Does The "Manchurian Candidate" Theory Explain The Kennedy Assassination?


Jerry Leonard

In The Perfect Assassin, I propose that declassified evidence accumulated over the last 40 years compels us to converge on the following scenario: 

The CIA assassinated John F. Kennedy through Lee Harvey Oswald using the ultimate technology for “plausible deniability”: MKULTRA.

MKULTRA was the mind control technology the CIA spent decades covertly perfecting by conducting a broad array of dangerous and unethical medical experiments on an unsuspecting international public. Initially, MKULTRA-testing was conducted under a defensive pretext. Various methods of eliciting confessions from captured enemy agents (truth drugs such as LSD, electric shock, sensory deprivation and hypnosis) were investigated so that countermeasures could be undertaken to create torture-proof American agents. (Although this technology has been used operationally for decades, it is now making international headlines again thanks to the Abu Ghraib prison-torture scandal and lawsuits by victims of the original test victims.)

But knowledge gained from MKULTRA psychological warfare program also promised an offensive capability--the manufacture of so-called "involuntary assassins" who would carry out actions ”even against such fundamental laws of nature as self-preservation.”

Such a "Manchurian Candidate" scenario (with an ironic twist) would explain how a CIA memo, written before the JFK assassination, predicted the details surrounding the crime with such eerie precision. According to this declassified memo from the 1950s: A defector would be manipulated to kill an American official under the influence of CIA mind control and then be “disposed of” after being taken into custody for the crime. This scenario was dramatically fulfilled in the JFK murder when a defector (Lee Harvey Oswald) killed an American official (Kennedy) and was then “disposed of” in police custody (by Jack Ruby).

As I reveal in The Perfect Assassin, we have learned quite a bit over the last 40 years about the CIA's program of creating involuntary operatives as well as how the CIA created staged defections, planted informants and provocateurs and planned assassinations of heads-of-state in Cold War operations, such as the anti-Castro crusade of the Kennedy-era. 

We have also learned much about how Oswald complemented these programs, which cleverly used apparent pro-Communist sympathizers to great effect in anti-Communist operations. For example:

Oswald's murderous actions not only fulfilled a CIA memo from the 1950s outlining a “terminal experiment” in mind control. They complemented a major Cold War operation secretly initiated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly before the Kennedy murder. Recently declassified memos from this covert program, called Operation Northwoods, reveal a shocking plan to justify the ongoing war against Castro's Cuba as well as provide an excuse for escalating the Cold War. In this plan, the CIA's anti-Castro agents, disguised as pro-Castro agents, would engage in a series of violent actions, including staged assassinations on American soil. Such covert actions were designed to provoke "a helpful wave of indignation" in the American public and generate support for a more overt and militaristic Cold War crusade.

These Northwoods memos, when combined with the earlier CIA memo describing a mind-controlled assassin-defector who would be used in a "trigger mechanism" as part of a "bigger project," show how Oswald's actions as a "pro-Castro" agent dovetailed with the Northwoods project. Oswald not only eliminated a roadblock to the CIA's more militant anti-Communist policies (Kennedy fired the CIA director who oversaw these policies and then served on the Warren Commission), he provided a justification for them. (With Kennedy out of the way, Johnson dramatically escalated the Cold War using the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam, which also took 40 years to be exposed as a manufactured pretext.)

The "Manchurian Candidate" theory is not only a powerful tool for illustrating how the CIA manipulated Oswald into killing JFK. It is also useful for harmonizing the two main schools-of-thought in the ongoing investigation: the "Oswald as Lone-Assassin" and "Oswald as Patsy" theories. If Oswald was one of the "involuntary assassins" created by the CIA through its MKULTRA program, these theories are not contradictory, they are complementary, since an "involuntary assassin" is the ultimate patsy


While I believe MKULTRA is the key to explaining the headlines on November 22, 1963, I believe it is also the key to understanding headlines surrounding more current events. The torture and mind control program developed by the CIA for programming friendly agents and de-programming enemy agents was not disbanded as claimed, it has gone operational

The sensory deprivation and electric shock treatments associated with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal were techniques developed in the MKULTRA testing program on the American public. But according to the Washington Post, these techniques are just part of a "classified list of about 20 techniques [which] was approved at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Justice Department, and represents the first publicly known documentation of an official policy permitting interrogators to use physically and psychologically stressful methods during questioning."  

It is imperative that the public understand the capability that the CIA has developed for quietly manipulating human behavior with its MKULTRA technology. The public should also know that this technology has not only been used in the past but is now official policy. Indeed, the operational use of mind control has horrific ramifications for the healthy operation of a free, democratic society. As George Estabrooks warned with respect to hypnosis:

“Only a people ...who question and think . . . can be sure that hypnosis—disguised or direct—will not undermine their freedom and rob them of their very lives.” 

By presenting evidence that the CIA carried out the “crime of the century” with this technology, I hope to stir the American people to question and think about the implications of using this technology on our future.


For the complete story of how the “Manchurian Candidate” scenario explains the JFK assassination, see:


The Perfect Assassin

by Jerry Leonard

 ISBN 1-4033-6336-6        $15.50



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