WASHINGTON – In the 42 years since the assassination of President Kennedy, here’s what has been agreed on by those who still pursue one of the most sensational crimes in history: very little, if anything.
After the release of millions of pages of documents, and more than four decades of probes by professionals and amateurs, there is no consensus among those who toil in the conspiracy theory industry.
Some see the fingerprints of the Mafia, others the CIA. For some it was the Cubans, the Russians, Jimmy Hoffa or just about everyone who was anyone on or about Nov. 22, 1963.
No theory tying together disparate characters or events is too outlandish: Remember the Maine? Some even link the explosion that sank the U.S. battleship in Havana harbor in 1898 to the shooting of Kennedy 65 years later, the belief being that both marked trumped-up pretexts for American intervention in Cuba.
Interest comes to a head each year around the time of the assassination anniversary, which is Tuesday.
“To my knowledge, there have not been any new developments,” said Nicola Longford, the executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where Kennedy was shot. “It’s just part of the enduring myth and reality of this intoxicating story. It’s just a continuing fascination with solving a mystery.”
The Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman and squeezed off just three shots at Kennedy’s motorcade from the Texas School Book Depository overlooking the plaza. A 1979 report by the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded Oswald probably did not act alone – a contention supported by a majority of Americans polled in 2003, the 40th anniversary of the assassination.
A conference dedicated to “Cracking the JFK Case” recently drew roughly 100 people to a Bethesda, Md., hotel. Sessions covered everything from the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald in the months prior to the assassination to what a Dallas police audio tape may – or may not – prove about the numbers of shots fired.
Former Sen. Gary Hart reminded participants that his own investigative foray into the case, as a member of the Church Committee that met in 1975 and 1976, revealed both the Mafia and the Cuban exile community had ample reasons to want Kennedy dead.
“It’s an understatement to say there were some very, very unhappy people in both those camps,” said Hart.