Nov. 20, 2004 -- G. Robert Blakey, the former chief counsel of the House Assassinations Committee and an expert on organized crime, advocates the theory that there was a conspiracy behind the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
The following is an excerpt of ABCNEWS' interview with Blakey:
ABCNEWS: Let me ask you: 40 years after the fact and 25 years after your investigation, who killed John F. Kennedy?
Blakey: Lee Harvey Oswald killed John Kennedy. Two shots from behind. The evidence is simply overwhelming. You have to be lacking in judgment and experience in dealing with the evidence to think that Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill President Kennedy. That's really not the problem. The problem is: Was there something beyond Lee Harvey Oswald? And now what you do is you look at the evidence.
ABCNEWS: How many shots were fired at Dealey Plaza?
Blakey: What we did is determine that there were in fact four shots. Our scientists looked at a tape we found, and they did a scientific analysis of it, and it indicated four shots in the plaza, three from the depository and one from the grassy knoll. That meant there were two shooters in the plaza, two shooters in the plaza equal a conspiracy.
The first shot from the depository by Lee Harvey Oswald missed. The second shot about 1.6 seconds later, hit the president in the back of the neck. [The bullet exited Kennedy and] hit John Connally. It hit his wrist, hit his leg. Now six seconds from the second shot, we think a shot came from the grassy knoll. It missed the president. The shot from the grassy knoll missed. The X-rays, the autopsy, all of that indicates the president was not hit by a shot from any other direction. Seven-tenths of a second after that, the third shot, fourth in the row, third shot from the depository, hits the president right in the back of the head.
The shot from the grassy knoll is not only supported by the acoustics, which is a tape that we found of a police motorcycle broadcast back to the district station. It is corroborated by eyewitness testimony in the plaza. There were 20 people, at least, who heard a shot from the grassy knoll.
Bill and Gail Newman, a young couple, were standing on the grassy knoll. You can go back and look at the film clips. He was a Korean War veteran. He heard a shot come in over his head. He knew what shots were. He heard firecrackers off to his left, which was where was the depository was. He heard a shot come in over his head which is from the grassy knoll, and what did he do? He pushed his wife to the ground and fell on her to protect her. Is that credible testimony of a shot from the grassy knoll? Yes.
Two cars behind the president in the motorcade is Special Agent Paul Winns, Secret Service, in a position. Trained, he hears shots from two directions. Behind him, which would be the depository. And to his front right, garden area which is the grassy knoll.
A man was standing on the railroad underpass named S. M. Holland. He hears four shots. The first one misses, the second one hits Connally, Kennedy and Connally. Space, he hears a fourth shot from the grassy knoll. He sees a puff of smoke over by the fence exactly where the acoustics says it was.
The Warren Commission did not buy that testimony. They wanted some external corroboration for everything. So we have corroboration in the acoustics. But you can put it either way. The acoustics corroborates the eyewitness testimony. Or the eyewitness testimony corroborates the acoustics. Or that either one independently establishes two shooters in the plaza.
ABCNEWS: Why were you convinced the scientists were right about the acoustics?
Blakey: Everything that I know about what happened in the plaza gives me three shots. One misses, two hits. And I know the rough time in between them. I get the timing principally from the Zapruder film. And we can correlate the timing of the tape to the timing of the film. I take the tape of the assassination — forget the shot in the grassy knoll for a minute — what does it look like? Exactly the same. It matches.
If there had not been a shot in the grassy knoll, there would have been no controversy by the people who support the single bullet theory and the no conspiracy theory, because I would have proved with acoustics the single bullet theory. And they would have applauded.
The problem is it looks like this. There's a fourth shot, the shot from the grassy knoll, three of them fit. I have to buy the tape as a whole or reject the tape as a whole. Coincidence? Or truth? I say truth.
And if I've got three fitting, if the glove fits, convict, if the glove doesn't fit, acquit. This glove fits. If I get three, I get the fourth, too.
ABCNEWS: Are you still confident in the acoustics evidence?
Blakey: I was disturbed by the Academy Of Science study, because it tended to undermine the acoustics. Now I think that they're wrong. The more recent analysis of the acoustics indicate the probability of random noise is less than one percent, which, put another way, it's a 99 percent chance that the event that I identify as the sound from the assassination from the sound from the grassy knoll, is not random noise.
ABCNEWS: In your book you point the finger squarely at Carlos Marcello and his organization. Why would he want to kill Kennedy?
Blakey: Carlos Marcello was being subject to the most vigorous investigation he had ever experienced in his life, designed to put him in jail. He was in fact summarily, without due process, deported to Guatemala. He took the deportation personally. He hated the Kennedys. He had the motive, the opportunity and the means in Lee Harvey Oswald to kill him. I think he did through Oswald.
When I say this was a mob hit, I don't mean the national syndicate. We had, from the FBI — we being the House Select Committee On Assassinations — we got all that illegal electronic surveillance, and we studied it for a period before the assassination and the period after the assassination. We concluded that it was so good that it precluded the possibility that the National Commission was involved, but there was no electronic surveillance in New Orleans.
Oswald Assassination a Mob Hit or Kill the Killer
ABCNEWS: How central is Jack Ruby's murder of Oswald to your understanding of this case?
Blakey: To understand who killed President Kennedy and did he have help, I think you have to understand what happened to the assassin of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. I see Jack Ruby's assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald as a mob hit.
This is in direct contradiction to the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission portrayed, wrongly I think, Jack Ruby as a wild card who serendipitously got into position to kill Oswald. I think in fact he stalked him. I can show you from the Warren Commission's evidence that he tried to get into where he was being interrogated, number one. That he tried to get in where there was going to be a lineup, number two. That he was seen around the garage, where he was announced that he was going to be moved. And we know, from Jack Ruby himself, that he had a gun with him at the time of the lineup.
I believe that Ruby was able to get in to kill Oswald through the corrupt cooperation of the Dallas P.D., that he was let in through a back door and he was given an opportunity to kill Oswald. I see that, therefore, as a mob hit. And if that's a mob hit, there is only one reason for it, and that is to cover up the assassination of the president himself. You kill the killer. That's a standard operating procedure for, for mob hits, unless the hit is by somebody who's already in the family. If you use an outsider you kill him.
Connecting Oswald to the Mob
ABCNEWS: Since you believe that Lee Oswald shot the president, and you also believe that Carlos Marcello was behind the assassination, what connections do you point to between Oswald and Marcello?
Blakey: I can show you that Lee Harvey Oswald knew, from his boyhood forward, David Ferrie, and David Ferrie was an investigator for Carlos Marcello on the day of the assassination, with him in a court room in New Orleans. I can show you that Lee Harvey Oswald, when he grew up in New Orleans, lived with the Dutz Murret family [one of Oswald's uncles]. Dutz Murret is a bookmaker for Carlos Marcello.
I can show you that there's a bar in New Orleans, and back in the '60s, bars used to have strippers and the strippers circuit is from Jack Ruby's strip joint in Dallas to Marcello-connected strip joints in the New Orleans area. So I can bring this connection.
Did Lee Harvey Oswald grow up in a criminal neighborhood? Yes. Did he have a mob-connected family? Did he have mob-connected friends? Was he known to them to be a crazy guy? He's out publicly distributing Fair Play for Cuba leaflets. If you wanted to enlist him in a conspiracy that would initially appear to be communist and not appear to be organized crime, he's the perfect candidate. Ex-Marine, marksman, probably prepared to kill the president for political reasons.
Could he be induced to kill the president for organized crime reasons unbeknownst to him? I think the answer is yes and compelling.
Connecting Ruby to the Mob
ABCNEWS: You're convinced Ruby was connected to organized crime in Chicago?
Blakey: He used to be a runner for Al Capone. He was a gopher. He was violently connected with a mob-dominated union. He was connected to Zooky the Bookie. The mob took out Zooky the Bookie because they wanted to take over his business, and they told Ruby to leave town and Ruby left. This is the story of Jack Ruby in Chicago.
This guy is not somebody totally unrelated to organized crime. He gets into Dallas. I know that he has financial problems. And who is he on the phone with? He's on the phone with major figures of organized crime. I know that he meets with an organized crime figure the night before the assassination, and I know the same guy visited him in jail. Sure, he's a blabbermouth.
But what would you do if the mob came into you and said, "Jack, we want you to hit Oswald, and when you do, you're solid with us." What goes through Jack Ruby's mind? "I'm dead. I either do this or I'm dead."
ABCNEWS: How certain are you about your theory?
Blakey: What I'm saying to you is, this is not something I'd take to court. I'm talking about a judgment of history. I'm not talking about admissible evidence under a court standard. I'm talking about a jigsaw puzzle and you put little pieces in. Do I have the last piece, certainty, proof beyond a reasonable doubt? No. Could reasonable people disagree with me? Yes. What they have to do though, is deal with not strands of the evidence, but the evidence as a whole. For example, I'm more confident that the mob was involved in the assassination in of Lee Harvey Oswald and therefore, of what happened in the plaza, then I am of any connection between the mob and Lee Harvey Oswald.
The strongest part of my case is the [mob] connections to Ruby and the Ruby assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald. Why would the mob want to take out Lee Harvey Oswald, except he knows something about them that they would engage in a high risk venture to kill him.
To ask that question is to answer it. There's only one answer to that. They had a hand in the assassination.
G. Robert Blakey is the William and Dorothy O'Neill Professor of Law at The University of Notre Dame. He served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 through 1979. He is the author of The Plot to Kill The President (1981), which was reissued in paperback in 1993 as Fatal Hour: The Assassination of President Kennedy by Organized Crime. An expert on organized crime, he drafted the legislation in 1970 that created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO).