Knoxville, TN (JFKASSASSINATION) Today we respond to a op-ed piece in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE by Dr. Cory Franklin* titled "Who needs facts when you have conspiracy theorists?"
*The only information provided by the Tribune about Dr. Franklin is that he lives in Wilmette, Illinois. I found a reference online to a Cory M. Franklin, M.D., who practices critical care medicine in Wilmette, Illinois.
Since Dr. Franklin has contributed other articles to the Tribune, I assume that this is the same individual. Dr. Franklin, who is 59 years old, graduated from the Feinberg School of Medicine in 1977. He would have been 9 years old when JFK was killed.
Dr. Franklin begins by writing...
"The evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, and nearly as overwhelming that Oswald acted alone. However, history is never completely settled, and the conspiracy theorists are out and about."
I certainly agree that "history is never completely settled," and that we so-called "conspiracy theorists are out and about," but I would argue that the circumstantial evidence implicating Lee Harvey Oswald is far from overwhelming and as far as his acting alone, even the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there was a 4th shot from the grassy knoll.
Dr. Franklin then lists and discusses "10 rules to follow when engaging a conspiracy theorist."
Before we look at these, lets just get this straight, Doctor, there are only two schools of thought regarding the assassination of President Kennedy. One is the THEORY that JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy and the other is the THEORY JFK was killed by a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald.
They are both THEORIES because, although there was circumstantial evidence to implicate Oswald as a shooter, he did not live to receive a fair trial by jury so there is no way to know if he would have been found guilty or not.
Also, while there were witnesses who said they saw a rifle barrel in the 6th floor corner window of the Texas School Depository there was only one, Howard Brennan, who said he saw a man behind the rifle who he thought resembled Oswald.
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Brennan, who was sitting on a concrete fence directly opposite the TSBD approximately 40 yards below the 6th floor SE corner window, are summarized below...
"Brennan identified Oswald (after seeing him on television) in a police lineup as the person who most closely resembled the man in the window but Brennan said he was unable to make a POSITIVE identification.
On December 17, 1963, he told the FBI that he was sure Oswald was the rifleman he had seen in the window.
He also testified to the Warren Commission that at the time of the lineup, he believed the assassination was part of a conspiracy, and he was afraid for the safety of...his family.
Because Brennan declined to make a positive identification....the commission regarded Brennan's subsequent testimony...as probative but not conclusive..."
Everything else applied to Oswald's guilt is circumstantial.
The evidence found on the 6th floor of the TSBD is subject to speculation. Did Oswald take the rifle into the Depository? Did he fire that rifle at JFK? Did one or more of his shots hit JFK? Did one of his shots kill JFK?
If the answers to all but the last question is YES, then who was the shooter who fired the fatal shot and did Oswald know another gunman would be firing at the same time he was?
This is why the JFK Assassination remains a mystery 50 years later. There are just too many questions that can only be answered by speculation.
So now let's take a look at Dr. Franklin's 10 rules.
#1. Cites Oliver Stone's JFK as a source.
I don't know of any credible author supporting a conspiracy who has done this.
While Stone's JFK is a superb motion picture, it is a movie. Since when have movies ever been used as sources? Certainly many movies or at least portions of them are based on true events and producers and script writers may access non-fiction sources for the film, but I have never known it to be the other way around.
#2. Cites Jim Garrison as a source.
So if one is trying to get at the truth, and there is a person who has done considerable investigation into a matter, but then is discredited by some for whatever reasons, Dr. Franklin would have us believe that person's work should not even be considered.
#3. Claims the Secret Service accidentally killed JFK**.
Dr. Franklin has picked probably one of the most implausible of the theories regarding JFK's murder. I'm not saying that this particular book or author should not even be considered, I'm just saying this claim is probably the most unlikely.
**This theory comes from "Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK," by Bonar Menninger, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1992.
#4. Claims the limo driver killed JFK.
This is another "far out" theory based on an interpretation of the Zapruder Film when Bill Greer turns to look back at JFK after he had been shot.
#5. Ties the murder of JFK and RFK together.
So, Dr. Franklin, we should just accept the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK all were committed by lone nuts and the fact that they occurred within a 5 year time frame when J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of the FBI and the last two occurred in 1968 when LBJ was president is purely coincidental?
There is a common thread to these 3 victims. They were supporters of civil rights and speaking out strongly against war... JFK in his Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and speech at American University, RFK in his 1968 campaign for President and MLK in speeches in 1968 with many African-Americans serving and dying in Southeast Asia.
#6. Claims LBJ headed the conspiracy.
If I'm not mistaken, there were more than a few people who thought LBJ was behind the assassination from the get-go, and there are several major books that have come out recently making an argument for this very thing.
LBJ certainly had the most to gain from JFK's death, and the most to lose if he lived. He was being investigated by the Congress for his involvement in the Bobby Baker scandal at the time of the assassination and LIFE magazine was preparing a cover story about it which was cancelled after LBJ assumed the presidency.
There was talk of dropping LBJ from the Democratic ticket in 1964 and it is well known that he coveted the presidency and this most likely would have been his only chance.
I'm not saying he "headed the conspiracy," but there are plenty of reasons to suspect he might have played a role in it.
One of the most puzzling things LBJ did in the aftermath of JFK's death was to have the SS100X limo completely rebuilt into a closed bullet proof car that he would use rather than having a new limo built at lesser cost.
#7. Questions the credentials of the Warren Commission.
Why would you want to even bother? They were basically figureheads. The Commission did not do an investigation. They accepted the FBI investigation* and then called selected witnesses to question. Most of the work was done by their lawyers and the commissioners themselves did not attend all the sessions.
*I should point out that the FBI reported JFK was hit by one shot, John Connally was hit by another shot and JFK was hit by a 3rd fatal shot. The Warren Commission, of course, adapted this to fit their scenario of a lone gunman by having one bullet hitting both JFK and Connally and another hitting JFK in the head. The 3rd bullet missed according to the Warren Report.
#8. Fails to account for Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963.
Dr. Franklin writes...
"Either Lee Harvey Oswald was a shooter or he was not. If he was, conspiracy theorists must explain who put him up to it, why, how they acted so quickly and the reason they let him be captured."
It is hard enough to prove Oswald was or was not a shooter, much less be able to "explain who put him up to it and why?"
Oswald, as has been well documented, led a very suspicious life. He certainly fit the mold of someone who could have been used. He very well, as he himself said, could have been "just a patsy."
Dr. Franklin continues, "If he was not (a shooter), they must explain the incredible chain of evidence surrounding how he was enmeshed."
While I personally believe Oswald was involved in the conspiracy to kill JFK, I do not believe he was a shooter. I will say that he COULD have been one of the shooters, but I don't believe, even if he was, that his shot killed JFK.
The reason I don't believe he was a shooter that day is primarily based on the FACT that LHO was confronted just 90 seconds after the last shot by Dallas police officer Marion Baker at the door to the 2nd floor lunchroom of the TSBD.
Officer Baker stopped as he was going up the stairwell because he saw a man through the door window moving away from the door. He opened it up and there stood Lee Oswald. Roy Truly, the manager of the Depository who was going up the stairs with Baker, was asked "Do you know this man?" Truly answered, "Yes, he works here."
The officer had no other reason to suspect Oswald so he continued up the stairs. Oswald did not show any signs of suspicion at this point. He was not out of breath, he did not look scared. In fact, he had just bought a Coke from the vending machine in the lunchroom and was holding it in his hand when Baker approached him. (The Warren Commission carefully omitted any reference to the Coke.)
In order to be where Baker confronted him, Oswald would have had to run from the SE 6th floor corner window to the opposite end of the Depository, wipe his prints off the outside of the rifle stock, hide the weapon, then run down 4 flights of stairs and enter the door to the 2nd floor lunchroom and get the Coke all in the space of 90 seconds.
It makes much more sense that Oswald was in the lunch room to begin with.
Perhaps his role was just to take the rifle into the Depository, place it somewhere on the 6th floor and then to wait for further instructions. Yes, I know, that's purely speculation.
#9. Fails to explain how innocent people could somehow be involved in an intricate conspiracy.
Dr. Franklin makes reference to the arguments that JFK's body was "hijacked" and/or that his wounds were "tampered with." He asks how these people became involved and why they never spoke up.
Again, the good doctor chooses one of the more controversial conspiratorial arguments, that of David Lifton who in, "Best Evidence," argued that since JFK's wounds did not match the descriptions of eyewitnesses, then the body must have been altered.
Certainly, there has to be a reasonable explanation of how JFK's throat wound went from being a small entry wound at Parkland to a large gaping wound at Bethesda, and how the place where there was a large exit wound in the right rear of JFK's skull appeared as a small bullet entrance hole in the Warren Report.
I would argue that a more reasonable explanation to the latter would be that the X Rays of JFK's skull were altered and that the illustration of the skull shown in the Warren Report mirrors that.
I have no explanation of the change in the throat wound other than to say that while it was enlarged for the tracheotomy, the result as seen in the autopsy photograph is nothing like what the Dallas doctors claim was done at Parkland.
#10. Cannot give a reasonably credible theory that accounts for the known physical and forensic details.
Dr. Franklin cites the "target moving horizontally at uncertain speed" and "no exit wound on the left side of the head" discounting a grassy knoll shot."
The limo was moving at 11.3 mph down the center lane of Elm Street. I don't see how that could be characterized as "uncertain." That, in fact, is fairly slow.
The car was moving horizontally, but regardless of where the shooter would have been located, front, back, or to either side, the car still would have been moving and would require the shooter to take that into account and adjust.
Bill Newman, who was standing at the curb on the South side of Elm Street, said JFK was hit in the (right) temple. That shot, Dr. Franklin, did not have to travel directly through the skull from side to side. It is more likely it entered the temple at an angle from front to back, exiting out the right rear of the head.
Dr. Franklin concludes his work by writing....
"Listen ONLY to conspiracists "with at least a modicum of credibility."
I would add to that....
Listen ONLY to lone gunman theorists "with at least a modicum of credibility."