JFK Assassination 50th anniversary: Lone gunman or cabal?

JFK and Grace Kelly

Film star and Princess Consort of Monaco Grace Kelly with JFK in 1962. (Photo: White House News Photographer)

Pt. 1

It’s likely Americans will never know the full truth about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Too many powerful heads might roll; too many legacies could be destroyed.

Most media, especially media of that era, eagerly assisted in covering up information that might have shed light on who really was behind the murder of America’s 35th president whose Secret Service code name was “Lancer.”

Time Magazine explained the obvious in a 2012 article about presidents’ code names:

“Kennedy’s moniker meshed well with the ‘Camelot’ theme of his Administration. It also works as a play on ‘Lancelot,’ King Arthur’s notoriously womanizing knight.”

November 22, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. New books have come out and some predictably stick to government-constructed talking points. Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. There was no conspiracy.

Others, like Roger Stone in his book The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, suggest there was a conspiracy.

Whatever you personally believe, if you research materials in print and online, you will come to the conclusion that the young king of Camelot who charmed America with his beautiful queen and heirs was no poster boy for family values. There are reams of documents and interviews that suggest America was a far more troubled country than we thought, that our leadership did not hold the values and discipline Main Street believed they did.

Against the backdrop of power and intrigue, organized crime flourished. The mixed bag of power and wealth produced intrigue that encouraged both fiction and fact. Little wonder many of us don’t buy into the long gunman theory; circumstances practically demand a cabal.

It’s necessary to put politics in the context of those times, however. The U.S. in the early 1960s was still a conservative country socially. Girls wore dresses to school. Blue jeans weren’t ubiquitous. The military was filled by draft, not option. Co-ed dorms at colleges, at least in the South, were nonexistent, and divorce was still frowned upon.

Some of Kennedy’s problems stemmed from his lifelong struggles with Addison’s disease. Muscle aches, fatigue, and joint pains are but a few of the symptoms, and those pains would be a challenge to the leader of the greatest country in the free world. Addison’s may be one of the reasons JFK turned to Max Jacobson—Dr. Feelgood—for the methamphetamine shots that enabled the president to cope.

Seymour Hersh in his iconic book The Dark Side of Camelot said JFK got his first shot from Jacobson in the fall of 1960 prior to a televised debate with his opponent Vice President Richard Nixon.

Addison’s wasn’t the only problem plaguing JFK.

Dr. William Herbst, Jr., was a urologist who treated Kennedy “until the end of his life,” according to Hersh who had access to Herbst’s files. Hersh wrote:

“Kennedy had been treated since 1940 for a series of venereal diseases, and often experienced acute pain while urinating…Kennedy was being repeatedly reinfected—and, presumably—infecting his partners.”

Was Kennedy strong enough to handle the crises of the day? Did powerful people in the upper levels of our government worry about JFK’s capabilities?

It didn’t help that JFK had kept company with numerous women, one of them a woman from East Germany, Ellen Rometsch. Rometsch as a young girl had been a member of a Communist Party youth group. “As a young adult she joined a second Communist Party group,” wrote Hersh. JFK wasn’t Rometsch’s only lover—Hersh claims there were many and many of those were powerful men.

At the time, a sex scandal had ensnared the British Minister of War John Profumo who was accused of having relations with a Soviet spy.

It’s easy to see why Rometsch, once she left to visit her home country, wasn’t allowed to return to the U.S. Hersh details how Bobby Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover helped conceal a potential scandal JFK might have faced if his liaisons with Rometsch were made public.

Waiting in the wings and seething with ambition was Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson whose personal habits were just as dark as JFK’s. The difference was that LBJ’s tentacles reached into corridors even more powerful than Kennedy’s. Furthermore, as Bobby Kennedy focused on investigating organized crime figures linked to the Kennedy family, it’s easy to imagine crime bosses’ rage.

Hersh also detailed how the Camelot fabrication was constructed by Democrats:

“The mythmaking and media wooing began soon after Kennedy took office. Newspapers and magazines were filled with articles and photographs, usually touted as exclusive, of family life in the White House or a day in the life of the president.”

As Kennedy’s rule of Camelot proceeded, U.S. security hung in the balance and the young president’s behavior became more reckless. LBJ, no choirboy himself, knew his own career was hanging by a thread because Bobby Kennedy had set wheels in motion to expose the Texas Democrat’s corruption.

By the time the Church Committee revealed details about Oswald’s visit to the FBI and about dark ops in the intelligence community, the lone gunman theory had been formalized by both government and media. The note Oswald left the day of his visit to the FBI was destroyed.

On the very day JFK was killed, something happened in Washington that few paid attention to in the aftermath of the assassination, something that would shed light on one individual who stood, more than anyone, to benefit from JFK’s demise.

Related at Day on the Day: Stone does Dallas with JFK book on 50th anniversary…

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Nov. 16, 2013)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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4 Responses to JFK Assassination 50th anniversary: Lone gunman or cabal?

  1. Pingback: JFK Assassination: Letter to DOJ implicated Johnson | DAY ON THE DAY

  2. Pingback: 5 intriguing facts among many about the death of JFK | DAY ON THE DAY

  3. Kay Day says:

    Many of the records are still sealed, and there’s still a sentiment in legacy media to protect the Kennedy family. I will never believe Oswald, if he was part of the plan, acted alone. Too many documented facts suggest otherwise. best, KBD

  4. Dennis Hayward says:

    I remember a brief interview by Oswald as he was being transferred between cells or interview rooms. When questioned by a reporter in a crowded hallway, he stated to no one’s surprise, “I didn’t shoot anybody.” But it was the inflection in his voice, the sincerity and seemingly genuine surprise of the situation he found himself in, that has always stuck with me. Perhaps I am merely naive.


    I know I am not alone in believing in Oswald’s innocence. Every re-enactment, movie and interview I have ever seen STRAINS to inform us that Oswald was an expert marksman, omitting the fact that to remain expert, one must practice often.

    In the end, I don’t believe Oswald was bright enough, nor stupid enough to have pulled off this shooting.

    I also recall a statement being made by “someone” on TV, that many of the records/facts surrounding the assassination would be sealed for a period of 75 years..

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