No new Dallas sensations, then … not just yet.
Members of the International Society of Conspiracy Theorists must be gnashing their teeth in frustration this morning after the Trump administration released a large collection of hitherto secret documents relating to the assassination of President Kennedy, but withheld as many as were released, apparently at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. The further delay in giving out certain papers is pending a review … whatever that means. Who will be doing the reviewing, one might ask, and for what purpose? The FBI and the CIA, I suppose, probably for their own protective reasons.
No doubt the conspiracy industry smells a rat as big as an elephant. What exactly is the government hiding now? Why all the secrecy half a century after the event? Who is pulling the strings?
Well, these and other questions are all legitimate, and answers would be helpful if only to quell the wilder manifestations of speculation that will flow freely in the absence of answers.
My guess, though, is that the papers yet to appear, if they ever do, will reveal little that we do not already know or suspected.
I have no basis for saying so, except one, and in my opinion overwhelming reason: in fifty years since Dallas, nothing of significance has issued forth from any source, official, legal or otherwise, to suggest that the findings of the Warren Commission, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating Kennedy, are wide of the mark.
I do not dismiss the possibility of the various theories about a second gunman, or several gunmen. Nor do I discount the idea that one of, or perhaps even a combination of, the following might plausibly have been involved: Vice President Lyndon Johnson; the FBI; the CIA; the Cuban government (either the one in situ or one in exile) or the Mafia were behind the killing.
The key word here is ‘possible’. While many of the conspiracy theories qualify as possible, none has yet managed to stray into the realms of the probable.
As many reasons to doubt their plausibility, one above all stands out for me: absence of any kind of leak. How likely is it – especially given the individuals and organisations supposedly involved in a plot – that over the course of fifty years not a single witness has squealed, nor a single document emerged to corroborate, or even validate any of them? By witness I mean a sane and credible individual, not some nutcase in New Orleans seeking fifteen minutes of notoriety, and by document I mean a letter or cable with the merest hint of incrimination.
Many feel the way I do on this point, but even more do not. Recent polls of Americans found that a significant majority – sixty percent was the last one I saw – believe that Oswald did not act alone, and that some wider conspiracy was at work. Who or what was behind such a plot was not a question asked of the respondents. And since this collective belief may have a variety of suppositions behind it, there is no reason to make a critical judgement.
As Captain Louis famously said in Casablanca: “Round up the usual suspects”.
Well, for the crime in Dallas, all the usual suspects have been rounded up. All we are missing is that elusive but essential legal nicety: proof.