JFK assasination and the crucial flaw that may have caused his death
JFK assassination: Intelligence details missed on motorcade route
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John F. Kennedy became the fourth President in American history to have been assassinated 59 years ago. On that fateful day in Dallas, Texas, in 1963, the President, known as JFK, was travelling in a motorcade, sitting alongside his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the Texas governor John Connally with his respective wife, Nellie, when he was fatally shot in the back of his head. Experts have claimed that the route taken was “flawed” and posed risks that could have been avoided.
Three shots were fired at JFK’s motorcade as it travelled through Dallas at 12:30pm. It was initially reported that the President had been seriously injured, before the former broadcaster Walter Cronkite informed the nation that JFK had died on November 22.
Lee Harvey Oswald shot the 35th President in the back and head from the Texas School Book Depository, where the former US marine was working as an order filler at the time.
The Channel 5 Ten Steps to Disaster documentary, examining JFK’s assassination, analysed the alleged failings of JFK’s security as the route posed numerous threats.
Just over a week before the two-day visit to Dallas which was aiming to boost the President’s popularity ahead of the presidential election set to be held the following year, a Secret Service agent checked and signed off on the planned route of the motorcade.
But a former FBI and security expert, Greg Shaffer, told the documentary that there was a “great threat” from the buildings the limousine was due to pass. He added: “It was putting the President in a very precarious situation.”
One Secret Service agent, Evy Poumpouras, also explained that when thinking of protection, one must not only think of the ground level but “360 degrees” and said: “You don’t want to think like a Secret Service agent, you want to think like the assassin.”
The documentary’s narrator explained that a “crucial flaw” was the fact that as the limousine approached the Dealey Plaza, it had to slow down significantly to make a turn which then made the motorcade the perfect target for a sniper from one of the 20,000 windows overlooking the route.
Mr Shaffer continued: “It’s not just a left-hand turn, it’s a sharp left-hand turn and you come back at an angle. The vehicle has to virtually stop or go at a very, very low speed to make that hard turn.”
Ms Poumpouras added: “You don’t want to be static or still, and there’s a term that’s commonly referred to in the service called, ‘Get off the axe’. When you’re on the axe or when you’re static you are mostly likely to get hit.”
Another alleged error by the Secret Service which later turned out to be fatal was the fact that the FBI, the only agency that could have “made the connection with the route and a possible threat”, was not given details of the planned route.
At the time, Dallas was also a risky place to visit on the five-city tour as it was dubbed the “City of Hate” because, according to the Washington Post, it was home to a series of right-wing extremists.
It has been claimed that the former President was aware of the risk as Arkansas senator J. Williams Fulbright had advised JFK against visiting Dallas. The month prior to the visit, he told JFK: “Dallas is a very dangerous place. I wouldn’t go there. Don’t you go.”
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Oswald was later tracked down by the FBI thanks to eyewitness accounts and was found hiding in a theatre hours later. He claimed to be “just a patsy”, arguing that he was framed by the US authorities.
He later faced the same fate as that of the former President as he was shot to death by a nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, who claimed he had killed Oswald as he was enraged by his murder of JFK.
While there was a conspiracy theory that Ruby, who later died of lung cancer as he awaited a new murder trial in 1967, had killed Oswald in a bid to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy, this was dismissed by the Warren Commission report in 1964.
The report, supported by evidence – some of which was considered controversial – from previous FBI and Secret Service investigations, found that Oswald had acted alone in killing JFK.
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