History's Greatest Mysteries (2020) s04e03 Episode Script

The Assassination of JFK

The President
of the United States is dead.
Tonight, the assassination
that shook our country
to its core.
It was just a shock
that caused everybody to stop
and think for a moment about
how the world had changed.
Police quickly catch
the culprit,
but many believe
there’s more to the story.
The first
question any good theorist asks
is, "Who wants Kennedy dead?"
Now, we’ll explore
the top theories
surrounding one of America’s
most shocking events.
So, he was convinced
that Kennedy was killed
by enemies
high in his own government.
He believed that Fidel Castro
orchestrated the assassination
of John F. Kennedy.
Is there a conspiracy behind
John F. Kennedy’s assassination?
And if so, who is really
responsible for his death?
Dallas, Texas,
November 22nd, 1963.
At 11:25 a.m.
President John F. Kennedy
arrives on Air Force One.
President Kennedy goes to Dallas
to give a lunchtime speech
at a convention center
known as the Trade Mart.
Between his arrival
at Love Field and his speech,
he’s to lead a motorcade
through the center
of downtown Dallas.
The motorcade has over 12 cars.
Kennedy is riding
in a three-rowed
Lincoln Continental
convertible limousine
with the top down.
President Kennedy
and Mrs. Kennedy
are in the back seat,
President Kennedy
on the right side,
Mrs. Kennedy on the left.
Ahead of them are Texas Governor
John Connally
and his wife Nellie,
and ahead of them are two
Secret Service agents,
one of them is driving.
It’s a very sort of warm
reception for Kennedy,
and there’s something
like 200,000 people
lining the route,
so it is no small turnout.
And at one point,
Mrs. Connally in the car
says, "You can’t say Dallas
doesn’t love you, can you?"
And President Kennedy replies,
"No, you certainly can’t."
Those are his last words.
The motorcade
comes down Main Street
to the end of Main Street,
where it hits Dealey Plaza,
takes a sharp right turn
on Commerce Street,
and then a sharp left turn
in front of the Texas
School Book Depository.
And it’s at that moment that
the first gunshots are heard.
I repeat, has happened
in the motorcade route.
A gunshot rings out,
and then two more.
Both President Kennedy
and Governor Connally are hit.
Two shots hit Kennedy.
The first enters his upper back
and comes out
through his throat.
And then the second
enters the back of his skull.
He is rushed
to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
That’s where he would soon
be declared dead
at the age of 46.
Connally is also
gravely injured, but survives.
One hour after the shooting,
Kennedy’s death
is officially announced
to the media.
As word spreads of this,
everybody stops where they are.
People are crying.
There’s a lot of screaming,
there’s chaos,
and just a lot
of fear and confusion.
It was just a shock
that caused everybody
to stop and think for a moment
about how the world had changed.
Any divisiveness
or any fractions
within the country,
everybody just comes together
in this moment to grieve.
As the world stops to mourn,
a manhunt begins.
As soon as it’s clear
that President Kennedy’s
been hit
and the motorcade
rushes out of Dealey Plaza,
the police go interview
And perhaps
the most important witness
of that day was a steamfitter,
a Dallas man named
Howard Brennan,
who says that he saw
a man with a rifle
on the sixth floor of the Texas
School Book Depository.
Deputy Constable
Seymour Weitzman
and Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone
rush inside the book depository.
And there they find
quite literally the smoking gun.
They find
a Mannlicher Carcano rifle,
an Italian-made rifle,
and they also find
three spent cartridges,
suggesting that somebody
had just fired three bullets
from the sixth floor.
They find the books
have been moved around
to create sort of
a sniper’s perch.
They also find
a 38-inch brown paper bag.
The shooter escapes,
but building staff
identify a prime suspect.
An employee at the Texas
School Book Depository,
Buell Wesley Frazier,
offers a colleague
a trip into downtown Dallas
on the morning
of the assassination,
and the colleague is carrying
a long brown paper bag
in which he says
he has curtain rods.
A manager in the building,
Roy Truly, looks around,
and he sees that
one of his employees
is actually missing.
It’s the same man who brought in
that suspicious
brown paper bag that morning.
It’s Lee Harvey Oswald.
Police radio his description
to all city units.
So, it’s been less than an hour
since President Kennedy
was shot,
and thanks to the quick work
of the Dallas P.D.,
they actually have
a promising lead.
Three shots fired,
three spent shell casings
found next to a rifle
that they believe
was brought in
by Lee Harvey Oswald,
who is the only person who has
fled that book depository.
Every other employee is there
still actually talking
to investigators.
It appears that Oswald
is the man responsible
for the assassination.
The Dallas Police Department
sends out a message
to be on the lookout
for somebody who looks like
Lee Harvey Oswald.
And Officer J.D. Tippit
is in a patrol car
about three miles away.
He sees a man
on the side of the road
who appears to fit
the description of the man
who’s been identified
in Dealey Plaza
as the president’s assassin.
The police officer
tries to stop this man
and is gunned down by him,
and this man,
according to many witnesses,
is Lee Harvey Oswald.
If police had any doubt
that Lee Harvey Oswald
assassinated President Kennedy,
that doubt is gone
the moment he killed
Officer Tippit.
A local merchant
named Johnny Brewer
has seen this man duck
into the local movie theater.
A little bit before 2:00 p.m.,
police officers find Oswald
seated there.
He’s armed.
He puts up a struggle
before he’s arrested.
One of the arresting officers,
Nick McDonald, testifies that
as they reach him,
Oswald raises his pistol
and pulls the trigger.
But McDonald grabs the gun
just as the hammer falls,
hitting the webbing between
his thumb and index finger,
probably saving his life.
Oswald is brought to the police
and court’s building
in downtown Dallas
and charged for both murders.
Subsequent investigation
uncovers a lot more evidence
that actually implicates Oswald.
They find a photo of Oswald
that was taken by his wife
where he’s holding a rifle
that matches the murder weapon.
Oswald had made a fake ID
in the name of Alek Hidell.
The rifle that was found
in the school book depository
had been ordered in the name
of Alek Hidell
and sent to a post office box
in that name.
Virtually all
of the ballistics evidence
points to Oswald as the gunman
in Dealey Plaza.
His palm prints
are found on the weapons,
and the bullets fired
in Dealey Plaza
almost certainly
came out of the rifle
that’s found on the sixth floor.
But none of this evidence
is ever presented in court.
So, Oswald is held
in custody downtown.
He’s interrogated by the FBI,
the Secret Service,
the Dallas Police Department,
the Dallas
District Attorney’s Office.
He goes through rounds
of questioning.
What we know
from those interrogations,
that he lies again
and again and again,
and he insists he had nothing to
do with the president’s murder.
Then something
absolutely crazy happens.
Sunday morning, November 24th,
police are actually ready
to transfer Oswald
to the county jail.
They have an armored car ready
in the basement of the building.
And as he’s being brought out
in front of the TV cameras,
Jack Ruby,
owner of a local nightclub,
steps out of the crowd
with a .45
and shoots Oswald
once in the stomach
on national TV.
Ruby is arrested
and Oswald is taken
to the same hospital as Kennedy,
where less than 48 hours
after the president,
he’s declared dead as well.
Oswald’s death on November 24th
means that there will
never be a trial,
never an opportunity to resolve
an awful lot of the evidence
that points to Oswald
as the gunman in Dealey Plaza.
New president Lyndon Johnson
establishes a commission to
investigate the assassination.
It becomes known
as the Warren Commission.
It’s sort of the
ultimate blue-ribbon commission.
Among the other members
are the former director
of the Central Intelligence
Agency, Allen Dulles,
as well as a young congressman
from Michigan
by the name of Gerald Ford.
The Warren Commission
works for nearly a year
compiling evidence,
gathering information.
And on September 24th, 1964,
they present an 888-page report
to President Johnson.
The Warren Commission
expresses no doubt.
They state
that Lee Harvey Oswald
is the only man responsible
for JFK’s death.
They also find
that Jack Ruby acted alone
in killing Oswald.
But over the years,
a lot of people
have questioned these findings,
saying that they might appear
to be a little too neat.
Making this report
far from the last word on JFK.
When the Warren
Commission releases
its findings in 1964,
it marks the end
of the official investigation
into the JFK assassination.
They find that
Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone
in killing
President John F. Kennedy.
But that answer doesn’t satisfy
the public for long.
Skeptics write books.
First, a trickle of books,
and then a flood of books
questioning the findings
of the report
and leading to a larger distrust
both in the commission itself
and in the sort of firmament
of American government.
After 12 years of scrutiny,
the U.S. government
takes action.
The House Select
Committee on Assassinations
was created in 1976.
The committee
takes a closer look
at the Warren Commission Report.
They agree with most of what
the Warren Commission says,
particularly regarding
the evidence against Oswald.
They’re confident that Oswald
did shoot Kennedy
from the sixth floor
of the book depository.
But they uncover
a new piece of evidence.
Assassination researchers
in Dallas came to the committee
and said it may be that
the sound of the gunshots
was captured on this
policeman’s radio recording.
So, the committee has
multiple acoustic experts
go over this recording,
and upon first listen,
they think, actually,
there weren’t three shots
as previously thought, but four.
Three shots
did in fact come from
the Texas School Book
but that one shot came from
a grassy knoll
in front of the motorcade.
In other words,
Oswald didn’t act alone.
And if he didn’t act alone,
someone planned
this killing with him.
And if so, who was it?
The House Committee uses a word
that will become connected
to the Kennedy assassination
from then on.
The word they use
is "conspiracy."
So, the audio evidence that
seems to point to a conspiracy
is later disputed,
and in many minds,
it is found to be
completely in error.
But it’s almost too late to put
the toothpaste back in the tube,
that the idea of conspiracy
is now even further cemented
in the minds of millions
of Americans.
If the JFK
assassination is a conspiracy,
who’s behind it?
Almost immediately
after the shooting,
one conspiracy theory
rises to the top.
So, while there’s only
circumstantial evidence
to prove it, there’s a lot
of circumstantial evidence.
Even Lyndon Johnson
did at some point
make an aside
to an ABC news reporter
that he believed
that Fidel Castro
orchestrated the assassination
of John F. Kennedy.
Why is Fidel Castro a suspect?
Let’s start with motive.
At the time
of the assassination,
there is no foreign power
with a bigger grudge
against Kennedy than Castro.
President Kennedy
is so determined
to get rid of Castro,
that he tells the CIA
to go forward
with an invasion of Cuba
that becomes known as
the Bay of Pigs Operation.
They send Cuban exiles into Cuba
with the CIA support
to oust Castro.
It’s a debacle, and afterwards,
certainly Castro knows
that President Kennedy
is so determined
to remove him from power
that he had actually ordered
an invasion of his country.
Documents that
are later declassified
reveal more evidence.
After the Bay of Pigs Invasion
the Kennedy administration,
through the CIA,
tried to kill Castro
in the most exotic of ways.
Everything from poison cigars,
to poisoned skin-diving suits,
to exploding seashells, but yes.
Certainly, Castro knew
the presidency
was plotting against him.
So, we know that Fidel Castro
has reason to want to see
President Kennedy dead.
And the questions
in all of the years since
is what role did
Lee Harvey Oswald
play in whatever plot
was developed
to try to kill the president?
During their investigation,
the Warren Commission conducts
a thorough background check
on Oswald.
Even when he’s serving
in the Marine Corps
for three years,
Lee Harvey Oswald is not shy
about the fact that
he’s a Marxist,
so much so, his colleagues
in the Marine Corps
used to refer to him
as "Oswaldovich."
In 1959 he defects
to the Soviet Union
and marries 19-year-old
Soviet citizen
Marina Prusakova,
and they have a child.
They live there until 1962
in an apartment
just a few blocks away
from where the Soviets
are training Cuban spies
and soldiers.
Back in the U.S.
in April of 1963,
Oswald goes down to New Orleans.
There, he tries to start up
a pro-Castro activist group.
It’s clear that Oswald
likes communism.
But the biggest revelation
for investigators
is that it turns out
that Oswald went to Mexico City
in September of 1963
which of course is just
two months
before JFK’s assassination
and while there
had contact with officials
at the Cuban embassy.
According to author Gus Russo,
during these meetings
Oswald makes a chilling offer.
Russo talks to various sources,
including an FBI case officer
who has two high-level
within the Communist Party.
And these two informants
are two brothers
by the names
of Morris and Jack Childs.
The Childs brothers
meet with Fidel Castro
after the Kennedy assassination
and learn just how much
Fidel Castro knew
about Lee Harvey Oswald
in the weeks before
the assassination.
According to Russo’s research,
Oswald tells embassy officials,
"I’ll kill that bastard Kennedy
when he goes to Dallas."
Castro is immediately informed
about this.
The embassy staff calls him up
and they ask him,
"What do we do?"
Castro denies taking Oswald up
on his offer.
I don’t think
there’s any credible evidence
that Fidel Castro
played any role
in ordering President Kennedy’s
But I think it’s clear
that he was well aware
before the assassination
that Lee Harvey Oswald
had marched into a Cuban embassy
in Mexico City
and made the statement that
he was going to kill Kennedy.
Russo keeps digging.
Russo speaks to some
former Cuban spies
that tell him that when Oswald
makes this offer,
they actually encourage him.
One officer tells Russo
that they offer Oswald money,
and then tell him that
they’ll help him evacuate
if he’s successful doing this.
Oswald’s end goal
is to get a visa
to get either to Cuba,
or to the Soviet Union, or both.
And eventually, the Cubans
do give him some form
of temporary visa
in October of 1963.
But according
to Russo’s findings,
they don’t actually intend
to bring Oswald to Cuba.
They plan to pick him up
and kill him,
and then dump his body
in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Gus Russo,
there’s more evidence
to support this claim.
Russo finds reports
of a private plane
sitting on an airfield in Dallas
on November 22nd.
And that plane
takes off for Havana
after the assassination.
As we know,
Oswald is not on that plane.
But that might be
where he’s headed
when he encounters
Officer Tippit,
and the entire Cuban plan
changes after that.
So, that’s the theory.
The Warren Commission
and also the later House
Committee on Assassinations
dismiss the idea that Castro
or the Cuban government
could have been responsible
for the killing of JFK.
And today, Oswald, Castro,
Johnson they’re all dead.
So, I’d say any hopes
of proving this theory are gone.
When Lee Harvey Oswald
visits Mexico City
in the fall of 1963,
investigators are desperate
to know what he’s up to.
He makes several visits
to the Cuban embassy.
What happens there?
Are the Cubans involved?
You have to ask, right?
But the Cuban embassy
isn’t the only place
Oswald visits in Mexico.
While in Mexico City,
he also goes
to the Soviet embassy
in his quest for a visa,
and he ends up
kind of bouncing back and forth
between the Cuban embassy
and the Soviet embassy.
So Oswald,
in visiting the Soviet embassy,
is taken to meet
with a Valery Kostikov.
Oswald has one meeting
on September 28th with Kostikov,
and they have a subsequent
telephone conversation
on October 1st.
Authorities dig
into Kostikov’s background,
and they make a chilling
Valery Kostikov
is actually a KGB agent
and a KGB assassinations expert.
Doesn’t that suggest that
this man, Lee Harvey Oswald,
is up to no good?
So, that leads us
to the next big question,
which is, is the Soviet Union,
led be Premier
Nikita Khrushchev,
involved in JFK’s assassination?
Khrushchev may have a motive
to kill Kennedy
that’s just as strong
as Fidel Castro’s.
As we know, Kennedy is on
a crusade against communism,
and communism is represented
on the world stage
by its biggest superpower,
the USSR.
Premier Khrushchev
is trying to promote revolution
and communism around the world,
and JFK is trying to do
the exact opposite.
So, these two
are pitted against each other
at a geopolitical level.
And unfortunately for JFK,
90 miles from
the Florida coastline
the Soviets have a communist
nation in the form of Cuba.
Communist Cuba
would not have happened
without the Soviets.
They give the Cubans training,
financial and military support.
Castro’s victory is also
a victory for Khrushchev.
Then in 1962,
Khrushchev experiences
a very public defeat,
thanks to President Kennedy.
A year before Kennedy’s death,
the United States
and the Soviet Union
had almost gone to war
when the Soviet Union
attempts to set up
missile launch pads in Cuba
that can be used
for nuclear weapons.
Kennedy isn’t okay
with Soviet nukes 90 miles away,
and this begins what’s known
as the Cuban Missile Crisis,
which ultimately, after a lot
of back-and-forth
political posturing,
Kennedy wins.
Two years later in 1964,
Khrushchev is removed
from office.
But before he’s removed,
in 1963,
Khrushchev is still
clinging to power,
looking for a way
to redeem himself
among the communists.
That would certainly
add some logic to the idea
that maybe Khrushchev
wanted to see Kennedy dead.
If Oswald walks
right into the embassy
and offers to kill
Kennedy in Dallas,
maybe the Soviets go for it.
Otherwise, why is he meeting
with a KGB
assassinations expert?
There is an
even-further-out theory,
which is that Khrushchev
started plotting to kill Kennedy
even before the Mexico City
Author and attorney
Michael Eddowes
shares details
of his investigation
in the 1977 book
"The Oswald File."
Michael Eddowes
comes up with this theory
that Khrushchev conceives
of this plot to kill Kennedy
when Oswald is still living
in the Soviet Union
beginning in 1959.
Khrushchev realizes
he’s got a golden opportunity
on his hands.
Here, he’s got
an American citizen,
a former Marine,
and a vowed communist
who speaks Russian.
And everybody knows
he’s there in the USSR.
The Associated Press
had reported on his defection.
Eddowes believes that Khrushchev
detains and kills Oswald
while in the USSR,
then replaces him
with a KGB agent,
someone who looks very similar.
So, it’s not Lee Harvey Oswald
who lands back
in the United States in 1962.
It’s an impostor
whose mission it is
to kill John F. Kennedy.
Eddowes believes
he has definitive proof
that Oswald was replaced.
On his Marine records,
Oswald is listed as being 5’11",
but that the person
who killed Kennedy
is actually 5’9".
The original Oswald also had
a cranial operation as a child,
leaving him with an indentation
behind his ear
and a dime-sized hole
in his skull.
But according to Eddowes,
the autopsy
on the Kennedy assassin
shows no such features.
It does, however,
show that the assassin
has a large scar on his wrist,
which Eddowes notes
the original Oswald
did not have.
His argument
persuades the Texas courts
and Oswald’s widow Marina
to have his body exhumed.
So, this is huge news.
Eddowes has managed to convince,
you know, authorities
and Lee Harvey Oswald’s widow
that there’s something
to this theory.
So, in 1981
they dig up the body,
and it’s in an advanced state
of decomposition.
Eddowes and widow Marina Oswald
agree to have the Dallas County
Medical Examiner Linda Norton
do the examination.
Dr. Norton is able
to match dental records
and also identify the evidence
of the childhood
cranial surgery,
which together show that
actually the body in the grave
really is that
of Lee Harvey Oswald.
So, Khrushchev didn’t
replace Lee Harvey Oswald
with another killer,
that much we know.
But the Soviet conspiracy theory
is still alive and well,
because it doesn’t prove
that Oswald himself
didn’t work with the USSR
to plan and execute
the assassination
of John F. Kennedy.
But that’s not what
the House Committee says.
In their 1976 report,
they find that neither
the Cubans nor the Soviets
are behind the assassination.
But they do think that
somebody else could be involved.
For almost 60 years, one detail
in the JFK investigation
remains undisputed
Lee Harvey Oswald’s
communist ties.
But in 2017, thanks to
newly declassified documents,
fresh evidence comes to light
that could change
everything we think
we know about Oswald.
Recently declassified
intelligence reports
reveal that the KGB
does their own investigation
into Oswald.
They have him under
very tight surveillance
from the moment
he enters the USSR,
so they have a lot
of intelligence on him.
And according to the KGB report,
contrary to what we’ve all
been led to believe,
Oswald stops being
a communist sympathizer.
The KGB reports
that over his time
in the Soviet Union,
Oswald actually becomes
disillusioned with the cause,
and by the time
he leaves in 1962,
he is not a communist anymore.
This goes against
decades of conventional thinking
about Oswald
and the assassination.
If he’s not a communist,
then who killed JFK?
So, the KGB does believe
that Oswald killed Kennedy.
They do say that they think
he’s part of a conspiracy.
It’s just not the conspiracy
you think.
So instead, the KGB theory
is that Oswald
is part of a militant
anti-communist conspiracy group
whose intent is to poison
between the Soviet Union
and the United States
by killing Kennedy and framing
the communists for it.
Khrushchev will
say in an interview in 1964
that in fact Oswald was working
with extremist
anti-communist forces
in the United States.
Many wonder if this theory
is simply Soviet propaganda.
Of course, Khrushchev
wants to take suspicion
off of himself.
But independently of the KGB,
a U.S. investigator
also looks into this theory.
Jim Garrison,
the district attorney
of New Orleans, comes to believe
that a murky conspiracy
involving business leaders
and Lee Harvey Oswald
have brought together
all these right wing
anti-communist elements
to kill JFK.
To prove his theory,
Garrison spends six years
interviewing witnesses.
Through the 1960s,
Jim Garrison’s investigation
leads to a man by the name
of David Ferrie.
Back in the 1950s, David Ferrie
serves in the Civil Air Patrol,
which also has as a member
Lee Harvey Oswald.
Dave Ferrie was rabidly
and heavily involved
in the anti-Castro movement
in New Orleans.
So, you might be thinking,
"Now, wait a minute,
someone who’s anti-Castro
should like Kennedy."
But David Ferrie
was disappointed in Kennedy
for not being staunch enough
in their opposition to Castro.
He thinks that
Kennedy’s attempts
at a peaceful outcome are weak,
that he’s essentially handed
Cuba to the communists.
In fact, he gives a fiery speech
in 1961
where he says
that Kennedy should be shot.
According to Garrison,
Ferrie follows through
with that threat.
In September of 1963,
a few weeks before
the assassination of JFK,
an insurance agent
named Perry Russo
would state that he was at
a party with a businessman
from New Orleans
named Clay Shaw,
Lee Harvey Oswald,
and David Ferrie,
where the assassination of JFK
would be discussed.
Russo testifies
that he remembers them
saying that they were gonna
kill Kennedy,
and that they were
gonna use something
called a triangulation
of shooters.
They also discussed alibis
for the people involved
in this conspiracy.
By February of 1967,
Garrison is ready
to reveal his finding.
Newspapers in New Orleans
break Garrison’s story.
He’s convinced that David Ferrie
and Lee Harvey Oswald
are long-time friends
since their days together
in the Civil Air Patrol.
He believes they wanna
take out Kennedy
and frame the communists.
David Ferrie
and Lee Harvey Oswald
work together to plan
the assassination
with the support of Clay Shaw
and the help
of another man behind the scenes
named Guy Banister.
Ferrie and Banister were both
adamant supporters
of the anti-Castro movement,
which included arming people
to go stage attacks in Cuba.
And Ferrie as a pilot
was moving the weapons,
and Banister was supplying them.
So, these men did have
a hard right background
that involved guns.
Garrison was certainly
correct about that.
Garrison’s theory
has Banister and Ferrie
as the brains behind
this operation.
Clay Shaw would be handling
logistics and financial backing.
And then, in this scenario,
there are two shooters
involved in a crossfire
Oswald, as we know,
in the book depository,
and then another unnamed shooter
on the grassy knoll.
Armed with the evidence,
Garrison’s ready
for his day in court.
Oswald is already dead.
And then Banister’s died
of a heart attack by 1964,
so there are already
two alleged conspirators gone.
Then, something
more unusual happens.
Less than a week after
the Garrison investigation
goes public, Dave Ferrie
is found dead.
David Ferrie
is found in his apartment
with two typed-up suicide notes,
but the autopsy
finds no evidence
either of suicide or of murder,
and that David Ferrie
has died of a brain hemorrhage.
Garrison is flummoxed.
He says, "I suppose it could be
just a weird coincidence"
"that the night Ferrie
pens two suicide notes,
he dies of natural causes."
On March 1st, 1967,
the last alleged
co-conspirator alive
is arrested.
Clay Shaw is finally tried
in 1969,
and it remains the only trial
in American history
associated with
the assassination of JFK.
But Garrison is unsuccessful
with few witnesses
remaining alive
and others deemed unreliable.
Shaw is acquitted in 45 minutes.
Ten years later in 1979,
the House Select Committee
wonders publicly
if justice was served.
The House Committee’s
final report states
that they believe
the Louisiana witnesses
were both, quote,
"credible and significant,"
and that they were telling
the truth
about Ferrie
and Oswald’s meetings in 1963.
So, Garrison’s theory’s cause
for a lot of sensational
and a lot of excitement
on the part of the public,
and you know, maybe swayed
some people
in the court of public opinion.
In actual court,
where evidence is required,
they were found to fall apart
pretty quickly.
After decades of pressure
from the American public,
Congress passes
the JFK Records Act in 1992.
The act mandates the release
of all files
relating to the case.
So, even all
these decades later,
people still want answers,
and are now hopeful
that maybe we’ll start
to get them.
These documents
aren’t released all at once,
but during the 1990s,
millions and millions of pages
of documents are made public.
The law had a deadline.
It said that everything
in the government’s files
had to be made public in 2017.
Well, guess what?
That does not happen.
But by 2017,
tens of thousands of records
have been released.
And one of them
gets a lot of attention,
because it appears to confirm
a longstanding theory
that the Mafia was involved
in the assassination of JFK.
From the moment Kennedy dies,
conspiracy theorists
are asking the right question,
which is, "Who wants him dead?"
The communists,
in a lot of minds,
feature really high
on that list.
But there’s another group
who might want Kennedy dead
even more, and that
is the Cosa Nostra
the American Mafia.
In 1962,
JFK, along with his brother,
Attorney General Robert Kennedy,
are on a crusade
to wipe out
organized crime in America.
One of the biggest
revenue streams the mob had,
obviously were the casinos
in Cuba.
The mob was kicked out of Cuba
by Castro.
So, they were angry
with President Kennedy
for not having done more,
so they wanted to see
Castro overthrown
so they could
get back into Cuba,
reopen their casinos
and their liquor operations,
and get going again.
And one way of doing that
might be
by killing President Kennedy.
In the minds of some mobsters,
Kennedy took billions of dollars
out of their pockets,
and they have killed
for a lot less.
And wouldn’t you know it,
right in the middle
of the Kennedy case,
there’s a man who could be
the key to a Mafia connection.
That man
is Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer,
Jack Ruby.
Jack Ruby was a tough guy
from Chicago,
Jack Rubenstein originally.
A thug, a pimp.
Moves to Dallas,
opens up his nightclub there,
and quickly becomes
a kind of fixture
among organized crime figures.
He was what you would call
a wannabe.
He gets these nightclubs
up and running,
and they become a conduit
for all the things
we know the Mafia for
gambling, running narcotics,
and eventually sex work.
Theorists long speculated
that Jack Ruby and the Mafia
worked together to kill Kennedy.
They say by 1963,
Jack Ruby is heavily indebted
to the Mafia,
and they force him
to find a patsy
to assassinate the president.
And afterwards, they make him
kill that fall guy
so that he can’t talk.
A lot more evidence
came out in the 1970s
with the House Select Committee
and that strengthened the notion
that there was
an organized crime connection
to the assassination.
Did Ruby hire Oswald
on behalf of the Mafia?
Dallas police have two witnesses
report that
on October 4th, 1963,
seven weeks before
the assassination,
they see Ruby and Oswald meet
in Ruby’s Carousel Club
on Commerce Street in Dallas.
There, they argue
over a large sum of money
for an undisclosed job that
Oswald will be doing for Ruby.
But the Warren Commission
fails to interview
these witnesses.
After he’s arrested, Ruby denies
ever having known Oswald,
and that he didn’t know
that the assassination
was going to happen.
Ruby says that he was
several blocks away
busy placing some newspaper ads,
and killed Oswald
because of grief,
because of patriotism,
and because he felt
for the First Lady,
and wanted to keep her
from having to suffer
through a prolonged trial.
For over 50 years,
no one can prove otherwise.
But then in 2017,
as part of another large dump
of declassified Kennedy files,
we see Document 32149267.
It’s a report from the FBI’s
Intelligence division
about Jack Ruby.
In it, an informant
named Bob Vanderslice
says that Ruby calls him up
on the day of the assassination.
He asks if he, quote,
"would like to watch
the fireworks."
Vanderslice goes
with Ruby to a location
right across from the Texas
School Book Depository,
and together they watch
the president get shot.
When it happens,
Ruby says nothing.
He just turns calmly
and walks south
towards the newspaper office
where he places the ads,
and thereby creates an alibi.
If this is true, then Jack Ruby
knew there were going
to be quote, "fireworks,"
and he knew exactly where
and when the assassination
was gonna happen.
In other words, Ruby lied,
and he knew
about the whole thing.
After months in custody,
Ruby himself claims
there’s more to his story.
At first, Ruby sticks
to his alibi.
But then, he changes his tune.
He writes letters,
he makes statements to police,
and then even testifies
to the Warren Commission
that he knows some things
he’s not saying,
but he believes
that his life is in danger.
He wants to tell
the whole truth,
but he can’t unless he can get
some protection
from the government.
But he never
gets that protection,
and he dies in 1967,
taking with him to the grave
any potential secrets about
a Mafia assassination plot.
Some believe that
members of the Mafia
work quickly
to cover their tracks
after JFK’s death.
Over a dozen witnesses
and participants
die mysteriously in
the aftermath of the shooting
Oswald, Ruby.
Dorothy Kilgallen,
she’s the only reporter
to interview Jack Ruby
at his trial.
She then openly questions
the Warren Commission,
and then dies of a mysterious
overdose in 1965.
So, following this trail
of murders,
it reaches its apex in 1968
when Robert F. Kennedy,
who also could be seen
as an enemy of the Mafia,
is killed in Los Angeles.
What kind of organization
would be willing
to leave behind
such a long string of bodies
to keep hold of their power
and their secrets?
The Mafia, that’s who.
And if they did, then it worked,
because there is no one left
to confirm this theory.
On December 20th, 1991,
Oliver Stone’s film
about the Kennedy assassination,
"JFK," is released in theaters.
Almost immediately,
it causes an uproar.
The film combines a number
of conspiracy theories,
including the alleged
New Orleans plot
and the second shooter
on the grassy knoll.
But more important
than the film’s plot
is the impact it has
on this country.
After the film is released,
we see a tidal wave
of other publications associated
with the JFK assassination.
Including one
from a man who says
he was directly involved.
Robert Morrow claimed to be
a former CIA operative
active in the anti-Castro
movement in the 1960s.
And he alleged in a book
that he was asked
by Tracy Barnes,
a senior CIA official,
to buy guns that he said
were later used
in the assassination.
Morrow’s cast of characters
in the alleged CIA plot
might sound familiar.
Morrow actually names
the same co-conspirators
that are in the movie "JFK,"
and also those that were pursued
by Jim Garrison
in his New Orleans case.
He claims that Clay Shaw,
Guy Banister, and Dave Ferrie
were helping in the operations
against Castro in Cuba
before the assassination.
Morrow says they also
enlisted the help
of the Mafia through Jack Ruby.
On November 22nd in Dallas,
they placed four shooters
Oswald in the book depository,
another on the grassy knoll,
and two more,
all with Morrow’s rifles.
The month prior,
they laid some groundwork.
They sent Oswald to Mexico
to meet with the Cubans.
Their goal is to frame
Castro for the crime,
and therefore bring about
a full-scale invasion of Cuba.
According to Morrow,
the CIA wants redemption
from their failed
Bay of Pigs Operation,
and the Mafia has hopes
of being able to return
to reopen their casinos in Cuba.
It’s quite a story
a complicated CIA plot
with dozens of participants.
And yet, with all those people,
including government agents
and known criminals
that are under surveillance,
the Warren Commission
finds no evidence
that any of this
actually happened.
Morrow offers
a potential explanation
for that as well.
Many have speculated
that the Warren Commission
never adequately looked
into the Cuban connection
or the CIA.
Morrow believes that
that’s due to the presence
on the commission
of the former CIA director,
Allan Dulles.
When the commission is formed,
they don’t put the current
CIA director on it
or anyone from the FBI.
The only one on the commission
with intelligence experience
is Allen Dulles,
who just happens to be the man
that Kennedy fired
from his position
after the Bay of Pigs failed.
At the time
of the Warren Commission,
CIA involvement in
the Bay of Pigs is classified.
The government didn’t want
that getting out.
They also didn’t want
any information getting out
related to Operation Mongoose,
which at the time
was top-secret, but we now know
was a Kennedy-sanctioned
CIA operation
to assassination Castro
led by Allen Dulles.
As more documents
have been declassified,
more information has been
revealed about the CIA.
It is clear that they were
withholding information
from the Warren Commission
information that Allen Dulles
knew and kept hidden.
Some theorists
believe that information
could have even saved
Kennedy’s life.
In 2013 and 2014,
some very damaging records
are released about the CIA
as per the JFK Records Act.
They reveal that the CIA
actually knew
about Oswald’s trip
to Mexico City
before the assassination.
The agency claimed
to the Warren Commission
that they only found out
but that was a lie.
They had an eye on Oswald
since his defection to the USSR.
They were reading his mail,
tracking his movements.
The CIA field office
in Mexico City
reported Oswald’s meeting with
the Cubans almost immediately.
And the CIA had Soviet agent
Valery Kostikov
under surveillance
during the time
he was meeting with Oswald.
Does that mean
the CIA killed Kennedy?
No, absolutely not.
But should the CIA have known
that Oswald was a threat?
Yes, they probably should have.
And could an earlier
have prevented Oswald
from killing the president?
Again, I would say
the answer is yes.
In a now-declassified
2013 report,
CIA historian David Robarge
finds that the agency
is complicit in keeping
incendiary information
from the Warren Commission.
He says they intended to keep
the commission
focused on, quote,
"what the Agency
believed was the best truth,"
that Lee Harvey Oswald
had acted alone
in killing John Kennedy.
I think all of the most
credible evidence
suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald
fired the bullets
that killed President Kennedy,
that he probably
is the only gunman.
But whether or not
other people knew,
whether or not
other people helped him,
those are mysteries that
will probably linger forever.
The National Archives
recently released
thousands of newly
declassified documents.
Now, almost all of these
nearly five million pages
are available to the public.
Perhaps they will provide
some closure
to this enduring mystery.
I’m Laurence Fishburne.
Thank you for watching
"History’s Greatest Mysteries."
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