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Before you say, “Good God, another nut, another nutty theory,” stay with me for a few minutes. Consider these arguments. Bobby Kennedy had the means, motive, and opportunity to kill his brother. He had all the right connections with the Cuban exiles, trained in assassination. Fratricide was his surest path to the throne, once he had Lyndon Johnson out of the way. His brother trusted him, and would never have been on guard to protect himself from betrayal. What did Machiavelli say to people who hold power? Never trust anyone.

Bobby Kennedy as the prime mover behind the assassination resolves multiple mysteries connected with the event. Bobby was his brother’s liaison with the CIA, and Lee Oswald worked for national intelligence well before November 22, 1963. Oswald did not travel to Russia to learn how to dring vodka. Second, Bobby prosecuted Carlos Marcello, Mafia boss in New Orleans: the attorney general him deported, in fact. Marcello had strong ties with Jack Ruby, Oswald’s killer. Most interesting of all, Bobby Kennedy never warned his brother about the assassination ahead of time. “I thought they would come after us,” he said of his enemies when he heard the news from Dallas, “but I thought it would be me.” What a classic case of calculated misdirection, to make a remark like that.

Most telling of all, Bobby Kennedy, as attorney general, never acted to find his brother’s killer, or to discredit those who pretended to find the assassin. He permitted LBJ and J. Edgar Hoover, both enemies of his, to concoct this incredible story about Oswald acting as a lone nut, knowing that it could not be true. He let the chief justice of the Supreme Court pass off this nonsense with a formal report, produced by a formal commission. Bobby was the chief law enforcement officer in the land for most of the time the Warren Commission conducted its investigation. He could have done something to find the truth. Why didn’t he? Because the truth would likely have pointed to him!

Let’s pause in this thought experiment for a moment. Do these arguments appear plausible? Part of you might say yes, they do, and another part might say, not at all. Analyzing why these arguments appear plausible from one perspective, and completely implausible from another, lets us see why reasoning about unsolved, notorious crimes of this magnitude becomes tricky. No amount of straight-out logic can overcome these difficulties. We can use our reason, of course, and logic can go a long, long way, but we have to be ready to do some careful thinking. We’ll have a chance to pursue more thinking along these lines in the next installment.

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Infamy: Political Crimes and Their Consequences

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