It was perhaps inevitable that the continuing torrent of JFK assassination conspiracy theories would converge with another irrepressible conspiracy meme, the belief that the U.S. government has long been engaged in a massive cover-up operation to prevent the public from learning about visits to Earth by extraterrestrial beings.
Adding impetus to this theory are early November 1963 memorandums, unearthed by author William Lester through the Freedom of Information Act, in which JFK asked for a review of all intelligence files related to UFOs. The information was sought as part of the preparations for a joint U.S.-Soviet space effort that JFK hoped to initiate, and Lester believed that Kennedy was concerned about the Soviets mistaking UFOs that flew over their country for U.S. spy aircraft [source: Daily Mail].
But in the feverish minds of conspiracy buffs, it's not hard to imagine a cabal of generals or CIA officials dispatching a team of Men in Black to make sure that the president didn't find out about those alien autopsies being conducted at Area 51, or about the clandestine effort to breed a super-race of human-alien hybrids. Oh wait—that's an old "X-Files" episode that we're thinking of. Never mind!
Author's Note: 10 Conspiracy Theories about the JFK Assassination
I remember the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963 very vividly — the nuns herded me and my first-grade classmates upstairs to church and began leading us in seemingly endless, teary rounds of the rosary, without explaining why. I was convinced that the world was about to end. It wasn't until I got home that I learned from my mom that the president had been killed in Dallas.
Two days later, I remember sitting in front of our black-and-white TV and watching replay after replay of Jack Ruby gunning down the suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Even to my youthful mind, the official explanation of events didn't seem to ring true. Years later, as a newspaper reporter in California, I had the occasion to actually meet and interview a man who had served in the Marine Corps with Oswald. He described the alleged assassin's wretched marksmanship skills—of how Oswald frequently scored a "Maggie's drawers," a white flag waved when a shooter missed the target. That put further doubts in my mind about the official story. Unfortunately, as the event fades further and further into history, I doubt that we'll ever know the full truth about what happened.
- Associated Press. "Kennedy Signs Silver Bill." Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 6, 1963. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=60BYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=d_cDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4270,1590553
- Associated Press. "New Kennedy Silver Policy." Southwest Missourian. Nov. 28, 1961. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-q8fAAAAIBAJ&sjid=LdcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2964,4612588
- Associated Press. "Woman Says President Kennedy Used Her as a Conduit to Mobster." The New York Times. Feb. 22, 1988. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/1988/02/22/us/woman-says-president-kennedy-used-her-as-a-conduit-to-mobster.html
- Associated Press. "Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? Many questions linger." Las Vegas Sun. Nov. 12, 2013. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/nov/12/us-jfk-oswald-qa/
- Bugliosi, Vincent. "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy." W.W. Norton and Co. 2007. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=7jrKTKDhvfkC&pg=PA377&lpg=PA377&dq=blakey+%22I+think+the+mob+did+it%22&source=bl&ots=WltLbEL2jw&sig=puQoYo6gL6k1BwAbnPwjBcHm-po&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6RWDUpviLcjJ2wXry4DgBw&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=blakey%20%22I%20think%20the%20mob%20did%20it%22&f=false
- Canby, Vincent. "J.F.K.; When Everything Amounts to Nothing." The New York Times. Dec. 20, 1991. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D0CE5DC1230F933A15751C1A967958260
- Cedric X. "President Kennedy, The Fed and Executive Order 11110." Rense.com. Nov. 20, 2003. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.rense.com/general44/exec.htm
- Daily Mail. "Was JFK Killed Because of Interest in Aliens?" April 19, 2011. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1378284/Secret-memo-shows-JFK-demanded-UFO-files-10-days-assassination.html
- Farrell, Joseph P. "LBJ and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy: A Coalescence of Interests." Adventures Unlimited Press. 2011. (Nov. 12, 2013)http://books.google.com/books?id=NSPAcPLadMYC&pg=PT39&lpg=PT39&dq=lbj+killed+kennedy+oil+depletion+allowance&source=bl&ots=qO-CU5bF2T&sig=H4B4YGnsikdlFOYmgVEMQOgO9Uo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=v32CUtXqL6rc2gXFl4D4BA&ved=0CGAQ6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=lbj%20killed%20kennedy%20oil%20depletion%20allowance&f=false
- Grier, Peter. "Would John F. Kennedy Have Pulled the U.S. Out of Vietnam?" Christian Science Monitor. Nov. 6, 2013. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2013/1106/Would-John-F.-Kennedy-have-pulled-US-out-of-Vietnam
- Holland, Max. "The Assassination Tapes." The Atlantic. June 2004. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/06/the-assassination-tapes/302964/
- House Select Committee on Assassinations. "Final Report." Aarclibrary.org. 1979. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/hsca/report/html/HSCA_Report_0082a.htm
- Italie, Hillel. "Robert Caro on his New Lyndon Johnson Book: Passage to Power." Huffington Post. April 30, 2012. (Nov. 18, 2013). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/passage-of-power-robert-caro_n_1464067.html
- Jackson, Peter. "Author says LBJ had JFK assassinated." Atlantic City Press. Nov. 7 2013. (Nov. 11, 2013) http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/life/author-says-lbj-had-jfk-assassinated/article_7eafcb3e-700c-56e2-a972-85d4a6a45384.html
- Kessler, Glenn. "Trying to Kill Castro." Washington Post. June 27, 2007. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062601467.html
- Klein, Rick. "Jacqueline Kennedy Reveals That JFK Feared an LBJ Presidency." ABC News. Sept. 8, 2011. (Nov. 11, 2013) http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Jacqueline_Kennedy/jacqueline-kennedy-reveals-jfk-feared-lbj-presidency/story?id=14477930
- Korte, Gregory. "Conspiracy theories over JFK's assassination thrive." USA Today. Sept. 26, 2010. (Nov. 11, 2013) http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-09-26-jfk-assassination-conspiracy-theories_N.htm
- Lawrence, David. "Withholding Air Support for Cuban Rebels." Spokane Daily Chronicle. Sept. 27, 1962. (Nov. 13 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19620927&id=f61YAAAAIBAJ&sjid=RvcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3483,6507640
- Lee, Martin; Ranftel, Robert; and Cohen, Jeff. "Did Lee Harvey Oswald Drop Acid?" Rolling Stone. March 1983. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://cliffordshack-article-archive-storage.blogspot.com/2012/01/cia-lsd-lho.html
- McGill, Jefferey Trent. "White Darkness: The Financial Apocalypse." Author House. 2005. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=ZoIrAN7iqB4C&pg=PA18&dq=jfk+fed+executive+order+11110&hl=en&sa=X&ei=COKDUs_AJOew2gXNhoGwAg&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=executive%20order%2011110&f=false
- National Archives. "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives." Archives.gov. 1979. (Nov. 11, 2013) http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/select-committee-report/
- Noble, Holcomb. "Frank Ragano, 75, Lawyer for Mob and Hoffa." The New York Times. May 18, 1998. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/18/us/frank-ragano-75-lawyer-for-mob-and-hoffa.html
- NPR Staff. "Ike's Warning Of Military Expansion, 50 Years Later." NPR. Jan. 17, 2011. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132942244/ikes-warning-of-military-expansion-50-years-later
- Parks, Scott. "Extremists in Dallas created volatile atmosphere before JFK's 1963 visit." Dallas Morning News. Oct. 13, 2013. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://www.dallasnews.com/news/jfk50/reflect/20131012-extremists-in-dallas-created-volatile-atmosphere-before-jfks-1963-visit.ece
- Schorr, Daniel. "From the KGB's Oswald Files." Christian Science Monitor. Aug. 24, 2001. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0824/p11s1-cods.html
- Smith, Matthew. "Was Kennedy murdered by his own vice president?" Express. Aug. 25, 2013. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/424506/Was-Kennedy-murdered-by-his-own-vice-president
- Southern Methodist University. "Dallas: City in Crisis." Smu.edu. Undated. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://smu.edu/smunews/jfk/dallas.asp
- Time. "Nation: Was Lee Harvey Oswald a Soviet Spy?" Time. Feb. 27, 1978. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,919345,00.html
- Times Picayune. "1968: The Clay Shaw trial on JFK conspiracy charges." Nola.com. Dec. 11, 2011. (Nov. 13, 2013) http://www.nola.com/175years/index.ssf/2011/12/1968_the_clay_shaw_trial_in_jf.html
- Volkman, Ernest. "Cuban Exiles Waging a War." Tuscaloosa News. June 7, 1977. (Nov. 12, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1817&dat=19770607&id=WggdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_Z0EAAAAIBAJ&pg=5336,1709756
Not all conspiracies are bogus. Some have managed to be real, and the work of the government. Stuff They Don't Want You To Know looks at a few.