Longtime JFK Assassination Researcher: We May Never Know the Truth

But He Believes One Thing Is Certain: Oswald Was Innocent

Robert Groden speaking with tourists in Dealey Plaza. Photo credit: Russ Baker / WhoWhatWhy

Robert Groden was born on November 22, 1945 — exactly 18 years before JFK’s assassination. He has devoted his entire adult life to trying to uncover the truth of what happened. He went to JFK’s graveside and promised he would never give up. Now, about to turn 71, and 53 years later, he is starting to believe that we may never know the whole truth. Too much time has elapsed, too many people have died.

What he does consider certain, and the case that he has devoted his life to making, is that Lee Harvey Oswald did not fire any gun on 11/22/1963.

He believes Oswald was set up, that members of the Warren Commission lied outright, and that the Zapruder film, which Groden first showed to the public, is the single most important piece of evidence showing that the fatal shot came from the front.

Groden testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978. The chairman of the HSCA, G. Robert Blakey, stated concerning Groden that “the results of his study played no small part in convincing many Members of the Congress that the Kennedy case should be reopened.”

Groden is out in Dealey Plaza every weekend speaking to those who will listen. In this week’s podcast he talks to WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman.

[Note: the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of WhoWhatWhy.]

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Full Text Transcript:

Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to Radio WhoWhatWhy. I’m Jeff Schechtman.

50 years ago the nation experienced one of the seminal moments of the 20th Century – along with two World Wars, the dawning of the nuclear age, and the landing of men on the moon – the assassination of JFK was one of last century’s tentpoles. As such, it never ceases to fascinate us. What other event of the 20th century still conjures up as many unanswered questions? Is there anyone who still believes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that the Warren Commission was accurate? I say, probably the same number of people that believe Elvis is still alive. My guest Robert Groden has since the beginning been on the forefront of the effort to try and understand what really happened and why. He’s written extensively about conspiracy theories regarding the assassination. His books include The Killing of a President: The Complete Photographic Record of the JFK Assassination; The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald: The Comprehensive Photographic Record; and JFK: The Case for Conspiracy. He was a consultant to Oliver Stone on his film JFK and was responsible for bringing the Zapruder film to national attention. It is my pleasure to welcome Robert Groden to Radio WhoWhatWhy. Robert, thanks much for joining us.

Robert Groden: Thank you, Jeff. Appreciate being here.

Jeff: First of all in an overall sense and certainly this is something you’ve been with for a very, very, very long time, what is it about this story, this murder, this assassination, that still captivates us to this day?

Robert: Well for one thing, it’s an amazing murder mystery. Lee Harvey Oswald clearly did not shoot anybody but he was blamed for it and he was killed for it two days after President Kennedy. Why that happened, how it happened, is all part of the whole story and it’s been 53 years now since the assassination. Though there are many of us who want to find the truth, who like to know the truth while we’re still alive, that’s what I’ve been trying to do now for all of these years.

Jeff: Is it your belief after doing this for so many years that we will ever really know the truth?

Robert: I used to think we could; now I’m not so sure. The cover-up has been going on for so many years. So many legends and so much false information have been presented on both sides. It may be impossible at this stage of the game to find out who really did do it. So I’ve been focusing more lately the last couple years on who did not do it, and that’s Lee Harvey Oswald.

Jeff: In your research, who else have you concluded – and there have been so many theories of course over the years – who else have you concluded didn’t do it?

Robert: Oh my, well, Lee Harvey Oswald is the only one to focus on because he’s the one blamed for it. The Dallas police allowed him to be killed two days later so that there wouldn’t be a trial. Jack Ruby admitted that he shot Oswald so that there wouldn’t be a trial, but he said for a different reason. He said because of Mrs. Kennedy. I tend to doubt that Mrs. Kennedy had anything to do with why Ruby did it – that was a story created by Tom Howard, his lawyer. And again, it was to get sympathy.

There are two major issues we have to deal with here. Number one is, was there more than one shooter? And issue number two is, was Oswald one of the shooters? Clearly my feeling is that there was more than one shooter, especially since shots came from the front and the rear. And the sound recording shows up that up to 15 shots might have been fired including all the ones that missed, struck the street, and James Tague, a bystander, and so on and so on.

You had mentioned during your introduction that so many people don’t believe that Oswald was guilty and this is a massive change from the way it was back in 1963 and ‘64. Back then we had no evidence except what the Warren Commission released, much about which was falsified. Will we ever know the truth? I don’t know if we can at this stage of the game, so many of the people involved are now dead. It’s difficult to figure out all the answers.

Jeff: Talk a little bit about the rush to judgment towards Oswald.

Robert: Well, it appears from what we see that Oswald was set up before the shots were ever fired. He was given a job in the Texas school book depository. He would have had no way of knowing that the President’s motorcade was going to be going by the depository – this is like four and a half weeks earlier. He was working there, he never missed a day’s work. He was reliable, that he would be there, and he was set up.

When I worked for the government investigating all of this we found a two and a half page document from the director of the CIA, John McCone, to the head of the Secret Service, James Raleigh. And in this note he pretty much clears Oswald, saying Oswald didn’t do it, but that Oswald was in fact the CIA agent trained by the CIA and sent to the Soviet Union first and then later on sent to New Orleans all on different assignments.

And it’s quite a convincing letter. It’s very, very strong. It’s a little over two pages and it’s signed by John McCone. I published this in my latest book, JFK: Absolute Proof. And in that book, the review of the evidence of conspiracy, actually pointed a couple of fingers toward the guilty people involved in the cover-up like Gerald Ford who admitted that he had arbitrarily changed the location of the President’s back wounds to make it appear that the bullets entered into the back of the President’s neck when in fact it was actually about six and a half inches lower. But if he had admitted the actual entry point of this bullet it would have shown that the angle was totally wrong for a shot from the so-called sniper’s nest, going through the President’s neck and on to Governor Connally, it simply could not have happened. So he lied, just plain lied.

Jeff: If in fact there were multiple shooters, if in fact Oswald was set up long before the assassination took place, can one make the case that it was always the intent of whoever was responsible, whoever set it up to obfuscate as much as possible, to make it as confusing as possible to make it so that 50+ years later, we’d still be having this conversation?

Robert: That’s entirely possible. So much false evidence has been presented again for both sides, far more from the other side than the side that I’m on anyway, or we’re on, and I’m assuming from what you said that you are aware that there was in fact a conspiracy and Oswald didn’t do it. Though that’s an assumption, but still let’s assume that that’s the case. If so, then enough false evidence has been presented through the years from the very beginning to frame Oswald.

For instance, when the shots were fired and the investigation began there were only two empty shells found on the sixth floor. Just two. The FBI and the Dallas police files both show in writing and in photographic evidence that there were only two.

Well they realized after a while that wasn’t enough so they went back and added a third one to make it appear as if the shooting had all occurred from one spot by Oswald.

It wasn’t true. They knew it wasn’t true, but they presented and lied to us from the very beginning saying that three bullet shells were found and there weren’t, there were only two.

The published photographs and the documentary evidence in the new book are absolute proof. Again, that’s just one of the things, the withholding and the disappearance of the photographic evidence from the autopsy. The fact that the President’s brain autopsy which was done after the initial autopsy, it showed that apparently the bullet came from the opposite direction. With all of this you know we have a very, very strong case that everything we were told is a lie.

Jeff: Talk a little bit about the Zapruder film and what we really gain from that today even after further analysis?

Robert: Well, the Zapruder film is extremely important. I was honored to be the person who released the film to the public back in 1975. Up until that point no one had seen the film itself except a few people, Life Magazine, and a few people in the government. The public was not allowed to see it because it shows the President was shot from the front, not from the rear, and this is extremely important. We’ve gotten to the point now where defenders of the Warren Commission and attackers on both sides are saying the Zapruder film was fake. No, it wasn’t fake. It couldn’t be fake. Physically, the ability to fake that sort of a thing did not exist then. It would be most difficult even to do now. But once again people get these crazy ideas like the car stopped in the middle of the street, which it didn’t, you can see it just keeps going. Zapruder’s film, Orville Nix’s film, Muchmore’s film, all show that the car never stopped, but for people who want to think that the Secret Service stopped the car so the President could be a sitting target because of that they have to attack the Zapruder film. The Zapruder film is the single most important piece of physical evidence that we have and it’s absolutely genuine.

Jeff: Talk a little bit about your efforts to get this story out there to the public. I mentioned and we talked a little bit about you were the first to get the Zapruder film out there to the public but you’re still doing it, you’re still out there today from time to time in Dealey Plaza trying to get information out there.

Robert: Well, I made a promise to President Kennedy at his grave site that I would do everything in my power to try and find the truth no matter where it led. And for the last 53 years I’ve kept my word, I’ve tried to find the truth. I go down to Dealey Plaza every weekend, every Friday, every Saturday, every Sunday, every holiday and try to let people know that there is an alternative to the official fiction. And I’ve been doing it and I will be doing it as long as I’m breathing, as long as I can go down there, I will. The Dallas police, and the city of Dallas, and the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza are all against what I’m trying to do and they’ve thrown me in jail a couple of times. I have broken no laws. 84 times. Fortunately I’ve won every time in court but they still kept doing it until the federal judge ordered them to stop.

Jeff: One of the ironies in all of this and we touched on a little bit before is that probably at no time in public opinion has there been more of a belief that that either Oswald wasn’t the shooter or that Oswald didn’t act alone or that there’s some broader conspiracy or framework for all of this. Probably more of the public believes that today than in any other time and yet because so much time has gone by, because so many people have died as you indicated before, it’s harder and harder to find out what the truth is.

Robert: Well, it may be impossible at this stage to find out all the truth so what we do is we focus on the physical evidence itself, that’s what I’ve done in the 14 publications that I’ve done through the years. I’ve gone out of my way to present the evidence that the government did not want us to see because it is the strongest evidence we have. I interviewed the Dallas doctors when the government wouldn’t do it, and I actually videotaped them and they were unanimous: the fatal shot came from the front. The Warren Commission says that all the shots came from the rear. It simply wasn’t true. They all knew it wasn’t true. I have found nearly 80 witnesses that have stated that the President was shot from the front, not from the rear. Although he had been shot from the rear as well, true, but the fatal shot came from the front. And we can deal with things like that and that shows us the correct direction, even though it doesn’t solve the case.

Jeff: Where does all of the physical evidence that you have amassed, where does all that physical evidence take us in terms of who actually might be responsible?

Robert: Well, I have to go with the report from the House Committee on Assassinations, which is a group I worked with in Washington DC in the House of Representatives for three years. During that period of time the evidence showed us that, yes it was probably organized crime. Now, organized crime could have killed the President, they could not have run this kind of sophisticated cover-up for all of these years. They wouldn’t have the power or the ability. So it’s a bit of both. If you want to know my opinion, my opinion is that organized crime, specifically the Chicago mob and it tentacles out into Dallas, New Orleans and all of that, and the covert actions branch of the CIA that was at war with President Kennedy over his wanting to end the Vietnam War. My feeling is that both of those groups are the most likely answer to who actually did it.

Jeff: Are you going to continue to make this your life’s work?

Robert: Yeah, well it is. This Tuesday I’ll be 71 years old. I’ve been doing this since I was 18. It’s already my life’s work and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can, as long some breathing and walking around. I joke that when I’m gone, when I’ve finally died, we’re going to have me stuffed and brought to Dealey Plaza, every weekend anyway.

Jeff: You mention your birthday. It’s no small accident I suppose that your birthday is on 22nd of November.

Robert: It’s fate I guess.

Jeff: Robert Groden, I thank you so much for spending time with us today

Robert: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thank you for caring and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about it. I appreciate it and I wish there were more people like you.

Jeff:  Thank you very much. Thank you for listening and joining us here on Radio WhoWhatWhy. I hope you join us next week for another Radio WhoWhatWhy podcast, I’m Jeff Schechtman. If you like this podcast please feel free to share and help others find it by rating and reviewing it on iTunes. You can also support this podcast and all the work we do by going to WhoWhatWhy.org/donate


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from newspaper (Jon / Flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0)

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