Summing it all up and acknowledging some unanswered questions
A New Perspective on the Shots That Killed
Shot #1. Approximate firing time: Zapruder frame 188.
Hit Kennedy in back around 190, fell out in limousine. (Possibly a hand-loaded bullet.)
From: the sixth floor window of the TSBD.
Heard by: pretty much everyone in Dealey Plaza between the time of the shot and 10 frames afterward.
Other evidence for: the wound in Kennedy’s back, probed at autopsy and found to have been a shallow wound with no passage into Kennedy's chest cavity. CE 399, the nearly pristine bullet found on a gurney in Parkland hospital, the appearance of which would be consistent with the bullet's having been hand-loaded and under-charged (which would, in turn, be consistent with this bullet's having created the shallow back wound observed at autopsy). CE 543, one of the rifle cartridge cases found in the depository, which ballistics investigator Joseph Nichol believed may have been used prior to the assassination, which, it follows, may have been the hand-loaded cartridge firing CE 399. Hugh Betzner's photograph taken just before the first shot, determined to have been taken at Z-186. Jackie Kennedy’s turning to her husband beginning at Zapruder frame 190. Phil Willis' testimony that Mrs. Kennedy snapped her head in that direction at the sound of the first shot. Secret Service Agent George Hickey's turning to his right starting around frame 193. Kennedy’s jerky head and hand movements beginning around Zapruder frame 194. Rosemary Willis’s turning to her right around frame 198. Phil Willis’ photograph taken as a reaction to the first shot, determined to have been taken at frame 202. Secret Service Agent John Ready’s turning to his right around Zapruder frame 203. President Kennedy’s lowering his right arm and lifting his left before frame 224. Connally’s testimony that he believed the first and second shot were fired very close together and indicative of automatic rifle fire. The testimony and statements of numerous witnesses indicating that the first shot rang out when Kennedy was waving or as the limousine approached the Thornton Freeway sign.
Jiggle analysis: Zapruder’s camera jiggles at 194.
Shot or shots #2. Approximate firing time: Zapruder frame 222.
Hit Kennedy in
hairline at frame 224, exited his throat. Connally wounded in his chest, wrist,
and thigh. Wounds seem instantaneous, but it seems likely they were created by separate bullets rapid-fired from a semi-automatic
From: most likely
the upper floors or roof of the Dal-Tex Building.
Heard by: a few near Houston
and Elm, perhaps a few on the railroad bridge. Bullet and/or bullets were either fired from a rifle equipped with a silencer, or fired from deep within a building so its sound was muffled in comparison to the other shots. Subsonic ammunition may also have been involved. It’s noted that Nellie Connally, both in her book and in her testimony,
says “and then--a second shot” or “and then there was a second shot;” and that
she rarely mentions hearing this second
shot. In fact, she didn't mention hearing this second shot until 1966, when she said as much to Life Magazine. Since she also
swore she saw her husband get hit by this shot and that it came after he
yelled “No, no, no,” and since her husband’s testimony and the Zapruder film
demonstrate she didn’t even look at him till frame 230 and he didn’t yell
anything until after he’d already been hit, it’s safe to say she might have been confused. Neither her husband, for that matter, nor Mrs. Kennedy, recalled
hearing a shot between the first shot which hit the President, and the last,
which killed him. As a result it seems possible that, due to her proximity,
Mrs. Connally simply heard this shot strike the President and/or her husband, and registered it as a shot, without noting that it was not as loud as the first shot.
Other evidence for: the small entrance wound in Kennedy's hairline, and the small wound in Kennedy's throat. CE 903, the re-enactment photo created by Arlen Specter for the Warren Commission, supposedly demonstrating the viability of the single-bullet theory, but really showing how a bullet just missing Kennedy's right shoulder might proceed to hit Connally in the back. Connally's back wound, which, according to Connally's doctors, suggested that the bullet striking Connally had not previously struck Kennedy. Connally's wrist wound, which, according to Connally's doctor, Dr. Charles Gregory, was inconsistent with a wound created by the nearly pristine bullet supposedly creating this wound, Exhibit CE 399, unless this bullet was traveling backwards. The traces of copper found on the front of Connally's clothing, which suggests that the jacket of the bullet striking Connally had been disrupted even prior to striking his wrist. The movement of Connally’s jacket forwards which briefly obscures his shirt from view in the Zapruder film. The rapid lifting of Kennedy’s hands towards his throat as seen in frames 226 and 227. (His hands were actually dropping towards his chest between 224 and 225, but they shot sharply upward at 226.) Connally’s hair jumping up and his being straightened out in his seat, only to collapse back to his right around 234. Bullet fragments removed from Connally’s wrist that do not match the bullet found on the gurney nor the fragments found in the President’s skull. (Actual bullet or bullets may have bounced out of the car off Connally’s leg, or been picked up by a Secret Service Agent. There were rumors that a hole in the floor of the limousine was discovered in early 1964, which might account for the bullet leaving Kennedy’s neck should it have been a separate bullet.)
Jiggle analysis: Zapruder’s camera jiggles around 227 and again at 231.
Shot #3. Approximate firing time: Zapruder frame 310-311.
Hit Kennedy near the temple at frame 313. Bullet fragmented. One piece of its core seems to have continued on to chip the concrete near Tague around 319.
From: the sixth floor window of the TSBD
Heard by: everyone in Dealey Plaza from the time of the shot up to 10 frames afterward. Tague would have heard this shot around 319 or 320.
Other evidence for: extensive damage to the head of the President. Explosion of skull as visible in the Zapruder film. Bullet fragments found in the President’s brain. Additional fragments believed to be linked to these fragments found underneath Nellie Connally’s seat as well as on the front seat of the limousine. Front seat fragments linked to rifle found on the sixth floor of the TSBD.
Jiggle analysis: Zapruder’s camera jiggles around 318 and 324 and again at 331.
Sound or Shot #4. Approximate firing time: Zapruder frame 320-327.
Missed or possibly
not even a shot. Quite possibly a
loud firecracker used as a diversionary device. The August 27, 1942 issue of Tactical and Technical Trends, a publication of the U.S. War Department, in an article on Japanese Tactics in the Philippines, described the use of firecrackers to "confuse U.S. troops as to the actual Japanese position." More to the point, Combat Lessons #4, a 1942 publication of the U.S. Army, noted that German
snipers used firecrackers with slow-burning fuses that would go off after the sniper had left the area. Similarly, Combat Lessons #6, from 1944, noted that, in both the Pacific and European theaters of World War II, "enemy troops have used firecrackers for diversionary purposes, especially when trying to deceive our troops as to the positions of snipers." This tactic, which I've been assured is still in use today, was therefore not only known to snipers in 1963, but was one likely to be used, should there have been multiple shooters in buildings requiring minutes to escape.
From: somewhere west of the Texas School Book Depository, possibly the railroad yards, but more probably the back of the arcade north of the grassy knoll, or the parking lot across the street. William Newman, and Abraham Zapruder, both facing the President, with the picket fence on their right and school book depository on their left, nevertheless felt the last shot came from behind them. Since a loud sound coming from behind them at this time would arrive but a split second after the sound of a third shot fired from the depository building, a sound's coming from this area would be likely to confuse Newman and Zapruder, and other witnesses nearby, and lead them to recall hearing but two shots. Sure enough, Newman, Zapruder, Mrs. Kennedy, Bobby Hargis, Clint Hill, and Paul Landis, could clearly recall but two shots, and those nearby Kennedy claiming they heard three shots mostly did so while claiming the last two shots were nearly simultaneous. A diversionary device set off in this location would, of course, draw attention from the buildings behind the President when he was shot. If this was the plan, of course...it worked. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the bulk of the Police and eyewitnesses looking for the shooter ran towards the grassy knoll and railroad yards, and ignored the buildings behind the motorcade.
Heard by: everyone in Dealey Plaza from the time of the explosion to 10 frames afterward. Due to their proximity, many interpreted this shot or sound as being the same shot as shot #3. Tague would have heard this explosion around 331-334, which might explain why he was initially convinced he was hit before the third shot.
Other evidence for: reports of smoke near the stockade fence. There were gusts of wind up to twenty miles
an hour which may have blown the smoke in that direction. The statements of Dallas officer Joe Marshall Smith, who thought he smelled gunpowder in the parking lot west of the School Book Depository.
Jiggle analysis: camera jiggles at 324 and again at 331.
The testimony of virtually every witness in Dealey Plaza can be accommodated through
this simple four shot (or sound) scenario. It doesn’t rely on the hard-to-believe single bullet theory of an
undamaged bullet nor on the widespread but scarcely supported by the evidence
theory of a shooter-at-the-stockade fence. Its main drawback, as far as testimony goes, is that it calls for 4
shots (or sounds) when most witnesses heard only three. This can be effectively overcome through the
argument that the second shot was silenced and heard by only a few. This scenario also fails to account for three shots in
the TSBD, where three shells were found. While this could be explained by the sniper’s dropping an extra shell or
by the Dallas Police Department planting a shell, the thought occurs that there
was seemingly an extra shell at the Tippit killing as well, where the 4
recovered casings didn’t match the 4 bullets removed from Tippit. This
uncomfortable development led the Warren Commission to conclude that in fact 5
bullets were fired at Tippit, even though most witnesses heard only three shots.
Should this come as a surprise, here is a breakdown of these witnesses... Mrs. Barbara Davis (3H343) and Mrs. Charlie Virginia Davis (6H456) heard two shots. Helen Markham (3H308), Domingo Benavides (6H447), and Sam Guinyard (7H396) heard three shots. William Scoggins (3H325) and L.J. Lewis (20H534) heard "three or four." Warren Reynolds (11H435) heard "four or five or six." And Ted Callaway (3H352) heard five.
The statements of these witnesses prove most intriguing. As there were at least four shots fired at Tippit, and most witnesses thought there could have been three or less, they suggest that, should there have been a fourth shot fired at Kennedy, as I've proposed, the witnesses to that shooting might not have remembered hearing it, even if it wasn't silenced or suppressed in some manner. At the same time, moreover, the statements of these witnesses support the possibility that one of the shells found at the Tippit shooting location had not been fired that day. And this, by extension, also supports the possibility that one of the shells found in the depository had not been fired that day. While one can only speculate as to why this would be (perhaps, just perhaps, Oswald had kept an empty shell in the chambers of his weapons, perhaps as protection for his children or perhaps as protection for himself should his wife Marina get a hold of his weapons during one of their frequent domestic squabbles) it is worth noting here that the shell of the bullet fired at General Walker was never located. If Oswald and/or those setting up Oswald had left it in the chamber of his rifle, this could very well explain the third shell found in the sniper’s nest.
Supporting that only two shots were fired from the sniper's nest, moreover, is the earliest statements and testimony of the three men on the floor directly beneath the sniper's nest. The testimony of all three
supports that there was no first shot miss, and that the last two shots came
right after another, too fast to have been fired by the rifle found upstairs. Harold Norman’s
statements, so often used to prove that Oswald was the lone assassin, not only
reflected that Kennedy was hit by the first shot, but that only two shells
dropped to the floor in the firing sequence.
The Low Down on the Short Shot
There is another problem with this scenario that deserves some discussion. It has been pointed out that an undercharged bullet would take longer to reach its target than a normal round, and that a bullet so undercharged it would barely penetrate Kennedy's back would have to have been aimed well above and beyond Kennedy to hit him in that location.
Now, this is indeed difficult to work out. But not impossible, IMO.
If the assassin used the scope on the first shot, the misalignment of the scope would lead him to fire 14 inches high or more at only 53 yards, the distance of the limo from the sniper's nest around frame 190 of the Zapruder film. As the bullet struck Kennedy on his back, and not his head, moreover, it follows that the bullet struck Kennedy a good 10 inches below where it was originally aimed (assuming, of course, that the bullet was aimed at his head.) This suggests, then, that the bullet struck Kennedy about 24 inches below where it was originally headed.
So now let's consider that the presumed target, Kennedy, was moving at the time. Robert Frazier's testimony before the Warren Commission reflects that someone firing the rifle found in the building would need to lead Kennedy by 6 inches or so to strike him at 90 yards. We can extrapolate from this, then, that one might need to lead Kennedy by 4 inches or so at 53 yards. Well, if the bullet was traveling but one sixth its normal velocity, as is suggested by the shallow wound on Kennedy's back, the sniper firing this bullet would have to have led Kennedy by 24 inches or so.
Let's check the math.
1. The rifle, when using the scope and standard ammo, fires 14 inches high.
2. The target moves 24 inches higher in the time it takes the bullet to reach the target.
3. The bullet lands about 10 inches below the center of the target.
Well, this suggests the bullet landed pretty much where we would expect it to land. So what's the problem?
Bullet drop. Ballistics calculators suggest that a bullet traveling but 350 fps (the fastest one can presume it was traveling and still have the bullet barely make a hole on Kennedy's back) would drop about 36 inches over the distance to Kennedy. Well, this suggests that the shot landed about 36 inches higher than it should have, and that the sniper was therefore aiming about 36 inches above Kennedy at the time of the first shot. Hmmm...
While I'm not so sure we can trust these numbers, there is reason to believe that, even if accurate, this three feet of bullet drop is not lethal to the proposition Kennedy was hit with a short shot.
So, how's that?
Since the short shot occurred, we can only presume, due to the sniper's improperly hand-loading the bullet, and since we have separately come to conclude subsonic ammunition was used in the assassination, we can assume the sniper knew full well that this bullet was not gonna travel at its usual velocity, and to have compensated for this by firing 11 inches or so higher than normal. This puts the original target about 25 inches higher than one would expect.
Or less. A Marine Corps sniper book in my possession recommends that right-handed shooters tracking a target from left to right double their lead, as there is a "natural hesitation in follow through when swinging against the shooting shoulder." So, yikes, this suggests the original target may have been as little as 14 inches higher than one would expect
The View From Afar
To be clear, the scenario listed above is not "my theory". It is a possibility more in line with the evidence as I see it than any of the scenarios offered by the government, and any of the scenarios as yet offered by the research community, that is all. I will change it as I learn more, and better understand the evidence, or as elements of my research are proven incorrect.
There are, in fact, aspects of the scenario with which I am uncomfortable. I'm not sure if a small-caliber subsonic bullet could do the damage to Kennedy or Connally I've proposed. For a long time, I was also unsure if Kennedy and Connally would be properly aligned for a burst of shots from the roof of the Dal-Tex Building circa frame 224 of the Zapruder film.
In 2009, I finally realized I could use the Warren Commission's re-enactment photos to answer this last question. Since a bullet fired from the roof of the Dal-Tex would be descending at 24-25 degrees, I looked at the relationship between Kennedy and Connally at frame 207 of the Zapruder film, when a bullet fired from the sniper's nest window would be descending 24-25 degrees. Sure enough, Warren Commission Exhibit 892 recreating frame 207 shows that the entrance wound on the back of Kennedy's head would have been at around the same level as the wound in Connally's armpit. (Although the Kennedy stand-in in this exhibit was sitting almost a foot further from the ground than Kennedy was sitting on 11-22-63, and although there were differences in the height of the Connally stand-in and Connally, and the relative positions of the seats in the Presidential limousine and the limousine used in the re-enactment, SS Agent Thomas Kelley testified before the Warren Commission that "There was an adjustment made so that...the stand-in for
Governor Connally would be in relatively the same position" as Connally was to Kennedy. One hopes they got it right.)
But what about the right-left relationship of Kennedy and Connally? Well, since the proposed sniper on the Dal-Tex roof was firing from almost directly behind the limo, I decided to look at Warren Commission Exhibit 901, a re-enactment photo taken from almost directly behind the limo. Well, in opposition to most current re-enactments, this showed Connally to have been sitting slightly to the right of Kennedy in the limo... When one mentally moves Connally back over a few inches, and turns him further to his right, however, one finds that his armpit is now just right of Kennedy's head. This proves that, from the perspective of the roof of the Dal-Tex Building circa frame 224 of the Zapruder film, the entrance wound low on Kennedy's head and the entrance wound in Connally's armpit were but inches apart, well within the spread of bullets rapid-fired from a semi-automatic weapon.
So maybe I'm onto something... Either that or I've stumbled on yet another coincidence.
The Truth About Lying
Unfortunately, the most clear-cut conclusion I've come to regarding the assassination is that many of those tasked with conducting the investigation of Kennedy's murder LIED. But that's not where it ends. I've also come to conclude that many of the most prominent critics have told similar lies, and that maybe, just maybe, the truth about lying is not only that it is ever-present, but indistinguishable to us at times from telling the truth. Yep, it now seems clear to me that, in the heat of argument, it's quite normal, expected even, that those preparing to attack or respond to an attack gather bits and pieces of what they remember and reconstruct them in the manner most supportive of their position. It seems clear, moreover, that they do this subconsciously.
Let's use Senator Arlen Specter as an example. In 1992, as a response to the criticisms of the Warren Report at the center of the movie JFK, he wrote a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer. This, in effect, was a man accused of being a liar writing a letter arguing that he is not a liar. And yet the letter was filled with half-truths, deceptions and lies. Here is the letter in question (with my comments in bold):
When I was first asked about the new movie JFK by the news media in early December, I tossed it off with a laugh, saying that I would try to see it during the holiday season because I enjoyed fiction. When I saw it a few weeks later, I thought that it was anything but funny, because it portrayed to about half of America (those under 12 when President John F. Kennedy was murdered 28 years ago) a false story as a matter of first impression in a docudrama format that intermixes authentic black and white newsreels with black and white fictional clips so that the viewer cannot tell which is which in an otherwise color film.
The strength of our democratic institutions resides in the unabridged freedom of citizens to criticize their government. That right to criticize was eloquently articulated by Thomas Jefferson: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
Our government at all levels has lots of problems, and no one ever said it better than Winston Churchill: "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Government has an absolute duty not to lie to its people. There is at least some duty on the part of the critics, especially those using the technique of a movie docudrama, not to fraudulently and intentionally deceive a whole generation of Americans about an important historical event.
(Yes, you read that right...Specter, who'd sneaked a peek at Kennedy's autopsy photos and knew Kennedy was shot in the back, and who not only never told the commission the exhibits he'd already had created showing the wound to be two inches higher at the base of the neck were inaccurate, but actively sought to hide this from the commission, is holding Oliver Stone, a Hollywood filmmaker, to a higher standard than himself. He is also off base in asserting that Stone had intentionally deceived people--an assertion for which he offers no proof.)
Look at a few of the falsehoods.
The movie: Kennedy had a large exit wound in the back of his head indicating that the bullet came from the front.
Facts: Kennedy had a small entry hole in the back of his head and a large exit wound at the top front showing that the bullet came from the rear and above.
(Specter is deceiving his readers. He knows full well Stone built his representation of the wound location on the testimony of the Parkland doctors. And he knows this because he himself took the testimony of these doctors. Now, he could make the argument these doctors were largely incorrect, but he doesn't do that; instead, he lets his readers believe this is something Stone made up from whole cloth.)
The movie: Lt. Col. Pierre Finck, an autopsy surgeon at Bethesda, says the government agents at the autopsy ordered a coverup on the medical findings.
Facts: Finck testified under oath before the Warren Commission that an initial bullet hit Kennedy in the back of the neck, hit nothing solid, and exited from his throat - supporting the single bullet theory.
(This is a lie. The movie does not have Finck say a government agent ordered a coverup. It accurately quotes Finck's testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw--the subject of the movie--and has him claim the doctors were ordered by an unnamed Army General not to inspect Kennedy's neck. Specter also misrepresents Finck's Warren Commission testimony. Finck did not say the bullet hit Kennedy in the "back of the neck." He did, however, respond to a question in which Specter described the wound as a "back wound." Specter wrote this article, moreover, in 1992, 13 years after the HSCA published tracings of an autopsy photo proving the wound was a back wound, inches below the "back of the neck." So why does Specter claim Finck said the wound was in the "back of the neck"? Hmmm... Because he's lying?)
The movie: Jack Ruby tells Chief Justice Earl Warren to get him out of Dallas so that he (Ruby) can tell about his part in the conspiracy.
Facts: Ruby testified before the Warren Commission that he had no part in any conspiracy.
(This is another lie. Ruby's statements to Warren in the movie are taken from the transcript of Ruby's testimony. He never says he wants to go to Washington to talk about his role in a conspiracy, only that he cannot tell the truth while in Dallas. It follows then that, since Ruby told Warren he could only tell the truth if Warren brought him back to Washington, that his claims of non-involvement while in Dallas were not intended to be his last words on the matter. Specter fails to reveal, moreover, that Ruby asked him--Specter, personally--to contact President Johnson's top adviser Abe Fortas and ask him to arrange his transfer to Washington, and that Specter failed to do so.)
(This is yet another deception. First of all, the movie is told from the perspective of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, and accurately depicts his conclusion--not necessarily Oliver Stone's, or those of his viewers--that those people and organizations were involved in a conspiracy. Second of all, the bit about Robert Kennedy is just cruel. Specter knew full well that, with the death of his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy stepped aside to take care of his extended family. He knew full well, furthermore, that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover stopped reporting to Kennedy at this time. Now, he also knew that Robert Kennedy soon after sought the Presidency--whereby he would finally be in a position to investigate his brother's death without the interference of Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover--and that he was murdered before he could reach this objective. So where does Specter get off judging Robert Kennedy and his failure to act? Is there a statute of limitations on revenge, whereby any brother of a President who refuses to track down his brother's killers--at great risk to himself and his family--within 3 years of his brother's murder is a loyal brother, but one who waits 4 years or more is "indifferent" to his brothers' murder? Of course not. Specter's pretending Robert Kennedy was in control of the FBI, and that his failure to seek revenge in a timely manner means he supported the Warren Commission's conclusions, is both dishonest and disgusting.)
If that far-flung conspiracy involving so many agencies and people could be kept secret for more than two decades, it would have been the most successful undertaking of the U.S. government in its 200-year history.
The Warren Commission concluded that there was no conspiracy. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations found the "probability" of a conspiracy based on a sound tape, believed to be a recording of the assassination, with two shots 1.6 seconds apart, which would be too fast for both to have come from Oswald's rifle. Further study by the National Academy of Sciences proved that the tape did not record the shots in the assassination.
(This is misleading. HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey and Chairman Louis Stokes both claimed the testimony regarding the "sound tape" only confirmed what they'd already come to believe--based largely on the committee's investigation of Jack Ruby's ties to organized crime--that Kennedy had been killed as the result of a conspiracy. Specter also overstates the National Academy's conclusions.)
It is impossible to prove conclusively a negative - that something did not happen. Had there been a conspiracy, I believe it would have come to light in the intervening 28 years, given the impossibility of keeping secrets in our free society.
The movie mangles the facts on the single-bullet theory. The House assassinations committee, very critical of the Warren Commission on other matters, confirmed the single-bullet theory.
(This is also misleading. The House committee did not "confirm" the single-bullet theory, at least as pushed by Specter on the Warren Commission. The House Committee, in fact, came up with its own theory, with the bullet hitting at a substantially different wound location, and at a substantially different time, than Specter's theory.)
When the autopsy surgeons disclosed that the bullet, which passed through the President's neck, hit nothing solid and exited with tremendous velocity, it was apparent that a bullet with that trajectory would have to have hit the interior of the vehicle or someone else. We noted that the entry wound on Gov. John Connally's back (slightly to the left of his right armpit) was slightly irregular, which was consistent to some other object's having been hit first without significantly slowing the bullet's velocity.
(Specter fails to tell his readers that Connally's doctor--the only person to inspect his back wound--consistently claimed that the bullet striking Connally had not struck anything before hitting him.)
The commission then conducted elaborate tests such as firing Oswald's rifle at the same distance at substances, recreating the President's neck, to measure entrance and exit velocities; grazing the rib of an anesthetized goat (simulating Connally's rib wound); firing Oswald's rifle at cadaver skulls and wrists; etc.
From the evidence, the single-bullet theory emerged. Using the neutron activation analysis (not known during the time of the Warren Commission investigation), the House committee more than a decade later concluded that the metallic fragments in Connally's wrist came from the single bullet.
(This is another lie, although perhaps an accidental one. The Warren Commission knew about neutron activation analysis. The FBI performed NAA on the bullet fragments, but concluded they were inconclusive. They also performed NAA on the paraffin casts of Oswald's hands and cheek, only to dismiss the results of the tests on Oswald's cheek cast--which suggested he hadn't fired a rifle--due to their being too much barium on the outside of the cast. The FBI expert conducting these last tests, moreover, testified before the commission, with his testimony being published in the commission's volumes.)
Over the years I have debated critics on live television such as Mark Lane on British television for four hours and 45 minutes and Josiah Thompson on Philadelphia public television for two hours at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. I think it is fair to say that the single-bullet theory has withstood the test of time for those willing to listen to the evidence and follow the facts.
Historians, columnists and media critics have thoroughly discredited and ridiculed the movie JFK. But that is not sufficient for all the men and women who are being defamed by the movie's dredging up stale conspiracy theories that have been discredited over the past two decades. Most of those defamed are not alive to defend themselves. Their families inherit their anguish, as illustrated by television journalist Cokie Roberts, who commented recently on ABC's This Week With David Brinkley that the movie was unfair to her father, Louisiana Rep. Hale Boggs, who was a member of the commission.
(Specter leaves out that few are as defamed by the movie as himself, and that that is why he has written this article.)
Considering the facts that debate continues on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and just last year the body of Zachary Taylor was exhumed on the suspicion that he was poisoned, it is not surprising that doubt remains about the Warren Report. But then who has read the Warren Report - let alone the 25 volumes containing 17,000 pages of supporting evidence?
(Specter conceals that many of the early critics of the Warren Commission only became critics after reading the Warren Report and its 26--not 25--volumes of supporting evidence--and realizing Specter had both failed to call a number of key witnesses, and pressured others to testify in opposition to their original statements.)
In a curious way, this absurd movie, which no one is taking seriously once acquainted with the facts, may lead people to read and accept the extensive factual analysis and sound conclusions of the Warren Commission's report.
(By claiming "no one" is taking the film seriously once acquainted with the facts, Specter insults the many conspiracy theorists he knows full well take the film very seriously, and misleads those readers not knowledgeable enough to judge one way or the other. The problem, he has to know, is not that those taking Stone's movie seriously just aren't acquainted with "the facts," but that they just don't believe Specter's "facts.")
So there you have it. Specter tried to claim Oliver Stone was a liar, and repeatedly misled his readers while making his argument. Now, does it make more sense for us to believe Specter is both a brazen liar--deliberately deceiving everyone who'll listen--and a STUPID liar--making claims that are easy to disprove--OR that, in the heat of battle, his grasp of the truth became a bit tenuous?
I now lean to the latter. My dealings with McAdams and Fetzer and Mantik et al have led me to believe that really smart but imperfect men are perfectly capable of making really dumb claims, and will quite often defend these claims till the end, pushing more and more nonsense in the process.
Now, this wasn't exactly a ground-breaking discovery, but it was nevertheless a difficult one for me to absorb. Historians and psychologists have long-noted man's propensity to lie. Historian Peter Charles Hoffer, in his 2004 book Past Imperfect, offered: "It is human to lie. We lie because the truth is harsh or hurtful; because we see an advantage to the lie; because lying is easier than explanation. We lie to save ourselves from extra work or the consequences of the truth. We lie to make ourselves look smarter, bolder, richer, or more worthy of another's admiration or friendship. We lie to save souls teetering on the edge of damnation. We lie to bring low those whose guilt is clear to us but may not be as clear to others. We lie because we are paid to lie. Some of us have a compulsion to lie."
Breaking Through the Wall of Silence
Well, in time I hope to get the input of professionals and experts, make any obvious corrections in my findings, and build a consensus. This building of consensus is quite an arduous task. While I've received positive feedback from a number of historians, several anonymous radiologists, a biophysicist, and even a neurologist, I haven't received one comment for attribution from a medical or science professional using his or her own name.
This is undoubtedly disappointing. While I have read far more about the issues discussed in this online investigation than most doctors, people have a natural tendency to trust "experts" with credentials over those who merely read a lot--as if the reading comprehension of those with letters after their name is automatically higher than that of someone like myself, who opted not to accept the full scholarships he was offered.
This readiness to believe "experts", by the way, is nothing new. Dr. Pitirim A. Sorokin discussed this quirk in the March, 1932 American Journal of Sociology, when he described an experiment in which people were told that musical experts were in agreement that one of two recordings of a classical piece was far superior to the other, and were then played the two recordings. He found that 1) people were incredibly open to suggestion, as less than 5% of his subjects noticed that he in fact replayed the same recording; and 2) people's perceptions were skewed by their awe of expertise, as almost 60% agreed that whichever version they were told was superior, was indeed superior, and barely 40% thought the two recordings (which were in fact the same recording) of equal merit.
Although Sorokin's test subjects were blindly (or should I say deaf-ly) deferring to musical experts, I suspect the average reader feels at least as lost in the world of forensic pathology as he does in the world of classical music, and that the percentage of people who would automatically defer to the opinions of an "expert" in forensic pathology, no matter how poorly thought-out, would be even greater than 60%. As a consequence, I've attempted to demonstrate, over and over, that the experts on this case are in disagreement, and that much of this case can only be resolved through a re-examination of the evidence. Certainly, with enough study, the "experts" should be able to come to an informed opinion on whether a photograph is of the back of someone's head, or his forehead. It's just that, to do that, they'd have to look at the photograph, and openly discuss their impressions.
Which they're incredibly reluctant to do... As demonstrated on the slide above, taken from a book compiled by Clark Panel member Alan Moritz, books on legal medicine preach conservative behavior and conservative opinions, even if it means withholding the truth. In his 2006 book, Postmortem, Stefan Timmermans dissects the culture of medical examiners and comments repeatedly on the conservatism prescribed in these books. He .notes: "Consistent with their cautious approach to forensic evidence, medical examiners are more likely to negate police suspicions of homicide with natural explanations than they are to discover a homicide...In routine homicide investigations, medical examiners thus document the pathological and toxicological signs of murder in an ongoing dialogue with law enforcement agencies. In the same way that medical examiners depend on medical histories written by their clinical colleagues to make the case for natural death and suicide, they depend on law enforcement to initiate what will become a forensic homicide investigation. As distinct yet interlinked professionals, police and forensic pathologists continuously and closely coordinate findings and evidence during the evolving investigation, further reflecting the privileged role of law enforcement in the organizational ecology of death investigation. Although forensic pathologists do occasionally discover a homicide, they are more likely to remove the suspicion of it in ambiguous cases. This caution is in line with their conservative approach to drawing inferences from forensic evidence."
In other words, they tend to avoid pushing that something unnatural or unexpected occurred unless they feel reasonably sure something unnatural or unexpected occurred, and rely on those tasked with investigating crimes to give them guidance. This helps explain why both the doctors performing Kennedy's autopsy, and the doctors re-examining the case for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, followed the lead of the investigators. The Dallas Police and FBI agreed it was Oswald firing from the sniper's nest; the autopsy doctors then said the shots came from above and behind (even though there was nothing on the body to suggest the head shot had been fired from above). Similarly, the HSCA received word from Dr. Vincent Guinn that the bullet fragment removed from Connally's wrist matched the bullet found on a stretcher, and that the single-bullet theory was therefore consistent with the evidence, and the doctors, save Cyril Wecht, then jumped in a conga line and said the single bullet theory was consistent with the evidence (even though the damage in the neck was inconsistent with the passage of a military rifle bullet, and the bullet trajectory required Kennedy be leaning forward when hit).
At another point in Postmortem, Timmermans discusses the reasons for this conservatism: "Medical examiners strike a cautious balance in order to maintain authority: they generally opt for conservative interpretations to lower the chance of criticism, and when threatened by knowledgeable parties, they tend to retreat rather than confront." This, in turn, helps explain why no medical examiners or pathologists have commented, one way or the other, on my online videos critical of Dr. Baden, and his testifying with his exhibit upside down.
Even so, I'm still hoping that some medical professionals and scientists will step up to the plate, and tell me what they really think. I will post their comments, both good and bad, on my webpage.
Why We Fight
If one gets the opportunity to view a video of the 1993 symposium on the medical evidence held in Chicago one will see precisely what I'm talking about.
First up was Dr. George Lundberg, then editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Thanks to researcher Dave Reitzes for posting Lundberg's statements online.)
Lundberg opened by admitting he knew next to nothing about the case, and then concluded:
"What then and whom then do I trust? I have known Dr. James Humes, the principal autopsy pathologist, personally since 1957. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, who was paraphrasing Lloyd Bentsen: I know Jim Humes. He's a friend of mine. I would trust him with my life.
Dr. Humes is an outstanding general pathologist, before and after 1963, acclaimed by his peers for thirty years -- forty years, perhaps -- but never was before, during, or after a fully trained forensic pathologist and never claimed to be. He didn't volunteer to do that job; he was assigned.
Moving from 1963 to 1968, the United States Attorney General appointed a four-person, blue-ribbon panel to study and reevaluate the JFK autopsy. The reason that was appointed was a request by the second autopsy pathologist, Dr. Jay Boswell, that there be such an independent investigation. This four-member panel had developed unanimous support for the autopsy report, results and interpretation.
A key member of that panel was the late Dr. Russell Fisher, Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Maryland, probably the world's top forensic pathologist of his time. I knew Russell Fisher. He was a friend of mine. I would trust him with my life. He concurred: two bullets from the rear. A simple story.
In 1979 the forensic pathology subcommittee of the House Select Committee on Assassinations included nine members. It voted eight to one in support of the autopsy findings and basic interpretation. One of the members was Dr. Earl Rose, a forensic pathologist in Dallas in November 1963 whose legal responsibility it was to autopsy President Kennedy and who tried to stop the illegal movement of the body from Dallas.
I have known Dr. Earl Rose since 1973. He is a friend of mine. I would trust him with my life. He concurs: two bullets from the rear.
Another member of that 1979 subcommittee was Dr. Charles Petty. Dr. Petty is Professor of Pathology at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. He heads up the Forensic Science Institute there, which was built in large part because of the Dallas embarrassment over the assassination and their recognition of the need for outstanding forensic science.
Dr. Petty has been quiet on the JFK issue for many, many years. This year he volunteered to write for JAMA on this subject. Last week's JAMA has his editorial, which confirms and explains the Single Bullet Theory.
I have known Chuck Petty since 1968. He is a friend of mine. I would trust him with my life.
These are the keys to trust: Jim Humes in 1963, Russell Fisher in 1968, Earl Rose in 1979 and again in JAMA in 1992, Chuck Petty in 1979 and again in JAMA in`1993, and then there is me.
To imagine or state that somehow these people say we have been duped, misled, or are somehow part of the conspiracy to deny the truth on this issue for all ages, strains the vocabulary to find strong enough words to describe such absurdity. Such charges are somewhere among the descriptors: wild and crazy, off the wall, out in left field in Cubs Park, incredible, insulting, or worse."
Well, this was not exactly scientific, was it? In 1999, for reasons apparently unrelated to his controversial stance on the Kennedy assassination, Lundberg was fired from JAMA.
Next up was Dr. Lattimer, reciting material from his book, claiming he knew Kennedy and Kennedy had a big hump on his back, etc. Then came Dr. Michael West, presenting a program defending the single-bullet theory that he'd previously presented to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the FBI Academy. (The former presentation was organized by Dr. Michael Baden, no less.) West recited stuff from Lattimer's book, and showed a film in which it was argued that Governor Connally's delayed reaction to the shot when compared to Kennedy was exactly as one would expect, and that his flipping of his hat circa frame 227 of the Zapruder film was "positive proof" of a neurological response to trauma prior to the point most conspiracy theorists believe he'd been hit. (West was quoted along these lines in Gerald Posner's book Case Closed.)
Well, what happened to Dr. West, you might ask?
The 1998 book Tainting Evidence notes that Dr. West was a forensic dentist from Mississippi who appeared as a scientific expert in more than 60 trials in 10 states before it became clear he had a knack for seeing marks on bodies that others failed to see. As at least 20 of his appearances were in murder cases in which a suspect's life lay in the balance, moreover, the possibility West was sculpting his testimony to fit the needs of the prosecution slowly dawned on his fellow scientists. As a result, medical examiners (including Dr. Robert Kirschner, one of the ARRB's special consultants) began testifying against West, and he was denounced in a 1996 article in the American Bar Association Journal, in which he was called "a sore on the body of forensic science."
The 2008 book Forensics Under Fire fleshes out the story, and uses West as a case study of an expert gone awry. Despite West's claims that a special blue light he'd personally developed had allowed him to see the bite marks on victims no one else could see, the "science" of this light was never quite established. As a result other experts began to question West's conclusions, and he gradually fell out of favor. Within a year of his presentation at the 1993 Symposium, in fact, Dr. West was pressured into leaving the international Association of Identification and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He was also suspended by the American Board of Forensic Odontology. As a result, the convictions of two men against whom he'd testified were overturned, and the charges against still another were dropped. Word rapidly got out that his word was suspect, and his court appearances dropped off considerably.
He was so desperate for an appearance, in fact, that he agreed to give his opinion on a case for which he'd not done his homework. In 2001, in an effort to discredit the bite-mark analysis used against a client, lawyer Christopher Plourd hired private detective James Rix to contact West and ask if the teeth in a dental mold provided West matched the bite mark on the breast of the woman purportedly killed by Plourd's client. Two months later, after cashing a check for $750, West sent Rix a 20 Minute video explaining that, based on West's expert analysis, the odds that "these weren’t the teeth that created this bite would be almost astronomical."
Oops. This was a big mistake. The dental mold sent West had not been that of Plourd's client, but of Rix, the private investigator.
And from there things spiraled downward. In 2008, after the arrest of a man who'd admitted killing two toddlers in the early nineties, the lawyers for the two men previously convicted of these crimes called for West's arrest. This led Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization that examines questionable convictions and has won the exoneration of more than 200 inmates, to declare in an ABC News report that West was "a criminal" and that he'd "deliberately fabricated evidence and conclusions which were not supported by the evidence, the data or the rules of science." Neufeld further claimed "If you fabricate evidence in a capital murder case, where you know that if the person's convicted they are going to be executed — as far as I'm concerned that's the crime of attempted murder.'' He then concluded "These are not cases of sloppy forensic science. This is intentional misconduct. It's fabricated evidence to send people to death row.''
Pretty harsh words. Provocative words. Still, even though Neufeld's charges would seem a clear case of libel (should he not have been telling the truth), West refused to respond to his charges. West did, however, tell CBS' Steve Kroft that he stood by his prior testimony, and that if the DNA evidence implicated someone other than the defendants in the rapes and murders of the children they'd been convicted of killing, it meant only that someone else had raped and killed the children after the defendants had bitten them. Not willing to give an inch, West even stood by his absurd testimony that one of the defendants had bitten his victim 19 times--using only his upper teeth!
And from there things only got worse for wild, wild, West. In February 2009, Reasononline posted links to a 1993 video of West (http://reason.com/news/show/131527.html) rubbing a suspect's dental impressions on the cheek of a dead child. Finding bite marks on the cheek, curiously, allowed prosecutors to charge the man responsible for her apparently accidental death with deliberation, and this, in turn, allowed them to seek the death penalty. After seeing this video, Dr. Michael Bowers, a dentist and medical examiner for Ventura County, California, broke ranks with his colleague and told Reasononline that marks appeared on the young girl's cheek after West rubbed the suspect's dental impressions on her cheek because "Dr. West created them. It was intentional. He's creating artificial abrasions in that video, and he's tampering with the evidence. It's criminal, regardless of what excuse he may come up with about his methods...You never jam a plaster cast into a possible bite mark like that. It distorts the evidence. You take a photograph, or if there are indentations, you take an impression. But you don't jam plaster teeth into them."
Dr. David Averill, a former President of The American Board of Forensic Odontology, concurred with this appraisal. He told Reasononline "The video is troubling. I don't know how you can explain where those marks come from. And there's just no justification for him to push the cast into the skin like that...That isn't an acceptable way to perform a bite mark analysis."
But that wasn't the end of it. The writer of the article, Radley Balko, reported that Forensic Odontologist Richard Souviron, who'd served as an expert for the defendant, Jimmie Duncan, was never shown the video prior to Duncan's trial and conviction, and had signed a new affidavit claiming the video showed "'Dr. West, violently and repeatedly, forcing a mold of Jimmie Duncan's teeth into Ms. Oliveaux's right cheek. In doing so, Dr. West creates a mark that was not previously present. Dr. West's behavior and methods are absolutely not supported by any scientific standards or protocol.' Souviron added in the affidavit that hospital photographs show that 'none of the marks were present when Ms. Oliveaux was at the hospital,' and that the abrasions that Reisner testified about for the prosecution 'were created by the flagrant misconduct of Dr. Michael West.'"
Well, yikes, is it any wonder then that single-assassin theorists have long stopped citing West as an authority? West told Mitchell he had worked 16,000 cases, and had testified as an expert in 81 trials. And, yet, it took his being outed via a video for him to suddenly realize, "Well, wait a second, this isn't exactly scientific, now is it?" One shudders to think how long it would have taken him to come to this conclusion purely on his own.
As West was cited as an authority by Gerald Posner in his 1994 book Case Closed, and as Posner himself was subsequently exposed as a dishonest actor (when he misled people into thinking a forensic re-enactment of the single-bullet theory by Failure Analysis Associates had been performed for him--when it had been performed for the ABA--and had been conclusive--when he'd only shown the prosecution's side of a case that ended in a mistrial), and worse (when he told the ARRB that Dr.s Humes and Boswell had told him they'd changed their minds about the location of the entrance wound on the back of Kennedy's head, and now believed it had been in the cowlick--when they denied having done so, or even talking to him) and even worse (when he was fired from his position at The Daily Beast for routinely plagiarizing other people's articles), is it any wonder that those taking the case for conspiracy seriously fail to take the arguments of men such as West and Posner seriously?
But Dr. West was neither the last to speak at the 1993 symposium nor the one to make the strangest claims. Shortly after West's presentation, Dr. Robert Artwohl, an emergency room doctor, took the stage and discussed his recent trip to the National Archives. He then flipped through the Kennedy autopsy photos available to the public and discussed his impressions of these photos after inspecting the originals. His impressions were eye-opening. Significantly, and amazingly, Dr. Artwohl insisted that the scalp in the mystery photo had been reflected over the left forehead. This was a unique interpretation.
This is almost laughable. There was not on that night, nor on any other night since Kennedy's death, a consensus among America's doctors on the locations of the President's wounds...even among those arguing that one sniper, firing from behind, killed Kennedy. There simply is no "established truth" or "established wisdom" to which one can defer. The doctors blindly "trusted" by Lundberg couldn't agree about the location of the head wound. The doctors on the stage with Lundberg disagreed with those he'd "trusted" on the location of the back wound.
This is not as it should be. While the case may never be solved, it's not nearly as solved as it could be, and ought to be. Certainly, with enough discussion, America's doctors can reach some sort of consensus on what can be observed in the President's autopsy photos and x-rays.
So, if you're willing to smash on through this massive wall of silence, send a comment or criticism to firstname.lastname@example.org. I won't take it personally. Even the good guys get it wrong sometimes.
I will, of course, reserve the right to comment on your commentary. Even the good guys get it wrong sometimes.
Silenced WitnessAfter my study of the eyewitness statements and Zapruder film suggested that at least one burst of shots--the one (or two) shots hitting Kennedy and Connally around frame 224--was not heard by the crowd, I decided to read up on the use of silencers and subsonic ammunition. While some "experts", including the FBI's Robert Frazier in the trial of Clay Shaw, have been dismissive about the use of a silencer on 11-22-63, claiming the shots would still have been heard, they ignore that the use of a silencer still had its advantages. Vincent Bugliosi, in his book Reclaiming History, admits as much. In arguing that Oswald could not have been a hit man, because a hit man would have used a silencer, he unwittingly undercut many of his supporters, who'd been insisting for years that the use of a silencer was impractical and unlikely. On page 1452, Bugliosi quotes an unnamed LAPD firearms expert and asserts that by 1963 silencers were sophisticated enough to reduce the sound of a rifle to nothing louder than "the hitting of a pile of wood with a hammer." Bugliosi's expert said, furthermore, that state-of-the-art silencers at the time "probably wouldn't have even been heard above the background noise of the motorcade and crowd."
The realization from my study of the eyewitnesses that a silenced weapon may have been fired from the Dal-Tex Building, when combined with Connally’s testimony that he initially suspected automatic weapons had been fired, when merged with the fact that both the hole in Kennedy’s hairline and the hole in his throat were smaller than what one would expect from a 6.5 mm bullet, and that a smaller caliber would be more easily deflected in the manner proposed, led me to wonder about the availability of .22 caliber automatic rifles in 1963. Surprisingly, I discovered that a brand new .22 caliber automatic rifle, the AR-15, had just exploded on the market, and was, in November 1963, undergoing tests by U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam. The Special Forces is, of course, the wing of the military that works most closely with the CIA, a favorite suspect of the conspiracy community. To make matters worse, the Air Force and Navy had also received shipments, and the Army was in the process of switching from the M-1 over to their own version of the AR-15, re-christened as the M-16. In light of Oliver Stone’s theory that the military was behind Kennedy’s murder this made me a little paranoid.
While looking through the book Silencers, Snipers, and Assassins to see what I could learn about M-16 silencers, I noticed something which pushed me even further down Paranoid Road. When reading about the M16 silencer HEL M4, I noticed on the photo credit that the photo came courtesy of Aberdeen Proving Ground, where both Warren Commission ballistics expert Alfred Olivier and HSCA ballistics expert Larry Sturdivan found employment. (I would eventually discover that a number of experimental silencers had been developed by the Human Engineering Lab (HEL) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground starting in the early sixties but that HEL4A itself did not become available until 1967. I also found that Sturdivan and Olivier did not work in HEL but at the Edgewood Arsenal building of Aberdeen Proving Ground.)
Even so, this coincidence made me wonder if the ballistics experts who'd testified before the committees hadn’t had a hand in designing the very weapon used in the assassination. (On page 162 of Stalkers and Shooters (2006), one can find yet another assassination weapon designed at Aberdeen Proving Ground--apparently this was one of their specialties.) And so I decided to re-read the pertinent parts of the book Mortal Error, which theorized that Secret Service Agent George Hickey mistakenly discharged an AR-15 from the President’s follow-up car, and accidentally killed the President.
But then I discovered something even more startling. Illustration #27 within Mortal Error included not only HSCA Exhibit #113, which depicted a gelatin test of an M-16 bullet, but a photograph of a list of the other exhibits from the day it was submitted, which had been included in a press package. (This list is now online and can be viewed here). On this list, Exhibit 114, was identified as an “M-193 bullet at 800 FPS velocity.” 800 FPS…as in Feet Per Second…as in slower than the speed of sound, (which travels at roughly 1087 feet per second), which means no shock wave or sonic boom…a silenced shot!
And so I hopped on the internet to download HSCA Exhibit 114. Only when I scrolled through the website of John McAdams, one of the most prominent websites on the net, and certainly the most prominent with a single-assassin bias, I came across something which made me even more paranoid. For on this website Exhibit 113, which represents a gelatin test of M-16 ammunition fired at 3,000 fps, is identified as being the gelatin test of a 30 caliber bullet, and Exhibit 114 is listed as being the “composite of two photographs of bullet exploding in gelatin.” All reference to the M-16 and its cartridge, the M-193, were absent! I then went to the History Matters website, where the entire HSCA Report has been scanned and uploaded straight out of a book, and confirmed that officially the exhibits were indeed those of the bullets used in an M-16. I then printed out a list of the HSCA exhibits from the History Matters website and compared them to the same list on the McAdams website, and found that, while there were a few other discrepancies on the McAdams list, there were none back to back which completely disguised the nature of the exhibits. It really made me wonder if some of the researchers who smell CIA involvement in the single-assassin theorist community weren’t on to something. (Months later, after I'd calmed down a little, I realized that the website with the suspiciously incorrect descriptions of F-113 and F-114 was the website of researcher Mike Russ, and that the McAdams website had merely provided a link.)
My concern was heightened yet again when I re-read Larry Sturdivan’s HSCA testimony to see if Exhibit 114 was indeed an M-193 bullet shot at 800 fps. He stated, regarding Exhibit 113: “This is the bullet that is fired from the M-16 rifle that was used extensively in Vietnam. It is a caliber .22 but at a high velocity, approximately 3,000 feet per second…This bullet entered, and as you can see, it goes nice and straight for a little while. Then the yaw increases dramatically. The pressure is increased dramatically, and the bullet begins to fragment, pieces are broken off…” He went on to state “F-114 is the same bullet at a lower velocity. That velocity would be encountered at about 800 meters per second…This bullet, of course, was not deformed because the pressures, due to the lower velocity, were never high enough to deform the bullet.” Although Mr. Sturdivan is recorded as saying 800 meters per second it occurred to me that the difference between a bullet traveling at 3,000 feet per second and 800 meters per second (2,625 feet!) would not be so great that the slower-moving bullet would fail to deform. Particularly since elsewhere in his testimony Mr. Sturdivan stated that an M-16 bullet “would break up, as I said before, at anything above 1,000 feet per second; it would begin to deform at about 1,000 feet per second.” It occurred to me at this point that Mr. Sturdivan’s testimony had been changed from 800 feet per second to 800 meters per second. It occurred as well that in all his testimony there was no other use of the term “meters per second.” I decided to see if this was true. Upon re-examination of Sturdivan’s testimony, I counted 39 mentions of “feet per second,” which was the standard unit of measurement used in ballistics calculations, and only the one mention of “meters per second.” Within the work he performed in the internet paper written with Kenneth Rahn, Sturdivan mentioned “feet per second” 16 more times, and never once used “meters per second.” Furthermore, Alfred Olivier, in his Warren Commission testimony, used “feet per second” 11 times and never mentioned “meters per second.” I concluded from this that Sturdivan’s testimony was probably changed. The only reason I could come up with is that discussion of silenced M-16 bullets was ruled a violation of national security by someone somewhere somehow. That one or more of these bullets was used on President Kennedy, and that a faction within the government was aware of this and covered it up, might very well explain a lot of our recent history. But this made me uncomfortable, and so I hopped back on the internet to see what else I could find out about the wound ballistics of M-16 ammo.
Well, one of the first things I found was that M-16 ammunition is designed to fragment and incapacitate its victims. While many Americans like to cry about the violations of the rules of war committed by other nations, we decided with the M-16 to defeat the purpose of full metal jacket ammunition, which was promoted and accepted worldwide after WWI to reduce the brutality of war, by creating a bullet that was so unstable that it tumbled and broke-up even though it was technically a full metal jacket bullet. The problem, according to Dr. Martin Fackler, a former military surgeon and ballistics expert considered by some to be the guru of the field of wound ballistics, is that M-16 ammunition fails to break up when striking ballistics gelatin at speeds less than 2500 feet per second, a speed it slows down to after traveling but 200 meters, (or even less, depending on the model and the length of the barrel). Due to the small size of its bullet, therefore, which was designed so that soldiers could carry a lot more ammunition into combat, and its corresponding inability to create massive damage when striking at a reduced speed, the M-16 is ineffective as a long-range sniper weapon.
This gave me momentary doubt about its use in Dealey Plaza. But then I realized that I couldn’t dismiss its use as easily as all that. One reason was that in 1963 many of these tests had not yet been performed, and the assassin would have had no reason to doubt that the M-16 was a top flight killing machine. Another was that all the shots fired in Dealey Plaza were almost certainly less than 200 meters in length, and were probably less than 100 meters, and were therefore well within the M-16’s range of optimum performance. Still, another reason to suspect a silencer was used came from my discovery of websites devoted to reduced-charge ammunition, which fires at less than 1,000 fps and creates no sonic boom. Some of this ammunition was even designed for M-16s already equipped with silencers, for the ultimate in silent killing.
It then hit me that Sturdivan had identified the speed of the bullet in F-113 as 3,000 fps when elsewhere in his testimony he said that M-16 bullets were fired at 3,200 fps, and that this 3,200 number was repeated all over the net as the definitive speed of M-16 ammunition. This led me to believe that the F-113 test was a simulation of a bullet fired from a distance of a few hundred feet. The thought occurred then that the F-114 test might be the same, and that the F-114 bullet was originally fired at about 1,000 fps, just under the speed of sound. Subsequently, I came across an article on sound suppressors by Mark White, in which he presents a chart demonstrating the drop-off in decibels of a shot once the speed of the bullet drops below the speed of sound. Not surprisingly, it revealed that a sub-sonic charge fired in a suppressed .308 rifle (under normal conditions, somewhat louder than a Carcano) would be roughly the sound of the surrounding traffic and would be unlikely to be noticed by those more than a hundred feet away (which, in the case of a possible shooter on the roof of the Dal-Tex, would mean almost everyone on the street.) It seemed reasonable to assume from this that Sturdivan had been testing the wounding effects of bullets which he’d already determined would not have been heard, to see if such a bullet was likely. If so, that this whole area of inquiry was hidden from the public would have to be considered suspicious, and might even be taken as an indication he decided such a shot was possible.
Ultimately, however, my decision to accept the possibility that a silenced M-16 was used in Dealey Plaza, and was tested by the HSCA, came from the exhibits themselves. I just couldn’t believe that the damage shown in F-113 came as a result of a bullet impacting at a speed only 15% faster than the speed of the bullet in F-114. Since, according to Dr. Fackler, if an M-16 bullet doesn’t have enough velocity to cause fragmentation the result is a deep .22 caliber hole, I decided to compare his drawings of a .22 caliber hole to Exhibit F-114. After confirming that both Fackler and Dr. Olivier in his tests performed for the Warren Commission used 15 inch test blocks of 20% gelatin, I found Dr. Fackler’s drawings of a .22LR quite similar to F-114. The .22 long rifle wound was slightly deeper, which was as one would expect since a 40 grain bullet traveling at 1122 fps should transfer 43% more energy to the gelatin than a 55 grain bullet traveling at 800 fps. (The formula to determine energy release is mass x speed x speed.) When I considered the opposite, that if the bullet in F-114 was traveling at 2625 fps it should represent 7.5 TIMES THE ENERGY released in the wound in Fackler’s drawing, I realized I was almost certainly right, and that F-114 was definitely a test of a bullet traveling 800 fps. When I took into account that Sturdivan told the HSCA, when describing F-113, that after the bullet broke up, “although it is not clearly visible, from here it continues to exit from the corner of the block”, it became obvious that the speed of the bullet tested in F-113 was several times that of the bullet in F-114, and that the amount of energy release was somewhere near the fourteen-fold increase in energy release one would expect when comparing a bullet traveling at 800 fps and 3000 fps and nowhere near the 30% increase expected between 800 mps and 3000 fps.
In January 2006, after gathering up the nerve, I contacted Larry Sturdivan and asked him about his HSCA testimony. As to whether Exhibit F-114 represented a bullet strike at 800 meters per second or 800 feet per second he responded: “It has a simple explanation. I misspoke. The bullet is obviously a low-velocity strike, probably at a simulated range of several hundred meters. The figure of 800 feet per second is certainly the one that is closest to the actual impact velocity. At work, I always used metric measure, but for the public hearings it was suggested that I use feet, inches, and pounds. This is one instance in which I slipped. There may be others. In other cases, the person who transcribed the testimony misinterpreted a few of my words. It likely happened with other witnesses for the HSCA and WC as well.”
When I asked him if his use of an exhibit depicting an M-16 bullet traveling at a subsonic speed indicated he’d studied the possible use of silenced weapons in connection with the Kennedy assassination, he responded: “It was just one of the thousands of pictures we had of military bullets we had tested. I used it because it showed the instability of a bullet in a soft tissue simulant, without the deformation and breakup. Like the WCC/MC, it was a bullet that did not deform in soft tissue. Modern military bullets deform at full velocity, so I showed a picture of one at reduced velocity. The only bullets fired in the WC tests were the WCC/MC.”
When I followed up and asked him if the HSCA had ever asked him about the possible use of silenced weapons, he answered: “Never came up. Several witnesses who were familiar with supersonic rifle fire, such as John Connally, stated that the shots were identifiable as "high-powered rifle" fire. A subsonic bullet is much quieter -- and is much less injurious, has a more arced trajectory (due to its low speed) and, as a result, is much less accurate, etc. A sniper using a subsonic weapon (e.g., a handgun) could fire a volley of shots from the upper floors of the Depository and be unlikely to hit the target with any of them. Such a weapon is more likely to be used in point blank shooting, like the Tippit murder.” (Sturdivan’s comments here are intriguing. He ignores the possibility of subsonic rifle fire even though he’d studied the ballistics of subsonic rifle fire, as proven by F-114. His statement that a subsonic bullet has a more arced trajectory is also intriguing when one considers that the trajectory of the bullet creating Kennedy’s back wound was initially reported as heading sharply downwards.)
When I wrote back and asked if he felt handicapped by the limits of the HSCA investigation, he wrote: “No. The HSCA didn't tell me much. They just asked a lot of questions. The most irritating thing is that they kept most of the scientists isolated from each other, so that I didn't meet Bill Hartmann 'til years later.”
Sturdivan’s response forced me to do some soul-searching. Here I had taken several pieces of information: 1) that Exhibit F-114 had been misrepresented in Sturdivan’s published testimony; 2) that it was in fact the ballistics gelatin of a subsonic bullet; and 3) that it was also misrepresented on a website created by Oswald-did-it theorist John McAdams, and convinced myself that this represented some sort of conspiracy. And yet I was wrong. I was right about points one and two, but they had an innocent explanation. And I was wrong about point 3 altogether. When I realized that it was possible Sturdivan had merely told me a cover story, and that it was also possible that Russ had deliberately misrepresented the exhibit on his website, I had a revelation. In that moment, I fully understood what I will call “the seduction of intrigue”. For a split second, it seemed rational to me to assume Sturdivan was lying etc… This was because I had quietly changed gears and begun thinking of reasons to believe I wasn’t wrong, rather than reasons to believe that I was right. It occurred to me that such thinking takes place when someone has spent a lot of time developing a theory, and someone else comes along and wrecks it. I at once understood why my presentation had upset so many alterationists, i.e. why they had refused to honestly look at my presentation etc. They’d thought so long and hard when developing their theories that they couldn’t bear to believe they’d been wrong. What had been their theory had become their religion.
I decided to lose my religion and accept that the mislabeling of F-114 had been some sort of mistake.
Only it turned out my bout with intrigue was far from over. In April, 2006, I acquired video footage of some of the HSCA hearings, including parts of Sturdivan’s testimony. Unfortunately, the footage of Sturdivan began just after he discussed F-114, so I was unable to determine whether he, in fact, said 800 feet or 800 meters. Nevertheless, when I compared the published transcripts of Sturdivan’s testimony against his actual testimony, a few new questions arose.
When I e-mailed Sturdivan and asked about these new (at least for me) discoveries, he was once again quite forthcoming. When asked why his published testimony reflects his actual words, when the testimony of Dr. Baden appears to have been significantly re-written, he replied “Perhaps Baden asked to be allowed to revise his own testimony, I don't know.” (Another witness, Jack White, told me that every witness was given the opportunity to change their testimony. Perhaps Sturdivan was simply not informed he could do so.) When I asked who changed the exhibit numbers in his testimony—Exhibit 583 was twice corrected to read Exhibit 853-- Sturdivan replied: “I guess Mathews corrected the exhibit numbers.” (Mathews refers to I. Charles Mathews, the HSCA Special Counsel responsible for Sturdivan’s testimony.) When I asked why some of the questions asked Sturdivan had been changed, Sturdivan’s response surprised me. He replied: “In the case of (Congressmen) Fauntroy and Ford, the staff probably published the questions as phrased on the script they were supposed to follow. Some of the Congressmen had trouble following the script -- or just did what politicians do; i.e., speak without thinking what they are trying to say, just because they like the sound of their own voices…” When I asked him WHAT script he was talking about, he clued me in on how the HSCA conducted its “public” hearings. (Dr. Baden had previously mentioned the use of scripts in his 1989 book Unnatural Death, but it had fallen below my radar). Sturdivan replied: “A couple of weeks before the open hearings, I got a copy of the questions to be asked, keyed to each Congressman in turn. I prepared my "probable answer" to each so that the staff and/or Congressman could pre-prepare any follow-up questions. I.e., the Committee's staff did it. I suggested a few changes to questions and a few additional questions to make the story more complete. However, the Congressmen had a lot of trouble following the script. Some asked questions I had already been asked by another person and did not ask some of the questions they were scripted to ask. As a result the story got scrambled and less understandable.” In light of the fact that someone (probably Mathews) changed Sturdivan’s testimony to reflect the proper exhibit numbers, I asked Sturdivan if he remembered that he mis-spoke and said F-114 represented a bullet traveling 800 meters per second, or had simply assumed he’d done so. His response was illuminating: “The 800 meters per second, referring to F-114, is an obvious mistake. This is an M-193 bullet. Had it hit at 800 m/s, it would have been deformed, probably would have broken in two, and the bullet (or fragments) would have exited the block. 800 f/s is a handgun velocity that would have produced this type of picture. I don't know whether I said it wrong or they wrote it wrong or later changed it to be wrong.”
And there it sat until Christmas Eve, 2009, when I received a copy of Sturdivan's HSCA testimony from the Poage Library at Baylor University. I put the DVD in my DVD player, convinced that I would soon be able to resolve whether Sturdivan said "800 meters per second" and confused the HSCA, or said "800 feet per second," only to have some unidentified person change his testimony and exhibits to read "800 meters per second." But I was in for another surprise. Sturdivan said "F-114 is the same bullet at a lower velocity. That velocity would be encountered at about 800 meters per second", but then corrected himself and said "800 meters range." This was quite interesting. First of all, at all other points in his testimony, Sturdivan discussed bullet velocity in terms of feet per second, and here he was discussing a bullet's velocity in meters down range. By describing the bullet in such a manner, Sturdivan thereby hid from the record that the bullet tested was not fired from 800 meters down range, but was a reduced charge bullet designed to simulate the effects of a bullet fired from 800 meters down range. Such a bullet was subsonic. Such a bullet was the type used in weapons designed for silent killing.
In retrospect, Sturdivan's verbal gymnastics only made sense. Sturdivan was, after all, testifying on behalf of a government widely suspected of assassinating its President. He'd done work for the military. Included in this work was studying the wounding effects of the subsonic ammunition used in assassination weapons. Needless to say, this was not a topic the committee would want him to touch upon. And so he testified not how fast the bullet was traveling, but how far down range it would normally take the bullet to slow to that speed. And screwed up.
But it's not as simple as that. While on the surface it seems possible Sturdivan's mistaken claim the bullet was traveling 800 meters per second led someone to not only include this mistake in the transcript, but mistakenly re-title his exhibit, this fails to explain why Sturdivan's correction, "800 meters range," was left off his testimony. He was clearly correcting himself. And his words were clearly spoken.
This effectively puts me back where I began, wondering why the exhibit title was changed, and wondering whether it's just a coincidence that this exhibit was of a bullet type used in assassination weapons.
But it also takes me further. In finding that Sturdivan's correction had been omitted from the transcript of his testimony, a door was opened to the possibility that much of what we know FROM SWORN TESTIMONY, is an inaccurate presentation of said testimony.
We'll get back to this in a minute...
The Seduction of Intrigue
While trying to figure out if the bullet fired in F-114 had indeed been subsonic, I discovered that there was an historical basis for my suspicion that a small caliber weapon firing subsonic ammunition had been used in the assassination. While reading about the CIA’s overthrow of the Guatemalan Government in 1954, I discovered that, among the supply lists, lists of communists to be killed after the take-over, and other documents released in 1997, there was a CIA Manual on Assassination. In this manual there were several relevant passages. At one point, when discussing the advantages and disadvantages of assassinating people with firearms, the manual relates "Public figures or guarded officials may be killed with great reliability and some safety if a firing point can be established prior to an official occasion. The propaganda value of this system may be high.” (Note that the propaganda chief for this operation was future Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, who, shortly before his death, admitted an involvement in the Kennedy assassination to his son, and claimed David Morales, one of the CIA's para-military trainers for the Guatemalan Operation, and presumably one of those handing out the CIA' Manual on Assassination, was also involved.) Elsewhere, the manual deals specifically with the issue of subsonic charges, noting “pistols, submachine guns and any sort of improvised carbine or rifle which will take a low velocity cartridge can be silenced,” and then cautioning “Because permissible velocity is low, effective precision range is held to about 100 yards with rifle or carbine type weapons.”
Further confirmation came from studying the supply lists prepared for the Guatemalan op. On one such list there is the surprising item ".22 cal. rifles w/silencers." As larger caliber rifles were available, this gives a clear indication that .22 caliber rifles with silencers were a preferred assassination weapon, and that the 100 yard limit mentioned in the assassination manual was true for these weapons. While I've taken a lot of guff from shooters about this, as they all seem convinced that a sniper rifle firing a small subsonic bullet would be nearly worthless at the distances of Dealey Plaza, I suspect their concern is overstated. Geoffrey Boothroyd, the English Firearms expert who advised James Bond creator Ian Fleming on the weapons described in his books, once famously wrote Fleming: "Silencers. These I do not like. The only excuse for using one is a .22 rifle using low-velocity ammunition, i.e., below the speed of sound." Former sniper Craig Roberts, in his book Kill Zone, moreover, wrote of his suspicion that a "CIA-issued .22 caliber Model 74 Winchester silenced sniper rifle" was fired at Kennedy, wounding him in the throat. Subsequent investigation on my part revealed that, yes indeed, the Winchester 74 sniper rifle pre-dated the assassination and is a semi-automatic weapon, meaning it could be fired quite rapidly, causing separate hits on Kennedy and Connally, and creating the illusion they were hit by the same bullet. I found a photo of such a rifle, furthermore, in the 1991 book OSS Special Weapons and Equipment by H. Keith Melton, an expert on the CIA and its predecessor, the OSS. This is reproduced below:Note that the range is 100 yards, the same as that of the assassination weapons described in the CIA Manual on assassination.
Elsewhere on the page, the advantages of such a rifle are further detailed.
"A Weapon that eliminates muzzle flash and muzzle noise offers several advantages to special forces personnel.
(1) The source
of the fire is masked.
(2) The location of the weapon is difficult for the enemy to pinpoint.
(3) The enemy can not identify the numbers or type(s) of weapons firing, or their range.
(4) The weapon has less recoil and is more accurate to fire.
(5) The enemy is harassed and confused.
(6) The sniper has a psychological advantage over the enemy."
at a swap meet, I came across an old book entitled Everyday Ballistics that
gave me more reason to believe such a weapon was used on 11-22-63. This book had
been the property of the U.S. Navy. In the chapter on bullet drop, it reports
that a fully charged .22 long rifle bullet--the type of bullet used in the Winchester 74 rifle--would only drop a foot or so over a
distance of 270 feet, the approximate distance from the roof of the Dal-Tex Building to Kennedy at frame 224 of the Zapruder film.
But what if the rifle was sighted in at 50 yards, and the bullet wasn't fired until Kennedy was 90 yards away? How far would it drop over that extra 40 yards?
Well, a chart found on gunsmoke.com provides us the answer. The chart tracking the bullet trajectory for a subsonic .22 long rifle round fired from a rifle sighted-in at 50 yards supports that such a bullet would drop down but 5 inches below the line of sight at 90 yards.
This chart also supports Everyday Ballistics' assertion that a subsonic bullet fired at 1000 fps would suffer less wind deflection than assumed. It reflects that a 15 mph crosswind would deflect such a bullet but 2.12 inches at 90 yards. Hmmm... From this it seems clear that a well-practiced shooter firing a silenced Winchester 74 or M-16 from the Dal-Tex Building could easily have hit Kennedy, or Connally, or both.
My study of the evidence suggests the use of such a weapon can not be ruled out. Upon further reading about the M-16, moreover, I realized that it fired three-round bursts in its semi-automatic setting. Since the wounds to Kennedy and Connally circa frame 224 were quite possibly caused by but two bullets, I now suspect the second rifle used in the assassination was a semi-automatic weapon quite similar to the one shown above.
that mean I think the CIA was involved? Not necessarily. Let’s just say that
the killers were probably aware of CIA assassination techniques, and may very
well have been CIA-trained. If the CIA suspected as much, it might very well
explain why the CIA has been less than forthcoming on so many aspects of the
after all this time, literally years spent on this investigation, I still think
it's possible that the numerous government lies I've uncovered are unrelated to
the assassination itself, and are more indicative of a vast cover-up of
information embarrassing to the U.S. Government and City of Dallas than a vast
conspiracy to kill Kennedy, and an ongoing conspiracy to cover-up this event.
sometimes I have to wonder... In early 2009, while preparing to mail out
something I'd sold over the internet, using an assumed name, I noticed that the
buyer's name was quite familiar. It was John McAdams, the Marquette University
Professor whose single-assassin theorist website remains top-ranked by google.
Now, by early 2009, I'd sold thousands of items over the internet, none to
anyone with whom I'd ever had any contact. And here was the one person with
whom I'd had regular contact--through the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup--who
was also widely rumored to be a CIA operative...and he was buying something
from me. Did he know the name under which I'd been selling my possessions? Was
he sending me a message? Was it even him?
to google his name along with the city provided on the address, to see if it
was indeed THE John McAdams, and not just A John McAdams. And I came across an
internet radio station programmed by THE John McAdams with the same home town.
Hmmm...I thought. So it is him... Now ain't that a coinkydink... But then I noticed
that the three rotating banner ads across the top of McAdams' radio station web
page were all sponsored by the CIA. All of 'em. There were other ads off to the
side. But the ads above McAdams' face were all CIA ads. Now what are the odds
of that? I have contact with one person rumored to be a CIA operative. I find a
photo of him online. Above this photo--by pure coincidence?--there are ads
placed by the CIA.
couldn't buy this was a coincidence. I decided that there must be some sort of
connection. It then hit me that most internet ads are placed by computer
programs, and that McAdams' having people google his name together with "CIA" may
have led some program to associate his name with the CIA, and place ads for the
CIA above his name and photo. I mentioned this possibility to a few JFK
assassination website owners and they told me that they agreed that this was indeed the most
months later, however, McAdams himself insisted this wasn't so. McAdams had
stupidly called one of the website owners I'd consulted a
"fascist". This, in turn, led me to point out that this man had
defended McAdams when I had asked him if the CIA ads had been more than a
coincidence. McAdams then grew quite defensive, and claimed that the appearance
of these ads above his face was obviously a coincidence, and that only a kook
or loony would think otherwise. When I mentioned that it seemed perfectly
reasonable to me to assume that someone at the CIA considered his JFK website a
friendly website, and wanted to reward him by supporting his music web page,
John fought this as well, insisting that, since CIA ads could be found on the
home page of the website hosting his radio station, it was all obviously just a
coincidence. In the end, he was unwilling to accept any possibility that the
ads on his web page were more than a coincidence, even if this possibility
reflected no wrong-doing on his part.
we were again...at a cognitive divide. Perhaps then, conspiracy theorists are
those who see something unlikely--like the one person you know who might have
connections to the CIA having CIA ads on the website of their internet radio station--as suspicious, while
those denying the possibility of conspiracy see this same event as just
another, yawn, coincidence. One side sees what could be a coincidence as a
possible clue, while the other side sees what could be a clue as an obvious
said, there's no getting around the nightmarish ramifications of the HSCA's
questions and answers having been scripted and re-written, with certain
substantive statements excised from the record. This means the supposed
"historical record" of the hearings most commonly used by
historians--the transcripts--are not reliable records of what actually
transpired. Still, this problem is partially offset by the fact there are video
and audio tapes of much of the testimony, which may one day be widely
available. But what about the Warren
Commission? Their hearings were not only conducted in secret, they were not
recorded in any way, outside the transcripts. Could their transcripts have been
changed as well?
Unfortunately, yes. We know, beyond any doubt, that at least some of the transcripts have been doctored. An apparently unedited transcript of Jacqueline Kennedy's testimony, we should recall, revealed that she originally reported that Governor Connally screamed "like a stuck pig" when shot. This reference was deleted from the published transcript. An 8-28-64 memorandum from Commission Counsel Wesley Liebeler, in which he cites an early version of the commission's report, moreover, quotes the testimony of the FBI's fiber expert Paul Stombaugh as follows: "In my mind I feel that these fibers came from this shirt, but I know of no scientific method to prove this, so therefore I am unable to say this." This differs greatly from the same paragraph in the commission's published volumes, where his words were changed to "There is no doubt in my mind that these fibers could have come from the shirt. There is no way, however, to eliminate the possibility of the fibers having come from another identical shirt." As the former line appears nowhere in the published transcript, and reads much more like human speech, it seems apparent that this line was re-written and that the new line was added into both the transcript and the report in the final days of the Commission's existence, when their sole focus was on the issuance of the report.
When one delves even deeper into the commission's files, this mystery grows even more mysterious. In the commission's Key Persons file on Stombaugh, now available on the National Archives website, there is an 8-4-64 memo from J. Edgar Hoover outlining a number of changes that should be made to Stombaugh's testimony. Hoover notes that these changes are to be made "In accordance with the oral request of Mr. Howard Willens." Now, this is troubling enough. The Warren Commission's staff, while preparing their final report, sent the testimony of the FBI's experts back to the FBI and requested that confusing or otherwise undesirable sections be corrected by the FBI, as opposed to the men who'd actually testified. But there's something even more troubling. The change in Stombaugh's testimony proved by Liebeler's 8-28-64 memo was not among these changes. This, then, suggests that Stombaugh's testimony was sent back yet again, after 8-28-64, and changed yet again, but that no memo was created to reflect these subsequent changes.
This should force us to question what else was changed,
when, why, and by whom. It should also make us wonder what guarantees were used to make
sure that changes like this one, presumably undertaken to remove the
implication of Stombaugh's words--that if there was a scientific method to
prove the fibers on the gun came from Oswald's shirt he would have gladly said
it had been proven--were the exception, and not the rule, and that greater,
more substantive changes were not made as well.
This is a
real concern. In 1992, a presumably unaltered transcript of the 4-30-64
testimony of FBI paper expert James Cadigan was released by the National
Archives. As reported by Jim Marrs, this transcript revealed that, when asked
if he knew why an identification card of Oswald's was damaged by silver
nitrate, a chemical used to unveil hidden fingerprints, Cadigan responded
"I could only speculate...It may be that there was a very large volume of
evidence being examined at the time. Time was of the essence, and this
material, I believe, was returned to the Dallas Police within two or three
days, and it was merely in my opinion a question of time. We have a very large volume of evidence. There
was insufficient time to desilver it. And I think in many instances where
latent prints are developed they do not desilver it." Well, one can see
how the FBI might find this embarrassing. But this was sworn testimony,
supposedly taken to create a permanent record of the murder of a president and
its aftermath. How can changing Cadigan's rambling answer to "No, this is
a latent fingerprint issue", as was done, possibly be justified?
when, as Marrs reports, the cover sheet to the transcript reveals
"Stenotype Tape, Master Sheets, Carbon and Waste turned over to Commission
for destruction"? I mean, how is this even legal? If anonymous FBI
officials and political appointees have the right to change the words of people
representing the Bureau in sworn testimony, and to destroy the record of what's
been changed, who is responsible if the changes amount to perjury? Someone in
the Bureau who never appeared in court? Or the man with the lies shoved in his
mouth? I mean, don't the accused have the right to face their accuser, and not
have their accuser hide in an office and sneak words into the transcripts of others?
cornerstone of the judicial process--the taking of sworn testimony under
penalty of perjury--was undermined by the very body tasked with protecting the
integrity of the judicial process--the FBI--and done so as a matter of
routine--should not be readily dismissed.
then, with time, a scholar will undertake the journey of reading through all
the available transcripts, and all the versions of the report, and note the
changes, and note all the quotes that were changed in the process. Such an
undertaking would be of enormous interest to historians, and possibly win the
undertaker a prize or two.
The Time for Tests
then, how about helping me conduct some tests?
that's right. While I doubt we'll ever know exactly who killed Kennedy, I
believe whole-heartedly that a series of tests can be conducted which will
determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not Oswald fired all the shots.
Here are four that come to mind, in order of priority:
In Test 1 a movie camera like Zapruder's would film simulated shootings of skulls, from a distance comparable to the distance of Zapruder from Kennedy. The shots would be fired at both the entrance described at autopsy and the entrance determined by the HSCA. From this test it could be determined if the Zapruder film should have shown blood spray from the back of Kennedy's head, should he actually have been shot in the back of the head at Z-313. Should it seem likely no bullet impacted on the back of Kennedy's head at 313, needless to say, it could lead to a whole new understanding of the case.
In Test 2 Dr. Olivier's 1964 tests of the effects of M/C ammunition on human skulls would be duplicated, but with a focus on the entrance wound. Should it appear that all the bullets striking the back of the head fragment upon impact, as Olivier concluded, and should it be clear that these fragmenting bullets create entrance wounds much larger than the small entrance wound observed by the doctors at autopsy, as I propose, it could lead to a whole new understanding of the case.
In Test 3, simulated heads placed on simulated necks would be shot at both the proposed
entrance locations and exit locations, from a variety of angles, while the head
is tilted to the left, to see if the "first forward, and then back-and-to-the-left"
movement of Kennedy after frame 312 can be replicated. Should the movement be
replicated via an impact at the supposed exit, from either in front, as most conspiracy theorists believe, or from
behind, as I propose, it could lead to a whole new understanding of the case.
finally, in Test 4, Kennedy and Connally dummies would be placed in their
relative positions at Z-220--Z-224. Shots would then be fired at these dummies
from both the relative location of the sniper's nest using a bolt-action rifle,
and the relative location of the upper floors or roof of the Dal-Tex Building
using a semi-automatic weapon firing sub-sonic ammunition. From this test it could
be determined if the single-bullet theory is more feasible than a semi-automatic
weapon's striking both Kennedy and Connally. Should it seem more likely the
shots were fired from the Dal-Tex, it could lead to a whole new understanding
of the case.
Of course, there are other tests that can be performed to help illuminate the true strength or weakness of the case presented against Oswald.
In Test 5 the proportions of the bag in the Archives would be used to create a paper bag, and this bag would then be photographed in the possession of a man the size of L.D. Montgomery by a variety of photographers, using a variety of lenses. If the press photos of Montgomery holding the bag outside the depository could be replicated, well, I'll eat the cowboy hat I used in my own attempt to replicate the photos. If not, well, then, at least a partial FRAME-UP of Oswald would be proved, and John McAdams and Craig Lamson would owe me an apology.
Test 6 would be another test whose results I suspect we already know. A person would handle and fire a rifle like Oswald's while wearing a shirt like Oswald was wearing when arrested. The rifle would then be dusted aggressively for fingerprints. If a tuft of fibers from the shirt was then found stuck in a crevice of the butt plate, on top of the dusting powder, we could then sleep well that night. If not, well then we would have more evidence for what we should already suspect: that the case against Oswald was in large part a FRAME-UP.
Tests 7 and 8 would be a little trickier and would test the finger and palm prints used in the case against Oswald. In Test 7, a palm print would be added to a rifle barrel through a number of means, including the handling of the rifle, and the planting of an inked print on the rifle. These prints would then be removed from the rifle and compared to the print purportedly pulled off Oswald's rifle. The rifle would then be dusted. This could very well yield interesting results, and shed light on the likelihood the palm print purportedly removed from the rifle had ever been on the rifle, and whether or not the FBI should have found remnants of this print. In Test 8, the trigger guard prints would be freshly analyzed by an impartial team of experts not knowing the identity of the prints on which they were working, to see if any or all of the prints are in fact Oswald's prints, as purported.
The Time for Panels
Should one not have the time, finances, or ability to perform such tests, however, one can continue pushing the case in a positive direction by shoring up or debunking my claims the HSCA's investigation was inadequate. Here are but a few of the areas that need to be reviewed by scholars and scientists.
1. The HSCA's pathology panel claimed a bullet entered the cowlick area at the top of the back of Kennedy's head, and left a small red oval entrance in the cowlick area of the scalp. No such entrance was noted by anyone viewing the President's body. Those noting the entrance swore it was down by the hairline. My study of cognitive psychology and forensic pathology suggests this would be unlikely should the wound have been 4 inches higher on the back of the head, as purported by the HSCA panel. A panel of cognitive psychologists and forensic pathologists needs to be convened to determine the likelihood of such a mistake.
2. The HSCA's pathology panel also claimed this bullet broke up upon entry, and left a large fragment from the middle of the bullet at the margins of the entrance wound. My study of wound ballistics suggests this to have been most unlikely. A panel of ballistics experts needs to be convened to establish the likelihood that a bullet breaking up in such a fashion would leave so small an entrance wound.
3. The panel's radiology consultants also noted the presence of metal fragments at the top of Kennedy's head, inches away from the purported entry. My study of the radiology of gunshot wounds suggests this would be unlikely, should but one bullet have entered on the back of the head, as proposed by the HSCA panel. A panel of radiology experts needs to be convened to determine 1) if these fragments were indeed outside the skull, and 2) the likelihood they would end up in this location should the bullet have broken up upon entry in the cowlick, as proposed by the HSCA panel.
4. The emergency room doctors viewing the President's body at Parkland Hospital and the autopsy surgeons viewing his body at Bethesda Hospital all noted a significant portion of missing scalp corresponding to the large defect on Kennedy's skull. Forensic texts have subsequently made the claim such missing scalp can be taken as an indication this defect was an entrance, not exit. This led the HSCA pathology panel to presume all these doctors were mistaken. A panel of cognitive psychologists and wound ballistics experts needs to be convened to determine 1) the likelihood these men were all mistaken, and, 2) if the reported lack of scalp is indeed indicative of entrance.
5. In order to explain the "back-and-to-the-left" movement of Kennedy's head apparent in the Zapruder film, the HSCA's experts claimed both that he'd suffered a neuro-anatomic response to being shot in the head, and that the rush of blood from his head had created a "jet effect." My study of these issues has led me to doubt both these explanations. A panel of wound ballistics experts needs to be convened to determine the likelihood of these explanations, and to determine further if the "back-and-to-the-left" movement can be better explained by Kennedy's being hit on the top right side of his head from behind.
6. The HSCA pathology panel also noted air in Kennedy's neck, which was apparent on the x-rays. They claimed this could have come as a result of Kennedy's tie blocking off the hole in his throat, whereby air from the hole in his trachea backed up into his neck. This reeks of desperation. A panel of wound ballistics experts needs to be convened to determine the likelihood of such a claim, and if this air might be better explained by a bullet or bullet fragment's having traveled down Kennedy's neck. This panel would, of course, have to study this issue independent of all other factors.
7. The HSCA pathology panel also claimed a bullet entered Kennedy's back at the T-1 level and traversed his neck, exiting from middle of his throat at a point slightly above the level of entry. This entrance was purportedly two inches to the right of his spine. My study of the anatomy of this region suggests such a trajectory would intersect the transverse process of the spine, and pass through a thicket of major blood vessels. A panel of wound ballistics and anatomy experts needs to be consulted to determine the likelihood a bullet on such a trajectory would nick or smash through the spine, and nick or smash through the major vessels of the neck.
8. The experts of both the Warren Commission and HSCA concluded that a Mannlicher-Carcano bullet traversing Kennedy's back without hitting bone would be slowed by the time it hit Governor Connally's back, and that this slowing would explain the lack of damage to the bullet after striking Connally's rib. The numbers presented in support of this, however, have been inconsistent and suspect. A panel of wound ballistics experts needs to be convened to determine the truth of the matter.
Should one not be a scholar or scientist, of course, one can build upon my research and search the available literature for studies and reports not discovered by myself, and then use these materials to further discredit the many dubious conclusions of the HSCA's experts and panels.
It is my fervent belief that such an effort will eventually lead to a tipping point, where even the mainstream media comes to recognize that the conclusions of the HSCA's experts are suspect, and that a re-appraisal of the assassination is both desirable and necessary.
In conclusion, I should
make it clear I don’t pretend to know who killed Kennedy. The decision within
the Johnson Administration to shut down independent inquiry and staunchly
defend the flawed conclusions of the Warren Commission does not in itself prove
that anyone within the administration was involved in the murder itself, or was
deliberately covering up a conspiracy.
By way of example, when one studies Lyndon Johnson's expansion of the
Vietnam War, one finds that Johnson would frequently worry out loud to his
advisers and make them uncomfortable, so uncomfortable in fact that they would
tell him what they thought he wanted to hear just so they could leave the room.
While this may have been a deliberate tactic of Johnson’s designed to get
others to back him on controversial decisions (he would often misrepresent what
amounted to a capitulation on the part of one of his advisers as a ringing
endorsement, saying “I’m just a poor old country schoolteacher, but Walt
Rostow’s from Harvard, and he says we oughta bomb that country into the stone
age, etc.”), it's possible this was merely an unfortunate aspect of his
character, and one which prevented his receiving the best advice from his best
advisers. As a result, it seems plausible that men such as Assistant Attorney
General Katzenbach, FBI Director Hoover, and even Chief Justice Earl Warren
took from their meetings with Johnson that he’d be much more comfortable if the
investigation didn’t really dig too deep, and that he (the President) felt this
would be the best course of action for the country, for national security
purposes, etc. and that they then took it upon themselves to alleviate his
concerns. This may not have been his overtly expressed desire. The Watergate
burglary and the Iran/Contra scandals are perfect examples of crimes committed
and covered up in the President’s name, without the President’s full knowledge
That said, it hardly seems
likely that, should Johnson have wanted the Warren Commission to say Oswald
acted alone, he would have been shy about letting his feelings be known. It is
indisputable that, once he became President, the Senate's investigation into
the crimes of his close associate Bobby Baker slowed to a halt. It is also
indisputable that a January 10, 1964 phone conversation between Johnson and
Senator George Smathers captured the two men discussing the investigation and
figuring out how to get the Republican Senators pushing the investigation to
"behave". Irregardless of whether Johnson passively or actively
pushed a cover-up, however, it is clear that an inadequate investigation
occurred on his watch. It took the United States 90 years to correct
its official view on slavery; one can only hope the government’s forthcoming
admission it erred on the Kennedy assassination will not take as long.
But in the meantime, I’m
hopeful I’ve been able to show those who habitually claim there’s just not one
“scintilla” of evidence for a conspiracy that there is, in fact, a whole
boatload of scintillas. No, scratch
that, a flotilla of scintillas. If
nothing else, I pray my efforts have lessened the chances of anyone taking the
“not one scintilla” argument seriously. In Latin, scintilla means spark. If the
evidence in this presentation has sparked your curiosity, then you should
conclude there is a scintilla of evidence.
For those of you still in
denial, in this presentation, it has been demonstrated that:
1. There was a verifiable lack of interest by
the FBI in uncovering the facts of Kennedy’s autopsy.
2. The drawings of Kennedy's wounds prepared by the autopsy doctors
and presented to the Warren Commission were made without the use of the doctors' measurements of the President’s wound locations. They presented a grossly
distorted picture of Kennedy's wounds. This distorted picture, moreover, helped sell the single-assassin conclusion. During his testimony, Dr. Humes misled the Commission about the
use of measurements in creating these drawings. This seems more than a coincidence.
3. There was a verifiable lack of interest on
the part of the Warren Commission in determining the facts regarding the
President’s wounds, and how these related to the possibility of conspiracy.
4. The assassination re-enactment on May 24,
1964 was deliberately not as accurate as it could have been, in ways that
indicate it was designed not to uncover the likelihood of the single-bullet
theory, but merely whether it was remotely possible.
5. Warren Commission counsel Arlen Specter
elicited knowingly false testimony about this re-enactment from Secret Service
Agent Thomas Kelley. This false testimony obscured the fact that Specter and
Kelley had used the autopsy photos to determine the location of the President's
back wound in order to best test the possibility a bullet entering this
location from a rifle in the sniper's nest could exit the President's neck
wound and go on to hit Governor Connally in his right armpit. That no photos of the location used were entered into
evidence, and that Kelley
falsely claimed they'd used the drawings created by the doctors in order to establish
this location, suggests that both men were in fact engaged in a massive deception.
Perjury and subornation of perjury.
6. A report was created in 1967 that misrepresented the autopsy photos of the President at the very time CBS News was pressuring the administration to create a report confirming that these photographs supported the conclusions of the Warren Commission.
7. When interviewed for the subsequent CBS TV special by Dan Rather, Dr. Humes lied and claimed the autopsy photos he'd recently viewed confirmed the wound locations on the inaccurate drawings he'd provided the Warren Commission. He later provided the ARRB with documents proving that this lie was included on a list of "talking points" provided him by the Justice Dept. in anticipation of his interview.
8. Another report on the medical evidence was created in 1968, and
released in the final days of the Johnson Administration. This report is clearly inaccurate in its assertion that Kennedy's back wound was well-above his throat wound. Its re-appraisal of the President’s
head wounds is also in conflict with the published autopsy photos and X-rays.
9. This incorrect appraisal of the head wound
was seconded by the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel in 1979. To support their
conclusions a number of contradictory exhibits were presented.
10. Dr. Michael Baden presented an important
exhibit to the HSCA upside down, and inaccurately depicted the President's head
wounds to the committee. He made statements in his testimony that, when compared
to the pathology report created by his panel, reflected his total confusion
about Kennedy’s head wounds. He also
misled the committee about Dr. Humes' Warren Commission testimony about the head wounds.
11. The enhanced X-rays as
presented by the HSCA were cropped in a suspicious manner, with areas of
supreme interest in the un-enhanced x-ray, the occipital region of the skull
and the upper cervical region of the neck, deliberately excluded.
12. The interpretations of the autopsy photos and
x-rays by the HSCA’s various panels and consultants were frequently in
disagreement with each other. The committee for the most part ignored these
conflicts, and presented the reports of the consultants as if they had all been
accepted by the committee. While this
may have spared the doctors some embarrassment, it left an extremely confusing
13. The X-rays as
presented included fractures and fragments that were in conflict with the
HSCA’s conclusions on the head wounds. While some of these items of interest
were acknowledged by the HSCA’s radiology consultants, they were left
unexplained by the pathology panel.
14. The HSCA’s trajectory
analysis was conducted against the advice of both its forensic pathology panel
and wound ballistics expert and presented false depictions of both Governor
Connally’s position in the car at Zapruder frame 190, and President Kennedy’s
posture at frame 313. These false representations supported the committee’s
conclusions on the single-bullet theory and its assertion that Oswald fired all
the bullets striking Kennedy. The "expert" leading this analysis, furthermore, testified that he'd used the precise measurements of Kennedy's skull while creating exhibits depicting the bullet trajectory through Kennedy's skull, but then changed these measurements after he was told the bullet entrance was in a different location. This is clear-cut evidence, proof even, that his "analysis" was a fraud created to tell the public the bullets were all fired from the school book depository sniper's nest.
15. The conclusions of the
bullet lead analysis performed on behalf of the HSCA were almost certainly
incorrect and were undoubtedly in conflict with the earlier and subsequent
writings of its author. These
conclusions were also in conflict with the guidelines of the FBI in place at
16. The exhibit titles and testimony of the
HSCA’s wound ballistics expert were changed in such a manner as to disguise
that he'd been studying the wound ballistics of subsonic ammunition. This was
apparently done on purpose and without his knowledge.
17. The single-bullet theory simulations and
recreations shown on TV in recent years have all been deceptive in one way or
another. None of them present the proportions of Kennedy and the locations of
his wounds accurately. They are quite often deceptive about Connally’s position
in the limousine as well. Even worse,
neither the Warren Commission, nor any of the subsequent medical panels, nor
any of the television programs defending the single-bullet theory, have demonstrated
the internal passage of the magic bullet through Kennedy and, specifically, how
this bullet evaded bone.
18. The autopsy photos and x-rays available on
the internet, whose authenticity has been acknowledged by several of those
who’ve inspected the originals, reveal an entrance on the skull right where the
autopsy doctors said it was. I am at a loss to explain why so many men who’ve
viewed the originals of these photos and x-rays, lone-nut theorist and
conspiracy theorist alike, including the autopsy doctors themselves, have
failed to notice this entrance. If this failure is due purely to human error,
then perhaps many of the suspicious “mistakes” listed above are not so
suspicious at all. Perhaps the level of
competence we expect from our “experts” is simply unrealistic.
Or perhaps I am simply wrong in my appraisal of these photos and x-rays. That's certainly possible. So let's take one last look... And decide, once and for all. Here are two GIF files put together by John Mytton, and posted on the JFK Assassination Forum, which show both that the autopsy photos taken from various angles show the large head wound to be in the same place, and that there is a small hole on the back of the head near the hairline.
Do you see what could be a hole, which is at the 1 o'clock position from the brain matter by the hairline, or not?
Do you see what could be a hole, at the 2 o'clock position to this first possible hole, or not?
And is the head tilted back in this photo, or not?And, when the tilt of the head is corrected in your interpretation of this photo, do these two possible holes correlate to the level of the middle part of the ear, or not?
And are the two possible holes at the level of the middle part of the ear in this photo within a few cms of the location of the hole on Kennedy's skull as recalled by Dr.s Humes and Boswell, and depicted on Warren Commission CE 386 (below), or not?
And, if not, what is it? Is it "congealed blood," as claimed by the only Dr. to view the photos and comment?
But am I wrong about all of this?
Has my Gump-like quest been in vain?