A new book about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy reportedly blows the lid off the conspiracy theories that have been bandied about since that fateful day.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and a frequently quoted political pundit, has written “The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, The Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy,” to mark the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. In the book, Sabato takes aim at the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which concluded in 1978 that JFK was “probably killed as a result of a conspiracy.”
That conclusion was partially based on recordings of a police radio transmission, which gave the impression that there was a fourth shot fired in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Sabato and his team re-analyzed those audio tapes – using “painstaking and technologically advanced” tests -- and found that there was no evidence of a fourth shot, thus supporting the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, firing three shots from the Texas School Book Depository building.
“My team has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, for the first time, that the main conclusion of the House Select Committee on Assassinations -- that a Dallas police dictabelt recording shows four shots, not three, were fired in Dealey Plaza — is simply wrong,” Sabato said at a press conference Tuesday, according to the Times Dispatch.
"We found, in fact, that these tapes and recording have no gunshots on them, none," Sabato said, according to NBCDFW. "And the reason is because the policeman who was actually recording them -- because he had a stuck microphone on his motorcycle -- was two miles away at the time of the assassination."
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According to Politico, Sabato used the firm Sonalysts, which found that the sounds previously interpreted to be gunshots can be found at various points during the recording. “There are no less than 12 similar impulses in a period spanning just over a three-minute segment of the open microphone audio,” Sabato writes in his book. He said the sounds were probably “of a mechanical origin associated with the motorcycle.”
This isn’t the first time someone has questioned the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Politico said. In 1982, a panel for the National Academy of Sciences said the report was “seriously flawed” and that there was “no acoustic basis” for the notion of a shooter on the infamous Grassy Knoll.
Sabato says his findings don’t disprove the possibility that Oswald had help that day. “But we’ve certainly blown apart forever the conclusion of the HSCA,” he said, according to the Times Dispatch. “It is off the table. And now we also know for sure the dictabelts cannot confirm or deny the existence of a second gunman.”
Meanwhile, the JFK assassination continues to inspire books, films, television shows, all presenting conspiracy theories involving the likes of the CIA, the Mafia, Fidel Castro and many others.
“The search for the truth of JFK’s assassination is like the quest for El Dorado, the mythical city of gold that tantalized European explorers in the 16th century,” Sabato writes. “Inspired by vague clues and Amerindian legends, these explorers spent years in the wilderness hoping to strike it rich, but often died of disease and starvation instead.”