N.S.A. Memorandum No. 239, May 6, 1963). The president’s courageous turnaround and his willingness to die for peace is what spoiled the C.I.A.’s and Joint Chiefs’ determination to win the cold war in the only way they knew. This conversion and sacrifice saved us all from a nuclear wasteland. We still have a chance. But are we willing to turn toward peace, accepting the cost?

Through almost constant illness, John F. Kennedy had been listening to the music of death for years. His favorite poem was “I Have a Rendezvous With Death,” by Alan Seeger. Jacqueline Kennedy taught the poem to their 5-year-old daughter, Caroline. On a beautiful day in October 1963, during a meeting with national security advisers in the Rose Garden, Caroline gained her father’s attention. She looked into his eyes and recited the poem, which ends:

But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

On a midnight flight from Vienna after his meeting with Khrushchev two years earlier, Kennedy had written on a slip of paper a favorite saying of his from Abraham Lincoln:

I know there is a God—and I see a storm coming;
If he has a place for me, I believe that I am ready.

The storm he feared was nuclear war. If God had a place for him—a rendezvous with death—that might help avert that storm on humanity, he believed that he was ready. He would not fail that rendezvous.

James W. Douglass is author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (republished by Touchstone, 2010, and Orbis, 2013) and several books on nonviolence. He and his wife, Shelley, are cofounders of Mary’s House Catholic Worker in Birmingham, Ala.

Show Comments (23)

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Vincent Gaitley | 11/19/2013 - 1:51pm

Mr. Douglass' article is utter nonsense from first to last. Oswald was a disturbed communist, a ticking political madman. Dulles didn't "steer" the Warren Commission, the evidence did. Those hawkish military types who so badly wanted to win the cold war, did; and never once bombed the Soviets. Kennedy was no peacenik, and neither was Khrushchev. The Cuban missile crisis was probably the safest week of the entire cold war era; why? Because both parties were in constant contact with each other. There was less to it than meets the eye, only the media and the Kennedy propagandists turned it into a showdown. And the silliest continuing myth about JFK is that Vietnam would not have happened. Well it did, and was already underway. LBJ, another darling liberal Democrat followed through. What the left can't abide is that these men were Democrats and so-called liberals thus the mythologizing and conspiracy talk continues to rationalize their behaviors.

Des Farrell | 11/19/2013 - 8:09pm

With respect, have a think about your sentence here and ask yourself if it actually makes sense:
The Cuban missile crisis was probably the safest week of the entire cold war era; why? Because both parties were in constant contact with each other.
I would respectfully suggest that it doesn't make too much sense at all, unfortunately.

Vincent Gaitley | 11/20/2013 - 7:50pm

The late Dr. James E Dougherty, SALT talk negotiator, political scientist, professor, Democrat, and author of "Contending Theories of International Relations" would disagree. He promoted the idea challenging the propaganda about that week. Rethink your assumptions.

Tim O'Leary | 11/9/2013 - 12:40pm

As one who grew up with two photos on the living room wall - one of Jack and Jackie Kennedy and the other of the Pope - it was very sad to read about JFK's pathological personal life that completely undermined the hagiography that Douglass seems bent on reviving and expanding. But, this essay omits so much about the reality of both JFK and Nikita "we will bury you" Khrushchev and posits a conspiracy completely unhinged from the history and the facts after 50 years of obsessive investigation. It is a disservice to history to write these ideological books.

First of all, Khrushchev must take the blame for bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war, although JFK might have assisted, with the half-measures in the Bay of Pigs and his naïveté and inexperience at their first meeting in Vienna.

Second, JFK was a hawk on Vietnam and against the Communists. He shared his family's long-standing anti-Communism (recall they were McCarthy supporters and his father saw Nazi Germany as better than the Soviets). In his inaugural speech, he said: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." (sounding just like George W. Bush a few years back). He was following his worldview by entering the Vietnam conflict. If he had survived the assassination, it is likely he would have been more aggressive than Johnson. His key appointees were in the LBJ administration. It is pure (self-serving) speculation to think he wanted to retreat in 1963.

Third, Douglass believes in a massive conspiracy of all the people in the US Government he doesn't like (CIA, FBI, Generals - a la Oliver Stone) and we haven't had a single credible whistle-blower in 50 years. This cabal is even more unlikely than ones related to the Mafia (Ruby silenced Oswald) or Castro (known sworn enemy, Bay of Pigs, etc.), but the factual evidence remains strong that a Cuban communist sympathizer acted alone in this tragedy.

Hugh O'Neill | 11/19/2013 - 12:20am

Alas, O'Leary, you have swallowed the 50-year CIA disinformation campaign hook, line and stinker. James Douglass is no grubbing journalist out to make a fast buck. He is a serious historian who has gone right back to primary sources - unlike most of the books purporting to tell the "truth" about the Kennedys. Try forgetting everything you think you know about JFK and go instead and read some of his writing, his speeches, his private letters. There you will find the real man. Now lets add in some context: the Military Industrial Complex was already a serious power broker by the 1930s when Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler was recruited by prominent businessmen in the "Business Plot" to mount a coup against FDR. Butler (who had written "War is a Racket") infiltrated the plotters and got names which he then reported to the government, only to be subsequently ridiculed in the press.
Think how much more powerful these parties had become after WWII. in 1947, Truman founded the CIA who would operate under the guise of "Plausible Deniability" which Allen Dulles interpreted as license to evade all attempts at political oversight. With his brother iin State, the unelected Dulles brothers were able to shape their own Foreign Policy and run rings round the hapless Eisenhower. The CIA was a loose cannon and has always been out of presidential control, though it serves the MIC to good effect.
JFK only realised after the Bay of Pigs that the CIA were completely amoral and held him in contempt: they were then and now the greatest (and most secretive) enemy of Peace, Truth and Justice. They specialised in assassinations, coups and disinformation. When finally JFK opposed the military, the intelligence and the political advisers - who were all pushing him to escalate tensions which would have led to the deaths of countless millions of innocent deaths - he secured an honourable and diplomatic solution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. That alone is good reason to honour JFK whose life was not in vain, but whose death was an Unspeakable crime.
There is no mystery whatsoever who killed JFK and why. James Douglass has made the picture crystal clear. It des not matter whether JFK was a sinner or a saint, he had the courage and the intelligence to save us all from the darkness of holocaust that would have put an end to Civilsation.
O'Leary. Please stop reading and repeating propaganda. Start using your own brain and try to understand the events of your own life before you too head for the hills.

Mercedes Michalski | 12/2/2013 - 5:05pm

You are right on, Mr. O'Neill. If only everyone would take the time, read the book, and be able to make a reasoned response such as you have done. Good thinking.

Brian Pinter | 11/19/2013 - 8:56am

To Hugh O'Neill:
One minor correction to your remarks here. Mr. Douglass, by his own admission, is not a professional historian. I refer you to the accompanying podcast where he says these precise words.

Stanley Kopacz | 11/9/2013 - 11:51am

Say what you want about Kennedy's private life or whether he was a warmonger or peacemaker, if something like Bush had been president, I wouldn't need a flashlight because I'd glow in the dark.

Hugh O'Neill | 11/19/2013 - 12:23am

Well spoken, Sir.

annmarie pettenon | 11/9/2013 - 1:11am

Interesting artcle inlight of the tension that was happening at that particle time in history and being a child of parents that idolized Kennedy wish there was some kind of conversion myth here, but it doesn't make sense to me in light of his policies on Vietnam. Would read the book but would read along with it a copy of the Pentagon papers.

Hugh O'Neill | 11/19/2013 - 12:31am

You need to read Douglass' book to get the real picture. Regarding the Pentagon Papers commissioned by MacNamara in 1967, listen to Prouty: the Pentagon papers are indicative of the coup because there is no mention whatsever of the fact that LBK succeeded JFK on 22nd Nov 1963! They state that, as agreed at Hawaii, there would be a military escalation in Vietnam i.e. JFK's NSAM 263 (withdrawing troops) had never existed for these people, but LBJ's NSAM 273 escalating. NB, Mac Bundy drew the rough draft for NSAM 273 the night before the assassination, remarkably anticipating the new policies of LBJ.
In this case, your Mom and Dad probably got it right. Trust them, not the CIA.

Christopher Rushlau | 11/8/2013 - 3:53pm

The article and the comments bracket our current situation: to the left, the truth, and to the right, the excuses for willful denial. In contrast to the palace coup described above, we now in effect have a police state, as of 2001 "when the world changed forever", and the racist, genocidal, xenophobic, but most of all paranoid party line has become God, in the sense of the idol carved from the block of wood which is publicly genuflected to, and the remains of which woodshop project are burned to cook the idolator's lunch on. A paranoic is someone who wants to have his cake and to eat it, too: he wants to see objectively, as if from outer space, beyond all possibility of error, who and what he is threatened by but yet he wants this all to be a matter of his own fickle opinion. As Garrison Keilor's mock commercial would say, visit "The Fear-monger's Shop" for all your hateful fetish needs. Only now, it is your civic duty you pretend to be doing, not just your hobby.
The more you "put your faith in Princes" (which the Old Testament tells you to never do), the more you run the risk described by Aquinas when he says that "when the Prince no longer pursues the common good, he is no longer the Prince". You've then got your faith on a has-been, a never-can-be. That is, you turn from being a citizen of the city of God, whose compassion and loyalty, via the instrumentalities of civil law, make the city go, into a lonely idolator (viz, "Reaching Out" by Henry Nouwen) whose only hope is oblivion, but who ends up in the spotlight of justice, because God is faithful.
This is sad to relate, but even sadder to forget.

Hugh O'Neill | 11/19/2013 - 12:34am

Wow! I haven't a clue what you are talking about...but its pretty impressively incomprehensible. Can you put your ideas in a form that even dullards like me might understand?

PAUL LOATMAN JR | 11/8/2013 - 3:27pm

A WWII conscientous objector, well-known historian, and former doctoral school program teacher of mine who was no fan of Kennedy always contended that JFK's 1963 American University speech was the greatest oration ever delivered by an American President in the 20th century. I have never seen anything to contradict that evaluation.

William Atkinson | 11/8/2013 - 3:08pm

Years later when I was in Vietnam I attended a religious service where the priest prayed for soul of Kennedy who brought such devastation to their land, little did they know of the evil in his heart, especially when dealing with the likes of Marlin Monroe. He makes Bill Clinton look like a saint Many are called few are chosen. Kennedy was like a rock, Beautiful on one side, ugly and wormy on the other. I often wondered how all the Cuban Americans living in Cuba through the ages remember the Kennedy years, I know in Eastern Russia he is not portrayed of as a saint.

Stanley Kopacz | 11/9/2013 - 12:00pm

Well, that rock read, specifically "The Guns of August". I'm glad he was president at that time and didn't listen to lunatic generals. I remember walking home from high school during the Cuban Missile Crisis, trying to look downward so my retinas wouldn't be burned by the flash.

Brian Pinter | 11/8/2013 - 2:53pm

I very much appreciate Mr. Douglass' fine reflection. It is wise and insightful. I must disagree with his assertion that President Kennedy was assassinated as a consequence of his peace policies. The simple passage of time has ruled out any conspiracy behind Kennedy's death. In passing decade after passing decade, no evidence has come out that anyone other than Oswald was involved. If anything, Kennedy's murder shows us how fragile, random, violent, and unforgiving life can be. I think Americans find it difficult to accept the fact that someone of JFK's position in life was brought down by someone like Oswald. To invest Kennedy's death with meaning, we look to elaborate plots and conspiratorialism. This is an understandable emotional reaction, but ought not to cloud the objective reality of Kennedy's death - while tragic, it was the act of a non-compos person who got his hands on a gun; or to use a popular 1960's term, it was absurd. Even more tragic is that Kennedy's vision for peace was never realized.

Hugh O'Neill | 11/19/2013 - 12:49am

Sorry, Brian. Your innocence is almost charming - for a child - but most unbecoming for a grown man. Read the book. Understand the evil that is at the heart of American Foreign Policy that is conducted in secret by the CIA. Read some of Chalmers Johnson's "Blowwback" Trilogy for another voice. The MIC that Ike waned about has only one goal and that is war and violence, no matter who wins or loses, no matter how many millions of innocents die. Their only interest is profit and this has been the case since about 1898. Even Teddy Roosevelt warned about the real hidden power behind the throne. To have someone like Kennedy who had the audacity to oppose this madness was red rag to a bull and his assassination was guaranteed. Either that, or its just a bloody coincidence that those other moral giants who opposed war in Vietnam (MLK and RFK) were likewise assassinated by lone nutters.
Have we not learned by now that our governments lie to us? Why has the US moved to censor the just completed Chilcot Inquiry into the official lies which preceded the invasion of Iraq?
Or try this: in the howling anti-Comminist times of the 1960s, how did Oswald manage to re-enter the US having very publicly defected to Russia as a self confessed traitor. Compare his treatment to that meted out to the likes of Edward Snowden. Oswald had previously worked as a radar operator at Atsugi in Japan a base for CIA U2 flights. Hello! Why was this CIA link not put before the Warren Commission?Might there have been a reason for Allen Dulles to be the manager of said Commission? I am sorry to have to wake you from your trusting slumber, since you were enjoying a pleasant dream. Maybe you should return your head to the sand...

Brian Pinter | 11/19/2013 - 8:54am

To Hugh O'Neill:
Thank you for your comments. One minor observation - your theories suffer from a depressing lack of evidence. You might refer to Norman Mailer and Edward Jay Epstein, noted conspiratorialists more versed in the details than you and me, who later recanted because there was NO EVIDENCE that anyone other than Oswald was involved in this tragedy. Epstein put it best - in decade after decade, nothing has come out that would suggest that anyone else was involved. In closing, thank you for you remarks, especially about my "innocence," "trusting slumber" and returning my "head to the sand." Those are among the best insults I've had in a long time! Great stuff!

Marie Rehbein | 11/19/2013 - 4:45pm

One piece of evidence is Lee Harvey Oswald claiming he didn't do it. If he did do it for the ideological reasons attributed to him, shouldn't he have used his arrest as an opportunity to state his beliefs and claim the deed?

Brian Pinter | 11/19/2013 - 9:05pm

Ms. Rehbein:
Oswald knew that he made a major mistake when he shot Officer Tippet (which he did, by the way, in front of several witnesses who positively identified Oswald.) He was smart enough to know that one who shoots a police officer is just a punk, not a revolutionary. After that it was all denial. Recall also that Oswald tried to kill Ret. General Edwin Walker, something Oswald admitted to his wife. The man has the blood of the president and a police officer on his hands. History has not exonerated him, and can not.

Marie Rehbein | 11/20/2013 - 8:50am

Not that this refutes anything, but people who saw someone in the book depository building assumed it was a Secret Service officer. It should have been a Secret Service officer. Perhaps, the Secret Service has learned a few things since then, but it's hard to believe that they were so lax.

William Atkinson | 11/8/2013 - 3:27pm

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep, and bear arms, shall not be infringed. The people, sane or insane, crazy or weird, normal or abnormal, anti-political, citizens or not, have rights, So Be it. So what is the definition of all these terms, security, free-state, regulated militia, keep and bear, arms (Bazookas, Missiles, Drones, Bombs, fully automatic nuclear, laser) and people (community or individuals of any age group) and all those commas. The Supremes of the land are probably right just leave it alone and let the people decide on when and where to keep,,,,, and when and where to bear,,,,, and when and where to be a militia,,,,, and just what are arms,,,,,.