Debate Club

Was JFK's Assassination a Conspiracy?

Was JFK's Assassination a Conspiracy?

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Warren Commission, which was established by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the Dallas shooting, concluded that Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman – Lee Harvey Oswald – firing from the Texas School Book Depository.

But questions have dogged that the Warren Commission's findings since their unveiling and conspiracy theories have bloomed. Indeed, in 1979 the House Select Committee on Assassinations announced that Kennedy "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."

As the American Enterprise Institute's Karlyn Bowman and Andrew Rugg wrote in U.S. News earlier this month, the notion of a cabal to kill Kennedy is the most widely-believed conspiracy theory in America. An April 2013 poll showed that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe others were involved in the assassination. A recent Gallup poll showed the same thing, with 61 percent of Americans believing there was a conspiracy; the Mafia and the “federal government” are the most popular culprits. Even Secretary of State John Kerry has said that “to this day I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.”

But perhaps the assassination was less a conspiracy and more just an accident? As U.S. News' Jamie Stiehm notes, author James Reston Jr. argues in a new book that Oswald was actually trying to assassinate Texas Governor John Connally on that day in 1963; Reston believes Kennedy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Other conspiracy theories abound, touching everyone from President Johnson and the Secret Service to Fidel Castro and J. Edgar Hoover. And let's not forget The Umbrella Man.

So was JFK's assassination a conspiracy? Here is the Debate Club's take:


The Arguments

#3
34 Pts
Multiple Shots from Many Directions Killed JFK

Yes – Multiple Shots from Many Directions Killed JFK

Michael Vollbach , Ronald Burda Professors of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Oakland Community College

#4
4 Pts
Why the Truth Behind JFK's Assassination May Never Be Revealed

Yes – Why the Truth Behind JFK's Assassination May Never Be Revealed

Larry Sabato Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics

#5
-39 Pts
The Holy Grail of JFK Conspiracy Theories Will Never Be Found

No – The Holy Grail of JFK Conspiracy Theories Will Never Be Found

John McAdams Professor of Political Science at Marquette University


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