Weatherford, Texas —
The Lyndon Johnson Theory
The theory: Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is the focus of what Gallup cites as one of the most widely believed conspiracy theories pertaining to Kennedy’s assassination. Johnson, it is thought, used his influence with both the FBI and the CIA to have Kennedy blackmailed, then killed.
It gained prominence because… Johnson’s involvement with the FBI, a perceived feud with the Kennedy family and a scandal involving financier Billie Sol Estes — detailed in a book by Phillip F. Nelson — were cited as motives for Johnson’s role in the assassination.
Has it been debunked? No one can say for sure, given the theory’s enduring plausibility in the minds of so many. An Associated Press poll taken in 2003 found that 20 percent of Americans thought Johnson had something to do with Kennedy’s death. However, other competing theories - most notably that Kennedy was murdered, in part, out of revenge for the Cuban Missile Crisis - have blunted its popularity over the years.
The KGB Theory
The theory: Humiliated by the conclusion of the Cuban Missile Crisis, officials at the main security agency of the Soviet Union “programmed” one of their agents, Lee Harvey Oswald, to kill Kennedy.
It gained prominence because… Oswald’s Russian wife, his extensive travel in the USSR and his purported contacts with Soviet diplomats all provide context for its legitimacy. Intriguing circumstantial evidence — including Oswald’s trip to the Russian embassy in Mexico City a few weeks before the shooting — provides ample fodder for research into this theory.
Has it been debunked? Not completely. Although the House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 concluded that more than one gunman may have been involved, its findings also cleared the Soviets of any involvement. That conclusion has failed to satisfy many conspiracists, however.