DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
In an article at the Wikipedia website, entitled "Terrorism In The United States", I noticed that the assassination of President Kennedy is classified as an act of "terrorism" carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald, who is the person Wikipedia definitively labels as Kennedy's assassin (with no "alleged" next to Oswald's name, which is good to see, seeing as how all of the physical evidence in the JFK case points directly to Oswald).
I had never thought about JFK's murder being an actual act of terrorism before, but I suppose when this definition of the word "terrorism" (provided by Wikipedia) is used, then Lee Oswald's attack on John F. Kennedy could, indeed, be categorized as a terrorist attack (although, since we don't know precisely what Oswald's motive was for killing JFK, then the interpretation of whether his act of violence against the U.S. President on November 22, 1963, should be classified as an actual act of "terrorism" or not remains open to debate)....
"A common definition of terrorism is the systematic or threatened use of violence in order to intimidate a population or government and thereby affect political, religious, or ideological change." -- From Wikipedia
JOHN CORBETT SAID:
It all depends of course on how one defines terrorism. I wouldn't consider it an act of terrorism. To me, terrorism consists of acts intended to strike terror into the minds of the public by showing them that an act of violence could be committed against them anytime, anywhere. I don't think that Oswald's assassination of JFK made anyone in America think that they were any more in danger of becoming victims of a random act of violence. It was a violent act targeting a specific individual.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
But, John, I think a strong argument can also be made (as Vincent Bugliosi did) that when Oswald took those shots at JFK, he was "aiming at the United States of America", and therefore, in a larger sense, Oswald was not just aiming at one specific individual named John F. Kennedy.
JOHN CORBETT SAID:
That is true, but while the assassination was a traumatic event in most people's lives, I doubt very many people felt that their own safety had been compromised with the possible except of those who thought it might be a prelude to a Soviet attack.
On the other hand, with modern day terrorists and their random attacks, they are sending the message that anyone could be a victim anytime, anywhere. Any one of us could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and become a victim. The fact that the terrorist targets ordinary people is what makes them dangerous to us all.
It was definitely an act of terrorism to fire on two U.S. political leaders inside the Presidential Limousine in front of so many cheering citizens watching the parade. It shocked and horrified Americans that a fanatic would shoot anyone with wives so close by who were splattered with blood. It stunned citizens of the NATO alliance that two Leaders of the Free World could be ambushed so easily and the chaos that ensued after the ambush. This American tragedy sent an appalling message no one is safe in spite of numerous bodyguards or even in police custody.
Along with the (unknown) motive question — fame? nihilism? despair? — there's the question of denial or lack of accountability. Oswald didn't take credit for his act and without that, it seems to me, we can't describe it as terror. Can an act be one of terror if no one takes responsibility for it? I think not since it removes the purpose behind the act, i.e., to promote a cause through fear or intimidation. You can't be intimidated by "A" if "A" says he didn't commit the intimidating act, right?
We can add the factor that terror targets have to be civilians, don't they? JFK was a political figure, the commander in chief and I'm not sure killing a head of state can be defined as terrorism.
PAMELA BROWN SAID:
And of course, since LHO was never convicted of anything in a court of law (he wasn't allowed to live long enough to stand trial), the term 'alleged' should have been added to the Wiki entry. So we can take sides, but there is no legal answer.
However, perhaps we can all agree that the assassination of a head of state, in this case, JFK, most certainly qualifies as an act of terror, and anyone with direct connection to it, including knowledge before-hand, can be classified as a 'terrorist'.