JFK: Destiny Betrayed Review: Essential Viewing (Now More Than Ever)

Oliver Stone is a man with many, many excellent films under his belt. He is also deeply invested in the JFK assassination. And his latest documentary shows there’s still plenty of mileage left in one of the 20th century’s darkest mysteries…

The assassination of JFK in 1963 is perhaps one of the greatest conspiracies of all time. Like a modern-day Shakespearean tale, there are plenty of villains, a slain king (or president), power-grabs, and unseen forces in operation behind the scenes, pulling strings. And now, almost 60 years later, we’re still not sure about what happened.

The context of when the assassination took place, 1963, is almost as important as what transpired afterward. Stone argues that Kennedy’s main agenda was peace – an agenda JFK talked about at length – and that he wanted to forever change how the CIA and the military operated. Kennedy didn’t want war. He wanted diplomacy – with the Russians, with Cuba, with everybody. And he didn’t want any more black ops like Project Northwoods.

Stone’s portrayal of JFK in this documentary is as a man of peace, a man of diplomacy, a man, who having fully experienced the hell of war, wanted to ensure that no American ever had to go through such a thing again. Stone posits that JFK believed he could “talk” his way into good relations with Cuba, Russia, and even China.


And this, for me, is the saddest thing about JFK’s legacy – we’ll never know what he could have done. The overarching theme of both of Stone’s JFK pictures is that Kennedy wanted peace and the US establishment wanted never-ending war. Given how things have played out in the last 60 years, I’m inclined to believe that Oliver Stone may be on to something here.

Then we have the reason why Kennedy was in Dallas on that fateful day. Kennedy needed the South to secure his second term. But after a few controversial policies, plenty of the south weren’t too pleased with him. Kennedy’s liberal policies, now things we take for granted, irked plenty of the right-wing establishment. None more so than his insistence that segregation in colleges was to be stopped once and for all.

Then we have the Cuba incident, including the Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs – two instances that, according to JFK’s joint chiefs, gave Kennedy a green light for invading Cuba and solving the “Cuban Issue” once and for all. Kennedy ignored their suggestions, sacked Alan Dulles, the then-head of the CIA, and used diplomacy to resolve the missile crisis which invariably lead to criticism that JFK was “soft on communism”.

At this point, the year leading up to 1963, Kennedy had burnt his bridges with the CIA, the joint chiefs, the majority of right-wingers in America, and many other parts of the military-industrial complex that required the US to be involved in as many “operations” – black or otherwise – as possible in order to keep their profits rolling in. Basically, JFK was not popular with two of the most sinister and potent aspects of the American government – the CIA and the military.

Who Killed JFK?

I’ve read multiple books on the JFK assassination, including CrossFire, the book Stone’s 1991 JFK film, starring Kevin Costner, was based on. Ever since that film came out, and during the decades prior to its release, the public has always had doubts about what really happened on 11/22/63. And rightly so too, there are just too many loose ends to square everything away under the Warren Commission.

If you’ve never looked into the JFK assassination, JFK: Destiny Betrayed is a great place to start. As is Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie, JFK. The key thing that both of Stone’s productions do, although the documentary is more focused on facts, not dramatizing it, is pull at the threads of what we currently don’t know or, more specifically, what doesn’t make sense in the official explanation – the Warren Report – of what happened.

What didn’t make sense? Things like the magic bullet theory, the botched autopsy, the killing of several key witnesses, and the fact that there were two “other” potential assets (shooters) in play in Tampa and Chicago that were geared up and ready to do what Oswald, allegedly, did in Dallas.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed is just a collection of information and facts about things that happened before and after the assassination of JFK. It is eye-opening to say the least. As with UFOs, even if 90% of it can be debunked – spoiler: it cannot – then we still have 10% of unexplained, nefarious activities surrounding the murder of a president. And there are plenty of nefarious activities surrounding the assassination of JFK.

Even if you’re not aligned with Stone’s take on the assassination, you’ll almost certainly be aware of America’s military-industrial complex, the nature of the CIA, and the fact that the federal government between 1940 and 2000 lost over $21 TRILLION dollars. Imagine what you could do with $21 trillion dollars and eighty years?

Stone has been dragged over the coals by the media ever since his first film came out. Stone argues that the mainstream media is corrupt, not interested in the truth, and is essentially the mouthpiece of the government. He has a point. Jim Garrison was subjected to all kinds of allegations from the media for daring to question the official report. His family was threatened and his key witnesses – Jack Ruby and David Ferry – were murdered.

Then we have the fact that the US press accepted the Warren Report without any real scrutiny. At no point, despite plenty of conflicting reports and testimony, as well as murders, did any national media outlet question the legitimacy of the Warren Report. This obviously wouldn’t happen nowadays with the internet. But, as Stone argues, it was a lot easier to get away with murder back in the 1960s.

Is This Even A Conspiracy?

What makes the JFK assassination so damn interesting is that the official story hasn’t really changed since 1963. Oswald shot Kennedy. He did it using a piece of junk rifle. And there were only three shots fired – hence the magic bullet theory. Oswald was questioned by the police, following his arrest, but there is no record of the interview and, before he could speak to anyone, he was shot by Jack Ruby.

We never got to hear him speak, save to say that he was being used as a patsy. At his time of arrest, Oswald claimed that he didn’t even know what he was being arrested for. In the aftermath of the assassination, researchers uncovered that Oswald, like many of the players in this story, was affiliated with the CIA.

Jack Ruby is an interesting character too. He had ties to the mob and was apparently visited by the pioneer of the CIA’s ML Ultra program – Louis Jolyon “Jolly” West – shortly before going insane and dying in prison. David Ferry died in similarly suspicious circumstances, leaving very few key witnesses. And then you have the autopsy of JFK, the appearance of the magic bullet with no chain of evidence, and the conflicting reports of eyewitnesses that saw it happen. As well as the fact that NO ONE has ever been able to do what Oswald did with that rifle.

In the end, Stone places the blame squarely at the CIA’s feet. The assassination was done by the CIA in conjunction with the Secret Service at the behest of the military-industrial complex. Oswald was used as the fall guy and then killed, along with a few other key witnesses, to forever obscure what happened on that fateful day in Dallas.

Stone also makes a massively important point too, both in JFK: Destiny Betrayed and his 1991 film, JFK: mountains of data and documents about the assassination have been kept from the public for almost 60 years. If the assassination went down as the Warren Commission says, then why the secrecy? Why keep vital information about the murder of a president hidden away? Why indeed…

Is Stone right? I have no idea. But he is definitely on to something. As usual, the official story from the government doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. And it’s not just one aspect of it either. It’s a glasshouse and the stone that broke it is the insistence that Oswald only fired three shots from the book depository.

This “fact” alone created the “need” for the magic bullet, the insistence that JFK was shot from behind, despite his head wounds suggesting the contrary, the “issues” with his autopsy, the swapping and misplacing of his actual brain, and all the crazy, myriad shenanigans that followed thereafter which included but isn’t limited to murder, tampering with evidence, mind control, and the mafia.

My advice? Watch JFK: Destiny Betrayed, read Jim Marrs’ Crossfire, and make your own mind up about what you think happened. And if you need any more evidence that the US government is dodgy, well, just have a browse around the internet for an hour or so. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of recent instances of maleficence (like this, for instance).

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.