Kennedy Assassination Context Kennedy Assassination Context
In what wider context should we understand the assassination? There are two broadly defined visions of the context of the assassination, and they are flatly contradictory.

    Conspiracy Worldview

  • Kennedy was a threat to many interests.
  • Kennedy was going to withdraw from Vietnam.
  • Administration officials knew there was a conspiracy, or were actually part of it.
  • The administration feared the public learning about the conspiracy.
  • The Warren Commission was a coverup.
  • When bureaucrats keep documents secret, it is to conceal wrongdoing on their part.
  • Conspiracy thinking results from government lying and scheming.
    Lone Assassin Worldview

  • Kennedy was a rather conventional politician.
  • Kennedy had not decided to withdraw from Vietnam.
  • Administration officials believed Oswald to be the lone gunman.
  • The administration feared the consequences if the public came to believe that a communist nation had Kennedy killed.
  • The Warren Commission sought the truth — although it was excessively sensitive about matters relating to national security and the Kennedy family.
  • Bureaucracies have a "culture of secrecy" that leads them to conceal records for no good reason, and where good reasons for keeping secrets exist, bureaucrats interpret them too broadly.
  • Conspiracy thinking results from a psychological process: people are unwilling to accept that the assassination had no broader meaning.
So then, what does the evidence show?

Kennedy and Foreign Policy

Was Kennedy going to withdraw from Vietnam, and did the Evil Minions of the Military Industrial Complex have him killed for that reason? Was Kennedy a foreign policy "dove," soft on communism and on Castro? Did Dwight Eisenhower describe an evil Military Industrial Complex that later killed JFK?

The Warren Commission

Was it a coverup, or an honest investigation? Was the Commission's Report less than frank about Oswald's motives?

How Government Works

Are government officials highly competent, but nefarious? Or are they bumblers who can't get things straight? Is it normal for government to release records in a timely way, or is it normal for government to secret records for a very long time?

Thinking About Conspiracy

Do normal psychological processes bias our thinking on the issue of conspiracy? Do we not want to believe in a lone assassin?

The Suspects

Does the large number of suspects in the assassination mean that some of them must have conspired to kill Kennedy? Or does it indicate the weakness of conspiracy theories?
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