The Final Verdict
Student Vincent Bugliosi was standing in a hallway of the UCLA Law School on Nov. 22, 1963, when he heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Himself the president of his class, Bugliosi took it upon himself to announce the news to each of the classrooms. Today, as one of the country's most storied prosecutors (he wrote the bestselling Helter Skelter after prevailing in the murder trial of Charles Manson), Bugliosi has some bad news for the legions of JFK assassination conspiracy theorists: Their efforts have been for naught. At a doorstopping 1,696 pages, his new book, Reclaiming History, is surely the most exhaustive of the countless narratives that have been written about that fateful day in Dallas. And his conclusion, after 20 years of research, is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Will this book put an end to the conspiracy theories?
The conspiracy theorists are guilty of the very thing that they accuse the Warren Commission of doing, which is distorting the evidence. There is no substance at all for any of these theories; they're all pure moonshine. But because of the [theorists'] fanatical obsession, a simple case has been transformed into one of the most complex murder cases in history. I'm basically telling them that they've wasted the last 10 to 15 years of their lives.
Who solved the case?
Within hours of the shooting, local law enforcement concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone. After Oswald fled the book depository, killed [Dallas Police] officer [J. D.] Tippit, and was apprehended, local law enforcement concluded what a complete nut he was. That was enough to prove that no one would have conspired with him.
Where do conspiracy theories originate?
Well-intentioned people believe in these things because they believe that some group had a motive. Just because a group had a motive, they are guilty of the murder. Motive equals guilt for the CIA, the mob, the Cubans, the Russians, the military-industrial complex, Lyndon Johnson. Oliver Stone found 10 groups with a motive in his silly movie, but motive is just a starting point. It's all very infantile logic.
Yet it resonates with Americans.
Perhaps people subconsciously believe that if the president was killed by someone who was opposed to his ideas, his death and life were more meaningful. Even Jackie Kennedy said that we didn't even have the satisfaction of his dying for a cause.
Did the Warren Commission sow the seeds of doubt?
I wouldn't put it that way. Their report is so comprehensive that anyone who has a conspiracy theory can find support for it somewhere in the evidence. Dozens of books claim to expose secrets in the Warren Commission, but their source is the commission volumes themselves. If someone was suppressing the truth, they wouldn't write it anywhere.
Let's assume that the CIA killed Kennedy.
OK. Leaving aside the fact that John McCone, who ran the agency, was a personal friend of Kennedy, let's assume that the CIA decided to kill the president. Oswald was not an expert shot, he had a $12 mail-order rifle, he was very unreliable and highly unstable, and had defected to the Soviet Union and later tried to kill himself. He was not the kind of person that the CIA would select to commit the biggest murder in American history.