The assassination of John F Kennedy has been the subject of conspiracy theories since the moment the first bullet was fired.
50 years later, sifting through the facts and fiction to find the valid unanswered questions about that day requires much time and careful study.
Here, we ask author and expert Laurence O’Bryan for the 10 most pertinent points that still trouble people about that day in Dallas.
1 | Did the same copper-jacketed 6.5mm rifle bullet hit Kennedy in the back and then Governor Connally’s chest and wrist? Did it swerve in mid-air to cause this damage?
There has been speculation since the days after John F Kennedy’s assassination that there wasn’t enough time for a single assassin to reload and fire three times, the first shot wounding Kennedy, the second wounding Governor Connally, the third killing Kennedy. The Warren commission report disagreed with the FBI report on this, stating that the first gunshot wounded Kennedy and then hit Connally. Ballistics experts claim this would have been impossible. Was there a second shooter, firing from a different angle?
2 | Who were the conspirators?
In 1979, the US House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report concluding that Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy. The investigation was ordered after it emerged that the CIA hadn’t revealed all of its files on the JFK case to the Warren Commission, who produced the official US Government report on the assassination. The committee uncovered a Dallas Police recording of the assassination. Acoustic experts identified four rifle shots, not three. The committee concluded that there was a 95 per cent probability that the third bullet was fired from the Grassy Knoll. A second shooter meant there was a conspiracy to kill JFK, but who were they?
3 | Are the photographs of Oswald taken in his backyard in which he holds up Marxist newspapers and a Carcano rifle fake, as Oswald insisted, before he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby?
The photo simultaneously appeared on the cover of Life magazine and on the front page of the Detroit Free Press early in 1964. But the photo appeared to have been tampered with. In the photo on the cover of Life Oswald's rifle had a sniper scope. In the one that appeared in the Detroit Free Press the scope was gone. Was the photo a concoction created to make people believe that the commies had murdered their president?
4 | Was George Bush Senior, in Dallas at the time of the assassination, supervising a political dirty-tricks team for Nixon, his close personal friend and political ally?
This theory claims that Bush, later the 41st President, was deeply involved with the CIA at the time, including with the CIA’s anti-Castro Cubans, who were enraged that Kennedy hadn’t taken over Cuba. Whether he knew anything about the assassination plot is something we are never likely to find out.
5 | Why were all the Warren Commission hearings held in secret, if there was no issue of national security, as Oswald was, they claimed, a lone assassin?
In 1964 Bertrand Russell, who helped establish the International War Crimes Tribunal, wrote, "The official version of the assassination of President Kennedy has been so riddled with contradictions that it is been abandoned and rewritten no less than three times." One of his strongest criticisms was that the Warren Commission hearings were held in secret.
6 | Why did the authorities that day follow so many potential assassins, but fail to observe Oswald’s entry into the book depository building while allegedly carrying a rifle over three feet long?
A list of subversives comprising 23 names, of which Oswald’s was the first, were followed that day – all except Oswald. Why did this happen in a city that was known for attacks on politicians? Bertrand Russell questioned this in a paper entitled '16 Questions on the Assassination'.
7 | Did the Secret Service change the President’s route to take his car past the book depository building, and if so, how did Oswald know of this change?
The motorcade route went against Secret Service protocol by including turns of 90 and 120 degrees, which slowed the limousine to a dangerous speed outside the Texas School Book Depository. Evidence on this issue to the House Select Committee on Assassinations is still unpublished. It has been confirmed, however, that there were alternate routes and conflicting accounts of why the chosen route was taken.
8 | Why was it announced, three days after Oswald’s room in Dallas had been searched, that a map had been found on which the book depository building had been circled and dotted lines drawn from the building to a vehicle on Houston Street?
This question also arises in Bertrand Russell’s list of questions. The map story was later proved to be false, but where did it originate?
9 | Why did the authorities who interrogated Oswald for nearly 48 hours not allow him to contact a lawyer?
Despite his repeated requests to do so. And why were American Civil Liberties Union lawyers not allowed to meet him, despite the fact that these actions made a confession inadmissible in a U.S. court of law?
10 | How was Oswald’s description, in connection with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt, broadcast over Dallas police radio at 12:43 on 22 November when Tippitt was not shot until 1:06 p.m?
This question also occurs in the list of questions by Bertrand Russell, a great source of further unanswered questions regarding one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century.
And as a final note – a personal eleventh question. Why are these important issues never addressed in the official accounts of these events?
Laurence O’Bryan's latest book, The Manhattan Puzzle, it out now.