JFK assassination focus of special UCALL presentation

Publication Date

For more than 50 years, Robert (Bob) Saltzman ’69 has been on a quest to uncover the truth about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a car with his wife, First Lady Jackie Onassis and Texas Gov. John Connally.

Robert (Bob) Saltzman ’69

Robert (Bob) Saltzman ’69 has been on a quest for decades to uncover the truth about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Lee Harvey Oswald was immediately charged with the killing. Two days later, local nightclub owner Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald. The events sparked a wave of conspiracy theories about who may have been behind the Kennedy assassination.

A week after Kennedy’s killing, his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, convened a panel led by Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court, to investigate the case. The Warren Commission’s main conclusion was that Oswald acted alone.

That finding has been challenged over the decades by many, including Saltzman, who took a keen interest in the case shortly after graduating from Union with a B.S. in electrical engineering. Saltzman became a member of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations (CTIA), an unofficial, private organization founded in 1968. He opened a branch office in Niskayuna, N.Y.

Through exhaustive research, Saltzman has amassed a trove of material related to the assassination that he says conclusively proves that there was a conspiracy, and that Oswald likely was not the assassin.

Saltzman has given scores of lectures and presentations around the country on his findings, including at Union.

On Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in the College Park Hall ballroom, Saltzman returns to his alma mater to present “The Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Fact or Fiction? (JFK Assassination 101 and my 54-year journey Seeking the Truth).” The presentation, free and open to the public, is a special event hosted by UCALL – the Union College Academy of Lifelong Learning. Registration is suggested.

The following conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

When did you first become interested in the JFK assassination?

In late 1964 when the Warren Commission report was released, which I read. I then read an early book about the topic. I wrote a paper in high school about it but did not pursue it in earnest until 1970, after I had graduated from Union.

How did you become involved in the Committee to Investigate Assassinations?

In May 1970, I read an article about the assassination and the use of computers with the photographic evidence. I wrote to the executive editor of the CTIA offering my help. I subsequently developed a comprehensive computer data base and information retrieval system for JFK assassination related evidence and research. The following year, I was asked to fill in for the author of the article I had read. He was supposed to give a presentation for the organization.

Is the committee still active?

It is now the Assassination Archives and Research Center. The founder, and my mentor, Bernard Fensterwald Jr. unfortunately died unexpectedly in 1991.

How much material have you collected related to the assassination?

Quite a bit over 54 years. A huge library of books, images, slides, film, videos, artifacts, documents – much of which I am trying to donate to libraries and other researchers and organizations to carry on the work as I get older.

The central conclusion of the Warren Commission’s 888-page report was that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, firing three bullets from a sixth-floor window, the third of which killed Kennedy. Why do you think the Warren Commission’s findings were flawed?

There is virtually nothing about the Warren Commission’s conclusions that is accurate. They are inconsistent with the evidence in their own 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits, and they blatantly ignored a huge amount of evidence, in addition to vast amounts that were intentionally withheld by government officials at the highest levels. Several of the Commission members did not even want to sign it. The documented proof has been uncovered over the years. Fundamentally, their conclusions are flawed by the simple fact that they defy observations, science and human capabilities.

In most recent polls, 70 percent or more of U.S. adults believe that there was a conspiracy, and also want all of the JFK related records to be released.

In 1992, Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which mandated that materials related to John F. Kennedy’s killing be housed in a single collection in the National Archives and Records Administration and that all records be publicly disclosed by 2017. Yet some records remain sealed. Do you think those records could shed more light on what happened?

They likely do. It is not unreasonable to ask the question, “Why are they still hidden after 60 years?” What is there to hide, if this was just the act of a single “lone nut” with no discernable ability or motive? Why have congressional mandates for their release been stonewalled by government agencies and ignored by presidents? Last fall we actually brought a lawsuit against President Biden requesting that he follow the law and have all of the documents released as mandated by the ARCA. It is still an active case in court. In fairness, Obama and Trump did not release them either, despite their commitment to do so. RFK, Jr., has been making a campaign issue of this. Many of the documents that have been released are so highly redacted that they are of little value.

Why do you think, more than 60 years after the assassination, people like you remain obsessed with the case?

I do not feel that I have been obsessed with this event, but maybe rather meticulous, thorough and persistent over a long period of time. I stay with it because of my concerns about the implications of what happened in 1963 affecting us all to this day, well beyond the disenfranchisement that resulted from the murder of an elected president. In general, I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories, but this event is well beyond being a theory. All indications are that the same forces of “hidden government” are still in play today – maybe even more powerful (with potential outcomes that could be very unsettling).

Finally, who killed JFK?

If I knew that answer I would probably not be speaking about it only at Union College. However, over the years, and with document releases and research, the evidence becomes clearer about the who and why. The CIA, FBI or organized crime did not kill JFK. However, there are clearly elements of people in these organizations who appear to have been involved, and had aggregated their resources and expertise to make it happen. It may have been motived by ardent anti-communist and extreme hawkish military types, with counterparts in the CIA, and anti-Castro Cuban community, with assistance from organized crime. Evidence shows that even Oswald was working for both the CIA and FBI. The evidence also shows that he was not knowingly involved in the assassination, but was set up to become exactly what he stated he was after he was arrested and before he was conveniently silenced – a patsy.