I’m old enough to have been around when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, on November 22, 1963. The suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was caught by Dallas police within about an hour after the shooting. They initially put him in a lock-up at Dallas police headquarters, where Oswald instantly became the highest-profile prisoner in the country. Just two days later, on November 24, the police undertook to transfer Oswald from the police headquarters to the county jail. They allowed a group of reporters into the basement of the police headquarters to observe as they escorted Oswald out to a waiting armored car to take him to the jail. Suddenly, with TV cameras rolling, a guy named Jack Ruby emerged from the group of reporters and shot Oswald dead at point blank range. By the end of the day, pretty much everybody in the country (myself included) had seen the clip of the shooting.
Who was this Ruby? He owned a couple of nightclubs in Dallas, but had a highly sketchy background that included alleged mob ties and involvement in drug dealing. No direct links between him and Oswald were ever revealed. His motive for killing Oswald? Excellent question.
Here is an appropriately grainy picture of the event:
You can easily understand why there has been an endless profusion of alternatives to the official “lone gunman” theory of the Kennedy assassination. If Oswald had been working with or backed by some powerful interests, they would clearly want him disposed of as soon as possible once he was arrested. Now Oswald had been silenced before ever saying a word. Ruby had no obvious personal motive for the shooting, and was just the kind of guy who might be carrying out a “hit.” And the Ruby hit doesn’t gibe very well with the “lone gunman” hypothesis of the Kennedy assassination. Thus we have had half a century of theories — officially going by the name “conspiracy theories” — as to who might have been working with Oswald to kill Kennedy, and why. Multiple official inquiries, most notably the Warren Commission, have tried to put these speculations to rest, but have never fully succeeded.
And now once again, in the person of Jeffrey Epstein, the highest profile prisoner in the country has died while in official custody, this time of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Manhattan Correctional Center. (Just a few blocks from my office!) In the case of Epstein, the list of important and likely powerful people with an interest in having him dead is long — certainly in the dozens, and maybe the hundreds.
The official explanation is “suicide.” Should we believe it? Let’s have a review of the evidence.
First, if the man committed suicide, the definitive proof should be immediately at hand. Right?
There were reports that Epstein had already attempted suicide once, about three weeks ago. Wasn’t he on a “suicide watch” at the jail? Actually, they removed that after only one week.
Surely, they have a video of the guy in his cell? Actually, no.
If he was taken off “suicide watch,” isn’t the normal procedure that he should then have a cell-mate going forward? Yes, that is the normal procedure, but he didn’t have one.
Wasn’t he supposed to be observed by the guards no less often than every 30 minutes? Yes, but they didn’t do it.
How about an autopsy to resolve any doubts? Actually, there has been an autopsy, the result of which is that the Medical Examiner’s office is seeking “further information.” What?!
It’s not so easy to commit suicide in the federal jail. They certainly don’t let you have a gun or a knife or a rope, or even a belt or shoelaces to try to hang yourself. Even your prison clothes and bedsheets are designed so that they can’t support your weight and will just tear if you attempt a self-hanging. The New York Post quotes ex-MCC prisoner Brad Hamilton: “There’s no way that man could have killed himself. I’ve done too much time in those units. It’s an impossibility.” So what are the method and the instrument of the alleged suicide? On the morning the body was discovered, NBC News reported that Epstein had “apparently hanged himself” — but how and with what? Did he use some article that every prisoner would have (which Hamilton says is “an impossibility”), or was it something that was specifically smuggled to him for the purpose? If the latter, then he clearly had at least some help — maybe from just one guard, and maybe from multiple people on the inside, outside, or both. Once you admit the idea of help, then the prospect of a murder staged to look like a suicide inevitably comes into play. I can’t find anything more about this. Why such a secret?
So, not only has the suicide allegation not been definitively proved, it remains completely unsupported in information released to the public, even though the evidence to prove it should be readily available.
Let’s throw a few more items into the mix. At this point, everyone knows about Epstein’s alleged pedophilia, and his transporting of rich and famous people to his island and other residences for encounters with the underage women. But how about these additional points:
The prosecutor for Epstein’s previous conviction in 2007 was Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. In 2017, Acosta was nominated (and ultimately confirmed) as Secretary of Labor. According to reporting at the Daily Beast on July 9, during his interviews for the Labor Secretary position, Acosta told Trump transition representatives that “[h]e’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had ‘been told’ to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. ‘I was told Epstein “belonged to intelligence” and to leave it alone,’ he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta.” Note that this report came out shortly after Epstein’s arrest on July 6, and well before his alleged suicide on August 10. The Daily Beast does not say what “intelligence” agency was involved, or what Epstein did for that agency, or who is the person who allegedly told Acosta to “back off.” Acosta had a press conference on July 10, where he was specifically asked about this subject. His answer: “This was a case that was brought based on the facts,” said Acosta. “And I look at the reporting and others. I can’t address it directly because of our guidelines.” That’s enlightening!
What was the source of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged wealth? Supposedly he managed money of wealthy people, but nobody knows who his clients were, and he had almost no “footprint” at the clearing firms and brokers who support the money manager industry. From New York Magazine, July 9: “After sex-trafficking charges were handed down on Monday, executive-suite financiers discussed how absent Epstein was from the field: ‘He’s supposed to run an enormous FX [foreign-exchange] trading firm,’ said Enrique Diaz-Alvarez, chief risk officer at Ebury. ‘But I never once heard of him or his firm or anyone who worked or traded with him.’ And as Forbes wrote in a 2010 blog post with a very direct title — ‘Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Is Not a Billionaire’ — his money-management firm based in the U.S. Virgin Islands ‘generates no public records, nor has his client list ever been released.’” NYM chimes in with various theories, ranging from Ponzi scheme, to blackmail, to intelligence asset. Any or all of which, of course, would provide dozens or hundreds of people with an interest in seeing the man dead.
Needless to say, the internet has lit up with speculation about foul play in Epstein’s death. That has led some to respond with the usual “there is no evidence” and “conspiracy theories” retorts. But in fact there is quite a lot of evidence. Each of the bullet points in this post is evidence. Admittedly the evidence is circumstantial rather than direct, but circumstantial evidence is also evidence. Certainly, the evidence of potential foul play in the case of Epstein far exceeds any evidence of “Russian collusion” with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
The fact is that a lot of information about Epstein and people associated with him was about to come out in the context of his trial. Now, much of that information is likely never to be revealed. Many important and well-known people are breathing a sigh of relief. All of those people had powerful motives to do away with the man. The federal government should have been able to prevent his death in custody; but, failing that, at the very minimum they should have at hand the evidence of how an apparently healthy man died suddenly under such close monitoring and supervision in a high-security prison. If they can’t come up with that, people are absolutely right to speculate about wrongdoing.
I for one am looking forward to the revelations to come about (1) What was the methodology of Epstein’s alleged “suicide,” including what was the instrument of the act and how did he obtain it? (2) Was Epstein an asset for the U.S. intelligence community, and for what, and how did they compensate him? (3) How did Epstein make his money?
In the best case for the government, the answers will reveal an almost unimaginable level of incompetence in his death. In the worst case, they are hiding something rather huge. By the way, my bet is that we will never get answers to my questions (2) and (3), and therefore that the conspiracy theories will continue until the man has been forgotten by history.