The first time I saw Dealey Plaza in Dallas, I was shocked by how small the area was. In films on and TV, they make the whole plaza look huge, but it is in fact quite tiny. If you are driving through it at normal speed and you blink, you will miss it (of course, Kennedy’s car was going slowly that day, as it was in a motorcade). The so-called “grassy knoll” can hardly be called a hill or even really a knoll–it is merely a bump on the ground, and the distance from the “grassy knoll” to where Kennedy was shot can be covered in only a few seconds by someone at a full run. This does not bode well for conspiracy theories, as there really is nowhere to hide down on the ground at Dealey Plaza and escape unnoticed after firing a shot, especially if one is carrying a long rifle. Meanwhile, from the window in the Texas School Book Depository, it is a turkey shoot. Certainly, someone who received marksmanship training from the Marines should have been able to make this shot with ease. Indeed, the only real question is how Lee Harvey Oswald could have missed the head shot with his first two bullets. He must have been a true screw-up.
And he was. Long ago, I lived next door to a man who served with Oswald when Oswald was a Marine stationed at Atsugi, Japan, and who knew him quite well. He told me that Oswald was the battalion misfit. He was lazy, incompetent, and could not be trusted with any responsibility, which meant that as a Marine he had few if any friends. The breaking point came when his outfit was assigned to clear out Corregidor, in the Philippines. Corregidor had been the last holdout of US and Filipino soldiers in the Philippines during World War II. After World War II, it had been abandoned, and in time it became overrun with jungle foliage. It was believed that there was a lot of unexploded ordnance and booby traps on the island. Altogether, the job of clearing the island was going to be difficult, unpleasant, and potentially quite dangerous. When Oswald’s outfit got the orders to ship out, he shot himself in the arm, claiming that it was an accident. However, no one believed him. Everyone thought he had shot himself on purpose in order to shirk his duty. And indeed, he was court marshaled and busted down to private because of the incident.
There are indications that when Oswald attempted to immigrate to Cuba, he told the Cubans of his plans to kill Kennedy. While there is no evidence that the Cubans conspired with him in killing Kennedy, some people have claimed that Oswald was somehow in contact with Cuba, and they approved of his plans. Certainly, this is not beyond the realm of possibility. Kennedy had hatched several plans to kill Castro, and Castro knew this, so why shouldn’t Castro be eager to kill Kennedy before Kennedy got to him first?
Indeed, after LBJ came to office, he privately told aides that he felt Kennedy’s assassination was divine retribution for Kennedy hatching assassination plans against other world leaders, and this was one reason Johnson put a stop to this policy.
Divine retribution? This is hard to say. Surely, vengeance belongs with the Lord, and not some cowardly weasel with a gun.
Update: Regarding the Cuban angle, this video is particularly illuminating.