The JFK 100


Donald Sutherland (right) as JFK's mystery man


In Oliver Stone's JFK, mystery man "X" (portrayed by Donald Sutherland and based largely on L. Fletcher Prouty) tells New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) how a legitimate investigation into John F. Kennedy's death would proceed.


X (chuckles)
That's the real question, isn't it -- "Why?" -- the "how" is just "scenery" for the suckers . . . Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, Mafia, it keeps people guessing like a parlor game, but it prevents them from asking the most important question -- Why? Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up?(1)


Oliver Stone, of course, is parroting the views of X's real-life inspiration, L. Fletcher Prouty. But neither Stone nor Prouty seem very familiar with the basics of forensic investigation -- or commonsense, for that matter. What Stone and Prouty are saying is, in effect, ignore the evidence -- the "scenery" "for the suckers" -- and concentrate solely on the question of motive.

Sadly, Prouty and Stone are typical of the majority of conspiracy-oriented assassination researchers, as is another of Stone's major sources for JFK, author Jim Marrs. Here, courtesy of the Kennedy Assassination Home Page, is an example, from Marrs's Crossfire, of what happens when one assumes that the key to solving a murder is simply to determine who may have had the means and the motive. All emphasis is added.


By the beginning of 1963, serious talk against President Kennedy was circulating within many groups -- organized crime, the anti-Castro Cubans, the CIA, business and banking, the oil industry, and even the military.

There were many connections among all these groups and, once word of this pervasive anti-Kennedy feeling reached the ears of certain members of the Southwestern oil and business communities, secret meetings were held where money was raised and tacit approvals given. . . .

. . . [JFK] set out to shake up the status quo of Big Banking, Big Oil, Big Military-Industrial Complex with its powerful Intelligence Community, and Big Organized Crime, which had gained deep inroads into American life since Prohibition.

There were -- and most certainly remain -- numerous ties among all of these powerful factions. It is now well documented that the mob and the CIA worked hand in glove on many types of operations, including assassination. The various US Military intelligence services are closely interwoven, and in some cases, such as the National Security Agency (NSA) are superior to the FBI and CIA.

Therefore, when Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, began to wage war on organized crime, it quickly became a matter of self-defense to the mob and the banks and industries it controlled.

Officials of the FBI and CIA, likewise, were fearful of the Kennedys, who had come to realize how dangerously out of control these agencies had become. The anti-Castro Cubans felt betrayed by Kennedy because of his last-minute orders halting US military assistance to the Bay of Pigs invaders and were quite willing to support and assassination.

However, no matter how violent these crime-intelligence-industrial cliques might be, they never would have moved against this nation's chief executive without the approval of -- or at the very least the neutralization of -- the US military.

Already angered by Kennedy's liberal domestic politics, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and his signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union, top military brass undoubtedly were incensed in late 1963 when Kennedy let it be known that he planned to withdraw all US military personnel from Vietnam by the end of 1965.

With that decision, the military turned against him and, even if they wouldn't openly plot against him, the military leadership would not be sorry if something were to happen to Kennedy. . . .

It was widely rumored that Vice President Lyndon Johnson -- long associated with dirty politics, gamblers, and defense officials -- was to be dropped from the Democratic ticket in 1964. Texas oilmen, staunch friends of Johnson and the military-industrial complex, were dismayed that Kennedy was talking about doing away with the lucrative oil-depletion allowance.

International bankers were shocked when Kennedy ordered the Treasury Department to print its own money, rather than distributing the traditional Federal Reserve notes, which carry interest charges.

Soldiers, mobsters, and conniving businessmen feared their apple cart was about to be upset by this youthful president.

So the decision was made at the highest level of the American business-banking-politics-military-crime power structure -- should anything happen to Kennedy, it would be viewed as a blessing for the nation. . . .

Once such a consensus was reached among the nation's top business-crime-military leadership, the assassination conspiracy went into action. Operational orders most probably originated with organized-crime chieftains such as Carlos Marcello and his associates Santos [sic] Trafficante and Sam Giancana -- who were already involved with the CIA.

But these mob bosses were smart. They realized the consequences if their role in Kennedy's death should ever become known.

Therefore a world-class assassin was recruited from the international crime syndicate -- perhaps Michael Victor Mertz, the shadowy Frenchman with both crime and intelligence connections who may have been in Dallas on November 22, 1963, according to a CIA document. Armed with a contract from the world crime syndicate, the premier assassin was given entree to the conspiring groups within US intelligence, the anti-Castro Cubans, right-wing hate groups, and the military.

Slowly, several assassination scenarios utilizing agents already involved in a variety of plots were constructed.

As the true assassination plot began to come together, word must have reached the ears of J. Edgar Hoover, a power unto himself with plenty of cause to hate the Kennedy brothers. Hoover was in contact with his close friend Lyndon Johnson and with Texas oilmen such as H. L. Hunt and Clint Murchinson [sic] of Dallas. His agents and this informers were in daily contact with mob figures. This was only one cross point for mobsters, politicians, the FBI and wealthy Texans. There were many others in New York, Washington, Las Vegas, and California. . . .


And so on, and so forth . . . By the time Marrs has finished, he has added to his list the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro's Cuba, the Federal Reserve Bank, the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Nixon, the Secret Service, the "international drug cartel," Jimmy Hoffa, mind-controlled assassins, gunrunners, European Nazis and fascists, Canadian business interests, Oswald friend George De Mohrenschildt, Jack Ruby, J. D. Tippit, and members of the Dallas Police Department. In a later book, Alien Agenda, Marrs would advance the possibility that the President was murdered because he threatened to expose a US Government cover-up of contact with extraterrestrial beings or spacecraft. His latest book, Rule by Secrecy, posits a worldwide economic conspiracy involving the Trilateral Commission, the Bildergergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, and others.

Author Patricia Lambert has noted that, were who benefited the primary question, Aristotle Onassis would be a legitimate suspect.(2) In fact, Onassis is targeted in one widely circulated conspiracy manuscript.

Crimes are solved through an investigation of the evidence, however. In the case of the JFK assassination, for example, one of the bullets that struck John F. Kennedy has been conclusively linked to a single rifle, to the exclusion of all other rifles.(3) That rifle has been conclusively linked to Lee Harvey Oswald, to the exclusion of all other individuals.(4) Either this evidence is authentic, or else some or all of it has been forged and/or planted; there is no other alternative.

If evidence is inauthentic, one must determine its provenance through its documentary trail and interviews with each of those individuals known to have handled it. Once it is determined who planted the evidence, it can then be determined upon whose initiative such individuals were acting. Curiously, this seems to be just about the only avenue of inquiry the JFK research community has not pursued over the past four decades.

Instead, most researchers have been essentially content to adopt the same methodology of L. Fletcher Prouty, Oliver Stone, and Jim Marrs: avoiding scrutiny of the evidence in favor of philosophizing over means and motives.

It's no way to solve a crime, of course. But it can make for an interesting parlor game. Or movie.



Copyright © 2001 by David Reitzes


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1. Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar, JFK: The Book of the Film (New York: Applause, 1992), p. 110. All quotations are from the shooting script and may vary slightly from the finished motion picture.

2. Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), p. 220 fn.

3. See Warren Commission Report, pp. 79-84, 547-57.

4. See Warren Commission Report, pp. 118-29, 566-70; see also Gary Savage, "The Prints," JFK: First Day Evidence (Monroe, La.: Shoppe Press, 1993). pp. 99-120.



You may wish to see . . .

The JFK 100: The Mystery Man, "X"



Back to the top

Back to The JFK 100

Back to Oliver Stone's JFK

Back to Jim Garrison menu

Back to JFK menu


Search this site
    powered by FreeFind

Dave Reitzes home page