Less than a second after the fatal bullet hit President Kennedy
As we pointed out in an earlier article on JFK assassination theories, the thirst for information surrounding US President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 murder is still strong – even now, almost 50 years on. Indeed, whenever interest starts to lag, it seems like a new book, movie or documentary is released to fan the flames of speculation once more.
Given the huge amount of associated detail and long list of individuals who were or may have been involved in the incident (not to mention the graphic autopsy photographs available to see), it’s not surprising that so many people are intrigued by the conspiracy theories. After all, a good conspiracy theory makes an excellent story.
With this in mind, we present 10 incredible JFK conspiracy theories. Some of them are plausible, while others are more far-fetched and absurd – but they’re all equally fascinating.
10. The Federal Reserve Bank Theory
President John F. Kennedy signing the Cuba Quarantine, October 23, 1962
On June 4, 1963, President Kennedy signed an order that gave authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to issue silver certificates. The order, known as Executive Order 11110, was intended to serve as an interim measure while the government attempted to reduce the amount of silver being used to mint coins. However, conspiracy theories, like those presented in Jim Marrs’s 1989 book Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, claim that this order gave power to the Treasury over the Federal Reserve.
According to the theorists, the Federal Reserve Bank was safeguarded by a shadowy group of international bankers who resented having their power curtailed. Supposedly, therefore, they used their incredible wealth and influence to have Kennedy assassinated.
There are several problems with this theory, the main one of which is that Executive Order 11110 did not, in fact, create any new authority over the Federal Reserve Bank; it merely transferred already existing authority from the President to the Secretary of the Treasury. Also, Kennedy’s plan was to reduce the use of treasury silver and increase printed Federal Reserve Bank notes – effectively giving the Reserve more power. Still, the idea of an international banking cabal pulling the strings – and having a president eliminated – sounds a whole lot more exciting.
9. The Lyndon B. Johnson Theory
Lyndon B. Johnson and Deputy Director of the CIA Richard Helms
According to certain theorists, at least two US presidents were involved in the assassination – as we’ll soon see. Our first suspect, Lyndon B. Johnson, features in one of the most widely believed conspiracy theories of all. In fact, in 2003, a Gallup poll revealed that 20 percent of Americans thought Johnson had something to do with JFK’s assassination.
Various motives have been suggested for Johnson’s role in the killing, including his desire to become president, his need to cover up scandals, and his involvement with the FBI. It’s said that tycoons paid for the assassination, since they would be better served by Johnson’s policies.
A new twist to the theory is the alleged emergence and (still) pending release of secret recordings made by President Kennedy’s now deceased widow, Jackie Onassis. According to some claims, the tapes reveal that Jackie thought Lyndon B. Johnson was involved as well. Very intriguing indeed.
8. UFO Cover-Up Theory
JFK’s letter to the CIA regarding their secret UFO files
No list of conspiracy theories would be complete without at least one involving UFOs! According to this notion, President Kennedy was assassinated for showing too much interest in alien activity. The two crucial pieces of ‘evidence’ here are: a letter written by JFK to the CIA in which he demands to see secret UFO files; and a note from the CIA director that says, “As you must know, Lancer [President Kennedy’s Secret Service code name] has made some inquiries regarding our activities, which we cannot allow.”
“The most important idea that people have not grasped at all is that this program started in early 1942,” says Robert Wood, former Deputy Director of major aerospace manufacturer and defence contractor McDonnell Douglas. “The second most important idea is that the program is not under the control of the president and when the president was about to leak it, they bumped him off.” Perhaps Kennedy should have tried the Men In Black.
7. The Mafia Theory
The FBI’s chart of Mafia bosses the year President Kennedy was assassinated
As JFK conspiracy theories go, this is a pretty popular contender – and compared to some of the others, it’s not that far-fetched either. Members of the Mafia did, after all, work with the CIA in an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. And the Mafia, of course, also had the expertise necessary to dispose of important people – as well, perhaps, as the inclination in this case. It’s thus not surprising that more than a few researchers have concluded that the infamous crime organization had a hand in the shooting – especially given that Jack Ruby, who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, was known to be acquainted with the Mob.
This particular theory is further complicated by the possible involvement of the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans. The Mob themselves were said to have been anti-Castro because of their lucrative stakes in the casinos Castro shut down. What’s more, the Mafia was mad at JFK’s brother, Bobby, who led a tough campaign against organized crime. In the end, they had the motive and they had the means, but whether or not they actually had the trigger pulled, we may never know for sure.
6. The George Bush Snr. Theory
A youthful George H.W. Bush with President Eisenhower
According to the second theory on this list implicating an ex-US president, George Bush Snr. is alleged to have been part of a conspiracy plot to kill JFK using his connections with the CIA and the Mafia.
Supporters of this hypothesis cite George H. W. Bush’s presence in Dallas on the day Kennedy was assassinated, his long, shadowy involvement with the CIA, and his supposed family ties to organized crime. In fact, the researchers claim that there is a connection between JFK’s assassination, Watergate, and the Iran-Contra scandal, in all of which, they say, George H. W. Bush played a part. There are even some diehards who believe that Bush Snr. was responsible for John Kennedy Jnr.’s death as well! We look forward to seeing the movie.
5. The Illuminati Theory
JFK’s parents Joseph and Rose. Some conspiracy theorists suggest that the Kennedys are part of the “Illuminati Bloodline”.
Along with UFOs and the Mafia, the Illuminati seem to be a big hit with conspiracy nuts too, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been thrown into the JFK conspiracy theory mix. In this version of events, the Reserve Bank is again implicated, but this time it’s because they served the Illuminati Agenda. Once more, Executive Order 11110’s supposed lessening of the Reserve Bank’s powers is cited as the reason behind the assassination. And JFK’s intention to stop the war in Vietnam is also put forward as a factor, as the conflict allegedly added vast amounts to the shadowy bankers’ coffers.
An interesting side note is that Kennedy himself was part of the Illuminati – at least, if these theorists are to be believed. They accuse JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy, of being in bed with the Mob, an Illuminati supporter, and part of the so-called “Illuminati Bloodline”. In fact, they say it was his association with the secret organization that got President Kennedy elected in the first place – and it was only when he seemed to turn against them that they had him eliminated.
4. The KGB Theory
Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina, in Minsk.
We’ve talked about conspiracy theories involving the CIA, so now let’s look at one involving their Cold War rivals, the KGB. The KGB had good reason to hate Kennedy: the humiliating conclusion of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Sniper Lee Harvey Oswald also had links with the USSR, such as his travel there, his Soviet wife, and his reported contact with Soviet diplomats. Some researchers also believe that the KGB were responsible for the death of one of JFK’s alleged mistresses, Mary Pinchot Meyer, who may have been able to expose their hand in the assassination.
One version of the story, as told by ex-Soviet intelligence officer General Ion Mihai Pacepa, stars Lee Harvey Oswald as a KGB agent “programmed” to kill President Kennedy. According to Pacepa, the KGB actually tried to call off the assassination; unfortunately for JFK, however, the attempt to stop Oswald came too late. Like all good conspiracy theories, this one has some intriguing evidence to back it up and is worth researching for anyone interested in tales of secret government plots.
3. The Israeli Theory
Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion with the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs in 1961
“It is interesting – but not surprising – to note that in all the words written and uttered about the Kennedy assassination, Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, has never been mentioned,” said Illinois Representative Paul Findley, in the 1992 Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. This idea is particularly interesting to supporters of our next conspiracy theory, who wonder why one of the most efficient and ruthless intelligence organizations in the world was never scrutinized.
Israel’s motive for eliminating JFK was allegedly their anger over the President’s refusal to allow them to build nuclear weapons. It’s been said that David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, held a grudge against President Kennedy’s father, Joe. Ben-Gurion believed Joe Kennedy was anti-Semitic and suspected that he had sided with Hitler during the ‘30s and ‘40s.
This conspiracy theory has also been bolstered by ex-Israeli spy Mordechai Vanunu, who has said that Israel was behind the JFK assassination. Supporters of this hypothesis also point to subsequent US President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson’s reversal of the nuclear policy is seen as a sign that Kennedy’s assassination achieved its aim. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Colonel Gaddafi was a well-known promoter of the Israeli-involvement theory.
2. Gay Thrill Kill Theory
David Ferrie, accused by investigator Jim Garrison of being involved in JFK’s death
If this, quite frankly, bizarre theory is to be believed, President Kennedy was assassinated, pretty much for the fun of it. According to Jim Garrison, who was the New Orleans District Attorney at the time, pilot David Ferrie was one of the forces behind the conspiracy. “It was a homosexual thrill-killing, plus the excitement of getting away with a perfect crime,” said Garrison. “John Kennedy was everything that Dave Ferrie was not – a successful, handsome, popular, wealthy, virile man. You can just picture the charge Ferrie got out of plotting his death."
In Garrison’s view, many, if not all of the conspirators behind the killing of Kennedy were homosexual deviants who took pleasure in plotting the President’s death. Understandably, there are few who take this charge seriously. Ferrie himself died during Garrison’s investigation (from an intracranial berry aneurysm, according to the coroner).
1. The CIA Theory
An EXCOMM meeting on the Cuban Missile Crisis including JFK, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, CIA Director John McCone, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson
If there’s one idea that ties a lot of the JFK assassination conspiracies together, it’s the involvement of the CIA. Whether it was Lyndon B. Johnson, The Federal Reserve, the Mafia, or an attempt to cover up evidence of UFOs, the CIA is often seen as having been an important player.
The fact that President Kennedy’s brother Robert effectively had authority over the CIA didn’t help when it came to strong disagreements between the President and the agency. And strangely enough, one of the disagreements was over the CIA’s policy of assassinating foreign leaders, such as Vietnam’s President Diem.
Such is the popularity of, and belief in, this conspiracy theory that the CIA has a page dedicated to discrediting it on their website. They blame European leftists and the US media for spreading lies about their involvement. Yet despite this, widespread acceptance of the theory continues and is unlikely to abate anytime soon.
President Kennedy at a news conference in 1962
Until there’s conclusive proof (and perhaps even long afterwards!), people will always speculate about the events on that infamous day in 1963. Reading through this list of wild (and not-so-wild) theories, we're not sure what to believe. What we do know, however, is that while conspiracy theories may not always be very credible, they can certainly be lots of fun.