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Who Pulled the Trigger? The Stories of JFK's Assassination

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

This week on The Assuminati Podcast we plunge into one of the most dissected events in history, who killed JFK? President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is a historical whodunit that offers a banquet of conspiracy theories and we're serving a full-course meal. So, sit back, buckle up, and prepare for an immersive journey to Dallas's Dealey Plaza on the ever-mysterious day of November 22, 1963. Below are some of the topics we discuss.

This conspiracy theory has so much to unpack, so we split the episode in two. Be sure to listen to JFK Part 1 & Part 2.

Diving Into the Official Story: The Warren Report

Let's kick things off with the official story, as per the Warren Report. This report, named after its lead investigator, Chief Justice Earl Warren, is the "end-all and be-all" for some, but just the beginning for others. Ready? Let's dive right in!

According to the Warren Report, our man Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman who, on November 22, 1963, took up a sniper's nest on the 6th floor of his workplace — the Texas School Book Depository. This location gave him a clear shot at the President's motorcade as it passed through Dealey Plaza.

The story goes that Oswald squeezed off three shots from his Italian Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. One of these bullets tragically found its mark, striking President Kennedy and leaving an indelible mark on American history.

Following the chaos and confusion that ensued after the shots were fired, Oswald managed to slip out of the Depository. However, his freedom was short-lived. He was arrested later that day, not for JFK's assassination, but for the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit. Oswald was subsequently also charged with the assassination of the President.

Just as it seemed we might get some answers, a shocking twist occurred. Two days later, Oswald was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, in full view of live television cameras. Ruby's shocking act deprived us of a trial that might have shed light on the many burning questions surrounding JFK's assassination.

There you have it, folks — the official narrative. A single, discontented man, acting alone, forever changing the course of history. It seems tidy, maybe too tidy for some, which is why a wealth of alternate theories soon sprouted. So, hold onto your tinfoil hats, because we're about to venture off the beaten path and into the wilderness of speculation and conspiracy.

Unraveling the Mafia Connection: Is There More Than Meets the Eye?

Here's a juicy morsel for thought: Could JFK's assassination be an epic act of revenge from the Mafia? As we know, the Mob was feeling quite the squeeze from JFK's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was waging a relentless war on organized crime. Did the Mob, driven to desperate measures, retaliate with a darkly poetic twist, taking out the brother who was a thorn in their side?

Let's dive deeper into this quagmire of cloak-and-dagger intrigue.

It's no secret that the Kennedy administration had a bone to pick with the Mafia. Attorney General Robert Kennedy was practically frothing at the mouth to clamp down on organized crime. The Mob, feeling the heat, could have perceived the President's assassination as a fatal blow to the Kennedy administration's anti-crime crusade.

Adding a dash of international intrigue to this theory is the Mafia's souring affair with Cuba. When Fidel Castro seized the reins of power from the Mob-friendly Fulgencio Batista, organized crime lost a profitable playground. The botched Bay of Pigs invasion, a failed attempt to oust Castro, only salted the wound. Could this thwarted Cuban dream have been the final straw for the Mob?

The Mafia theory takes on a deeper shade of intrigue when we turn our attention to Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Conspiracy theorists have suggested both men were connected to the Mafia. Was Oswald the 'hitman' commissioned for the job, and Ruby the 'cleaner', tasked with silencing Oswald before he could spill the beans? It's a narrative that wouldn't be out of place in a Hollywood thriller.

In a nutshell, the Mafia theory posits that JFK's assassination was not the act of a lone wolf but a symphony of crime orchestrated by a threatened Mafia. It's a fascinating tale, full of drama and intrigue, that has captured the imagination of countless armchair detectives.

The Enigma of the Grassy Knoll: Was There a Second Gunman?

It's time to turn our gaze towards one of the most enduring and hotly debated ones out there — the "second gunman on the grassy knoll" theory.

Did a hidden sharpshooter, lying in wait on a grassy slope nearby, have a part to play in JFK's assassination? Did Oswald have an accomplice who's evaded the spotlight all these years? Let's dissect this tantalizing theory, piece by piece.

The theory posits that an unseen assassin, nestled on a grassy knoll adjacent to the presidential motorcade's route through Dallas' Dealey Plaza, took part in JFK's assassination. Doubts about the lone gunman narrative started mushrooming almost immediately after the tragic event, with the grassy knoll theory gaining significant traction.

A cornerstone of this theory is the peculiar noises heard on audio recordings from that fateful day. Several witnesses swore they heard gunfire crackling from the direction of the knoll, in contrast to the Warren Commission's assertion that all shots came from the Texas School Book Depository.

Armchair detectives have also meticulously examined photographic and film evidence, searching for the ghostly figure of a second assassin. Some claim to have spotted characters dubbed "the badge man" or "the black dog man" lurking on the grassy knoll around the time of the shooting.

But here's the rub — the images are often blurry and open to interpretation. While some see a sinister figure cloaked in the shadows, others see nothing more than vague shapes and blurry pixels.

Moreover, conspiracy buffs point to the trajectory of JFK's head movement post the fatal shot as an indication of a bullet from a different angle — presumably from our mysterious grassy knoll gunman.

The Mystery of the Umbrella Man: A Spy's Odd Job or Innocent Bystander?

The "Umbrella Man,” a peculiar figure in the backdrop of the Dealey Plaza on that clear, sunny day in November 1963, the Umbrella Man has piqued the interest of conspiracy theorists and history buffs alike. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

On the day President Kennedy was assassinated, photographs and film footage from Dealey Plaza show an intriguing figure. Amid the crowd lining the route of JFK's motorcade stood a man, hoisting a black umbrella, despite the weather being sunny and clear. This seemingly out-of-place figure was situated roughly at the point where the President's motorcade first reacted to gunshots.

The incongruity of the umbrella and its timing with the shooting have sparked various theories. Some argue that the Umbrella Man was providing a visual cue to the assassins. Others have concocted a more elaborate narrative, suggesting that the umbrella was a concealed weapon, used to fire a paralyzing dart at JFK, making him an easier target for the fatal shots.

The Umbrella Man theory was investigated during the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s. A man named Louie Steven Witt stepped forward, claiming to be the infamous Umbrella Man. Witt explained that his intentions were far less sinister than speculated — he raised the umbrella as a silent protest against JFK's foreign policy. The umbrella, according to Witt, symbolized Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy towards Hitler, which he believed JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, supported.

While Witt's explanation might have dampened some of the speculation, the Umbrella Man remains a captivating character in the tapestry of JFK assassination theories. Whether an innocuous bystander or a clandestine operative, his role in that fateful day continues to fuel our curiosity.

CIA in the Crosshairs: Was it Self-Preservation or Mere Conjecture?

Could the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have had a hand in the tragic demise of President John F. Kennedy? In the early 1960s, rumors swirled that Kennedy had plans to significantly curtail the CIA's power, or perhaps even dismantle it entirely. Such an assertion, whether valid or not, roused the interest of conspiracy theorists who saw this as a potential motive for the agency to plot against the President.

One of the significant sources of friction between JFK and the CIA was the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion, a failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. The operation, organized by the CIA, did not receive the desired backing from Kennedy, leaving the agency feeling betrayed and resentful. Some argue that this grievance spurred the CIA to conspire against Kennedy.

The CIA, in its zealous pursuit to dislodge Castro, is known to have made some morally ambiguous alliances. Its ties with organized crime syndicates and anti-Castro Cuban factions are well-documented. These dubious connections have led some to propose a larger conspiracy theory, suggesting that these groups, facilitated by the CIA, might have been instrumental in orchestrating Kennedy's assassination.

Shadows of the Military-Industrial Complex: Was JFK's Assassination a Silent Coup?

Could America's so-called 'military-industrial complex' have been involved in a deadly power play that culminated in JFK's death? Let's dissect this intriguing theory together.

The term 'military-industrial complex' was famously coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell address as a warning against the potential overreach of a powerful union between the military and industrial sectors. Fast forward to November 22, 1963, and some believe this ominous prophecy might have come to pass.

Proponents of this theory posit that JFK's preference for diplomacy and peace-building, particularly with the Soviet Union, did not sit well with powerful stakeholders within the military and defense industries. His reluctance to escalate U.S. involvement in Cuba and Vietnam, along with his signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, are often cited as points of contention.

Theorists point to JFK's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and his subsequent escalation of American involvement in Vietnam as evidence supporting this theory. The Vietnam War was indeed a lucrative enterprise for the defense industry. Could the stakeholder's desire for a more belligerent leader have led to a sinister plot against JFK?

However, this theory isn't without its skeptics. Critics highlight that JFK himself had been increasing American military advisors in Vietnam during his presidency.

When Ambition Allegedly Turns Deadly: The Lyndon B. Johnson Theory in JFK's Assassination

This theory implicates a man you might not have suspected - JFK's Vice President and eventual successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. As we navigate this provocative theory, we must ponder: can political ambition culminate in such a deadly betrayal?

The LBJ theory regarding JFK's assassination suggests that the then Vice President had both personal and political reasons for conspiring against JFK. The Kennedy brothers, John and Robert, were known to have a strained relationship with Johnson, which allegedly left the Vice President feeling marginalized.

Drawing an analogy, one might say, in the context of a wedding, Johnson was always the bridesmaid, never the bride - forever in the shadow, never at center stage. Could this purported slight have contributed to a plot of unprecedented treachery?

On the political front, theorists posit that Johnson, supposedly aware of impending scandals, saw the presidency as a lifeline to sidestep these potential career-ending issues.

Additionally, policy disagreements are cited as another potential motivation. It's suggested that Johnson sought to drastically alter American policy, a goal he could only accomplish from the Oval Office. A glaring example of such a change was the escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, which became a hallmark of Johnson's presidency. Critics, however, note that the Kennedy administration had also been ramping up military advisers in Vietnam before JFK's untimely death.

This theory garnered widespread attention thanks to the provocative writings of authors such as Roger Stone and Barr McClellan. However, it's important to mention that many who were intimately familiar with Johnson, including his aides and advisors, have vehemently denied these claims, defending the late president's legacy.

A Global Conspiracy? Foreign Governments and the JFK Assassination

The Foreign Governments Theory presents a narrative that extends beyond American borders, implicating foreign nations in the fateful event. This theory primarily considers two potential culprits: Cuba and the Soviet Union, nations that had a tumultuous relationship with the Kennedy administration.

Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, figures prominently in the Foreign Governments Theory. According to this perspective, the Cuban government, angered by the Kennedy administration's numerous attempts to unseat Castro - most notably the botched Bay of Pigs invasion and Operation Mongoose, a covert operation designed to destabilize the Cuban government - orchestrated JFK's assassination as retaliation.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the man officially deemed responsible for the assassination, is also linked to this theory due to his known pro-Castro leanings and past residence in the Soviet Union. However, concrete evidence connecting the Cuban government to JFK's assassination remains elusive, and Castro himself has emphatically denied involvement.

The other key player in this theory is the Soviet Union. Proponents suggest that the heightened Cold War tensions, punctuated by events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, could have motivated the Soviets to assassinate Kennedy. Oswald's time in the Soviet Union and his avowed Marxist ideology lend some credence to this theory.

However, experts generally agree that the Soviet Union orchestrating an assassination of an American president would have been an exceedingly risky move, with the potential to ignite a full-scale war. As with the Cuban theory, there is currently no definitive evidence to support the claim of Soviet involvement.

Tracing the Money: The Federal Reserve Theory and JFK's Assassination

One relatively lesser-known narrative points to the U.S. Federal Reserve System - the nation's central banking system - as the architects of the tragic event. This theory, often dubbed the "big-bank conspiracy," stems from Kennedy's supposed intention to undermine the power of the Federal Reserve and reinstate a system where currency issuance was the sole prerogative of the U.S. government, not the quasi-public Federal Reserve. It's a reminder that, in the eyes of some, the world of high-stakes finance may carry potentially deadly implications.

Evidence often cited by supporters of this theory revolves around an Executive Order - specifically, Executive Order 11110, signed by Kennedy on June 4, 1963. This order authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue silver certificates, thereby delegating the President's authority under the Thomas Amendment of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

According to proponents, this order represented a move to curtail the Federal Reserve's influence over the money supply, placing Kennedy on a collision course with powerful banking entities. These financial elites, feeling their dominance over American currency threatened, are theorized to have plotted JFK's assassination to preserve their control.

However, a closer examination of this theory reveals several misconceptions about both the Executive Order in question and the nature of the U.S. monetary system. In truth, Executive Order 11110 was more of a bureaucratic formality, part of an ongoing policy to phase out silver certificates and favor Federal Reserve notes - a policy not initiated by Kennedy, but a process underway since the 1930s.

Moreover, contrary to the claims of the theory, the order didn't strip away any powers from the Federal Reserve. Instead, it was more of an administrative move within an already determined monetary policy. Consequently, the idea that it was part of a grander plan by Kennedy to "reclaim control" of the monetary system from the Federal Reserve is not supported by factual evidence.

An Accidental Tragedy? The George Hickey Theory of JFK's Assassination

The George Hickey theory turns the common narrative on its head: instead of a calculated political murder, this theory suggests a tragic accident. Propounded in Bonar Menninger's 1992 book "Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK," which builds on the research of firearms expert Howard Donahue, it's a theory that paints a scenario of tragic misstep rather than calculated conspiracy. At its core, it suggests that the fatal shot which claimed JFK's life was accidentally discharged by Secret Service agent George Hickey.

Donahue and Menninger's theory posits that after the initial shot by Lee Harvey Oswald (which they suggest hit both Kennedy and Governor Connally), the Secret Service agents in the motorcade sprung into action. Agent George Hickey, positioned in the car trailing Kennedy's, purportedly picked up an AR-15 rifle with the intent of returning fire. The theory suggests that a sudden acceleration of Hickey's vehicle caused him to lose balance, inadvertently discharging his weapon. The round from this unintended shot, they propose, was the one that dealt the fatal head wound to JFK.

Unsurprisingly, this theory has been a source of considerable controversy and skepticism. Chiefly, it lacks substantial corroborating evidence and flies in the face of the official Warren Commission report, which concluded that all shots were fired by Oswald from the Texas School Book Depository.

Critics further argue that the absence of any reports from other agents or spectators about shots originating from the Secret Service vehicle weakens the theory's validity. Moreover, the ammunition fired by Hickey's AR-15 rifle differed from the bullet fragments found in Kennedy's body, casting further doubt on the accidental shooting narrative.

The theory gained additional attention with the release of the 2013 documentary "JFK: The Smoking Gun." Despite its presence in the public consciousness, the academic and investigative community largely dismisses this theory due to its inconsistencies and lack of credible evidence.

The Secret Service Coverup Theory in JFK's Assassination: A Narrative in the Shadows

In the expansive spectrum of JFK assassination theories, a particularly intriguing one questions not the source of the fatal shot but rather the actions that unfolded in its aftermath. The Secret Service Coverup theory posits that the most crucial aspect of the JFK assassination lies not in who pulled the trigger, but in who controlled the narrative thereafter. Proponents of this theory argue that the real story of JFK's death is enshrouded in actions taken by the Secret Service, be it to mask an accident or to divert attention from a conspiracy they were ill-equipped to handle.

The Secret Service Coverup theory has a compelling subset that ties in with the George Hickey theory, which we discussed earlier. In Menninger's "Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK," he proposes that Secret Service agent George Hickey accidentally discharged his weapon, resulting in JFK's fatal head wound. To save face and maintain the integrity of the institution, this theory suggests that the Secret Service then orchestrated a cover-up of the accidental shooting during the subsequent investigation.

Another tangent of this theory concerns the management of JFK's body and the ensuing autopsy. Critics of the official narrative have questioned the autopsy's handling, which was performed by military doctors, not forensic pathologists, and conducted at Bethesda Naval Hospital instead of Dallas, where JFK was assassinated. These deviations, they argue, may have compromised the autopsy's accuracy and thereby obscured the truth.

Moreover, there have been allegations that the Secret Service unlawfully removed JFK's body from Parkland Hospital in Dallas, in violation of Texas law, which mandates an autopsy to be conducted in the state where the homicide occurred. This action has been framed by some as a deliberate move to manipulate the post-mortem examination and control the ensuing narrative.

Conclusion: Reflecting on the Enduring Mysteries of JFK's Assassination

From allegations of power-driven conspiracies and grievous accidents to claims of clandestine manipulation, the theories surrounding JFK's assassination paint a complex and enthralling tableau. As we delve into these theories, we realize that we are far from uncovering the definitive truth. Yet, the continued exploration underscores the relentless pursuit of truth and justice. These theories are a stark testament to the enduring intrigue of unsolved mysteries and their power to grip our collective imagination.


As we draw the curtain on our exploration of JFK's assassination theories, remember, this is just the tip of the conspiracy iceberg. If unraveling the unknown tickles your fancy, then tune into The Assuminati Podcast, hosted by your friendly conspiracy connoisseurs, Matt, Brandon, and Bobby. We dive deep into everything from famed theories to obscure enigmas, all with a dash of humor and a whole lot of intrigue. So, ready to don your detective hat? Find us on your favorite podcast app. Don't forget to like, subscribe, and follow, so you'll never miss an exciting journey down the rabbit hole with us. Stay curious, and keep questioning with The Assuminati Podcast!

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