Shelton F. Lankford is a retired Lt. Col. with the United States Marine Corps. He is a prominent figure in the 9/11 Truth movement (as a member of Pilots for 9/11 Truth) as well as with the JFK research community. Knowing of Shelton’s long-time involvement in JFK research, I asked him if he would be willing to contribute a piece to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination. I’m delighted that he accepted my invitation. In the days ahead there will be other articles dealing with the Kennedy anniversary.-Craig McKee
By Shelton F. Lankford (Special to Truth and Shadows)
As I stepped off the bus, the first words I heard from our welcoming group were “President Kennedy has been shot.”
I was arriving in Raleigh, N.C. with a group of students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with our counterparts from the University of Toronto in Canada. It was my first introduction to an event of such worldwide significance. And it was the first event for which the term “truther” would take on personal meaning. It would not be the last.
The next several days were a period of mourning for someone who had little experience of much of anything, much less grief for a fallen President. At twenty-one years old, how does a farm boy put the death of a President in any kind of context?
John F. Kennedy was the first President I considered MY President. Young, vigorous, passionate, he had visited the campus October 12, 1961, and passed within a few yards of me as I stood in my NROTC drill team uniform holding my ceremonial Enfield rifle, of roughly the same vintage, operational capability, and lethality as the Mannlicher-Carcano said to have been his murder weapon a year later.
I soaked up everything the media had to say about the crime, the discussions, the endless panels, and when they thought nobody but their own kind was listening, the thoughtless and ignorant wisecracks of those who expressed no regrets, only satisfaction that a hated liberal was no more. I was, after all, in a Southern town, and Chapel Hill, despite the liberal university so reviled by Jesse Helms, had its share of crackers and wing-nuts. Helms used the target of the Daily Tar Heel, the very liberal campus newspaper, to inspire his torrents of invective, and I figured that one could do a lot worse than having Jesse Helms as a political enemy.
I followed Jim Garrison and his exposure of the Magic Bullet Theory, which, despite the ridicule and invective that was flung at him, captured my imagination, stimulated my skepticism, and led to my conviction that Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent of shooting anyone – not J.D. Tippitt, and not President Kennedy.
I have reflected often on why my first experience with trutherism did not retain my attention. For one thing, there was no Internet, there were no personal computers, and the magazine stories and books were too sporadic to feed my interest.
But 9/11 brought it all into focus. Where had I seen all this before? Who else had I heard described as a “conspiracy theorist”? Why is that term trotted out so handily in connection with someone who does not believe what the mainstream press has just said and who asks questions? And why does that term so effectively close out further discussion?
Who are the prime suspects in the 9/11 case? Were they the 19 “lone gunmen,” caught, convicted, and executed in the act? What was the term Oswald used in his brief exposure to a microphone as he passed a TV camera? I am just a patsy? Can each of the 19 conveniently dead Muslims be “a patsy”? Even if some turn up alive? Cui Bono?
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution resulted in my going to Vietnam to rain destruction down on the heads of people I didn’t know. It turns out that I was lied to (along with the rest of the country).
John F. Kennedy knew he had enemies. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James Douglass taught me more about JFK the man. Why did I assume that he was surrounded by supporters and friends when he was, in fact, almost alone in a multitude of political enemies?
His Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, was apparently a few steps ahead of an effort to remove him from the ticket and indict him for racketeering in Texas. When it came to a list of those who had most to gain and little to lose with JFK dead, Lyndon Johnson had to be near the top of the list. Becoming President had to look pretty good when compared to a Texas jail cell.
The events in Dallas had the look and timing of a scripted series of events. L. Fletcher Prouty, the coordinator of military support to the CIA recalls reading the details of the case against Oswald in Christchurch, New Zealand when identification of Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin was barely public in Texas, raising questions of timing.
Prouty had been picked to escort a VIP group to Antarctica for no apparent reason and no connection to his duties at the Pentagon. Contrary to policy, while the President was in Dallas, the VP was with him and the JFK cabinet was in Hawaii, then airborne on the way to Japan when news of the death of JFK was received, at which point they reversed course back to the U. S.
The timing issue reminds one of the BBC correspondent who, late in the day on 9/11, reported that the Solomon Brothers Building, aka World Trade Center Building 7, had collapsed, with, in one of the glorious moments of live TV, Building 7 still standing, smoking, over her left shoulder 20 minutes prior to its final plunge.
There are myriad parallels between 9/11 and Dallas 11/22/63. They have the stink of the CIA on both, and they have in common the managed fingerprints of a controlled cover-up that cannot happen without the unaccountable power of the CIA or something similar with a sovereign behind it. I am convinced that the same forces are behind these two signature events.
The message in 1963, as in 2001, is plain: “We are in control – don’t interfere.”