JFK and 9/11: The Common Threads

Criminals leave signatures.  There is consistency in their motives, methods, alibis and techniques.  A detective from the Spanish National Police said that investigators knew within minutes of reaching the mangled remains of commuter trains in Madrid where almost  200 commuters were killed that the Basque terrorist group ETA had not carried out the attack-  a fact which was concealed by the Spanish government for several days in a vain attempt to save an election.  The investigators immediately saw that the signature was wrong; it just didn't smell right.

President Kennedy was murdered on November 22, 1963 and less than two years later American Marines entered South Vietnam beginning the US intervention that would end ten years later with the fall of Saigon and millions dead.  Less than two years after the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington, the United States began the Iraq War, which would end eight years later with the withdrawal of the coalition forces, leaving Iraq destabilized and clearly within the sphere of Iranian influence.

Apart from the similar aftermaths, both events have common elements both in their buildup and execution as well their social ramifications.

Precision Beyond the Apparent Capacity of the Perpetrators

The Warren Commission argues that Oswald fired on the President’s motorcade from a distance of about 80 meters, getting off three shots in 8.3 seconds with an Italian bolt action rifle made in 1940 which he bought for $19.95.  On behalf of the Warren Commission, Army rifleman were not able to reproduce Oswald’s feat and Italian tests on the rifle determined it would have been impossible to get the shots off in such a short time span.

The Marine Corp rates shooting ability on the following scale:

Expert: a score of 220 to 250.
Sharpshooter: 210 to 219.
Marksman: 190 to 209.

Oswald was last rated in 1959 and scored 191, barely reaching the lowest level of marksmanship.  Marine Colonel Allison Folsom interpreted the results by explaining that Oswald “was not a particularly outstanding shot”.  If Oswald did in fact fire all the shots, it was a highly unlikely, even extraordinary feat.

Hani Hanjour was considered a terrible pilot and neither he nor the other two pilots who successfully guided their jets into buildings on that day had ever flown a jet before.  According to 9/11 Commission Report, “To our knowledge none of them [the hijackers] had ever flown an actual airliner before.”  Yet they were able to commandeer the aircraft, and on their first time ever in the cockpit of an actual jetliner, navigate towards their destinations, maneuver the planes under extreme conditions in terms of velocity and altitude before guiding the airliners perfectly into their targets.

One of the air traffic controllers from Dulles said the following when describing Hani Hanjour’s maneuver which  brought American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon, “The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane. You don’t fly a 757 in that manner. It’s unsafe.”

CBS News described Hanjour’s maneuver this way:

“...flying at more than 400 mph, was too fast and too high when it neared the Pentagon at 9:35. The hijacker-pilots were then forced to execute a difficult high-speed descending turn. Radar shows Flight 77 did a downward spiral, turning almost a complete circle and dropping the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes. The steep turn was so smooth, the sources say, it’s clear there was no fight for control going on. And the complex maneuver suggests the hijackers had better flying skills than many investigators first believed. The jetliner disappeared from radar at 9:37 and less than a minute later it clipped the tops of street lights and plowed into the Pentagon at 460 mph.”

And retired Navy pilot, Ted Muga, explained it this way:

"The maneuver at the Pentagon was just a tight spiral coming down out of 7,000 feet. And a commercial aircraft, while they can in fact structurally somewhat handle that maneuver, they are very, very, very difficult. And it would take considerable training. In other words, commercial aircraft are designed for a particular purpose and that is for comfort and for passengers and it's not for military maneuvers. And while they are structurally capable of doing them, it takes some very, very talented pilots to do that... to think that you're going to get an amateur up into the cockpit and fly, much less navigate, it to a designated target, the probability is so low, that it's bordering on impossible."

Yet Hani Hanjour, one month before the attacks, was not allowed to fly a Cessna alone after a test flight with instructors.  As reported by NewsDay, his instructors stated that “they found he had trouble controlling and landing the single-engine Cessna 172.”

Oswald could have hit the President in the upper body on two out of three shots fired within 8.3 seconds, and Hani Hanjour could have made an exceptional maneuver moments before his death the first time he ever flew an airliner, but it takes a leap of faith to believe amateurs actually carried out these actions with such professional precision.  More importantly, it casts enough doubt on the official version of events for a reasonable person to have reasonable doubts about the accepted view of what happened on those fateful days.

Immediate Identification of the Villains

Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended seventy minutes after the assassination when his supervisor at The Texas School Book Depository alerted the police that he had gone missing.  By that evening he had been charged with killing police officer J.D. Tippit  and assassinating the President.  Oswald’s troubled and short life would end two days later when he was killed by Jack Ruby, a man with significant ties to organized crime.  This terrible murder with many potential culprits was solved in 90 minutes and justice was served in two days.  Oswald is a true enigma, so complex a figure, so multi-layered that it's almost impossible to separate the real from the surreal, the man from the hologram.

Two days after the 9/11 attacks Colin Powell identified Bin Laden as the key suspect in the attacks and the following day the FBI released the names of the hijackers.  Apparently, there was no need for an investigation, evidence or witnesses to tie Bin Laden to the crime.

The two most horrendous, violent, and nebulous events in American history are officially solved within hours, yet years later they continue to confound.

Silenced Suspects who are Never Tried

The institutions of government so clearly saw the truth that neither perpetrator was ever tried.  For a society based on rule of law, it’s ironic that Americas’s two greatest crimes were resolved by politically appointed commissions and not courts of law.

Bin Laden released three tapes in the days and weeks after the 9/11 attacks, in the first of which he denied responsibility for the attacks of 9/11 and in the subsequent two he took no responsibility for them.  Then, on November 9, 2001, American forces found a tape in a house in Afghanistan.  In the video tape Osama Bin Laden supposedly takes responsibility for the attacks though many have argued about the translation.  Finally, on October 29th,  just days before the 2004 US Presidential elections al Jazeera broadcast a tape of Bin Laden explaining to the American people why he had made the attacks.  The extremely fortunate timing and discovery of the self contradicting Bin Laden tapes has created much doubt and confusion.

What would Oswald have said if he had taken the stand?  Which Bin Laden would have appeared in court, the one who claimed innocence or the one who explained how he came up with the ideas of taking down the World Trade Center?  We will never know.

On May 2, 2011 American commandos captured Bin Laden and assassinated him.  Leon Panetta, CIA Director at the time, explained that capturing him alive was not considered, “we always assumed from the beginning that the likelihood was that he was going to be killed.”  From details of the raid it seems clear that Bin Laden was not armed when he was located.  So why wasn't he captured, brought to the United States and tried publicly for the crime he was accused of committing?

The American people were deprived of the opportunity to test the case the government had formed within days of the attack, a case whose consequences were two wars and hundreds of thousands killed.


The Magic Bullet - "According to the single-bullet theory, a three-centimeter (1.2″)-long copper-jacketed lead-core 6.5-millimeter rifle bullet fired from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository passed through President Kennedy’s neck and Governor Connally’s chest and wrist and embedded itself in the Governor’s thigh. If so, this bullet traversed 15 layers of clothing, 7 layers of skin, and approximately 15 inches of tissue, struck a necktie knot, removed 4 inches of rib, and shattered a radius bone. The bullet was found on a gurney in the corridor at the Parkland Memorial Hospital, in Dallas, after the assassination." From Wikipedia

In October of 1963 someone claiming to be Lee Harvey Oswald called and went to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City asking for a visa.  The problem was, it wasn't the same Lee Harvey Oswald who was captured in Dallas.  Less than 24 hours after having supposedly killed the President, Lyndon Johnson had this conversation with J Edgar Hoover:

LBJ:  Have you established any more about the visit to the Soviet embassy in Mexico in September?
Hoover:  No, that’s one angle that’s very confusing, for this reason—we have up here the tape and the photograph of the man who was at the Soviet embassy, using Oswald’s name.  That picture and the tape do not correspond to this man’s voice, nor to his appearance.  In other words, it appears that there is a second person who was at the Soviet embassy down there.

And then there is this FBI report:

“The Central Intelligence Agency advised that on October 1, 1963, an extremely sensitive source had reported that an individual identified himself as Lee Oswald, who contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City inquiring as to any messages.  Special Agents of this Bureau, who have conversed with Oswald in Dallas, Texas, have observed photographs of the individual referred to above and have listened to his voice.  These Special Agents are of the opinion that the above-referred-to-individual was not Lee Harvey Oswald…..”

The “extremely sensitive” source was the CIA itself as they were filming the visitors and tapping the phones of the two embassies Oswald visited. Why would the CIA want to make it appear that Oswald was colluding with the enemy a month before he kills the President?

Oswald, who had top secret clearance working for the CIA on U2 flights, defects to the Soviet Union, announces to US Embassy that he is renouncing his citizenship and going to reveal U2 secrets to the Soviets but later decides to leave the Soviet Union and  is welcomed with open arms and even given a loan to come back to the US.  Why wasn't he tried as a traitor?  He then moves to Texas where he is surrounded by people with connections to the FBI and the CIA.

The incredible way Building 7 collapsed on 9/11, at almost free fall speed and very similar to the way buildings collapse in controlled demolition caused many to question the official version of events.  Building 7 wasn't hit by a plane and the BBC even reported it had collapsed twenty minutes before it actually did.  The lack of film footage of the attack on the Pentagon, which one can assume has extensive video surveillance, was also very surprising.

These are only a few of the many quagmires embedded in these two crimes. None of this proves a conspiracy, but it does make it reasonable for a person to doubt the official  version of events.

 The Taboo of not Believing

Due to the many inconsistencies and oddities in the Warren Commission, more and more Americans in the late 1960’s began doubting the ‘lone shooter’ thesis it described.  This worried the CIA which created a “dispatch”,  numbered 1035-960 in order to counteract the growing skepticism and marginalize those who questioned the official story.  As Kevin R. Ryan explains:

“This cultural phenomenon goes back to 1967. At that time, in response to questions about the Warren Commission Report (which President Ford helped create), the CIA issued a memorandum calling for mainstream media sources to begin countering “conspiracy theorists.”  In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase “conspiracy theory” appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.”

As a consequence, those that spoke out against the Warren Commission’s conclusions were tainted with the derogatory term of  ‘conspiracy theorist’ which implied they lacked  the psychological and intellectual capacity to understand a complex world.  It became more mature, patriotic and coherent to assume that a momentous crime with cataclysmic consequences was only within the purview of a lone nut.  If a journalist or academic suggested that the CIA had played a role in the assassination then they were considered outside the mainstream in spite of the fact that the CIA had a hand in the overthrows of:  Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Mossadegh in Iran, Lumumba in the Congo, Jacob Arbenz in Guatemala, Joao Goulart in Brazil,  and Sukarno in Indonesia.  It was deemed socially and intellectually unsound to believe that such an organization would ever use its skills at home in order to move forward its agenda.

Following the 9/11 attacks the meme repeated itself with an Orwellian flavor by calling those who doubted The 9/11 Commission Report ‘Truthers’.  No major American newspaper has an editorial writer that questions the official version of events on 9/11.  It’s a taboo topic that if breached, pushes one beyond the pale and into the margins of public rhetoric.

Why was it so absurd to think that the CIA, which had been running Operation Mockingbird to manipulate the press in the United States from the 1950’s through the 1970’s and which, through its Project MKUltra, had tried to create ‘Manchurian Candidates’ wouldn't also stoop to violence against the American people to achieve it’s goals?

It’s perfectly acceptable in the mainstream to deny the existence of evolution, yet it's grounds for expulsion from major media if one doubts the official version of how Building 7 collapsed or if one implies that the CIA may have had a hand in the Kennedy assassination.

Kennedy himself spoke to the need for a free press to push the limits, but that same press ignored his words when they were confronted with the complexities of his death.

"Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution--not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”

Lost and Senseless Wars: Cui Bono?

In the days previous to the Bay of Pigs fiasco the CIA knew that Castro had information regarding the invasion but they withheld it from Kennedy in the hopes that he would bow to their pressure to intervene-he didn't acquiesce.  In the aftermath Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles saying, "I want to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."   Dulles would later become a member of the Warren Commission which would consecrate the official narrative of the ‘lone gunman’ Oswald.

During the Cuban missile crisis the generals clamored for war, pushing their Commander and Chief to invade the island.  Curtis Lemay, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, argued vehemently with the President:

"This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich…We don't have any choice but direct military action. I see no other solution. This blockade and political action I see leading to war."

As James Douglass eloquently argues in his book, JFK and the Unspeakable, Kennedy changed during his time in the White House from a hawk to man determined to establish peace and end the Cold War.  He had begun communicating with Khrushchev through back-channels and had sent feelers out to do the same with Castro.  He became increasingly pessimistic about Vietnam and on Oct. 11, 1963 he signed directive NSAM-263 which called for the immediate withdrawal of 1,000 advisers from Vietnam and the removal of the remaining 15,000 by the end of 1965.  Four days after his death, his successor Lyndon Johnson, signed directive NSAM 273 which overturned Kennedy’s directive and increased military involvement in Vietnam.

As Kennedy lost faith in his generals and the CIA, he moved away from military solutions and this evolution culminated in his American University speech where he laid out his plans for peaceful coexistence with the communist world- heresy to the military and the CIA.

"What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time."

Kennedy was killed and the generals got their war.  They used the domino theory to justify it, arguing that if Vietnam fell to the communists, the rest of South East Asia would also fall,  threatening American security.  Vietnam fell in 1975 to the communists after millions were killed,  their domino theory long discredited.

In the 1990’s the Neo-Cons pushed for the invasion of Iraq.  In 2003, in the aftermath of 9/11, they also got their war.  They had their own version of the domino theory as they argued that if Saddam Hussein was ousted, the Iraqi Shiites would rise up, creating a vibrant democracy that would empower the Iranian and Syrian youth to overthrow their respective regimes.  Instead Iran wound up controlling Iraq and Assad remains in power in Syria.  Another theory was laid to waste over the corpses of hundreds of thousands.


The late 1950’s and late 1990’s had much in common.  America experienced prosperity, peace, wealth, the admiration of the world and clear military superiority over all nations.  They were by far the ‘best of times’ of the postwar period, guided by two-term presidents who were blessed with such immense economic growth that their most important role was to keep their hands off the controls and let peace and prosperity bloom.  Both periods ended abruptly, violently, and were followed by long, ill conceived wars, the  expansion of the security state, internal strife, extreme partisanship, ballooning debt and an inflated and overextended military.

The only beneficiaries of these two violent turns were the military industrial complex.  In light of much of the transcripts and documents released from the Kennedy era, it’s clear that JFK was on a path of peace, not only in Vietnam, but with the Soviet Union and Cuba.  Similarly, it was hard to imagine in the year 2000 that the US would entangle itself in two new wars lasting almost a decade, forgetting all the terrible lessons of Vietnam and once again descending into the hell of violence.  It was as if some dark hand swooped down in a malevolent fury, angry at the peace and prosperity the nation was enjoying.

No matter who committed these heinous crimes, what is clear is that their aftermaths were cataclysmic for the nation and the dissent of those seeing more than a lone gunman or a band of religious fanatics operating out of caves was met with fierce resistance and marginalization.  Why was this dissent shunned with such opprobrium?  Could it be that those who ventured beyond the strict confines of mainstream ideas might see the obvious and shout it out from the rooftops?

The most disturbing common thread in the aftermath of these two crimes was the reticence to thoroughly and openly investigate them.  Both crimes were ‘solved’ within hours, the basic outline of events decided on in days and etched in stone, never to be disturbed.  Even to  mention a doubt as to the perpetrators was to question the very essence of the nation because it seemed clear that to disbelieve the guilt of Oswald or Bin Laden had one very dangerous consequence- the implosion of the modern myth upholding the entire state apparatus.

It’s hard not to make the comparison with a family ravaged by an abusive father, avoiding the obvious in a desperate attempt to maintain its existence as a unit.

Thomas Merton
The mystic Thomas Merton called it the ‘unspeakable’  and described it with sublime understanding in his 1965 essay:

“Those who are at present so eager to be reconciled with the world at any price must take care not to be reconciled with it under this particular aspect: as the nest of The Unspeakable. This is what too few are willing to see….

“You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God. You agree? Good. Then go with my blessing. But I warn you, do not expect to make many friends. As for the Unspeakable—his implacable presence will not be disturbed by a little fellow like you!”

Robert Bonomo is a blogger, novelist and esotericist.  Download his latest novel, Your Love Incomplete, for free here.