Vincent Bugliosi is the Real Oliver Stone
by Patrick Speer
Part 1: A Book for the Ages
In May 2007, a mammoth book was released defending the
Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. This book was entitled Reclaiming History and it was written by Vincent Bugliosi.
On the website of his publisher, W. W. Norton, the following description of Bugliosi's epic was posted:
- The book that lays all questions to rest.
- Polls reveal that over 75 percent of Americans believe there was a conspiracy behind Lee Harvey Oswald; some even believe Oswald was entirely innocent. In this absorbing and historic book—the first ever to cover the entire case—Vincent Bugliosi shows how we have come to believe such lies about an event that changed the course of history.
- The brilliant prosecutor of Charles Manson and the man who forged an iron-clad case of circumstantial guilt around O. J. Simpson in his best-selling Outrage, Bugliosi is perhaps the only man in America capable of "prosecuting" Oswald for the murder of President Kennedy. His book is a narrative compendium of fact, forensic evidence, reexamination of key witnesses, and common sense. Every detail and nuance is accounted for, every conspiracy theory revealed as a fraud upon the American public. Bugliosi's irresistible logic, command of the evidence, and ability to draw startling inferences shed fresh light on this American nightmare. At last we know what really happened. At last it all makes sense. 32 pages of illustrations.
To promote the book, Bugliosi and his publisher embarked on a weeks-long media blitz.
On May 10, 2007, a review of the book was published in the L.A. Times. The writer of this review, Jim Newton, was not exactly a disinterested party, as, only months before, he had released a book with the shared goal of resurrecting the reputation of Chief Justice Earl Warren. A sample of this review:
- Bugliosi worked for 20
years on this book, bringing
his legal skills to bear.
Weighing in at more than
1,600 pages, it offers a minutely detailed recreation of Kennedy's assassination and
features the legendary
(often gleeful) debunking of
various conspiracy theories, concluding that Lee
Harvey Oswald did indeed
- After reading what may be Bugliosi's crowning work (more than 1,600 pages, not to mention an additional 1,100 pages of notes on an accompanying CD), one thinks: At last, someone has done it, put all the pieces together. "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" is important not just because it's correct, though it is. It's significant not just because it is comprehensive -- surely, no one will deny that. It is essential, first and foremost, because it is conclusive. From this point forward, no reasonable person can argue that Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent; no sane person can take seriously assertions that Kennedy was killed by the CIA, Fidel Castro, the Mob, the Soviets, the Vietnamese, Texas oilmen or his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson -- all of whom exist as suspects in the vacuous world of conspiracy theorists. Each may be guilty of crimes, but none had anything to do with Kennedy's assassination. "Reclaiming History" may finally move those accusations beyond civilized debate.
- Bugliosi...begins by re-creating the events of the assassination, describing the investigations into that terrible day and examining the evidence collected by the various police agencies, the FBI, the commission led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and others. Bugliosi is a keen analyst of that material; his dissection of the medical evidence is particularly telling. He establishes that Oswald fired three shots from the window of the Texas School Book Depository. One missed; one hit Kennedy in the upper back, then passed through his body and pierced then-Texas Gov. John B. Connally; the third struck Kennedy in the back of the head, killing him.
- Those who come to Bugliosi's book with sympathy for conspiracy theories may wince at the punishment he inflicts across so many pages. He suffers no fools, and Kennedy's assassination has produced more than its share of foolish speculators; he will make some enemies with this work. It seems fair to say that he's unlikely to care.
- Bugliosi's book isn't for everyone. It is, by his admission, one of "abnormal length." Its organization -- a scintillating, minute-by-minute account of the events surrounding the assassination that segues into long chapters examining aspects of the case in fine detail -- results in a certain amount of repetition.
- But no serious scholar of the president's assassination will ever write again on the subject without citing Bugliosi. And there are more works to come -- most promising, a long-awaited look at the Warren Commission from author Max Holland ("The Kennedy Assassination Tapes").
- No doubt there also will be more works of confusion and idiocy. Happily, however, from this point forward, all contributors to the field must build on "Reclaiming History."
- With this work, Bugliosi has definitively explained the murder that recalibrated modern America. It is a book for the ages.
On May 12, 2007, links to a video-taped interview of Bugliosi were posted on assassination-related newsgroups. In this video, Bugliosi explained his decision to devote so much time to his book. The words he used seemed oddly familiar. He said: "I think the assassination is a significantly important event, sufficiently important to warrant that there be a book for the ages about it. And Reclaiming History is that book. When I started writing the book it was to write a book for the ages about the Kennedy assassination, and that's precisely what it is...It's a book for the ages." Strangely prescient, this interview was supposedly filmed on 4-30-07, ten days before the publication of Newton's review calling Reclaiming History "a book for the ages."
On May 14. 2007, a review written by Bryan Burrough, a special correspondent at Vanity Fair, was published in the New York Times. A sample of this review:
- Putting aside its ridiculous length, I have to say “Reclaiming History” is in spots a delight to read. Bugliosi is refreshing because he doesn’t just pick apart the conspiracy theorists. He ridicules them, and by name, writing that “most of them are as kooky as a $3 bill.” Bugliosi calls the dean of conspiracy buffs, Mark Lane, “unprincipled” and “a fraud.” He quotes Harold Weisberg, the author of eight conspiracy-themed books, admitting that after 35 years of research, “much as it looks like Oswald was some kind of agent for somebody, I have not found a shred of evidence to support it.”
- What Bugliosi has done is a public service; these people should be ridiculed, even shunned. It’s time we marginalized Kennedy conspiracy theorists the way we’ve marginalized smokers; next time one of your co-workers starts in about Oswald and the C.I.A., make him stand in the rain with the other outcasts. “Reclaiming History,” though, is more than a critical analysis. Bugliosi knows how to construct a narrative, and his 316-page retelling of those “four days in November,” a book in itself, is as good a second-by-second reconstruction of the assassination and its aftermath as I’ve read.
in the arguing that Bugliosi, as a former prosecutor, truly shines.
When he gets down to the sweaty business of wrestling the conspiracy
buffs, he charges into the ring as a righteous avenger, body-slamming
everyone from Lane to Oliver Stone; he even throws a headlock on poor
Gerald Posner, who actually agrees with him.
- This book should be applauded; I’m not sure, however, that it should be read. At this length, “Reclaiming History” is the literary equivalent of World War I, a kind of trench warfare for the mind. Is anyone really expected to read the whole thing?...Other than masochistic conspiracy buffs, I cannot imagine a soul who will.
- Bugliosi senses this. “Many other readers,” he writes, “will say to themselves, ‘Why does he keep piling one argument upon another to prove his point? He’s already made it 12 ways from Sunday, so why go on?’ To those readers I say that the Warren Commission also made its point, and well, over 40 years ago, yet today the overwhelming majority of Americans do not accept its conclusion. ... Hence, the overkill in this book is historically necessary.”
- He’s probably right, which is a shame. In an age when people under 30 seem to get their news from Jon Stewart or some guy who still lives in his mother’s basement, most Americans probably do believe that there was a conspiracy, and that it involved our own government. In other words, Oliver Stone — for crying out loud, Oliver Stone — is more believable than Earl Warren, the F.B.I. or any of the august Americans who vetted the Warren Commission report. Well, after Watergate, Cambodia, Iran-contra, Monica’s stained dress and weapons of mass destruction, I guess that’s understandable. Go ahead and buy this book if you feel the need to poke the conspiracy-mongers in the eye, or if you’ve got a month or four to kill. Just be careful about the coffee table. It might break.
In the days and weeks that followed, equally positive reviews were published in The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The St. Louis Press-Dispatch, The Washington Times, and The International Criminal Justice Review (to name but a few). During these weeks Bugliosi criss-crossed the country on a promotional tour, making short appearances on TV and radio, and delivering a semi-scripted speech before large groups. At the outset of this speech, not surprisingly, he regularly quoted the L.A. Times in describing his book as "a book for the ages".
On May 27, 2007, Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, reviewed the book for the Washington Post. Here is a sample of his review:
- To say that Bugliosi wants to strike a nail in the coffin of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists is putting it mildly; he wants to drive a tractor trailer through their ranks and scatter everyone in sight. Is such an effort really necessary? I am afraid it is, which is another way of saying that we ought to be grateful for Bugliosi's obsession.
- Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed John F. Kennedy. Absent a trial proving his guilt, Bugliosi, author of Helter Skelter, has offered the next best thing: a prosecutor's air-tight brief that leaves no reasonable doubt. A short review cannot possibly do justice to the case he assembles, so let me just offer a taste of Bugliosi's methods. The first thing he does is to describe, in exhaustive detail, everything that happened on the day Kennedy was shot. Then, in the second half of the book, Bugliosi takes each of the leading conspiracy theories -- that there was a second Oswald, that the mob plotted the assassination, that the CIA did it and so on -- and demolishes their claims.
- If you read, or even read around in this book and still come to the conclusion that Oswald was part of a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, you are likely to believe that black helicopters have been sent by the feds to enforce the Endangered Species Act.
- Bugliosi is right that this case is, and
ought to be, closed. And I share his distaste for the wild
finger-pointing and often paranoid reasoning of the Warren Report's
critics, from the overweening New York State Assemblyman Mark Lane in
the 1960s to the irresponsible filmmaker Oliver Stone in the 1990s.
Still, maybe there should be a place kept for the conspiracy theory
buffs. After all, they care passionately about one of the most
important political events in our history. In an age of indifference,
their attention to public life, however corrosive, can be more valuable
than apathy and indifference.
September 18, 2007, the work of Bugliosi and his publicists, both paid
and unpaid, paid off. TimeWarner, the parent company of HBO revealed:
- HBO Films and Playtone have acquired Vincent Bugliosi's recent epic book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which debunks conspiracy theories to establish that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot the President on Nov. 22, 1963, it was announced today by Colin Callender, president, HBO Films. Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will executive produce the ten-part miniseries with Bill Paxton, the star of the HBO series Big Love, which Playtone produces in association with HBO...
- The project found its way to Playtone and HBO through the efforts of actor Bill Paxton, a native Texan who brought the recently published book to Hanks and Goetzman, his producers on HBO's Big Love. A native Texan, Paxton was a child when he accompanied his 11-year-old brother and father to an appearance that President Kennedy made in Paxton's hometown of Fort Worth on Nov. 22, 1963 before moving on to visit Dallas.
Bill Paxton had believed the hype.
And who could blame him?
Here was his chance to get involved in an important project, one reportedly "for the ages." Here was a golden opportunity to help Vincent Bugliosi in his quest to reclaim history from the distortions of conspiracy theorists, including but not limited to the much-vilified Oliver Stone.
But what Bill Paxton didn't realize is that Vincent Bugliosi is the real Oliver Stone.
Part 2: Throwing Stones
From the publicity campaign of Vincent Bugliosi's publisher, and the media praise for his book, someone not fully immersed in the historical facts of the assassination, such as Bill Paxton, would almost certainly have come to believe that Vincent Bugliosi is a meticulous researcher, with an unparalleled understanding of the case. He would also no doubt have come to believe that Bugliosi is nothing like Oliver Stone, a film maker who, in 1991, dared to make a film depicting what he described as a counter-myth to the officially-sanctioned myth that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy, and someone whose name is now bandied-about by conservatives the way Senator Joe McCarthy's name was once bandied about by liberals.
In interviews promoting his book, Bugliosi fed this impression. He repeated with regularity that "Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, is one continuous lie." In several of the interviews he went further and claimed that, with his film, Stone had committed "cinematic murder." Bugliosi's disdain for Stone was nothing new. Way back in 1992, shortly after the release of Stone's film, Bugliosi had complained that Stone "deliberately twisted and warped the record."
At that point in time Bugliosi's comments received scant attention, as he was simply piling on. Before Stone's film had even been completed, on May 14, 1991, Jon Margolis of the Dallas Morning News declared: "There is a point at which intellectual myopia becomes morally repugnant. Stone's new movie proves that he has passed that point." On December 15, 1991, in the New York Times, Tom Wicker complained that Stone "implies that anyone who doesn't share his one true faith is either an active part of a coverup or passively acquiescent of it...he uses the powerful instrument of a motion picture, and relies on stars of the entertainment world to propagate the one true faith." On December 17, in the Washington Post, Gerald Ford and David Belin asserted that charges in Stone's film "are a desecration to the memory of President Kennedy, a desecration to the memory of Earl Warren and a fraudulent misrepresentation of the truth to the American public." On December 23 an article in Newsweek pointedly called Stone's film "a work of propaganda." On December 25 Brent Staples of the New York Times complained that the film "contains one factual misstatement after another." On December 29 an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times boldly asserted that it was an "inaccurate and distorted motion picture". A December 30 article in the Los Angeles Times written by Richard Mosk, moreover, called Stone's film a "false history" and complained that "for motion picture moguls after a fast buck to portray fiction as fact and to assassinate the characters of of the living as well as the dead is irresponsible and inexcusable." On January 28,1992, in the Wall Street Journal, Joseph Califano, a former adviser to Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, denounced Stone's film as "a disgraceful concoction of lies and distortions". And finally, on April 2, 1992, the man in the middle, former Johnson assistant Jack Valenti, who, ironically enough, was then sitting at the helm of the Motion Picture Academy of America, shared his thoughts with the New York Times. Valenti called Stone's film a "hoax." He asserted that "In scene after scene Mr. Stone plasters together the half true and the totally false and from that he manufactures the plausible...In much the same way, young German boys and girls in 1941 were mesmerized by Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will in which Adolf Hitler was depicted as a newborn God."
And so Oliver Stone, a film maker who presented an admitted work of fiction, but one which felt more true to many than the official story told by the Warren Commission, was denounced as some sort of Nazi-styled propagandist, and by the head of the Motion Picture Academy of America no less.
With Reclaiming History, Bugliosi revived this line of attack:
- On page 1357 Bugliosi writes "When Stone was met with an unexpected avalanche of media criticism for the distortions and inventions in his movie around the time of release, some of which he was forced to acknowledge, he retreated by saying that the Warren Commission was a myth and JFK was a "counter-myth" but, obviously, he said this just to get him past the moment...You can't tell one major lie about the assassination after another for three consecutive hours, and with full knowledge that, as Vincent Canby says, 'anything shown in a movie tends to be taken as a truth,' and escape responsibility for your monstrous hoax by suggesting you are only presenting an alternative view for the audience's consideration."
- On page 1431, he continues to rail against Stone and his film: "the movie is virtually one continuous lie in which Stone couldn't find any level of deception and invention beyond which he was unwilling to go. And yet the whole thrust of the movie is that what was being depicted on the screen was the truth, and everyone else was lying...But Oliver, how can the truth be known when you did everything within your power to make sure that your audience never knew what the evidence showed the truth to be?"
- Shortly thereafter, Bugliosi engages in some amateur psychiatry, with Stone as his patient: "In achieving what he perceives to be a "higher truth" in the Kennedy assassination, he was willing to take enormous liberties with the truth, making him a classic example of one who believes that the end justifies the means."
- On page 1435, Bugliosi explains to his readers why he is different than Stone: “I believe that history is sacred and should not knowingly be tampered with. In imposing a narrative on a historical event, obviously a certain amount of dramatic license and embellishment is unavoidable, but even this device should be used with great caution and economy. Outright fabrications of important matters that necessarily cause viewers or readers to reach a different conclusion is a cultural crime. We can only ensure the past's future if we respect its truths.”
- On page 1436, he concludes his assessment of Stone: "the history of the assassination has not been forgotten by Oliver Stone. Except for those instances where ignorance is his only defense, it's been deliberately invented or ignored. That's fine. But he had a moral, if not a legal obligation, to tell his audience what he was up to...in his introduction to his friend Fletcher Prouty's book, Stone, alluding to the fact that the victor writes the history of an event, asks, 'Who owns reality? Who owns our history? He who makes it up so that most everyone believes it. That person wins.' For once, I agree with Oliver Stone. That is, unless the fabricator is exposed, as I trust I have done in this book."
these statements, it is clear that Bugliosi considers Stone's methods
reprehensible, and considers himself a more moral and trustworthy man than
Stone. But is this true?
In the Introduction to Reclaiming History, on page xxxix:, Bugliosi writes: "when anyone purporting to write the history of the event fabricates, distorts, or misleads about the facts of the case, it is not only advisable but incumbent upon those who subsequently write about the event to point out these lies and distortions. If they do not the lies themselves will harden in the future into "facts" and millions will be misled. This is precisely what has already happened in this case. After all, if future writers don't correct the errors and distortions of their predecessors, then who will? If they don't have the responsibility to do this, who does? Therefore, if those who follow me find that in writing this book I myself have taken liberties with the truth, I would expect them to bring this to the attention of their readers."
This brings us to the heart of our discussion.
Part 3: The Case Against Vincent Bugliosi
Explicit in Bugliosi's criticism of Stone and his film is that Stone, as a creator of narrative and of film, was under a special obligation to present the facts as accurately as possible. Implicit in this argument is that Bugliosi himself has presented his facts as accurately as possible in his book, and has not been deliberately deceptive. This, as we shall see, is untrue.
earlier discussions of Bugliosi's book, available online, I have
pointed out some glaring inconsistencies. On pages 421-423 of
Reclaiming History Bugliosi asserts that the entrance wound on Kennedy's back was
below the exit wound on his throat, but, as Kennedy was leaning forward when
hit, this still reflected a shot from above and behind. He cites the
expert opinions of the HSCA's medical panel in support of this
argument, and includes three illustrations to demonstrate how this
could be true. But then, on page 424, he declares that he personally
compared two autopsy photos, and that they prove the back wound was
actually above the throat wound. He never explains why his inexpert
analysis of these photos should be trusted over the analysis of the
"experts" he has just cited. On page 41 he writes that the second shot
was fired 4.9 seconds before the fatal head shot, which correlates to a
shot impacting around frame 224 of the Zapruder film. And yet, in the
second photo section, he proposes that the shot occurred within a split
second of frame 210 of the Zapruder film. And yet, on page 25 of his endnotes, he places this shot at "Z223--Z224." And yet, on page 325 of his endnotes, he writes "A bulging of the right lapel of the governor's suit coat may pinpoint the moment Governor Connally is hit to be at Z222–224." So he's inconsistent on this issue.
And that's just the beginning. On page 458, Bugliosi incorrectly
argues that Governor Connally's seat in the limousine was 6 inches
inboard of its right door, and that Governor Connally's right armpit
was therefore in perfect alignment to receive a bullet exiting
President Kennedy's throat. And yet, in the second photo section, he
presents a computer-generated image of the limousine based on a schematic of the
limousine, which reveals the seat to have been only 2.5 inches inboard
of the door.
These are, most likely, honest and understandable mistakes, revealing only that Bugliosi was human and unable to master the complex questions surrounding the medical evidence, the Zapruder film, and the precise locations of Kennedy and Connally within the limousine.
But there is an aspect to the case which requires no special knowledge, an aspect to the case that anyone with the ability to read can readily comprehend. This aspect, moreover, is the central pillar around which a seasoned prosecutor like Bugliosi would normally build his case. His source notes, in fact, display a clear familiarity with this aspect of the case.
This aspect is none other than the sworn statements and testimony of the eyewitnesses to the shooting.
would think that someone with Bugliosi's reputation and reverence for
history would treat the statements of these witnesses with respect.
But while reading Reclaiming History I found this was far from the case. As Valenti once said of Stone, Bugliosi "plasters together the half true and the totally false and from that he manufactures the plausible."
let's take a close look at how Mr. "narrative should be used with great
caution and economy" performs, when describing the central event of his
"book for the ages." Let's see if what Bugliosi has described as possibly the most-sourced book in non-fiction history is an accurate reflection of its sources, or just an accurate reflection of Bugliosi's desire to reclaim history for himself.
Before we can begin, however, we need to understand that among the questions about the case Bugliosi purports to answer is the timing of the shots that killed the President. On page 39, Bugliosi writes "First shot---:00.0 seconds BANG!," and describes reactions to this shot. On page 40, he writes "Second shot--:03.5 seconds BANG!" and describes reactions to this shot. And then on page 41, he writes "Third shot--:08.4 seconds BANG!" and describes reactions to this shot, which he asserts strikes Kennedy in the head. As these descriptions are in Book One of Reclaiming History, which Bugliosi modestly entitles "Matters of Fact--What Happened," and as he dedicates his book to the "historical record" which he holds to be "sacred," it is more than clear that Bugliosi is asserting that the timing of these shots, and the testimony he uses to describe these shots, is in keeping with the historical record, and is not just his gut feeling about what might have happened.
can put this to the test. As the final shot presented by Bugliosi
impacts on Kennedy's cranium at frame 313 of Abraham Zapruder's film
of the shooting, and as Zapruder's camera is believed to have been
filming roughly 18.3 frames per second, it becomes apparent that
Bugliosi is claiming the second shot impacted circa frame 224 of the
film, and the first shot circa frame 160. This scenario, currently the
rage among Bugliosi's fellow single-assassin theorists, is considerably
longer than the scenario initially suggested by the FBI and Secret Service in 1964,
and, not surprisingly, gives the shooter firing Oswald's bolt-action
rifle much more time to fire his shots.
There's a huge problem with this scenario, however. Just after frame 160 of the Zapruder film, Kennedy smiles to the crowd, and waves to a group of cheering women at his right.
So let's see if Bugliosi's narrative for this first shot, beginning on page 39, describes this event and presents any witnesses to assert that Kennedy ignored the first shot and resumed waving to the crowd.
Sorry, no need to waste your time. There are no such witnesses.
then let's see if the statements and testimony of the witnesses he does
offer actually support his scenario, once one studies their entire
statements and testimony. When their statements support his scenario,
or can reasonably be interpreted as supporting his scenario, we'll call
it a FAIR use of evidence. When their statements fail to
suggest his scenario, and suggest another scenario entirely, and this
information is concealed from the reader, we'll call it an UNFAIR use
of evidence. And when he uses statements and testimony in his book, in
a way that appears to deliberately mislead the reader, we'll call it a SUSPICIOUS
use of evidence. When we've already written Bugliosi's use of a witness
off as unfair or suspicious, however,
and he accurately presents this witness a second or third time to
describe an unrelated response to the shots, we'll call it a fair use
of evidence. Those pressed for time may wish to simply look for the
then backtrack to the name of the preceding witness, and read my
discussion of why Bugliosi's treatment of this witness is indeed
letters and numbers in parentheses in the following discussion refer to
the locations of source documents in the Warren Commission documents
available at Maryferrell.org. A number at the beginning refers to the
Warren Commission appendix number, the number following the H refers to
the page. A CD at the beginning means the document was not released in
one of the Warren Commission's 26 volumes, and can only be found
online in the Warren Commission documents section of the website. The
number after the CD refers to the document, the numbers after the "p"
refers to the page.)
Bugliosi's First Strike
- Bugliosi's narrative starts out awkwardly. He writes of this first shot: "The three stock boys in the Depository think it's a firearm salute for the President".
Well, call me Mr. PC if you like, but I suspect an order checker like
James Jarman would not appreciate being called a "stock boy"--seeing as
he was 34 years old and had served 8 years in the U.S. Army and all. As
one of the other "stock boys", Harold Norman, was 26, in fact, we
should suspect that the "boy" status of these men has little to do with
their age. (If you guessed that all three men were black, you win a
- Bugliosi then specifies the thoughts of the third "stock boy". He writes: "maybe, Bonnie Ray Williams thinks, it's a firecracker."
For Bugliosi, Williams' impressions are of paramount importance. Later,
on page 469, he uses Williams' assumption that Kennedy was brushing back his
hair just before the first shot as evidence the shot rang out around
frame 160 of the Zapruder film. What Bugliosi conceals from his
readers, however, is that an affidavit signed by Williams on the day of
the shooting reveals that he heard but two shots (24H229) and that he
subsequently confirmed this appraisal in statements to the FBI (CD5
p330-333) and Secret Service (CD87 p784). If Williams heard but two
shots, the first of which was a missed shot as early as frame 160, as
Bugliosi purports, this means he somehow missed hearing one of the two
shots to impact on Kennedy, even though the shooter firing these shots
was, according to Bugliosi, in the sixth floor sniper's nest of the
school book depository, just a few yards above the open fifth floor
window occupied by Williams.
- Apparently, this point was not lost on Bugliosi, as he bypasses these early statements and cites Williams' Warren Commission testimony as his source for Williams' thoughts about the firecracker. Here, after months of hearing that Oswald had fired three shots, Williams finally relented and said he heard three shots, But there's a huge problem with this. Williams didn't just testify to hearing three shots, he testified as to how he heard them. Williams stated: "there was two shots rather close together. The second and the third shot was closer together than the first shot and the second shot, as I remember…the first shot—I really did not pay much attention to it, because I did not know what was happening. The second shot it sounded like it was right in the building, the second and third shot. And it sounded—it even shook the building…I heard three shots, but at first I told the FBI I only heard two--they took me down--because I was excited, and I couldn't remember too well. But later on, as everything began to die down, I got my memory even a little better than on the 22nd. I remembered three shots, because there was a pause between the first two shots. There was two real quick. There was three shots.” (3H 161-184)
- In Bugliosi's scenario, of course, the first and second shots are much closer together than the second and third. As the Zapruder film demonstrates that Kennedy is hit somewhere between frames 190 and 224, and then again at 313, any statement claiming the last two shots were closer together implies either that the first shot came way before frame 160, even before Zapruder began filming the motorcade on Elm--which Bugliosi would reject--or that the first shot did not miss. Williams' testimony that the last two shots were closer together, particularly when viewed through the prism that, as reported by Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus among others, time normally slows down for eyewitnesses as traumatic events unfold, is therefore a clear suggestion that the first shot did not miss. (The mutual exclusivity of the first shot's having missed and the last two shots being closer together than shots one and two is depicted in Appendix One.) As Bugliosi proposes there were three shots, and that the last two were almost five seconds apart, he could have argued that the first shot heard by Williams was the second shot proposed by himself, and that Williams later re-interpreted the third shot as two shots. But Bugliosi never discusses this possibility. He needs Williams, crouched just yards from Oswald, to have heard the three shots he's proposing. And so he uses the movement of Kennedy's hand to brush back his hair, seen at frame 133 of the Zapruder film, and described by Williams and his co-workers on the fifth floor as the last movement they saw Kennedy make before the first shot, to suggest the shot rang out as early as frame 160. This conveniently overlooks that Williams and his co-workers were watching the motorcade from just below the sniper's nest, and that an oak tree would have blocked their view of Kennedy from frames 170 to 210 of the Zapruder film (Testimony of Lyndal Shaneyfelt, 5H138-165), and that they therefore couldn't have seen Kennedy wave to the crowd at his right, starting around frame 175, cited by those closer to Kennedy as his last movement before the first shot (Testimony of Kenneth O'Donnell, 7H440-457, Testimony of Abraham Zapruder, 7H569-576 among others). Bugliosi's use of Williams to describe a shot he probably did not hear is UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi then presents Virgie Rackley as a witness to the first shot's impact. He uses her Warren Commission testimony (where she testified under her newly acquired name of Mrs. Donald Baker) to assert that a bullet missed Kennedy and hit the pavement of Elm Street behind the limousine. But here, once again, Bugliosi's treatment of his witness is...amiss. Bugliosi conceals from his readers that there is reason to doubt Rackley saw the bullet hit behind the limousine, as the earliest FBI report on Rackley, based on an interview conducted on the Sunday after the shooting, reflects "after the first shot she saw something bounce from the roadway in front of the Presidential automobile and now presumes it was a bullet bouncing off the pavement.” (CD5, p66-67) Yes, the FBI claimed she originally said the bullet bounced in front of the limousine, and not behind.
- This is an important difference. While Bugliosi concedes that Baker thought the first sound she heard was "a firecracker thrown by some boys who are fixing to get in a lot of trouble" he fails to tell his readers that Baker's imaginary boys were standing "close to the underpass" or "near the signs", and that this signifies that the firecracker or "sparks" she saw on the street were not indicative of a missed shot fired from behind, but from in front. He also conceals that Mrs. Baker was standing in front of the sniper's nest in the school book depository at the time of the shots and that she nevertheless testified that the explosion she heard “sounded like it was coming from—there was a railroad track…so I guess it would be by the underpass.” (7H507-515) The underpass, was of course, in front of the limousine at the time of the shooting, and in the same direction from Baker as the "grassy knoll" believed by many to be the source of at least one of the shots.
if one should grant that the FBI report was incorrect about the future
Mrs. Baker's early impression of the presumed bullet impact, and even
if one should grant that she was confused by echoes and had thereby
misidentified the source of all the shots, there remains a significant
problem with Bugliosi's use of her testimony to sell that the first
shot missed circa frame 160 of the Zapruder film. He seems to be aware
of this problem. On page 471, while discussing the first shot, Bugliosi
asserts that Rackley told the FBI the first shot rang out "immediately"
after the car drove past her location in front of the school book
depository. But a close look at the FBI report cited by Bugliosi (CD5
p.66-67) shows it actually reads "almost immediately." Even
worse, in Bugliosi's source notes for his narrative of the shots,
Bugliosi cites Warren Commission Exhibit CE 354 as support for his use
of Rackley. CE 354 is a photograph of Dealey Plaza, the site of the
shooting, with notations by various witnesses, including Miss Rackley/
Mrs. Baker. Baker's circled numeral 2, recording her testimony as to
the location of the firecracker or "sparks" she saw hit the street, is,
clearly, 70 feet or more further down the street than Kennedy at the
time of Bugliosi's proposed first shot. It is, in fact, almost exactly
at the location of Kennedy at the time of Bugliosi's proposed second
shot. While one might muse that Rackley/Baker was simply mistaken about
this location, a close look at CE 354 shows that her mark of a circled
numeral 1, where she was standing during the shots, is three
times as far from her circled numeral 2, signifying the location of the
firecracker or sparks, than from the location of the limousine at
Bugliosi's proposed first shot. It seems hard to believe Mrs. Baker
would testify that these sparks were over 100 feet away from her, if in
fact they were no further than 35. (CE 354 can be viewed in Appendix Two
of this essay). Bugliosi's use of Baker to describe a missed shot
around frame 160, without telling his readers she thought the shot was
fired from in front of the limousine, and at a much later time, is
Should the reader think my dissecting the statements and testimony of these witnesses, and revealing that Bugliosi has concealed evidence that tends to contradict his version of events, is itself unfair, or simply "nit-picking," the reader should consider that Bugliosi himself asserts that a non-fiction writer has a responsibility to alert his readers to evidence that runs counter to his narrative. In the Introduction to Reclaiming History, while explaining why he believes his massive book was necessary, Bugliosi attacks previous Warren Commission defenders Jim Moore and Gerald Posner for leaving important information out of their arguments. He rightly argues that Posner, whose book, Case Closed, has quite a following among Bugliosi's readers, cherry-picked the testimony of certain witnesses, and that this resulted in a "distortion and misrepresentation" of the evidence. He asserts then that if only Posner "had more credibility, the enormous conspiracy community would not have had the ammunition that they have used against him."
This leads Bugliosi to draw a line in the sand: "I can assure conspiracy theorists who have very effectively savaged Posner in their books that they're going to have a much, much more difficult time with me. As a trial lawyer in front of a jury and an author of true-crime books, credibility has always meant everything to me. My only master and my only mistress are the facts and objectivity. I have no others...I will not knowingly omit or distort anything. However, with literally millions of pages of documents on this case, there are undoubtedly references in some of them that conspiracy theorists feel are supportive of a particular point of theirs, but that I simply never came across." In the 4-30-07 interview promoting his book, and in the speeches online from his publicity tour, Bugliosi expands upon this theme. He says that no one is "gonna be able to say 'Oh, he included this paragraph from this letter but he conveniently neglected to put in the second paragraph which completely changes the meaning of the first paragraph.' They're not gonna be able to do that because I don't do that. That's not my style...If there's any weakness in a position that I've taken, if there's any argument, I state it, and then I knock it down. But I don't ignore it, and I don't distort it." Sounds reasonable to me.
- Next up for Bugliosi is Secret Service agent Paul Landis. He uses Landis' statements to suggest the first shot came from behind the limousine. Later, on page 468, he uses Landis' statements to suggest this shot rang out when the motorcade had just turned onto Elm, and that this first shot missed. To this end Bugliosi quotes Landis as follows: "the President's car and the Follow-up car had just completed their turns and both were straightening out. At this moment I heard what sounded like the report of a high-powered rifle from behind me, over my right shoulder." But let's read the next lines of Landis' statement to see what else he has to say: "When I heard the sound there was no question in my mind what it was. My first glance was at the President, as I was practically looking in his direction anyway. I saw him moving in a manner which I thought was to look in the direction of the sound. I did not realize that President Kennedy had been shot at this point." (18H751-757) Landis could recall but two shots, the first one just described that made the President move and that he later concluded hit the President. This is not the first shot described by Bugliosi, after which Kennedy waved happily to the crowd at his right. The second shot heard by Landis exploded the President's skull. Bugliosi fails to explain how Landis, once alerted to an assassination attempt by what Bugliosi proposes was an early missed shot, could have failed to notice that Kennedy continued waving after this shot, and could have failed to notice one of the two subsequent shots to strike his President. His using Landis to suggest the first shot missed is therefore misleading and UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi then describes the actions of Secret Service Agent Rufus Youngblood, Vice-President Johnson's bodyguard. He has Youngblood hear the first shot, notice "unnatural movements" in the President's follow-up car, and then move to protect Vice-President Johnson. There are real problems with Bugliosi's using Youngblood's testimony to describe a shot as early as frame 160, however. One problem with this is that the Vice-President's car was just turning onto Elm at the moment of Bugliosi's first shot, and that Youngblood, in the Warren Commission testimony cited by Bugliosi, described the moment of the first shot as follows: "Well, the crowd had begun to diminish; looking ahead and to the right the crowd became spotty. I mean it wasn't continuous at all like it had been. As we were beginning to go down this incline, all of a sudden there was an explosive noise." This undoubtedly suggests the shot came after they'd completed their turn and were heading down Elm. (The location of Johnson's Lincoln at frame 160 can be observed in Appendix Three of this essay). Even more telling, during Youngblood's testimony, counsel Arlen Specter asked him to draw an "A" on Exhibit 354 to mark the location of the Vice-Presidential car at the moment of the first shot. (2H144-155) This is the same exhibit cited by Bugliosi in his discussion of Rackley. Not surprisingly, Youngblood's mark is well down Elm street, possibly even further than the vice-president's car at the time of Bugliosi's second shot. (CE 354 can be viewed in Appendix Two of this essay).
- Youngblood's description of the first shot's aftermath is also a problem for Bugliosi: "I quickly observed unnatural movement of crowds,
like ducking or scattering, and quick movements in the Presidential follow-up
car." The Zapruder film shows no "unnatural
in the President's follow-up car for several seconds
after Bugliosi's proposed first shot. It is also problematic that the men making these
"unnatural movements" would almost universally conclude that the first shot
that got their attention had in fact struck the President. Youngblood's
testimony, therefore, is not only a clear indication the first shot was
fired after Bugliosi's proposed time for this shot, but that the first
shot struck Kennedy. Bugliosi's use of Youngblood to describe a first shot miss at frame 160 of the Zapruder film is therefore SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi then describes the actions of Governor Connally, who has come to be something of a star witness for the first shot miss with Bugliosi's supporters, even though he never once proposed such a thing. Bugliosi has Governor Connally hear the first shot and turn to his right, realize what is happening, and blurt out "Oh, no, no, no!" Now, this is just strange. Connally testified that he yelled out after he was shot, and not before. On his endnotes Bugliosi acknowledges his disregard for Connally's testimony and makes the argument that the testimony of Mrs. Connally, who thought her husband yelled out before he was shot, and Mrs. Kennedy, who said she turned to look at Connally when she heard him yell out, and even the Zapruder film, which shows Mrs. Kennedy turn to her right before Connally appears to have been hit, confirm that Connally yelled out before he was shot, and not after.
- Bugliosi disregards common sense in the process. A
close look at the Zapruder film, which Bugliosi uses to defend this
strange conclusion, will convince most anyone with a notion of how
humans appear when talking that Connally yells "Oh, no, no, no!" around
frame Z-240, after Bugliosi' s proposed second shot. While this is
readily apparent, in 1987 researcher Martin Shackleford contacted a
deaf couple to watch the film, and see what they could see. They
reported that Connally yells out "No, no, no, no!" between frames 242
and 250, and that he immediately follows this with "My God, they're
going to kill us all!" As Shackleford's article on the deaf couple's
translation is featured on the website of Marquette University
professor John McAdams, Google's top-ranked assassination-related
website, and as this website is pretty much required reading for
single-assassin theorists, a la Bugliosi, it is hard to believe that
Bugliosi would be unaware of the deaf couple's
- But this is not the only manner in which
Bugliosi distorts Connally's testimony. When describing Connally's
first thoughts after hearing this first shot, he writes: "Connally knows it isn't a firecracker or a blowout or anything else. It's a rifle shot."
The source notes for this passage reflect that this assertion can be
found in Connally's testimony either before the Warren Commission, or
in his subsequent testimony before the House Select Committee on
Assassinations (the HSCA). Well, this is pretty slippery. Connally's
discussion of a rifle shot comes from his HSCA testimony. His original
testimony to the Warren Commission, which Bugliosi chose not to reveal,
however, was more specific. He testified: "the thought immediately passed through my mind that there were either two
or three people involved or more in this or someone was shooting with an
Bugliosi, apparently, has no interest in telling his readers that
Connally, a former Secretary of the Navy, thought the first shot
sounded like a burst of bullets from an automatic weapon. While one can
see how someone like Oliver Stone--a dramatist--would cherry-pick parts
from the various statements and testimony of a witness to help him
present his narrative, Bugliosi, through his publicity blitz and
writings, has promised us something far more respectful of the
historical record. And has failed to deliver.
- It is just not reasonable to argue that Connally's testimony supports the first shot miss proposed by Bugliosi. On page 468 of Reclaiming History, Bugliosi argues that Connally's testifying to have heard a shot when the limo had "just made the turn" indicates the shot was fired before frame 166 of the Zapruder film. This is unbelievably deceptive. Here's what Connally actually said: "We had--we had gone, I guess, 150 feet, maybe 200 feet, I don't recall how far it was, heading down to get on the freeway, the Stemmons Freeway, to go out to the hall where we were going to have lunch and, as I say, the crowds had begun to thin, and we could--I was anticipating that we were going to be at the hall in approximately 5 minutes from the time we turned on Elm Street. We had just made the turn, well, when I heard what I thought was a shot." 150-200 feet down Elm is 35-85 feet further down the street than the limousine was at frame 160 of the Zapruder film, and is, in fact, more in line with the limo's location at frame 224, the time of Bugliosi's second shot.
- Should Bugliosi have ignored this testimony because he believed Connally was simply bad at judging distances, he should have looked for other evidence provided by the Commission, which confirmed or conflicted with Connally's appraisal of this distance. He wouldn't have had to look far. On page 133 of Connally’s Warren Commission testimony counsel Arlen Specter hands the Governor an overhead photograph of Dealey Plaza and asks him to mark where he was “at the time the shooting first started.” The Governor states “I would say it would be about where this truck is here. It looks like a truck. I would say about in that neighborhood.” He then marks the photo. This marked photo was placed into evidence as Commission Exhibit 699. (4H129-146) ) When one compares this photo to the surveyor’s plat of Dealey Plaza, moreover, one can see that the area marked by Connally is nowhere near where Bugliosi holds Connally was riding when he heard the first shot, and that it is, in fact, almost exactly where Connally was at the moment of Bugliosi's second shot. Bugliosi, who, we should repeat, sub-titles the section of his book containing the re-enactment and discussion of the shots "Matters of Fact--What Happened" fails to tell his readers here that Connally not only believed the first shot did not miss, but that it rang out seconds after the moment Bugliosi claims it missed. (CE 699 can be seen in Appendix Four of this essay.) Bugliosi's use of Connally's statements and testimony is therefore SUSPICIOUS.
- It also quite revealing about his method of operation, and his apparent disregard for consistency. For while Bugliosi uses Connally's testimony at this
point of his book to sell that there was a first shot around frame 160,
and that it missed, he later dismisses the relevance of Connally's
testimony altogether. On page 480, to counter Connally's claim that he
and Kennedy were not
hit by the same bullet, he writes that Connally would be "perhaps one of the least likely persons in the world who would know things such as this,"
as he was shot himself, and in a state of shock. This is to ignore that
Connally's impression they were hit by separate bullets came not from
his recollection of the shot which hit him, but from his immediate
impression that the first shot--which Bugliosi holds was fired 3.5
seconds earlier--struck Kennedy, coupled with his wife's recollection
of seeing Kennedy react to the first shot, coupled with his doctor's
impression that the shot striking him had not struck Kennedy. Bugliosi
then goes on to explain why Connally's statements on the shooting
should not be seriously considered. On page 481, Bugliosi concludes: "The
only thing that rings true to me about the governor's reflections on
what was happening around the time he was hit is not when he tries to
be precise, but when he said things like this in his 1978 testimony
before the HSCA: 'When I was hit, or shortly before I was hit--no, I
guess it was after I was hit...' All of his hesitation and confusion is
more in keeping with what I would expect from a witness who had
sustained the kind of injuries Connally did." Seeing as Connally's
testimony that he
turned to the right as a response to the first shot is the cornerstone
upon which Bugliosi's case for a first shot miss has been built, his
subsequent attack on Connally's credibility, to counter Connally's fervent belief that the first shot hit Kennedy, is a bit bizarre. While Bugliosi might try to
lawyer his way out of this by claiming that Connally's confusion
"around the time he was hit" began just after the first shot miss, this
seems rather arbitrary, and avoids the uncomfortable fact that
Connally, when asked to mark his impression of the limo's location at
the time of the first shot--an impression created before he'd been
hit--marked CE 699 at a point much further down the road than the limo's
location at the moment of Bugliosi's missed shot.
- Bugliosi then moves on to the women of the limousine. He has First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy turn to her right when she hears the Governor yell "Oh, no, no, no!". As her testimony saying as much was cited by Bugliosi as a reason to disregard Connally's testimony, her presence here is no surprise. But one wonders why he has given her clearly confused testimony so much weight, at the expense of the far-more consistent Connally. Perhaps he realized that by having Mrs. Kennedy turn to the Governor before he's shot, he could explain her behavior in the Zapruder film, where she looks to her right, at both the Governor and at the President, nearly two seconds before Bugliosi proposes they were shot. The problem is that Mrs. Kennedy's testimony, as disjointed as it is, is fairly clear on one point: Governor Connally was already hit when she looked at him. She testified: "the one that made me turn around was Governor Connally yelling...Governor Connally screamed like a stuck pig…I heard Governor Connally yelling and that made me turn around." (5H178-181, while the "stuck pig" reference was removed from the transcript published by the Warren Commission, it was found in the original transcript by researcher Harold Weisberg, and is discussed in books purportedly read by Bugliosi). Since Mrs. Kennedy recalled but two shots, one causing Governor Connally to scream, and the fatal blow to her husband, Bugliosi's using her to prop up a first shot miss long before Governor Connally screamed is once again bizarre, and suggests he thinks she somehow blocked a second shot--which he proposes struck both Kennedy and Connally--completely out of her mind. This is an UNFAIR use of her testimony.
- Bugliosi then has Nellie Connally,"startled by the loud frightening noise that emanates from somewhere to her right," turn to look in this direction. He stops it right there, and in the process, leaves something out. A big something. Her Warren Commission testimony, which Bugliosi cites, reads: "I heard a noise…I turned over my right shoulder and looked back, and saw the President as he had both hands at his neck" (4H146-149). In subsequent interviews, Mrs. Connally would repeatedly assert that Kennedy was hit by this first shot. Why, if Bugliosi trusts her testimony that her husband yelled out "Oh, no, no, no!" just before he was shot--when she wasn't even focusing on her husband at the time--does he refuse to believe she saw Kennedy reacting to a shot when she claimed to be looking right at him?
- On page 481, Bugliosi
finally gets around to offering his reasons for rejecting Nellie
Connally's consistent claim that she saw Kennedy, sitting but 3 feet
away from her, react to the first shot. In one of the most bizarre and
deceptive arguments in a book filled with bizarre and deceptive
arguments, he asserts that we know Nellie Connally was confused because
"In her Warren Commission
testimony, she testified that immediately after hearing the first shot,
she 'looked back and saw the president as he had both hands at his
neck.' We know from the Zapruder film, of course, that Kennedy showed
no visible reaction to the first shot around Z160, so we know Mrs.
Connally was wrong." Well, I'll be. Talk of your circular
reasoning. Bugliosi claims we know a shot was fired at frame 160 of the
Zapruder film, in large part because Governor Connally testified to
turning to his right just after the first shot. As President Kennedy
was clearly not hit at this time, however, Bugliosi proposes that this
first shot must have missed. This makes Governor Connally and his
fervent belief that the first shot hit Kennedy an obstacle. No problem,
says Bugliosi, Governor Connally was a gunshot wound victim, and his
recollections of the moments just before and after he was shot are an
understandable blur. Never mind that this undercuts the value of
Connally's testimony, the very testimony upon which Bugliosi's first
shot miss theory has been built. Besides, says Bugliosi, "Governor
Connally's conclusion that the president was hit by the first shot is
based solely, it seems, on the recollection of his wife, Nellie."
And why can't we trust Nellie's recollection? Because her recollection
conflicts with the first shot's being fired at frame 160, a precise
time divined by Bugliosi from her "confused" husband's testimony!
Apparently, we are to disregard the statements and testimony of any
witness whose statements and testimony conflict with Bugliosi's
proposed first shot miss, an event so far unsupported by the full
statements and testimony of every witness he's provided.
if that wasn't bad enough, on page 481 Bugliosi offers us a second
reason to distrust Nellie Connally's assertion that the first shot
struck the President. His second reason is that "She also said that
after the first shot, she recalls her husband exclaiming, 'Oh, no, no,
no.' But he testified, 'When I was hit' (which he said was by the
second shot) is when 'I said 'Oh, no, no, no.'" Umm, wow. Did Bugliosi
really forget that he'd previously argued that she was right when she
said her husband yelled out "Oh, no, no, no!" after the first shot, and
that he'd used her statement, at that time, to discredit her husband?
He can't have it both ways. He can't say her husband is wrong because
she disagrees with him and then turn around and say we can't trust her
because he disagrees with her. Bugliosi ends his attack on Mrs. Connally's credibility with a bit of unintentional irony: "All of this is perfectly understandable confusion." Yes, I'm afraid it is. Let's recall here the words of Bryan Burrough in the New York Times: "It’s
in the arguing that Bugliosi, as a former prosecutor, truly shines." Bugliosi's treatment of Nellie Connally's testimony is clearly SUSPICIOUS.
now we've looked at the statements and testimony of seven witnesses
offered us by Bugliosi. These witnesses are purportedly describing a
missed shot fired around frame 160 of the Zapruder film. As three of
these witnesses could recall but two bursts of gunfire, using their
description of the first shot they heard to describe the first of
three well-spaced shots is misleading and unfair. Bugliosi's treatment
of the other four witnesses is suspicious. The statements and testimony
of all four indicate the first shot was fired at a point later than the
first shot proposed by Bugliosi, or that the first shot struck Kennedy,
or both. While Bugliosi eventually discusses the Connallys' belief that
the first shot struck Kennedy, he never discusses Exhibits 354 and 699,
which demonstrate that Virgie Baker, Rufus Youngblood and Governor
Connnally all felt the first shot was fired after the first shot
proposed by Bugliosi. I believe it's fair from this to conclude that
Bugliosi's narrative of the shots, and subsequent discussion of the
shots, is unreliable, and revealing of his bias. As this is the central
event of his massive book, I believe it is also fair to conclude from
this that Bugliosi just can not be trusted to tell his readers the
information they need to know to make informed decisions about the
evidence presented. One already convinced of this, and pressed for
time, may wish to proceed to Part 4 of this essay.
Should one remain skeptical on this point, however, one should feel free to continue. But I warn you, Bugliosi's use of the witnesses doesn't get much better.
- The rest of Bugliosi's first shot witnesses are all used to demonstrate that the shots were fired from the sixth floor sniper's nest of the Book Depository, Oswald's place of employment. First, Bugliosi describes motorcycle officer Marrion Baker's response to this shot, of his seeing pigeons fly through the air from the roof of the depository, and of his racing up Houston Street to see what's going on. He fails to mention that Baker was asked by Warren Commission counsel David Belin to return to the scene, to figure out exactly where he was on Houston Street when he heard the first shot, and that the two men then measured the distance of this location from the nearest street. Baker later testified “we approximated it was 60 to 80 feet there, north of the north curbline of Main and Houston" (3H242-270). As you by now probably have guessed, a look at films of the motorcade--in this case the film of Robert Hughes-- demonstrates that Baker did not reach this location until a few seconds after Bugliosi's proposed first shot.
- While it's not clear that Bugliosi knows this, it's fairly clear he should. In the Acknowledgements section of his book, Bugliosi claims "no one helped me as much as Dale Myers, the Emmy Award-winning computer animation specialist." He then admits "Dale helped me in the writing of several sections of Book One." The narrative we're discussing is, of course, the central event in Book One. Concurrent with his work with Bugliosi, Myers conducted a detailed study of the assassination films, which he modestly entitled "Epipolar Geometric Analysis of Amateur Films Related to Acoustics Evidence in the John F. Kennedy Assassination." This study was released within days of Bugliosi's book. In this study, Myers includes an illustration of
Baker's position at frame 150 of the Zapruder film. In this illustration, he places Baker
approximately 36 feet north of the Main Street curbline. As Myers also
asserted that Baker had traveled 19.5 feet over the previous 35 frames
of the Hughes film, which was filmed at the same speed as the Zapruder
film, it follows that, even in Myers' opinion, Baker was approximately
42 feet north of Main Street at Z-160, and would not have reached 60
feet north of Main Street until approximately frame 192 of the Zapruder
film (assuming, of course, that Baker maintained his speed). If Bugliosi read Baker's testimony and failed to ask Myers at what point Baker reached 60 feet north of the curbline, his use of Baker to suggest there was a shot as early as frame 160 is indicative of nothing more than apathetic research. If, however, he asked Myers about this and was told that Baker didn't reach 60 feet north of the curbline until well after frame 160, then he is guilty of keeping important information from his readers. We'll split the difference and call it an UNFAIR use of Baker's testimony.
- Bugliosi then calls on James Worrell, standing in front of the book depository. He writes that when Worrell "hears the first shot, Worrell throws his head back, looks straight up and sees six inches of gun barrel"
(2H190-201). Bugliosi, not surprisingly, fails to mention that Worrell
hearing four shots, at least one of which could not have been fired
from the sniper's nest. I haven't found a single mention of Worrell's
hearing four shots anywhere in Bugliosi's massive book. Using a man who
heard four shots to describe one of three shots, without any assurance
this was the same shot, is UNFAIR.
- He then presents young Amos Euins, standing by the fountain across the street from the depository, to confirm Worrell's sighting of a gun in the window. Here, too, he misleads. Euins, as Worrell, testified to hearing four shots (2H201-210). While some say Euins' testimony is untrustworthy, as he only described three shots in his earliest statement, they miss that he, as Connally, said that the gun "sounded like an automatic rifle the way he was shooting" (16H963), and that he told the FBI within a few weeks of the shooting that he observed the sniper fire "what he believes to have been a fourth shot" (CD205, p. i). Once again, I've searched through Reclaiming History and haven't found a single mention of Euins' hearing four shots. Using Euins testimony to imply three well-spaced shots were fired is UNFAIR.
- This leads us to the Warren Commission's star witness, the only man to claim he saw Oswald fire a shot at the President, Howard Brennan.
Bugliosi's narrative has Brennan, sitting on a wall near Euins, hear the
first shot and look up to the sniper's nest, where he sees a young man
he'd seen moments before, only now armed with a rifle. With this,
Bugliosi misleads once again. You see, Brennan, much as Mrs. Kennedy,
could only testify to hearing two shots, one that got his attention,
and then a final shot. He could not swear to hearing a shot between
these shots. Brennan testified: "I don’t know what made me think that there
was firecrackers throwed out of the book store unless I did hear the second
shot, because I positively thought the first shot was a backfire, and
subconsciously I must have heard a second shot but I do not recall it. I could
not swear to it.”
(3H140-161). This confession was consistent with a much earlier
description of the shots given by Brennan to the FBI, which reads: "He said he does not distinctly remember a second shot but he remembers
“more than one noise” as if someone was shooting fire crackers, and
consequently he believes there must have been a second shot before he looked in
the direction of the Texas School
Book Depository Building.”
(CD5 p12-14) Thus, Brennan felt he'd heard two shots before looking up
to the sniper's nest, and Bugliosi's having him look up after the first
- It's also quite illogical. If Bugliosi had endeavored to stay consistent with Brennan's testimony, he'd have written that Brennan looked up after the second shot. If he'd argued from common sense, and had reasoned that someone alerted to a loud noise would be likely to recall a similar noise moments later, he would also have portrayed him looking up after the second shot. Bugliosi is pushing there were three relatively even-spaced shots. He cannot actually be proposing that Brennan's "more than one noise" sounding like "someone was shooting fire crackers" was the first shot, and then have Brennan, a key witness, and a man supposedly blessed with superior observation skills, just completely fail to notice a second shot.
- Or maybe he can. It seems not even Brennan can avoid
Bugliosi's abuse. Bugliosi concludes his narrative of the first shot by having Brennan look up and see a sniper in the window. Bugliosi
exhales: "Brennan sees him from the waist up with awful clarity, the rifle
braced against his right shoulder as he leans against the left window
jamb. The gunman's motions are deliberate and without panic. After a few seconds, he fires again."
The shot described by Bugliosi is the shot Brennan believed to be the
third shot, not the second shot, and was, according to Brennan, most
certainly the last shot fired from the sniper's nest. So why does
Bugliosi present this as the second shot in his narrative? Is he trying
to shore up the illusion that Brennan heard the first of a series of three
well-spaced shots? Bugliosi's having Brennan look to the
sniper's nest after the first shot is undoubtedly SUSPICIOUS.
Let's recap: Bugliosi has so far presented 11 witnesses to describe the first of three shots, a shot that he asserts as fact was fired circa frame 160 of the Zapruder film, and did not hit President Kennedy. Of these 11 witnesses, 4 could only swear to knowledge of two bursts of gunfire, suggesting the first shot they heard was not this shot, but Bugliosi's proposed second shot. Of the remaining 7, another 2 said they heard 4 shots, suggesting the possibility this was the second shot they'd heard. Of the remaining 5, 4 of them, in the Warren Commission testimony Bugliosi uses as his primary source, described either the location of the limousine at the moment of the first shot, or their own location in the motorcade at the time of the first shot--and in all 4 cases their testimony suggests the first shot rang out several seconds after Bugliosi's proposed first shot. This leaves but 1 witness whose testimony may support Bugliosi's assertion that the first shot rang out circa frame 160 of the Zapruder film and missed, and she, Nellie Connally, sitting but a few feet away from the President in the limousine, felt absolutely certain Kennedy was hit by the first shot.
So why, if the first shot miss proposed by Bugliosi is a "fact," is he having such trouble finding anyone to support his claim? On page 468, he lists a number of witnesses for this shot. Beyond the witnesses already discussed, he adds Lady Bird Johnson, Barbara Rowland, Kenneth O'Donnell, and Geneva Hine.
- As support that the first shot was fired as early as frame 160 of the Zapruder film, when the presidential limousine has just completed its turn onto Elm Street, Bugliosi quotes Lady Bird Johnson, who was riding in the motorcade two cars behind Kennedy, as follows: "We were rounding a curve...and suddenly there was a shot." This is, I believe, a deliberate distortion of the evidence. The full sentence which he cannibalizes is actually "Then almost at the edge of town, on our way to the Trade Mart where we were going to have the luncheon, we were rounding a curve, going down a hill, and suddenly there was a sharp loud report--a shot." She then continued: "It seemed to me to come from the right, above my shoulder, from a building. Then a moment and then two more shots in rapid succession." (5H564-567) The words he replaced with his "..." were "going down a hill." "Going down a hill," not surprisingly, implies the car had completed its turn, and was significantly past its location at frame 160 of the Zapruder film. It is generally accepted that when someone omits (or adds) a word or words to a quote that changes its meaning, they can be accused of willful deception. Bugliosi himself has argued as much. I believe this is such an example.
- Also telling is that Mrs. Johnson said the shot came from the right, above her shoulder. If the shot rang out at frame 160, when the Vice-Presidential car was just turning onto Elm, as Bugliosi asserts, this would suggest the shot came from one of the buildings on the east side of Houston, the County Records Building or the Dal-Tex Building. (The limousine's location at frame 160 can be viewed in Appendix Three of this essay). Since Bugliosi assumes this shot came from the sniper's nest in the school book depository, directly in front of the car as it made its turn, it follows then that this shot must have been fired sometime after frame 160. Mrs. Johnson's recollection that the last two shots came in "rapid succession" is also telling. As discussed earlier, and as demonstrated in Appendix One, any indication that the last two shots were closer together than the first two is an indication that the first shot did not miss. Bugliosi's sculpting of Mrs. Johnson's words is undoubtedly SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi also cites Barbara Rowland's vague testimony that "as they turned the corner we heard a shot" as support the shot rang out as early as he claims. He neglects to reveal that Mrs Rowland had signed a statement on the day of the shooting that was more specific, and claimed that the limousine had "turned left onto Elm Street and started down towards the underpass" when the first shot rang out. (24H224) He fails to reveal as well that, when asked about the three shots, Mrs. Rowland testified "the second and third were closer than the first and second." (6H177-191). This, of course, is in keeping with the testimony of Bonnie Ray Williams and the statement of Mrs. Johnson, and suggests the first shot did not miss. It seems more than a coincidence then that even a cursory study of the Zapruder film and the eyewitness testimony reveals that having the last two shots closer together than the first two is inconsistent with the first shot's having missed, and that Bugliosi never discusses this with his readers. UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi's use of Kenneth O'Donnell to suggest the first shot was fired as early as frame 160 is even more askew. According to Bugliosi, O'Donnell, a Kennedy aide who'd been riding in the car just behind the President, "testified that the president's car was 'just about (through) turning (and had started) to step up a little bit' when the first shot rang out." The words in parentheses are supplied by Bugliosi, and grossly distort O'Donnell's meaning. The actual transcript reads: "I would presume they were just about turning to step up the speed a little bit, because there would be no crowds from there." O'Donnell had garbled his sentence, and had used the word "turning" instead of "beginning." Far from implying that the shot rang out as the car turned onto Elm, moreover, as suggested by Bugliosi's "translation," O'Donnell's words, when read in context, suggest the first shot was fired as the limousine left the crowds behind. In support of this interpretation, it should be noted that O'Donnell further testified that just before the first shot rang out, Kennedy "was waving. We had just left the mass of crowds. But as we turned on the grass plot, there were four or five people there, and I believe he waved to them." This confirms that O'Donnell felt the first shot was fired after Kennedy waved to the crowd, and as the limousine drew parallel to the grassy knoll. This is long after frame 160, and is far more in sync with the time of Bugliosi's second shot. While someone might counter that O'Donnell testified that the first shot missed and that it therefore must have been fired around frame 160, well before the moment Kennedy was hit, this is, in fact, the exact opposite of how O'Donnell testified. Instead, he said, that the first two shots came "almost simultaneously." When asked which of these two hit Kennedy, furthermore, he said: "It was not the third shot. Whether it was the first or second, I would not know" and continued "If I had to pick one of the two, I think it might have been the second shot." (7H440-457) This confirms that the first shot heard by others, which many thought to be a firecracker, was interpreted by O'Donnell to be two separate nearly simultaneous shots, one of which hit Kennedy while he was waving. This is clear to anyone reading his testimony. And yet Bugliosi twists O'Donnell's words to support that a first shot was fired a second or two before Kennedy waved to the crowd, and missed, and that a second shot hit Kennedy 3 1/2 seconds later. This is, you guessed it, SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi's next and final witness for his proposed first shot miss, is Geneva Hine, a secretary working in the school book depository, who watched the motorcade from a second floor window. Bugliosi reports that she "testified the presidential limousine had just 'turned the corner' when she heard the shot." She, in fact, testified: "I saw him turn the corner and after he turned the corner I looked and I saw the next car coming. Just at the instant I saw the next car coming up was when I heard the shots." (6H393-397) She said "shots", as in more than one. This suggests that she, as O'Donnell, interpreted the first "firecracker" as more than one shot. While Bugliosi, as others before him, use Hine's testimony to suggest a first shot missed as early as frame 160 of the Zapruder film, he misses that, should the first shot have really rang out as the "next car"--the Secret Service back-up car--was "coming up" to the turn, as she appears to have testified, the first shot would have to have been fired seconds before frame 133 of the Zapruder film, when the limousine and back-up car are both on Elm. He also misses that the turn onto Elm was so long and winding that there is no way that Kennedy's limo could have completed its turn onto Elm before the "next car"--the Secret Service back-up car--could have entered the turn. From this it seems likely that the "next car" in her testimony is some anonymous car back in the pack, and is in fact the "next car" that she looked at and not the "next car" behind the limousine. Although Ms. Hine was interviewed by the FBI on 11-23-63, and then again on 3-18-64, the first time she mentioned looking out the window and seeing the motorcade was when she testified on 4-7-64, four and a half months after the shooting. That her quite possibly confused and/or misinterpreted recollection of the limousine's location at the time of the first shot is nevertheless the best evidence yet offered by Bugliosi for his proposed first shot miss is indeed shocking. While her exact words indicate she heard two or more shots at this time, and Bugliosi crops it to one "shot", he may have innocently assumed that when she said "when I heard the shots" she meant "when I heard the shots (commence)." We'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, then, and say his use of her testimony, while probably incorrect, is nevertheless FAIR.
- Bugliosi concludes this section with the ironic statement "Many other witnesses gave essentially the same testimony." Yes, they did--but only when one considers that the witnesses already cited by Bugliosi didn't testify to what he claims they testified. While there were indeed a few other witnesses who said they believed the first shot missed--Mary Woodward, James Chaney, and Glen Bennett come to mind--they were not called to testify before the Warren Commission, and the statements of all three of these examples crumble when one compares their statements to the photographic record. As a result, the historical record reputed to be so "sacred" to Bugliosi--the sworn statements and testimony of witnesses before the Dallas Police, the FBI, and the Warren Commission--is almost unanimous in its suggestion that the first shot struck President Kennedy.
first shot proposed by Bugliosi is a myth, as out of sync with the
historical record as most anything dreamed up by conspiracy theorists.
This becomes even more clear when we look at Bugliosi's narrative for a second shot.
Bugliosi's Second Strike
- Bugliosi begins his narrative for the second shot with another "Bang"....and another minor misrepresentation of the evidence. He writes that "The report is so loud inside the fifth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building that the windows rattle, and loose plaster and dirt fall from the ceiling onto Bonnie Ray Williams' hair." He cites as his source for this assertion Williams' Warren Commission testimony. But Williams, who originally said there was two shots, but then testified to hearing three, with the last two "real quick", does not specify which of these last two shots caused dirt to fall in his hair (3H161-184). Although an FBI report from 11-26-63 (CD5 p63) has Harold Norman stating that "he stuck his head from the window and looked upward toward the roof but could see nothing because small particles of dirt were falling from above him" neither Norman nor James Jarman, who were both crouched near Williams on the floor below the sniper's nest, testified to noticing the dirt until after the final shot. (3H186-198) (3H198-211).
- While this
misrepresentation is admittedly a minor one, it nevertheless helps
Bugliosi create the illusion that Williams was aware of a second shot,
3.5 seconds after what Bugliosi purported was the first shot. Williams,
as we've seen, heard but two bursts of gunfire, one that got his
attention--which Bugliosi has already asserted was the first shot--and
a final burst of one or two shots (depending on whether one believes
his early statements or his testimony) that Bugliosi presumes was the
head shot. Williams' testimony is extremely problematic for Bugliosi
and his assertion as fact that Oswald fired three well-spaced shots
just over Williams' head. Bugliosi's treatment of Williams is therefore SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi's first witness for the impact of this shot is Charles Brehm. He writes "the car is very close to Charles Brehm and his son, maybe 20 feet away, so they can see the president's face very well when the shot rings out. The president stiffens perceptibly and his hands swoop toward his throat." Bugliosi cites as his source for this passage an FBI report on Brehm a few days after the shooting. In this report, Brehm's recollections are described as follows: "When the President’s automobile was very close to him and he could see the President’s face very well, the President was seated, but was leaning forward when he stiffened perceptibly, at the same instant what appeared to be a rifle shot sounded. According to Brehm, the President seemed to stiffen and come to a pause..." (22H837-838) Bugliosi hides from his readers that this was Brehm's description of the first of three shots, not the second, and that Brehm had been interviewed a number of times on on the day of the shooting, and had consistently reported that Kennedy was hit by the first shot. SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi's second witness for the second shot's impact is Secret Service agent Glen Bennett, riding in the back seat of the President's back up car. Bennett, he writes "is looking right at the president when the second shot hits him, he estimates 'about 4 inches down from the right shoulder.'" While Bennett did indeed report that the second shot struck Kennedy in the back, Bugliosi's use of Bennett is not without its problems. For one, Bennett places the wound "4 inches down from the right shoulder," which is inconsistent with Bugliosi's subsequent conclusion that the back wound was above the exit on Kennedy's throat. For two, in Bennett's original notes, published by the Warren Commission (24H541-542), he says that, upon looking at the President after the first shot, he saw "a shot that hit the boss" and that a "second shoot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the boss's head". In his notes, he doesn't say he heard another "fire-cracker noise" when he saw the "shot that hit the boss". Bennett's awkward grammar then suggests the possibility he meant to say that, upon looking at the President after the first shot, he saw "that a shot had hit the President," and that a second shot hit Kennedy in the head. We just don't know. Even so, Bugliosi's use of Bennett's statement to support that the second shot hit Kennedy is not improper or deceiving.
- Should one think we found a witness to the shot's impact whose words were not improperly interpreted or presented by Bugliosi, however, one would be wrong. Bugliosi isn't
through with Bennett: "He's hit!" Bennett shouts, and reaches for the
Colt AR-15 assault rifle on the seat, but agent George Hickey has
already got it."
This conceals that Bennett claimed to have yelled out "He's hit" after the third shot,
which Bennett, much as Bonnie Ray Williams and Mrs. Johnson, claimed "immediately"
followed the second shot. In the report by Bennett cited by Bugliosi,
follows his description of the second shot as follows: "A second
shot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the
President’s head. I immediately hollered 'he’s hit' and reached
for the AR-15 located on the floor of the rear seat” (18H760). SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi then describes the actions of agent George Hickey, sitting next to Bennett. He has Hickey beat Bennett to the rifle and spin "toward the right rear, from where the shots appear to have come." This is an amazing distortion of Hickey's statement, the bulk of which follows: “Just prior to the shooting the Presidential car turned left at the intersection and started down an incline toward an underpass followed by 679x. After a very short distance I heard a loud report which sounded like a firecracker…I stood up and looked to my right and rear in an attempt to identify it. Nothing caught my attention except people shouting and cheering. A disturbance in 679X caused me to look forward to the President’s car. Perhaps 2 or 3 seconds elapsed from the time I looked to the rear and then looked at the President. He was slumped forward and to his left, and was straightening up to an almost erect sitting position as I turned and looked. At the moment he was almost sitting erect I heard two reports which I thought were shots and that appeared to me completely different in sound from the first report and were in such rapid succession that there seemed to be practically no time element between them." From this it's clear that Bugliosi has Hickey turning to his right after "shots" when he in fact said it was after the first shot. This disguises that Hickey did not hear a second shot until the time of the head shot, when he heard two shots grouped together. This in turn disguises that Hickey's accounting of the three shots leaves no room for Bugliosi's proposed first shot miss.
- Bugliosi also disguises, whether on accident or on purpose, that Hickey, as Bennett, felt quite sure he didn't reach for the AR-15 until after the last shot. His report asserts: "At
the end of the last report I reached to the bottom of the car and
picked up the AR 15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the
rear. At this point the cars were passing under the over-pass and as a
result we had left the scene of the shooting." (18H761-764). While one might make the argument that Bugliosi was confused by Hickey's two separate turns to the rear and that he placed Hickey's turn to the rear with the rifle after the second shot by accident, this seems unlikely. On page 927 of Reclaiming History, to counter Howard Donahue's theory that Hickey
accidentally shot Kennedy with the AR-15, Bugliosi quotes Hickey's report and argues that Hickey didn't even reach for the rifle until after all the shots had been fired. Once again, he can't have it both ways. SUSPICIOUS.
Bugliosi's decision to ignore the bulk of Hickey's report, which implies that Kennedy was hit by the first shot, and that, after a pause, two shots followed in "rapid succession," would seem to be more than a coincidence. The fact that that both Bennett and Hickey felt the last two shots were close together, and that both men agreed that Hickey picked up the AR-15 after the third shot, is damaging to Bugliosi's argument that there was a first shot miss, followed 3.5 seconds later by a bullet striking both Kennedy and Connally, followed 4.9 seconds later by a final and fatal shot to Kennedy's cranium. If Bugliosi is correct, it makes little sense that the Secret Service would not know by the second shot what was going on. Is it a coincidence then that Bugliosi presents actions they insisted came after the third shot as a response to the second shot? If Bugliosi is correct, it also would seem strange that agents only yards from Kennedy would believe the last two shots came in "rapid succession." Is it a coincidence then that any and all references by Secret Service agents to the third shot's "immediately" following the second appear to have have been filtered from Bugliosi's narrative, via his selective use of testimony?
- Bugliosi's motorcade of deception continues: "Special Agent Clint Hill leaps off the running board of the
follow-up car and dashes towards the president's limousine."
He excludes, not surprisingly, that Hill testified to running for
Kennedy after the first of the two shots he heard, a shot he believed
struck the President. He also excludes that the second shot described
by Hill was the shot striking Kennedy's skull and that it "seemed to
have some type of an echo." (2H132-144) This echo, of course, is
consistent with Bennett's description of two shots "immediately"
following another, and Hickey's two shots in "rapid succession." As a
result, there's reason to believe that all three of these bodyguards heard a first shot that struck Kennedy, and then two more in rapid succession at the time of the head shot. If so, then, of course, none of them
heard the missed first shot Bugliosi presents as a "fact". UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi then introduces into his mix n match version of history Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent riding in the front seat of the limousine. Kellerman, he asserts, "believes he hears the president say "My God, I am hit."
While Bugliosi is correct that Kellerman testified to this, and is
correct for arguing in his endnotes that Kellerman was almost certainly
mistaken, his use of Kellerman's incorrect recollection to describe a
second shot without acknowledging that Kellerman testified that he
heard these words after the first shot, is more than mistaken; it's
then describes Kellerman's turning to his left and looking at Governor
Connally. His source notes indicate that Kellerman turns between frames
268-270. But this event, seconds after what Bugliosi proposes was the
second shot, was still seconds before the second shot described by
Kellerman. In keeping with the statements of Bennett and Hickey, and
consistent with the testimony of Hill, Kellerman described the last two
shots as a "flurry of shots". This means that two (or more)
shots impacted around Z-313, the moment of the head shot. Should one
think Kellerman's words are too vague to come to this conclusion,
Kellerman clarified his impression of the shots by marking the location
of the limousine at the time of the shots on a photo, Commission
Exhibit CE 347, in his testimony. (See Appendix Two). First, Kellerman
marked his impression of the limousine's location at the time of the
first shot with an "X." His "X", as one might suspect, is a good 30
feet further down the street from the limo's location at Bugliosi's
first shot. While his "Y", marking the location of the limousine at the
second shot, is difficult to distinguish on the Commission's exhibit,
Kellerman's testimony about the location of the third shot is more than
clear. After marking his "Y", Counsel Arlen Specter asked of Kellerman:
"Now, with respect to the time of the third shot, would your marking be
any different from the "Y" position?" Kellerman answered: "No. It would
not." (2H61-112). SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi now revisits Governor Connally.
He has Connally yell out "My God! They're going to kill us all!" as a
response to this shot. As discussed earlier, Connally testified to
yelling this out just after he yelled out "Oh, no, no, no!" without a
shot in-between. This is supported by the Zapruder film. Even so,
Bugliosi is correct that Connally claimed to have yelled out "My God"
after the second shot. Chalk one up. Sorta. (4H129-146) FAIR.
- Next up is Nellie Connally.
Bugliosi has her pull her husband down in the seat after the second
shot. This assertion is in keeping with her testimony. Two in a row.
- But two in a row is as good as it gets. On page 41 in Bugliosi's narrative Jackie Kennedy turns to
her husband, "who has a strange quizzical look on his face." This is deceptive. Bugliosi has already had Mrs. Kennedy turn to look
towards Connally after the first shot. By listing Mrs. Kennedy's
turning to her husband in a list of responses to the second shot,
Bugliosi not only implies she heard a shot after the first shot miss he
claims she heard, but that she recalled responding to one. She did not.
She could recall but one shot after Governor Connally screamed, the fatal head shot. She
testified "suddenly Governor
Connally was yelling, “Oh, no, no, no”…I was looking this way, to the
I heard these terrible noises. You
know. And my husband never made any
sound. My husband never made any
sound. So I turned to the right. And all I remember is seeing my husband, he
had this sort of quizzical look on his face, and his hand was up, it must have
been his left hand. And just as I turned
to look at him, I could see a piece of his skull and I remembered that it was
flesh colored." (5H178-181) Amazingly,
Bugliosi has had Mrs. Kennedy hear a first shot miss even though having
her hear this miss means she failed to hear or even notice the second
shot he proposes struck both her husband and the Governor. SUSPICIOUS.
- The next witness offered up is William Greer,
the driver of the limousine. Bugliosi's having Greer turn back to look
at Kennedy after a second shot is consistent with his testimony.
Bugliosi doesn't mention however, that Greer, as Kellerman, was asked
to mark CE 347 to show the limo's location during the shots. Greer's
"A", indicating the limo's location at the time of the first shot, is
about 50 feet further down the road than the limo's location at
Bugliosi's proposed first shot. (See Appendix Two). While Greer's "B" and
"C" are hard to discern on CE 347, Greer did confuse everyone by
testifying that “The last two seemed to be just simultaneously, one
behind the other, but I
don't recollect just how much, how many seconds were between the two. I
couldn't really say.” (2H112-132) If he'd heard two shots before he
turned back to look at Kennedy-which he can be seen doing around frame
280 of the Zapruder film--and he heard the last two shots, including
the head shot two seconds later, "simultaneously," instead of the 4.9
seconds apart proposed by Bugliosi, shouldn't he have testified to
hearing four shots, and not the three he said he'd heard? Greer's
confusing statement that the last two shots rang out "simultaneously",
is, nevertheless, consistent with the statements of Bennett, Hickey,
Hill, and Kellerman, and suggests that, yes indeed, the last two shots
followed right after each other. UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi then returns to Roy Kellerman, and has Kellerman yell "Let's get out of here. We're hit!" as Greer turns back around to face forward. This is a fair use of his testimony, but is not counted as such because it is really a continuation of Kellerman's earlier description of the shot.
- Bugliosi's narrative then shifts back to Rufus Youngblood,
the Secret Service agent riding in the front seat of the Vice-President's car. Bugliosi has Youngblood vault over the seat and sit on top
of Vice-President Johnson as a response to this shot. He writes "there is no doubt in Youngblood's mind what the sound is
He cites Youngblood's testimony and Johnson's statement to support his
assertion that Youngblood vaulted onto Johnson at this time.
Youngblood, however, testified that shortly after hearing the first
shot, "I turned around and hit the Vice President on the shoulder and
hollered, get down, and then looked around again and saw more of this
and so I proceeded to go to the back seat and get on top of him. I then heard two more shots. But I would like
to say this. I would not be positive that I was back on that back seat before
the second shot. But the Vice President himself said I was." (2H144-155). Youngblood was therefore unsure of when he jumped over the seat.
- This brings us to then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson's statement: “The motorcade proceeded down Main Street and then turned right on Houston. It then turned into Elm, which is a block, I believe, beyond the intersection of Main and Houston. The crowd on Elm Street was smaller...After we had proceeded a short way down Elm Street, I heard a sharp report. The crowd at this point had become somewhat spotty. The Vice-Presidential car was then about three car lengths behind President Kennedy's car, with the Presidential followup car intervening. I was startled by the sharp report or explosion. but I had no time to speculate as to its origin because Agent Youngblood turned in a flash, immediately after the first explosion, hitting me on the shoulder, and shouted to all of us in the back seat to get down. I was pushed down by Agent Youngblood. Almost in the same moment in which he hit or pushed me, he vaulted over the back seat and sat on me. I was bent over under the weight of Agent Youngblood's body, toward Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough. I remember attempting to turn my head to make sure that Mrs. Johnson had bent down. Both she and Senator Yarborough had crouched down at Agent Youngblood's command. At some time in this sequence of events. I heard other explosions.” (5H561-564).
Johnson's statement, written many months after the assassination, is
vague about the exact timing of Youngblood's leap, an 11-23-63 letter
written by Johnson to Secret Service Chief James Rowley, and
subsequently published in newspapers, was more conclusive: "Upon hearing the first shot, Mr.
Youngblood instantly vaulted across the front seat of my car, pushed me to the
floor and shielded my body with his own.”
Bugliosi is therefore wrong to cite Youngblood's testimony and
Johnson's statement as support for his contention that Youngblood
leaped into the back seat after the second shot. As a photo taken by
James Altgens at Zapruder frame 255 shows Mrs.Johnson and Senator
Yarborough still sitting up in the back seat of Johnson's limo,
moreover (see Appendix Three) it seems likely that, in accordance with
Altgens' testimony, only one shot had rang out by this time, and not
the two proposed by Bugliosi. Adding strength to this assessment is
that Johnson stated the limousine had proceeded "a short way" down Elm
before the first shot rang out, when, at the time of Bugliosi's first
shot, the Lincoln in which he was riding was just turning onto Elm.
(See Appendix Three). Bugliosi's assertion that Youngblood covered Johnson after the second shot, but before the third shot, and that this time period covers frames 224 and 313 of the Zapruder film, is therefore without foundation. UNFAIR.
- At this point in his narrative, Bugliosi slips into the mind of Abraham Zapruder, watching the shooting through the viewfinder of his famous camera. Bugliosi writes "The thought flashes in his mind, as he
sees the President jerk and slump to his left against Jackie, that
it's a joke."
Bugliosi hides from his readers that, as with most of his other
witnesses for his second shot, Zapruder felt this was the first shot.
Although Zapruder, who could swear to hearing but two shots, may have
simply missed hearing Bugliosi's first shot, his testimony suggests he
felt he missed hearing a third shot, just after the head shot. When
asked how many shots he heard, he testified: “I
thought I heard two, it could be three, because to my estimation I thought he
was hit on the second—I really don’t know…I heard the second—after the first
shot—I saw him leaning over and after the second shot—it’s possible after what
I saw, you know, then I started yelling, “They killed him, they killed him.”
(7H569-576) It seems more than a coincidence that the statements and
testimony of so many others align with Zapruder's suggestion that the
last shot followed the head shot. UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi now introduces two woman bystanders into the mix of witnesses: Mary Moorman and Jean Hill. Bugliosi accurately notes that as they are preparing to take Kennedy's picture they are "curiously unaware that shots have already been fired." As the first shot heard by them struck Kennedy in the head, and this shot rang out seconds after it was apparent to everyone else that Kennedy had been hit, this is a fair representation of their statements and testimony. (6H205-223). FAIR. (X2)
- He then returns to one of his first shot witnesses, James Worrell, still standing on the street beneath the sniper's nest. Worrell, he claims "hasn't
eyes off the barrel of the rifle sticking out the window, and when he
sees it fire again, he sees a little flame and smoke coming out of the
barrel. There is a
lot of commotion, people screaming and saying 'Duck'. Frightened, he
turns and starts to run towards Houston, just feet away, intending to
run to the back of the building." Worrell, we should recall,
testified to hearing four shots. This is the second time Bugliosi has
called on him, and he still has not told his readers this fact. Even
worse, this time he has directly misrepresented Worrell's testimony.
After describing the third of the four shots he claimed to have heard,
Worrell was asked by Arlen Specter "What did you hear, if anything, after that?"; Worrell replied "Just a lot of commotion, everybody was screaming and saying 'duck.'"
(2H190-201) It is Worrell's testimony, therefore, that people yelled
"duck" after the third shot fired. And yet Bugliosi has them yelling
"duck" after the second shot fired. He's made one of the shots heard by
Worrell simply disappear. Without discussion. Without explaining why.
He even cites Worrell's testimony in support of this "improvement" on
the historical record. SUSPICIOUS.
- The final witness offered to support Bugliosi's second shot is Amos Euins. Bugliosi has Euins scramble for safety after this shot, and hide behind a fountain. While this is consistent with Euins' testimony, Euins testified to hearing four shots. (2H201-210). As a result we can't be sure if Euins' scramble came after this shot, or the previous shot. UNFAIR.
Bugliosi's presentation of this second shot is better than his
presentation of the first shot, it is still incredibly misleading.
While his first shot witnesses were presented in a manner that created
an illusion that the first shot missed, his second shot witnesses were
presented in a manner that additionally concealed that many of his
witnesses felt the last two shots were almost simultaneous, an
impossibility should Oswald have been the sole assassin.
Essentially, he presents 17 witnesses for his second shot. Williams, Hickey, and Kellerman stated that the last two shots were close together, with Hickey and Kellerman also believing that the first shot struck Kennedy. Glen Bennett and William Greer made confusing statements that can be taken either way, in support that a first shot missed, or support that the first shot hit, but were consistent with the others in that they claimed the last two shots were close together. Charles Brehm and Rufus Youngblood made statements indicating that they heard three shots, and the first one hit. President Johnson made a vague statement indicating that the first shot was fired after Bugliosi's first shot, and that "explosions" followed. Although they could only swear to hearing two shots, Clint Hill, Jackie Kennedy, and Abraham Zapruder all felt Kennedy was hit by the first shot, and hit in the head with the second. One could argue, then, that, should one accept that these last three witnesses failed to hear one of the rapid fire shots at the end of the shooting sequence, when they heard but one "explosion," these 11 witnesses heard the shots in a consistent manner, with a first shot hit just before or at the time of Bugliosi's second shot, and two rapid fire shots around the time of the head shot.
This leaves but six witnesses whose words might reasonably be interpreted as supporting Bugliosi's scenario, which, we should recall, he cites as a "fact". Two of these, Mary Moorman and Jean Hill, have not yet heard a shot. Two others, James Worrell and Amos Euins testified to hearing four shots, so they're not exactly supportive. Governor Connally was aware of three shots, with Bugliosi's second shot being the second, but testified that the first shot was fired considerably after Bugliosi's first shot. This leaves us Nellie Connally. She also felt Bugliosi's second shot was the second shot. But Nellie, sitting just a few feet away from Kennedy and Connally, felt certain Kennedy was hit by the first shot and Connally was not. It follows then that, once one reads the entire statements and testimony of the witnesses Bugliosi has presented, not one of them supports his version of history.
Bugliosi's Third Strike
- Bugliosi's account of the third shot, naturally, begins with a "BANG!" His first witness for this shot is Howard Brennan, whom Bugliosi has look to the sniper's nest and see the sniper pull the trigger. As Brennan heard but two shots, and as Bugliosi had Brennan look to the sniper's nest just after the first shot, and see the sniper fire again, Bugliosi is using Brennan's description of the one shot he saw fired...twice...to describe both the second and third shots. This is incredibly misleading. Making matters worse is that, on his endnotes, which are presented on a companion DVD with his book, Bugliosi discusses problems with Brennan's subsequent statements that he saw both the second and third shots fired and their impacts upon the limousine. Bugliosi notes that, from Brennan's position, he could not have seen the limousine at the time of these shots. So why, if Bugliosi knows Brennan only heard two shots, and knows he later acted as if he'd heard three, does Bugliosi use Brennan's testimony to describe a response to a shot and then the firing of two more shots? Sheer sloppiness? Or was he trying to disguise that Brennan, one of his star witnesses, failed to hear one of the shots he was presenting as a "fact"? SUSPICIOUS.
- On page 42 Bugliosi continues his narrative and uses Abraham Zapruder to
describe the impact of this shot on Kennedy's skull. While this is a
fair presentation of Zapruder's testimony, Bugliosi is not engaging in
full disclosure. Not only does Bugliosi fail to mention the previously
discussed suggestion in Zapruder's testimony that a third shot followed
the head shot, he fails to relate that, as reported in a book
repeatedly cited by Bugliosi, Richard Trask's Pictures of the Pain, the
11-22-63 notes of a Dallas Times Herald reporter captured Zapruder's
immediate response to the shots, and revealed that Zapruder originally
said that Kennedy "slumped over" after the first shot, and that two
shots followed. (Pictures of the Pain, Trask, p.149) Bugliosi also
leaves out that Zapruder was interviewed on WFAA television within two
hours of the shots, and at that time he reported "I heard a shot, and he slumped to the side, like
this. Then I heard another shot or two, I couldn't say it was one or two, and I
saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything, and I kept on
(Pictures of the Pain, p.77). It seems more than coincidence that
Bugliosi's avoidance of Zapruder's statements helps prop up his
personal interpretation of the shots. Still, a final shot headshot is
consistent with Zapruder's testimony. FAIR.
- Bugliosi uses his next witness, Marilyn Sitzman,
Abraham Zapruder's secretary, to add to his description of Kennedy's
head wound. Not surprisingly, Bugliosi fails to mention that, according
to the interview Bugliosi cites as his source on Sitzman, she saw
Kennedy react to the first shot, and saw his skull open up with a
second shot, and did not hear his mythical first shot miss. (11-29-66
Sitzman interview with Josiah Thompson). Still, a final shot headshot
is consistent with her statements. FAIR.
- At this point in Bugliosi's narrative, things really heat up. Mrs. Kennedy cries out after her husband is shot. This is a FAIR use of her testimony.
- Bugliosi then writes "Just as Agent Clint Hill's hand reaches for the handhold on the trunk of the limousine he hears the sound of a fired bullet smacking into a hard object." He cites Hill's testimony as support for this statement. This is not accurate. When Hill, who ran from the back-up car to dive onto the back of the limo, testified "Just about as I reached it, there was another sound, which was different than the first sound. I think I described it in my statement as though someone was shooting a revolver into a hard object--it seemed to have some type of an echo” he was describing his race for the limo, not his reaching for the handhold, which happened a second or more later. This is admittedly nit-picking. More telling of Bugliosi's methods is his excision of Hill's comment about an echo, which could suggest the sounds of more than one shot at this time, from his narrative. SUSPICIOUS.
- He then has Roy Kellerman, sitting in the front seat of the limo, feel brain matter splatter in the car, and hear Mrs. Kennedy yell out. This is FAIR.
- He now has Paul Landis,
riding on the outside of the Secret Service back-up car, describe the
impact of the bullet on Kennedy's skull. Here, in a rare moment of
equanimity, Bugliosi admits that Landis, who felt the first shot came
from behind, felt the fatal shot came from in front of the limousine.
This is surprisingly FAIR.
- He then has Governor Connally and his wife hear Jackie Kennedy cry out about having her husband's brains in her hand. While this probably happened further down the road, it undoubtedly happened after the third shot, and is a FAIR use of their testimony.
- But with his next witness Bugliosi slips back into his old habits. Here, he describes Roy Kellerman's
getting on the phone to call ahead to agent Lawson and report that
Kennedy's been hit. He writes: "But as he's starting to talk to Lawson
Greer accelerates a third shot rings out." Bugliosi's citation for this
paragraph is Kellerman's testimony. But Kellerman's testimony is at
odds with his account. Bugliosi has as good as made up words to stick
in Kellerman's mouth. As we've discussed, Kellerman actually testified:
"I grabbed the speaker and said to the driver, 'Let’s
get out of here, we are hit!,' and grabbed the mike and I said, 'Lawson,
this is Kellerman… We are hit; get us to the hospital immediately.' Now, in the seconds that I talked just now, a
flurry of shells come into the car.” Not a third shot, as presented by Bugliosi...a flurry of shots. SUSPICIOUS.
When one considers Bugliosi's misrepresentation of Kellerman's words, and then recalls his avoidance of the statements of everyone who suggests there were two or more closely grouped shots around the time of the head shot, it should once again be more than clear that he is deliberately avoiding a discussion of what the eyewitnesses actually said, and is, instead, pushing his own theory of what happened. He is, in effect, knowingly cutting and pasting their words together to create an inaccurate picture of their testimony. The man who dedicated his book to the "sacred" historical record, is, disturbingly, engaging in a deliberate deception.
- Bugliosi then proceeds to tell the story of John Ready,
a Secret Service agent on the outside of the car behind Kennedy, who,
for one brief moment, considered running for the limousine during the
shots. He states that "Ready, who had jumped off the running board
of the Secret Service follow-up car when the limousine had slowed and
had started to run across the asphalt for the President's car, doesn't
make it in time as the limousine speeds up, and Special Agent Emory
Roberts orders Agent Ready back to the follow-up car." Bugliosi cites Secret Service reports by Ready and Roberts as support for this story. Ready writes "I left the follow-up car in the direction of the President's car but was re-called." (18H749). Roberts, on the other hand, writes "I told him not to jump as we had picked up speed and I was afraid he could not make it."
(18H731-738). Apparently Bugliosi knows which one we should believe.
Ready's statement, by the way, offers very little insight as to how the
shots were fired. FAIR.
- Bugliosi's use of Emory Roberts,
the agent sitting in the right front seat of the car directly behind
Kennedy, and thus the man with the best view in the world to report the
sequence of the shots, to describe Ready's (possibly non-existent) run,
when he hasn't used Roberts previously to describe any of Kennedy's
actions, however, is undoubtedly curious. Why hasn't he told us what
Roberts saw? Well one look at Roberts' report from 11-29-63, the same
report Bugliosi cites for Ready's run, suggests a reason why. Roberts relates: “12:30 PM: First
of three shots fired, at which time I saw the President lean toward Mrs.
Kennedy. I do not know if it was the
next shot or third shot that hit the President in the head, but I saw what
appeared to be a small explosion on the right side of the President’s head, saw
blood, at which time the President fell further to his left…"
(18H733-738). Yep. Roberts, just yards behind Kennedy, not only
believed that Kennedy was hit by the first of three shots, but implied
that the last two shots came in so fast he couldn't tell which one hit
Kennedy in the head. If this doesn't make you wonder about Bugliosi's
scenario, I don't know what will. UNFAIR.
- Bugliosi's next witness is Sam Kinney,
the driver of the follow-up car. Bugliosi uses Kinney to describe his
hitting the accelerator, but fails to tell his readers that Kinney, as
Roberts sitting next to him, and so many others, thought the last two
shots were so close together that it was difficult to say which one hit
the President. On the night of the shooting, Kinney
reported: "The first shot was fired as we were going into an underpass…it
appeared that he (the President) had been shot because he slumped to the
left. Immediately, he sat up again. At this time, the second shot was fired and I
observed hair flying from the right side of his head…I did hear three shots but
do not recall which shots were those that hit the President.” (18H732) On 11-30-63, he filed a second report: “As we completed the left turn and on a short distance,
there was a shot…I saw the President lean toward the left and appeared to have
grabbed his chest with his right hand. There was a second of pause and then two more shots were heard. Agent Clint Hill jumped from the follow-up
car and dashed to the aid of the President and first Lady in the President’s
car. I saw one shot strike the President
in the right side of the head.” (18H730-731).UNFAIR.
To refresh, just briefly, Bugliosi has now presented the statements of Secret Service agents Paul Landis, Glen Bennett, George Hickey, Clint Hill, Roy Kellerman, William Greer, John Ready, Emory Roberts, and Sam Kinney. He clearly believes they are credible. And yet, although Bennett, Hickey, Kellerman, Greer, Roberts, and Kinney all made statements indicating the last two shots were extremely close together, and Clint Hill said the last shot had a strange echo, suggesting it may in fact have been two shots extremely close together, and Paul Landis only heard one shot at the end, suggesting he may have interpreted the last shots as one shot, Bugliosi has failed to admit this to his readers. Instead, he is pretending their testimony is consistent with his belief that the first shot missed and that the final shot came after a near five second delay, and is hiding statements contrary to his belief from his readers. Isn't this exactly the kind of thing for which he excoriates others?
- Bugliosi continues his narration by having Clint Hill climb onto the back of the limousine, and Mrs Kennedy crawl out toward him. They both climb back onto the seat. This is FAIR.
- On page 43 Bugliosi backtracks a second and reports that Mary Moorman,
standing on the grass just yards from the President, has taken a photo
"an instant after the head shot." He reports that she "quickly falls to
the ground" and tugs on the pants of her friend, Jean Hill,
encouraging her to get down. He says Hill is too stunned to move. He
cites a number of sources, including Jean Hill's testimony, in support
of this activity. He fails to report that Hill testified that after she
yelled "Hey" at Kennedy "he started to
bring his head up to look at me and just as he did the shots rang out. Mary took the picture and fell on the ground
and of course there were more shots."
(6H205-223). She was thereby testifying that more than one shot rang
out in this period, and that other shots rang out afterwards. He also
hides that Mary Moorman signed a statement claiming: "As I snapped the picture of President Kennedy, I heard a shot ring
out. President Kennedy kind of slumped
over. Then I heard another shot ring out
and Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and said “My God, he has been shot!” When I heard
these shots ring out, I fell to the ground to keep from being hit myself. I heard three or four shots in all."
(24H217). This also suggests there were two shots in this period, and
aligns with the statements of the Secret Service agents. Bugliosi, of
course, is pushing that there was but one shot at this time, and that
the previous shot came almost 5 seconds earlier. SUSPICIOUS. (2x)
desperation to hide that there was a shot just after the head shot
becomes almost embarrassingly obvious with the presentation of his
next witness. Bugliosi reports that "Charles Brehm
instinctively throws himself on his young son, covering him with his
body. Brehm a former army staff sergeant, knows about gunfire. Nineteen
years before, at Brest in Normandy, not long after D-Day, a German
bullet went through his chest and blew his elbow joint apart. Now,
despite his desperate hopes, he is positive the President was also hit."
Bugliosi cites both a 1963 FBI report on Brehm and Brehm's 1986
testimony in a mock trial for this dramatic passage. By simply
reporting that Brehm threw himself onto his son, and not specifying
that Brehm responded to the third shot head shot by covering his son,
Bugliosi avoids admitting to his readers that Brehm was consistent in
his statements from day one, and that Brehm stated unequivocally that
Kennedy was struck in the head by the second shot, and not the third.
In the 1986 mock trial, Brehm testified: "when the third shot--which seemed to me to be a wasted
shot--went off, which frightened me more than any of the others because
then I thought it was somebody shooting up the place. I then fell on my
Bugliosi knows this not only because he cites Brehm's testimony in his
book, but because he was the prosecuting attorney taking Brehm's
testimony. Even worse, Brehm was his witness. Bugliosi's twisting of
Brehm's words to support his claim as fact that the first shot missed
(when Brehm testified it did not), the second shot hit both Kennedy and
Connally (when Brehm said it hit Kennedy in the head), and the third
shot hit Kennedy in the head (when Brehm said it seemed to have missed)
is simply outrageous. SUSPICIOUS.
- He next has Abraham Zapruder yell out "They've killed him! They've killed him!" and follow the limousine out of the Plaza with his camera. This is fair but is a continuation of his earlier testimony.
- He now returns to James Worrell, still standing in front of the depository, looking up. He uses Worrell's Warren Commission testimony to assert that Worrell
"pivots and looks back over his shoulder before the window with the
rifle in it is out of sight and sees the rifle fire a third time." Bugliosi, not surprisingly, conceals from his readers what Worrell said next. Worrell testified: "Just
as I got to the corner I heard the fourth shot."
(2H190-201). Failing to tell his readers of this fourth shot is yet
another egregious deception on Bugliosi's part. Nowhere in his book
does Bugliosi mention that Worrell, whom he uses to convince his
readers that 3 shots were fired from the sniper's nest, heard 4 shots,
one of which must have been fired from a different location. Even
stranger, the shot Bugliosi avoids mentioning in this passage is Worrell's fourth shot. Earlier,
when discussing the second shot, he discussed events occurring after
Worrell's third shot. From this it appears that, not only does Bugliosi
make shots disappear at his convenience, he changes the shots that
disappear at his convenience. SUSPICIOUS.
- Bugliosi then swings back to his star witness, Howard Brennan,
sitting on a wall across Elm Street from the depository. He has Brennan
dive off the wall as this shot rings out, and watch the gunman pull his
rifle back in from the window. This is a FAIR use of Brennan's testimony.
help support Brennan's assertion that this last shot was fired from the
sniper's nest, Bugliosi now introduces a few new witnesses. First, he has
photographer Robert Jackson, riding on Elm Street in the
motorcade, look up and see the rifle pulled in from the window.
Bugliosi cites Jackson's testimony, but fails to tell his readers that
Jackson testified "the second two
shots seemed much closer together than they were to the first shot.”
(2H155-165). Such an assertion, as previously explained, is an indication that the first shot did not miss. It is also, however, a suggestion that either the second shot was fired sometime after frame 252, the mid-point between the earliest moment Kennedy could have been hit, frame 190, and the head shot at 313, or that the third shot was fired after frame 313. Bugliosi's inclusion of Jackson's statements about a third shot in a section devoted to the shot at frame 313, when he may have been describing a shot just after frame 313, is probably innocent, but nevertheless UNFAIR.
- At this time, Bugliosi dramatizes the thoughts and actions of the other photographers in Jackson's car. Bugliosi reports "The press car was halfway up the block toward Elm when its occupants heard the first shot." Is it really possible Bugliosi does not know that this correlates to their location seconds after his proposed first shot miss?
- He thens singles out Malcolm Couch,
who claimed to have seen the rifle sticking out of the window after
Jackson pointed it out to him. Here, Bugliosi finally stumbles into a
witness whose story vaguely supports the scenario he's been pushing.
While the 11-27-63 FBI report on Couch cited by Bugliosi says Couch
thought the first two shots were 10 seconds apart, Couch testified that
the first shot rang out when the car in which he was riding was "uh, 15 or 20 feet from the turn—from off of Main
onto Houston" and that the shots were "fairly close together, they were fairly even in sound." (6H153-162). This is vaguely supportive of Bugliosi's scenario. FAIR.
then has the photographers observe the chaos that followed the third
shot. While Bugliosi doesn't cite their statements and testimony, we'll
be a little more thorough, and acknowledge that the other three
photographers, Tom Dillard, Jimmy Darnell and James Underwood, were inconsistent in their statements and testimony, regarding the sound of the shots. While Dillard testified that three "approximately equally spaced" shots rang out when they were "just a few feet around the corner,"
(6H162-167) thereby supporting Couch's testimony (and Bugliosi's
theory), Darnell only mentioned two shots when he talked to the FBI
(CD7 p29), and Underwood not only originally reported the last two
shots came in "quick succession" (Pictures of the Pain, 420-421)
but testified that the car was in the middle of the block when the
first shot rang out (6H167-171).
- This brings us to Bugliosi's final witness to state there was a sniper in the sniper's nest, James Crawford.
Standing on the eastern side of Houston Street, Crawford recalls seeing
a fleeting glimpse of someone in the window just after the last shot.
Bugliosi reports "Crawford had thought the first loud sound he heard to be a
backfire of a car...Then he heard the second sound and began to look
around, thinking someone was firing firecrackers. As the report from
the third shot sounded, he looked up and saw a very quick, indistinct
movement in the southeasternmost window on the sixth floor of the
Book Depository Building."
In his usual fashion, Bugliosi cites the Warren Commission testimony
of Crawford to support this, and in his usual fashion he forgets to
tell his readers that Crawford testified to events in direct opposition
to the version of events Bugliosi claims is a fact. Crawford testified:
"I believe there was a car leading the President’s car, followed by
the President’s car, and followed, I suppose, by the Vice President’s car, and
in turn by the Secret Service in a yellow closed sedan. The doors of the sedan were open. It was after the Secret Service sedan had
gone around the corner that I heard the first report and at that time I thought
it was a backfire of a car" and then continued "The second shot followed some seconds, a little time
elapsed after the first one, and followed very quickly by a third one."
(6H171-174) By having the Secret Service sedan around the corner at
the time of the first shot, Crawford was indicating the first shot was
fired after frame 190 of the Zapruder film. Bugliosi, of course, has it
at frame 160. The third shot that Crawford insisted followed "very
quickly" after the second, furthermore, follows a tension-filled 5
seconds after the second in Bugliosi's scenario. For the reasons stated in our discussion of Jackson, Bugliosi's use of Crawford is probably innocent but nevertheless UNFAIR.
- Finally, to support that Crawford saw someone in the window, Bugliosi cites Mary Mitchell, standing next to Crawford, and her confirmation that Crawford pointed out the window just after the shots. Not surprisingly, Bugliosi neglects to tell his readers that she testified to hearing three shots, with "the second and third being closer together than the first and second." (6H175-177). This, of course, fits the statements and testimony of the vast majority of witnesses offered by Bugliosi, but runs contrary to his conclusions. His use of Mitchell's statement to describe the reaction to a head shot at frame 313, when she quite possibly was responding to a shot after frame 313, is probably innocent but is nevertheless UNFAIR.
This brings us to the end of our exhaustive look at an exhaustive look.
By a rough un-scientific count, which is, of course, open to
re-interpretation, we have examined Bugliosi's use of the statements
and testimony of dozens of witnesses to describe 55 responses or
interpretations to these three shots. 16 of these
descriptions seem to be fair ones, reflective of the statements and
testimony of the witnesses. Another 17 of these are unfair
ones--meaning that, if one were to read the full statements and
testimony of these witnesses, one might very well conclude they were not
describing a response to the shots proposed by Bugliosi. Another 22 of
these are overtly suspicious in nature, suggestive that Bugliosi is
deliberately trying to conceal contradictory evidence from his
readers--the exact crime for which he vilifies others.
While one might wish to give Bugliosi the benefit of the doubt, and assume the widespread misrepresentation of the eyewitness evidence in his book came as a result of "dramatic license" and lousy fact-checking by a research assistant, one should consider that on June 14, 2007, during an on-air radio interview with Pittsburgh radio station, WPTT, Bugliosi asserted "99.9 percent of the research in this case was done by myself. I couldn't rely on anyone else to do the research for me." This suggests that Bugliosi is not only entirely responsible for the many misrepresentations in his book, but that he actively prevented anyone from double-checking his quotes and citations. In this interview, he claimed further that his book was a "very special book" and that it was, no surprise, "a book for the ages." As it was "a book for the ages," he explained, normal marketing considerations, such as size, were not to be considered. In an immodest moment, he asserted "When scholarship is in conflict with marketability, you go the scholarship route."
One winces in the face of such hubris. This is the man who attacked Oliver Stone, who'd created an admitted work of fiction based on a real event, for not laying out the evidence that ran counter to his narrative. This is the man who attacked Mark Lane, who wrote the influential book Rush to Judgment as a defense brief for Oswald, for leaving the prosecution's case out of his book. This is the man who promised to "omit or distort nothing." And yet, in his over 2500 page book, he completely conceals the inconvenient truth that the eyewitnesses he uses to describe the shooting scenario he presents as a fact, only support his scenario when he cherry-picks their testimony. He never mentions that one of the three men crouched just a floor below the sniper's nest originally said there'd been but two shots. He never mentions that two of the three men who saw a gun fire from the sniper's nest thought there'd been a fourth shot. Despite his promises not to do so, he removes words from the statements of some witnesses, and adds words to the statements of others, which just so happen to change their meaning. Does such a man deserve the benefit of the doubt?
If one were to warm up one's psychiatrist couch, and throw Bugliosi onto the fire, as he does others (beyond his attacks on Oswald, he is found of saying that conspiracy theorists are "certifiably psychotic" and that writer David Lifton took a "journey into dementia") one might very well conclude that Bugliosi, in his zeal to simplify an otherwise complicated bit of American history, put on his blinders and constructed a dramatic narrative that safely supported his conclusions. On November 4, 2007, in an interview on Book TV, he offered up some insight which supports this conjecture. When asked why, at this point in history, he still doesn't use a computer, or even have a cell phone, he replied: "I think I have an instinctive disinclination for anything mechanical or technological...I like simplicity. I want everything simple. When I speak to a jury, I put a bib on them and spoon-feed them. You've got to be simple. Life is simple for the simple-minded. Maybe it's because I'm simple-minded, I don't know. I like simplicity." Thus, one might assume that Bugliosi, desperate to give Oswald more time to fire his purported shots, and with a predilection towards simplicity, simply took the cue from all too many before him, conjured up an imaginary first shot miss, made it appear he had witnesses describing this shot, and let the evidence be damned.
Well, one should ask, isn't this the "cultural crime" of which he accused Oliver Stone?
what of those in the media who've (at least so far) supported
Bugliosi's deception? Are they un-indicted co-conspirators? Accessories
after the fact? Or are they, in fact, innocent bystanders to his historic train-wreck?
historian Jon Wiener's 2005 report on his profession, Historians in
Trouble, he notes that it is not unusual for books with tremendous
errors to receive excellent reviews. He explains: "Of
reviewer is expected to consult the primary sources cited in a book
under review--the assumption is that the author has fulfilled his duty
to accuracy." In the case of Reclaiming History, it's clear that no one
from the New York Times, Los Angeles
Times, and Washington Post--or any other media outlet for that
matter--had the gumption or energy to
consult the primary sources cited by Bugliosi. One should have thought they'd be curious to see if the man with all the answers had even marginally done his job. But one would be wrong. It
is undoubtedly ironic then that a book designed to scold those who
twist the historical record to meet their own ends, twisted the
historical record to meet its own ends, and went undiscovered by the
self-appointed watchdogs of the media, who were more than eager to kick
sand in the face of those who twist the historical record to meet their
own ends. It is ironic but not at all amusing.
Part 4: Renouncing Hypocrisy
April 2008, Playtone, the Tom Hanks-owned company supposedly at work on
a multi-million dollar, multi-part production of Bugliosi's Reclaiming
History, a bio-pic on the death of an American president, premiered a
multi-part production of John Adams, a bio-pic on the life of an
American president. This proved to be ironic and slightly amusing.
At one point of this production, in a scene presumably contrived for television, Adams, who bore a striking, almost eerie, resemblance to the actor Paul Giammatti, criticized the painter John Trumbull for his overly clean and patriotic depiction of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His words, slightly edited, came straight from David McCulloch's book on Adams, which, one can only hope, did come straight from Adams' letters and writings.
In McCulloch's book, Adams complained: "it is a common observation in Europe that nothing is so false as modern history; I should say nothing is so false as modern history as ancient history, and I would add that nothing is so false as ancient or modern history in Europe, except modern American history."
He also unleashed this warning: "Do not let our posterity be deluded with fictions under the guise of poetical or graphical license."
One can only hope someone at Playtone recognized the irony.
Still, irony is often lost on those determined to reclaim a history that never really was.
can only hope then that at least one member of academia, the press, or
the Washington establishment, would note the irony. Yet nothing has
been written in the national media (of which I am aware) criticizing
Playtone's production of Bugliosi's book. One can only imagine the
outrage among historians, the press, and the establishment, if, say,
Oliver Stone purchased the rights to a book about, let's say, Pearl
Harbor, which upheld, through events related in sworn testimony but
taken out of sequence, the "fact" that Roosevelt knew all about the
upcoming attack and did nothing to prevent it. One can only imagine the
outrage if, say, Oliver Stone, bought the rights to a book about, let's
say, the Iran/Contra scandal, which upheld, through sworn testimony
cherry-picked from testimony suggesting a different scenario, the
"fact" that Ronald Reagan had personally profited from the sale of arms
to terrorists. Should Stone do such a thing he would be called a
"murderer" of our "sacred" historical record, or maybe just "Oliver
Stone," as his name has become synonymous with "murderer of our sacred
historical record" to all too many.
And yet, in Reclaiming History, Bugliosi has asserted as fact, through illustration and argument, a sequence of events which is grossly at odds with the historical record he purports to be defending. This sequence of events is no minor subplot in his book of books, mind you, but is the central event of his book. It is the cornerstone upon which he builds his argument that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy. His selective use and editing of the evidence, moreover, suggests he knows full well that his version of events is at odds with the historical record, and is seeking to hide this from his readers. Where's the outrage?
a creationist writes a book, purporting to be scientific, that so
obviously and deliberately misrepresents evidence, the book is either
criticized or ignored. So why, when his book contains these same flaws,
has Bugliosi's book drew raves?, Is it "okay" to mislead if it's done
for the greater good? If so, then who decides the "good"? If so, then
how is Vincent Bugliosi any better than, gulp, Oliver Stone?
On December 17, 1991, in the Washington Post, former Warren Commissioner and ex-President Gerald Ford and former Warren Commission counsel David Belin wrote "The basic format underlying the dissemination of lies is to cover up the overwhelming weight of the evidence and instead paste together scraps of testimony to form a case..." Although, as we've seen, they were describing Bugliosi's use of narrative in Reclaiming History, they thought they were describing the methods of Oliver Stone.
Oliver Stone included their comments in his book about his movie. All of the early criticisms of Stone cited in this discussion come from Stone's book about his movie. While Oliver Stone was purported to have been intellectually myopic, and a propagandist, he nevertheless admitted his work was a work of fiction, based largely on the memoirs of a controversial figure, and featuring an alternative take on the same pool of information used by the Warren Commission to come to its conclusions. His film was well-received by the public and successful in its stated goal of provoking the U.S. Government into releasing hundreds of thousands of assassination-related documents to the research community.
Vincent Bugliosi, on the other
hand, is a polemicist of different stripe. While he once denounced Stone for using film to present his distortions, as "anything shown in a movie tends to be taken as a truth,"
he has now entered into a deal to sell his own witting distortions of
the evidence to the American public, using, well...not only film, but
the credibility and star power of Bill Paxton and Tom Hanks. Meanwhile,
while the film is in production, he has refused to debate serious
researchers of different perspectives. Neither he nor Hanks'
production company have sought to balance the perspective of his book
and create something closer to
truth, by hiring outside experts to help catch and correct Bugliosi's
numerous mistakes, and assure that his mistakes are not repeated in the
film. Certainly, at this moment, the thought of Bugliosi publishing a
book comprising critiques of his work so that future generations can
make their own decisions about his intelligence and integrity, a la Stone,
is beyond anyone's imagination.
Bugliosi, apparently, has alienated even those who agree with him. His stratospheric arrogance is such that even his ally of sorts, Max Holland, currently at work on a Warren Commission defense of his own, felt it worthy of comment. In his May 20, 2007 review of Reclaiming History, Holland wrote: "there is an occupational hazard that comes with being an advocate, especially a prosecutor, rather than a historian. Mr. Bugliosi assumes a pose of omniscience that is not always warranted. He is absolutely certain even when he is not necessarily right." This arrogance is never more apparent than when Bugliosi is in front of a camera. In a video-taped interview presented online to promote his book, Bugliosi boasted "It's my very firm belief--I'm very, very confident--that no reasonable, rational person -- and let's underline those words 'reasonable' and 'rational' -- no reasonable, rational person can possibly read this book without being satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Oswald hit Kennedy and acted alone." Bugliosi's publisher, of course, shares this sentiment and claims his book answers all the questions.
Let's recall here the words of the New York Times' Tom Wicker. Wicker's chief complaint about Oliver Stone, he claimed, was not that Stone believed Kennedy had been killed by a conspiracy and Wicker did not, but that Stone cast negative aspersions on "anyone who doesn't share his one true faith." Wicker further complained that Stone "uses the powerful instrument of a motion picture, and relies on stars of the entertainment world to propagate the one true faith."
I hereby submit that Vincent Bugliosi is the real Oliver Stone.
In 2008, it became apparent that Vincent Bugliosi's misrepresentation of the Kennedy assassination witness statements was no one-time mistake, and that such misrepresentations were for him quite possibly business as usual. A website was created for his book, with excerpts from many of the positive reviews cited above. Included in these quotes, however, was a quote from an unexpected source, noted conspiracy theorist Dr. David Mantik. The quote read: "It is likely that [Reclaiming History] will stand forever as the magnum opus of this case. . . . It is a masterpiece."
This was a bold and deliberate misrepresentation of Mantik's actual comments, however, which read, in part:
"It is likely that this book will stand as the magnum opus of this case--though not without serious flaws...I would liken the book to a house held aloft by a multitude of stilts...The problem, as we shall amply soon see, is that he (Bugliosi) wears permanent blinders, particularly when it comes to experts, and especially so for those from science...As I see it, the fundamental difference between scientists and lawyers lies in epistemology—i.e., how does one define, or even find, truth? For lawyers, steeped in the adversarial system, the answer is clear-cut: use expert witnesses, and then let a jury vote. For a scientist, the very notion of a debate, and then a vote on truth, would be absurd, simply laughed out of court in a nanosecond. Instead, the scientist would set up a controlled experiment, perform multiple measurements, and then publish his results in a peer reviewed journal. But for his work to be accepted as part of the scientific corpus, it would likely be repeated several times over by independent groups...B’s book represents a massive, even prodigious, outpouring of work. One must be either mad or a genius to wallow for 20 years in such an interminable project..In its own way, it is a masterpiece--a truly great prosecutorial brief...As would be expected, he sometimes misuses medical terms (and even misunderstands what I know), but overall he communicates these issues well, though we often disagree profoundly on interpretation. Whenever possible, though, he prefers simply to quote the experts who side with him, especially those from the WC and House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Of course, that’s precisely what we should expect: lawyers are paid for presenting the experts, not for presenting the evidence. B rarely shows much originality or personal ability to analyze the medical or scientific data. In essence, he operates with a crutch virtually all of the time—without these experts at his side he is a near cripple. As for me, coming from a scientific background, and being thoroughly familiar with virtually all of this JFK (medical and scientific) evidence, I found B’s myopic and closed-minded view of this critical data acutely disappointing. How can one dialogue with a lawyer who hides behind his chosen experts? Somehow, from such a brilliant mind, I had hoped for more. It was, of course, unreasonable of me. The gap between the different cultures is simply too large."
Now this was clearly a negative review, calling into question not only the accuracy of the information presented in the book, but Bugliosi's ability to interpret the information. Even so, in May 2008 the abbreviated quote in which Mantik appeared to rave about a "masterpiece" was put on the front pages of Four Days in November, the scarcely-noticed paperback abbreviation of Bugliosi's monstrous book.
On 6-12-2008, Bugliosi's number one fan David Von Pein sent Bugliosi's secretary an e-mail complaining about this and other developments. He posted this online. It concluded:
"I really wanted Vince B. to know about these things (which
I truly don't think he's aware of at all) -- especially the Mantik
review blurbs, which, as mentioned, are just flat-out embarrassing
after reading Mantik's WHOLE review.
It makes it look as if the publisher (Norton) is so desperate for ANY
kind of praise from the pro-conspiracy crowd that they are willing to
bend the context of Mantik's words to suit their own pro-RH purposes.
And that's not a good thing at all, in my view."
Von Pein received no
response to his complaint, and the bastardized "quote" of Mantik praising Reclaiming History continued to be featured on its website.
This was not surprising, however. In his e-mail, Von Pein airily dismissed that Bugliosi was aware someone had twisted Mantik's words to help sell his book. And yet Bugliosi was not only almost certainly aware of this deception, he was almost certainly the engineer behind this deception. In late 2007, when the first negative reviews of Reclaiming History bubbled to the surface, Bugliosi responded by sending angry letters to his critics--to show them the error of their ways. I have read one such letter. In this letter, Bugliosi not only threatened his critic with a lawsuit, but quoted liberally from what he contended were proper reviews of his book. One such quote furnished by Bugliosi came from David Mantik's largely negative review of his book. It went like this: "It is likely that (Reclaiming History) will stand forever as the magnum opus of this case...It is a masterpiece."
While it's certainly possible that someone from Bugliosi's publisher furnished him this quote, and that he innocently repeated it, it seems highly unlikely that Bugliosi would fail to read a review by a prominent conspiracy theorist, particularly one in which the writer called his book "a masterpiece." As a result we can feel quite certain that Bugliosi knows full well his use of the quote is deceptive. And that he simply doesn't care.
I mean, let's be honest. This is a man who arranged or at the very least allowed the cover of his book Four Days in November to boast, in quotes above the title, "a book for the ages," when that quote, even if accurate, was never used to describe Four Days in November, but Reclaiming History, the much larger and more comprehensive book from which it was excised. Telling the truth was never in the cards.
The Last Word
Parkland, the 90-minute drama ultimately made by Playtone, was released to theaters in October, 2013. It did poorly at the box office. It was then rushed out for rental.
While the film was purportedly based on Bugliosi's book Four Days in November, there was little sign of his book in the film. The details were so scrambled, and characters so readily combined or mixed up with other characters, that the film could easily have been based on an under-researched magazine article. As but one example, it showed the assassination through the eyes of Abraham Zapruder. Literally. I'm not kidding. Rather than re-enact the shooting, the director chose to show Abraham Zapruder's face--in actuality the face of Playtone favorite Paul Giamatti--respond to the shots. Zapruder, of course, could recall but two shots. There were three shots in the movie, however, about 2 1/2 seconds apart. Well, this was not only misleading, it wasn't even true to Bugiosi's book. In his book, we should recall, Bugliosi claimed there was almost five seconds between shots two and three.
No, let me clarify that. It actually depends upon which book we're talking about. In Reclaiming History Bugliosi claimed the second shot came 3.5 seconds after the first, and the third shot 4.9 seconds after the second. In Four Days in November--purportedly an abbreviation of Reclaiming History and not a re-write--on the other hand, he claimed the second shot came 2.7 seconds after the first, and the third shot 5.7 seconds after the second. Yes, you read that right. For Four Days in November, Bugliosi changed the timing yet again--presumably to bring the second shot in line with the Warren Commission's preferred frame of impact, Z-210. In doing so, however, Bugliosi placed the second two shots almost six seconds apart.
Now, this would come as a huge surprise to the witnesses to the shooting, most of whom thought the last two shots were bang-bang almost on top of each other, and/or much closer together than shots one and two.
So, if the actions depicted in the film didn't come from Bugliosi's book, what did? Attitude, namely, the ability to ignore the inconvenient. The most misleading element of the film is summed up by its title: Parkland. One would think a movie called Parkland would at least try to be accurate regarding Kennedy's treatment at Parkland Hospital. But that's far from the case. The doctors who treated Kennedy at Parkland, almost to a man, thought the fatal head wound was on the back of his head. This, of course, served as fertile ground for conspiracy theories. Is it a coincidence, then, that a film based on Bugliosi's book 1) never gave its viewers a good look at the head wound; 2) failed to portray Dr. Robert McClelland, who claims even today that the wound he saw was on the back of Kennedy's head; 3) failed to depict Dr. William Kemp Clark, another to claim the wound was on the back of Kennedy's head, carefully inspect this wound prior to declaring him dead; and 4) showed Kennedy's head being wrapped up in gauze and hidden from view just after he was declared dead.
Well, I'll be. The film for which Bugliosi was paid plenty was every bit as misleading--and not nearly as interesting--as Oliver Stone's JFK...the film he called a "lie."
His publisher couldn't admit this, of course. To help recoup the losses they'd incurred with Reclaiming History, Bugliosi's publisher W.W. Norton withdrew Four Days in November, renamed it Parkland, and released this material yet a third time to coincide with the release of the movie.
To no avail. Despite the book's being linked to a major motion picture, and it's release being timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, it flopped yet again. Three up, three down. Four, if you count the movie...
But was this the end?
I'm afraid not. In a sign suggesting W.W. Norton plans on re-packaging Reclaiming History over and over again until a non-believing world accepts the one true faith of Vincent Bugliosi, Bugliosi's editor, Starling Lawrence, added a note at the beginning of Parkland which reads: "Readers who enjoy Parkland, or who have unanswered questions about conspiracy theories and the various investigations of the assassination, will want to consult Bugliosi's masterwork, Reclaiming History, which has raised scholarship on the assassination to a new and final level, one that far surpasses all other books on the subject."
It was, after all, a book for the ages...
Appendix One: The First Shot Miss Dilemma
Appendix Two: Reclaiming History from Reclaiming History
When one inspects Warren Commission exhibits 347 and 354, and matches them up to the testimony explaining what the notations on them are designed to represent, it becomes painfully clear that the first shot miss circa frame 160 proposed by Bugliosi and his fellow single-assassin theorists, is nonsense, as wacky as most anything proposed by the conspiracy theorists they so actively disrespect.
Notations on CE 347:
- Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, who rode in the front seat of the Presidential limo, marked the motorcade route, marked an X to reflect his appraisal of the limo's location at the moment of the first shot, and marked a Y to reflect his appraisal of the limo's location at the time of the second and third shots. (The version of CE 347 reprinted in the Warren Commission's volumes was nearly unreadable. After playing with the contrast of this image, however, I was able to discern Kellerman's X on the road near the limo's location around frame 190 of the Zapruder film. I was unable to ascertain the precise location of his Y.)
- Secret Service agent William Greer, the driver of Kennedy's limo, marked his appraisal of the limo's location at the time of the first shot with an A, the second shot with a B, and a third shot with a C. (I was able to discern Greer's A at a location around frame 220 of the Zapruder film, but was unable to ascertain the locations of his B and his C.)
- Buell Wesley Frazier, who was standing on the front steps of the depository, directly beneath the sniper's nest, marked by putting an F inside an oval the plaza location from where he thought the shots had been fired. (He placed this F in an oval in the railroad yards, far west of the building.)
Notations on CE 354:
- Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who ran from the back-up car and climbed onto the trunk during the shooting, marked his appraisal of the location for the first shot with an X, and his appraisal for the second shot he heard-which was the fatal head shot--with a Y. (His X is at around the limo's location at frame 175 of the Zapruder film. His Y is around the location of the limo at frame 220. As the head shot clearly occurred when the limo was much further down the street, it seems likely he placed the first shot too close to the corner as well.)
- Secret Service agent Rufus Youngblood, riding in the Vice-Presidential limo two cars back from the President, marked the location of this limo at the time of the first shot with an A. (Youngblood's A is on Elm Street around the President's location at frame 180 of the Zapruder film. As the VP limo was 40-50 feet behind the President's limousine, this places the first shot somewhere between frames 220-230 of the film.)
- Motorcade witness Arnold Rowland marked a V to show where he was standing as the motorcade passed, an A to show where he'd been standing when he observed someone other than Oswald in the sniper's nest minutes before the shooting, a B to show where he went after that, and a D to show where he was pulled after the shots. (Rowland's V, apparently, was transposed by someone into an A at the corner of Houston and Elm.)
- Motorcade witness Virgie Baker marked a 1 to show where she was standing during the shooting and a 2 to mark the location where she thought she saw something hit the street behind the limousine. (Her 2 is approximately 100 feet away from her location, and at least 70 feet past where a bullet impacting behind the limo would have impacted should she have witnessed this impact circa frame 160 of the Zapruder film.)
- Warren Commission Counsel Wesley Liebeler marked a 3 to show where photographer James Altgens believed he was standing at the moment of the first shot. (He placed Altgens much further up the street than Altgens' actual location, as revealed by the Zapruder film, where Altgens remains unseen till after the head shot.)
- Liebeler next marked a 4 to show where Dallas Policeman Joe Marshall Smith believed he'd been standing during the shooting, and a 5 to show from where Smith believed the shots had been fired. (He placed this 5 near the end of Elm Street in back of the arcade.)
- Liebeler then marked a 6 to show where James Tague believed he'd been standing when he was wounded by a piece of flying cement, and a 7 to show where Tague later told his story to a Dallas Police officer.
- And finally,
Liebeler marked an 8 to show where Policeman Welcome Barnett believed
he'd been standing during the shooting. Barnett later corrected this
position, and his corrected position is marked by a 9.
Appendix Four: Connally First Shot Analysis