Murder of a President: 5 Fascinating Conspiracy Theories about the Kennedy Assassination
Murder of a President: 5 Fascinating Conspiracy Theories about the Kennedy Assassination

Murder of a President: 5 Fascinating Conspiracy Theories about the Kennedy Assassination

Patrick Lynch - April 27, 2017

Murder of a President: 5 Fascinating Conspiracy Theories about the Kennedy Assassination
LBJ Sworn in aboard Airforce One after JFK was assassinated. Pinterest

4 – Lyndon B. Johnson Ordered the Killing

I would say that this is one of the most shocking conspiracy theories, but those familiar with the case know that it isn’t. An author named Phillip F. Nelson even wrote a book about it titled ‘LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination.’ Nelson claimed that Johnson was manic-depressive and his aides knew he struggled with bipolar disorder. Indeed, the book is a hatchet job on Johnson who apparently murdered several people that ‘got in his way.’

Regarding the assassination, Johnson ensured that the hard evidence found in the limousine and on Kennedy’s body was wiped clean. Nelson suggested that Johnson was caught in a web of legal and political problems that would not only see him removed from the vice presidency, but also thrown in jail. As a result, the only way to save his political career and even his liberty was to assassinate the current President and assume the mantle. With the help of the Cuban exile community, the Mafia, intelligence community renegades and international assassins, he formulated a plan. Nelson also asserted that J. Edgar Hoover was involved because he was worried about being removed from his position should Kennedy be re-elected.

Regarding the assassination itself, Johnson and his team chose Dealey Plaza as the ideal location because it could house several snipers. While Kennedy was allegedly contemplating removing American forces from Vietnam in 1965 after re-election, Johnson was happy to allow the U.S. to continue the war. Nelson even claims that the famous Zapruder movie was altered to show that the President was only shot twice from behind. After the murder, Johnson interfered with the autopsy and ensured vital evidence was destroyed.

ABC broadcasted tapes recorded months after the President’s death in which his wife, Jacqueline, revealed her belief that Kennedy was murdered by Johnson with the aid of Texan tycoons.

Madeline Brown, who claimed to have had an affair with Johnson, said that LBJ attended a party with Hoover and several other individuals on November 21, 1963, the night before the shooting. Brown said that Johnson whispered something shocking in her ear; that after tomorrow, the Kennedys would never embarrass him again. He also said it was a promise, not a threat.

Holes in the Theory

Many historians have a less than complimentary attitude towards Johnson who has been described as ‘power hungry’; the kind of man who would do anything to get what he wanted. He desperately wanted to become President, but the Civil Rights issue meant it would be tough for a Southerner like Johnson to take the main seat in the Oval Office.

Johnson allegedly helped Kennedy win the crucial state of Texas in the 1960 election in exchange for the vice-presidency. Now he was one step away from the Presidency; it was a matter of getting rid of Kennedy and assuming the mantle. It is clear that Johnson had motive and perhaps even opportunity but did he order the assassination?

The testimony of Madeline Brown is roundly dismissed by experts because she was a ‘crackpot’ as Johnson wasn’t even at the meeting she spoke about. Others suggest that the notion of LBJ masterminding a plot against Kennedy was a fiction created by Texans who disliked Johnson because he was a crook. While some aspects of Nelson’s book (and other books written on the topic) are compelling, a lot of it is pure guesswork, supposition and possibly even fantasy.

If it was an elaborate conspiracy hatched by Johnson which apparently involved dozens of people, what is the likelihood of there being no leaks over 50 years on?

Murder of a President: 5 Fascinating Conspiracy Theories about the Kennedy Assassination
Khrushchev meets Kennedy. Newsweek

5 – The Communist Connection: JFK Was Murdered by the KGB

While the Communist conspiracy angle is not as well-trodden as some of the others, plenty of literature has been written about the possibility. The Soviet Union had one obvious motive; to gain revenge for the embarrassment of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In ‘Programmed to Kill,’ Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-level intelligence officer to ever defect from the USSR, wrote that the KGB ordered the assassination, blamed the Americans, the Kremlin covered everything up and the KGB had ties with Oswald.

He suggested that the Soviet leader at the time, Nikita Khrushchev, plotted the murder only to change his mind. However, the KGB was unable to ‘deprogram’ Oswald who carried out the assassination. Critics of Pacepa’s work say his case is predominantly circumstantial and scoff at the notion that the KGB couldn’t stop Oswald since they had months to kill him if they wanted.

There is also a suggestion that Oswald betrayed the United States by providing the USSR with state secrets. The pilot of the U-2 flight downed in May 1960, Gary Powers, believes that Oswald could have provided the Soviets with the information they needed to shoot the plane. When he lived in the Soviet Union, Oswald would have had plenty of chances to communicate with the KGB. The suggestion is that he was somehow ‘programmed’ to murder the President through the use of propaganda. Given his aggressive mentality and pro-communist stance, the KGB would have found it easy to brainwash the hapless Oswald.

That Oswald was a communist sympathizer is no secret. After all, he lived in the Soviet Union for a couple of years and applied for Soviet and Cuban citizenship at different stages in his life. He believed communism was the way forward and applied for citizenship to both communist nations in Mexico City on September 28, 1963. There is a suggestion that Oswald was impersonated while he was there; an issue I already covered.

Holes in the Theory

Pacepa wrote that Oswald tried to kill Edwin Walker in a ‘dry run’ and persists with the idea that he left Marina a note. There is no strong evidence to link Oswald to the Walker murder attempt, and there have long since been doubts over the authenticity of the note that mysteriously appeared after the assassination.

Most of Pacepa’s work is made up of fanciful suggestions with little or no evidence to back it up. Again, the fact that Oswald used a low-quality rifle helps dispel any notions of KGB interference. Surely they would want to equip their ‘secret assassin’ with something a lot more accurate to ensure the job was done correctly?

While the USSR was certainly angry over what happened in the Cuban Missile Crisis, assassinating the American president was an extraordinary risk. If the plot was uncovered, a war was inevitable.

Oswald apparently met a Soviet diplomat named Valeriy Kostikov in Mexico City. Kostikov was suspected of being a member of the KGB assassinations department so any meeting with him would raise alarm bells. The trouble is, there is a strong possibility that the man who met him was, in fact, an imposter. In other words, it is another theory that lacks sufficient evidence.

The events of November 22, 1963, will never be forgotten. The trouble is, no one knows for sure why JFK was assassinated nor do we know the culprit. Lee Harvey Oswald could well be the killer although there is enough evidence to suggest he was possibly the victim of a frame-up. Most legal experts agree that had Oswald stood trial, the weight of evidence against him would be insufficient to warrant a guilty verdict. Jack Ruby prevented us from finding out.

The events surrounding the assassination read like a very complex mystery crime thriller. Both sides of the argument continue to plead their case; but the truth is, a definitive answer will probably never be reached.


Sources For Further Reading:

History Ireland – Forty Years On: Who Killed JFK?

Reuters – New Footage Of JFK In Dallas Released

AARP – 50 Facts About the JFK Assassination

Orlando Sentinel – In Shadows Of Missing Film May Lie Clue To JFK Killing, Coverup

Poughkeepsie Journal – Wanted: The ‘Other’ JFK Assassination Film

ABC News – Study: Shot Was Fired From ‘Grassy Knoll’

BBC – JFK Assassination: Questions That Won’t Go Away

Slate – JFK Assassination: Killing Conspiracy

History – Why the Public Stopped Believing the Government about JFK’s Murder

Biography – Did the Mob Kill John F. Kennedy?

The Washington Post – What The Mob Knew About JFK’s Murder

ABC News – Organized Crime Expert Sees Mob Connections

National Public Radio – Documents Offer Insight Into Soviet View Of JFK Assassination

Military – Vietnam Vet Oliver Stone Still Thinks the CIA Killed JFK

ABC News – JFK Assassination Files Reveal Hoover’s Frustration Over Oswald’s Death, Soviet Reaction

USA Today – JFK Conspiracy Theorist Points Finger At LBJ

Hindustan Times – JFK Assassination: From Strange Call To Why KGB Suspected President Johnson

Ion Mihai Pacepa – Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination

New York Time Magazine – Was Oswald a Spy, and Other Cold War Mysteries

DMagazine – Did Oswald ACT ALONE?

History Collection – The Aftermath of the JFK Assassination