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EPISODE # 389

JFK 60th Anniversary of the Assassination — Who Really Killed Camelot … and Why Do We Still Care?

A conversation with Warren Commission Assistant Counsel Burt W. Griffin, Case Closed author and Lee Harvey Oswald scholar Gerald Posner, and JFK conspiracy theory debunker Michel Gagné.

JFK, Oswald and Ruby: Politics, Prejudice and Truth (book cover)

Burt W. Griffin, Warren Commission Assistant Counsel was the assistant counsel to the president’s commission on the assassination of President Kennedy (popularly known as the Warren Commission) and had primary responsibility for investigating and writing the section of the commission’s report (1964) on whether Jack Ruby was engaged in a conspiracy to assassinate either JFK, Lee Oswald, or both. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (book cover)

Gerald Posner is an award-winning journalist who has written twelve books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. His 2015 book, God’s Bankers, a two-hundred-year history of the finances of the Vatican, was an acclaimed New York Times bestseller. Posner has written for many national magazines and papers, including the New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek, and Time, and he has been a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, and FOX News. His other books include Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection; Mengele: The Complete Story; Hitler’s Children: Sons and Daughters of Third Reich Leaders; Warlords of Crime: Chinese Secret Societies — the New Mafia; and Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author Trisha Posner.

Thinking Critically About the Kennedy Assassination: Debunking the Myths and Conspiracy Theories (book cover)

Michel Jacques Gagné teaches courses in critical thinking, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and ethics in the Humanities Department of Champlain College Saint-Lambert, a junior college (CÉGEP) located near Montreal, Canada. He has an M.A. in History (Concordia University, Canada, 2005), with a thesis on civil rights protests in Northern Ireland during the 1960s, and undergraduate degrees in Education (McGill University, Canada, 1999) and History and Political Science (with joint-honors, McGill University, Canada, 1995). He has published articles in Skeptic, the National Post, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Violence, and is the author of Thinking Critically About the Kennedy Assassination: Debunking the Myths and Conspiracy. He is also the creator and host of the Paranoid Planet podcast, which discusses conspiracy theories and related phenomena. He resides with his wife and two children in Montreal, Canada.

Shermer, Griffin, Posner, and Gagné discuss:

  • the nostalgic myth of “Camelot” and balancing the ledger of moral outrage
  • Who was Lee Harvey Oswald and why did he kill Kennedy?
  • Cuba, Castro, the Bay of Pigs debacle
  • the CIA and why it is rational to be skeptical of their activities
  • Paul Landis and the bullet Commission Exhibit 399
  • Clint Hill’s account of what happened to the bullet
  • Was the “magic bullet” pristine or predictably damaged?
  • National Archives assassination files: 1% (4600) left… Why not release them all? What is the government hiding?
  • Lee Harvey Oswald: any connection to the CIA? Was he a patsy?
  • James Hosty and the FBI’s files on Oswald before he killed JFK: Nov. 12 he left a note at the Dallas FBI office that he would blow up the building if they didn’t leave his wife alone
  • CIA and FBI coverups were to protect their own errors and incompetence
  • LHO was unstable but isn’t that the type of person the CIA or mafia would engage as a “patsy” and “lone nut” to conduct the assassination?
  • General Edwin Walker and Oswald’s attempt to assassinate him 6 months before JFK
  • Jack Ruby’s motives to kill Oswald
  • Bernard Weissman, conservative Jew in Dallas full of liberal Jews, took out an ad asking JFK questions — connection to Ruby?
  • Maybe even Ruby didn’t know he was going to kill Oswald until the moment it happened, then the hindsight bias kicks in and he searches for some probable explanation
  • Marina Oswald, Ruth Paine, Priscilla McMillan (Marina and Lee author)
  • Castro: since the CIA tried to assassinate him, did he kill JFK first?
  • the CIA hated Castro so would have loved to pin JFK’s death on him
  • Oswald loved Castro, opposed the Bay of Pigs invasion
  • Allan Dulles and how and why he was on the Warren Commission
  • House Select Committee and revelations about the CIA
  • Oliver Stone’s film JFK and its influence
  • common themes in conspiracy theories like JFK, 9/11 Truth, Obama Birtherism, QAnon, rigged election and many others
  • witness intimidation and alleged mysterious witness deaths
  • planted evidence against Oswald
  • tampering with evidence: faked oswald backyard photos
  • autopsy, altered body between Dallas and Bethesda, swapped JFK’s brain, etc.

According to the Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth, who was at Dealey Plaza and saw the assassination:

I remember interviewing people that said they saw certain things; some did, some didn’t. Even then there were people making up things. I remember interviewing a young couple where the guy was telling me that he had seen this and he had seen that, and his wife said, “You didn’t see that! We were back in the parking lot when it happened!” Even then.

This episode was released on November 22, 2023.

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