When it comes to villains in works of fiction, nothing beats the Mob - dapper, well-coiffed men, with colorful nicknames and powerful underworld connections, who exude a dark romanticism in movies like The Godfather, Casino, and Goodfellas.
That’s why it’s believable to attribute any crime to The Mob, and that is exactly the premise of the exposition drama now at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, “Assassination Theater”, which claims The Mob killed JFK.
The assassination is a long-ago event, but this type of logic typifies the current practice of analyzing history by employing loose standards of evidence, and working backwards to form a desired conclusion. In this particular case, that conclusion is that a Mob gunman secured a hidden shooting spot mere feet from onlookers, shot the president and escaped without detection or leaving any physical evidence (weapon, spent shells, bullets).
Common sense suggests otherwise. Contra the play, if the Mob was actually behind the Kennedy assassination, the following things all had to happen:
The Mob reversed its longstanding, and agreed-upon, policy of refraining from killing important politicians. The Mob has never sanctioned the murder of a prominent national politician, let alone the President of the United States. (The play mentions the killings of Chicago Mayor Cermak in 1933, and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968. In neither case is there credible evidence of high-level Mob involvement).
Lee Harvey Oswald was groomed as a Mob killer or decoy. There is incontrovertible evidence he fired three shots from the Book Depository. Why would he do so as a Mob accomplice? An avowed Marxist, he would likely be revolted by the Mob’s consorting with his hero Castro’s enemies in Cuba.
The Mob coordinated their plan with Oswald in less than a week, yet managed to leave no eyewitness or physical evidence, money trail, or telephone recordings. Oswald never stalked Kennedy; he found a job in Dallas six weeks before anyone knew where JFK would be. The Motorcade route was devised one week before the assassination and prior to that, it was impossible anyone could know that Oswald and Kennedy would ever be in Dallas, or any place else, together at the same time. Why would the Mob, or anyone, concern themselves with Oswald before that?
The Mob assassin coordinated his shot perfectly with Oswald’s shots from the Book Depository in under ten seconds. His high velocity bullet, which purportedly hit JFK behind the eye in the right temple, destroyed the right side of the brain but left the left side completely undamaged, and created no exit wound.
Though top mobsters were supposedly killed years later to silence them, the Mob risked exposure by permitting Oswald to be captured and then interrogated for 48 hours by one of the country’s top homicide investigators.
The Mob silenced Oswald with a notoriously unreliable wannabe, Jack Ruby. Further, Ruby, at a Western Union office wiring money four minutes before killing Oswald, would risk missing his last chance to eliminate Oswald by allotting less than two minutes to commit the crime. A slightly longer wait at the Western Union office would have meant missing his final opportunity.
The Mob let Ruby be apprehended and remain in Government custody for over three years, where despite his reputation as a bigmouth, he never mentioned anything about a Mob plot.
According to the play, after the assassination the Government created an elaborate cover-up to reassure the public against a Soviet nuclear strike (even though they were not the “real” killers). The cover-up, featuring empty coffins, switched brains, and Oswald impersonators required dozens of people. Yet in the past fifty years, none of these people or their survivors has admitted how this was accomplished.
No one on the Warren Commission ever displayed the intellectual honesty to admit they were covering up the truth. This included, among others, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a future president, three members of Congress, a former president of the World Bank, a former CIA director, and over twenty other prominent attorneys.
William Roemer, the highly decorated senior agent on the FBI’s Organized Crime Squad in Chicago, was corrupt or incompetent. Roemer directed wiretapping of high-level Chicago mobsters between 1959 and 1965, and publicly insisted his covert eavesdropping never revealed any suggestion of Mob involvement in the assassination. (The play conveniently skirts the issue of Roemer’s probity).
Most unlikely of all, the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, refused to use all the resources at his disposal to apprehend the killers of the man he admired more than anyone in the world, his brother.
In 1963 The Mob was indeed powerful; that’s why their involvement is a seductive narrative. But a seductive narrative is no substitute for rigorous logic. Colorful nicknames and dark romanticism aside, to paraphrase Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland, anyone who believes the Mob killed John F. Kennedy would pretty much have to believe many impossible things before breakfast.
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