Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Umbrella Man Reconsidered

The Umbrella Man Reconsidered - Does he provide the motive for the murder? 

One of the most interesting things seen in the Zapruder film isn’t the snap back to the left, the blood splatter or Jackie scrambling onto the trunk after a piece of skull but the tall, thin man who raises and closes an umbrella as the President is shot in front of him.

When President Kennedy rode down the Elm Street slope one of the last things he saw, before his head was split open by a bullet, was this tall thin man opening and closing a black umbrella.

Some conspiracy theorists speculated that he was giving a signal to gunman for them to shoot, while others say the umbrella itself was used as a weapon, as the CIA technical services division had devised a dart shooting umbrella that could kill.

But the speculation ended during the summer of 1978 when the Umbrella Man came out of the woodwork, identified himself as Louis Witt and testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), acknowledging that it wasn’t so much a signal as it was a sign of protest.

Witt said he was protesting the pre-World War II isolationist views of the President’s father Joe Kennedy,  who as Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, sided with the British Prime Minister Chamberlain, whose accomidating agreement with Hitler at a conference in Munich led to the Nazi invasions of Poland, France and Holland and World War II.

The Umbrella Man and his one-demonstration against the President, at the very moment of his murder, is the subject of Earrol Morris's amusing video interview with Joshia Thompson, the former Philadelphia college classics professor who became a Life Magazine consultant in its analysis of the Zapruder film of the assassination and whose book Six Seconds in Dallas is considered a classic microscopic analysis of those six seconds that shots rang out trough Dealey Plaza.

Thompson, whose nickname is “Tink,” went on to become a celebrated private eye out of San Francisco, in the Sam Spade mold, writing “Gumshoe,” a best selling chronical of the hundreds of interesting cases he worked on over the years.

In a casual conversation while we were standing at the scene of the crime one anniversary weekend Thompson talked about how exciting it was cracking crimes as a private investigator, and as in the game of chess, it isn’t the checkmate that is meaningful it is the moment that you realize checkmate is inevitable that matters.

“It’s that eureka moment when you find that missing piece to the puzzle and realize, a ha!, now it all makes sense. That’s how they did it, and now all you have to do is assemble the evidence and let the game play out.”

“But you know,” Thompson soberly reflected, “that never happened with the Kennedy assassination.”
Well that moment has arrived for me and I will soon be able to outline a basic theory that explains what happened in those few seconds in Dealey Plaza, who did it and why, a conspiracy theory that I believe will pan out if others will follow up on my leads and hunches and could even identify the shooters and their sponsors to a legal and moral certainty.  And I believe that this theory, unlike all the others, can and will be verified and generally accepted as the historical interpretation.

The Umbrella Man gave us the motive when he testified at a nationally televised Congressional hearing way back in 1978, but nobody was listening.

As explained by Thompson in the BM video and elaborated on in detail by Witt in his testimony, the black umbrella was not a signal but a sign of protest – as the black umbrella was a symbol of Chamberlain’s fearful acceptance of the Nazi bully, as Chamberlain’s treaty with Hitler was a political and diplomatic defeat.

And Witt believed that JFK would recognize the black umbrella symbol and know that he was protesting, only his timing was a little off. As Witt testified, he couldn’t have picked a worse time or place to protest as the president was killed directly in front of him.

When asked who or what inspired him to hold such a protest, Witt explained that he couldn’t remember exactly who mentioned it but it was just office chatter in the company cafeteria, when it was casually said that the Kennedys viewed the umbrella as a symbol of their father’s failed pro-Nazi policies, a subject JFK wrote a book on – “Why England Slept.”

Where do you work? – a Congressman asked, and Witt said he worked for a Dallas insurance company just up the street from Dealey Plaza.

Then everyone went back to blaming the death of JFK on violent southern hatred of New England Yankee liberals.

But it wasn’t just a few violent southern rednecks who protested JFK, it was only Witt, who shared the feelings of fellow office employees at the Rio Grande building were not just insurance professionals, but also church officials and Army Intelligence officers, who also shared the building and the Rio Grande cafeteria.

And it wasn’t just JFK’s father whose policies Witt was protesting, it was JFK’s liberal policies towards Communism – Cuba and the Soviet Union in particular, that particularly irritated the southern conservatives, especially after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the peaceful diplomatic solution to the Cuban Missile Crisis, without even mentioning the on-going back channel negotiations with Castro that, if known to the public at the time, would have provided the motive to violently harm him. At least that’s what Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger said when he learned of the details of the back channel JFK had opened with Castro via William Atwood at the UN.

Besides the Umbrella Man protesting Joe Kennedy’s policies in regard to Nazi Germany, the issue is also mentioned on the White House Oval Office tapes Kennedy recorded, when during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay has a heated conversation with the President.

LeMay and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were united in their urging the President to attack and invade Cuba to put the Soviet missiles out of action, but JFK saw that leading to a conventional war over Berlin that would escalate to a nuclear war quickly, something LeMay, as former commander of the Strategic Air Command, thought would be a good thing. Kennedy preferred a diplomatic solution and ordered a blockade instead.

When LeMay mumbled something, JFK asked, “What did you say?”

LeMay responded, “I said you are in a pretty bad fix, Mister President.”

In one of the Miller Center transcripts of the conversation it is inexplicitly determined to be unintelligible, but to others it is quite clear when Kennedy says scornfully to LeMay, “Well you’re in it with me.”

At one point in the conversation LeMay says, “It’s Munich all over again,” meaning rather than fight it out, JFK was adopting his father’s isolationist non-interventionist policies in regards to Cuba.

It’s Munich all over again.

Munich is the motive for the murder, except it wasn't Joe Kennedy's duplicity at Munich so much as JFK's back channel negotiations with Castro that was the basis for the presumed betrayal. 

Testimony of LEWIS Witt
Earrol Morris and Tink Thompson on the Umbrella Man:

Dave Ratclif posts Richard Sprague’s article and further analysis:

Russ Baker on the Umbrella Man:
NY Times’ Umbrella Man Exposed - WhoWhatWhy

JFK Umbrella Man—More Doubts - WhoWhatWhy

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