Former New York Times reporter says JFK assassination was ‘easily preventable’

 Philip Shenon speaking at Philadelphia University in East Falls on Monday night. (Aaron Moselle/WHYY)

Philip Shenon speaking at Philadelphia University in East Falls on Monday night. (Aaron Moselle/WHYY)

Phillip Shenon’s research into the JFK assassination led him to a simple, but important conclusion: the whole thing was “easily preventable.”

Shenon, a former reporter with The New York Times, shared that discovery during a Monday night discussion of his latest book at Philadelphia University in East Falls.

“A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination,” maps out the dots that, Shenon argues, the FBI and the CIA should have connected before the president rode through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

Shenon specifically points to the misuse of intelligence both agencies had on Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s killer.

“They bungled it,” said Shenon. “It was laziness that nobody bothered to read through the basic files that were sitting in FBI headquarters in Washington and CIA headquarters in Virginia.”

Events leading up to Nov. 22

A trip Oswald made to Mexico, argues Shenon, should have been a major red flag.

Seven months before the Nov. 22 assassination, Oswald traveled to the Cuban embassy in Mexico City to obtain a permit to defect to Cuba. Oswald was a staunch supporter of Fidel Castro, who at the height of the Cold War was the ire of the United States.

While there, Shenon said the CIA knew Oswald met with a soviet diplomat who was also responsible for assassinations carried out by the KGB, Russia’s notorious security agency.

“You would think that would be enough to raise alarm about this man Oswald before he went back to Dallas,” said Shenon.

Oswald, a former marine, was also under FBI surveillance while he was in Dallas.

Theories surrounding the assassination

In an effort to avoid a scandal, Shenon said the FBI and CIA consciously played down how much they knew about Oswald before the assassination, which hampered the work of the Warren Commission, charged with investigating the assassination.

“They go into the Warren Commission investigation knowing there are a bunch of secrets they want to keep from the Warren Commission,” said Shenon.

Shenon spoke at Philadelphia University as part of a student-exhibition about The Single Bullet Theory, which argues that Oswald was the only shooter that fateful day.

In 2010 the late Sen. Arlen Specter donated his archives to the university, including documents and photos from his work with the Warren Commission.

Specter is often credited with formulating The Single Bullet Theory.

The exhibit, “Single Bullet: Arlen Specter and the Warren Commission investigation of the JFK assassination,” runs through March.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal