About This Website
The assassination of President Kennedy is a fascinating and complex whodunnit. It is a crime that remains unsolved, at least in the sense that none of the many proposed solutions is entirely free from reasonable objections.
Despite being perhaps the most famous political assassination of all time, its treatment at the hands of journalists and scholars is a disgrace: it has been consistently misrepresented by the former, and largely ignored by the latter. Although commercial publishers have always shown an interest, they tend to prefer sensationalism over sober analysis. Consequently, much of the published work on the subject:
- is poorly argued;
- deals with marginal issues;
- and is inadequately referenced.
The articles on this website are an attempt to deal with the central questions in a relatively scholarly manner. Particular effort has been made to include links wherever possible to the vast number of primary sources that are now available online.
JFK Assassination Evidence Online
Thanks to the work of the people behind the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, the History Matters website and the Assassination Archives and Research Center website, almost all of the unclassified primary evidence in the JFK assassination is now available to anyone with an internet connection. This should help to raise the general level of online discussion, as well as providing a barrier to the type of uninformed and misleading works in print that have infested the subject for decades.
This website also includes a selection of official documents, complete with introductions. All of these documents have been available online for some time, mostly as PNG images of scans. Because images are by default invisible to search engines, many of these online versions have been difficult for researchers to track down. The documents are presented here in valid HTML, accessible both to search engines and human visitors.
One More JFK Assassination Website
There may well be hundreds of websites that deal with the JFK assassination in one form or another. Why go to the trouble and expense of creating one more?
After all, the main questions were settled long ago. Enough is known about Lee Oswald’s career and the pivotal event that preceded the assassination, Oswald’s impersonation in Mexico City, to understand the frantic activity in Washington that culminated in the establishment of the Warren Commission.
Much of the original case against Oswald had collapsed by about 1967, after the publication of the earliest critical books. It is now taken seriously by few people other than newspaper and television pundits, for many of whom, sadly, Oswald’s guilt is like a religious dogma. These days, watching someone trying to plug all the holes in the single–bullet theory is like watching a creationist trying to explain away the fossil record.
This website does not claim to contain any earth–shattering revelations about the assassination. Almost all of the evidence and arguments presented here have already been made public elsewhere, and will be familiar to specialists.
Nevertheless, this website is perhaps the first to put forward a concise account of the JFK assassination, supported by evidence, in a form that is accessible to those who genuinely want to find out the story behind the most infamous public murder of a president, insofar as that story is known.
The JFK Assassination and Professional Historians
The media’s weak treatment of the JFK assassination over the years has been partly a consequence of the assassination’s neglect by career–minded professional historians, most of whom treat the matter as though it were an unfortunate accident, no more worth discussing than if Kennedy had died in a car crash or been struck by lightning.
The reason for that neglect is obvious. Modern history does not function within an ideological vacuum; there are certain criticisms that can be made of earlier or foreign forms of authority that cannot easily be made of a historian’s own, current, nation–state institutions. The Kennedy assassination is one subject that cannot be covered adequately without criticising the performance of certain governmental and media institutions.
Academic Historians and the Media
It is good to know that critical coverage of the assassination is becoming more acceptable within academic circles. Professional historians such as Gerald McKnight, David Wrone, and John Newman have produced valuable scholarly work. Criticisms of the media coverage have been produced by, among others, Ross Ralston and Barbie Zelizer. All of these sources are detailed in the Further Reading section.
Marginal Issues in the JFK Assassination
As it says at the top of each page, the main part of this website offers an introduction to the JFK assassination. The subject is a bottomless pit; the medical evidence in particular is so inconclusive and contradictory that a satisfactory account is hardly possible. Many of the issues that preoccupy researchers, or that are part of the official case against Oswald, have been dealt with briefly or ignored altogether. For example:
- The murder of Officer J.D. Tippit a few minutes after 1pm on 22 November 1963.
- The three tramps, one of whom looked suspiciously like the Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, photographed in Dealey Plaza at around 2pm on 22 November.
- The attempted shooting of General Edwin Walker in April 1963.
- The authenticity of the photographs of Oswald in the back yard of 214 West Neely Street, holding a rifle in one hand and Stalinist and Trotskyist literature in the other.
The Three Tramps, General Walker and J.D. Tippit
One of these issues has now been resolved: the three men were indeed tramps, and had nothing to do with the assassination (or with Watergate).
The other topics have no direct bearing on the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin of President Kennedy:
- Oswald may have carried out the assassination and yet have had no connection to the other shootings, whether the photographs were genuine or manufactured after the event.
- Or he may have shot at Walker, murdered Tippit, posed for the backyard photographs, and still have been innocent of the shooting in Dealey Plaza.
The Backyard Photographs
The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that the backyard photographs are authentic (see HSCA Report, appendix vol.6, pp.138–214). If that conclusion is correct, the photographs disprove the notion, central to the lone–gunman theory, that Oswald was a leftist malcontent.
Demonstrating your allegiance to communism by brandishing both Stalinist and Trotskyist literature is like demonstrating your allegiance to religious fundamentalism by brandishing both a Bible and a Quran. In each case, a true believer is more opposed to heretics than to the unconverted, an attitude not uncommon among those with firmly held views about the JFK assassination. The photographs very strongly suggest that Oswald’s supposedly pro–Castro activities in New Orleans were insincere.
The Zapruder Film Hoax Theory
This website does discuss one marginal issue, the debate about the authenticity of the Zapruder film. This question has an obvious attraction to researchers: if the film is a fake, there is absolute proof of conspiracy. What these researchers often overlook is that if the film is authentic, it also provides proof of conspiracy:
- The film shows that President Kennedy and Governor Connally were injured by separate gunshots from behind, thereby disproving the single–bullet theory and proving that the rifle and bullet shells discovered on the sixth floor could not have been responsible for all the non–fatal wounds.
- The part of the film that is best known to the general public, the back–and–to–the–left movement of Kennedy’s head in reaction to the fatal shot, is prima facie evidence of a shot from in front and to the right.
The Zapruder film hoax theory is discussed here because it illustrates two unfortunate aspects of the way the assassination has been consistently mistreated. A minority of conspiracy–minded researchers seize on trivial discrepancies in the evidence as proof of wrongdoing. The media in turn seize on such examples of irrationality to misrepresent serious critical accounts of the assassination.
Information for Students
Students occasionally get in touch, asking for information so that they may cite this website in their essays and dissertations.
The Date of the Website
The website was created in 2011. Many of the articles now on the website have been added since then.
Citing This Website
A good deal of this website’s text has turned up elsewhere online, such as in blog and forum posts. Readers are encouraged to quote this website’s text, on three conditions:
- You do not change the text in a way that distorts its meaning.
- You do not claim the text as your own.
- You make it clear that the text originated on this website. A link to the relevant page on this website would be welcome. It is only polite to acknowledge your sources.
Some of the articles on this website are attributed to named authors; others are not. There are sometimes good reasons why an author prefers to be named. Two common reasons are vanity and, if the author has a book to sell or a career to establish, the need to create a brand name. There are also good reasons why an author prefers not to be named, as well as other good reasons why an author ought not to be named.
In the case of works, such as many of the articles on this website, which attempt to treat evidence objectively and which permit relevant evidence to be checked, two factors outweigh all others: the argument that is made, and the strength of the evidence that supports the argument. In such cases, the identity of the author adds nothing to the credibility of the author’s argument, and may actually serve to obscure the argument.
If an author is reporting relevant personal experience, his or her identity provides part of the evidence to support the argument. If not, his or her identity is an irrelevant distraction, albeit one that may be justified in certain circumstances.
Some educational institutions insist that a name be attributed to every cited source. This insistence is muddle–headed, and ought to be opposed. If you need to cite a name, and one is not given, please feel free to make one up.