woody_zimmerman_118_2007The assassination of President Lincoln spawned a century and a half of conspiracy theories, most which have never been resolved. I read that Lincoln’s son, Robert Lincoln, was found burning papers in his study, in 1905. When asked what he was doing, Mr. Lincoln replied that he was destroying papers which implicated a member of his father’s Cabinet in the assassination. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton has long been suspected of being that person, but nothing has ever been proved, conclusively. Other conspiracies insist that the man shot by federal troops in a barn south of Port Royal, Virginia, on April 26, 1865, was absolutely not John Wilkes Booth. There is no end to these stories.

Similarly, various conspiracy theories about the assassination of President John Kennedy also persist, 48 years after the events. A lone shooter, in the person of disgruntled service veteran Lee Harvey Oswald – supposedly stationed on the sixth floor of the Dallas School Book Repository with an Italian-made rifle – is the official version of events. But a botched, amateurish forensic investigation by the Dallas Police, coupled with the murder of Oswald himself, two days after the assassination, have cast lingering doubts on the credibility of Oswald getting off three closely-spaced, highly accurate shots in the space of a few seconds. To my knowledge, no credible verification was ever made that the Italian rifle (with misaligned sights) recovered in the Book Depository could actually have fired the shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Texas Governor John Connally.

Theories also persist that a second shooter, stationed on the so-called “grassy knoll” in front of the president’s limousine, fired the shot which blew part of the president’s skull apart – as shown in the Zapruder film, which caught the exact moment of the fatal shot. Indeed, this theory has been so persistent that the term “grassy-knollist” has been added to the lexicon to describe a hard-core conspiracy theorist.

In the 1990s a British team of investigative reporters compiled an entire documentary film, several hours in length, entitled “The Men who Killed Kennedy.” Their conclusion was that the assassination was planned and carried out by a team of assassins sent in by organized crime interests. They also showed that the autopsy of the president’s body was conducted in secret, and that photos of the fatal wounds appear to have been doctored. Their private investigation was well-documented, but no official inquiry was ever undertaken to verify or refute its findings. So, the controversy rages on – never to be resolved.

This brings us to the present, where a controversy over President Obama’s official Hawaiian birth-certificate – i.e., the lack thereof – has bubbled and simmered for four years. Mr. Obama has stubbornly resisted release of his official, long-form Hawaiian birth certificate. The issue was whether Mr. Obama had truly been born on U. S. soil, ensuring his status as a natural-born citizen. Had he not been so born, he would have been ineligible to serve as president, under Article II, Section 1 of the U. S. Constitution.

Although Mr. Obama had released a so-called hospital “certificate of live birth,” which seemed to affirm his birth in a Hawaiian hospital, critics quickly noted that this was not satisfactory proof that Mr. Obama was a natural-born citizen. The controversy raged on until this week, when the Obama campaign finally released a “copy” of Mr. Obama’s long-form, official Hawaiian birth certificate to quell a fresh controversy sparked by media-figure and putative presidential candidate Donald Trump. Mr. Trump had noisily demanded proof that Mr. Obama was truly eligible to be president. Evidently, Mr. Obama and his campaign managers considered the media-uproar sparked by that demand potentially damaging enough to Mr. Obama’s re-election prospects that they decided to lay the controversy to rest.

As the birth-certificate copy seemed not to show anything untoward with respect to Mr. Obama, commentators were left puzzling over why the simple proof was so long in coming. Some who seemed unable to let go of the controversy speculated that the “copy” might have been doctored in some way to erase troubling evidence. Others wondered if a birth-record from an entirely different person had been modified, with Mr. Obama’s vitae entered, to create a fake certificate.

Even release of the original document might not curb the enthusiasm of these conspiracy devotees. It is worth noting that modern computer technology could easily accomplish the photo-shopping of a “copy,” exactly as postulated by the GK theorists. At this writing, I am unaware of any independent verification to determine if official state records are harmonious in every respect with the released document. A released copy is one thing. Seeing it referred to in corroborating state records is another.

In the very same week the news broke of the assassination of the internationally-wanted terrorist mastermind, Osama bin Laden. President Bush had vowed to hunt him down to the ends of the earth, for as long as it took to bring him to justice. A fawning media immediately laid the credit for this sensational achievement on Mr. Obama, with little movement toward verification that the killing had actually occurred, or that the person killed was indeed the much-sought terrorist.

To date, we have only the president’s word for any of this. We have no body. Following a lavish 45-minute Muslim funeral ceremony – which produced much controversy by itself – “ObL’s body” was buried at sea. There was no independent autopsy or forensic investigation – meaning that we know only what various government arms have told us. There are also no photos – or none we can see. The president has declined to release death-photos for public viewing, saying, “We don’t need to spike the ball.” (He later clarified that he did not wish to inflame Muslims everywhere by releasing the grisly pix of the terrorist’s demise.) All this assumes that there are photos, which we do not know for sure.

This shows either of two things: (A) Mr. Obama is either completely tone-deaf to the public’s natural need to verify, in its collective mind, that we actually got ObL; or (B) he is making a deliberate attempt to conceal the fact that we did not. As things stand, we cannot know for certain if a terrorist was killed at all or, if one was, that it actually was Osama bin Laden. Thus, a fresh conspiracy theory is ushered in, close on the heels of the “birther” controversy, which has (supposedly) been settled.

It’s possible that the juxtaposition of these two explosive controversies is entirely coincidental. But experienced reporters (of which I am one) say that coincidences in politics and/or public events are so rare as to be virtually non-existent. The odds are enormously against one controversial event being “resolved” in the same week that a second one emerges. They are almost certainly connected, politically.

So if there is a connection, what is it? One can only speculate, of course. But this observer’s guess goes back to something I wrote earlier in the Obama administration, when I observed that the Obama crowd liked to generate (or exploit) “diversions” to keep both the media and the public distracted from controversial political events of far greater import.

I gave several examples, including the much-hyped controversy over plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero in New York City, which took media-attention off the declining economy. In “Bold Gambit,” (12 December 2009) I cited the incident of the Salahis apparent crashing of a White House state dinner as an incident possibly invented by the Obama brain-trust to divert media- and public-attention away from the momentous political debate and passage of Obamacare, which was then going on.

The ending of one controversy over Mr. Obama’s citizenship – if, indeed, it is ended – closely followed by a new controversy over whether we actually wasted Osama bin Laden, looks to be cut from the same cloth. The media will obsess over both things for months, while the heat is taken off Mr. Obama’s ruinous handling of the economy, his juvenile attitude toward gigantic federal deficits, and his laissez-faire treatment of economy-crippling energy costs.

From here, it looks like the Obama Mafia has honed the conspiracy/diversionary technique to a fine edge. Look for a growing stream of diversions as we move into the serious campaign season.

Pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain…