Did Lee Harvey Oswald Act Alone?

There are plenty of conspiracy theories alleging other parties were involved in JFK's assassination.

Lee Harvey Oswald stands in front of journalists on Nov. 23, 1963, in a Dallas police station where he repeatedly denied that he had assassinated President Kennedy. "I did not kill President Kennedy," he said. "I did not kill anyone. I don't know what this is all about."

Lee Harvey Oswald stands in front of journalists on Nov. 23, 1963, in a Dallas police station where he repeatedly denied that he had assassinated President Kennedy.

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Fifty years ago Friday, Lee Harvey Oswald fatally shot President John F. Kennedy – or so concluded the Warren Commission, the group convened by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination.

Officially, it was accepted that Oswald fired three shots from the window of the Texas Book Depository and had no accomplices. The commission didn’t nail down a specific motive, but said, “He was perpetually discontented with the world around him. Long before the assassination he expressed his hatred for American society and acted in protest against it."

Yet despite the commission’s findings, many still question the events of November 22, 1963 and what really happened at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. In 1979 a House Select Committee concluded that JFK's assassination was likely the work of a conspiracy, for example. Conspiracy theories abound, alleging either that Oswald was part of a larger organization working to take out the president or was, to use his term, a "patsy." One theory also alleges that Oswald was trying to kill someone else that day – Texas Gov. John Connally rather than Kennedy.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

John Kelin, author of a book on the JFK assassination, said that independent analysis of the facts surrounding that day on Dealey Plaza clearly show there was a conspiracy. He provides a host of popular theories:

In its report, the Warren Commission – tasked by President Lyndon Johnson with investigating the assassination – placed a gunman on the sixth floor of a building along JFK's motorcade route through Dallas. Such a gunman would have been behind the presidential limousine when the shots were fired. Yet of the 121 Dealey Plaza witnesses whose statements appear in the commission's published evidence, 51, by one count, said gunshots came from the right front – that is, from the infamous grassy knoll. Only 32 thought shots came from the building, while 38 had no opinion.

There is much more than this, of course: Dealey Plaza witnesses who saw unidentified armed men in the vicinity; witnesses whose observations suggest a radio-coordinated hit team; three Dallas cops who encountered fake Secret Service agents; and one who testified to meeting an hysterical woman screaming, "They're shooting the president from the bushes!"

[ JFK: 50 Years Later]

But political science Professor John McAdams said that while an event with such historical significance was bound to generate speculation, there isn’t enough evidence to support any one theory:

It's a free country, and conspiracists have every right to continue their quest. But the sober-minded citizen has every right to conclude that the Grail will never be found. If a conspiracy (or at least, any conspiracy consisting of more people than could fit into an old Volkswagen beetle) killed Kennedy, we very likely would know about it by now. The "smoking gun" document would have been found. A credible witness would have come forward. Real scientists (and not the amateur hobbyists who populate the ranks of conspiracists) would have uncovered evidence tampering or fakery.

Thus, the most plausible conclusion is, as it has been for fifty years, "one guy with a grudge and a gun."

What do you think? Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone in assassinating JFK? Take the poll and comment below.

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