I am not a Kennedy assassination buff but I just read something that blew my mind.


I was recently at a dinner at the home of longtime family friends. The husband is a retired Marine (and heavily decorated, though he'd never say it himself) and the wife is a charming, witty woman from Long Island. They like steaks, martinis, and Catholicism.

When their kids were teenagers, the family spent a few years sailing around the Pacific, where they met all kinds of adventurous folks. One of those folks was Andy Kerr, a retired U.S. Navy lawyer who served as special counsel to four secretaries of the Navy. He wrote his memoir, A Journey Amongst the Good and the Great while cruising around French Polynesia. I saw it on a bookshelf before dinner—this couple maintains a real, old-fashioned cocktail hour in their library/living room—and the lady from Long Island loaned it to me.

Its prologue begins like this:

One day we got a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald. The name meant nothing to us then. The letter was long and handwritten and was mailed from Russia where Oswald was living with his wife, Marina. It was addressed to "The Honorable John Connally," who was then the secretary of the navy in the Kennedy administration.

Some secretary sent the letter to Kerr because it had "legal overtones."

It was essentially a complaint from Oswald about the character of his discharge from the Marine Corps, and a plea to Connally to use his authority as secretary of the navy to change the discharge to one more favorable... When Oswald left the Marine Corps and went to live in Russia, he was given an administrative discharge that was less than commendatory. As I recall, he was discharged as "undesirable." He thought that characterization unfair. Later events were to prove the epithet to have been exceptionally mild. The letter was an attention getter. You don't find many Marines defecting to the Soviet Union.

Kerr goes over Oswald's record to see if he ever did anything spectacularly great to merit clemency. He had not. (Kerr calls him "a lousy Marine.") Kerr wrote Oswald to say that his complaint was "without merit." And that, he thought, was that.

But that's not exactly the way it turned out. On 22 November 1963, while riding beside President Kennedy in a motorcade in Dallas, John Connally, then governor of Texas, was shot through his arm and lung by Lee Harvey Oswald. President Kennedy was shot and killed in the same incident. The history books say it slightly differently—that Connally was wounded during Oswald's assassination of President Kennedy. The assumption is always that Oswald was shooting at Kennedy and that Connally was hit by accident or as a secondary target of opportunity. Could it not, however, have been the other way around? In spite of all the investigations, including that of the Warren Commission, and the continuing fascination with and theories about the event, no one has yet come up with a credible motive for the shooting of Kennedy by Oswald. Against this, we know for a fact that Oswald once asked Connally for help in what may have been a cri du coeur. He was turned down flat.

What greater motivation does a psychopath need?

I just don't know what to think about that.