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the endurance of conspiracy thinking
In the 40 years since John F. Kennedy's assassination, thousands of books and films have come out, with most of them setting forth conspiracy theories. And over the decades, polls have shown that most Americans continue to believe that the president's murder was part of a larger plot. Here is a rundown of some events which have been a factor in keeping conspiracy thinking alive.

What the Polls Say
As recently as October 2003, a Fox News Poll showed that 66% of Americans believe there was a conspiracy. Here are results from earlier Gallup Polls:

 

One Man Involved

Larger Conspiracy

Not Sure

March 2001

13%

81%

6%

November 1993

15%

75%

10%

February 1992

10%

77%

13%

October 1983

11%

74%

15%

December 1976

11%

81%

9%

December 1966

36%

50%

15%

November 1963

29%

52%

19%

Late 1960s - Early 1970s

Vietnam and Watergate produce a widespread loss of faith in government. During the Vietnam War the government lied about the war strategy and scale of buildup. A few years later, the Watergate scandal revealed the Nixon administration had broken the law, lied to Congress, and used the CIA to block an FBI investigation.

1975

Abraham Zapruder's 26 second home movie of the shooting of President Kennedy is broadcast for the first time on ABC's Goodnight America . It shows graphic footage of the fatal shot causing the president's head to snap back and to the left, appearing as if the bullet had come from the front, not the rear and thus suggesting there was a second gunman.

1975-76

The Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (known as the Church Committee) reveals the CIA plotted to kill Fidel Castro from 1960 to 1965 and that "American underworld figures and Cubans hostile to Castro were used in these plots and were provided encouragment and material support by the United States."

1979

The House Select Committee on Assassinations, which reexamined the Kennedy assassination, releases its report concluding that there was a "probable conspiracy" but is unable to determine the nature of it or other participants (besides Oswald).

1991

Oliver Stone's JFK is released. The movie mixes fact and fiction in a storyline that suggests forces within the U.S. government conspired to murder the president. The movie ignites a public furor and pushes Congress to pass in 1993 the JFK Records Act which requires federal agencies to release all their files on the assassination.

1999

Newly released documents, mandated by the 1993 JFK Records Act, show that shortly after the assassination, the CIA and FBI listened to CIA bug tapes of an impersonator, saying he was Oswald, calling the Soviet embassy in Mexico City on Oct 1, 1963. For years, the CIA had claimed its phone intercepts in Mexico City had been erased prior to the assassination. Read more on this intelligence cover up.

 

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posted november 20, 2003

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