We’ve seen cracks form in the Union’s foundation over the last several years. About half the states oppose the Affordable Care Act. About half the states have active secessionist movements. Some of those movements extend to the state legislatures. The states in the Southwest face a range of forder issues that keep them generally unhappy with Washington.
Most of all, citizens have for decades now seen a large portion of their wealth transferred to government authorities who are incompetent criminals. As the NSA disclosures show, they break the law at will. As HealthCare.gov and other ACA-related activities show, they cannot execute even visible, top-priority policies. As the IRS scandals show, they are willing to use the tax code to suppress First Amendment rights of free speech. The digest of ineptness, arrogance, dishonesty and malfeasance makes people ask, “What am I paying for here?”
States are the only power centers in our country that can effectively, persistently resist a federal government that has proven itself ineffective and out of control. Texas, for reasons of history, political culture, and geography is in the best position to lead this effort. It has one lever in particular that would seriously disrupt the states relationship with Washington: the Kennedy assassination. To reopen this crime now would be like saying, “I’m going to reveal the family secrets, and here’s why.” Make the people who planned, executed, and investigated Kennedy’s murder pay, posthumously, for their crimes and other misdeeds. J. Edgar Hoover once said, in private, “If people knew the truth about the Kennedy assassination, it would be very bad for the country.” Let it happen. What is happening now is not worse.
If Texas takes the lead here, it has an opportunity to initiate a conflict where:
- The outcome and consequences are unpredictable.
- It holds a home field advantage.
- Its opponent has no heart for the struggle, but has to enter the conflict nevertheless.
- The conflict serves a purpose larger than the limited, legal aim of separation.
- The state wins sympathy for its struggle from other states.
As the onstensibly weaker party in this conflict, Texas would benefit from all of these advantages.
To accomplish these aims, Texas should initiate a thorough investigation into the murder of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Fifty years after the event, it should do what President Johnson prevented in 1963 and 1964. Forensic investigation immediately after the murder differs from historical research a half century later, but historical reconstruction has a few advantages. One of them is that Johnson is no longer alive.
We already know that the FBI, at Johnson’s initiation, guided the investigation from Washington. Johnson moved to create a presidential commission no more than a week after Kennedy’s burial. After that, Dallas officials and the Texas attorney general were largely out of the picture. Allen Dulles, on behalf of the Warren Commission, took responsibility for finding out who killed Kennedy. Despite all the effort his staff members put into their work, the responsibility was not so heavy. Life magazine and many other outlets pinned the murder on Lee Oswald as the sole killer long before Dulles’s commission delivered its report. In fact, people believed they knew the killer’s identity before the commission conducted its first interview. Johnson wanted the commission’s imprimatur, not new information.
If the Texas attorney general reopened this case, Washington – the CIA and FBI in particular – would go nuts. Awkwardly, however, they could not appear to go nuts. Texas could force Washington into a conflict the feds do not want, yet they cannot walk away from it. To allow Texas officials a free hand in this case would yield far more truth than Washington could handle. We know how much the federal government depends on dishonesty in all its dealings to maintain its rule. We know that because it appeals so often to secrecy. Secrecy makes dishonesty possible. Dishonesty requires concealment. By contrast, transparent dealings force parties to conduct their relationships honestly.
For honesty’s sake, Texas should pick this fight. Aside from the events that occurred in Dallas November 22, 1963, it should investigate related events before and after that date. Naturally it should concentrate on events that occurred in Texas, though we know New Orleans is next door. An investigation based in Texas can pick up the investigative threads that Jim Garrison developed during Clay Shaw’s trial forty-five years ago.
The more locally based the investigation, the better. Texas investigators should not even look at the Warren Commission report. We already know what is in that document, and why it is there. Start fresh, the way a good historian would. Start with these general questions:
- What we know.
- What we don’t know.
- What occurred in Texas before the murder.
- What occurred in Texas the day of the murder.
- What occurred in Texas after the murder.
The Texas attorney general should investigate how and why Kennedy died. He might also explain – for the historical record – what should have occurred in Texas after the murder, but did not. That explanation helps us understand the investigation Washington actually undertook in 1963 and 1964.
Above all, the investigation should emphasize these specific areas, with a focus on events that occurred in Texas:
- The planning and preparations that occurred before November 22.
- Everything that happened the day of the murder, through the autopsy conducted during the early hours of November 23.
- The so-called investigation conducted after the murder.
Everyone involved in this historical research – in Texas and in the rest of the country – knows its importance. Nearly everyone recognizes why. Key individuals in the federal government, including the attorney general, would act to stop the research. They could not ignore it, yet they would have no standing to block it. Texas should not back down: it should stoutly resist every attempt Washington makes to interfere with the research.
Who in Texas, a state with a lot of pride, would want to start a project that would reopen so sensitive a subject? Why risk the state’s reputation now, fifty years later? Didn’t the Dallas police already look incompetent when they let Jack Ruby shoot Lee Oswald? I would argue the opposite. This research could make Texas look better than any state has ever looked, in the whole history of the union. The truth in this matter is that important. Texas could pick a fight that determines not only its own future, but that of the whole country.