Recently, I re-watched President Kennedy’s peace speech at American University on June 10, 1963. The speech is considered to be one of Kennedy’s shining moments. In the speech, he called for a new vision of peace in the face of the escalating conflict in Vietnam and continuing aggression with the Soviet Union and its Cuban ally, Fidel Castro. Researchers into Kennedy’s administration and his murder have often said that this is the speech that served as the final straw for those surrounding him wishing to have him removed from office. Tragically, several months later, after this speech, that’s exactly what happened as he was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Dallas, Texas. Two days later, his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald was also murdered raising more questions that have yet to be answered to this very day.
Today, the murder of a sitting U.S. President seems inconceivable. The Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement agencies are expected to do their part to ensure the President has a safe visit to every destination domestic and abroad. But what happens when the President goes from being seen as the commander-in-chief to an enemy of the state? When John F. Kennedy assumed the oval office, he inherited several simmering crisis ready to explode a moment’s notice. Warned by his predecessor about the military industrial complex, Kennedy found himself in the middle of a circle of fanatical cold war veterans hell-bent on the defeat of the Soviet Union and communism at any cost. Many years after his death we are now able to look back with this incredible book by James W. Douglass, and reexamine the uphill struggle Kennedy faced as he struggled to contain the push of his own generals for military involvement in Cuba, a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union using nuclear weapons and a full-out ground war in Laos and Vietnam. And what we see is treason of the highest order and a crime that truly is unspeakable.
The official story of the U.S. government is that Lee Harvey Oswald, a disgruntled former Marine decided to squeeze off three shots in six seconds as the motorcade made its way through Dealey Plaza with speeds as low as 10 m.p.h. But to this day, no investigator or investigative committee has been able to figure out one highly important part of the crime-motive. No motive has ever been disclosed for Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shooting John F. Kennedy. But if we do look at motive, there were plenty of others who did have motive and as we make our way through Douglass’ masterpiece, we see that the number of those who bore a grudge against Kennedy was nothing short of staggering. From the start of his presidency until his final day in Dallas, the resistance and deceptive behavior of subordinates in his cabinet, the military and intelligence communities was beyond belief. But just who were these people and what exactly was occurring?
Douglass’s exhaustive research efforts shed light on why was opposed to the young leader and why. Kennedy had averted a nuclear war, begun to seek peace with Cuba, taken on the steel industry, placed constraints on the CIA and was wholeheartedly attempting to make a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. Further, he was pushing forward a platform on civil rights and economic reform and in the process bucking the system in place for decades. And the result was a hornet’s nest destined to strike.
Following Kennedy’s murder, the investigation into his murder took on a life of its own. The warning signs had been there in advance, most famously in the story of Rose Cheramie who attempted to warn authorities of the upcoming assassination. And there’s strong evidence that a man named “Lee” had warned the authorities as well of the events in Dallas but the failed attempt in Chicago several week earlier. Fake Secret Service agents, two different arrest at the Texas Theater and a night club owner with mafia and CIA ties provides us with a cast of characters complicit in the death of a president. The murder is a web of deceit that becomes more complex as we dive further into the events of that day. But authors such as James Douglass have done a service and made the murder and investigation easier to understand by revealing the cloak of mystery that has shielded Kennedy’s murder for over 50 years.