"So Oswald was part of the whole plan, too? He was in on it, so that’s why he wound up getting killed?" Jason asked.
"Well, in a manner of speaking, Oswald was part of the plan, but he didn’t really know what was going on until it was too late. By then, his work was done, our mission was accomplished, and America was allowed to go back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that the world was back to normal. We balanced the books. We always do." Heller replied.
Jason was confused at the explanation. "How the hell can someone not know they're going to be part of assassinating one of the best-loved presidents in the history of the United States? What did you do, drug him?"
Heller paused again, choosing his words carefully. "We 'medicated' him more than drugged him. You see, Oswald was our first attempt at psy-ops, our first attempt at destroying a human mind and then rebuilding it to suit our own purposes. The techniques were sloppy though, and Oswald's own personality floated back to the surface a whole lot sooner than we expected. We'd hoped to have him stand trial, admit guilt, and face the death penalty. It would all have been very nice and neat. That's not what happened though, as you know.”
Jason wasn't sure what Heller meant. "Oswald's personality 'floated back' to the surface?" he asked.
"Yes, that’s exactly what happened. We'd been working on new ways of conducting warfare all the way through the 1950s, and, in the end, we’d created a new training and recruitment program that we simply called 'Ultra'. It was the first step in reshaping the world around us as we saw it. It was a way to control people and steer the world in a specific direction, a better direction."
Heller elaborated, "Part of the 'Ultra' program was to use a mixture of hypnosis, subliminal messaging, and advanced psychoactive medication to basically suppress a person's existing personality and then replace it with a completely new one. In effect, the person becomes a human robot that can be instructed to carry out a series of basic commands. Some idiot made a movie called 'The Manchurian Candidate' in '62; he was closer to the truth than he could have ever known. We came very close to neutralizing that filmmaker, too, just in case he’d heard or seen anything he shouldn’t have.”
“In any case, our version of Oswald started becoming the real Lee Harvey Oswald again about a few days too early, so we had to neutralize him before anyone had a chance to interrogate him. What was stuck inside that guy’s head would have had heads rolling from Washington to London,” Heller said.
This explained a whole lot to Jason. He remembered seeing the confused look on Oswald's face after the assassination – he looked genuinely confused. Every documentary he’d ever seen on the event had always shown Oswald looking confused. No defiance. Just confusion. It was the same look you see on someone's face when they wake up at a party in a strange house and have no idea how they even got there. Oswald looked like a guy who'd just woken up and was praying that all these people pushing and pulling him around were just part of a really vivid dream, and that he’d wake up soon enough. A really bad dream that he could shake off and joke about later on. Someone made sure though that Lee Harvey Oswald never made it more than a few steps outside the Dallas police headquarters on November 24th, 1963. Oswald the sleeper was going back to sleep forever to help keep a dirty secret buried.
Jason wanted to know more now – he was hooked. "So Oswald didn't fire the shot that killed Kennedy then?"
Heller shook his head, "No, no. Never, but we’re just glad that people still believe that. The first problem was that Oswald apparently fired three shots in less than ten seconds. That was impossible and they proved it when several trained marksmen couldn't even come close to Oswald’s shooting ability. And that doesn't even cover the skill required to fire three aimed shots at a moving target and in that tiny timeframe. Each shot would have to have been one-in-a-million for that to happen.”
"In fact, it was impossible for him to fire those miraculous shots because of where he was meant to be sitting. There were trees outside the window of the book depository, Jason. He would have been firing through trees at a moving target. The only miracle that happened on 22-11-63 was that people fell for the cover story.”
Heller sat silently for a few moments. There was more coming though and Jason knew it. He mentally buckled himself in for whatever was going to come pouring out of the old man's mouth next. Whatever was going on in the outside world didn’t matter right now.
“So you’re saying that Oswald was a patsy then? He was telling the truth when he said he had nothing to do with the Kennedy assassination,” Jason asked his passenger.
"We just needed Oswald to make some noise, draw attention to himself, and be captured. It was just a distraction crime really. All we needed from him is to dance around in front of a public audience while we killed the president. Fear, confusion, and human nature took care of the rest of that for us. Oh, and people like Jack Rubenstein, too, of course."
Jason's mind flashed back to the image of Oswald being shot live on television. This was the first time the American public has been exposed to a televised murder. It wouldn't be the last time though. For most people, this single event was the beginning of America becoming desensitized to violence - once you've seen it, you can't unsee it, so, in a way, watching someone being executed or assassinated on television became almost acceptable. Jack Ruby had walked out of the crowd and blown Oswald away in front of everyone, not giving a damn who saw him. That either took a huge amount of balls, vast quantities of Dutch courage, or a man who had absolutely nothing left to lose.
Heller interrupted Jason’s train of thought. "There were only a few potential problems we saw with the plan to kill Kennedy, and this included Oswald making a break for it afterward, which is exactly what he did. That wasn't ideal, but, by then, we'd already gotten the wheels in motion for America to hate Oswald, so he was guilty before being presumed innocent. We'd anticipated that Oswald might break from his programming, so we built an 'Alamo' element into his program - that's why he hid in the cinema. Once they hauled him out of that movie theatre, he'd managed to make himself look guiltier than we could ever have hoped. After all, why run if you have nothing to hide? Why hide unless you're afraid of something or someone?"
Jason knew this made sense. After all, by the time they'd cornered Oswald in that cinema, the entire country wanted his blood, whether he was guilty or not. A lone gunman had shot President Lincoln, and now another lone gunman had cut another much-loved President down before his time. The people wanted a gunman, and he was served up to them within hours of Kennedy being cut down in broad daylight. In fact, it looked like the police had managed to track him down in no time. Doesn’t that stuff normally take days or weeks?
"What people have forgotten was that Dallas was a city that was very hostile to Kennedy and his entire family. He had very few friends or allies there, but, being the man he was, he still decided to go there. His advisors warned him against it, but Kennedy wasn't a man who scared easily, Jason. Believe me, we all tried or damnedest to scare that man so we wouldn't have to go through with what we had planned.”
"A lot of people wanted Kennedy out of the picture, and Dallas was the perfect location for that to happen because so many people there hated the guy," Heller said. "Actually, even if we hadn't taken care of Kennedy then, there was a very good chance some random Texan was going to try doing the job for us, but we weren't leaving anything to chance. We just needed Kennedy to be in a wide open space with lots and lots of witnesses. Dealey Plaza was the perfect location for what we had in mind. All that was left then was planning and training. The wheels were already in motion."