Chapter 4g: Thoughts on Shots and the Curtain Rod Story
Above: Lee Harvey Oswald, firing an M-1 rifle while in the Marines. This was a semi-automatic weapon, meaning that each succeeding bullet entered the chamber without the shooter having to operate a bolt. This made it much easier to fire than the bolt-action Mannlicher-Carcano rifle Oswald supposedly fired on 11-22-63.
Thoughts on Shots
Beyond the reasons already discussed, there are purely technical reasons to doubt Oswald was one among any number of shooters. The sniper's nest shooter was in a very crammed space, rapid-firing on a target moving left to right, and was purported to have taken these shots while sitting on a box, using a gun rest. There are 1) reasons to believe a man with Oswald's limited training would not only not be able to pull this off, but would not even attempt to fire shots in this manner, and 2) reasons to believe that whoever did fire from the sniper's nest did not fire shots in this manner.
Although Oswald's shooting scores while in the Marines were adequate at the beginning of his service, Allison Folsom, the Marine Corps officer contacted by the Warren Commission to discuss Oswald's training, said that Oswald's score on the last test he took in 1959 indicated he was a "poor shot." Folsom actually went further than this, moreover, and volunteered that, due to inactivity, there was reason to believe Oswald's skills had depreciated even further over the intervening years.
The inherent difficulty in rapid-firing a rifle like the presumed assassination rifle is made clear, moreover, by a 1946 copy of The Bluejackets Manual, a guide presented members of the U.S. Navy. When instructing on the proper use of the 1903A1, the American equivalent to the presumed assassination rifle, it reads: "In rapid fire keep the butt to the shoulder. To load, twist the rifle to the right, lower the muzzle, and work the bolt, being careful to draw it fully back so it will eject the empty cartridge case and not cause a jam. It will become easy after practice, and can be done in one motion. As the bolt is closed, the rifle is twisted to the left and the muzzle raised to its original position." Well, there it is. Although a trick shot artist on youtube has figured out a way to shoot the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle without having to re-acquire his target between shots, members of the Navy, and presumably the Marines, were trained to turn their rifle to the right when pulling back the bolt, which would necessitate their having to re-acquire their target after each shot. Now, was Oswald trained to do this? Uhh, we don't know. There is no record--none whatsoever--that Oswald received even one second of training--at any time in his life--on the most efficient way to fire a bolt-action rifle.
And that's not the only giant chasm between Oswald's documented training and his purported feat. Military Science and Tactics, a WWII-era textbook written "Conforming to the War Department Program", which would presumably be relevant to Oswald's training 14 years later, reflects that U.S. soldiers are trained to fire from the Prone, Sitting, Kneeling, and Standing positions. The drawing for the "Sitting" position is of a soldier sitting on the ground. This should make us suspect, then, that Oswald had never practiced shooting while sitting on a box.
The aforementioned copy of The Bluejackets Manual, and a 1987 copy of A Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks, a guide provided members of the Army, add additional support to this suspicion. The Navy manual presents 4 shooting positions: prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing, and the Army manual presents 6: prone not supported, prone supported, kneeling not supported, kneeling supported, standing, and foxhole. In none of these positions is the shooter sitting on anything other than the ground.
Let us now address the elephant in the room--that Oswald was purported to have successfully fired upon a moving target, from a perch 60 feet in the air. Oswald's Marine Corps scorebook, Warren Commission Exhibit 239, reflects that he'd been trained to shoot on stationary targets, and not moving targets, and that he'd never been trained to shoot from elevation. That hitting a moving target is itself a challenge is confirmed by the 2007 book, To Be a Military Sniper, which notes "engaging a moving target is a skill that can be developed and maintained only through constant practice." To fire at this moving target from elevation, moreover, would further magnify this challenge. For one thing, there's less bullet drop when one fires from elevation. A military rifle fires slightly above its crosshairs, to account for the effects of gravity on the bullet. When firing downwards from elevation, however, the gravity effect is lessened, and an inexperienced sniper will frequently overshoot his target.
So what would Oswald's doing so entail, that is, how would his shooting at a moving target differ from his shooting at a stationary target? Let's start with his position. In a section entitled "General Rules for Positions," Military Science and Tactics asserts "(1) To assume any position first face the target and then face half right. In any position the rifle makes an angle of about 45 degrees with the front of the body or the spine." If Oswald was the shooter in the sniper's nest, then, his training would have dictated his body face the west side of the building, with his upper torso and rifle turned 45% to the left so he could fire out the window. In any event he wouldn't have been sitting on a box with his body facing out the window and his rifle in line with his body, as presented in most re-enactments of the shooting.
Now let's see how his firing on a moving target affects this position. In a section entitled "Marksmanship, Moving Targets", Military Science and Tactics asserts that "There is no unit of measure for leads that the rifleman can quickly apply except the target itself. That is all he sees. So the unit of measure for leads is the actual target...When the trigger is correctly squeezed the rifleman does not know when the piece will go off. Accordingly, when he has obtained the correct lead, the rifle must continue to be swung smoothly and uniformly to maintain the lead while squeezing the trigger. The tendency to stop swinging the piece when the lead has been obtained, and fire instantly by jerking the trigger, must be avoided. This is of utmost importance. The rifleman begins to squeeze the trigger as soon as he has his lead, and maintains his lead by swinging the piece while pressing the trigger." Well, this is interesting. Oswald's facing west would have made his tracking a target from directly to his left to 45 degrees to his left a bit awkward, particularly if he was using a box as a rifle rest. In fact, this passage should make us suspect that a military-trained sniper would not even use a rifle rest for such a shot, as it would only prohibit the "smooth and uniform" movement of his rifle as he tracked his target.
A 1970's era U.S. Marine Corps Scout/Sniper Data Book in my possession confirms this last point. Its section on "Leads" reads: "Moving targets are the most difficult to hit. When engaging a target which is moving laterally across his line of sight, the sniper must concentrate on moving his weapon with the target while aiming at a point some distance ahead. Holding this 'lead', the sniper fires and follows through with the movement after the shot. Using this method, the sniper reduces the possibility of missing..."
Now here is the box on the window ledge, as filmed by Tom Alyea on 11-22-63. To be clear, this footage was taken before the arrival of the crime lab, and the taking of any evidence photos.
And here is a photo of these boxes taken from above by the crime lab, a short time later. Now, the chief purpose of this photo was to show the three shells on the floor. But note, nevertheless, that the boxes in this photo appear to be slightly out of alignment, with the window sill box turned slightly to the left of the top box. Well, this confirms the placement of the boxes in the Alyea film, in which a slight gap between the window box and top box is apparent on the corner closest to the camera.
Now here is the view down Elm Street from the sniper's nest on 11-22-63. This photo is presumed to have been taken within a few hours of the shooting with the purported rifle-rest box in its original location, albeit turned at a different angle to the window. Most current Oswald did-it theorists believe that 1) the first shot was fired just before Kennedy reached the tree just past the window ledge, 2) the second shot was fired just after he'd emerged from beneath this tree (in roughly the location of the white car in the photo), and 3) that the third and fatal shot was fired as the limo passed the location of the next car in the photo.
Now, there's a problem, right? One can see from this that the sniper would not have been able to track his (or her) target until roughly the time of the first shot, and that the box would have interfered with the tracking of the target from left to right.
Of course, that wasn't the original position of the boxes. Here is another angle on this configuration of the boxes, courtesy newsman William Allen. To be clear, this photo is presumed to have been taken shortly after the photo presented above.
Well, look at the boxes. Instead of having two stacked up on top of each other, and a third sitting on the window sill, as shown in the Alyea footage, this configuration has all three in one stack. Now let's compare. The bottom box of the stack is reported to have been 18 by 12 by 14, and the other two are reported to have been 13 by 9 by 8. If so, well, then, this stack would appear to be 32 inches high (14 + 9 + 9).
Now, here's a photo of the Dallas Police Department's reconstruction of the sniper's nest on 11-25-63. Note that for this reconstruction the window box is once again on the window sill and that the bottom box has been turned on end. Well, this makes the stack about 27 inches high (18 + 9). So, yeah, okay, if this was indeed the configuration on 11-22-63, then the sniper would have had 5 inches more visibility across the top of the highest box than shown in the DPD's crime scene photo of the sniper's nest view, and the press photo taken by William Allen, and the sniper could have tracked the limo along Elm. Maybe.
Now, a close look at this photo proves the stack of boxes by the window ledge is about two bricks further to the west than the stack of boxes on 11-22-63, and that a stack of boxes just behind that stack has been removed entirely. Well, this served to give the sniper more room. And the question then becomes...was there enough room for the sniper to fire his shots on 11-22-63 should he have been sitting on the so-called seat box, and, if not, was the so-called seat box placed into the sniper's nest by the Dallas Police later in the day? (And yes, if you're following the bouncing ball, that's right...the Dallas Police failed to take even one picture of the so-called seat box on the day of the assassination.)
Now here is a photo of this reconstruction from a lower angle, so one can see that the top box of the stack was higher than the box on the window sill.
In any event, on 11-27-63 the Secret Service filmed its own reconstruction of the sniper's nest. Although this reconstruction similarly excluded the stack just in back of the window, it nevertheless confirmed that yessiree there would have been enough space for the sniper to fire over the top of the window boxes, when the boxes were as filmed by Alyea.
But look closer. This Secret Service reconstruction reveals as well that the right knee of the shooter, should he have been sitting on the seat box, as presumed, and as depicted by Agent John Joe Howlett above, would have been right up against the stack of boxes removed from the Dallas Police and Secret Service reconstructions of the sniper's nest, i.e. the boxes depicted in the Allen photo just back of the window stack.
In such case, then, the Dallas Police and Secret Service photos of a re-constructed sniper's nest suggest what should readily have been apparent...that a sniper firing from this location would have to have cozied up to the front wall by the pipe, and would not have been readily visible to a spectator directly across the street.
This reconstruction served to highlight another problem, as well. The so-called seat box as presented in the Dallas Police reconstruction photos was 14 inches tall. This was 4 inches shorter than the same-sized box stacked up by the window, when stacked up on its end. And yet, here, in the Secret Service's re-enactment of the sniper's nest, Agent Howlett is shown sitting on a much smaller and shorter box, with his butt at least 8 inches below the box stacked on end by the window. Well, this raises the question of whether or not a sniper sitting on the box as presented in the Dallas Police photos would be in a position to calmly look down the street and aim his rifle, as depicted by Howlett.
I mean, looky here, take a second gander of Howlett on the box. Now imagine his rump lifted up four inches or more. Well, this would necessitate his leaning down over the box, correct? It seems possible, then, that the alignment of the boxes is suggestive of a sniper considerably shorter than Howlett, and perhaps Oswald as well.
So let us look, then, at other re-constructions or re-enactments of the sniper's nest, and see if they confirm our suspicion the seat box and window boxes were not properly aligned for someone firing the three shots proposed by most sole-assassin theorists.
Now here is CE 880, showing FBI photography expert Lyndal Shaneyfelt in the sniper's nest window as he filmed the FBI's May 24, 1964 re-enactment on Elm Street. Note that he is yessiree crouched off to the left of the window, and is not sitting on the box by his right knee, the approximate location of Box D, the box on which Oswald was purported to have sat while he calmly shot the President. Now note as well that even with his crouch Shaneyfelt's arms are well above the window ledge.
And now take a look at Warren Commission Exhibit 581. This is one of the Army's shooters attempting to re-create Oswald's purported feat. Note that he is at an extreme angle to the window sill. Note that he is not using a rifle rest... And now note that his elbows are resting on a window ledge that is a foot or so further off the floor than the window ledge in the sniper's nest.
Now here's the view from the sniper's nest as presented on CBS in 1967.
And here's a subsequently released photo of the producers of this show filming this sequence. Note that they are once again off to the left of the window, and that their faces would not be visible to a man sitting on the east side of the fountain across the street, a la Howard Brennan.
Well, heck. In order to get the best angle down Elm, they had to get right up by the window, and hug the pipes to the east of the window. My Lord. They had made, assumedly inadvertently, a convincing argument the sniper wasn't sitting on Box D during the shooting, and not only that, that he did not use Boxes A and B as a rifle rest for the shots as the limo proceeded down Elm.
Now wait a second. Perhaps the highlight of CBS' 4-part program on the assassination in 1967 was an attempted re-creation of Oswald's purported shooting feat, in which a number of shooters, of varying skill, fired at a target moving down a track at roughly the speed of JFK's limousine. These attempted re-creations largely failed. With one notable exception. On his third try, weapons expert Howard Donahue hit the moving target three times in 5.2 seconds. Now, here is a screen grab from the CBS program showing Donahue firing upon the target.
Well, look at Donahue's position in relation to the simulated window sill and track. For one, there is no wall to Donahue's left and no tree blocking his view of the target or interfering with his tracking of the target. For two, he is not using a rifle rest. He is resting his left hand on the window ledge. For three, he is, much as the Army shooter hired by the Warren Commission, leaning on a window ledge a foot or so higher than the window ledge of the sniper's nest. Well, this was hardly a reasonable facsimile of the supposed sniper's nest.
And no, I'm not cherry-picking. Here is another image from CBS' broadcast. Note that a stack of boxes has been provided this shooter but that he has chosen to ignore it and shoot with his arms up in the air while crouching.
Now it wasn't as if no one used a box. Of the 12 shooters hired by CBS to simulate Oswald's purported shooting feat, 5 of them were shown on the broadcast, and only 1 of these shooters used a box to support his aim. Here he is...
Well, okay. There is no box on the window ledge, just one stacked up behind the window on which the shooter is resting his hand. In other words, the rifle itself did not touch the box.
So, yeah, CBS' simulation supported that a shooter's tracking a moving vehicle while sitting on a box and using a second box as a rifle rest was a feat neither the Army's shooters nor CBS' shooters were willing to attempt.
Now, let's look back at Agent Howlett. Here he is again. Imagine he has a rifle in his hands and he is leaning forward taking aim at the President. He'd scoot his butt back a few inches. He'd put his right elbow near his right knee, and place his left hand, holding the barrel of the rifle, on the top box, right? So what was the purpose of the window box? Should the sniper have been tracking his target, it would only have served as a distraction, right?
It appears so. Here is a glimpse down the street over the tops of the boxes in the Secret Service's re-construction film. As this is shown, the narrator, James Underwood, adds: "We look out of the window over the re-constructed position of the boxes for a few seconds before we remove the boxes to photograph the simulated motorcade."
Well, I'll be. Assuming this shot was taken from the angle of someone sitting on the seat box, the boxes would not only have interfered with a sniper's firing down on the limo before it reached the tree (its location at the time of the first shot as proposed by most single-assassin theorists), but would have prevented a sniper from viewing the limo at the time most everyone agrees a shot was fired, when the limo first came out from under the tree.
Might one assume, then, that the window box served no purpose other than to draw attention to the window after the shooting, and that the sniper was not sitting on the seat box?
The problems we've been discussing would bubble back to the surface many years later, moreover. In 2011, the National Geographic Channel produced and presented a rather poor documentary, JFK: The Lost Bullet, that nevertheless had a few redeeming segments. One of these was an attempt to recreate the sniper's nest, and project the angles of the shots fired from the window. What they found went unstated, but could readily be observed by those knowing what to look for. Here is a screen grab from this program, showing the sniper aiming at the locations of the limo for shots two and three (Z-224 and Z-313).
Well, hell, he's not sitting on a box, is he? And no, he's not directly behind the boxes in the window, is he? And yeah, it's just as we presumed. In order to fire the shots presumably fired from the sniper's nest, the sniper would have to have been snuggled up by the pipe to the left of the boxes, and firing at an angle to the window box. Well, this raises the question of whether or not this box was of any assistance, whatsoever. I mean, the car was rising in the distance from the perspective of the shooter, and the front rim of the box, on which the rifle was presumed to have been propped, was descending as the sniper turned to his right. Here, see for yourself.
Well, it seems clear, then, that at least two of the common presumptions about the sniper's nest are nonsense: 1) that the sniper sat on Box D while firing the fatal shots, and 2) that the window box (Box B) served as a rifle rest. Someone sitting on Box D (the seat box) in the position presented in the re-constructions would not have been able to fire the shots purportedly fired from the window, and the window box was too low to be of any assistance.
Now look back at Nat Geo's presentation for the stack of boxes behind the window. They had the bottom box turned top side up so that it stood 14 inches off the floor, when the Dallas Police and Secret Service presented this box as standing on end, so that it stood 18 inches off the floor. Well, a correcting of this (presumed) error would serve to lift the top box 4 inches higher off the floor, and put it right at their Oswald's stand-in's forearm. So, yeah, perhaps the top box of this stack (Box A), often accused of serving as a rifle rest, may have actually served as a rest for the sniper's right forearm.
Or not. I mean, if that was the case, why haven't any of the numerous re-enactments shown on TV replicated this arrangement? Here's a screen grab from a 2013 re-enactment performed for The History Channel program The JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide. Note that the shooter is using but one large box, that his left hand is on this box, that he is crouched (not sitting) directly behind this box, and that his trigger hand and arm are unimpeded by this box.
And here's how, in 2020, Japanese network NHK presented the sniper in the sniper's nest, with the sniper sitting on a box...
Now let's compare this image to the previous re-enactments. That this was not an accurate depiction becomes clear when one compares the height of the boxes. The DPD and FBI re-enactments stood the bottom box on edge, which lifted the top box on the stack above the level of the box on the window sill. In this re-enactment, much as the 2011 Nat Geo re-enactment, the box on the window sill is higher. And that wasn't the only inaccuracy. Note the angle of the rifle out the window. Much as the 2013 History Channel re-enactment, the sniper is shooting almost straight out the window, as opposed to shooting far off to the right of the window. It seems clear, then, that NHK, as the History Channel, Nat Geo and CBS before them, found that the stack of boxes as portrayed by the DPD and FBI made little sense, and was of no assistance when firing off to the right where Kennedy and Connally were actually shot on 11-22-63.
Well, perhaps, then, the boxes were arranged not to help the sniper fire a series of shots, but to help him (or her) fire but one shot, the first shot.
Let's return to the Marine Corps Scout/Sniper Data Book. It proceeds: "Another method of leading a target, and one which is used extensively by snipers, is known as the 'point' lead. By 'point lead' we mean the sniper selects a point some distance in front of his target and holds the crosshairs on that point. As the target moves across the horizontal crosshair, it will eventually reach a point which is the proper lead distance from the center. At that instant the sniper must fire his shot. This is a very simple method of hitting a moving target, but a few basic marksmanship skills must not be forgotten: The sniper must not only estimate his target range, but also its speed and angle of travel relative to his line of sight in order to determine the correct lead. The sniper must continue to concentrate on his crosshairs and not on his target. The sniper must continue to squeeze the trigger and not jerk or flinch prior to the shot being fired." To Be a Military Sniper confirms this point, noting that shooting in this manner is "the preferred method of engaging moving targets."
So maybe the sniper used a "point" lead.
Only this is a problem as well... First of all, when would Oswald have learned to fire in this manner? And second all, well...let's take a second look at the sniper's nest views above. The President would have been coming into view not from the left of the scope, but from below--out from under the window box, out from under the rifle barrel. This would have given Oswald (or the sniper presumed to have been Oswald) very little time to react.
Well, hell, perhaps this explains why the first shot (at least supposedly) missed. Perhaps, then, the sniper tried to shoot Kennedy when using the box and establishing a "point" lead, missed, and then fired two more shots without the use of the box.
Only...think about it. If the sniper did use the window sill box as a rifle rest, and fire after acquiring a "point lead" and MISS, as supposedly happened in Dallas, wouldn't this cut into the likelihood of his successfully firing two rapid-fire shots in the next 8 seconds? Let's see. He hasn't been actively tracking the target. He has already guessed wrong. Are we to believe he then re-acquired his target, and fired successfully, not once but twice, the first time in 3 seconds, and the second time in 5 seconds?
There's also this. On the next page of the data book, when discussing the lead times given walking soldiers, based upon the angle they are walking in relation to the sniper, another problem becomes clear: "The leads previously mentioned hold true for a right-handed shooter firing on a target moving from his right to his left. If the target is moving from left to right, the lead must be doubled due to a natural hesitation to follow through when swinging against the shooting shoulder. This hesitation is extremely difficult to overcome even by the most experienced shooters."
This hesitation is confirmed, moreover, by The Ultimate Guide to U.S. Special Forces Skills, Tactics and Techniques (2011). When discussing shooting on moving targets, it notes "Double leads are sometimes necessary for a sniper who uses the swing-through method on a target that is moving toward his firing side. The double lead is necessary because of the difficulty that a person has in swinging his weapon smoothly toward his firing side. Practice on a known-distance range and meticulous record-keeping are required to hone a sniper's moving target engagement skill." Hmm... The target car was moving upward from the sniper's nest shooter's left to his right. Oswald was a right-handed shooter. Now...are we to believe he both had the practice necessary to "hone a sniper's moving target engagement skill," and that he somehow knew how to compensate for his "natural hesitation"? Or was it just dumb luck he hit Kennedy twice in three tries?
In 1993, noted gun expert Massad Ayoob wrote an article for Handgunner Magazine in which he discussed his own impression of the shots attributed to Oswald. He noted that the two fastest shooters in a 1992 re-enactment of Oswald's purported shooting feat were both left-handed shooters firing from their left shoulder, and operating the bolt with their right hand.
Although the specifics of this re-enactment were not described, the Summer/Fall 1992 issue of the "Dateline: Dallas" newsletter mentioned that Richard Davis, the owner of Chance Body Armour, had sponsored a recent event in Central Lake, Michigan, in which 50 shooters tried to replicate Oswald's shooting by firing a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle from a wooden platform at a cardboard target traveling at 11 miles an hour. According to the article, "Some sharpshooters got off three shots in 5.6 seconds matching Oswald's purported action. A couple were able to squeeze off two shots in 1.66 seconds with the sluggish rifle. After two days of shooting, however, not one marksman was able to duplicate the speed and accuracy of the sixth floor assassin as outlined by the Warren Commission Report."
Irrespective of these results, moreover, Ayoob's observation on the two fastest shooters supports the data book's assertion left-handed shooters have a noticeable advantage when shooting at targets moving from left to right. But he goes way beyond that. While concluding that Oswald could indeed have made the shots, Ayoob does so in part because of speculation Oswald was a left-eye dominant shooter. There is no indication of this anywhere outside Oswald's mother's testimony, moreover, and this testimony was rejected by both Oswald's wife and his brothers. (Apparently, Oswald's mother had confused him with his brother Robert, who was, you guessed it, ding-ding-ding, left-handed.)
In addition, the photo at the beginning of this chapter, the only known photo of Oswald firing a rifle while in the Marines, shows him shooting right-handed while aiming with his right eye. This makes little sense if he was left-eye dominant. (Information found online suggests both that the Marines keep an "eye" out for left-eye dominant shooters and that they train them to shoot left-handed when discovered.) As a result, Ayoob's speculation falls flat.
Oswald's purported use of his scope only magnifies this problem. The Rifle Book, a 1950 Guide to rifles by Jack O'Connor, notes that "a 4-X scope will annoy the poor shot because his natural wobbles are magnified." It then proceeds to explain that 4-x scopes with a 30 foot field of view at 100 yards have been found to be "adequate" by hunters, and that hunters of anything bigger and more mobile than a prairie dog are likely to find inadequate a scope with greater magnification or a smaller field of view. The scope on the assassination rifle, it should be noted, had but an 18 foot field of view at 100 yards, and was presumably a scope designed for target shooting and small game hunting.
Guns of the Elite, a 1987 book on snipers and sniper weapons, explains: "optical sights suffer certain inherent problems. Not only are they complicated--and often too delicate to withstand the rigours of military service--but magnification of the target means that the firer's eyes see different images if both eyes remain open during the shooting. Thus, though the sights improve deliberate shooting, they can hinder target location and (particularly) engagement of moving targets." This book then notes that some armies have learned to account for this problem by using 1.5 power scopes on their sniper rifles, which permit "a wider field of view" than 4 power scopes. The scope on the assassination rifle was a 4 power scope. If Oswald was using this scope, with its limited field of view, it seems highly unlikely he could have accurately established a "point lead" on a target coming from below and to his left. If he missed this first shot, furthermore, it seems unlikely he could have adjusted rapidly enough to track the target through a tree and fire two accurate shots, the first one within a second of the target coming out from behind the tree, and the second less than 5 seconds later.
This last point is supported by the Army's tests of Oswald's rifle in March, 1964. The three Master rifleman chosen to test the rifle, after being allowed as much time as needed for the first shot, missed the second shot 4 of 6 times, even though they were aiming at a stationary target, and their target was approximately 3 times as large as the approximately 7 inch circle within which Oswald had purportedly placed two shots. The sudden switch from waiting to turning and rapid-firing at a target was apparently a difficult one, made even more difficult by the use of a scope.
Intriguingly, the HSCA came to agree that Oswald's use of the scope was unlikely. Their Firearms Panel concluded "that an individual could attain better accuracy using the iron sights than the scope under the circumstances involved in Dealey Plaza." In his testimony, the panel's spokesman, Monty Lutz, explained why. First he questioned the accuracy of the scope. He claimed "The accuracy is fairly undependable, as far as once getting the rifle sighted in, and it is very cheaply made. The scope itself has a crosshair reticle that is subject to movement or being capable of being dislodged from dropping, from impact, or a very sharp recoil. So the accuracy would be somewhat questionable for this particular type of a scope." Then he questioned if the scope would be of help even under optimal conditions. He explained: "This scope, I will apply the principle to it. We are dealing with a four-power or a magnification of 4. The field of view is 18, meaning an 18-foot circle at 100 yards. So it is a 4 x 18 scope, a relatively small circle to locate your target in when you are firing and recovering from the recoil in successive shots. So to align your target to get a sighting position, by placing the stock into the shoulder, the head has to be adjusted or moved slightly to the left to align the way that the scope is mounted on the left-hand side and get into position to fire. The scope itself is also designed so that the crosshair, the reticles, do not remain in the exact center position. When you adjust windage or elevation those crosshairs move, so that you are not looking dead center in the object itself. A more natural and easier form or position to fire is to put the rifle against the shoulder, the cheek on the stock, and look right down the center, straight ahead from where you are now positioned, and align the iron sights, the fixed iron sights that are presently on the rifle." He then testified that, for him, using the iron sights would be "considerably easier" than using the scope. None of his colleagues on the panel disagreed.
While the panel's conclusion was no doubt influenced by the fact they'd found the rifle could also be fired more rapidly when using the iron sights, and the HSCA was anxious to conclude the rifle had been fired more rapidly than previously believed possible, there were almost certainly other factors influencing their decision. Perhaps one of these factors was that, as acknowledged in the 1969 testimony of the FBI's Robert Frazier--the first man to test the weapon--one had to lift one's eye away from the scope between shots in order "To prevent the bolt of the rifle from striking (one) in the face as it came to the rear." Perhaps another of these factors was that, when first tested by Frazier on 11-27-1963, the rifle, when fired using the scope, fired 4 inches high and one to the right at only 15 yards. Assuming this was the condition of the rifle as found in the depository, this meant that the sniper, in order to lead the President and hit him in the head while he was moving away and to the right, would have to have fired behind the President, and aimed for low on his back, or perhaps even at the trunk of his limousine. This would have been quite a trick. Perhaps the HSCA Firearms Panel, unlike the Warren Commission, which concluded that the use of the apparently misaligned scope had been a "substantial aid" in the shooting, saw the unlikelihood of Oswald pulling off such a trick. Unfortunately for them, however, the only man known to rapid fire the assassination rifle while using the iron sights, a Mr. Miller, the best shooter in the Army's 1964 tests, only attempted one run using these sights... On this run, Mr. Miller not only missed the head and neck silhouette of his third and final target, he missed the target completely.
A not so quick aside...While some assume the rifle and scope were in alignment on 11-22-63, only to get misaligned in the aftermath of the shooting, there is little real support for this assumption. While Sebastian Latona, the FBI's fingerprint expert, testified before the Warren Commission that the rifle had been dismantled by the FBI's ballistics examiners and inspected for prints prior to the FBI's initial test of the rifle's accuracy, he did not mention the removal of the scope. When the FBI's chief ballistics examiner Robert Frazier testified just a few days prior to Latona, moreover, he indicated he'd been present when the rifle arrived at the laboratory, and also failed to mention that the scope had been removed. (While Frazier testified that "apparently the scope had even been taken off of the rifle, in searching for fingerprints on the rifle. So that actually the way it was sighted-in when we got it does not necessarily mean it was sighted-in that way when it was abandoned" this was just speculation--and unwarranted speculation at that--seeing as this very point was addressed and refuted by Dallas crime scene investigator, J.C. Day, in his statements and testimony.) In any event, Frazier then let on that he had reason to suspect the scope had not been removed in Dallas; he testified that, upon further examination of the rifle in March 1964, he found that the scope took 5 or 6 shots to stabilize after each adjustment, and that "When we fired on November 27th, the shots were landing high and slightly to the right. However, the scope was apparently fairly well stabilized at that time, because three shots would land in an area the size of a dime under rapid-fire conditions, which would not have occurred if the interior mechanism of the scope was shifting." If the scope was stabilized on 11-27, as claimed, and neither the Dallas Police nor FBI had before that time adjusted the scope and fired the rifle 5 or 6 times to stabilize the scope, as Frazier found was necessary, it follows then that the scope had not recently been removed, replaced, and re-adjusted before 11-27, and that the inaccuracies of the rifle on 11-27 were the inaccuracies on 11-22. (Frazier would later confirm that his suggestion the scope had been removed in Dallas was just speculation--and unwarranted speculation at that--by telling writer David Fisher that the Dallas Police had lost a wooden shim that had been placed beneath the scope to bring it into alignment. He, of course, offered no evidence that this shim had ever existed, let alone that the DPD had lost it after removing the scope. Apparently, he'd just made it up--to explain just how it was that a rifle he knew to be inaccurate had been fired with such accuracy.)
Even if the scope had been removed and haphazardly screwed back on, however, as some presume, it does nothing to suggest the rifle had been accurate on 11-22. All indications are, in fact, that it was not. In March 1964, after Frazier's discovery of the scope's instability, the FBI tried to sight-in the rifle and bring the scope and rifle into alignment. They found, however, that this was impossible, and that the rifle still fired an average of over 4 inches high and 2 1/2 inches to the right at 100 yards when using the scope, even after it had been stabilized. While some, apparently including the FBI and Warren Commission, have chosen to assume this misalignment was the misalignment of the rifle on 11-22, and would have worked to Oswald's advantage, they miss entirely that having the rifle fire high and to the right at a distant target moving up and to the right in the scope would only have been an advantage if Oswald knew exactly how misaligned his scope was--and that he only could have known this had he had extensive practice with his rifle...extensive practice for which the FBI and Warren Commission found no evidence...
In any event, when, subsequent to the FBI, the Army tested the rifle, they found it necessary to add shims beneath the scope mount to bring it into alignment. This was acknowledged in the 3-31-64 testimony of Ronald Simmons, Chief of the Infantry Weapons Evaluation Branch of the Ballistics Research Laboratory of the Department of the Army. The gunsmith who'd worked on the rifle made an interesting observation, moreover, which he passed on to Warren Commission counsel Melvin Eisenberg on April 6, 1964. Eisenberg's Memo for the Record on this conversation was published in the commission's volumes as CE 2560. It reads "There were three pieces in the scope examined by the BRL gunsmith. Two pieces were .015 inches thick, so placed as to elevate the scope with respect to the gun. One piece was .020 inches thick so placed as to point the scope leftward with respect to the gun. The gunsmith observed that the scope as we received it was installed as if for a left-handed man." Well, this is fairly confusing, as it suggests the shims were already on the rifle when received by the BRL, when Simmons testified to the opposite. We can only assume, then, that Eisenberg's words are misleading, and that he should have written "three pieces in the scope added in by the BRL gunsmith," and not "examined by the gunsmith." But that's kinda beside the point. More telling is the gunsmith's observation that "the scope as we received it was installed as if for a left-handed man." This feeds back into the sniper data book's observation that right-eye dominant shooters have trouble with targets moving left to right, and Ayoob's observation that the best shooters during the re-enactment he'd witnessed had both been left-handed, and presumably left-eye dominant. Was the sniper in the sniper's nest a left-eye dominant shooter firing right-handed to simulate Oswald? Hmmm...
It bears repeating here, moreover, what was discussed back in Chapter 3--that, even with the addition of these shims, and a re-aligned scope, the test shooters hired by the Warren Commission failed to match Oswald's purported feat... (And this, even though they'd been given practice shots...and were firing upon stationary targets...from half the elevation Oswald was purported to have fired from... etc.)
Here, once again, are the targets fired upon by the professional test shooters. The location of their hits are circled in chalk. The then-presumed location of Oswald's two hits are marked by red stars.
Here are the targets for the first and second shot.
Note that the test shooters performed far better on the first target. This was because, unlike Oswald, who was purported to have begun firing as soon as his target (Kennedy) had come out from under a tree, they'd been allowed as much time as they needed for this first shot. Now note how with the second shot, for which they'd had to operate the bolt of the rifle, and re-acquire the target within the scope, within a few seconds, their accuracy went to hell. Not one of their shots came as close to the center of the target as either of the hits attributed to Oswald.
Now here's the third target. (This target, as published by the Warren Commission, was incredibly hard to make out. So, yes, I've altered the contrast on this image in order to reveal the chalk marks.)
Now this is even worse than the second target. Not only were none of the "hits" as close to the center of the target as the two "hits" attributed to Oswald, some of the shots fired at this target missed completely. It appears then that the process of rapidly re-loading the rifle and re-acquiring the target as it gets further and further away gets more and more difficult from shot to shot, and not easier.
It seems clear, then, that Oswald would have to have had considerable practice with this rifle in order to have accomplished his purported feat. And that's not just my conjecture...
In 1969, Dr. John Lattimer gave a presentation to the New York Academy of Medicine on his own attempts to replicate Oswald's supposed feat. While claiming his tests showed that Oswald could have performed the shooting, he made some interesting observations that failed to support this conclusion. After discussing his acquisition of four rifles like Oswald's, fitting them with scopes like the one found on Oswald's rifle, and picking out the rifle which most closely resembled its overall condition, he admitted: "To align the sight perfectly, it was necessary to place thin metal wafers (shims) under the front ring of the mount of the telescope, just as had been found necessary with Oswald's rifle, in order to correct the faulty alignment of the telescope." This point, moreover, was confirmed by writer Stephen Hunter in his 2013 book The Third Bullet. In an appendix to his novel in which an alternate scenario to the shooting was presented, Hunter claimed he'd bought a rifle like the one used in the shooting, and scope like the one found on the rifle, and discovered they were hopelessly out of alignment without the addition of shims. So yeah, it's true. The shims added to Oswald's rifle were added after it was found in the depository, not before. This suggests, then, that on the day of the shooting Oswald's rifle was inaccurate, at least when using the scope, and that this was an inherent defect of that rifle and scope combination, not a problem created afterward as presumed by so many for so long.
Lattimer continued: "It was found that with the sling binding the rifle tightly to the experimenter's arm, and by resting both forearms flat against the legs, above the knees (as was possible from Oswald's high perch), three cartridges could be worked through the action in six or seven seconds, still allowing a short period for aiming, before each simulated shot. If the interval between each shot was increased to five seconds (10 seconds total) aiming became quite easy."Lattimer failed to explain that he was firing at stationary targets, and that tracking or leading a moving target would be more difficult, and take more time. But I digress...
Lattimer then wrote something quite interesting. He noted: "It was found necessary not only to push the bolt vigorously forward but to pull it vigorously back, each time, with more force than is usually required with bolt-action rifles. Facility with these motions was acquired with many, many workings of the action over a period of two weeks of both simulated and actual firing. It became obvious to us that the ability to fire this rapidly and dexterously required a prolonged period of practice." Lattimer then proceeded to speculate that Oswald's failed attempt on General Walker "might have persuaded him to sharpen his skill at rapid fire (as he did all too well) by further practice, before November 22..." Well, I'll be. Lattimer's belief Oswald fired the shots is related to his belief Oswald had extensive practice with his rifle...something both the FBI and Warren Commission specifically ruled out!
Lattimer then drove this point home: a "prolonged period of practice and familiarization was found to be essential for the achievement of any kind of accuracy during rapid firing of this rifle. In general, we were surprised and interested to observe how effectively proficiency with this rifle could be acquired, if plenty of time was allowed." Well this suggests as well that a prolonged period of defamiliarization with this rifle would lead to a degeneration of one's skills, does it not? The Warren Commission found no evidence that Oswald had even touched, let alone fired, his rifle for at least six weeks prior to the shooting. They found no evidence he'd ever used it to fire on a moving target. They found no cleaning equipment or spare ammunition among his possessions.
Above: Dr. John Lattimer conducting his Mannlicher-Carcano tests, as presented in the May 1972 issue of Resident and Staff Physician. Note that he is sitting directly behind the boxes on which he rests his left hand, and that there is no box in front of the box on which he rests his left hand. This is at odds with the sniper's nest as presented by the Dallas Police and Secret Service.
This last point should not be over-looked, moreover. The following quote comes from The Bluejackets Manual--the previously mentioned guide provided members of the U.S. Navy that describes the proper care of the 1903A1, the American equivalent to the bolt-action Mannlicher-Carcano rifle purportedly used in the assassination. Here it goes: "The rifle is a weapon of precision and demands proper care and cleaning. A lack of care soon ruins its accuracy. After a day's shooting, the bore demands special attention. as the residuum from smokeless powder soon corrodes it and should be removed as soon as practicable..." The manual then proceeds to describe three different kinds of fouling that can be found in a barrel, and the tools required to properly clean the rifle, i.e. a cleaning rod, a piece of cloth, an oiled rag, and a dry rag. Although Oswald is purported to have fired his rifle on at least one occasion in the months leading up to the assassination, none of these items were found among his possessions.
This should make us suspect then, that, if one man fired all the shots on Kennedy, he was 1) a much better shot than Oswald was presumed to have been in 1963, 2) someone who had been practicing with Oswald's rifle prior to 11-22-63, and 3) someone who kept his cleaning supplies in a place not known to have been frequented by Oswald.
That the shooter had skills far superior to those presumed for Oswald has received support from surprising sources, moreover. On August 27, 1972, Governor John Connally, at that time a former Secretary of the Navy and a soon-to-be Secretary of the Treasury, was asked about the possibility of two assassins on the ABC news program Issues and Answers. He replied: "if one man did it--and I really think one man did it from all that I know about it--he was an expert at handling that rifle, no question about it, because he got off three shots in a remarkably short period of time."
Having established that prominent members of the Oswald-did-it crowd believed Oswald must have been an expert with his rifle to pull off the shooting attributed to him, we can now turn to the observations of the person most familiar with Oswald's shooting capabilities, his older brother, fellow Marine, and frequent shooting partner, Robert. In 1967, Robert Oswald published Lee, a book on his brother, in which he confirmed his belief in his brother's guilt. But he included a proviso. He wrote: "Someone who is accustomed to using rifles without scopes does not find it easy to adjust to the use of a scope. Riflemen making the change often fail to allow for the recoil...That is why I find it hard to understand the Commission's refusal to take seriously the testimony of the witnesses" who said they saw Oswald practice-firing his rifle at a number of ranges around Dallas. He then proclaimed "If Lee did not spend a considerable amount of time practicing with that rifle in the weeks and months before the assassination, then I would say that Lee did not fire the shots that killed the President and wounded Governor Connally." And this wasn't a momentary flight of fancy. In the pages that followed, Robert offered: "I believe I know more about Lee's ability as a rifleman than anyone else, since I did have a chance to observe him over a number of years, from the moment he first learned to handle a rifle." He doubled-down: "Without considerable amount of practice with that weapon, I do not understand how Lee could have fired it with an accuracy that some of the best riflemen in the United States found difficult to match..."
So...single-assassin theorists supporting the LPM scenario (the currently popular scenario in which shots were fired at or just before frames 160, 224, and 313 of the Zapruder film) have a choice. First, to be true to Lattimer, Connally, and Oswald's brother, they must agree that the Warren Commission was wrong and hold that Oswald had somehow acquired extensive practice with his rifle. Second, to be true to the accumulated literature on sniping they should either 1) assert Oswald used a gun rest and a scope, and missed anyhow, and then propose he successfully fired the next two shots while using the iron sights, or 2) take a cue from the HSCA and admit the use of a scope would only complicate his shots, and assert that he tracked the limo using the iron sights for all three shots. In any alternative, they should admit that the photos of Kennedy's stand-in taken through a 4 power scope from the sniper's nest at the moment of the head shot are deceptive, and most probably not representative of what actually was seen by the sniper.
That they continue to use this photo to push that the shots were easy and that Oswald used a scope indicates that they either have far greater faith in Oswald's ability and/or luck than warranted or far less respect for the truth than desired.
Of course, those claiming Oswald performed the shooting without using the scope are no better...
Not to be Outdone...
The Warren Commission, as we have seen, concluded that the shooting was not all that difficult for someone of Oswald's shooting ability. As ridiculous as this was, however, it was destined to be topped by the conclusions of a subsequent government body regarding the difficulty of the shooting, and Oswald's ability.
By the close of its existence, at the end of 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations had come to accept that the assassination of President Kennedy had been recorded on a dictabelt recording created when a police motorcycle microphone jammed in the open position. They'd been told, moreover, that this recording captured shots from the sniper's nest circa frames 160, 190, and 313 of the Zapruder film, and a shot from the grassy knoll circa frame 295. Well, for this to be true, the sniper's nest shooter--Oswald--would have to have gotten off two shots in about 1.7 seconds--when the FBI had concluded long before that it would have taken 2.3 seconds to re-load, aim, and fire the rifle. So how did the HSCA get around this? Well, on March 21, 1979, months after the committee had seized to exist as a committee, its two top counsel, Robert Blakey and Gary Cornwell, performed some tests to make sure that the rifle could, in fact, be fired in the time allotted.
Blakey's memorandum on these tests is included in Vol. 8 of the Committee's report. It's remarkable in a number of ways. For one, it admits that the rifle purportedly used in the assassination had deteriorated by 1979 and was not used in the tests. For two, it admits that the tests were performed by four expert marksmen on a rifle similar to the one purportedly used in the shooting, and that each was allowed to practice with the bolt for several minutes before firing. Now, Oswald, as we've seen, was not an expert marksmen, and was not believed to have practiced with the bolt for several minutes before firing. But wait, it gets worse. These four experts were allowed two series of three shots each, using only the iron sights, thereby bypassing the problematic scope the Warren Commission had come to claim was the key to Oswald's success in the shooting. The memorandum then records the results of these tests, er rather, the highlights of these tests. One shooter, Officer Masson, hit the body on the first two shots and narrowly missed the head with the third. It took him 2 seconds to fire the first two shots, and slightly less than 5 seconds to fire all three. Well, this was not bad, but was this really the best series of the eight attempted by these experts? Yep. By a country mile. The memo then offers that two shooters, Smith and Masson, were able to fire two shots within 1.9 seconds, and that ONE of their three shots--clearly not the rushed shot--scored a "kill," which, unbelievably, is defined as ANY shot hitting the silhouette of a body from the waist to the top of the head. Well, these three highlights--the other five attempts to replicate Oswald's purported shooting must have been totally embarrassing for these three to have been the highlights--leads Blakey to conclude that "it is apparently difficult--but not impossible--at least with only minimal practice with the firearm used--to fire three shots, at least two of which are 'kills,' with an elapsed time of 1.7 seconds or less between any two shots."
Well, it's difficult, but not impossible, to do many things people are not likely to do, or to have done. If you see someone walking down the other side of the street, it's possible they got there by doing a cartwheel over a moving car. But is it likely for them to have performed a cartwheel over a moving car? In any event, Blakey then acknowledges that he has come to conclude that Oswald was capable of performing the shooting as proposed "even though, in the limited testing conducted, no shooter achieved this degree of proficiency." Well, geez, the fastest any of these experts was able to fire the rifle--which was not the actual rifle, and which was presumably in better condition than the actual rifle--while using the iron sights and disregarding the time-consuming scope, was once every 1.9 seconds. So where does Blakey get off just assuming Oswald could do it in 1.7 seconds? Because...now this is key, so pay attention...he, Robert Blakey, and his assistant, Gary Cornwell, picked up the rifle after the experts had failed to fire the shots as fast as was deemed necessary, practiced with the bolt for a couple of minutes, and then fired the rifle as fast as they possibly could--and were able to do so in 1.5 and 1.2 seconds, respectively. That's it. They'd shown that the rifle could be fired faster than once every 1.7 seconds. Of course, they did this WITHOUT ACTUALLY AIMING the rifle. (They pointed the rifle in the general direction of the target, fired...and missed every time). Well, this was just ridiculous. Fabulously ridiculous. Keep in mind that the HSCA--at Blakey's urging--had already concluded that the first of Oswald's shots--the one for which he'd had the most time to aim and fire--had missed Kennedy, Connally, everything... And now absorb that he turned around and told them that Oswald had hit Kennedy and Connally with the second shot while just pointing the rifle in Kennedy's general direction.
Yeah... You can't make this stuff up... Nor should you want to...
Thoughts on Shots (Continued)
In 2013, I received an e-mail suggesting Lattimer, Connally (and myself) were far from alone in our (separately-reached) conclusions the sniper would have to have been well-practiced with the assassination rifle to perform the shooting claimed of it. A gentleman named Steve Schlah reported that in 1979 he was working as a "manager of the Jobs for Veterans Program of the National Alliance of Business, for the Tri-Counties of Central Coast of California." He then told me that "Each year, the 50 Managers (each from a different city or region across the U.S.) would meet twice in D.C. and once in a host city. In 1979, we 50 Vietnam Vets of various military branches met in the host city of Dallas Texas. After the various meetings, we ALL wanted to go to Dealey Plaza, to the site of the assassination and all 50 made the pilgrimage. It was there that all 50 came to the instant conclusion that none of us, whether having qualified as Marksman or Expert, could have fired that Italian Mannlicker-Carcano 91-38 6.5 mm Bolt-Action rifle 3 times in 6 seconds (note: he originally said 4 seconds but then corrected himself in a subsequent email) with any repeated accuracy, over the distance from the Book Depository to the moving target of the Presidential Continental. All 50 came to the same conclusion, that it was not humanly possible, without a dissenting vote."
Curiously, Massad Ayoob touched on this same point in his 1993 article when he wrote "There is reason to believe that Oswald in 1963 had become a far better shot than he was when he only made sharpshooter in the Marines." Apparently, Ayoob's "reason" (or lack thereof) was that he believes Oswald fired the shots, so he must have been able to fire the shots, which means he must have been a better shot than he was when he qualified as a sharpshooter, because a mere sharpshooter would not have been accomplished enough to have fired these shots... This totally neglects that Oswald, when last tested by the Marines in 1959, had suffered a noticeable decline in his skills and had barely qualified as a marksman, far below the level of sharpshooter he'd reached in 1956. This neglects as well that in the intervening years, 1959-1963, Oswald had scarcely fired any weapon, let alone the assassination weapon, a bolt-action rifle far more difficult to operate than the semi-automatic rifle he'd fired while in the Marines.
In 1994, former sniper Craig Roberts released his book Kill Zone: A Sniper Looks At Dealey Plaza. In the book, he not only expressed doubt that a right handed shooter could fire effectively from the crowded corner window of the depository, and hit a target just as it emerged from behind a tree, he recounted a discussion he had with legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock. Hatchcock reportedly told him "Let me tell you what we did at Quantico. We reconstructed the whole thing: the angle, the range, the moving target, the time limit, the obstacles, everything. I don't know how many times we tried it, but we couldn't duplicate what the Warren Commission said Oswald did."
That the sniper shooting at Kennedy, should it have been but one sniper shooting at Kennedy, had a significant set of skills has been confirmed, moreover, in more recent years. In 2003 a Discovery Channel program entitled “The JFK Conspiracy Myths” attempted to show that Oswald had enough time to perform the shooting by having a sharpshooter on a scaffold shoot at watermelons riding in a remote-controlled limousine. That the sharp shooter hired by the program, Michael Yardley, was able to hit a moving target 3 times in 7.87 seconds (longer than the Warren Commission's favored scenario) was supposed to prove that Oswald, who hadn’t fired his rifle in months, if ever, and who had never been trained in shooting at a moving target from an elevated perch, would have been able to accomplish a similar feat. While the program mentioned that Yardley fired six other sets of three shots, and that four of these proved successful, with the other two marred by equipment failure (the rifle jammed 5 times in 21 tries), they failed to mention the timing of these other sets. This leads one to suspect the other sets took longer than the already too long 7.87 seconds quoted in the program. Even worse, when it came time to test the accuracy of Yardley’s shooting, they provided him with a rifle hooked up to a laser switch, which he then aimed at a pretend Kennedy, as the limo crossed the plaza at night. As a laser beam travels at the speed of light, making it dramatically easier to hit a moving target, and as a laser beam suffers no bullet drop or wind resistance, and as a laser rifle offers no recoil, making it easier to shoot and re-aim, this was akin to playing with a stacked deck.
As if the clear but unacknowledged point made by the program--that Oswald's shooting Kennedy all by his lonesome was possible, but not likely--needed any clarification, its sharpshooter Michael Yardley wrote a short article on his experience entitled "Who Shot John F. Kennedy? It was me"that was published in his native England. While claiming he believed Oswald had indeed "fired three shots from the depository," Yardley nevertheless expressed serious doubts that these were the shots striking Kennedy, as he also claimed the head shot, "if taken from the Grassy Knoll, Badgeman or Walkway positions (all positions forward of the presidential vehicle) would have been much easier" and that "practical experience of the second gunman positions leads me to suspect that there could well have been another shooter." He then closed his article with "Of what can one be certain? That Oswald was a patsy." Of course, none of this was mentioned in the program.
And Yardley is not the last expert to voice his concerns about the difficulty of Oswald's purported feat. In 2013, Matthew Melton, a former Navy Seal sniper and CIA contractor, was hired to replicate Oswald's purported feat for the History Channel program JFK: The Definitive Guide. The producers asked him to rapid fire a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle from a six-story tower to see if he could accomplish two hits in 5.6 seconds, as purported by the Warren Commission. Melton accomplished three hits in 5.53 seconds. Mission accomplished. Only not so fast. He was firing at a stationary target, 88 yards away. While admitting that their test "proved that the rifle definitely had the ability" to perform the shots proposed by the Warren Commission, moreover, Melton voiced his disagreement that the test suggested Oswald was the shooter. To Professor Tom Stone's suggestion that "common sense" indicated Oswald was the shooter, Melton interjected "I would totally disagree. So the rifle can make the shots." He then explained that shooting on a range and shooting at an actual person are two different things and that "You're gonna be scared. You're gonna have an Adrenalin rush. You're gonna have a lot of outside pieces that have to be considered when it comes to shooting." Ayoob, Hathcock, Yardley, and Melton's comments, then, should lead us to suspect that Oswald was not the super shooter necessitated by Lattimer's observations, and that more than one shooter fired the shots on the motorcade.
Should one accept the shooting scenario preferred by most single-assassin theorists--that the first shot was fired around frame 160 of the Zapruder film--moreover, one should acknowledge that this gives us even more reason to doubt Oswald was the sole shooter. As demonstrated by Secret Service agent John Joe Howlett in the DVD to the National Geographic program JFK: The Lost Bullet (2011), it would have been impossible for a sniper to have fired down upon the limousine before Zapruder frame 133 (the first frame to show Kennedy's limousine) from the crouched position presumably used to fire the last two shots. Here, see for yourself...
That's Howlett in JFK: The Lost Bullet. He simulates the first shot on the left, and the second two on the right. (And yes, that's the very same Howlett who, on 11-27-63, posed behind some boxes in the sniper's nest and made out that those boxes were facing the kill zone, when the kill zone was really off to his right.)
Now, I know some are thinking I've pulled a switcheroo here, seeing as JFK: The Lost Bullet theorized the first shot was fired almost 3 seconds before the moment most single-assassin theorists believe the first shot was fired, but buckle up. In his online response to JFK: The Lost Bullet, cleverly entitled Mr. Holland's Opus, single-assassin theorist extraordinaire and primary proponent for a shooting scenario in which the first shot was fired circa Z-160, Dale Myers, acknowledged "The steep angle of a shot fired in the Z160 range, as proposed by the HSCA, could only have been accomplished from a standing position." He then continued: "My own computer model confirms that fact."
Well, I'll be. Unbeknownst to most single-assassin theorists, a sniper firing three shots at the times they believe the shots were fired, just before Zapruder frames 160, 224, and 313, would have to have fired the first shot from a standing position before crouching down to fire the last two shots. Criminy. This is not something Oswald was ever taught in the Marines. This movement between shots, moreover, is not something any live-fire reenactment of the shooting has ever dared to simulate.
This problem was given a lone-nut spin, for that matter, in a November 2018 article by Nicholas Nalli in the Journal of the Association of Crime Scene Reconstruction. There, Nalli argued that the alignment of the boxes proved that the sniper planned on beginning his assault as the limo drove out beyond the tree, and that the first shot miss (he wrongly believes was fired) before the limo even reached the tree was both "impulsive and unplanned" and "the most difficult of the three" shots attempted. Nalli then argued that the sniper had more success once he crouched and used the boxes as a rifle rest. He ignored, of course, that the professional marksmen firing on stationary targets for the Warren Commission had far more trouble with the second and third shots than with the first, and that this increase in difficulty would have been magnified by their having to crouch down between shots and rest their hands or forearm--or even just the rifle itself--on a box.
The 1994 book Sniper, by military historian Adrian Gilbert, gives us even more food for thought. While reporting on many of the tactics previously discussed, Gilbert addresses something new as well. He reports: "Fighting in built-up areas offers good concealment and cover...Dummy positions are frequently used to draw enemy fire away from the sniper's position. The short ranges over which most combat in towns and cities is fought tends to negate the sniper's range advantage. The sniper can overcome this, however, by the application of his superior knowledge of fieldcraft and, where possible, by firing from positions to the rear of the...combat zone...When firing out of a window, he should stand well back in the room, muffling the blast and hiding the muzzle blast...Windows and doorways are obvious firing positions; it may be better if the sniper cuts a funnel-shaped hole through the wall. A hole of this nature is hard for the enemy to locate and hit, while giving the sniper a reasonable field of fire." Now, this is pretty interesting. This suggests two previously unexplored possibilities. First, that the so-called grassy knoll, where most ran after shots were fired at the motorcade, was a "dummy" position. And second, that a second sniper beyond the one seen in the depository building was totally concealed from view in one of the buildings at Houston and Elm.
Now, no dummies were found on the grassy knoll. But that's not the only way to create a "dummy" position. The August 27, 1942 issue of Tactical and Technical Trends, a publication of the U.S. War Department, in an article on Japanese Tactics in the Philippines, described the use of firecrackers to "confuse U.S. troops as to the actual Japanese position." More to the point, Combat Lessons #4, a 1942 publication of the U.S. Army, noted that German snipers, in order to confuse those under fire, used firecrackers with slow-burning fuses. Finaly, Combat Lessons #6, from 1944, noted that, in both the Pacific and European theaters of World War II, "enemy troops have used firecrackers for diversionary purposes, especially when trying to deceive our troops as to the positions of snipers."
Hmmm... Beyond that many witnesses thought they heard shots from the knoll, a number of witnesses saw smoke or smelled smoke in the area. Was this smoke the smoke of a firecracker? Used for diversionary purposes? By someone trained in military tactics?
The Curtain Rod Story
So...yikes. We've looked at the evidence Oswald: 1) handled his rifle on the day of the shooting; 2) smuggled his rifle into the building before the shooting; 3) ran down from the sixth floor after the shooting; and 4) fired the fatal shots, and found this evidence sorely lacking, and even suspect.
So where does that leave us? With Oswald as the "patsy" he claimed he was?
Or somewhere in between the stone-cold killer some claim he was, and the innocent patsy some would like him to be?
It's hard to say. What is clear, however, is that there's one last piece to the puzzle that requires our attention. And that's the curtain rod story. To refresh, Buell Frazier said Oswald told him the package he brought into the building on the 22nd contained curtain rods. Now, some just dismiss this, and claim we can't trust Buell, since he's a big fat liar. Only I can't do that. For two reasons...1) I've met Buell Wesley Frazier on several occasions and found him both consistent and credible, and 2) Frazier is an important witness in that he insisted from the very beginning that the bag Oswald carried into work on the morning of the 22nd was too small to have held his rifle, and it just feels hypocritical to find Frazier reliable on one item on which he's been consistent (the bag's being too small), while claiming he's flat-out lying about another item on which he's been consistent (Oswald's telling him the bag contained curtain rods).
So let's dive into this...
When one thinks of it, there are really two halves to the curtain rod story, and two questions to be answered.
Question 1: Did Oswald tell Frazier he was going to Mrs. Paine's to collect curtain rods?
Here are the accepted facts...
1. Frazier claimed that when Oswald asked for a ride to Irving (where Oswald's wife and children were living with Ruth Paine) from work on Thursday, 11-21-63, he told him he was going to pick up some curtain rods.
2. Frazier and his sister (Linnie Mae Randle) both claimed that, on the evening of 11-21-63, she asked him about Oswald's getting a ride back on a Thursday night, as opposed to his usual night on Friday, and that he told her Oswald was going to pick up some curtain rods.
3. On 11-24-63, in a televised interview after Oswald's death, moreover, Mrs. Paine added some inadvertent support for Oswald's story about the curtain rods. When asked about Oswald's relationship with his wife, and if she thought they were permanently separated, Mrs. Paine told her interviewer "I think they expected to get an apartment together when they could afford it, say after Christmas sometime."
Well, that was just a few weeks off. Was Oswald planning a surprise for his wife? A new apartment where the family could be reunited? With curtains?
4. In a taped interview with the Secret Service on 11-26-63, moreover, Mrs. Paine added fuel to this fire. She acknowledged: "On last Thursday night's visit, Marina told me that Lee Harvey asked her 'Can't we hurry up and get an apartment together?'" (CD87 p195)
So...wait. According to Mrs. Paine...not only was Oswald planning a reunion with his wife--for which he would need an apartment--he was desperate to re-unite as soon as possible.
Did his wife Marina confirm this?
5. Yep. On 2-3-64, Marina Oswald testified: "On that day [11/21/63], he suggested that we rent an apartment in Dallas. He said that he was tired of living alone and perhaps the reason for my being so angry was the fact that we were not living together. That if I want to he would rent an apartment in Dallas tomorrow--that he didn't want me to remain with Ruth any longer, but wanted me to live with him in Dallas. He repeated this not once but several times..." (1H65-66)
So, yes, the historical record suggests Oswald was planning to re-unite with his wife. He had the money for an apartment, may very well have had one in mind, and may very well have told Frazier something about picking up some curtain rods for this apartment.
Now, some will say this isn't true, and that Oswald had specified to Frazier that he wanted these curtain rods for the room he was then renting, and not for an apartment he had looked at
So let's go back and re-read Frazier's exact words. Did he say Oswald wanted the curtain rods for the room he'd been renting, or an apartment?
(11-22-63 signed affidavit of Buell Wesley Frazier to Dallas County Sheriff's Department, 24H209) "He told me that he was going home to get some curtain rods."
(11-23-63 report on an 11-22-63 interview of Buell Wesley Frazier by FBI agent Richard Harrison, CD5, p316-319) "He advised during the day of November 21, 1963, Oswald had approached him at work and requested that he be able to ride with Frazier to Irving as he wanted to obtain some curtain rods for his residence, in Dallas."
(12-1-63 article in the Philadelphia Bulletin, for which Frazier was interviewed) "As a matter of fact, said Frazier, Oswald had told him the day before that he would be bringing some rods to exchange them for other rods he wanted for his room at Mrs. Johnson's."
(12-2-63 report on a 12-1-63 interview of Buell Wesley Frazier by FBI agents Bardwell Odum and Gibson McNeely, CD7 294) "Oswald replied that he wanted to get some curtain rods in Irving and take them to his room in Oak Cliff."
(12-5-63 sworn statement of Buell Wesley Frazier, as transcribed by U.S. Secret Service Agent William N. Carter, and signed by Frazier, CD87 p795. Note: this means the exact wording comes from Carter, not Frazier.) "I first met Lee Harvey Oswald on his first day at work in the depository. He told me that he lived in Irving. I told him he could ride home with me since he had stated that he did not have a car. Lee stated that he would ride with me on Friday evenings and Monday mornings since he had an apartment in Oak Cliff...On Thursday morning, November 21, 1963, Lee asked me if he could ride home with me that night. Lee had never gone home in the middle of the week before, so I asked him why and he stated he was going home to get some curtain rods for his apartment."
So this confirmed what the FBI reports had claimed--that Oswald had told Frazier he wanted the curtain rods for his current residence.
Or did it? The thought occurs that Oswald had said he'd wanted curtain rods for an apartment, and that Frazier had assumed he'd meant his current residence. A 19 year-old country boy like Frazier might not have realized Oswald's room was no apartment.
Now, I know some might wish to believe Oswald would use "room" and "apartment" interchangeably, but that is not the case. To someone of his economic status, an "apartment" would be an enormous step-up from a rented "room." For Oswald to have said "apartment" when he'd meant to say "room," then, would be like a college student saying "townhome" when he meant to say "dorm room." It's inarticulate--something Oswald was not. If Frazier had actually said Oswald had said he'd wanted curtain rods for an "apartment," as opposed to "room," then, it strongly suggests Oswald told Frazier he was getting the curtain rods for an apartment he was seeking to rent, and presumably had already picked out.
If only there was a way to determine what Frazier had actually told the FBI and Secret Service...
(3-11-64 testimony of Buell Wesley Frazier before the Warren Commission, 2H210-245) "Well, I say, we were standing like I said at the four-headed table about half as large as this, not, quite half as large, but anyway I was standing there getting the orders in and he said, "Could I ride home with you this afternoon?" And I said, "Sure. You know, like I told you, you can go home with me any time you want to, like I say anytime you want to go see your wife that is all right with me." So automatically I knew it wasn't Friday, I come to think it wasn't Friday and I said, "Why are you going home today?" And he says, "I am going home to get some curtain rods." He said, "You know, put in an apartment." He wanted to hang up some curtains and I said, "Very well."
It was now "an apartment," and no longer "his apartment."
Now, I know some will take from this that Frazier changed his story to make Oswald appear innocent. But they're missing the big picture. When Frazier testified, on 3-11-64, there had been no investigation establishing whether or not Oswald's rented room had had adequate curtains, etc. In other words, at that time, it could very well have been advantageous to Oswald's innocence for Frazier to claim he'd said the curtain rods were for his rented room. But Frazier didn't. Instead, he said that Oswald had said they were for an apartment. As a consequence, then, we should take this testimony seriously...
(2-13-69 testimony of Buell Wesley Frazier in the trial of Clay Shaw) "He came up to me and asked me could he ride home with me and I told him sure. I naturally noticed it was not Friday and asked him why, and he replied he was going home to see his wife and get some curtain rods which she had bought for him and he was going to put some curtains up in his apartment."
Okay, I'll admit it; he's switched back. And not only that, he's added a new element. While the story was originally that Ruth Paine was gonna give Oswald some curtain rods it was now that Marina had bought him some curtain rods.
(7-23-86 testimony in televised mock trial, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald) "He tells me that he was going home to get some curtain rods for his apartment from Mrs. Paine."
(6-19-02 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum) "He said but I need to go out to Irving. He said that Marina had made him some curtains for his apartment. He stayed over in an apartment in Dallas during the week and would go home with me like on Friday. So he was going out to pick up the curtain rods where he could hang the curtains in his apartment." (A surprised Gary Mack then asked if Oswald said these curtains were ready or whether he was just gonna pick up some curtain rods) "The way he explained it, they were ready and he was gonna get the curtain rods to hang the curtains."
Well, alright. It's changed again. Marina has no longer bought Lee some curtain rods, but she has believe it or not, made him some curtains.
(6-21-02 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum) "I saw out of the corner of my eye that something was laying on the backseat, and that’s when I asked him, I said, “What’s that on the backseat?” And he says, “Remember? That’s the curtain rods I told you that I had come out to get that I was taking back to hang the curtains in my apartment.”
(7-13-13 appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum, as shown on C-Span) "He said 'I'd like to ride out with you because I wanna get some curtain rods, to put some curtains up in my apartment.'"
(11-17-13 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, for which Frazier was interviewed and photographed) "On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Oswald rode with Frazier to work, as usual. He didn’t pay much attention to the package on his back seat that Oswald had brought along. When Frazier asked him about it, Oswald said he had bought curtain rods for his apartment."
(11-22-13 interview with Tom Meros) "Going back to November the 22nd, he had ridden out with me the night before, which was a Thursday, on November 21st, and I asked him, I said 'Well, why do you wanna go to Irving on Thursday, because you always go out with me on Friday?' And he says "Marina's made me some curtains, and I'm gonna go out to Irving because they have some curtain rods out there, and I'm gonna get the curtain rods and take 'em back with me on Friday, and I'll take 'em and put the curtains up in my apartment.'"
Well, alright...It appears that Frazier sometimes says Oswald said Marina had made him some curtains, and sometimes says that Oswald said that he himself had bought some curtain rods.
So Frazier's not the model of consistency we might wish him to be.
But he is consistent on two parts to his story--that Oswald had said something about some curtain rods--and that these curtain rods had something to do with an apartment
Well, this leaves open the possibility suggested by Frazier's testimony before the Warren Commission--that Oswald had returned to Irving (at least in part) to get some curtain rods...for an apartment.
But this splits both ways, doesn't it? IF Lee had planned on re-uniting with Marina, getting some curtain rods, returning to Dallas, and putting these curtain rods up in a new apartment that would surprise and impress her, he may have been disheartened by her wanting to delay their re-union until after Christmas. And this may have led him to...you know...
Above: Marina Oswald, when in Washington to testify before the Warren Commission. The man behind her was her new boyfriend, James Martin.
Here, again is Marina Oswald's testimony, along with the next bit of her testimony (1H65-66)...
MRS. OSWALD. On that day, he suggested that we rent an apartment in Dallas. He said that he was tired of living alone and perhaps the reason for my being so angry was the fact that we were not living together. That if I want to he would rent an apartment in Dallas tomorrow--that he didn't want me to remain with Ruth any longer, but wanted me to live with him in Dallas. He repeated this not once but several times, but I refused. And he said that once again I was preferring my friends to him, and that I didn't need him.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you say to that?
Mrs. OSWALD. I said it would be better if I remained with Ruth until the holidays, he would come, and we would all meet together. That this was better because while he was living alone and I stayed with Ruth, we were spending less money. And I told him to buy me a washing machine, because (with) two children it became too difficult to wash by hand.
Mr. RANKIN. What did he say to that?
Mrs. OSWALD. He said he would buy me a washing machine.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you say to that?
Mrs. OSWALD. Thank you. That it would be better if he bought something for himself--that I would manage.
While it is unfortunate that Marina and Lee, a 1977 book written by Priscilla Johnson McMillan after spending dozens if not hundreds of hours with Marina Oswald over a seven month period in 1964, is as close to a Marina auto-bio as we're likely to get, it is fortunate in some regards that the book exists, as it helps fill in some blanks.
Here's Marina and Lee on this conversation... (Marina and Lee, p561)
'Alka,' Marina said, 'I think it's better if I stay here. I'll stay till Christmas and you'll go on living alone. We'll save money that way. I can talk to Ruth and she's a help to me. I'm lonesome by myself with no one to talk to all day.' '
'Don't worry about the money,' Lee said. 'We have a little saved up. I'll take an apartment and we'll buy you a washing machine.'
'I don't want a washing machine. It'll be better if you buy a car.'
'I don't need a car,' he said. 'I can go on the bus. If you buy a used car, you have to spend money to get it fixed. It's not worth it. I don't want my girl to have to do all the laundry in the bathtub. Two babies are a lot of work.' Lee pointed to the pile of clothing. 'See what a lot of work it is. With two babies you can't just do it alone.'
'We'll see,' Marina said.'"
Now that is far from the "flat-out rejection that hurt Lee so bad he just had to go kill the President" some make it out to be. He was on the verge of re-uniting with his family--something he desperately wanted. He just had to wait a few weeks.
So... are we to believe Oswald was so disappointed (that Marina wanted to wait) that he snapped? Really? McMillan has Lee sneak into the garage for a few minutes while Marina removed the wash from the clothesline. She makes out that he dismantled and bagged up his rifle at this time. As no one actually saw him do this, of course, this was just conjecture.
And dubious conjecture at that. McMillan has Oswald bagging up the rifle before Marina gives him her final word on the temporary delay. Well, hell, what was Oswald to do if she surprised him in the garage with a "Let's go!"
As McMillan claimed the bag was 26 to 27 inches long (as opposed to the 38 inch-long bag in the archives), moreover, it's clear her strength was story-telling, as opposed to strong forensic argument.
In any event, after Lee's arrest, Marina Oswald made a discovery that might help us understand what happened. When Lee had left for work that morning, he'd left his wedding ring behind.
Now, for some that's all she wrote...Oswald left his ring behind. He knew his marriage was over. And he was ready to throw his life away in a stupid and futile gesture...
But the Oswald-did-it-because-he-was-rejected argument has some problems of its own.
You see, Oswald also left behind some money. This was the money he'd been saving up for an apartment. Well, if Marina's temporary rejection had driven him mad, wouldn't he have taken this money for his escape?
Now, one might counter this with the argument he thought he was going to die, and had no concrete plans of escape. Well, then, why keep any money? Why not give it all to Marina and the kids?
it should be noted, moreover, that when Marina visited Lee at the jail, she was not greeted with anger or abuse---only optimism that everything would work out and concern about their children.
Well, this splits history in half with two possible narratives, right? One where Oswald took some curtain rods to work the next day in hopes of surprising his wife with a new apartment, and one where he'd become unhinged by her temporary rejection of his fervent desire to re-unite, and took his rifle to work in a paper bag (which he'd created at work the day before just in case, y'know, he needed it), so he could assassinate the President.
Question 2: Did Oswald take his rifle, or curtain rods, to work on November 22?
Here are the accepted facts...
1. Randle claimed she saw Oswald on the morning of November 22 with a package in his hand as he approached her brother's car.
2. Frazier claimed that, when asked about this package, Oswald reminded him of the curtain rods he'd mentioned the day before.
3. After the assassination, and the ascension of Oswald as the primary suspect, Frazier and his sister told the police about the package, and that Oswald had said it contained curtain rods.
4. When asked about this package by the police, however, Oswald is purported to have claimed it was a lunch sack, and that he'd never told Frazier anything about any curtain rods.
Now, this is what we've been told Oswald said, because, amazingly, no tape recordings were made of Oswald's interrogation. That's right. The Secret Service recorded its interviews with Ruth Paine and Oswald's wife and mother, etc., but none of the various agencies investigating the assassination--the Dallas Police, the FBI, the Secret Service, or even the gol-darned Post Office--recorded any of their interviews with Oswald.
And yet, even so, some take from this that Oswald lied about the curtain rods, and that he must have instead been carrying his rifle in the bag observed by Frazier.
But that's really quite a leap.
The Warren Commission's conclusion Oswald smuggled his rifle to work on the morning of November 22 was actually a series of small conclusions leading up to one big conclusion.
So let's dissect this big conclusion by first looking at some of the Commission's small conclusions...starting with...that Oswald's rifle was in Mrs. Paine's garage on the evening of November 21, 1963.
(2-3-64 testimony of Marina Oswald before the Warren Commission, 1H1-29)
(They are discussing her return to Dallas, with the help of Mrs. Paine, in September, 1963.)
Mr. RANKIN. Did you move your household goods in her station wagon at that time?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you know whether or not the rifle was carried in the station wagon?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes, it was.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you have anything to do with loading it in there?
Mrs. OSWALD. No. Lee was loading everything on because I was pregnant at the time. But I know that Lee loaded the rifle on.
Mr. RANKIN. Was the rifle carried in some kind of a case when you went back with Mrs. Paine?
Mrs. OSWALD. After we arrived, I tried to put the bed, the child's crib together, the metallic parts, and I looked for a certain part, and I came upon something wrapped in a blanket. I thought that was part of the bed, but it turned out to be the rifle.
Mr. RANKIN. When you found the rifle wrapped in the blanket, upon your return to Mrs. Paine's, where was it located?
Mrs. OSWALD. In the garage, where all the rest of the things were.
Mr. RANKIN. In what part of the garage?
Mrs. OSWALD. In that part which is closer to the street, because that garage is connected to the house. One door opens on the kitchen, and the other out in the street.
Mr. RANKIN. Was the rifle lying down or was it standing up on the butt end?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, it was lying down on the floor.
Mr. RANKIN. After your husband returned from Mexico, did you examine the rifle in the garage at any time?
Mrs. OSWALD. I had never examined the rifle in the garage. It was wrapped in a blanket and was lying on the floor.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you ever check to see whether the rifle was in the blanket?
Mrs. OSWALD. I never checked to see that. There was only once that I was interested in finding out what was in that blanket, and I saw that it was a rifle.
Mr. RANKIN. When was that?
Mrs. OSWALD. About a week after I came from New Orleans.
Mr. RANKIN. And then you found that the rifle was in the blanket, did you?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes, I saw the wooden part of it, the wooden stock.
Mrs. OSWALD. I said that I saw--for the first and last time I saw the rifle about a week after I had come to Mrs. Paine. But, as I said, the rifle was wrapped in a blanket, and I was sure when the police had come that the rifle was still in the blanket, because it was all rolled together. And, therefore, when they took the blanket and the rifle was not in it, I was very much surprised.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you ever see the rifle in a paper cover?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Could you describe for the Commission the place in the garage where the rifle was located?
Mrs. OSWALD. When you enter the garage from the street it was in the front part, the left.
Mr. RANKIN. By the left you mean left of the door?
Mrs. OSWALD. It is an overhead door and the rifle was to the left, on the floor. It was always in the same place.
Mr. RANKIN. Was there anything else close to the rifle that you recall?
Mrs. OSWALD. Next to it there were some...next to the rifle there were some suitcases and Ruth had some paper barrels in the garage where the kids used to play.
Mr. RANKIN. The way the rifle was wrapped with a blanket, could you tell whether or not the rifle had been removed and the blanket just left there at any time?
Mrs. OSWALD. It always had the appearance of having something inside of it. But I only looked at it really once, and I was always sure the rifle was in it. Therefore, it is very hard to determine when the rifle was taken. I only assumed that it was on Thursday, because Lee had arrived so unexpectedly for some reason.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you know whether your husband carried any package with him when he left the house on November 22nd?
Mrs. OSWALD. I think that he had a package with his lunch. But a small package.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you know whether he had any package like a rifle in some container?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you do the rest of the morning, after you got up on November 22d?
Mrs. OSWALD. When I got up the television set was on, and I knew that Kennedy was coming. Ruth had gone to the doctor with her children and she left the television set on for me. And I watched television all morning, even without having dressed. She was running around in her pajamas and watching television with me.
Mr. RANKIN. Before the assassination, did you ever see your husband examining the route of the parade as it was published in the paper?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you ever see him looking at a map of Dallas like he did in connection with the Walker shooting?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. How did you learn of the shooting of President Kennedy?
Mrs. OSWALD. I was watching television, and Ruth by that time was already with me, and she said someone had shot at the President.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you say?
Mrs. OSWALD. It was hard for me to say anything. We both turned pale. I went to my room and cried.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you think immediately that your husband might have been involved?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Did Mrs. Paine say anything about the possibility of your husband being involved?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, but she only said that "By the way, they fired from the building in which Lee is working." My heart dropped. I then went to the garage to see whether the rifle was there, and I saw that the blanket was still there, and I said, "Thank God." I thought, "Can there really be such a stupid man in the world that could do something like that?" But I was already rather upset at that time--I don't know why. Perhaps my intuition. I didn't know what I was doing.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you look in the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. I didn't unroll the blanket. It was in its usual position, and it appeared to have something inside.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you at any time open the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, only once.
Mr. RANKIN. You have told us about that.
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. And what about Mrs. Paine? Did she look in the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. She didn't know about the rifle. Perhaps she did know. But she never told me about it. I don't know.
Mr. RANKIN. When did you learn that the rifle was not in the blanket?
Mrs. OSWALD. When the police arrived and asked whether my husband had a rifle, and I said "Yes."
Mr. RANKIN. Then what happened?
Mrs. OSWALD. They began to search the apartment. When they came to the garage and took the blanket, I thought, "Well, now, they will find it." They opened the blanket but there was no rifle there. Then, of course, I already knew that it was Lee. Because, before that, while I thought that the rifle was at home, I did not think that Lee had done that. I thought the police had simply come because he was always under suspicion.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you tell them that you had looked for the gun you thought was in the blanket?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, it seems to me I didn't say that. They didn't ask me.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you watch the police open the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. Did Mrs. Paine also watch them?
Mrs. OSWALD. It seems to me, as far as I remember.
Well, this is pretty clear. Mrs. Oswald had seen the stock of a rifle sticking out of a blanket in Mrs. Paine's garage a week after arriving at the Paine house in September 1963, and had seen the blanket afterwards, but had failed to notice any difference in the appearance of the blanket from when she'd seen it wrapped around a rifle as compared to its laying empty on the floor on November 22. In other words, she was of no help to the commission in their quest to show the rifle was taken to work by Oswald on November 22, 1963.
Well, what about Mr. Paine. Did he see the rifle in the garage?
Above: Ruth and Michael Paine when in Washington to testify before the Warren Commission.
(3-17-64 testimony of Michael Paine before the Warren Commission, 9H434-481)
(Note that this is a deep dive into a shallow pool. If only the Commission's staff had been more thorough on more important matters.)
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, did you ever have occasion to go into the garage toward the end of September after your wife had returned for any reason?
Mr. PAINE - Yes. As I say that was, I still had a number of things there, and the tools were there.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you used the tools from time to time?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - During the time that you used the tools, did you ever see a package wrapped in a blanket lying in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that is one of the clearest things in my mind. I had had to move that. The garage is rather crowded especially with their things in it. It had degenerated from a shop into a storage place and in order to use the tools at all I would have to move things out of the way, and one of the packages was this blanket wrapped with a string and I had had to move it several times. I knew it belonged to the Oswalds. I am polite so I don't look into a package or even I wouldn't look into a letter if it were in an envelope which was unsealed. But I picked up this package and the first time I picked it up I thought it was a camping equipment and thought to myself they don't make camping equipment of iron any more, and at another time I think I picked it up at least twice or three times, and one time I had to put it on the floor, and there was a--I was a little ashamed because I didn't know what I was putting on the floor and I was going to get it covered with sawdust but I again supposed that it was camping equipment that wouldn't be injured by it, being on the floor. I supposed it was camping equipment because it was wrapped in this greenish rustic blanket and that was the reason I thought it was a rustic thing. I had also going a little further thought what kind of camping equipment has something this way and one going off 45 degrees, a short stub like that. Then there was also a certain wideness at one end and then I thought of a folding tool I had in the Army, a folding shovel and I was trying to think how a folding shovel fit with the rest of this because that wasn't quite, the folding shovel was too symmetrical. That was as far as my thinking went on the subject but at one time or another those various thoughts would occur before I got to using the tools myself.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever think there were tent poles in the package?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I supposed they were tent poles, I first thought it was tent poles and then I thought there are not enough poles here, enough to make a tent. I didn't think very elaborately about it but just kind of in the back of my mind before I got on to the next thing I visualized a pipe or possibly two, and with something coming off, that must come off kind of abruptly a few inches at 45b0 angle. I can draw you a picture of the thing as I had it. You know I wasn't thinking of a rifle. Definitely that thought never occurred to me.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you draw us a picture for it and I hand you a yellow pad and let me get you a pen. Would you draw a picture for us of what you visualized to be in the package?
Mr. PAINE - Also this was--I visualized after I put the package down. I would lift the package up, move it, put the package down and one time I was trying to puzzle how you could make camping equipment out of something--this is only one pipe in the package. That is the only thing. Then a little shovel which I am speaking is an Army shovel which looks something like so, and it has a folding handle on it.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you have drawn on this piece of paper two different pictures, one of which you indicate as the shovel.
Mr. PAINE - I was trying to put these in the package to make something that I thought was a pipe about 30 inches long. Of course; that actual package as I visualized it--that is the outline, that is how it lay in the package.
Mr. LIEBELER - You have drawn a dotted line, outline around his first picture that you drew which you indicated you thought, you conceived of as an iron pipe of some sort.
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you mark this. I hand this to the reporter and ask him to mark this as Exhibit 1.
(The drawing was marked "Michael Paine Exhibit No. 1".)
Mr. LIEBELER - When you moved this package around, did it appear to you that there was more than one object inside of it or did it appear to be a solid piece or just what was your feeling?
Mr. PAINE - I didn't think. It remained in the package--nothing jelled. I think I thought about it more than once because my thoughts didn't hold together enough.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did it rattle at all when you moved it?
Mr. PAINE - No; it didn't rattle.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now----
Mr. PAINE - I kind of rejected the shovel idea because that was not, that was two symmetrical.
Mr. LIEBELER - What was too symmetrical?
Mr. PAINE - The shovel the shaft and the blade of the shovel are symmetrical, the shaft is on the center line of the shovel and here this wider area had to be offset somehow.
Mr. LIEBELER - You said you thought it was about 30 inches long?
Mr. PAINE - No; I am just telling you, I picked up a package which I first thought camping equipment, heavy iron pipes, and then I tried, then later, maybe when I had left. I tried to think, well, what kind of camping equipment has that little stub on it that goes off at an angle or asymmetric like that, and the flat end down there and I tried to put a shovel in there to fill out the bag, and with the camping equipment, to the shape of the thing. I never--I didn't put these in words, they were just kind of thoughts in the back part of my mind. I wasn't particularly curious about it. I just had to move this object and I think I have told you about the full extent of my thinking.
Mr. LIEBELER - How long would you estimate the package to be?
Mr. PAINE - The package was about that long. That is 40 inches long.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let's get a ruler and have you indicate. Would you indicate Mr. Paine, on the edge of the desk here approximately how long you think the package was and then I will measure what you have indicated.
Mr. PAINE - I guess about that. That is including the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness has indicated a length of 37 1/2 inches.
Mr. PAINE - You had two twelves. All right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you say that was including the blanket, what do you mean by that?
Mr. PAINE - Well, the blanket was wrapped around the end of it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was it wrapped tightly?
Mr. PAINE - Pretty snug.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you moved it did you have the impression that there might have been any paper inside of it?
Mr. PAINE - No; I would have said no; I didn't have that impression. Nothing crinkled, no sound.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you moved it several times?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was there any indication by a crinkling or otherwise that there might be paper wrapped inside the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you said before that you had thought that they didn't make camping equipment out of iron anymore. What do you mean by that?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I had had camping equipment, of course, camping equipment we had was a tent with iron pipes.
Mr. LIEBELER - What prompted you to think of that thought in connection with this particular package?
Mr. PAINE - I suppose it was the--I had a .22 when I was a kid.
Mr. LIEBELER - A .22 caliber rifle?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I had two of them. I kept that in better condition, I mean, this was a rustic looking blanket, it looked as though it had been kicked around. It was dusty, and it seemed to me it was wrapped with a twine or something tied up with a twine. So I thought of, it looked to me like the kind of blanket I had used for a bed roll on the ground.
I suppose that is the thought that started me thinking in the line of camping equipment. And then I suppose I must have felt, I felt a pipe, at least, and maybe some sense of there being more than one pipe but I drew that picture that I drew, I didn't sense that there being another pipe I didn't put it in because I never did place another pipe around it.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never placed another pipe----
Mr. PAINE - I had the idea there might have been more than one pipe here or I didn't know where the other pipe might be.
Mr. LIEBELER - At the time you picked it up, at any time that you picked it up, did you have the idea that there might be more than two pipes inside the package.
Mr. PAINE - Well, I would never have mentioned camping equipment, you see, without, you can't make anything without more than one pipe.
Mr. LIEBELER - Think of the configuration of the package or of the way it acted when you moved it, was there any indication in that sense that there was more than one pipe inside.
Mr. PAINE - No; I think it was a homogenous, that is to say it didn't move one part with respect to another.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was it tied tightly?
Mr. PAINE - It was tied quite firmly. It seemed to me the blanket was wrapped double or something that the blanket itself would have made two pipes trying to hold still in the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - How wide was the package?
Mr. PAINE - Well, apparently, it was lopsided because I remember not being able to fit the shovel in it, but if you are to draw that outline or something, I think that would go around the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you want to draw something additional here?
Mr. PAINE - It was smaller at this end. It was smaller at this one end and that was generally the end that I carried in my right hand.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you mark the area on the drawing that you are indicating, mark it with an "A" on the drawing. And you indicate that it was smaller at the end marked "A" than at the other end or it was not as wide?
Mr. PAINE - I can't remember how it was wrapped at this end because I could grab my hand around the paper whereas this end, I think was folded over.
Mr. LIEBELER - You say that the blanket, you think the blanket was folded over at the other end opposite from "A"?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I don't know, there were two separate different thoughts at the time.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now you have drawn a solid line completely around the first drawing that you made on No. 1?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I don't think I made this one, my solid line should be much longer. It should have gone out there. I will scratch it out.
Mr. LIEBELER - Okay. The witness is scratching out the first line at end "B" and drawing in another line.
Mr. PAINE - This is the widest dimension here, and I was indicating, between 7 and 8 inches.
Mr. LIEBELER - Mark that "C".
Mr. PAINE - All right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now the witness has stated that the dimension marked "C" on the drawing was approximately 7 or 8 inches. Would you mark a "B" at the end opposite from "A" on the drawing so we can keep the record straight as to what we have been talking about?
Mr. PAINE - [Marking.]
Mr. LIEBELER - We have now gotten two dimensions roughly of the package, the length and the height.
Mr. PAINE - My hand went around it pretty well, It didn't close around it but it went around it to the grabbing of the fashion where the pipe went actually through my fingers and thumb.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did your hand actually close around it?
Mr. PAINE - It did not close around it. At the other end I grabbed it when I picked it up, grabbing it, I will draw my fingers here. This is the thumb.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness has sketched-----
Mr. PAINE - In that fashion there. That was, say, 2 inches thick with the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Witness has drawn at the end marked "'B" his hand indicating how he picked it up and said that at that end it was about 2 inches thick, including the blanket.
When you grabbed it at that end could you tell whether the blanket was wrapped tight up around the object that was inside or whether it was just a fold of the blanket at that end?
Mr. PAINE - I thought it was, my impression was that it was all tightly wrapped and that the blanket had strings around it--I can't recall exactly but it was tied with strings, I don't remember where the strings were and I thought the fold of in the blanket came up along here somewhere. I thought it was wrapped, the blanket was folded over.
Mr. LIEBELER - In other words, your testimony is that at end "B"?
Mr. PAINE - But my memory there is so feeble, so uncertain. I remember this measurement of the pipe because I pictured that in my mind at the time so I was thinking about that. I was trying to fit the shovel in and I remember saying that is too asymmetric. My impression was I would have said that there would have been a fold over it. I have read since that Marina looked in the end of this package and saw the butt end of a rifle Now I didn't remember that it was something easy to look into like that. I though it was well wrapped up.
Mr. LIEBELER - In the testimony you have just given you have indicated that the blanket was folded over the end of the object marked "B" on our drawing.
Would you indicate approximately by a line which I will ask you to mark "D" how far the blanket came up on the object itself, after it was folded over, the "B" end, can you do that for us?
Mr. PAINE - This is totally unreliable as a memory. It was only based on an impression that I thought it was well wrapped, in other words, dirt wouldn't be sifting into the inside of the package. I put it under the saw, right below where the saw sifts the sawdust out so I was concerned not getting these things dirty. So I will draw a line here.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, in the drawing you have made for us you have indicated this object inside the package, you have drawn an object and a package, and on your drawing the object ends before the end of the package does, the steel pipe that you have drawn.
What impression did you have of what was in the rest of the package?
Mr. PAINE - I must have drawn my outline incorrectly. The line of this pipe here shown didn't--the package, I must draw another package then. The package must have sloped.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well, do you remember how it was?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't remember the shape of the package. It was a blanket, I mean it was a--- reconstruct the blanket or something but this is not a continuous pipe because it was loose, it was stuck through the outline of the package, then I drew the package wrong then. I didn't think of it all at one time, you know, I just had these individual separate thoughts of trying to fit an object or objects that came to my mind into this package.
Mr. LIEBELER - Your testimony is then that instead of drawing a new package you think the object you have drawn inside the package should have gone right to the end of the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that 30 inches of pipe would have come close to the edge of the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let me show you a----
Mr. PAINE - But here, you see there may have been another pipe alongside of it, I didn't particularly arrange it.
Mr. LIEBELER - I show you a blanket which has been previously marked as Commission Exhibit 140, and ask you if that is the blanket that you saw in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I think it looks cleaner than it was, than it struck me then. And I may have said that it had more colors in it but that is the mood of the colors there.
I think I would have--I can't absolutely identify this blanket. But green and brown, it may have also had blue spots in it or something like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you say that this is not the blanket that was in the garage? Take your time and examine it as closely as you want to, do anything you want to with it.
Mr. PAINE - I would guess that--it looks a little, in here it looks cleaner than I remember but otherwise it looks--the light isn't very good in there and I always moved it around in the dark, I mean in the night time. I had an impression that it was, it was somewhat more mottling of the colors in it, that is to say, I can't identify this absolutely.
It is a very good substitute for it, a good resemblance or good candidate for, my memory of the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, there were lights in the garage, were there not?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you would have them on when you were working in there?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You said at one point you stored the blanket under your saw?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You had lights near your saw, didn't you?
Mr. PAINE - It is very dark there. There is a light on the saw but that shines on the table.
Mr. LIEBELER - There is no light directly over the saw?
Mr. PAINE - No; there is one light in the garage out in the middle of the room.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you say that at any time that you moved the blanket around in the garage that you would have had enough light to determine the colors of the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - The green and the brown, those colors were in that blanket. I had thought there was, it was dirtier, and I would have put blue spots with it, something like that to make it fully come up to the impression I had of the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - And those blue spots would have been a part of the pattern of the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember whether the design of this blanket, Commission Exhibit 148, is approximately the same as the design on the blanket which you saw in your garage or was it different?
Mr. PAINE - I don't remember the design of the blanket I saw in the garage. I think somewhat, I didn't, if I had been the least bit curious I could have at least felt of this blanket but I was aware of personal privacy, so I don't investigate something.
Now what comes to my hand from touching the thing unavoidably I am free to think about, but I think I was aware of not looking through his belongings, the moral dictate. I know I was aware of that, I remember. I remember that feeling.
Mr. LIEBELER - What about the texture of this blanket, does it seem like the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that is a good----
Mr. LIEBELER - It is similar?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - This blanket we have here is sewn around the edges with brown thread, is it not?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Around some of the edges at any rate?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you recall seeing anything like that on the blanket that was in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't know, but I didn't look at it that closely.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, a part of that exhibit is a piece of string. When I unfolded the blanket, Commission Exhibit 140, a piece of string was found to be present, and I would like to ask the reporter to mark it as the next exhibit on this deposition.
(The string referred to was marked Michael Paine Exhibit No. 2 for identification.)
Mr. LIEBELER - I ask you, Mr. Paine, whether that piece of string which has been marked as Exhibit 2 on this deposition is similar to or different from the string that was used to tie this package up when you saw it in the garage, if you remember?
Mr. PAINE - I don't remember exactly. I think this is a very good candidate again. I remember thinking it was wrapped in a twine, by which I meant it was not wrapped in a cotton, tight wound expensive cotton, string. I didn't think it was wrapped, didn't have in mind the manila type or sisal type. This is the right strength. I can't actually remember whether it was or not.
Mr. LIEBELER - It appears to be similar?
Mr. PAINE - That is about as good as could come to my memory.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was there just one string wrapped on the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - No; I think it was wrapped at both ends.
Mr. LIEBELER - With two strings?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well now this blanket has a pin in one end. I call your attention to that, the blanket which is Commission Exhibit 140. Did you notice that pin?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't think so.
Mr. LIEBELER - Present in the blanket at the time it was in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't think I do.
Mr. LIEBELER - I am going to lay the blanket out here on the conference table and I am going to produce Commission Exhibit 139 which is the rifle that was found in the Texas School Book Depository Building on November 22, 1963, and I will ask you if you can construct out of these materials that we have here this rifle, and the blanket and the string something that resembles or duplicates the package that you saw in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - It seemed to me this end up here was not as bulky as the whole----
Mr. REDLICH - By "this end" what do you mean?
Mr. PAINE - "A", I have drawn as "A", was not as bulky as if I had wrapped it and pulled the blanket over.
Mr. LIEBELER - You are having difficulty in making it as small as when you remember it in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - We want you just to continue to work with it and take your time because we want you to be able to satisfy yourself to the fullest extent possible, on this question, one way or the other.
Mr. PAINE - It is getting fairly close but I don't know what he did with this end. This way of wrapping it seems to combine the functions. I also had a notion that it was somehow folded over but it seems too thick to do it that way.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you have wrapped the rifle in the blanket. I will ask you if this appears to be, this wrapped package appears to be similar to the one you saw in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - I should say quite big enough here.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you say this end, you are referring to the end marked "B" on the drawing, which in the package is the end, the butt end of the rifle, isn't that right?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You say that end is too thick.
Mr. PAINE - As I have it wrapped.
Mr. LIEBELER - Yes; and you say in the center of the package in which we have the rifle wrapped you say that is not thick enough. But by thick enough do you mean the width or the actual thickness of the package?
Mr. PAINE - I thought of the package pretty much as all of the same thickness, calling the width from--calling the rifle and the scope of the rifle the width.
Mr. LIEBELER - The width?
Mr. PAINE - The width across the belt, the direction of the bolt as the thickness. So I thought of it as a more or less constant thickness of the package and not quite so--I would have to wrap it in some manner to move some of this bulk up into here, but I don't want to do it so much that I can't grab that feel of pipe.
That feels, it is quite a lot like it and there could almost have been two pipes there.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you say it is quite a lot like it you grasped the "A" end rifle or the muzzle of the rifle, is that correct?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Are we saying now that its thickness is not as you remember the package in your garage or the same width?
Mr. PAINE - Well, most likely this end down here is perhaps, the butt end of the rifle.
Mr. LIEBELER - The "B" end?
Mr. PAINE - As I have it wrapped is a little bit too full.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you think that appears to be thicker----
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Than the package that was in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And as far as the middle is concerned, you say that is what, not as thick nor not as wide?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; somehow it should be a little wider, or a little fuller.
Mr. LIEBELER - It was a package which wasn't quite so tapering?
Mr. PAINE - Quite so tapered.
Mr. LIEBELER - Is that approximately the length of the package that you remember in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I think that is good, I grabbed it in some way or another, I don't know what he did with this end.
Mr. LIEBELER - Referring to the "A"?
Mr. PAINE - There was a string, there were two strings on it.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you estimated the length of the package before, would you have estimated it with the flap of the blanket that is now on the "A" end folded over or extended a little bit as it happens to be in this particular package?
Mr. PAINE - I don't think it was--I think the package is still all right if you fold it over, and I would not, the length I was estimating was the kind of length that I would grab there.
Mr. LIEBELER - So you think that the length would be more appropriate if you folded this flap over here at "A"?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you measure the length of that package and tell us what it is?
Mr. PAINE - That is 41 inches.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, after going through the process that we have gone through here, of trying to wrap this rifle in this blanket, do you think that the package that you saw in your garage could have been a package containing a rifle similar to the one we have here?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I think so. This has the right weight and solidness.
Well, let's interject here to point out that they have placed the rifle presumed to have been held in a blanket in the Paine's garage back into this blanket, and have been unable to make this "package" look like the package Mr. Paine remembered moving around his garage.
They brought him back the next day.
(3-18-64 testimony of Michael Paine before the Warren Commission, 2H384-430)
Mr. LIEBELER - Now yesterday, we asked you about an incident or spoke to you about an incident that happened in September of 1963 when you went into your garage to use some tools, your garage in Irving, Tex. Would you tell us about that?
Mr. PAINE - I don't remember whether the date was September. I remember that was the date they came back from New Orleans and I do remember that my wife asked me to unpack some of their heavy things from their car. I only recall unpacking duffelbags but any other package, that was the heaviest thing there and they were easy also.
Mr. LIEBELER - You must have moved the duffelbags from the station wagon into the garage?
Mr. PAINE - That is right. I unpacked whatever was remaining in the station wagon to the garage.
So sometime later, I do remember moving about this package which, let's say, was a rifle, anyway it was a package wrapped in a blanket. The garage was kind of crowded and I did have my tools in there and I had to move this package several times in order to make space to work, and the final time I put it on the floor underneath the saw where the bandsaw would be casting dust on it and I was a little embarrassed to be putting his goods on the floor, but I didn't suppose, the first time I picked it up I thought it was camping equipment. I said to myself they don't make camping equipment of iron pipes any more.
Mr. LIEBELER - Why did you say that to yourself when you picked up the package?
Mr. PAINE - I had, my experience had been, my earliest camping equipment had been a tent of iron pipes. This somehow reminded me of that. I felt a pipe with my right hand and it was iron, that is to say it was not aluminum.
Mr. LIEBELER - How did you make that distinction?
Mr. PAINE - By the weight of it, and by the, I suppose the moment of inertia, you could have an aluminum tube with a total weight massed in the center somehow but that would not have had the inertia this way.
Mr. DULLES - You were just feeling this through the blanket though?
Mr. PAINE - I was also aware as I was moving his goods around, of his rights to privacy. So I did not feel--I had to move this object, I wasn't thinking very much about it but it happens that I did think a little bit about it or before I get on to the working with my tools I thought, an image came to mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you think there was more than one tent pole in the package or just one tent pole?
Mr. PAINE - As I say, I moved it several times, and I think I thought progressively each time. I moved it twice. It had three occasions. And the first one was an iron, thought of an iron pipe and then I have drawn, I drew yesterday, a picture of the thing I had in mind. Then in order to fill out the package I had to add another object to it and there I added again I was thinking of camping equipment, and I added a folding shovel such as I had seen in the Army, a little spade where the blade folds back over the handle. This has the trouble that this blade was too symmetrical I disposed to the handle and to fit the package the blade had to be off center, eccentric to the handle. Also, I had my vision of the pipe. It had an iron pipe about 30 inches long with a short section of pipe going off 45 degrees. No words here, it just happened that I did have this image in my mind of trying to fill up that package in the back burner of my mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness yesterday did draw a picture of what he visualized as being in the blanket, and I will offer it in evidence later on in the hearing.
How long was this package in your estimation?
Mr. PAINE - Well, yesterday we measured the distance that I indicated with my hand, I think it came to 37 inches.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately how thick would you say it was?
Mr. PAINE - I picked it up each time and I put it in a position and then I would recover it from that position, so each time I moved it with the same position with my hands in the same position. My right hand, the thumb and forefinger could go around the pipe, and my left hand grabbed something which was an inch and a half inside the blanket or something thick.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did it occur to you at that time that there was a rifle in the package?
Mr. PAINE - That did not occur to me.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never at any time looked inside the package?
Mr. PAINE - That is correct. I could easily have felt the package but I was aware that of respecting his privacy of his possessions.
Mr. LIEBELER - Were you subsequently advised of the probability or the possibility that there had been a rifle wrapped in that package?
Mr. PAINE - When I arrived on Friday afternoon we went into the garage, I think Ruth, Marina and the policeman, and I am not sure it was the first time, but there we saw this blanket was on the floor below the bandsaw--
(At this point Representative Ford entered the hearing room.)
Mr. PAINE - And a rifle was mentioned and then it rang a bell, the rifle answered, fitted the package that I had been trying to fit these unsuccessfully. It had never resolved itself, this shovel and pipe didn't fit in there.
Mr. LIEBELER - And it seemed to you likely that there had in fact been a rifle in the package?
Mr. PAINE - That answered it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Can you tell us when the last time was that you saw that package in the garage prior to the assassination?
Mr. PAINE - No; I am afraid I can't.
Mr. DULLES - Do we have the date of the first time in the record?
Mr. LIEBELER - Yes; I think the witness testified it was either late September or early October of 1963.
So, yikes. Mrs. Oswald said she saw the wooden stock of a rifle in the garage in September, 1963, roughly 8 weeks prior to the assassination. The Commission, then, was relying upon Mr. Paine to place the rifle in the garage sometime much more recent, say a week or two prior to the assassination. But he failed to do so.
Think of it. Mr. Paine was both the only witness to admit moving the blanket in the garage, and the only one to claim it was heavy enough to have held a rifle. And yet his recollection of the appearance of the blanket he'd moved failed to match the appearance of the blanket once wrapped around the rifle. And not only that--he had no recollection of when he'd last picked up this blanket. He knew he'd first picked it up in late September or early October, but didn't know the last time he'd picked it up.
So, yikes again... The Commission's case against Oswald rested upon the presumption he took his rifle from this blanket on the morning of the 22nd--and there was no evidence, whatsoever, that his rifle was even in the blanket on that day, or the day before that, or the day before that, going back a month and a half or more, almost two months in fact, when Marina said she'd seen the wooden stock of the rifle...
We now jump to the 3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine. Although she claimed she'd never looked in or picked up the blanket stored in her garage, she admitted seeing it and stepping over it on numerous occasions, including the night before the assassination.
After placing the assassination rifle into the blanket in which it was believed to have been stored in Mrs. Paine's garage, Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner asked Mrs. Paine if this was how the blanket looked while it was stored in her garage.
He did not receive the answer he'd anticipated.
(3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine before the Warren Commission, 3H50-140)
Mr. JENNER - For the record, I am placing the rifle in the folded blanket as Mrs. Paine folded it. This is being done without the rifle being dismantled. May the record show, Mr. Chairman, that the rifle fits well in the package from end to end, and it does not--
Mrs. PAINE - Can you make it flatter?
Mr. JENNER - No; because the rifle is now in there.
Mrs. PAINE - I just mean that--
Mr. JENNER - Was that about the appearance of the blanket wrapped package that you saw on your garage floor?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; although I recall it as quite flat.
Mr. JENNER - Flatter than it now appears to be?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes. But it is not a clear recollection.
Mr. JENNER - You have a firm recollection that the package you saw was of the length?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes, definitely.
Mr. JENNER - That is 45 inches, approximately. You had no occasion when you stepped on the package--
Mrs. PAINE - I stepped over it.
Mr. JENNER - You always stepped over it?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; until the afternoon of the 22d.
So let's get this straight. Mrs. Paine, who'd done some work in her garage on the night before the assassination, had a clear recollection of the length of the blanket she'd been stepping over--that matches the appearance of the rifle when hidden in the blanket--but recalled the blanket as having been "quite flat."
She had thereby testified that, in her impression, the rifle was not in the blanket in the days, if not weeks, leading up to the assassination.
Well, golly gee... Although the Commission came to the small conclusion the rifle was in the garage on November 21, 1963, they were clearly working backwards from their GIANT conclusion Oswald killed Kennedy with a rifle they presumed was in the garage, because the actual evidence the rifle was in the garage that morning was non-existent.
Let us now look at a second small conclusion...that Oswald had made the bag he was purported to have carried on the morning on November 22, 1963...in the depository on November 21, 1963.
(NOTE: This conclusion was necessitated by: 1) the FBI's conclusion the paper and tape used to create this bag matched samples of the paper and tape in use by the depository on November 22, 1963; 2) the depository changed paper rolls every few days; 3) the tape matching the tape on this bag was from a machine where the gum was wetted as the tape was pulled from the machine, thereby making it impractical for outside use; and 4) Oswald had not been out to the Paine residence for more than a week.)
It should have been a simple matter, then, of finding someone to say they'd seen Oswald by this machine on November 21. Only no such luck.
(4-8-64 testimony of Troy West, 6H356-363)
Mr. BELIN - Where did you get your lunch?
Mr. WEST - Well, I always kept my lunch right there close by my machine, by my wrapping machine that I use all the time, that I always kept my lunch. I have a little place underneath and I keep it there all the time.
Mr. BELIN - Are you the only one that wraps the books for mailing, or wraps them up for mailing?
Mr. WEST - Well, no, sir; I am not the only one, but mine is that way just every day.
Mr. BELIN - You do it all the time?
Mr. WEST - Yes; I do that.
Mr. BELIN - Are you the only one who does it all the time?
Mr. WEST - I am the only one that is steady, wraps mail all the time, although I have help, you know, when it gets stacked.
Mr. BELIN - Did Lee Harvey Oswald ever help you wrap mail?
Mr. WEST - No, sir; he never did.
Mr. BELIN - Do you know whether or not he ever borrowed or used any wrapping paper for himself?
Mr. WEST - No, sir; I don't.
Mr. BELIN - You don't know?
Mr. WEST - No; I don't.
Mr. BELIN - Did you ever see him around these wrapper rolls or wrapper roll machines, or not?
Mr. WEST - No, sir; I never noticed him being around.
Mr. BELIN - Now, after you quit for lunch, you made the coffee then?
Mr. WEST - Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN - Where did you make the coffee?
Mr. WEST - I made the coffee right there close to the wrapping mail table where I wrap mail.
Mr. BELIN - Then what did you do?
Mr. WEST - Well, I sit down to eat my lunch.
Troy West was a full-time shipping clerk. He ate lunch at his shipping table, alongside the paper and tape machines. And yet he never noticed Oswald hanging around, let alone helping himself to some paper and some tape and constructing some sort of bag...
So that's two conclusions where the evidence points in the exact opposite direction...
Let us now look at another small conclusion...that Oswald had dismantled and wrapped his rifle in a hand-made paper bag he'd smuggled home from work on the 21st.
Well, for this one there's not much to look at. Buell Frazier, who drove Oswald to Mrs. Paine's on November 21, and back to work the next day, testified on 3-11-64. Subsequent to his testimony, the Commission received reports and testimony suggesting the paper bag in evidence, which they'd presumed had concealed Oswald's rifle on his ride to work, had been constructed from materials taken from the school book depository, within days of the assassination. Well, seeing as Oswald had not visited his wife in Irving for more than a week, this led to the inevitable conclusion the paper bag had been transported to Mrs. Paine's on the evening of the 21st.
So what did Frazier have to say about this? Uhh... He was never asked about this...by the Commission, or, more specifically, Commission Counsel Joseph Ball. On 3-11-64, Ball questioned Frazier about the paper bag in his car on the 22nd, but never followed-up by asking Frazier about the paper bag the Commission had concluded was in his car on the 21st.
Yes, incredibly, Frazier was never asked about the bag's being in his car on the 21st. With the testimony of the FBI's James Cadigan before the Warren Commission on 4-3-64, the Commission learned the depository changed paper rolls about 6 times a month, or once every 3 1/3 days (4H96). And with the testimony of Troy West on 4-8-64, the Commission learned that the tape on the outside of the paper bag was wetted upon removal from the tape dispenser. Well, yikes, it followed then, that, for Oswald to have put together the bag, he would have to have taped it together at the school book depository on 11-21-63, or at the very least, at Ruth Paine's house that night... In either case, he would have to have smuggled the bag out to Irving in his clothing on the 21st.
And yet, the Commission never asked Frazier if he thought this was possible...
It is with some pride then that I report that on September 25, 2014, at the AARC conference in Bethesda, Maryland, I asked Frazier the question the commission failed to ask. I explained to him that the commission, and the single-assassin theorists crawling in their footsteps, not only push that the bag he saw in Oswald's possession on 11-22-63 was large enough to hold the rifle--something Frazier, by the way, once again denied at the conference--but that they simultaneously push that Oswald transported the bag out to Irving in Frazier's car on 11-21-63. I asked him if the paper used in the depository was crinkly and stiff when folded over, as I had assumed. And he said yes. I then asked him if there was any way Oswald could have smuggled more than 7 square feet of industrial wrapping paper out to Irving, within his clothes or otherwise, on 11-21-63. And Frazier's face hardened. He thought for a moment, and looked down at the floor. I read his face as saying "Wow, it's even worse than I thought." He then looked me in the eyes and responded as firmly and clearly as anyone has ever responded to a question... He said "That did not happen."
So that's 0 for 2. Two small conclusions--1) that a rifle was in Mrs. Paine's garage on 11-21, and 2) that Oswald smuggled a paper bag out to Irving on 11-21 to conceal this rifle--for which the Commission found no evidence, but came to accept anyway.
So now let's look at a fourth small conclusion--that Oswald was in the garage on the night of the 21st.
First...let's pick-up where we left off with Marina Oswald's testimony in February 1964.
Mr. RANKIN. Did this seem to make him more upset, when you suggested that he wait about getting an apartment for you to live in?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes. He then stopped talking and sat down and watched television and then went to bed. I went to bed later. It was about 9 o'clock when he went to sleep. I went to sleep about 11:30. But it seemed to me that he was not really asleep. But I didn't talk to him. In the morning he got up, said goodbye, and left, and that I shouldn't get up--as always, I did not get up to prepare breakfast. This was quite usual. And then after I fed Rachel, I took a look to see whether Lee was here, but he had already gone. This was already after the police had come. Ruth told me that in the evening she had worked in the garage and she knows that she had put out the light but that the light was on later--that the light was on in the morning. And she guessed that Lee was in the garage. But I didn't see it.
Mr. RANKIN. Did she tell you when she thought your husband had been in the garage, what time of the day?
Mrs. OSWALD. She thought that it was during the evening, because the light remained on until morning.
Mr. RANKIN. Why did you stay awake until 11:30? Were you still angry with him?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, not for that reason, but because I had to wash dishes and be otherwise busy with the household--take a bath.
So, okay, when Lee went to bed, Marina went into the kitchen.
Mr. RANKIN. I wasn't clear about when Mrs. Paine thought that your husband might have been in the garage and had the light on. Did she indicate whether she thought it was before he went to bed at 9 o'clock?
Mrs. OSWALD. I don't know. At first it seems it wasn't nine, it was perhaps ten o'clock when Lee went to bed. And first, Ruth went to her room and then Lee went. He was there after her.
Mr. RANKIN. So he might have been in the garage sometime between 9 and 10? Was that what you thought?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Well, okay. Marina recalled Ruth going to her room, and then Lee going to bed. After which she did the dishes.
So when did Oswald go fetch his rifle? Well, not exactly fetch. The rifle, let's remember, was too large for the bag in which it was purportedly transported the next morning. At some point, then, Oswald would have to have gone out to the garage, dismantled the rifle, and carefully placed its contents into the hand-made paper bag later placed in evidence.
Well, what did Ruth Paine have to say about all this...
(3-19-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 3H1-50)
Mr. JENNER - What time did you have dinner that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - 6 or 6:30, I would guess.
Mr. JENNER - And calling on your recollection, Mrs. Paine, following dinner do you remember any occasion that evening when Lee was out of the house and you didn't see him around the house, and you were conscious of the fact he was not in the house?
Mrs. PAINE - I was not at anytime of the opinion that he was out of the house, conscious of it.
Mr. JENNER - You have no recollection of his being out of the house anytime that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. DULLES - Did he do any reading that evening--books, papers, anything?
Mrs. PAINE - Not to my recollection.
Mr. JENNER - What were you doing that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - I have tried already to describe that after dinner, and probably after some dishes were done.
Mr. JENNER - Who did the dishes?
Mrs. PAINE - Very likely Marina, it depended on who made the meal. I normally cooked the meal and then she did the dishes or we reversed occasionally. But I have tried to say I was very likely involved in the back bedroom and in the bathroom giving the children a bath, getting them in their pajamas and reading a story for as much as an hour.
Mr. JENNER - That would take as much as an hour?
Mrs. PAINE - That takes as much as an hour.
Mr. JENNER - By this time we are up to approximately 7:30 or 8 o'clock, are we?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh no; we are up to nearly 9 o'clock by now. We eat from 6:30 to after 7, do some dishes, brings it up toward 8, and then put the children to bed.
Mr. JENNER - When you had had your children put to bed and came out of their room, was Lee, had he then by that time retired?
Mrs. PAINE - That is my recollection.
Mr. DULLES - Did you have any words with Marina about the light in the garage? Was that a subject of conversation between you?
Mrs. PAINE - No; we didn't discuss it.
So, wait, Mrs. Paine was in the garage from 9 till 10, or even later... So much for Marina's thought Lee went into the garage between 9 and 10...
(3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 3H50-140)
Mr. JENNER - What did you do that evening? Did you have occasion to note what he did?
Mrs. PAINE - We had dinner as usual, and then I sort of bathed my children, putting them to bed and reading them a story, which put me in one part of the house. When that was done I realized he had already gone to bed, this being now about 9 o'clock. I went out to the garage to paint some children's blocks, and worked in the garage for half an hour or so. I noticed when I went out that the light was on.
Mr. JENNER - The light was on in the garage?
Mrs. PAINE - The light was on in the garage.
Mr. JENNER - Was this unusual?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, it was unusual for it to be on; yes. I realized that I felt Lee, since Marina had also been busy with her children, had gone out to the garage, perhaps worked out there or gotten something. Most of their clothing was still out there, all of their winter things. They were getting things out from time to time, warmer things for the cold weather, so it was not at all remarkable that he went to the garage, but I thought it careless of him to have left the light on. I finished my work and then turned off the light and left the garage.
Mr. JENNER - Have you completed that now?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - You stated that he was in the garage, how did you know he was in the garage?
Mr. McCLOY - She didn't state that.
Mrs. PAINE - I didn't state it absolutely. I guessed it was he rather than she. She was busy with the children and the light had been on and I know I didn't leave the light on.
Mr. JENNER - Then, I would ask you directly, did you see him in the garage at anytime from the time you first saw him on the lawn until he retired for the night?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - Until you retired for the night?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
(3-23-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 9H396-425)
Mr. JENNER - Now, sitting as I am, in the dining room area of your kitchen dining room space--even if, as you have testified was the fact, that either you alone or you and Marina were washing the dishes and cleaning up at least after dinner, it would have been virtually impossible, wouldn't it, for anybody to have entered the garage without your noticing it, that is, entering from the kitchen-dining room area?
Mrs. PAINE - I would think so.
Mr. JENNER - And, would that not be especially true if you were in the dining room portion of the kitchen-dining room area?
Mrs. PAINE - That would be unquestionably true---if you were in the kitchen-dining area at all.
Mr. JENNER - But you were not, I gather, at all times that evening up to 9 o'clock, in the kitchen-dining room area; is that correct?
Mrs. PAINE - I was in the kitchen-dining area part of the time, occasionally, I would say.
Mr. JENNER - Were your children retired when you went into the garage, at the time you went into the garage to lacquer your boxes?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes, they were.
Mr. JENNER - Had you put them to bed that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes, I had spent probably close to an hour in bed preparations.
Mr. JENNER - Now, during that period of time, Lee Oswald could have been in your garage without your knowing it?
Mrs. PAINE - I think it's likely--it would have been likely that I would know it then too.
Mr. JENNER - Well, how would you have known it if you were in that bedroom which is in the northeast corner, which is as we have measured quite a good distance from the entrance to the garage? How could you necessarily have known it--that's the point I am making.
Mrs. PAINE - I could not necessarily have seen him enter. If I was fully in the room, my going to bed activities include being in the bathroom, coming into the kitchen, and going into the, living room.
Mr. JENNER - Moving in and out?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And I think I asked you during your testimony before the Commission--were you conscious during the period up to 9 o'clock that evening that Lee Oswald had been in the garage?
Mrs. PAINE - It is my--I recall the definite feeling that he had been in the garage. I can't recall seeing him go in.
Yikes. Mrs. Paine, the only witness to provide any testimony suggesting Oswald went into the garage on 11-21, came to doubt that Oswald went into the garage when she was putting her kids to bed, and ultimately admitted her belief Oswald went into the garage was just a "feeling."
That's mighty weak sauce. Keep in mind that there were children in this house, who were known to play in the garage. And that Marina may have left the light on, or Ruth herself. I mean, how many times have you walked into a room, for just a second, and then come back a few hours later, and wondered "Well, why is this light on?" only to realize you'd left it on yourself...? Because that's happened a few times to me.
So let's put on our thinking caps. Mrs. Oswald had previously suggested she'd watched TV with Lee till he went to bed around 9:00. While she later said he may have stayed up until 10, she never wavered on her claim he went to bed before she did, and that she stayed up until 11:30.
So...when did Oswald sneak out into the garage...to dismantle and wrap his rifle? He got home around 5:00. He was surrounded by women and children until dinner. Ruth Paine then went off to spend some time with her children. But Marina stayed with Lee, watching television until around 9:00, when he went off to bed. She then went into the kitchen to do the dishes.
Here is an FBI sketch of the Paine home. (CE 430)
And here is a photo of the recently-restored Paine kitchen taken from the dining area just north of the garage. The door on the right leads into the living room.
Well, assuming Oswald did indeed sneak into the garage just before Mrs. Paine went in there around 9:00, he would have to have walked right past Marina, who was working in the kitchen. Assuming she went to the bathroom for a second, and thereby allowed him a short window to sneak out to the garage, well, one would have to assume then that he sneaked back into the house from the garage without anyone noticing.
This is truly hard to believe. This house was tiny, the size of a two bedroom apartment. And Oswald had every right to be in the garage, where so many of his possessions were stored. It only makes sense then that if Oswald wanted to wrap his rifle on the night of 11-21-63, that he'd have waited for Mrs. Paine to put her children to bed, made up a reason to be in the garage, and walked right in, right past Marina, while she was doing the dishes. None of this sneaking around stuff...
As it stands then, the only logical conclusion would be that Oswald snuck back out to the garage after Mrs. Paine had went to bed, and Marina was in the bath, or even while Marina was sleeping.
(While it remains possible Oswald packed up his rifle in the morning, his wife claimed she woke him up around 6:40, that he washed, had some coffee, and had a brief conversation with her before he left, and Frazier said he saw him around 7:20. So there probably wasn't enough time...)
So what did the Commission have to say about all this?
The Missing Rifle
Before dinner on November 21, Oswald played on the lawn of the Paines' home with his daughter June.127 After dinner Ruth Paine and Marina Oswald were busy cleaning house and preparing their children for bed.128 Between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. they were occupied with the children in the bedrooms located at the extreme east end of the house.129 On the west end of the house is the attached garage, which can be reached from the kitchen or from the outside.130 In the garage were the personal belongings of the Oswald family including, as the evidence has shown, the rifle wrapped in the old brown and green blanket.131
At approximately 9 p.m., after the children had been put to bed, Mrs. Paine, according to her testimony before the Commission, "went out to the garage to paint some children's blocks, and worked in the garage for half an hour or so. I noticed when I went out that the light was on." 132 Mrs. Paine was certain that she had not left the light on in the garage after dinner.138 According to Mrs. Paine, Oswald had gone to bed by 9 p.m.; 134 Marina Oswald testified that it was between 9 and 10 p.m.135 Neither Marina Oswald nor Ruth Paine saw Oswald in the garage.136 The period between 8 and 9 p.m., however, provided ample opportunity for Oswald to prepare the rifle for his departure the next morning. Only if disassembled could
the rifle fit into the paper bag found near the window 137 from which the shots were fired. A firearms expert with the FBI assembled the rifle in 6 minutes using a 10-cent coin as a tool, and he could disassemble it more rapidly.138 While the rifle may have already been disassembled when Oswald arrived home on Thursday, he had ample time that evening to disassemble the rifle and insert it into the paper bag.
The footnote to the claim Oswald could have dismantled and wrapped the rifle between 8 and 9 is footnote 129. Footnote 129 cites 3H48, 3H52, 3H60, 9H397, 9H430, CE 430.
3H48 is Mrs. Paine saying she put the kids to bed around 8:00, and was with them in the bath and bedroom till around 9:00.
3H52 is a discussion of the floor plan to Mrs. Paine's house into evidence.
3H60 is Mrs. Paine saying it can take up to an hour to put her kids to bed.
9H397 is Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner listing the measurements to the rooms of Mrs. Paine's house.
9H418 is Mrs. Paine's testimony saying she probably would have seen Oswald should he have snuck out into the garage while she was preparing her children for bed, and that her sense he'd been in the garage prior to 9:00 was only a "feeling".
And CE 430 is the diagram of the floor plan of the Paine home.
None of this demonstrates (or even remotely suggests) Oswald was busy in the garage between 8 and 9 while the women-folk were busy with the kiddos.
Let's go back. Marina Oswald testified that Lee watched TV up until he went to bed around 9:00. Ruth Paine testified she was in the garage from around 9:00 till 10.
Well, this leaves 8-8:30 as a window in which, maybe, just maybe, Oswald slipped out to the garage for a spell. It's strange indeed that the Commission relied on Ruth Paine--who said she was on the other side of the house from 8 to 9--to make its case Oswald went into the garage at this time.
I mean, where's Marina's testimony on this?
Here's Marina and Lee on the evening before the shooting (p562 of the paperback, if you don't believe me)... "After supper, Marina stacked the dishes by the sink. Ruth bathed her children, then read to them in their bedroom for an hour. Marina nursed Rachel and Lee put Junie to bed. Then he cradled Rachel in front of the television, and got her to sleep, while Marina put away the toys. Lee went on watching television, a movie about World War II, and Marina went in to do the dishes...Marina was still at the sink when Lee turned off the television set, poked his head in the kitchen, and asked if he could help. Marina thought he looked sad. 'I'm going to bed,' he said...Ruth was aware of Lee padding back and forth between his bedroom and the bathroom getting ready for bed. It was about ten o'clock, an hour earlier than was usual for him before a workday."
So, Marina claimed Oswald was with his kids or watching TV during the time the Commission claimed he was in the garage.
The Commission's conclusion Oswald went out to the garage while the women were with the kiddos is thus exposed as...diaper dirt.
Let us now move to the BIG conclusion (that Oswald transported his rifle to work on the morning of November 22), rendered in service to the GIANT conclusion (that Oswald killed Kennedy).
Did Oswald bring his rifle to work on November 22?
Let's slip back in time to March, 1964. The Warren Commission's staff has been discussing whether or not they should pre-interview witnesses and avoid problematic questions and answers...in order to keep the record "clean." Some, including Norman Redlich, have argued the creation of a "deceptively clean" record would be a disservice to the public. But, after hearing from a few problematic witnesses on 3-10 (e.g. Arnold Rowland, James Worrell) Chief Justice Earl Warren had planted his foot, and said he wanted a "clean record" where the staff "did not pursue in very much detail the various inconsistencies," and that, accordingly, any counsel wanting to pre-interview witnesses off the record should feel free to do so.
Frazier was the next witness to testify.
Although Warren Commission Counsel Joseph Ball did his damnedest to provide Warren with the "clean record" he desired, Frazier stuck to his guns (or rather, lack of gun) and said that the bag sitting on the back seat of his car covered "roughly around 2 feet of the seat...If, if you were going to measure it that way from the end of the seat over toward the center, right. But I say like I said I just roughly estimate and that would be around two feet, give and take a few inches." Counsel Joe Ball then asked him its width. He replied: "Well, I would say the package was about that wide...Oh, say, around 5 inches, something like that. 5, 6 inches or there. I don't..." He then described its appearance: "You have seen, not a real light color but you know normally, the normal color about the same color, you have seen these kinds of heavy duty bags you know like you obtain from the grocery store, something like that, about the same color of that, paper sack you get there." Frazier later described Oswald's walk into the depository: "He got out of the car and he was wearing the jacket that has the big sleeves in them and he put the package that he had, you know, that he told me was curtain rods up under his arm, you know, and so he walked down behind the car...he had it up just like you stick it right under your arm like that...The other part with his right hand...Right, straight up and down."
Under repeated questioning from Ball, Frazier gave little but not enough. He testified: "I didn't pay much attention to the package other than I knew he had it under his arm." Ball then showed him the bag purportedly found by the sniper's nest and asked him if the bag he saw in Oswald's possession was about the same length. Frazier responded "No, sir." Ball then asked him if it was about the same width. Frazier responded: "Well, I would say it appears to me it would be pretty close but it might be just a little bit too wide. I think it is, because you know yourself you would have to have a big hand with that size but like I say he had this cupped in his hand because I remember glancing at him when he was a walking up ahead of me."
Ball kept pressing, and asked Frazier what he told the FBI on 12-1. Frazier answered: "I told them that as far as the length there, I told them that was entirely too long." Ball then asked about the width. Frazier relented: "Well, I say, like I say now, now I couldn't see much of the bag from him walking in front of me. Now he could have had some of it sticking out in front of his hands because I didn't see it from the front, The only time I did see it was from the back, just a little strip running down from your arm and so therefore, like that, I say, I know that the bag wouldn't be that long. So far as being that wide like I say I couldn't be sure." Ball then pounced and asks if the bag carried by Oswald could have been as wide as the bag from the sniper's nest. Frazier admitted: "Right." Ball then tried to get Frazier to admit that he wasn't sure about the length either. Frazier cut him off: "What I was talking about, I said I didn't know where it extended. It could have or couldn't have, out this way, widthwise not lengthwise." (2H210-245).
When it came to the length of the bag, Frazier hadn't budged an inch. To his mind, the package he saw in Oswald's possession on 11-22-63 was much too short to be the bag shown him later that night, the replica bag shown him on 12-1-63, or the bag shown him during his 3-11-64 testimony.
His story was as problematic as ever.
But Ball's bag troubles (make up your own pun) were just beginning.
Frazier's sister, Linnie Mae Randle, followed him onto the hot seat. Well, her description of the bag was almost as problematic as his, seeing as it confirmed his opinion the package carried by Oswald was too small to conceal the rifle. She testified: "He was carrying a package in a sort of a heavy brown bag, heavier than a grocery bag it looked to me. It was about, if I might measure, about this long, I suppose, and he carried it in his right hand, had the top sort of folded down and had a grip like this, and the bottom, he carried it this way, you know, and it almost touched the ground as he carried it..." She was subsequently shown the replica bag: "Well, it wasn't that long, I mean it was folded down at the top as I told you. It definitely wasn't that long...The width is about right...What he had in there, it looked too long." Counsel Ball then asked "This package is about the span of my hand, say 8 inches, is that right? He would have about this much to grip?" She responded: "What I remember seeing is about this long, sir, as I told you it was folded down so it could have been this long." He then asked: "I see. You figure about 2 feet long, is that right?" She answered: "A little bit more." Ball then measures out the length on the replica sack. He asked "Is that about right? That is 28 1/2 inches." She answered: "I measured 27 last time." (2H245-251).
And sure enough she had. On 12-1-63 the FBI placed the replica sack on the back seat of Frazier's car so he could estimate the length of the package he saw in Oswald's possession, and then re-enacted Oswald's crossing the street to Randle's home with the package in his arm so she could estimate the length of the package she'd seen in Oswald's possession. And Randle and Frazier both told the FBI the package they saw in Oswald's possession was 27 inches long.
The Warren Commission thus went 0 for 2. Two witnesses saw Oswald with a bag on the morning of November 22nd, and both witnesses testified the bag was much too small to conceal his rifle. The bag photographed by the FBI and placed into evidence was 38 inches long and almost 9 inches wide (342 sq in). This was much larger than the bag described by Randle (27 x 8 = 216 sq in), and more than twice as large as the bag described by Frazier (27 x 6 = 162 sq in).
Now, this was quite the problem...such a problem, even, that Warren Commission Counsel Howard Willens tried to spin this in his journal. Here's his entry for 3-11-64:
"Testimony was taken today of Frazier and Randle. There was considerable debate and some consternation among some members of the staff regarding their testimony concerning the paper
sack which they saw Oswald carrying on the morning of November 22. They firmly testified that the sack carried was no longer than could fit between a cupped hand and the armpit, whereas the rifle, even when broken down, is some 35 inches, which is considerably longer than could fit in this position. This confirms, in rather a significant way, the intention of the Commission to pursue a neutral and complete fact-finding mission as opposed to ratifying the FBI report or in fact leaving a public record without inconsistencies."
Wow. Willens was spinning like a carnival attraction. Frazier's testimony did not "confirm" the noble intentions of the commission. No, far from it. It showed instead the futility of trying to keep the record "clean" in a case this messy.
Let's be clear... When Joe Ball took the testimony of Frazier and his sister, he was not engaged in a "neutral and complete fact-finding mission" He, in fact, did most everything he could to get Frazier to change his testimony regarding the bag and give Warren the "clean" record without inconsistencies he so fervently desired. As Frazier would later tell Gus Russo: "They had me in one room and my sister in another. They were asking us to hold our hands apart to show how long the package was. They made me do it over and over--at least ten times. Each time they measured the distance, and it was always 25 inches, give or take an inch. They did the same with my sister and she gave the same measurement..."
And that wasn't the worst of Ball's malfeasance... In his zeal to get Frazier to admit the bag in evidence was the same size as the bag (if not, THE bag) he saw in Oswald's possession on 11-22-63, Ball had committed a reversible error--the kind of error that could have led to a reversal of a decision (and his own disbarment) should it have been committed with someone's life on the line. Yes, unbelievably, Ball had kept from the record that Frazier had been shown the bag in evidence on the night of the shooting--even before it had been discolored by the tests performed by the FBI--and had passed a lie detector test while insisting it was much larger and a different kind of paper than the bag he'd seen in Oswald's possession that morning!
So now let's go back to '64... BAM... Frazier's testimony had delivered a massive blow to the Commission's efforts to pin the tale on the Oswald. They needed to recover and recover fast.
They'd hit another roadblock, however--an unexpected one: the FBI.
On 3-16-64, in an obvious response to Frazier's testimony, Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin wrote FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover a letter asking him to conduct an investigation into whether or not Oswald's room in the rooming house needed curtain rods.
Well, that's a little late, right? This should have been investigated months before. Still, better late than never, I suppose.
Weeks passed. Then, on 3-31-64, after presumably giving up on the FBI, and five days after he submitted an outline for the commission's upcoming report noting the "fake curtain rod story," Rankin assistant Norman Redlich wrote a memo to Commission Counsel Joseph Ball and David Belin on the curtain rod story, on which he'd apparently begun to have some doubts. He wrote: "I hope that while you are in Dallas you check Oswald's room at 1026 N. Beckley to determine whether curtain rods were needed and, if they were, whether Oswald had any conversations with either Mrs. Johnson or Mrs. Roberts. I have been reading a document entitled 'Oswald, the Impossible Assassin" by a French author who apparently visited Oswald's room and makes quite a point of the need for curtain rods in that particular room."
Now, it should not shock you to find out no report was ever written on a Ball-Belin visit to 1026 Beckley. (At least none that I have found--if you know of one please send it my way!)
So how long did it take Hoover to write Rankin back?
On 4-2--sixteen days after being asked to find out if Oswald's room in the rooming house needed curtain rods--FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover responded to Rankin's request with a three page report written on 3-28 detailing a 3-20 interview with Oswald's land-lady Gladys Johnson--in which she asserted there was no need for curtain rods in Oswald's room.
Now, get this... This memo also revealed "Mrs. Johnson stated that when the Dallas, Texas, police searched this room following Oswald's arrest, they bent the rod which held the drapes and curtains. Consequently, she stated, she had the old rod taken down and replaced it with a traverse rod and aqua-colored acetate drapes."
Wait...WHAT? Frazier said Oswald told him the package he was carrying on 11-22-63 contained curtain rods for his apartment. Months later the WC asked the FBI to find out if the room Oswald had been renting needed curtain rods. And they were told the Dallas Police had damaged the curtain rod in this room, on the day of the shooting, and that Oswald's landlady had found it necessary to replace this rod with a new one.
And the Johnsons weren't kidding...at least not about the curtain rod being damaged as of the night of the shooting. Here's a Life Magazine photo from the afternoon of the shooting, showing Mrs. Johnson by Oswald's bed.
And here's a close-up of the curtain rod in the photo.
Now, should one doubt that this curtain rod was tweaked, and needed to be replaced, there's also this Ft. Worth Star-Telegram from later on that evening.
And here's a close-up of the curtain rod in this photo.
It's pretty bent up.
So...do we believe the FBI's account of Mrs. Johnson's account--that this curtain rod was bent by the Dallas Police on the day of the shooting?
Probably not. The next morning photographer Gene Daniels paid the Johnsons a visit and asked if he could photograph Oswald's room. Now, Mrs. Johnson said he could but that he would have to wait till she "put the curtains back up." Only...Daniels cheated and took a picture of her putting up the curtains.
Here it is:
And that's not all. As described in his book Presumed Guilty (1976), researcher Howard Roffman wrote Daniels in March 1970 and asked him the circumstances under which he took this photo. What we know, then, comes through Roffman, and not the FBI or Warren Commission. Well, Daniels wrote Roffman back in a letter received 3-19-70 and told him Mrs. Johnson had told him "that newsmen the evening before had disturbed the room and she didn't want anyone to see it messed up."
While it's not mutually exclusive that the DPD damaged the curtain rod, and that newsmen messed up the room, it seems probable Mrs. Johnson was covering for the DPD when she spoke to Daniels...
Either that, or...that she was concealing the unthinkable...that Oswald's room was in need of a new curtain rod...
So...how does one cut through this? If only we knew when Mrs. Johnson first noticed the curtain rod was damaged... Since she told the FBI it was damaged by the DPD, we can presume she noticed the damage before the arrival of the press. So...did she witness a member of the DPD damage the curtain rod, or did she notice the damage just after they left and ASSUME they were responsible?
Might not Oswald have damaged this rod himself, and then, knowing he was about to move out, and be charged for any damage he'd done to the room, seek to replace it with a rod he'd spotted in Mrs. Paine's garage?
AND WHY WAS THERE NO FOLLOW-UP ON THIS BY THE FBI WITH THE DPD...to confirm that it was they who'd damaged the rod???
AND WHY DID THE WC FAIL TO FOLLOW UP ON THIS IN ANY WAY?
That's right. Joe Ball and his sidekick David Belin took the testimony of Mrs. Johnson and her husband on 4-1-64. They got them to say there was no need for curtain rods in the room Oswald had been renting, but failed to ask even one question about the curtain rod Mrs. Johnson told the FBI she'd had to replace.
Now this may not have been their fault, or at least not entirely their fault...
Although Hoover was asked on 3-16 to find out if Oswald's rooming house needed curtain rods, he didn't respond till 4-2, the day AFTER Mr. and Mrs. Johnson testified.
Here, see for yourself:
So what was was going on? Well, a review of FBI documents reveals that on 3-11-64--the very day of Frazier's testimony--the FBI was informed of the Commission's desire to consult with outside ballistics and fingerprint experts. This did not sit well with the FBI's brass, who then questioned whether or not they should continue to provide the Commission with support of any kind.
One might presume, then, that the Federal Bureau of J. Edgar Hoover was at war with the Commission from 3-11-64 to as late as 4-2-64, the day Hoover finally got around to sending the Commission the FBI's report on its 3-20 interview of Johnson.
Or was it? While Hoover's letter was dated 4-2-64, an actual inspection of the letter proves the "2" was added in later.
Here is the number 2 as typed elsewhere in the letter.
And here it is in the date of the letter. It's offline and in much darker ink.
So... was this "2" added in to cover that the Commission knew on 4-1-64, the day of Mrs. Johnson's testimony, that she'd replaced a damaged curtain rod on 11-23? Good question. If so, however, the FBI would have to go back and change the date on this letter in the FBI's files as well.
Well, guess what? They did. Here is the letter in the FBI's Warren Commision HQ files.
And here is a close-up of the date on this letter.
Someone's typed a "2" atop a "1". And not only on this copy of the letter, but on the other copies of this letter found in the FBI JFK Assassination HQ File and Oswald HQ File...
Now, here, just for the heck of it, is the date on the letter in FBI's files in comparison to the date on the letter in the Commission's files.
This was not someone fixing a typo.
It seems clear, then, that this letter was written and delivered via Courier Service to the Commission on 4-1, but then someone went back and changed it to make it look like it was written and delivered on 4-2. There may be a legitimate reason for this. Or maybe not. In either case, whether the FBI's report on Mrs. Johnson was forwarded on 4-1 or 4-2, there's still no excuse for Ball and Belin's failing to follow-up on this report with Mrs. Johnson.
We can now move on to the last of the Commission's small conclusions leading to their BIG conclusion Oswald brought his rifle to work on November 22...and that is their simultaneous conclusion Oswald DID NOT bring curtain rods to work on November 22.
(3-17-64 testimony of Michael Paine before the Warren Commission, 9H434-481)
Mr. LIEBELER - I show you Commission Exhibit 364, which is a replica of a paper sack or package which was found in the School Book Depository, after the assassination. I point out to you that Commission 364 is merely a replica of the actual sack that was found. The actual sack that was found is Commission Exhibit 142, and it has now been discolored because it has been treated by the FBI for fingerprints.
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - But there is a part of the package that has not been treated, and I ask you if that part of 142 that has not been treated is similar to Commission Exhibit 364 as far as color and texture are concerned. I want you to examine both of these pieces of paper in any event.
Mr. PAINE - Well, it looks to me as if 364 is a more usual kind of paper, the difference is pretty slight.
Mr. LIEBELER - You do not notice a difference between the two papers, however?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; is seems to me that is unusually crisp; yes, I would say there is a difference.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you note that the difference is, 142 is more crisp than 364?
Mr. PAINE - Yes. It seems to me this is the kind of paper, it seems to me this is more common.
Mr. LIEBELER - Referring to 364?
Mr. PAINE - 364, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you think that is a more commonly observed type of paper?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that is an unusual paper. You don't find paper bags made of that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Referring to 142. Now, examine after examining both 142 and 364, did you have any paper of that type as far as you know in your garage or at your home in Irving?
Mr. PAINE - Well, most of the things that are paper have been added to the garage since I moved out, so I am not very familiar with them. We stored some rugs in, I think, in polyethylene, but I am not sure all of them were in polyethylene, and there were some curtain rods or something like that which are still there. I don't know how they came.
Mr. LIEBELER - What kind of curtain rods?
Mr. PAINE - These expanding rods that are----
Mr. LIEBELER - And you have no idea where they came from?
Mr. PAINE - Let's see, no, those came down from--I think those were in the house, I guess they weren't bought. I think Ruth took them down because the children were allergic to something, and she was taking them down, took down the curtains, and left only shades. Bought shades, I guess, she bought curtain shades to go up, new shades. That is a question, well, of course, paper could have been--I don't remember any particular, I didn't have any rolls of this kind of paper or a supply of it, wrapping paper.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let's go back to the curtain rods for just a minute. You say they were in the house at the time in Irving when you purchased the house.
Mr. PAINE - Yes, curtain rods came to my mind recently because they are junk that I try to keep propped up on the shelves or above the work bench, and I think they were in our house and there were curtains on them and she took the curtains down to get rid of the fabric that might be holding dust and put up instead some new curtains, new window shades in the bedrooms.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately when did she do that, do you remember?
Mr. PAINE - You will have to ask Ruth herself. She put down a new floor, also, getting rid of the old rugs for the same purpose, and I thought it was in the fall, but I can't place when it was.
Mr. LIEBELER - In the fall of 1963?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you say the curtain rods are still in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes, I think so.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately how long are they?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I think this is, when they expand, I guess the curtain rods themselves are 32 1/2 inches to 3 feet, but the two of them slide together to make a pair, this expanding type just of rod metal.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately how long are they, would you say, when they are fitted together and in their collapsed state or their----
Mr. PAINE - As I say, those came out of house or she would not have, I was trying to think of some of the paper she might have had that resembles this, but the thing she bought new would be the shades, the window shades to go in place of those curtain rods.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember seeing any paper in the garage that might have been a package in which those shades came?
Mr. PAINE - No, I don't recall any.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever have a conversation with your wife about these curtain rods in connection with the assassination?
Mr. PAINE - No. I think we did both read that he had said he was, to Frazier, that he was carrying, maybe it was curtain rods or something to do with windows in my mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - Mr. Paine, you mentioned before these curtain rods that were in your garage. Can you tell us approximately how many curtain rods there were in the garage when you last saw them and tell us when you last saw them?
Mr. PAINE - I saw them quite recently, 2 weeks ago.
Mr. LIEBELER - How many curtain rods were there then?
Mr. PAINE - There might be as many as four.
Mr. LIEBELER - Were there ever any more than that?
Mr. PAINE - I don't believe so. These were normally up on the shelf above the bench, and for some reason, they recently, I had to take them down, or something like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember seeing them shortly before November 22 at any time?
Mr. PAINE - They never particularly impressed themselves on my recollection.
Now, this is interesting. Why did Mr. Paine recently have "to take them down, or something like that"?
We do not know, because no one bothered to ask him.
We can now move on to Mrs. Paine's testimony on the curtain rods.
But first, we need to look at her interviewer Albert Jenner's use of the word rationalization. (It's semantics, yes, but it comes into play later.)
Above: Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner. Is it just me or does he seem overly proud of himself?
(3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 3H50-140)
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, I don't want to speculate, but I thought you had testified in response to my questions that the two or three pieces of luggage, that is, the suitcases, plus the two duffel bags, plus the zipper bag, plus the radio, had been checked into the bus station.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; that is right.
Mr. JENNER - All of those pieces of luggage were actually checked in, and when you left the bus station none of the pieces of luggage or the radio or the duffel bags had been placed back in your car.
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall it, but it seems to me unreasonable
Mr. JENNER - Now, please, I don't want you to rationalize. I want your best recollection.
Mrs. PAINE - I cannot recall. I mean the suitcases that came to my house.
Mr. JENNER - You don't recall having taken one of the pieces of luggage and placed that piece back in your station wagon?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, no, no, that is definite. All that went to the bus station.
Mr. JENNER - Remained there.
Mrs. PAINE - Remained there.
Mr. JENNER - I see.
Mr. DULLES - At what stage did they go to the bus station? Did you go from their apartment to your house and then to the bus station or did you go to the bus station first?
Mrs. PAINE - Directly to the bus station.
Mr. DULLES - And then went to your house?
Mrs. PAINE - Directly to the bus station from their apartment, back to their apartment and picked up the rest of the things.
Mr. DULLES - I see.
Mrs. PAINE - The baby things and her clothing and then went to my house.
Mr. DULLES - I see.
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, apart from your rationalization, do you have the recollection that there was any luggage at all in the Oswald home when You got back?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I have no such recollection.
Mr. JENNER - So that in response to Mr. Dulles' questions when you talked about the possibility of some luggage, you were rationalizing?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - You are not drawing on your recollection?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - I take it your best recollection, in fact, is that there was no luggage remaining at the Oswald home when you got back?
Mrs. PAINE - There was nothing packed when we got back.
Mr. JENNER - Do you recall undertaking to pack anything when you got back in order to remove what they had there remaining to your home?
Mrs. PAINE - You mean was there a suitcase into which I could pack anything?
Mr. JENNER - That is it.
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall.
So Jenner has made it clear that he wants Mrs. Paine to share her best recollections, and not try to figure out what should have happened or must have happened.
We can now move on to their discussion of the curtain rods.
Mr. JENNER - Now, that morning--if I may, Mr. Chairman, because of the entry of the police, that is a good cutoff point, I would like to go back to the morning for the moment, or the evening before. Mrs. Paine, did you then have what might be called some curtain rods in your garage?
Mrs. PAINE - I believe there were.
Mr. JENNER - Do you have a recollection?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; they were stored in the garage, wrapped in loose brown paper.
Mr. JENNER - Is it the brown paper of the nature and character you described yesterday that you get at the market and have in a roll?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Had you wrapped that package yourself?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Now, curtain rods can be of various types. One type of curtain rod, as I remember, is a solid brass rod. Others are hollow. Some are shaped. Would you describe these curtain rods, please?
Mrs. PAINE - They were a light weight.
Mr. JENNER - Excuse me; do you still have them?
Mrs. PAINE - I still have them.
Mr. JENNER - All right.
Mrs. PAINE - Metal rods that you slip the curtain over, not with a ring but just with the cloth itself, and they are expansion rods.
Mr. JENNER - Are they flat on one side?
Mrs. PAINE - They are flat on one side; about an inch wide and about a quarter of an inch thick.
Mr. JENNER - And assume we are holding the rod horizontally, do the edges of the rod slip over?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Did you wrap these rods in the paper? Had you wrapped them?
Mrs. PAINE - Sometime previously I had.
Senator COOPER - How long before?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, possibly a year.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - Possibly a year.
Senator COOPER - As far as you know, they had never been changed?
Mrs. PAINE - Moved about, but not changed.
Senator COOPER - Can you just describe the length?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - The length of the rods, at the time you wrapped them.
Mrs. PAINE - They would be 36 inches when pushed together.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - They would be about maybe 36 inches when pushed together.
Senator COOPER - You remember wrapping them. Do you remember what the size, the length of the rods were at the time you wrapped them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - How long?
Mrs. PAINE - Didn't I answer about 36 inches?
Mr. JENNER - In other words, you pushed them together so that then, they were then their minimum length, unexpanded?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - They were not extended, and in that condition they were 36 inches long?
Mrs. PAINE - Something like that.
Mr. JENNER - Now, how many of them were there?
Mrs. PAINE - Two.
Mr. JENNER - These were lightweight metal?
Mrs. PAINE - Very. Now, there was another item that was both heavier and longer.
Mr. JENNER - In that same package?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I don't think so. In another similar package wrapped up just to keep the dust off were two venetian blinds. I guess they were not longer, more like 36 inches also, that had come from the two windows in my bedroom. I took them down to change, and put up pull blinds in their place.
Mr. JENNER - And had you wrapped them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - How many were there?
Mrs. PAINE - Two.
Mr. JENNER - And what was their length?
Mrs. PAINE - I think around 36 inches. The width of these windows in the back bedroom.
Mr. JENNER - Let us return to the curtain rods first. Do you still have those curtain rods?
Mrs. PAINE - I believe so.
Mr. JENNER - You believe so, or you know; which?
Mrs. PAINE - I think Michael went to look after the assassination, whether these were still in the garage.
Mr. JENNER - Did you have a conversation with Michael as to whether he did or didn't look?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Why was he looking to see if the curtain rod package was there?
Mrs. PAINE - He was particularly interested in the wrapping, was the wrapping still there, the brown paper.
Mr. JENNER - When did this take place?
Mrs. PAINE - After the assassination, perhaps a week or so later, perhaps when one of the FBI people were out; I don't really recall.
Mr. JENNER - And was the package with the curtain rods found on that occasion?
Mrs. PAINE - It is my recollection it was.
Mr. JENNER - What about the venetian blind package?
Mrs. PAINE - Still there, still wrapped.
Mr. JENNER - You are fully conscious of the fact that that package is still there?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And to the best of your knowledge, information, and belief the other package, likewise, is there?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Let me ask a question there. After the assassination, at anytime did you go into the garage and look to see if both of these packages were there?
Mrs. PAINE - A week and a half, or a week later.
Senator COOPER - At any time?
Mrs. PAINE - Did I, personally?
Senator COOPER - Have you seen these packages since the assassination?
Mrs. PAINE - It seems to me I recall seeing a package.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall opening it up and looking in carefully. I seem to recall seeing the package.
Senator COOPER - Both of them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Or just one?
Mrs. PAINE - Both.
Senator COOPER - Did you feel them to see if the rods were in there?
Mrs. PAINE - No. I think Michael did, but I am not certain.
Senator COOPER - But you never did, yourself?
Mrs. PAINE - It was not my most pressing--
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - It was not the most pressing thing I had to do at that time.
Senator COOPER - I know that. But you must have read after the assassination the story about Lee Oswald saying, he told Mr. Frazier, I think, that he was carrying some curtain rods in the car?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Do you remember reading that?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; I remember reading that.
Senator COOPER - Didn't that lead you-Did it lead you then to go in and see if the curtain rods were there?
Mrs. PAINE - It was all I could do at that point to answer my door, answer my telephone, and take care of my children.
Senator COOPER - I understand you had many things to do.
Mrs. PAINE - So I did not.
Senator COOPER - You never did do it?
Mrs. PAINE - I am not certain whether I specifically went in and checked on that. I recall a conversation with Michael about it and, to the best of my recollection, things looked as I expected to find them looking out there. This package with brown paper was still there.
Mr. JENNER - By any chance, does that package appear in the photograph that you have identified of the interior of your garage?
Mrs. PAINE - I think it is this that is on a shelf almost to the ceiling.
Mr. JENNER - May I get over here, Mr. Chairman?
Mrs. PAINE - Along the west edge of the garage, up here.
Mr. JENNER - In view of this, I think it is of some importance that you mark on Commission Exhibit 429 what appears to you to be the package in which the curtain rods were.
Mrs. PAINE - To the best of my recollection.
Mr. JENNER - Now the witness has by an arrow indicated a shelf very close to the ceiling in the rear of the garage, and an arrow pointing to what appears to be a long package on that shelf, underneath which she has written "Wrapping paper around venetian blinds"--
Mrs. PAINE - "And thin."
Mr. JENNER - What is the next word?
Mrs. PAINE - "Curtain rods."
Now, here is how this exhibit was published in the Warren Commission's volumes.
And here is a close up of the area in question...
So where are the arrows drawn by Mrs. Paine, pointing out the shelf where she believes she left the curtain rods, and the package in which she believed they'd find the curtain rods?
(I've changed the contrast to bring the writing out on this image, but still can't find the arrow. This is shown below...)
So, did the Commission try to hide these arrows? And, if so, why?
Mr. JENNER - There were two packages, Mrs. Paine, one with the rods and one with the venetian blinds?
Mrs. PAINE - I can't recall. The rods were so thin they hardly warranted a package of their own, but that is rationalization, as you call it.
(Note that the photograph just shown Mrs. Paine is presumed to have been taken by FBI photographer Arthur Carter, under the direction of FBI exhibits chief Leo Gauthier, on 3-10-64. (CD897) Note also that this photograph fails to show the light brown package of curtain rods Mrs. Paine recalls creating--that is, the package precisely matching Buell Frazier and Linnie Mae Randle's description of the package they saw Oswald carrying on the morning of November 22nd. Now note that Mrs. Paine has suddenly reversed course--that she no longer feels sure she wrapped these curtain rods in a separate package, and now thinks she may have wrapped them up with some Venetian blinds. And, finally, note that she admits this is a rationalization--an explanation she is offering to explain why the package she thought was there, appears to no longer be there, and why she can make out but one package in the photo. Well, this was precisely the kind of testimony Mr. Jenner had asked her to avoid.)
Mr. JENNER - You do have a recollection that those rods were a very lightweight metal?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Do you?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes. They were not round.
Mr. JENNER - They were flat and slender?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - They were not at all heavy?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - They were curved? Were they curved in any respect?
Mrs. PAINE - They curved at the ends to attach to the bracket that held them up on the wall.
Mr. JENNER - May I use the chalk on the board, Mr. Chairman. Perhaps it might be better for you, Mrs. Paine, so I don't influence you. Would you draw a picture of the rods?
Mrs. PAINE - You are looking down from the top. It attaches here, well, over a loop thing on the wall. Looking from the inside, it curves over a slight bit, and then this is recessed.
Mr. JENNER - I am going to have to have you do that over on a sheet of paper. Will you remain standing for the moment. We will give it an exhibit number. But I would like to have you proceed there. What did you say this was, in the lower diagram?
Mrs. PAINE - You are looking down.
Mr. JENNER - Now, where was the break?
Mrs. PAINE - The break?
Mr. JENNER - You said they were extension.
Mrs. PAINE - That is right. When they are up on the window, it would be like that.
Mr. JENNER - You have drawn a double line to indicate what would be seen if you were looking down into the U-shape of the rod?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - The double line indicates what on either side?
Mrs. PAINE - That the lightweight metal, white, turned over, bent around, something less than a quarter of an inch on each side.
Mr. JENNER - Now, would you be good enough to make the same drawing. We will mark that sheet as Commission Exhibit No. 449 upon which the witness is now drawing the curtain rod.
(Commission Exhibit No. 449 was marked for identification.)
Mr. JENNER - While you are doing that, Mrs. Paine, would you be good enough when you return to Irving, Tex., to see if those rods are at hand, and some of our men are going to be in Irving next week. We might come out and take a look at them, and perhaps you might surrender them to us.
Mrs. PAINE - You are perfectly welcome to them.
Mr. JENNER - Would you in that connection, Mrs. Paine do not open the package until we arrive?
Mrs. PAINE - I won't even look, then.
Mr. JENNER - All right. Now, would you mark "A" in the upper elevation and "B" in the lower elevation. The elevation in the drawing you have indicated as "A" is a depiction of what?
Mrs. PAINE - The curtain rod, as you might look at it from the top when it is hanging in its position, when it is placed in position on the window.
Mr. JENNER - And "B"?
Mrs. PAINE - "B" is as it might appear if you could look at it from outside the house; the window.
Mr. JENNER - While the rod was in place?
Mrs. PAINE - While the rod was in place.
Mr. JENNER - You have written to the left-hand side "Place at which it attaches to wall fixture," indicating the butt end of the curved side of the rod?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And the two oblongs, each of which you have put at the ends of depiction "B," represent the upturned ends of the fixtures at each end?
Mrs. PAINE - Right.
Mr. JENNER - Would you put a little line as to where the break was in the rod.
I offer in evidence, Mr. Chairman, as Commission Exhibit No. 449 the drawing that the witness has just made, and about which she has testified.
Senator COOPER - It will be admitted as part of the evidence.
(Commission Exhibit No. 449 was received in evidence.)
Mr. JENNER - Had there been any conversation between you and Lee Oswald, or between you and Marina, or any conversation taking place in your presence prior to this occasion, in which the subject of curtain rods was mentioned?
Mrs. PAINE - No; there was no such conversation.
Mr. JENNER - Was the subject of curtain rods--had that ever been mentioned during all of these weekends that Lee Oswald had come to your home, commencing, I think you said, with his first return on October 4, 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - It. had not been mentioned.
Mr. JENNER - Never by anybody?
Mrs. PAINE - By anybody.
Mr. JENNER - Had the subject of curtain rods been mentioned even inadvertently, let us say, by some neighbor talking about the subject, as to whether you had some curtain rods you weren't using?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - That might be loaned? I think you had testified that the curtain rods, when unextended, were 36 inches long, approximately?
Mrs. PAINE - That is a guess. I would say, thinking further about it, it must be shorter than that. One went over a window that I am pretty sure was 30 inches wide, and one went over a window that was 42 inches wide, so it had to extend between these. They were identical, and had served at these different windows.
Mr. JENNER - The rods were identical in length when unextended?
Mrs. PAINE - Or when fully extended; yes.
Mr. JENNER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - Or when fully extended.
Mr. JENNER - Or when fully extended; yes. They could be extended to as great as 42 inches?
Mrs. PAINE - At least that. I am just saying what windows they were used for.
Mr. JENNER - If the rods are still available, we will be able to obtain them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And we will know exactly their length, extended and unextended. Now, as you think further about it, the rods when not extended, that is, when pushed together, might be but 30 inches long?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Because you recall that you have a 30-inch-wide window.
Mrs. PAINE - I believe it is more that width than 36.
Mr. JENNER - Would you hold up your hands to indicate what you think the width or the length of the rods is when not extended?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, I don't recall. Maybe like this.
Mr. JENNER - Would you measure that, Mr. Liebeler, please?
Mr. LIEBELER - About 28 inches.
Mr. JENNER - I intend to leave the subject of the curtain rods, gentlemen, if you have any questions
Mr. McCLOY - May I ask a question. Did the FBI question you about the curtain rods any, or the Dallas police officials?
Mrs. PAINE - Not the Dallas police.
Mr. McCLOY - Not the Dallas police?
Mrs. PAINE - No. It is possible the FBI did. I don't recall such question.
Mr. McCLOY - They didn't take any rods from the garage that you are aware of?
Mrs. PAINE - You are aware what the police took. I never did know exactly what they took. I have never heard any mention of the rods having left.
Mr. McCLOY - You are not conscious of the Dallas police ever talking to you about curtain rods?
Mrs. PAINE - Absolutely no.
Mr. McCLOY - But possibly some member of the FBI did?
Mrs. PAINE - Possibly. I can't recall.
Mr. McCLOY - You can't recall?
Mr. JENNER - Did you ever mention to the FBI anything, or anybody else up until recently, the existence of the curtain rods about which you have now testified?
Mrs. PAINE - I have already said Michael and I discussed it.
Mr. JENNER - When?
Mrs. PAINE - A week or two after the assassination would be my guess.
Mr. JENNER - And did you discuss those particular curtain rods about which you have now testified?
Mrs. PAINE - We were particularly interested in seeing if the wrapping paper that we used to wrap these things was there, and it was. I recall that.
Representative FORD - Did Lee Oswald know where you kept this roll of wrapping paper?
Mrs. PAINE - To the best of my knowledge, he did not know where I kept it. I had never wrapped something when he was around. Neither he nor Marina had ever asked to use this paper or the string that I had.
Representative FORD - Where did you keep it? I don't recall precisely.
Mrs. PAINE - I can be very clear. There is a picture here of a large secretary desk on Commission Exhibit No. 435. It is in the bottom drawer, you see, in that desk. This is not the secretary desk upon which--
Mr. JENNER - The note was found?
Mrs. PAINE - The note was found.
Representative FORD - You kept it in the lower drawer?
Mrs. PAINE - Along with some gum tape and string.
Representative FORD - And this is the section shown on Commission Exhibit 435?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - Mr. Reporter, you caught the measurement by Mr. Liebeler, 28 inches. Mrs. Paine, what is your best recollection as to how many curtain rods there were?
Mrs. PAINE - Two, I am certain.
Mr. JENNER - Just two? And you wrapped the package yourself, did you?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - When you and Michael undertook your discussion about curtain rods, did you or did he open up this package?
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall.
Mr. JENNER - Is it your present best recollection that as far as you know, the package, as far as wrapping is concerned, is in the same condition now as when you wrapped it initially?
Mrs. PAINE - Certainly very similar.
Senator COOPER - What was the answer?
Mrs. PAINE - Certainly very similar. I don't recall making any change.
Mr. JENNER - Is there a possibility that the package was unwrapped at anytime?
Mrs. PAINE - In connection with this inquiry of Michael's; yes.
Mr. JENNER - You think he might have but you don't know.
Mrs. PAINE - Or I might have. I don't recall. I recall that it wasn't something that interested me as much as the other things I had to get done.
Mr. JENNER - But the rods about which you have testified as far as you know are on the shelf in your garage at your home?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Do you recall whether when the FBI discussed this subject with you, if you can recall that, that you advised the FBI of these particular curtain rods?
Mrs. PAINE - I am not perfectly certain that they discussed it with me.
Mr. JENNER - You just have no recollection of any interview with the FBI on this particular subject?
Mrs. PAINE - It seems to me they brought it up, but I don't recall the content nor whether they went out. I certainly think I would remember if I had gone out to the garage with an FBI representative.
Mr. JENNER - But you do not?
Mrs. PAINE - But I do not remember such an occasion.
Mr. JENNER - Unless the members of the Commission have any further questions with respect to the curtain rods, I will return to the afternoon.
Senator COOPER - I want to ask just two questions. Before the assassination, did you know where the package with the curtain rods in it was situated within the garage?
Mrs. PAINE - I gave it no attention but yes, it is my impression that I did go out to see if things were where I expected to find them. They were wrapped in brown paper, the curtain rods and venetian blinds. And found things there. I don't recall that I looked into the package.
Mr. JENNER - You did find the package?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - What was the size of the package in length and width if you can remember at the time you wrapped it?
Mrs. PAINE - I suppose about like this, not closed but just wrapping paper folded over.
Mr. JENNER - Would you hold your hands there please.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes. But by no means a neat package, just enough to keep the dust off.
Mr. LIEBELER - Thirty-two and a half inches.
Senator COOPER - What was the width of the package?
Mrs. PAINE - Like so.
Senator COOPER - That you wrapped?
Mrs. PAINE - Now I am not certain. I am really thinking now of the package with the venetian blind.- I don't recall exactly the package with the rods, whether they were included in this other or whether they warranted a package of their own.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness indicated a width of approximately 7 1/2 inches.
Senator COOPER - I will ask one other question. The ends of the rod which are at right angles to the long surface, how long? What is their approximate size?
Mrs. PAINE - Two and a half inches to three inches.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - Two and a half to three inches.
Now, the testimony we've been reading was delivered in Washington. It's not much of a surprise, then, that three days were to pass before Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner and Secret Service Agent John Joe Howlett could arrange to accompany Mrs. Paine to her garage back in Irving, and obtain these curtain rods. The curtain rods were then entered into evidence as Paine Exhibits 275 and 276, and a photo of these curtain rods was subsequently published in the Warren Commission's volumes.
Here is this testimony... (Yes, unbelievably, they had a court reporter follow them around Mrs. Paine's house and garage while Jenner asked Mrs. Paine questions and Howlett measured stuff.)
(3-23-64 testimony of Ruth Paine before Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner, 3H396-425)
Mr. JENNER - Now, Mrs. Paine, one of the things we said we might see is a package that was in your garage containing curtain rods.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes--as you recall.
Mr. JENNER - You said you would leave that package in precisely the place wherever it was last week when you were in Washington, D.C., and have you touched it since you came home?
Mrs. PAINE - I have not touched it.
Mr. JENNER - And is it now in the place it was to the best of your recollection on November 21, 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Now, would you rise and enter the garage and point out in my presence and in the presence of Mr. Howlett where that package is?
(At this point the persons heretofore mentioned entered the garage as stated by Counsel Jenner.)
Mrs. PAINE - It is on a shelf above the workbench. It extends north of the north edge of the workbench.
Mr. JENNER - Is it the thicker of the two packages wrapped in brown wrapping paper, shorter and thicker?
Mrs. PAINE - You would do well to look at them both.
Mr. JENNER - Well, what I am going to do first--I'm going to hand you a pointer, and would you point to the package-that you have in mind?
Mrs. PAINE - This, to the best of my recollection, contains venetian blinds.
Mr. JENNER - The witness is now referring to a package which Mr. Howlett, and I will ask you to measure it in a moment, but which appears to me to be at most about 28 inches long, maybe 30, and about 6 1/2 inches high and about 6 1/2 inches through. While it is still wrapped in place, Mr. Howlett, would you measure the package and it is a little bit irregular.
Agent HOWLETT - That is 2 feet 11 inches.
Mr. JENNER - The package is 2 feet 11 inches long and it is resting on a shelf which is apparently a foot down from the ceiling, and the north edge of the package is 5 inches from the outer wall of the storeroom I have described, and Mr. Howlett has--now measured the distance from the shelf on which the package is resting, to the floor, and that is what distance?
Agent HOWLETT - Seven feet and three inches.
Mr. JENNER - Now, measure the height of the package.
Mrs. PAINE - While you are up there, measure the one behind you.
Mr. JENNER - Yes; we will.
Agent HOWLETT - The height of the package is about seven inches.
Mr. JENNER - And it is how thick through from east to west?
Agent HOWLETT - Seven inches.
Mr. JENNER - All right. Now, I'll ask Mr. Howlett to take the package down, since he is already up there on top of the bench, and we will open it in the presence of Mrs. Paine and see what it contains.
The package has now been taken down from the shelf in our presence and Mrs. Paine is opening it. Mrs. Paine, and in your presence, Mr. Howlett, what does the package contain?
Mrs. PAINE - It contains two venetian blinds, both of them are 2 feet 6 inches.
Mr. JENNER - And they are of the metal variety, are they not?
Mrs. PAINE - They are.
Mr. JENNER - And those blinds are 2 feet 6 inches wide?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Now, they are wrapped in brown or light-tan wrapping paper?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Did you have a supply of this particular wrapping paper around your home at that time?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - From where did you obtain this wrapping paper?
Mrs. PAINE - This must have come around a package or something I had bought. I have never had a supply of this variety.
Mr. JENNER - Now, John Joe, will you favor Mrs. Paine by putting her package back the way it was?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes--for the record.
Mr. JENNER - For the record, when we sought to rewrap the package, it has a paster on the outside of Sears, Roebuck & Co., Dallas, No. 4017, and "Will call--M.R. Paine."
Mrs. Paine has torn from the package some sticky tape.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - It is wider than the variety we have heretofore identified--is it your recollection that this sticky tape came on this particular package when it was delivered to your home?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And is this paper the paper in which the blinds came in the first instance?
Mrs. PAINE - These blinds did not come to me from Sears, Roebuck, but that--I used to replace them did. Now, whether the shades I bought came in this package, I have no idea whatever.
Mr. JENNER - Well, is it your recollection that this paper in which the blinds are now wrapped came from another package that was delivered to you and not a part of a general supply of paper which you had in your home?
Mrs. PAINE - It was certainly not part of a general supply of paper.
Mr. JENNER - Is it your recollection that the sticky tape that appears on this wrapping was affixed to the package which this is?
Mrs. PAINE - As you said, yes.
Mr. JENNER - This paper--when delivered to your home, having nothing to do with the curtain rods or the rifle or anything else hereon, is that right?
Mrs. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. JENNER - Now, we see in back of this package that we have just described a much longer package also wrapped on--in light-tan wrapping paper--at this time a little bit darker, I think, than the package we have just been describing, and Mr. Howlett has now mounted again the work bench and is measuring that package. That package, Mr. Howlett, is also on the shelf.
Agent HOWLETT - The same shelf in behind where the other package was.
Mr. JENNER - And it is how long?
Agent HOWLETT - Three feet nine inches long, as it is folded now.
Mr. JENNER - And in general is it a rectangular package?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Mr. JENNER - But its shape is not as well defined as the shorter package we have already described?
Agent HOWLETT - No, sir; it seems to be a little bit bigger at the north end.
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, before we open it, what is in that package?
Mrs. PAINE - My best guess would be that it contains two pull blinds which I did have in the southeast bedroom.
Mr. JENNER - When you say "pull blinds" you mean venetian blinds?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I do not. I mean roll-type.
Mr. JENNER - Mr. Howlett, would you be good enough to take that package down and we will open it in Mrs Paine's presence here.
(At this point Agent Howlett complied with the request of Counsel Jenner.)
Mr. JENNER - It contains, does it not, what you call the pull blinds, and which I, in my vernacular call spring window shades.
Mrs. PAINE - All, right, that's correct, and these are cut to fit the windows in the southeast bedroom.
Mr. JENNER - Mr. Howlett, there are two of them, one of which is how wide?
Agent HOWLETT - Two feet six inches.
Mr. JENNER - And the other one is?
Agent HOWLETT - Three feet six inches.
Mr. JENNER - And Mr. Howlett and Mrs. Paine, these two spring window-shades are the customary type we see on windows, these, however, are white or cream colored, and are plastic?
Mrs. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. JENNER - And they are opaque?
Mrs. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. JENNER - Neither is metal?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - The spring to which the shade itself the plastic shade is attached, is wood, inside of which there is the usual window shade spring.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - The paper in which these are wrapped likewise contains as did the other one an address sticker of Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. 4017, addressed to Michael R. Paine.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And so, the wrapping paper in which those two shades are wrapped came from Sears, Roebuck & Co. and not from any roll of paper that you keep in your home?
Mrs. PAINE - That's correct.
Mr. JENNER - Now, are there any other paper-wrapped packages on that shelf?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - It was your impression as you testified last week that you had some curtain rods on the shelf wrapped in a paper wrapping?
Mrs. PAINE - Well, I testified that.
Mr. JENNER - That was your impression, was it not?
Mrs. PAINE - And as part of the testimony I said they were very light and might not deserve their own wrapping.
Mr. JENNER - You, of course you did state it was possible they might not be separately wrapped?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Is there another shelf below the shelf on which you found the first two packages?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; there is.
Mr. JENNER - And, Mr. Howlett, that shelf is about how far below the upper one on which we found the two packages?
Agent HOWLETT - About 10 1/2 inches.
Mr. JENNER - Now, we all see, do we not, peeking up what appears to be a butt end of what we might call a curtain rod, is that correct?
Mrs. PAINE - That's correct.
Mr. JENNER - Is that correct, Mr. Howlett?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir; that's correct.
Mr. JENNER - Painted or enameled white?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Mr. JENNER - Would you reach back there and take out what appears to be a curtain rod, Mr. Howlett-- how many do you have there?
Agent HOWLETT - There are two curtain rods, one a white and the other a kind of buff color or cream colored.
Well, first of all, note the moving goalpost. Mrs. Paine testified that she'd wrapped the curtain rods, but then retreated to the position she may not have wrapped them in a separate package, and has only now come face to face with the possibility she may not have wrapped them at all.
If Jenner were to have been consistent, then, shouldn't he have pointed out that her "best recollection" was that she'd wrapped them, and that her apparent acceptance she had not is a "rationalization"?
Now, second... We've seen CE 429... Uhh... What shelves were they talking about? It's odd, to say the least, that Jenner had Mrs. Paine mark a photograph showing where she thought she'd find curtain rods, but failed to have her mark one where they actually were found.
It is fortunate, then, that far superior versions of the photo that became CE 429 were contained within the Commission's records. Here is one, from CD 497, a photo essay of Mrs. Paine's house and garage.
Well, that sheds some light on the situation, yes?
So where were the curtain rods recovered by Howlett?
When one re-reads the testimony regarding the Venetian blinds, one finds the following clues:
The package containing the Venetian blinds was on "a shelf above the workbench" and extended "north of the north edge of the workbench."
The package was "2 feet 11 inches long" and was resting on a shelf which was "apparently a foot down from the ceiling, and the north edge of the package" was "5 inches from the outer wall of the storeroom."
The package was also "about seven inches" in height, and "seven inches" thick.
The shelf holding this package was seven feet three inches off the floor.
The shelf holding the curtain rods was 10 1/2 inches below this shelf.
So where was the workbench? And where was these shelves?
The workbench in the photo that became CE 429 is pointed out by a yellow arrow in the image below. The shelf where the blinds were purportedly found is pointed out by a blue arrow. The shelf on which the curtain rods were purportedly found would thereby be the shelf pointed out by a red arrow...
Now, no curtain rods are readily noticeable on that shelf. The shelf, in fact, appears to be filled with a large bundle that is not curtain rods--perhaps even the pull blinds purported to have been found on the same shelf as the Venetian blinds.
I mean, really, the Paine garage was tiny.
Here 's a recent photo of the garage showing just how tiny.
As revealed by the FBI's scale drawing in CD 497, moreover, it was only 10 feet wide. (I've copied the scale on the left side of the drawing and placed copies at the foot and at the side of the garage so one see can just what I mean.)
Well, then, the shelf upon which the Venetian blinds were found was at best a foot or so wide. Since the package with the blinds was measured at 7 inches, moreover, that leaves but five inches for the package containing the pull blinds.
So, yeah, no curtain rods are readily noticeable on the shelf.
Now, ask yourself. Is it a coincidence this area was so dark on CE 429?
(Keep in mind that by this date--3-23-64--Chief Justice Warren had made it clear he wanted a "clean" record. And, yeah, a picture of Mrs. Paine's garage showing no curtain rods where they later found curtain rods would undoubtedly "dirty" the record up a bit.)
So, here again is CE 429 (which was released to the public in 1964) in comparison to this same photo in CD 497 (which only became available in the years to follow).
The shelves where the Venetian blinds and curtain rods are presumed to have been found are totally blacked out in the exhibit designed to show their location (CE 429) but are easily made out in a photo just showing the garage, which was subsequently published in CD 497. This smells a bit, si?
Mr. JENNER - Now, would you please search the rest of that shelf and see if you can find any other curtain rods or anything similar to the curtain rods, and look on the bottom shelves, Mr. Howlett, will you please? While he is doing that, Mrs. Paine, I notice there is on your garage floor what looks like a file casing you have for documents similar, at least it seems substantially identical to those that we had in Washington last week.
Mrs. PAINE - This is a filing case similar, yes, slightly different in color to one that you had in Washington. It contains madrigal music. It was on November 22 at the apartment where my husband was living.
Agent HOWLETT - I have just finished searching both shelves and I don't find any other curtain rods.
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, are the curtain rods that Mr. Howlett has taken down from the lower of the two shelves, the two curtain rods to which you made reference in your testimony before the
Commission last week?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; they are.
Mr. JENNER - And you know of no other curtain rods, do you, in your garage during the fall of 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I do not.
Mr. JENNER - And in particular, no other curtain rods in your garage at any time on the 21st or 22d of November 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - None whatsoever.
(Note that Jenner has failed to ask Mrs. Paine how she knows these are the same curtain rods and is instead accepting her assumption they are the same curtain rods as a positive I.D.)
Mr. JENNER - May we take these curtain rods and mark them as exhibits and we will return them after they have been placed of record?
Mrs. PAINE - All right.
Mr. JENNER - Miss Reporter, the cream colored curtain rod, we will mark Ruth Paine Exhibit 275 and the white one as Ruth Paine Exhibit No. 276.
(The curtain rods referred to were at this time marked by the reporter as Ruth Paine Exhibit Nos. 275 and 276, for identification.)
Mr. JENNER - Since we will have the exact physical exhibits we don't have to measure them, but perhaps for somebody who is reading the record, Mr. Howlett, your suggestion that we measure them is not a bad one. Let me describe the configuration of these rods. They are very light weight--what would you say that metal is, Mr. Howlett, tin--heavy tin?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Mr. JENNER - They are the sliding or extension type, one fitting into the other when closed entirely, measuring from upended tip to upended tip they are----
Agent HOWLETT - The white one is 2 feet 3 1/2 inches.
Mr. JENNER - And the cream colored one measured in the like fashion?
Agent HOWLETT - It is 2 feet 3 1/2 inches.
(Let's recall that Buell Frazier and his sister Linnie Mae Randle, after being shown a bag created by the FBI that matched the size and shape of the bag supposedly discovered in the sniper's nest, both claimed that bag was too large, and that the bag/package they saw was actually 27 inches long... Well, what are the odds of that--that they said they saw a light-brown 27-inch long bag, and that's exactly what was missing from Mrs. Paine's garage?)
Mr. JENNER - These curtain rods--the ends of each of them are turned. Those ends extending are turned up how many inches?
Agent HOWLETT - About 2 inches measuring from the inside of the curtain rod.
Mr. JENNER - On the cream colored one, and what about the white one?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes; on the cream colored one and the white one measures about 2 1/2 inches.
Mr. JENNER - Now, these curtain rods with the ends turned up form a "U," do they not, a long "U"?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Now, wait a second. Jenner and Howlett measured the height of the top shelf as 7 feet 3 inches. They did not find any curtain rods on that shelf. They then looked on the second shelf, 10 1/2 inches below that shelf, or 6 feet 2 1/2 inches off the ground. And they found two curtain rods. Jenner let it slip, moreover, that they searched this shelf after noticing the "butt end" of one of the curtain rods. And now we learn that the butt end of these curtain rods was 2 1/2 inches tall.
So let's go back and see if we can find this curtain rod butt, which would be a light rectangular shape of a roughly 3 to 1 ratio on the second shelf that was around 1/5 as wide as the shelf.
By George we may have found it. The bottom arrow below shows the width of the shelf, and the top arrow is placed below a light rectangle of a roughly 3 to 1 ratio that is around 1/5 as wide as the shelf.
Or is that even a rectangle? The quality of the photo currently available is insufficient to say for sure. But what we can say is that IF a curtain rod is visible in that photo, that light shape would have to be it.
In any event, here is the photo of these curtain rods subsequently published by the Warren Commission...
Well, huh. These curtain rods look a lot like the ones used in Oswald's room. Here is a photo of Oswald's room taken for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the shooting.
And here is a blow-up from this photo.
So yikes! Mrs. Paine had the exact same type of curtain rods stored in her garage as Oswald had in his room. IF he'd damaged the curtain rods in his room--presumably not the ones shown above, but the ones back by his bed, which Mrs. Johnson swapped out the next day--he might very well have brought the rods from Mrs. Paine's to his rooming house, and swapped them out before the damage could be brought to Mrs. Johnson's attention.
(Note: the thought occurs that Mrs. Paine later became aware of the strange alignment of the curtain rod evidence with Oswald's curtain rod story, and that she sought to conceal this through misdirection... aka lying. On 9-22-19, a quite elderly but nevertheless in touch with the facts Mrs. Paine participated in a question and answer period following the Texas Theater screening of the Warren Commission rah-rah movie "Truth is Our Only Client." Well, one of the audience members submitted a question that made her snap. To the question of how many and what kind of curtain rods she had in her garage, she responded: "There were NO curtain rods in my garage at anytime. It was an entire fabrication on Lee's part." Uhh, no. Perhaps, then, Mrs. Paine found it easier to claim Lee made it all up than to admit that the curtain rods in her garage were the same exact type and color as the curtain rods in Lee's rented room.)
In any event, back in '64, a report on two curtain rods identified as 275 and 276, in which Dallas Police Lt. J.C. Day claimed he'd found one legible print (which did not belong to Oswald) on these rods, was subsequently published in the Warren Commission's 26 volumes, as Exhibit 1952.
Here it is...
Now, one might assume from this that these were the rods found in the garage. But there's no report or testimony explaining how and why those rods were presented to the DPD Crime Lab, as opposed to the FBI Crime Lab. Nor is there a report or testimony explaining how and when the curtain rods identified as Paine Exhibits 275 and 276 were initially photographed, and how this photograph ended up published by the Commission.
To accept that all is above board then one has to accept that Agent Howlett (whose name is on the form) took the rods found in the garage over to the DPD Crime Lab, and that someone--presumably Lt. Day--to whom the rods were submitted, wrote the submission date down as 3-15-64 even though it was 3-23-64. While this makes little sense on the surface--I mean why Howlett, and not Jenner, and why the wrong date---it makes a little more sense when one remembers that the Warren Commission and FBI were having a spat on 3-23-64--and that this spat was over this very issue--the Commission's use of outside forensics experts.
So it seems possible Jenner wanted to submit these rods to a crime lab--if just to see if Oswald had ever touched these rods--and that Howlett, knowing the FBI was at war with the Commission--offered to help by submitting these rods to the local police, with whom he was more familiar.
And that Day wrote down the wrong date.
Now this is all a bit of a stretch, right? But it's a stretch one needs to make to explain CE 1952.
So let's play along for a minute. Jenner found the rods in Mrs. Paine's garage. He placed them into evidence. He had them tested for fingerprints. A print was found, but it was not Oswald's.
Well, this made Oswald a liar. And a liar about a package which presumably concealed the assassination rifle. That's fairly damning...and suggestive of Oswald's guilt.
That's the way the Warren Commission wanted it, anyway.
But then, on 8-31-64, Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin wrote a letter to FBI Director Hoover, asking him to have the FBI interview Roy Truly, Oswald's boss at the Texas School Book Depository, to see if anyone came across a package of curtain rods in the building.
Yes, strangely enough, months after the Warren Commission's staff had written a report claiming Oswald had lied when he told Buell Frazier the package he brought to work on 11-22-63 contained curtain rods, and months after the commissioners had signed off on this finding, it had finally occurred to someone that, hey, maybe, the package Oswald brought into the building DID contain curtain rods--and that, geez, before we conclude Oswald had lied about this, we should at least ask Roy Truly if he recalled anyone ever finding a package of curtain rods in the building.
The FBI interviewed Truly on 9-1-64, and forwarded a memo on this interview to the commission on 9-4-64. The brief memo on this interview claims Truly said he felt certain no curtain rods were discovered in the building.
But there's a problem with this. No sworn affidavit, or sworn testimony, was provided. And this was by design. The 9-1-64 airtel from Hoover to Dallas Special Agent in Charge J. Gordon Shanklin in which Hoover ordered Truly be interviewed specified that the results of this interview should be communicated in a memo, and that "it will not be necessary to incorporate Truly's interview in a subsequent report."
So what was going on here? Was Hoover just trying to save his men some time? Or was he afraid an interview with Truly might lead to more questions, and that a report on such an interview might lead to even more questions?
I mean, something is just off. The FBI's files claim Truly was interviewed by Agent Ray Hall. So why was Hall's name not mentioned in the memo sent the commission? And why was the memo advising the results of the FBI'S interview with Truly sent the commission without a signature line, as one would normally find on a report?
Was this memo created in this manner so that no one could be held accountable? And why were earlier problematic memos--such as the memo on the FBI's interview with Mrs. Johnson--treated in a similar manner?
It remains possible, then, that the memo did not reflect what Truly actually told his supposed interviewer, Ray Hall, and that Ray Hall wasn't even consulted in the creation of this memo...and, yikes, that Ray Hall never actually spoke to Truly.
I mean, the memo claimed simply that Truly said something to somebody, without noting who this somebody was, or even who was claiming Truly said something to somebody.
This was most unusual, and suspicious.
Here, see for yourself:
Now, this deliberately-orphaned memo was published by the Warren Commission as Commission Exhibit 2640.
Still, okay, this could all be innocent. No rods were missing from Mrs. Paine's garage. Lt. Day wrote down the wrong date on the submission form. And Hoover was just being lazy when he sent the commission an unsigned memo claiming Truly said no rods were found in the depository (as opposed to a report from someone who could actually be held accountable should the report be in error).
But that's not the end of the suspicious behavior revolving around the curtain rods.
On 9-6-64, Commission Counsel J. Wesley Liebeler wrote a critique of the current draft of the Warren Report. On the "Curtain Rod Story", he observed "The last paragraph of this section is misleading when it attempts to show the falsity of tho curtain rod story by stating that Oswald's room at 1026 North Beckley had curtains, and does not take account of the fact that Frazier specifically testified that Oswald said he wanted the curtain rods to put in an apartment. This takes on added significance when we remember that Oswald was talking about renting an apartment so that his family could live in Dallas with him. That aspect of the problem should be specifically treated if we are going to mention the fact that his rooming house had curtains."
Now, this was simple enough--Liebeler had pointed out that any discussion of the curtain rods would be deceptive if it asserted as fact that Oswald had said he'd wanted the curtain rods for the room he was renting--a room he was planning on leaving within weeks. Frazier had testified, after all, that Oswald had said he wanted these rods for "an apartment," not "his apartment."
But, apparently, this was too much for his superiors, Redlich and Rankin. When the report was published on 9-24-64, it included the following passage: "It would appear, however, that obtaining curtain rods was not the purpose of Oswald's trip to Irving on Thursday, November 21. Mrs. A.C. Johnson, his landlady, testified that Oswald's room at 1926 North Beckley Avenue had curtains and curtain rods, and that Oswald had never discussed the subject with her. In the Paine's garage, along with many other objects of a household character, there were two flat lightweight curtain rods belonging to Ruth Paine but they were still there on Friday afternoon after Oswald's arrest."
Well, wait... Where did they get that the curtain rods were in the garage on Friday afternoon? As we've seen, neither Michael Paine nor Ruth Paine said as much.
Well, for that last passage the footnote 123 was provided. Footnote 123 reads "3H72-73 (R. Paine); 9H424 (R. Paine); R. Paine DE 275, 276; CE 449."
So, let's break this down, working backwards.
1. CE 449 is a drawing of the curtain rods as Mrs. Paine remembered them on 3-20-64. This doesn't prove they were in her garage on the afternoon of 11-22-63.
2. DE 275 and 276 are the curtain rods themselves. They didn't have a chip or anything in them that recorded their whereabouts on 11-22-63, so, no, they don't prove their location on 11-22-63.
3. 9H424 is the 3-23-64 testimony of Mrs. Paine while Warren Commission Counsel Jenner and SS Agent Howlett sifted through her garage. As they discovered two unwrapped curtain rods on a shelf other than where she thought she'd left them, there is nothing in her testimony to suggest these curtain rods were where they'd been on Friday 11-22-63... And, for what's worse, there is no mention whatsoever of anyone's observing them on that date.
4. 3H72-73 is Mrs. Paine's 3-20-64 testimony that she thought her husband had looked in the garage "a week and a half, or a week," after the assassination to verify that the "package with curtain rods" was still there, and that it was her "recollection" it was. Well, one, this was her recollection of her husband's activities--why didn't the Commission just ask him? And, two, when Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner went to Mrs. Paine's garage on 3-23-63 he discovered that there was no "package with curtain rods" in the garage, and that the "brown paper" package Mrs. Paine had presumed her husband had noticed was instead a package of Venetian blinds. In other words, this citation demonstrates the exact opposite of what it is purported to demonstrate. It suggested that no one looked for the curtain rods until a week or a week and a half after the assassination, and that no one took note of the actual curtain rods prior to 3-23-64.
(While Michael Paine did testify to seeing some curtain rods in the garage a few weeks prior to his 3-17-64 testimony, his testimony was not cited in the footnote claiming these rods were observed on 11-22-63. And for good reason--his testimony failed to establish the whereabouts of the curtain rods on 11-22-63.)
So, yes, Footnote 123 was a big fat freakin' lie. In the weeks and months after the assassination, no one had taken the time to verify that the curtain rods in Mrs. Paine's garage--the curtain rods she thought she'd wrapped in a package the exact size and appearance of the package observed by Buell Frazier and his sister on the morning of the assassination--were still in her garage.
And when they finally looked--they found there was no such package!
Now, it is true Mrs. Paine identified the two curtain rods discovered in her garage on 3-23-64 as the two curtain rods she'd remembered being in her garage before 11-22-63, but there is nothing in the record, whatsoever, to counter that someone had placed these two rods in her garage after Frazier started telling the curtain rod story.
So, yeah, Mrs. Paine's 3-23 testimony was quite a blow to the Oswald-did-it scenario pushed by the Warren Commission and its staff...
First, on 3-11, Frazier and his sister both refused to ID the bag found in the building as the bag they saw Oswald carrying. They both described this bag, moreover, as a bag in which there could have been curtain rods.
And then, on 3-20, Mrs. Paine described a paper package of curtain rods she believed was in her garage...that matched the description of the package described by Frazier and his sister.
And finally, on 3-23, Mrs. Paine failed to find the package of curtain rods she believed was in her garage, and found instead some loose curtain rods.
So how did the Commission's staff handle this? By admitting that--eegads--Oswald may have been telling the truth about the curtain rods?
Are you freakin' kidding?
They flat-out lied, is what they did. I mean, really. It's hard to see the report's assertion the rods were noticed in the garage on 11-22 as anything but a flat-out lie.
And this lie was allowed to stand...for decades...
And the belief Oswald had lied about the rods--or Frazier had lied about Oswald--was allowed to stand...for decades...
But then, in the mid-1990's, the Dallas Police opened their files to Ray and Mary La Fontaine, and they found some previously unreleased photos of some prints pulled off some curtain rods.
Here they are...
And from there things got messy.
Here's Vincent Bugliosi, on the discovery of these images, in his 2007 "magnum opus" Reclaiming History:
"In 1996, conspiracy authors Ray and Mary La Fontaine, in their book Oswald Talked, congratulated themselves on their “discovery” of photographs of curtain rods found in 1993 among the newly released files of the Dallas police. “No evidence could be found that the photos were ever turned over to the Warren Commission,” they wrote of the curtain rods that appeared to have been dusted for fingerprints (La Fontaine and La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, p.371). The La Fontaines located former Dallas police crime-lab lieutenant J. C. “Carl” Day in 1993 and quizzed him about the photos, but Day “couldn’t remember where the curtain rods had been found” (La Fontaine and La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, pp.371–372). The impression the authors leave the reader with is that they may have been found in the Book Depository Building, which would support Oswald’s claim to Wesley Frazier that he brought them to work on November 22. According to the La Fontaines, they asked Day to compare the clearest print (on one of the rods) visible in the photo—a right thumbprint—with a photo of Oswald’s right thumbprint, and although the print did not appear to belong to Oswald, Day could not conclusively rule out Oswald as a possible source of the print. The authors then reportedly had three other fingerprint experts from other cities examine the print, with equally inconclusive results. In summation, the authors noted that a researcher later found “a report signed by Carl Day stating that the prints are not Oswald’s.” (La Fontaine and La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, p.372)
If the La Fontaines had turned to the testimony of Ruth Paine on page 424 in volume 9 of the Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, they would have learned that their allegation was without merit. Paine was questioned at her home by the Commission’s assistant counsel Albert Jenner in the presence of Secret Service agent John J. Howlett on the night of March 23, 1964. At that time, Mrs. Paine took Jenner and Howlett into her garage, where she pointed out two curtain rods that she had in storage and which she had testified about the previous week. The curtain rods were marked as Paine Exhibit Nos. 275 and 276 on the spot and turned over to Agent Howlett. As it turns out, the La Fontaines never mentioned the fact that the “report signed by Carl Day” was a follow-up to this meeting with Mrs. Paine. The resulting 1964 “report,” actually a Dallas Police Identification Bureau form, shows that “2 curtain rods—white enamel (4 pcs) marked 275 & 276” were submitted by Howlett to the ID bureau to “check for prints.” Lieutenant Carl Day received the specimens, did the analysis, and noted “1 legible print—does not belong to Oswald.” The form shows that the curtain rods were returned to Howlett on the morning of March 26, 1964. Although the submission form appears to show the specimens arriving on the morning of March 15, 1964—an impossibility under the circumstances—the remainder of the information relates precisely to the events surrounding the curtain rods recovered from Mrs. Paine’s garage on the night of March 23. (CE 1952, 23 H 756, Dallas Police Identification Bureau form; photo of Paine’s two curtain rods: Paine [Ruth] Exhibit Nos. 275 and 276, 21 H 4; 9 H 396, WCI Ruth Hyde Paine)
Two distinct viewpoints had thereby been presented. The LaFontaines had used the photos found in the Dallas Archives to insinuate the rods in the photos were rods left by Oswald in the depository, and Bugliosi, while admitting the date for submission on the DPD's report (3-15-63) was in error (I mean, his scenario holds that the DPD received these rods after their discovery in Mrs. Paine's garage on 3-23-63, so the 3-15-63 date for their submission has gotta be wrong, right?) had defended the status quo, and had insisted nothing was the least bit suspicious.
But he was blowing smoke. In April 2019, Alan Ford began writing about this issue on the JFK Assassination Forum, and unveiled something over-looked (or at least unmentioned) by Bugliosi.
Here, in a GIF put together by Ford, is the essence of his discovery:
The image with red writing is a color photograph of the original form. It is the form as it appears in the Dallas Police Archives, and as found on the University of North Texas website. Note that it is quite different than the black and white image, that is, the version of this form published by the Warren Commission as CE 1952.
Now, for those distracted by the flashing back and forth, here is a clearer version of this form.
Now, let's note the differences between the original full-color form published on the the UNT website, and the black and white copy of this form published as CE 1952 in the Warren Commission's volumes. To create CE 1952, someone had to:
Remove the signature "John Joe Howlett" from the "specimen released to" line.
Change the date of the specimen's release from "3-24-64" to "3-26-64."
Re-write Lt. Day's signature on the "specimen released by" line.
Inadvertently change the relationship of the "d" in "Oswald" and the "a" in "Day" in the writing at the bottom of the page.
Now, this last bit is quite confusing. The thought occurs, however, that the person dummying-up CE 1952 may have taped sections from a photo-copy of the original document onto a new form, then filled out the rest of this form, then made a photo-copy of this new phony document that was then sent to the Commission. Or something like that...
So what can be made of this?
1. Bugliosi's insistence that the submission date of "3-15-64" on CE 1952 was a simple mistake no longer passes muster. Not only were the curtain rods in Mrs. Paine's garage not retrieved until 3-23-64, 8 days after 3-15-64, but the original form for CE 1952 has a release date of "3-24-64," a day before Lt. Day created the lift card from the curtain rod shown above (in DPD image 91-001/256).
2. This suggests, then, that there were 2 sets of curtain rods. One set submitted to the DPD by Howlett on 3-15-64 ("two white curtain rods"), and then released back to him on 3-24-64, and another set retrieved from Mrs. Paine on 3-23-64 (one cream-colored curtain rod and one white curtain rod), tested on 3-25-64, and released on 3-26-64.
3. It could be, then, that the curtain rods turned over on 3-15-64 were made to go bye-bye, and that the on-the-record seizure of Mrs. Paine's curtain rods on 3-23-64 was designed in part to conceal that curtain rods had been recovered and submitted to the DPD's crime lab from somewhere other than Mrs. Paine's garage.
4. If this is so, then, Secret Service Agent John Joe Howlett was right in the middle of it. One can not avoid that Howlett's signature was on the submission line of CE 1952...on 3-15...8 days before he'd supposedly even seen the curtain rods he recovered in Mrs. Paine's garage. In all other instances where physical evidence was collected for the WC's investigation, it was collected through the FBI. So why was Howlett, an SS Agent, even involved in this--the collection of physical evidence for the Warren Commission's investigation? While Howlett's involvement in this on 3-23-64 (when the Commission and FBI were at odds) might make sense, his submission of these curtain rods to the DPD on 3-15-63 (before Jenner had even arrived in Dallas) makes far less sense...unless...unless...he'd obtained these rods during the Secret Service's investigation of the assassination back in December. So when could he have found them? Or received them? Well, the thought occurs that Howlett starred in a Secret Service re-enactment film produced on 12-5-63...that was filmed on location in Oswald's place of work, the school book depository. It seems possible, then, that Howlett found or was given two white curtain rods at that time, and had decided to hold off telling anyone about them until he could do so without raising too much ruckus. One might presume then that he spoke to Jenner about this later, and that the two conspired to go behind Hoover's back and have the curtain rods tested by Lt. Day...and that it was then decided to make them disappear, and use the curtain rods found in Mrs. Paine's garage to conceal their very existence.
5. If this is so, then, it follows that Howlett or Day created the numbers for these curtain rods (275 and 276) and that Jenner chose to re-use these numbers on 3-23-64. (It has long been a mystery as to why Jenner gave the exhibits entered into evidence on 3-23-64 numbers in the 270's. I mean, why not start at Ruth Paine Exhibit 1, and proceed from there...as was done with most every other witness? Perhaps now we have an answer.)
6. It seems probable, for that matter, that the replacement of "3-24-64" on the original DPD form, with the "3-26-64" on the form as published by the Warren Commission, was done to conceal that this was a different set of rods than those tested by Lt. Day on 3-25-64.
7. In such case, it follows that whoever was behind this switcheroo (presumably Day, seeing as he'd provided two different signatures on the release line for the two different versions of the form), had failed to notice that the submission date on this form was 8 days before Howlett (and Jenner) had acquired the curtain rods from Mrs. Paine.
Now, I've thought about this a bit, and have tried to come up with a less horrifying explanation for the changing of the dates on the DPD crime lab form, but have come up with nothing but ?????
When one looks at the big picture, furthermore, the dubious nature of these rods becomes obvious.
1. The Crime Lab form that became CE 1952 contains Lt. Day's conclusion the one identifiable print found on the curtain rods was not Oswald's. This is unique within the DPD's exhibits. The palm print torn from Box D was supposedly determined to have been Oswald's on the evening of 11-22. So where is the Crime Lab form in which this conclusion was noted? And why wasn't it submitted to the Warren Commission?
2. While one answer to that question could be that the DPD deferred to the conclusions of the FBI's Crime Lab, and refused to submit their own conclusions to the Commission, this raises another question. Why didn't they do that in this case?
3. FIVE photographs were taken of lifts pulled from the curtain rods. Well...what happened to the original lifts? There is no record of these lifts in the Dallas Police files. Nor in the FBI's files. Were they destroyed? If it was standard to photograph lifts, moreover, why were no DPD photographs taken of the lift Lt. Day claimed he'd pulled from the underside of the barrel on 11-22-63?
4. ALL other fingerprint identifications regarding Oswald were double-checked by the FBI and the outside consultant brought in by the Warren Commission, Arthur Mandella. They testified 4-2-64. If Lt. Day had studied the curtain rod print on 3-25-64, and had concluded it was not Oswald's, why weren't the Warren Commission's designated fingerprint experts asked to verify this when they testified?
5. Although Lt. Day testified on 4-22-64, he was never asked about his testing the curtain rods prints on 3-25-64. Was this a simple oversight? And, if so, how is it that CE 1952 ended up being published by the Commission? Did someone call up Lt. Day in August or September 1964 and say, "Hey, bud, could you please send us a copy of that report you wrote on the curtain rods?" Or did Howlett retain a copy for himself, and hand it over to Jenner, who then realized the dates were a problem, and then went back to Day to get him to make a copy, change the date, and add a new signature?
6. There is no record (that I have found) detailing how the photo of the curtain rods ended up in the commission's volumes. While one might assume the Paine exhibits confiscated by Jenner and Howlett on 3-23-64 were immediately sent over to the FBI Crime Lab upon their release from the DPD Crime Lab on 3-26-64, there is no evidence that this happened. To wit, a 7-9-64 FBI memo from crime lab big chief Roy Jevons to crime lab even bigger chief Ivan Conrad notes that a commission secretary phoned the lab on 7-8-64 and asked that they make copies of a number of exhibit photos, including photos of Ruth Paine exhibits 275 and 276. This is, as far as I can tell, the earliest mention of these exhibits in the FBI's files.
So when did they get these exhibits? Who knows?
(One hopes to someday establish how the Paine exhibits and DPD report reached Washington...)
Now, while we're at it, we should probably double-check the identifiable print Day said was not Oswald's. As it stands we have no idea if this print was found on the curtain rods submitted on 3-15, or the curtain rods subsequently "discovered" in Mrs. Paine's garage. It could be, then, that this print was a print left by Oswald when he first took a look at these curtain rods, in Mrs. Paine's garage, and then re-wrapped them for their journey to the depository. It could be, then, that Lt. Day later lifted this print, and connected this print to Oswald, but held off saying a word, upon advice from Howlett. It could be, then, that, upon receiving the replacement rods from the Paine residence, he tossed the lifts associated with the rods submitted on 3-15, but forgot to toss the photos of these lifts.
Well, it could be then that photos 253, 254, and 327, which mention the number of the curtain rod from which each print was lifted, are photos of prints lifted from the rods submitted on 3-15, while photos 255 and 256, which fail to name the curtain rod from which each lift was taken, but specify 3-25 as the day the lift was taken, are photos of prints lifted from the rods found in Mrs. Paine's garage.
Of course, it could also be that the photos discovered in the DPD archives fail to show a single identifiable print. Should that be the case, well, it would prove these photos were of a different set of curtain rods than those discussed in Day's report...
And that would prove very interesting, very, very interesting...
So, yes, I took a quick amateur glance at the lift photos...and this led me to conclude there was but one identifiable print apparent on these photos--on 91-001/327.
Here it is...
We might presume then that this was the identifiable print Day said was not Oswald's.
This presumption, then, led me to take a closer look at this print. While the LaFontaines, in Oswald Talked, described this print as a probable right thumb print, I couldn't match this up with a thumb print. Well, this, in turn, led me to wonder if--egads--this wasn't' yet another Oswald right palm print. I then matched up this print with Oswald's right palm print. This is shown below.
Now, is this in fact a match? I suspect not. While the ridges are pretty close, I spotted some unique characteristics on the Oswald print (at L) that I could not find on the curtain rod print (at R in the pink rectangle overlay onto the Oswald print.)
But it's close enough to make one wonder what an unbiased expert would say...
It appears, moreover, that this print is long gone. (Here are the most recent photos of the curtain rods.)
And here are two close-ups of CE 276, the white curtain rod, when matched up with the Warren Commission's photo of this rod. The purported location of the identifiable print discovered in the Dallas DPD Archives was 5 1/2 inches from the end of the white curtain rod's outside edge. That is actually two locations. Both are shown below, pointed out by red arrows. And yet...nothing remains to show us the former location of this print. No marks. No stickers. Nothing.
So what happened to the print?
Did someone wipe the rods clean before sending them to Washington? And, if so, who?
And, come to think of it, if the FBI eventually received Paine Exhibits 275 and 276, along with the other Paine exhibits, as one might assume from the 8-6 Jevons-Conrad memo, well, then, where's their report on the curtain rods? The FBI performed fingerprint examinations on most every piece of evidence to come their way. The Warren Commission's volumes are filled with FBI reports on fingerprint examinations performed on pieces of paper, that belonged to Oswald, that prove absolutely nothing beyond that Oswald touched something that belonged to him...which was disputed by absolutely nobody.
So where the heck is the FBI's fingerprint report on the curtain rods? Are we to believe they refused to perform one because the DPD had already performed their own examination?
Well, that never stopped them before....
Oh, wait, maybe the reason no such report ever surfaced is because no prints were ever found on these rods...since these were NOT the rods tested by Day!
So, yeah, the lack of noticeable marks or stickers on the available photos of 275 and 276 is yet another reason to doubt these were the rods submitted to Lt. Day on 3-15-64.
In short, then, the problems with the "curtain rod story" and crime lab form raise serious doubts about the long-held assumption no curtain rods were found inside the building, which is to say, serious doubts about Oswald's guilt... When one thinks of it, moreover, "the curtain rod" story told by the Commission is even more damaging and suggestive of malfeasance than "the curtain rod story" Oswald was accused of telling. One can think of "innocent" reasons why Oswald might lie about bringing curtain rods to work--maybe he brought them to a female co-worker and didn't want his wife to know, etc, or maybe he felt embarrassed about stealing from Ruth Paine--but one is much more hard-pressed to come up with legitimate excuses for the altered and missing documents related to the curtain rods.
So, yeah, the small conclusion Oswald did not bring curtain rods to work on the 22nd was yet another of the Commission's small conclusions to fall apart under close examination.
To recap, then...
Troy West, the only witness to testify regarding the possibility Oswald made a paper bag at work, claimed he always ate his lunch by the paper and tape machines, and had never witnessed Oswald using the paper and tape machines. And yet the Commission concluded Oswald made a paper bag at work on 11-21-63...
Buell Frazier, the only witness who could have testified on the matter of Oswald's bringing a paper bag out to Irving on 11-21-63, insists Oswald did not bring a paper bag to Irving on 11-21-63. And yet the Commission concluded Oswald brought a paper bag to Irving on 11-21-63..
The cumulative witness testimony of Marina Oswald, Michael Paine, and Ruth Paine suggested Oswald's rifle was not in Mrs. Paine's garage on 11-21-63. And yet the Commission concluded Oswald's rifle was in Mrs. Paine's garage on 11-21-63.
The cumulative witness testimony of Marina Oswald and Ruth Paine suggested Oswald did not sneak into Mrs. Paine's garage on the evening of 11-21-63. And yet the Commission concluded he sneaked into Mrs. Paine's garage on the evening of 11-21-63.
The cumulative witness testimony of Buell Frazier and Linnie Mae Randle indicated that the bag Oswald brought to work on 11-22 was far too small to have held his rifle. And yet the Commission concluded it did in fact hold his rifle.
The cumulative witness testimony of Buell Frazier, Linnie Mae Randle and Ruth Paine suggested the bag brought to work by Oswald on 11-22 looked more like the bag of curtain rods Mrs. Paine thought she'd left in her garage than a bag holding Oswald's rifle. And yet the Commission stuck to its gun and concluded the bag held Oswald's rifle.
They concluded a rifle no one had seen for months had been concealed...within a bag no one had seen in Oswald's possession... that had been constructed without anyone noticing... and then transported to the Paine's garage without anyone noticing... and that, furthermore, Oswald had dismantled and concealed this rifle in this bag without anyone noticing...and that, finally, Oswald had removed this rifle from the bag and re-constructed this rifle in the sniper's nest without anyone noticing, using only a dime...
It was like a ghost within a ghost within a ghost...
The case constructed against Oswald was a house of cards...waiting for a mighty wind to blow, and expose all kinds of mischief...
Was it just a coincidence, then, that it never came to trial?
What REALLT happened?