Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews They Killed Our President: 63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95) by Jesse Ventura with Dick Russell and David Wayne.
Released on Tuesday, They Killed Our President was published to coincide with the impending fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s death on November 22nd and marks the third book that Ventura has collaborated on with longtime assassination researcher and acclaimed writer Dick Russell (whose classic works on the case include The Man Who Knew Too Much and On The Trail of the JFK Assassins). Those earlier works, American Conspiracies (2011) and 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read (2012), included segments on JFK, but with a broader focus on the alternate histories that the government has attempted to pass off as truth. Ventura is also the former Independent governor of Minnesota and an ex-Navy Frogman who served as the host and executive producer of truTV’s Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.
The book opens with what is sure to be a stunner to those who are less than intimately acquainted with the circumstances of JFK’s death and the Warren Commission’s inquiry into who was responsible for the act and why: the Katzenbach Memo. Written by the Justice Department’s acting Attorney General Nicholas Katzenback and submitted to Lyndon Johnson’s aide, Bill Moyers, shortly after Lee Harvey’s death at the hands of Jack Ruby, the memo became the genesis of the Warren Commission and its central mission: that the public must be satisfied of Oswald’s guilt, that Oswald had no confederates, and that the evidence would have been sufficient to secure a conviction at trial. But what true and honest investigation starts with the identification of a sole suspect and then curtails evidence and testimony to corroborate that assertion?
So, from the very start, it seems that the Warren Commission was charged with quelling any hint of conspiracy, regardless of how compelling. (That their twenty-six volumes are unindexed is worthy of note, as is the fact that they relied heavily on the FBI and CIA—two agencies long suspected of participating in the assassination/cover-up—for information. Hello, conflict of interest!) With that understanding, Ventura and collaborators go on to present compelling and irrefutable evidence that contradicts, and ultimately invalidates, the official version of events—which a whopping 75% percent of Americans continue to question. The books sections focus on four primary areas: The Evidence, The Cover-Up, The Witnesses, and The Why, Who, And How; further, each of the authors’ assertions are supported by official testimony, government reports, expert opinion, and scholarly research.
To summarize all sixty-three arguments in support of conspiracy would require a different forum, but here are just a few thought-provoking considerations: there is irrefutable evidence from doctors who treated Kennedy at Parkland immediately after the shooting that the throat wound was one of entry and the massive rear head wound one of exit, which is a complete contradiction to the official version’s finding that all shots were fired from the rear (evidence believed to buttress the doctors’ assertions, such as Kennedy’s brain, tissue slides, and autopsy photographs and X-rays, vanished mysteriously); bullet trajectories and wound locations were deliberately altered to fit with the sanctioned version of events; dozens of witnesses died under extremely suspicious circumstances, often just after being summoned to give testimony (for further reading on this topic, see Richard Belzer’s Hit List); that there were previous plots against Kennedy in the months leading up to Dallas, and with eerily similar set-ups and contingency plans; that the government actively engaged in a cover-up of the crime—and continues to do so (Why else would numerous documents remain sealed under the pretense of “national security” fifty years later?). And this is but a small representation of the deceit that persists to this day.
After presenting a myriad of facts that support conspiracy by collusion and cover-up, Ventura makes a disturbing yet not unfamiliar claim that there is a secret government running America, which has largely nullified the power of the presidency while using the threat of terrorism as an impetus to restrict civil liberties. Before vacating the White House, Kennedy’s predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, gave a farewell address in which he cautioned citizens as to the increasing power of the military-industrial complex—a powerful conglomerate of defense contractors and the armed forces. Remember: war is big business, and Kennedy’s increasing proclivity toward peace—as evidenced by improved relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union and his plan to deescalate the country's presence in Vietnam—might very well have been viewed as a radical departure from the status quo. And how do you neutralize an “enemy” from within?
In the end, Jesse Ventura is to conspiracy proponents what the likes of Gerald Posner, Vincent Bugliosi, and Bill O’Reilly are to the lone gunmen supporters. While his style is unapologetically aggressive (would you expect anything less?), his assertions are also grounded in well-supported fact as opposed to subversion or blatant disregard. Ventura calls “Bullshit” on the government—repeatedly, actually—and you should, too, if you have any interest in reclaiming a democracy that is “for the people and by the people” …
With thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for providing a review copy of They Killed Our President.