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Conspiracy - Radio 5 Live Wednesday, 23 September, 1998, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Cashing in on cover-up theories
Who shot President Kennedy? Answers at the Conspiracy Museum
In the first of a three-part series, Paul Vickers of BBC Radio 5 Live, probes the suspicious world of American conspiracy theorists.

Conspiracy has become an industry in the US, where countless books, magazines and Websites feed the country's appetite for an alternative version of history, a spicy dish best served with lashings of secrecy, rumours of cover-ups and hidden agendas.

The current vogue for conspiracy centres around Dallas, Texas, where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Today, you'll find that the official museum dedicated to the president's memory, housed on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald fired his rifle, is no longer the only Kennedy attraction in town.

Walk a couple of blocks from the site of the shooting and visit the new Conspiracy Museum, dedicated to an alternative history - one which says that Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill the president.

Real conspiracy buffs - with strong nerves - can go on a limousine tour of the route taken by Kennedy through Dallas on that fateful day.

Every detail of the open-topped Lincoln is there - from the presidential seal on the door to the handles on the trunk for the Secret Service to cling to.

And when your motorcade turns onto Dealey Plaza beneath Oswald's lair, shots ring out from a soundsystem fitted inside the car - but not from the direction official history says they came.

Marilyn Monroe: Murdered by sinister forces?
Many conspiracy tourists believe that a secret cabal conspired to kill Kennedy, the killer bullets coming from the grassy knoll much further down the road.

This is the same sinister group that did for Robert Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe too. They are the real power-brokers in America. They control America's federal institutions, major industries, even America's currency.

Look on the back of a one-dollar-bill and you'll see their secret sign - the all-seeing eye.

Perhaps because of those terrible events in Dallas, Texas has become a hotbed of conspiracy theories like this.

While national radio and television devote hours of airtime to analysis of hanky-panky in the Oval Office, Texan public service TV and local radio stations are much more interested in these theories.

New World Order 'about to take over'

According to the king of Texan conspiracy broadcasters, Jeff Davies, this evil group, the New World Order, is at last about to reach out for world domination.

Warnings of world domination
Jeff sees a federal conspiracy to take away important liberties like the right to bear arms so that when the right time comes - the year 2000, some say - the New World Order will be able to take power unopposed.

It will, Jeff says, use United Nations and federal storm troopers to enforce their rule of America, confining all resistors to "concentration camps".

Many like Jeff remember the day back in 1993 when federal troopers stormed the Branch-Davidian homestead at Waco, ending a siege and 92 lives. This, they say, was just a dress-rehearsal.

Thousands of Americans are storing food, seeds and weapons, preparing just for such an eventuality. Some are even buying gold to protect their assets from the collapse of federal money when the NWO take power.

'They thought Noah was crazy'

All of this, of course, is stoutly denied by federal spokespeople. The trouble is that their denunciation of ideas like this cuts no ice among people who no longer see any point in trusting the government.

Waco: 'just a dress rehearsal'
One of Jeff's radio shows goes out on the micro-station Radio Tejas, broadcasting from a house north of the state capital Austin.

Its producer, Keith Perry says that "a lot of people say we conspiracy theorists are mad, but they thought Noah was crazy and look what happened".

The federal authorities are unimpressed with Jeff and Keith's broadcasts, shows that always end with the cry: "Death to the New World Order."

They say that Keith's transmissions are illegal and have threatened to close him down, using Swat teams if they have to, according to Keith.

If this is the way Radio Tejas goes down, it's hard to see how the suspicion and paranoia raging in the heartlands of America will be laid to rest.

Conspiracy is a three-part series to be broadcast on Radio 5 Live starting on Sunday, 20 September, at 12.00pm BST.

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