On conspiracy buffs

by Gerald Posner

case-closed

The response to the hardcover publication of this book [Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK] surprised both me and my publisher, Random House. We were initially worried that the book might be lost in the publicity surrounding the publication of other books espousing convoluted theories. But we had underestimated the extent to which, after thirty years of virtually unchallenged conspiracy conjecture, the conclusion that Oswald acted alone in assassinating JFK had evolved, ironically, into the most controversial position. While the media’s response was overwhelmingly positive, the reaction from the conspiracy community was the opposite—not simply negative, but often vitriolic. There was little effort to study my overall evidence and conclusions with anything that approached an open mind. Indeed, there was a concerted counterattack to discredit both the book and its author…

Harold Weisberg, one of the deans of the conspiracy press, found his first publisher to bring a book titled Case Open, a broadcast attack attempting to diminish the impact of my work.

Other conspiracy buffs launched personal attacks. It was, as one journalist commented, as if overnight I had become the Salmon Rushdie of the assassination world. I was accused of treason by a buff who ran a Dallas “research center,” and my wife and I were subjected to several months of harassing telephone calls and letters. At an author’s luncheon, pickets protested that I was a dupe of the CIA. Faxes and letters to the media also charged I was a CIA agent, or that the CIA had written my book…

Television and radio producers were harassed by callers attempting to have my appearances cancelled. Some reviewers who wrote favorably about the book received intimidating calls or letters. My publisher was subjected to the same treatment, and even my editor, Bob Loomis, was publicly accused of being a CIA agent.

Although I had expected that individuals who had invested their adult lives into investigating JFK conspiracies might react angrily to a book that exposed the fallacies in their arguments, the vehemence of these personal attacks surprised me. I had mistakenly expected a debate on the issues. It took little time to discover, however, the extent to which many people who believe in a JFK conspiracy do so with almost religious fervor and are not dissuaded by the facts. Case Closed was probably subjected to greater scrutiny by more “critics” than any other book published in recent years…

The updated and restored information in this edition has only strengthened the book’s original conclusion that Oswald and Ruby acted alone. Time and technology have caught up to the conspiracy critics. Some of the most important contentions have collapsed; for example: Photographic tests reveal that the backyard photos of Oswald holding his weapons, contested as fakes, are authentic; ballistics and computer studies confirm the so-called magic bullet theory…

There is more than enough evidence available on the record to draw conclusions about what happened in the JFK assassination. But apparently most Americans, despite the strength of the evidence, do not want to accept the notion that random acts of violence can change the course of history and that Lee Harvey Oswald could affect our lives in a way over which we have no control. It is unsettling to think that a sociopathic twenty-four-year-old loser in life, armed with a $12 rifle and consumed by his own warped motivation, ended Camelot. But for readers willing to approach this subject with an open mind, it is the only rational judgment.