By MARC McDONALD
Note: this is an encore presentation of a piece I wrote last year.
It has now been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Since then, thousands of books have been written about what is probably the single biggest unsolved mystery of the 20th century. After nearly half a century, it's becoming increasingly clear that we may never fully understand what happened that day.
I myself have long harbored doubts about the government's own seriously flawed version of what happened in Dealey Plaza. The 1964 Warren Commission Report has rightfully been criticized over the years for the inaccuracies and flawed information it contained.
The vast majority of Kennedy assassination books over the decades have concluded that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. However, many conspiracy theories themselves have been debunked over the years. In fact, sloppy work by conspiracy writers has, in my view, damaged the quest for truth in the case.
Authors like Gerald Posner, who have worked to debunk conspiracies, have in turn been harshly criticized by the pro-conspiracy community. Posner's book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK was once praised as a solid rebuttal to the conspiracy writers. But in recent years, Posner has increasingly come under fire and his reputation has taken a beating (even among those who believe Oswald acted alone).
One problem that plagues works like Posner's book (as well as pro-conspiracy works like Oliver Stone's JFK film) is that the case is simply too vast and complex to be adequately addressed in a single work.
After reading numerous JFK assassination books over the years, both pro and con, I still keep an open mind about the case. I'm not 100 percent convinced, either way, although I do lean toward the theory that Oswald did not act alone.
In any case, there are still unresolved mysteries surrounding the JFK Assassination that haven't been adequately explained to this day. Here are five of them.
1. What happened to Mary Moorman's missing fifth photo in Dealey Plaza? Moorman is known for her famous Polaroid photo that captures the JFK assassination at nearly the precise instant the head shot occurred. What is less well-known, though, is that Moorman took other photos that day. One photo she took moments before the assassination reportedly depicted the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. The photo was reportedly turned over to Secret Service agents shortly after the assassination and vanished from sight. It has never been published and it remains missing to this day.
2. Why was Oswald's handwritten note to FBI agent James Hosty destroyed? Oswald wrote a note to Hosty a week or two before the assassination. Within hours of Oswald's death on Nov. 24, 1963, the note was torn up and flushed down the toilet by Hosty. Hosty had claimed his superior, Gordon Shanklin, had ordered him to destroy the note. However, Shanklin denied this. The lingering mystery, though, is exactly what the contents of Oswald's note were and why the note was destroyed in the first place.
3. Whatever happened to the mysterious "Babushka Lady," who was seen in the Zapruder film of the assassination? Zapruder's film depicts a woman wearing a head scarf who in turn is filming the JFK motorcade at the moment of the assassination. Given that the Babushka Lady is very close to the motorcade, her film would offer invaluable evidence if it could be located today. The problem is, shortly after the assassination, the Babushka Lady and her film vanished from history. In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver came forward and claimed she was the Babushka Lady and that her film was confiscated by the FBI. But her story has never been confirmed.
4. What happened in the mysterious death of Oswald's friend, George de Mohrenschildt? A noted member of the Russian emigre community in Dallas, De Mohrenschildt became an unlikely friend of Oswald in 1962. He testified at length before the Warren Commission in 1964. In later years, he became increasingly depressed and distraught and believed the CIA was persecuting him. On March 29, 1977, de Mohrenschildt was contacted by an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, asking for an interview. That same day, de Mohrenschildt was found dead from a gunshot wound. De Mohrenschildt's death has been called a suicide, but its timing does seem mysterious.
5. Did Joseph Milteer have foreknowledge of the assassination? 13 days before the assassination, right-wing extremist Milteer gave tape-recorded comments to a Miami police informant that eerily predicted key details of the JFK assassination. Milteer claimed that a conspiracy to kill Kennedy was in the works and described a scenario in which the president would be shot "from an office building with a high-powered rifle." Milteer also predicted that, in the aftermath of the assassination, the police would arrest a patsy "to throw the public off." Amazingly, the Warren Commission gave very little attention to Milteer's interview. Milteer remains a shadowy and mysterious figure to this day. His 1963 tape-recorded remarks can be heard in the video above.