April 16, 2002
From Camelot to Crawford: Confessions of a Grassy Knoll Society Member
By Warren Pease
Which is easier to believe: That the laws of physics which have governed objects in motion since the big bang were suspended for a few seconds on a single afternoon in Dallas 39 years ago to allow a single, mediocre marksman to kill a president? Or that there was another rifleman?
Last week Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D - Courage) broke the code. In a radio interview, she asked the forbidden question concerning Sept. 11: Why is the Bush administration stonewalling, and why has it asked Senate investigators to back off? In short, is Bush Inc. trying to hide something? If so, what did they know and when did they know it?
In a statement intended to clarify her statements and call off the dogs, McKinney said, "We hold thorough public inquiries into rail disasters, plane crashes and even natural disasters. Why then does the administration remain steadfast in its opposition to an investigation into the biggest terrorism attack in history?"
She added that international news organizations have been reporting for months of indications that the Bush administration had received warnings about the attacks and failed to act on them.
Naturally, she's being savaged by the right, the center and the left. Paul Begala, the latest Democratic white knight to turn yellow from the toxic after-effects of radical spine-ectomy, even did a ritual dive under the table on Crossfire to symbolically distance himself from McKinney's comments. It was a gesture so perfect as a metaphor for media harlotry that it was impossible to see it without assuming that Paul gave co-host and right wing fop Tucker Carlson's thigh a couple of quick squeezes and whispered salacious promises involving champagne and chains and mirrors in a posh hotel later that evening.
The grassy knoll
Ari Fleischer, presidential spokesdork and owner of the second best smirk in the western world, dismissed McKinney and those who share her point of view as members of "the grassy knoll society." This refers to an area flanking Elm Street in Dallas from which an alleged second shooter opened fire on John F. Kennedy in 1963. Although many witnesses to the assassination say they heard shots coming from the grassy knoll -- even some Dallas cops charged in that direction looking for the shooter -- the official story pins the blame on a single rifleman firing from a sixth floor window of the old Texas Schoolbook Depository. Ironically, the building now serves as a museum dedicated to advancing the official story.
But here's the thing. Playing the "conspiracy nut" card is a time-honored way to discredit the unofficial points of view. Unfortunately, there are any number of nuts who do, in fact, give serious conspiracy investigators a bad name. There are also a lot of very sane profiteers, such as Art Bell, who are making a ton of money peddling conspiracy theories. But just because these nuts and shysters exist doesn't mean there are no conspiracies.
While most conspiracy theories -- notably those involving Area 51, Roswell, or alien abduction -- are viewed by officialdom as mere bread and circuses for today's gullible junk science consumers, those that challenge important official truths are dealt with harshly.
One of those official truths is that conspiracies only happen in far-away places and that, in America, politics is characterized by reasonable actions taken by reasonable men elected to office by reasonable voters. There are no conspiracies to remove elected officials in America, and therefore any political assassinations must be planned and carried out by single, mentally unbalanced individual with a grudge and a fixation -- usually called the "one lone nut" theory.
Famous lone nuts include a bunch of guys with three names and another with one name squared: Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, John Wilkes Booth, Sirhan Sirhan.
The single-bullet theory
It 1963, it was deemed necessary to preserve the fiction that, in America, conspiracies don't kill politicians, lone nuts do. And when the facts in the Kennedy case failed to support this essential construct, a new theory was invented to fit the facts.
So Arlen Specter, then a young lawyer working for the Warren Commission and now a US Senator from Pennsylvania, devised a scenario so ridiculous that it required complete suspension of the laws of physics, along with even the barest modicum of logic and skepticism.
To fit the official story, Oswald had to have acted alone. But a man named Abraham Zapruder had filmed the assassination with his home movie camera and, in the process, established a precise time frame for the sequence of events. Investigators proved it was physically impossible to get off more than three shots with the alleged assassination weapon -- a cheap, mail-order bolt-action rifle. The first shot missed and the third blew Kennedy's head apart.
Therefore, to account for multiple wounds to the president and Texas Governor John Connolly, seated just in front of Kennedy, the second shot must have passed through Kennedy, hung motionless in the air for a bit, zigged and zagged, entered Connolly's shoulder, bounced around his rib cage, exited, zigged again, and lodged in his wrist, shattering bone and cartilage. And after this miraculous journey, it finally showed up on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital in nearly pristine condition. The "single bullet" in Specter's single bullet theory. Needless to say, scores of proficient marksmen have never been able to replicate this feat. Not even close.
But that's not considered crazy; it's the official story signed by all members of the Warren Commission and passed into the US historical record, irreproducible results notwithstanding.
Not coincidentally, this same country relies on the trappings of legality to explain the events of December 2000, which in any country not called America would have been described by an American administration and press as an obvious and shameful overthrow of the democratic process, and would be officially "deplored."
And so when Cynthia McKinney attempts to force this very same fraudulent administration to apply the same level of official scrutiny that would attend any high-profile kidnapping, a missing child or yet another in the endless series of multiple murder-suicides that plague a country wracked by economic depression and infested with advanced weaponry -- when McKinney attempts to force an official inquiry into the events of Sept. 11 that may ask uncomfortable questions of high-ranking officials in various intelligence agencies and administration positions, Ari Fleischer has the epic effrontery to, in essence, accuse her of being a couple of cans short of a case.
This administration is nearly a million votes short of legitimacy and its chief apologist has the unmitigated gall to suggest that anyone who questions its official pronouncements is a conspiracy nut.
Never mind that the only entity that seems to have benefited from 9-11 is the Bush administration itself, which was in its customary disarray and tanking quickly in the polls by late August 2001. Now, capitalizing on an unprecedented wave of hyper-patriotism fueled by the ceaseless cheerleading of irrepressible bliss ninnies in mainstream media, Bush has shamelessly used the corpses of about 3,000 American civilians as springboards to advance his political agenda.
So is he the luckiest bastard ever to tread the American political stage, or did he make his own luck? Who knows? And without the kind of thorough investigation McKinney is calling for, those questions can never be answered and the events surrounding Sept. 11 will simply pass into American folk lore along with the grassy knoll.
Which is easier to believe: That the world's mightiest military power, along with an unparalleled national security and intelligence apparatus, failed to predict, interdict or even put up a decent fight against the most deadly attack in this country's modern history? Or that people in high places put out the word to stand down and let it happen?
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The author would much rather there were no need for a Grassy Knoll Society, and that we lived in a country in which government had earned our trust. Sadly, this is George W. Bush's America. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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