One of the foremost researchers — and conspiracy theorists — in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy says he's certain the Central Intelligence Agency and organized crime were involved in the murder, but he also is certain the real story will never be fully revealed.
Robert Groden, the author of scores of books and articles on the shooting in Dallas — and the owner of the biggest photo and movie archive on the killing — will speak on "JFK 50, What Really Happened" at 4 and 7 p.m. today in the Medford library's main floor meeting room. The talk is free and open to the public and will feature many of his visuals, including the Zapruder film of the assassination, which occurred 50 years ago this November.
Groden, 67, testified in 1978 before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, for which he was a photographic consultant. He maintains that Lee Harvey Oswald had nothing to do with the killing but was a patsy, working as an agent for the CIA in the Soviet Union and set up by the CIA to take the fall for the JFK hit.
The talk is being presented in conjunction with the JFK Exhibit, a memorabilia collection that has been on display at the Medford Center since early this summer.
Groden rose to fame in 1975, showing the Zapruder film on "Good Night America" on ABC, with Geraldo Rivera — the first time the public had seen it — then authoring "High Treason," which made the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list, and "JFK: The Case for Conspiracy." He was a consultant to Oliver Stone's movie, "JFK."
"I turned 18 on the day Kennedy was killed and it has dominated my life ever since," Groden said in an interview at the JFK Exhibit. "In addition to hurting me personally, what it did to this country was cost 58,000 lives in Vietnam, stuck us with Richard Nixon and a lot of other strange characters and robbed us of many years of great leadership of both John and Bobby Kennedy, because if John had not been killed, Bobby wouldn't have run for president."
The motives for the Kennedy assassination were obvious, says Groden, as the mob hated both John and Bobby Kennedy for targeting them with congressional investigations and scrutiny from the JFK administration. The CIA, he says, was tied in with the "military-industrial-intelligence complex" and saw that Kennedy was going to end U.S. involvement in the budding Vietnam conflict.
Countless books and documentaries have alleged similar plots, but, says Groden, after a half-century there is "not a chance we're going to get to the bottom of this. There is too much false evidence out there." Groden says there's no way to know who the actual triggermen were — only who was behind the conspiracy.
The Warren Commission in 1964 hung the crime on Oswald, who was shot dead two days after President Kennedy. An ex-Marine with knowledge of U-2 spy plane flights, Oswald defected to the Soviet Union, then repatriated to the United States and was working in the Texas School Book Depository when the president rode through a hail of bullets on the street in front of it.
Groden has interviewed scores of witnesses and participants in the aftermath of the shooting and says he believes Oswald had no part in the killing of JFK or the Dallas policeman killed a half-hour later. Groden believes there was a crossfire of at least four shooters in buildings to the rear and behind a low fence on the famous "grassy knoll" to Kennedy's right, leaving the president with two massive head wounds and two more, in his back and neck.
Pointing to autopsy photos in his book, "The Killing of a President," Groden notes the many entry and exit wounds, which, he claims, rule out the lone gunman theory and make the likelihood of a conspiracy impossible to ignore.
"Oswald was a CIA agent, but he became too well-known with his defection to Russia, so they deactivated him," says Groden. "The FBI picked him up as an informant and he was framed as the patsy for the assassination.
"What he was doing at the moment of the assassination was getting change from co-worker Geraldine Reid for a coke machine," says Groden, noting he's interviewed Reid and others to back up the claim.
Groden will soon publish his book, "JFK: Absolute Proof," collating evidence gathered in recent years and giving his take on what it means.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at email@example.com.