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TODAY   |  September 12, 2013

Was JFK an accidental victim? Author thinks so

James Reston, Jr., author of a new book called, “The Accidental Victim: JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Real Target in Dallas,” believes that the president was not the intended target that day, and looks at many conspiracy theories.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> first today's cover story the jfk asass nation nearly 50 years after that tragic day in dallas . conspiracy theories still linger. .

>> from dallas , texas, if flash apparently official, president kennedy died at 1:00 p.m . central standard time .

>> november 22nd , 1963 , six seconds of gunfire in dallas changed history and it's been called the most controversial murder investigation of the 20th century .

>> the majority of americans thinks that john kennedy was killed by a conspiracy yet unsolved.

>> a year after president kennedy 's death, a warren commission concluded lee harvey oswald killed the president acting alone. there was no conspiracy, no foreign government or members of our own government involved. the dmigs concluded that oswald was a marxist with grand notions of bringing down the u.s. government , shooting president kennedy as well as texas governor john conley that day. but the warren commission 's report has its critics.

>> most of the warren commission reports is very dependable but there is one huge flaw. the people on the warren commission were never told the kennedy administration was oversees plots to kill fidel castro who was one of the suspects. therefore, people to tend to inject the entire thing.

>> a young and glamorous president struck down that day. do we really know the mote ev for his murder? could he have been an accidental victim? could it have been a conspiracy? nearly 50 years later, for some, questions remain.

>> one theory that's getting some new attention right now, was someone else the intended target? james westin, jr., writes about it in the new ebook "the accidental victim." the real target in dallas . this is not the first time you put this theory forward. you did it in "time" magazine in 1989 . you didn't get traction then. why do you think it will get traction now?

>> well, it was supposition and part of a 680-page biography of john conley . it was unfinished business for me. i had to move on. i was doing the whole life of this man that was involved, 50 years. so i wanted to be a part of this conversation because i think i had something special.

>> you mentioned john conley the governor of texas at the time you say your theory is that he, not jfk, was the full intlend intended target of lee harvey oswald . what's your evidence to back that up?

>> well, you have to set aside all the conspiracy theories which i think are rubbish and bring it down to lee harvey oswald , the man. what is his emotional waik makeup? what is driving him. what is the psych logical makeup? the warren commission has it that he was a marxist. well, there are millions of marxists that are not path logical killers. they say he had grandiose notions. you and i have grandiose notions.

>> that doesn't make us grandiose killers.

>> you hold it down to a grunl. you say this was a grunl.

>> we need to have something, strong, internal and emotional driving this violence.

>> so john conley at one time the secretary of the navy , he turns down lee harvey oswald 's position to have his honorable discharge from the marines reinstated. are you telling me that oswald held such a juj grudge, such hatred that that's what butt put him in that book depository that day if dallas ?

>> look, this was a guy that had a 9th grade education. the only thing he had ever done was be in the marine corps . you ask any marine about the years he served and how important is that military interest?

>> in your own words, you called this theory astonishing. do you believe it? do you believe this is the reason he ended up with that rifle in.

>> do i believe it. i have written it. i believe it profoundly. there has to be something internal. you have to put these two figures together, kennedy and conley and what was oswald 's attitude towards each of them. oswald admired kennedy . there was no psychological driving force for him to kill kennedy .

>> remind people, conley was injured on that day in dallas . let me ask you this, if i'm lee harvey oswald , i hate to put myself in his shoes, if i am and i want to kill the government of texas , i know there is a lot less security around the government of texas on a daily basis than there would be during a presidential visit. why wouldn't i target him without oul all that special service and security around?

>> this was a guy that had two nickels running together. he can't be runle all over the state after the governor of texas . nor is it clear what governor's itineraries are. i have two instances where oswald does, in fact, stalk john conley . so there is some background to this. unfortunately, there was an act, there was an your ra of spontaneity about this that the car was coming right in front of his window and the important thing was what did he feel that morning when he picked up that rifle to go to work?

>> there are so many conspiracy theories out there. you mentioned oswald was a cia agent. then vice president johnson was somehow involved, that it was castro. you are absolutely anti-conspiracy. why?

>> because this was a wretched insignificant man. no foreign government. no criminal organization would hire somebody as unreliable or irresponsible as lee harvey oswald . it's absolutely impossible. i happen to know a little about this because i was trained in army intelligence and in the recruitment of foreign agents. you have to have in that kind of a situation somebody you can rely on that you can plan for months in advance. he's no professional. this is an amateur acting on spontaneity.

>> it's called "the accidental victim."