50 years on, no end to questions on JFK death

50 years on, no end to questions on JFK death

WASHINGTON - For Jesse Ventura, the professional wrestler turned independent politician, John F. Kennedy was the greatest president in modern US history - and the proof lies in his 1963 assassination.

"They wouldn't even let him do one term. That's what showed his greatness," said Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota and author of the new book, "They Killed Our President."

Ventura believes that Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas probably because he sought to make peace with the Soviet Union and challenge the military-industrial complex following the CIA's botched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

"I believe he had more enemies within his own government than with the Russians and all of them combined," Ventura told AFP. "Imagine how the world would have been different if Jack Kennedy had lived, with no Vietnam (War) and the Cold War ended in '65. What a great world I bet we would have had today."

An official commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded that gunman Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and historians debate the legacy of the still popular president, who sent military advisers to Vietnam.

But alternative theories on Kennedy's death remain rife ahead of the 50th anniversary of his assassination on November 22. A Gallup poll in 2003 found that a mere 19 per cent of Americans believed that a sole individual was behind the murder, with more than one-third agreeing with theories that the mafia or the CIA killed him because he threatened their interests.

Much of the suspicion revolves around how Oswald, a former defector to the Soviet Union with a troubled life, could have single-handedly killed one of the world's most powerful people by firing from the top of the Texas School Book Depository. Oswald's chance to speak publicly ended two days later, when he himself was fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

In works on Kennedy's assassination - a search under "JFK conspiracy" on online bookstore Amazon found nearly 800 books - authors have questioned whether another gunman opened fire from the now infamous "grassy knoll" in front of the motorcade. A 1979 report by a congressional committee said that acoustic evidence pointed to a second gunman, although subsequent studies have challenged the assertion.

A home movie filmed by eye witness Abraham Zapruder has offered ample fodder for alternative views, with some theorists alleging that "the Umbrella Man" - who opened an umbrella despite the sunshine - was sending a signal.

One of the most prominent alternative theories of the assassination came in Oliver Stone's 1991 film "JFK" which suggests a cover-up and involvement by Kennedy's successor Lyndon Johnson. Stone said he wanted to create a "counter-myth" through the movie, which contributed to a decision by Congress to release more records on the shooting.

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