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The Assassination: Inconceivable Connivance

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One scholar who has never given much credence to the theory that a conspiracy was behind John F. Kennedy’s assassination is John P. Roche, former Brandeis dean, ex-national chairman of the Americans for Democratic Action, and currently Lyndon Johnson’s “intellectual-in-residence.” For the benefit of those who accept the theory, he cites Roche’s law: “Those who can conspire haven’t got the time; those who do conspire haven’t got the talent.” Last week, in a letter to the London Times Literary Supplement congratulating Oxford Don John Sparrow for his incisive, 18,000-word defense of the Warren Commission Report (TIME, Dec. 22), Roche raised a point that has been overlooked—or ignored—by the report’s myriad critics.

“Every one of the plot theories,” wrote Roche, “must necessarily rely on the inconceivable connivance of one key man: Robert F. Kennedy, then Attorney General of the U.S. Any fair analysis of Senator Robert Kennedy’s abilities, his character, and of the resources at his disposal, would indicate that if there was a conspiracy, he would have pursued its protagonists to the ends of the earth.”

Though the conspiracy theory may be gospel to “a priesthood of marginal paranoids,” said Roche, it is also “an assault on the sanity of American society, and I believe in its fundamental sanity.” He concludes: “I don’t mind people being paranoiac, but don’t make me carry their luggage.”

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