Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, made a point of trying to debunk the common house conspiracy about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, unveiling new discoveries Tuesday disproving a main conclusion by the investigative congressional panel that four shots were fired. Just fifty years after the Kennedy assassination, Sabato says that he has evidence supporting his theory that the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ 1979 verdict “is simply wrong.”
Sabato details his full assertion in his newly released book The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, but divulged a little taste of his findings during a speech at the Newseum.
As definitive answers about the Kennedy Assassination have proved elusive, questions still remaining about whether Lee Harvey Oswald actually acted alone or was part of a bigger conspiracy, Sabato’s commitment to pouring over the details of the Kennedy assassination appear sound. He’s dedicated to finding out the truth, and believes he has done just that.
This year, Sabato had a key piece of evidence in the case of the Kennedy assassination re-analyzed using state-of-the-art technology. It’s an audio recording that the House Select Committee on Assassinations used to conclude that President Kennedy was “probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.” For the committee believed that the audio recording captured the sound of four gunshots being fired, one apparently from a second location referred to as the Grassy Knoll.
Sabato, however, found that the tapes actually don’t capture the sound of gunshots at all, but rather the rumbling sounds of motorcycle and the rattling of a microphone. He also concluded that the recordings prove that the Dallas Police officer, whose microphone allegedly recorded the sound of gunfire the day Kennedy was assassinated, wasn’t even traveling with the motorcade. According to Sabato, he had to have been at least 2.5 miles away from the shooting, clearly not in Dealey Plaza.
In an interview with CBS, Sabato says that he has blown the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations report “out of the water.” Adding, “Their evidence simply does not hold. And they concluded there was a conspiracy. Does it mean that no one encouraged Oswald or that Oswald had no compatriots working with him? I can’t say that for sure because the Warren Commission was also deeply flawed. They made so many mistakes in their process, they didn’t interview key witnesses that I interviewed 50 years after the assassination and I was stunned to find out they weren’t part of that study.”
Sabato stands behind his belief that Oswald was the gunman responsible for assassinating President Kennedy. Him and him alone. “If anyone else participated beyond the picket fence on the Grassy Knoll, they either missed or didn’t fire,” he said.
We’ll never really know what happened on that fateful day, though, Sabato admitted. “If we can go 100 years into the future, I guarantee you whatever replaces television, there will be documentaries proposing new theories about the Kennedy assassination,” he said. “That’s because the Warren Commission did not go down the hot trails when we had the chance to interview the right people. They could have done it but essentially they were lied to by the CIA, the president at the time, Lyndon Johnson did not want a thorough study, and so we didn’t get one. It was on a political timetable with a political conclusion that Oswald acted alone.”
Sabato isn’t the first to say it, but he did mention that the government investigations into Kennedy’s assassination were “flawed.”
When you really get into the details, it is amazing how many pieces don’t fit. Just to cite one, right after the president was shot, some Dallas policemen ran up the Grassy Knoll and they encountered people who had Secret Service credentials. They let them go. They had their guns drawn. They let them go. You know what they found out since? There were no Secret Service agents in Dealey Plaza, they were all with the motorcade. They went with the motorcade to Parkland. Who were these people?
You can learn more about Sabato’s research in his book on shelves now, but also via Coursera. The well-known political scientist is leading a four-week massive open online course (MOOC) dubbed “The Kennedy Half Century,” which officially starts on October 21. Also in October the Center for Politics at UVA will premiere a one-hour national PBS documentary based on Sabato’s book.