Chapter 19: Wrestling Over History
Chapter 19: Wrestling Over History
A hard look at the blind referee and the tag team in white
Guardians of the Truth
After spending the last several chapters arguing that the autopsy photos and x-rays have not been altered, I will now discuss a photo I believe has been altered. The story of this photo and its alteration is, in my opinion, symbolic of the mainstream media’s approach to the assassination.
The photo in question is the Miller photo, a photo taken by a high-school student of the President’s limousine as it sped towards Parkland Hospital. This photo was published world-wide beginning on 11-24-63 and still shows up regularly in books on the assassination. The most memorable (and marketable) thing about this photo is that it shows an object sticking out of the back seat. This object was initially identified as President Kennedy’s left foot. This confused at least one eyewitness. S.M. Holland ended up telling Mark Lane he SAW Kennedy’s foot fly up onto the side of the car.
Years later, however, the Associated Press, who’d quickly purchased the photo from Miller, decided the object was not Kennedy’s foot at all, but secret service agent Clint Hill’s right foot. (Of course, this didn’t stop a whole slew of books, including those by veteran newsmen Robert MacNeil and Wilborn Hampton, from continuing to claim the foot was Kennedy’s.) As Clint Hill was upright and faced forward in the back seat, however, this changing-of-the-foot never made much sense to me.
In June, 2006, I went public on the JFK Lancer Forum with my suspicions that the foot in the photo had in fact been drawn in. One defender of the AP’s story cited another photo of Hill on the back of the limousine, the Newman photo, as proof that the object in the photo was in fact Hill’s foot. This photo, however, showed Hill’s leg draped across the trunk of the limousine, and his foot hanging off the side of the car behind the tire. As the Miller photo showed Hill’s legs angled down into the rear seat, the Newman photo only confirmed for me that something was odd with the Miller photo. When asked why someone would alter the photo I said that perhaps the photographer and/or the original paper to publish the photo, The Dallas Morning News, was aware that there were other photos of the limousine, and cynically added the foot so that they could sell the photo as including Kennedy. This brought a rapid response from Gary Mack, the curator of The Sixth Floor Museum, and a recognized expert on the photographic evidence:
From a 6 -19 e-mail: “Pat, David Miller's photo wasn't faked! Do you know anything about him or his picture, how it came to the attention of the news media, or when? Have you ever seen his original photograph or a first generation print? Or the AP copy negative, or The Dallas Morning News copy negative. Wait, I'll answer for you. You don't know anything about that information. Have you listened to Clint Hill talk about how he hung his foot over the side to steady himself while hovering over JFK as they roared down the highway at 80mph??????
Why DO you people make up such ridiculous stories?!!??!?!???!??”
Mack’s fervent response unnerved me a bit. I had been an ally of his as long as I was arguing for the authenticity of the Zapruder film, but once I switched teams and implied that any piece of the photographic history was faked, I had become a “you people.”
Another Forum member posted Clint Hill’s Warren Commission testimony indicating that the foot was indeed his own.
Mr. SPECTER. And where were the President's legs at that time?
Mr. HILL. Inside the car.
Mr. HILL. It is a little bit hard for me to judge, since I was lying across the rear portion of the automobile. I had no trouble staying in that particular position--until we approached the hospital, I recall, I believe it was a left-hand turn and I started slipping off to the right-hand portion of the car. So I would say that we went 60, maybe 65 at the most.
Mr. SPECTER. Were you able to secure a handhold or a leghold or any sort of a hold on the automobile as you moved forward?
Mr. HILL. Yes, sir. I had my legs--I had my body above the rear seat, and my legs hooked down into the rear seat, one foot outside the car.
After reading Hill’s testimony, I thought, “okay, well maybe I’m wrong, maybe it is Clint Hill’s foot in the photo…”
From Hand to Foot?
Only a few days after my “drawn-in foot theory” was shot down, however, I discovered the Yarborough Exhibit, a 12-14-63 article in the Saturday Evening Post entered into evidence by the Warren Commission. A version of the Miller photo was included in this article. Shockingly, however, the “foot” in the photo, which was once again described as a foot, looked nothing like the “foot” shown in the newspaper articles. Upon close inspection, in fact, it seems clear that the Associated Press gave The Saturday Evening Post access to the original photo or negative. If so, this photo proves that the “foot” in the newspaper versions of the photo was re-touched to look like a foot.
After this discovery, I quickly posted links to the Yarborough Exhibit on the Education Forum. I also sent another e-mail to Gary Mack, who I thought should know that the photo in the Dallas Morning News, as well as the one re-printed in such esteemed books as Richard Trask’s Pictures of the Pain, had been altered. His response surprised me. He continued to insist that the version of the Miller photo in the Yarborough Exhibit matched the early newspaper versions, something I believed I’d just demonstrated to be untrue…
From a 6-27-06 e-mail from Gary Mack:
(In answer to my assertion that the foot in the Miller photo failed to match the “foot” in the Yarborough Exhibit.) “Yes, it really does, especially when you look at a first generation, from the negative, print as Richard Trask and others have done over the years. Miller developed the film at school himself that afternoon and let The Dallas Morning News copy his original negative that night. The News ran it two days later after sending it out to the AP and it's subscribers on 11/23. Are you suggesting that David altered his own picture? That's the only way your theory can work, Pat. Miller's picture ran on page 11 in the Dallas Morning News on 11/24. News chief photographer Tom Dillard PRINTED the News' copy directly from Miller's negative. Dillard sent a copy negative to the AP, which sent it all over the world on 11/23. The AP's photo distributor, Wide World, licensed the photo to the Saturday Evening Post, which ran it on page 24 of its 12/14/63 issue (that's the source of the Yarborough exhibit). ALL of them look the same. The best book/magazine/newspaper reproduction version is the Post issue. NONE are as good as first generation prints from Miller's negative. Trask has one. Other researchers have them. I have seen the Dallas Morning News' copy. They ALL show the same thing - a shoe and pant leg that cannot possibly be Kennedy's. A shoe that can only belong to Clint Hill. Miller misidentified the foot and the news media, beginning with the Dallas Morning News, repeated his account until it was later corrected. I have seen the AP's correction notice, which came later that year. They notified their subscribers, but not all members made the notations on their file copies of the photo, which is why, years later, some were still saying it was Kennedy's foot. Why don't you write to AP/Wide World Photos and buy a print. Or buy the 12/14/63 Saturday Evening Post on eBay?....Or call Trask and ask him. Or call Miller's widow. Do something other than make up a bogus explanation.”
I was dumbfounded by this response, and asked Gary to look at the two versions of the Miller photo I’d posted online. He once again responded by insisting that the original photo was the photo published in the Dallas Morning News and that, if anything, the Saturday Evening Post version of the photo was the one that had been retouched.
From a 7-6-06 e-mail from Gary Mack. “Let me summarize. David Miller developed and printed his photos the afternoon of 11/22. He and his father met with Tom Dillard of the Dallas Morning News that evening and they allowed the News to make a copy of David's original negative. The News made a copy for the Associated Press, which sent the picture to its worldwide subscribers the next day. David Miller is the apparent source of the belief that the object was JFK's foot. The News passed that story along to the Associated Press, which repeated the information. Many AP subscribers, following normal procedures, kept the photo in their files and published it on occasion. The AP routinely sent out the picture to subscribers and others wishing to license the image for various publications. All AP source images are the same and all contained the misinformation about JFK's foot. Some publications, both newspaper and magazine, may have retouched the foot to make it reproduce clearer for the reader. Not until the late 80's did someone check with Clint Hill about whether or not that was JFK's foot. Hill officially set the record straight saying that the foot was his, not Kennedy's, and the information was passed along to the AP. The AP corrected their own caption as early as 1963 or 1964, but all those earlier AP images and incorrect information remain on file in newsrooms and other places around the world; therefore, the erroneous assumption that the foot belonged to Kennedy still gets repeated. The version in the Saturday Evening Post came from the same source material as the picture in Trask's Pictures of the Pain and the Dallas Morning News' Sunday edition. Whether the Post retouched their picture or not, I do not know. Such photo retouching/enhancement was routine in the newspaper business then because the reproduction clarity of photographed images was often rather poor. The Museum does not have a print of the Miller picture, though I have seen Trask's print, one in the Dallas Morning News files, and one or two others, including an original 11-24-63 Dallas Morning News newspaper. All show the same thing: a foot hanging over the side of the Kennedy limousine.”
(FWIW, I would subsequently come to realize that Gary was mistaken about the history of the photo. He claimed Miller developed and printed the photo, and that Dillard simply made a copy of Miller's original negative. Well, this suggested that Miller would have to have been responsible for the altering of the photo, should it have been altered. And this was something Gary refused to believe. But this was not accurate. In May 1964 Dillard was asked by his superiors to write a memo on his activities regarding the shooting. This memo was published in 2013, as part of the book JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes. Here is what he had to say about Miller and his photo: "Between turning down calls for pictures, I found time to make a print of the President's car as it sped down Stemmons with only his foot showing over the side. An amateur called and said he had been having trouble making a print from his underexposed negative. We got the print for only a credit line." So there it is. It was Dillard who made the print, while under the incorrect assumption the foot in the photo was Kennedy's. It was almost certainly Dillard, then, who was responsible for the "enhancement" of the appearance of the foot...And no, I'm not just clutching at straws. In January 2016, a member of David Miller's family emailed me to tell me he, too, felt the foot in the photo had been altered. Following up on an email exchange from 2012, he said it was okay for me to report that he felt this way, but stressed that he felt 99% sure Miller had had nothing to do with it.)
In any event, when Zapruder-film alteration theorist Jack White entered the online fray and stated that in his opinion the “foot” in the photo was really a hand resting on the top of the back seat, and I said he might be onto something, all hell broke loose. Post after post came in claiming I was intellectually dishonest and Jack White was senile. “How could it be a hand?” “The shadows over the chrome on the side of the car prove it was a foot.” From this, I learned firsthand what it was like to be an alterationist and have the “guardians of the truth” attack your every word. While the defenders of the Clint Hill foot story (aside from Gary Mack) agreed that the “foot” had been altered to look more like a foot, they just couldn’t accept that the original object could be anything but a foot. When I pointed out that the “foot” appeared to have white socks and Clint Hill was wearing black socks, they said that was just the reflection of the sun. When I pointed out that the Miller photo was taken while Clint Hill was still on the Stemmons Freeway and that he’d testified to hooking his foot over the door after they pulled onto the off ramp, it brought nothing but guffaws. When I pointed out that it really didn’t matter whether it was Hill’s foot or not, since the Dallas Morning News initially altered the photo thinking it was Kennedy’s foot, and the Associated Press continued publishing the altered version of the photo, most prominently in their photo book The Torch is Passed, knowing full well the photo failed to match the original photo, it brought nothing but a “so what?” Few seemed to care that the Dallas Morning News and the AP made the shape in the photo look like a foot without ever attempting to find out whose foot it was, or even if it really was a foot. No one seemed disturbed that the AP gave an altered version of the photo, with the incorrect claim the foot was Kennedy's, to the U.S. Secret Service, and that the Secret Service accepted their claim and presented this photo to the Warren Commission with the incorrect caption on January 8, 1964 (CD87, p504). No one even cared that this altered foot photo, with its incorrect caption claiming the foot belonged to Kennedy, made its way into the Doubleday version of the Warren Report, the book supposedly designed to tell the public the ultimate truth on the killing of President Kennedy. The photo of the dead man’s foot sold newspapers, magazines, and books. And evidently that was what mattered to the press in 1963.
Accessories Not After the Facts
And still matters. In 2003, I witnessed the media’s treatment of the 40th anniversary of the assassination. Of the various television specials, the most anticipated and watched was the one on ABC, Beyond Conspiracy, hosted by anchor man Peter Jennings. The show opened on a discouraging note. Jennings boldly stated that he would present new evidence which established beyond a doubt that Oswald was a lone assassin. He then predicted that only those “beyond the pale” would doubt his evidence. Well, his “new” evidence turned out to be the same old half-truths from Gerald Posner and John Lattimer, spiced up by Dale Myers’ blatantly deceptive animation. As bad as this was, however, Jennings saved the most insulting part of his program for the end. In summing up, Jennings quoted William Manchester on the ongoing attraction of conspiracy theories: “.. . if you put the murdered President of the United States on one side of a scale and that wretched waif Oswald on the other side, it doesn't balance. You want to add something weightier to Oswald. It would invest the President's death with meaning, endowing him with martyrdom. He would have died for something. . . . A conspiracy would, of course, do the job nicely.” This statement of course grossly overstates both modern America’s emotional attachment to JFK and the “wretched” status of Oswald, who was in fact quite an interesting young man. (In 1963, after all, how many 24 year-old ex-Marines had lived in Japan and Russia? Had lectured on the differences between the U.S. and Russia? Had discussed American foreign policy on radio and TV?) No, unfortunately for the late Mr. Jennings the reality seems more and more the reverse—that those who’ve continually denied there was a conspiracy are the ones doing the rationalizing and the ones unable to accept an inconvenient truth.
Consider the words of legendary lawyer Louis Nizer, in his introduction to the Warren Report: “No one is as blind as those who will not see, and sight can be blocked by neurotic adherence to a conviction in which one has an investment of pride or a more sordid interest. We may expect therefore, that those who cannot be dented by information will continue to carp and propagandize…In this sense the report will not end all speculation. But in the historic sense, now that all the facts available have been quarried and justly evaluated, the report will dispose convincingly of the major questions. This is the incalculable service rendered by the Commission. This is its achievement in effectuating domestic tranquility and overcoming foreign skepticism. This is its contribution to history.”
Unfortunately for Nizer, the subsequent decay of the Report’s reputation has led some to conclude that one of the closed minds he described in the introduction was his own. Certainly, his assertion that the flawed report had justly evaluated all the available facts, disposed convincingly of the major questions, effectuated domestic tranquility and overcame foreign skepticism reflected his own “investment of pride” in his conviction, and demonstrated his own willingness to “propagandize.”
But why would a man such as Nizer risk his reputation defending such a whitewash?
For that answer, let’s consult with Chief Justice Earl Warren. From his memoirs, written shortly before his death: “Practically all the Cabinet members of the Kennedy Administration, along with Director J. Edgar Hoover of the F.B.I. and Chief James Rowley of the Secret Service, whose duty it was to protect the life of the President, testified that to their knowledge there was no sign of any conspiracy. To say now that these people, as well as the Commission, suppressed, neglected to unearth, or overlooked evidence of a conspiracy would be an indictment of the entire government of the United States. It would mean the whole structure was absolutely corrupt from top to bottom, with not one person of high or low rank willing to come forward to expose the villainy…” That so much depended on the Warren Commission’s being right and on Oswald being the lone assassin might seem inconceivable today, when so many argue the merits of the case against Oswald as a purely intellectual exercise, but to men like Nizer and Warren this was a deeply serious matter. They couldn’t be wrong. They couldn’t even think about it without questioning the basis of their lives.
Well, if life has taught me anything, it’s when you’re desperate for something to be true, it usually means you’re afraid it isn’t, and are too afraid to give it an honest look. And being afraid to look is no way to run an investigation.
As to why the controversy continues, long after men such as Nizer and Warren have passed, let’s consider the words of newsman Jim Lehrer, from his own memoirs. Lehrer’s words articulate the news media’s ongoing resentment towards the “research” community, and reveal a possible motive for the likes of Peter Jennings when they attempt to discredit the believers in a conspiracy, and, in particular, Oliver Stone. Lehrer, who acknowledges a conspiracy is possible, nevertheless says of Stone’s JFK, “The movie, directly or indirectly, alleges that hundreds, thousands, of working CIA, FBI, and other agents; police officers, deputy sheriffs, Warren Commission staffers and congressional investigators; and reporters from news organizations of all sizes, persuasions, and resources were not interested in finding out who killed Kennedy, or worse, were either involved in the assassination, and/or the cover-up or manipulated by evil higher-ups who were. It is an absurdity beyond all honest imagination to claim people of such independent minds and spirits could be so involved or so used in killing a President of the United States…Only in a never-never land of the ignorant and the careless would such an idiotic conspiracy be taken seriously. It is a blood libel to repeat it in public, particularly in a large-screen $40 million movie. And it says more about the people who make, finance, and appear in movies these days than it does about who killed John F. Kennedy.”
What Lehrer leaves unsaid is that researcher Harold Weisberg, working with attorney Jim Lesar, dug up more evidence on the assassination via the Freedom of Information Act than all the newspapers and news agencies in the country combined, and that this says something about the people who run the corporations who make, finance, and distribute newspapers in America these days. Mr. Lehrer also failed to note that, to this day, no network news division has ever done a special on the assassination that remotely details the evidence for the CIA’s involvement in the conspiracy, and that maybe this says something about the people who run the media conglomerates who own the airwaves as well.
But Lehrer was far from alone. Most every icon of the American news industry has marched in lockstep on this point, arguing out one side of their mouths that they did everything they could to uncover the truth, whilst simultaneously spewing nonsense from the other side that indicates they were really too lazy or cowardly to even look for it.
A November 21, 1966 article by Wayne Thomis of the Chicago Tribune Press Service helps demonstrate this point. This article, written as a defense of the Johnson Administration and Warren Commission at a time when the public was just learning about a lot of the problems with the evidence against Oswald, claimed, in part:
"the commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren had at its disposal all the facilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Had there been any basis for finding that a foreign power or agency was involved in the assassination, one or more of these federal investigative groups--all of whom were decidedly on a public hot seat because of the presidential murder—would have said as much." (This, of course, was utter hogwash. It turned out that both the CIA and FBI had knowledge of the CIA's assassination attempts on Castro--and of Oswald's supposed devotion to Castro--and yet neither thought it important to apprise the Commission of this fact.)
"As to the shots, a point always debatable: Dallas police who were beside the presidential car and Secret Service men who were in and around it, have never had any doubts. All are convinced that three shots were fired and that all three were from an upper floor of the Texas School Book Depository building where the death rifle and three spent cartridges were recovered." (This is more hogwash. One of the four Dallas policemen beside the presidential car--Douglas Jackson--had not been interviewed by any official body or newspaper by 1966. A second--Chaney--had talked briefly to a newspaper, but not an official body--and had told them Kennedy was shot in the face. A third--Hargis--only heard two shots, and raced up the grassy knoll afterwards because he thought the shots may have been fired from that location. So only one of the four--Martin--and not "all" of the Dallas police riding beside the limousine, as Thomis claims, heard three shots and thought they all came from behind...and he only said as much after that had become the official story. To make matters worse, a number of the Secret Service agents riding with or behind Kennedy made similar statements in conflict with the supposition all three shots were fired from behind. Two--Hill and Landis--made it clear they only heard two shots. Landis also admitted that his first impression of the last shot was that it came from in front of the limousine. Even more problematic, however, was that all 8 of the agents claiming to have heard three shots said they heard the last two shots come in quick succession--which was inconsistent with Oswald having fired all the shots with his bolt-action rifle.)
"There is a photograph in the Kennedy file taken at the time of the shooting. This shows a rifle muzzle protruding from the sixth floor window of the building." (It appears Thomis just pulled this out of his rump. Perhaps he was thinking of photographer Robert Jackson's testimony that he saw the rifle but was out of film.)
"On that same day (note: he means the day of the shooting) doctors also said that one of the bullets that pierced President Kennedy had continued on to wound Gov. Connolly, and they added that this bullet was found on the car's jump seat where the governor had been riding." (This is another fabrication. The doctors speaking in Dallas on the day of the shooting not only never mentioned the possibility that the bullet piercing Kennedy went on to hit Connally, they discounted the possibility in their testimony before the Warren Commission. Their resistance to this theory was so great, in fact, that Connally's doctor Robert Shaw never came to accept it. Even worse for Thomis, NO ONE, on the day of the shooting or even in the years immediately afterwards, had suggested that the magic bullet was found on the jump seat of the limousine. This then would appear to be a half-assed recollection conjured up for a half-assed article by what was apparently a half-assed journalist.)
"Many desk and typewriter types doubt that a bolt-arm could be sighted and fired three times in five to six seconds. Rifle experts around the world know that this is easily possible. Also they recognize that the President's attacker fired from point blank range (as far as the high-velocity military rifle was concerned) at a no-deflection target, so the shooting was good but not sensational." (This is a gross exaggeration. Shooting at a moving target from 88 yards away can never be considered shooting at "point blank range.")
"Oswald walked down the street and boarded a bus that took him, with many leisurely stops, out to Oak Cliff, a Dallas suburb. Then he dropped off and took a taxi (The reaction was beginning to set in) to his solitary in-town room in that area. Once there he hastily changed his shirt and jacket and stuffed a revolver and handful of cartridges into his pocket." (This would be funny if it weren't so annoying. The Warren Commission determined that Oswald got off the bus long before it reached Oak Cliff. It determined, furthermore, that Oswald DID NOT change his shirt at his "in-town room." This was important because they used the fibers from the shirt Thomis claims Oswald changed into only after the shooting to link Oswald to the gun found on the sixth floor. By accidentally suggesting that these fibers were planted after the fact, Thomis indirectly fuels the conspiracy theories he is attempting to refute. OOPS.)
An August 25, 1993 article by columnist Jimmy Breslin suggests that Thomis was far from alone in his desire to report the story as he wanted it to be, rather than as it was.
AT LAST TRUTH ABOUT THE SHOTS
"Case Closed" is a book that tells the truth. It was written by Gerald Posner and published by Random House. Posner shows that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy by himself. Case closed.
Then there is Oliver Stone, whose movie "JFK" was what my friend Fred Dannen of the New Yorker magazine calls, "An intellectual snuff film. Literal truth is murdered on screen."
I was in Dallas on the day Kennedy was shot and spoke to the doctor who was doing the chest-thumping at the end. He knew two bullets had hit Kennedy in the back. Which meant Oswald. And I had been with the Dallas police, who had just lost officer J.D. Tippit. He had been killed by Oswald, who, completely alone, was trying to get away and had no idea where to go.
Now Oliver Stone sends the video of his movie to schools around the country so they can show it in years to come. But finally, here is Gerald Posner, who worked like a ditchdigger and documented every paragraph of "Case Closed" and can tell us: "But for those seeking the truth, the facts are incontrovertible. They can be tested against credible testimony, documents and the latest scientific advances. Chasing shadows across the grassy knoll will never be the substitute for real history. Lee Harvey Oswald, driven by his own twisted and impenetrable furies, was the only assassin at Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22,1963. To say otherwise, in the light of the overwhelming evidence, is to absolve a man with blood on his hands and to mock the president he killed."
"Case Closed" shows that Lee Harvey Oswald's palm prints were all over boxes he used to put up a sniper's nest, and all over the gun and the paper it was wrapped in when he brought it to work.
In the movie, they had the FBI taking Oswald's hand, after he was shot, and slapping it on the gun to provide a handprint. And in the movie, Stone never had Oswald firing a shot.
After the shooting, Oswald ran out of the Texas School Book Depository building and had to get on a bus, get off the bus, then murder Tippit in broad daylight in the street and run into a movie without paying and try to hide.
In the movie, the shooting of the officer, Tippit, simply did not happen. Posner shows that what this Stone did was to take two big best-selling conspiracy books, one by Jim Garrison, the New Orleans district attorney who was crazed, and the other by Jim Marrs, who wrote that Kennedy was shot by a world-class assassin who was hired by the world crime syndicate, the CIA, the anti-Castro people and the right wing and the U.S. military. Both of these books made a lot of money and covered the shelves with slime.
I sat in an office at Parkland Hospital with Dr. Malcolm Perry a few hours after President Kennedy was killed. Perry had been one of the first two medical people in the trauma room when Kennedy was brought in. Perry was elated when Posner came around and asked for the truth.
That day in 1963, Perry had been eating salmon croquettes in the cafeteria when the call came that they were bringing the president in. He cut Kennedy's throat to insert a tube for breathing. The cut was directly over an exit wound from a shot that had hit Kennedy in the back of the neck. Dr. Pepper Jenkins, who had done the most gunshot wounds, felt the entrance wound in the back of the neck. Perry began massaging Kennedy's chest, and the guy working with him, Kemp Clark, said, "It's too late, Mac."
In all conspiracy theories, they demand to know why Kennedy's body hadn't been turned over so they could look for a wound in the back.
Kennedy was dead and his wife was standing over him. And the doctors said they didn't turn him over because they "didn't have the heart."
There was a morning in my memory when the late John Connally, who had been in front of Kennedy in the car in Dallas, walked into the unopened bar of the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue and with busboys and cleaning men looking at him, he pulled off his jacket and shirt and showed a long wound behind his right shoulder. Connally said it showed that the bullet had been tumbling over as it hit him because it already had gone through Kennedy's shoulder and neck.
Connally then showed the big exit wound in his chest, then held up his right wrist. There was another dark brown bullet hole. The bullet, tumbling out of his chest, had taken clothing with it into the wrist wound.
He tapped his left thigh. "It wound up here," he told the busboys, "One bullet did that. Through the president first and then right through me."
Now we have Gerald Posner, who cares about telling the truth, which is the job of a true writer.
Breslin is a syndicated columnist based in New York City.
Breslin's article is wrong on almost every key point, beginning with its over-all thesis--that Posner was a reliable truth-teller, and a "true writer." Posner's research was, in fact, so shaky that his fellow single-assassin theorist Vincent Bugliosi felt it necessary to dis-own much of his book. Breslin's attacks on Garrison are equally biased and over-stated.
Where Breslin really falters, no, scratch that, falls, however, is when he injects his personal experiences to support his position. Breslin at first claims that Dr. Perry "knew two bullets had hit Kennedy in the back" but then later acknowledges that Kennedy's body wasn't even turned over in Perry's presence. He thereby contradicts himself, and reveals himself to be far less than a "truth-teller." (Was Breslin thus, not a "true writer"?). Even worse, Breslin fails to tell his readers that when he interviewed Dr. Perry in 1963 Dr. Perry was unaware of any wound on Kennedy's back, and believed Kennedy had been shot from the front. Breslin also fails to tell his readers that his article on Perry, which was widely circulated in the Saturday Evening Post, convinced many that the Government was lying when it later told them that the shots came from behind, and that his own reporting had thereby fed the earliest conspiracy theories, and the subsequent theories of Garrison, Marrs, and Stone.
But Breslin's presentation of Connally as a supporter of the official story is even more egregious. Here, Breslin insists he saw Connally bragging about his scars, and claiming that the bullet striking him had come through the President. Well, if Breslin had actually seen this, he should have reported it, because it would have made HEADLINES AROUND THE WORLD. Connally insisted until his dying breath that he was not struck by a bullet that struck Kennedy. He NEVER subscribed to the single-bullet theory, no, not even for a second.
Now, do I believe Breslin deliberately lied about Perry and Connally? While it seems an incredible coincidence that Breslin presented two public figures to support his position conspiracy theories are hogwash, and chose two public figures whose statements have long fed conspiracy theories, and then LIED about both of them, I actually doubt his lies were deliberate. Instead, I suspect he just remembered things in a manner convenient to his pre-dispositions. He'd just read Posner's book and was anxious to pile on Stone.
But whether or not Breslin lied by design is not the point. The point is that a newsman remotely concerned about the truth, and who'd done one lick of homework, would have known that Perry initially believed the shots had come from the front, and would have known that Connally never stopped disputing the single-bullet theory. Years later, in the November 16 2003 Newsday, in fact, Breslin presented another article on Perry. This time he noted that Perry had originally described the throat wound as an entrance wound, and that this had fed conspiracy theories. Perhaps, for this article, Breslin had done his homework.
Breslin's lies at worst, or sloppy misrepresentations at best, are nevertheless informative. It's undoubtedly significant that none of the writers upset over the deceptions in Oliver Stone's admittedly fictional film on JFK expressed any concern over Breslin's deceptions about Connally in a supposedly non-fiction article, or similar deceptions in similar articles attacking Stone's film. Evidently, they saw lying as something that "conspiracy theorists" did to stir up controversy, and failed to take note of the lies designed to shut down controversy... Or maybe they took note of these lies, but decided to overlook them due to "professional courtesy."
This latter possibility is undermined by the sad fact that this "professional courtesy" is extended way beyond the realm of their fellow scribes, and is extended to most anyone choosing to say Oswald did it, even those who should be held to a higher standard. When, in 2007, former LBJ aide and MPAA chief Jack Valenti published his memoir This Time, This Place, not one reviewer of whom I am aware commented on the audacious lies Valenti chose to present as his final words on the assassination. After denouncing Oliver Stone's movie JFK as "a piece of beguiling crap, replacing reason with noisy lie from first scene to last," Valenti closed his book with the suggestion he was still haunted by the events of November 22, 1963. He then described a visit to the sixth floor sniper's nest, which he claimed helped put things in perspective.
He wrote: "Then I moved toward the sixth-floor window through which four decades ago Lee Harvey Oswald peered, aiming his bolt-action Mannlicher rifle. When I gazed out the window, I saw for the first time how terribly close the depository was to the traffic that swung around the bend onto Dealey Plaza. I could have thrown a baseball and hit a car moving below. I imagined a motorcade, cars moving slowly at 8 miles an hour, and Oswald, a marine skilled with a Mannlicher rifle, at the ready on the windowsill. I thrust my hands together as if I were holding a rifle, aiming at the cars below. Then my hands began to tremble. Angry lizards started crawling over my flesh. A marksman would have no trouble in sighting and shooting, the target was so close."
This dramatic passage, of course, conceals that 1) the first shot wasn't fired when Kennedy was beneath the sixth-floor window, but when he was more than 50 yards past the window; 2) the motorcade wasn't traveling 8 miles an hour during the shooting sequence, but over 11 miles an hour; 3) Oswald was not a marine at the time of the shooting, but a former marine, 4 years removed from service; 4) Oswald was not only not skilled on the Mannlicher rifle, as far as is known, but there is no record of him ever having fired one; and 5) Oswald was not a Marine Corps marksman at the time of the shooting, as he'd barely qualified as a marksman in 1959, and had not kept in practice.
But did anyone in the press call Valenti to task for such nonsense? Of course not.
And this wasn't just a courtesy paid an established media icon near the end of his life. In 2010, the History Channel helped create a mini-series on the Kennedy family entitled The Kennedys. Word got out that this series was gonna focus on JFK's womanizing and drug use. As a result there was a backlash against it even before there was a forward lash for it, and the History Channel chose to drop the series. It was finally broadcast on the Reelz Channel, to mostly negative reviews, in 2011. While these negative reviews questioned the over-all historical accuracy of the program, moreover, few if any noted that the series' depiction of Kennedy's assassination was misleading nonsense seemingly designed to sell Lee Harvey Oswald as Kennedy's assassin. Consider:
1) When first shown, Lee Harvey Oswald is sitting in a house cleaning his rifle, presumably preparing for his attempt on Kennedy. In reality, there was no credible evidence Oswald had handled his rifle for months before the shooting, and the rifle found in the school book depository had not recently been cleaned.
2) When next shown, Oswald is getting into a car driven by his co-worker, Buell Wesley Frazier. Frazier asks him about the long paper package holding Oswald's rifle, and Oswald tells him it's curtain rods. In reality, or at least the Warren Commission's reality, Frazier did not pick up Oswald, as shown in the series, but met Oswald outside his own house after Oswald had thrown his package into the back of Frazier's car. The significance of this change is that it removes a second witness to Oswald's package--Frazier's sister, who saw Oswald walk across the street and put the package in her brother's car--from the story. Not surprisingly, Frazier's sister, Linnie Mae Randle, agreed with her brother that the package she saw in Oswald's possession was far smaller than the large bag necessary to hold Oswald's rifle, even when the rifle was dismantled.
3) It next shows Oswald take his package up to the sixth floor sniper's nest and put it on a box by the window. No one saw him with the package in the building. There is no evidence this happened.
4) Soon after, it shows Oswald's co-workers tell him they're heading out to lunch, and that he should meet them down on the grassy knoll. He says he'll be down in a minute. This is totally inaccurate in that none of Oswald's co-workers had their lunch on the knoll. It clearly replaces a real incident, moreover, where a number of Oswald's co-workers heading down from the sixth floor in an elevator heard him yell out from the fifth floor and ask if they could shut the gate on the elevator (and thereby make it accessible to him) when they reached the bottom. Why was this changed?
5) The next scene featuring Oswald gives us a clue. It shows Oswald eating fried chicken and sipping a Coke on the sixth floor while waiting for the motorcade to arrive. This is repulsive. While fried chicken and a Dr. Pepper bottle were found near the sniper's nest, and initially attributed to the shooter, it was soon discovered that these belonged to Bonnie Ray Williams, and that Bonnie Ray Williams had eaten his lunch just yards from the sniper's nest at the very time the Warren Commission assumed Oswald was putting his rifle together in the sniper's nest. By having Oswald eat the chicken, of course, Williams' problematic presence could be avoided...as could the almost certain fact that Oswald ate his lunch downstairs. (Four of his coworkers--James Jarman, William Shelley, Eddie Piper, and Carolyn Arnold--made statements indicating that they'd seen him downstairs after the elevator incident in which he'd been heard on the fifth floor.)
6) But if there was any doubt the creators of the series were out to deceive, the next scene pretty much kills it. They show Oswald pull his rifle--intact--from the paper package he'd brought into the depository. This conceals that the paper package purportedly found in the building--which was already far too large to be the bag described by Frazier and Randle--was still too small to contain the intact rifle, and that the rifle would have to have been dismantled to have been carried in the bag. Perhaps the creators of the show thought a shot of Oswald putting his rifle together with a dime, as proposed by the Warren Commission, would be too confusing to its viewers.
7) Oswald then puts a full ammunition clip in his rifle. Three shells were purportedly found in the sniper's nest, and one bullet in the chamber. That's four. A clip holds six. This was probably just lazy film-making, but perhaps the creators of the series were trying to hide that Oswald supposedly set out to kill Kennedy with the last four bullets in his possession, and that the Warren Commission could never even figure out where these bullets came from.
8) Alas, the assassination scene finally arrives, and doesn't disappoint, in its inaccuracy... Three shots are fired in about three seconds. It seems more than a coincidence that this makes the shooting look relatively easy, when the experts to test Oswald's rifle claimed the bolt was fairly stiff and that as a result it was difficult to fire more than once every two seconds.
In short the series depicted a straightforward shooting--a man in a building killed a man in a car--and hid from its audience that many questions remain about the man supposedly performing the shooting and how the shooting was performed. But this was nothing new.
In the 2003 book Four Days in November, Tom Wicker, the long-time White House correspondent for the New York Times and a witness to the chaos of Dealey Plaza from behind the windows of a press bus, offered a mea culpa of sorts, explaining how those so close to a big story like the assassination might miss it. He wrote: “After long and unhappy consideration of my own and others’ failure, I believe we didn’t work hard enough to get behind the surface to reality. In the early 1960’s, in what still was basically the Washington of the 1950’s, still under the spell of Eisenhower the father figure, White House reporters, including me—were not skeptical enough, challenging enough, diligent enough, dedicated enough to the watchdog function of the press, its best reason for First Amendment protection. We didn’t work hard enough to find out the facts, and that meant we didn’t do our duty as reporters. Many critics—of the press…believe that reporters… “covered up”…I believe the greater fault was a complacent belief among reporters like me that we were being told what we needed to know and that what we were being told was the truth. “Handout journalism” still was the custom of the day, until dislodged by the lies of Vietnam and Watergate—dislodged, at that, only among those willing to learn the lesson.”
Pretty powerful words…about as scathing an attack on the complacency of the White House press as one will find from a long-time journalist. Sadly, however, Wicker was not talking about the failure of the Washington press to accurately report the assassination and its subsequent investigation, but its failure to tell the world the sordid details about President Kennedy’s sex life. Feel free to scream.
The mainstream media's refusal to take a serious interest in the assassination, and Academia's failure to correct the false history created by the Warren Commission, has helped spark a new battleground for those wishing to expose young minds to alternative perspectives on history: the internet.
Wrestling Over History
One of the saddest conclusions I’ve come to as a result of my journey through JFK-land is that the search for truth is really more like a wrestling match. Few of those considered “experts” by the media are open to new ideas. Many would rather rattle off a ten-page article repeating what they think they know than read a five page article expressing a new perspective. I suppose this is only natural. Not knowing what happened in 1963 means one can not be entirely sure what happened afterward. Once one takes their stand, whether it’s “the entire government teamed up to kill Kennedy” or “Oswald killed Kennedy and a bunch of America-hating wackos are trying to make us think he didn’t," one has ground to protect. In order to protect that ground, many short-cuts are taken.
One of the biggest surprises for me was that there are virtually NO government defenders active in the assassination research community. I didn’t come across one person who would say without hesitation that the HSCA got it right. Not one. There were some who claimed to defend the Warren Commission, but even these defenders contend the first shot missed or that Kennedy was first struck at frame 224, conclusions the Warren Commission correctly refused to reach. They would also say they stood by the original interpretations of the autopsy doctors, but then ignore that the doctors initially decided the bullet creating the back wound had fallen out, or that the doctors initially interpreted the “mystery” photo as a depiction of an entrance wound in the posterior scalp. In sum, I found that the supposed defenders of the status quo are really Lone-Nut Theorists--LNTs. They have their own theories on what happened and why. Some of them even acknowledge there was a cover-up. These men hold that Oswald killed Kennedy, but that LBJ thought it was Castro, so LBJ covered it up even though he didn’t need to. Anything but admit the possibility there was a second shooter… that’s crossing the line.
Another important point about LNT's... They are not in the habit of correcting one another. As demonstrated on the slide above, they will create contradictory exhibits and offer contradictory opinions on certain subjects. But they rarely publicly disagree, even when one of them knows that what the other one is pushing is terribly deceptive or misleading.
They are also very human, and thus not in the habit of admitting they themselves are wrong... about anything. On January 26, 2010, LNT Paul Seaton finally got wind that I was using one of his images on the slide above to demonstrate the inconsistency of he and his brethren, and had a fit. On the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, he wrote:
"I also found on Pat Speare's website, much to my surprise, a jpg which I myself created , about 10 years ago - involving some vertebrae, - that Mr Speare seems to have lifted wholesale from my website. ( Can't say I recall him ever stooping to TELL ME he had done so. )
Here's the image :
Here's the page it's on :
Spear pontificates :
"By lifting T1 to C7 & C7 to C6 Seaton has misrepresented the level of the back wound in comparison to the throat wound" ...making me sound for all the world as if I were part of some global back
wound misplacement conspiracy.
Spear conveniently leaves out the annotation I put next to the damn picture where it appears on my website that: "This diagram - at right - does not use JFK's own xray. I don't know of one that shows the vertebrae. So this is a guide merely to where one might expect to find T1 'on average'.)" Here's the page :
I really can't say I have any respect for any individual who uses a graphic of mine *without informing me or asking permission* , leaves off the annotation which explains quite clearly it's just a ball park estimate , & proceeds to spin me as 'misrepresenting' evidence.
Consequently Mr Spear, I would ask you EITHER to insert the annotation above, ie that " Paul Seaton has clearly stated, on his website, for about the last ten years, in plain English, that this diagram that I, Pat Spear , have so egregiously stolen & misrepresented without so much as bothering to inform him, does not use JFK's own xray. It is, was & always will be merely a guide merely to where one might expect to find T1 'on average'.)" AND ALSO to include a statement to the effect that you apologise for accusing ME of 'misrepresenting' evidence ( when in fact it was YOU who was misrepresenting what was clearly stated on my website) OR REMOVE THAT IMAGE FROM YOUR WEBSITE PRONTO.
I have spent many a happy hour here arguing with people of all shades of opinion. I may disagree with their views but in just about all cases come away not doubting their sincerity or good faith.
Just about all cases, Mr Spear."
I present Seaton's reprimand in total, so the reader can see what we're dealing with. Here, he admits that an image posted on his website for 10 years is just a ball park estimate, but wants me to feel bad for demonstrating its inconsistency with other more accurate images. He wants us to believe, furthermore, that the inaccuracy of this image, which he asserts shows the location of the vertebrae "on average", and his apparent reluctance to establish a more accurate depiction of the vertebrae, has nothing to do with his fervent belief a bullet striking Kennedy in the back from above descended in Kennedy's neck, and is all just a big coincidence. Apparently he, like all too many LNTs, believes he deserves the benefit of the doubt on these issues.
But, after years online arguing with LNTs like Seaton, I feel quite certain no such benefit is deserved.
I reprint below the actual caption to the image on Seaton's website:
Where is T1?
Clearly, above the throat wound.
(This diagram - at right - does not use JFK's own xray. I don't know of one that shows the vertebrae. So this is a guide merely to where one might expect to find T1 'on average'.)
...where it can be seen how well this lines up with the back wound location.
Hmm... The caption demonstrates that Seaton was most definitely not just using his image to show those reading his website where T1 was on average, as claimed, but was using it to try and convince his readers that the throat wound was "clearly, above the throat wound." By showing his readers it was "clearly, above the throat wound", moreover, he was using it to convince his readers that the HSCA pathology panel, which claimed the throat wound was higher on the body than Kennedy's back wound, was incorrect, and that those "correcting" the pathology panel's trajectory and placing the throat wound far below the back wound, such as Robert Artwohl, are in fact correct. That Seaton actually LINKS to the thoroughly debunked Artwohl exhibit on the website of John McAdams (see chapter 12) only confirms this analysis.
So, while in the newsgroup post cited above Seaton mocked the notion he is part of a "global back wound misplacement conspiracy" the actual caption to the image he was so upset I didn't quote demonstrates that his admittedly "ballpark estimate" was in fact designed to support an easily debunked exhibit on a website designed to convince people Oswald acted alone. There is an expression for this: disinformation. Now, whether Seaton is a knowing agent in this disinformation and whether the small clique of LNTs actively and collectively pushing this disinformation is of a global nature or not, I don't know.
Still, even if he wasn't linking his image to McAdams' website, there'd be reason to doubt Seaton's objectivity. I have yet to come across one LNT whose "ballpark estimates" erred in favor of an argument suggesting a conspiracy. I have yet to come across one LNT who believes the back wound was at the level of Kennedy's spine determined by the HSCA Pathology Panel, let alone determined it to be lower than they asserted based upon a "ballpark estimate." LNTs, in fact, routinely misrepresent the back wound location, and routinely lie about it afterward. As a result, I strongly suspect Seaton's claim his image was just a "ballpark estimate" represents a cowardly attempt to evade responsibility for his ongoing deception re the back wound location.
Pretty harsh words, I know. But take a look at this: Typical Neck X-Ray
I found the x-ray at the link above in five minutes. It shows that the Adam's Apple is typically found at C5, and not C6, as in Seaton's image. It also shows the base of the throat, Kennedy's entrance wound location, to be adjacent to C7/T1, and not T2/T3, as in Seaton's image.
But perhaps this needs a closer examination...
Where was the Throat Wound?
The closer examination depicted on the slide above took about two hours to create. The basic "research" used to create it took about half that time. The ease with which I found this information, and the obvious conclusion drawn from it that Seaton's "ballpark estimate" was wrong and that Kennedy's throat wound was not at T2, suggests, then, that Seaton actually made no real effort to establish where T1 was "on average", but was just blowing smoke to hide his deception.
Still, even so, Seaton was correct about one thing... As I had no real evidence he'd ever actually studied anatomy long enough to establish the actual "average" location for T1 in a man's neck, my original caption claiming he "lifted T1 to C7" did overstate the case. And so on 1-31-2010 I changed the caption in order to smooth his ruffled feathers... Now, did I smooth them? Only time will tell. But last I read he was claiming copyright law protects his right to litter the internet with obviously inaccurate "ballpark estimates", and that no one has the right use his "estimates" to prove them inaccurate, or inconsistent with the work of others, without his permission.
Apparently, he was unable to recognize the irony of his making these claims on a newsgroup moderated by John McAdams, whose own webpage is littered with dozens of images stolen from conspiracy books and programs, in order to demonstrate their deception. Apparently, he'd forgotten completely that the photos of the "back of the head" witnesses featured on his website were, by his own admission, "stolen" from Robert Groden's book, The Killing of a President.
In short, he seemed unaware of the legal concept of Fair Use, which, according to Wikipedia, a monument to Fair Use, holds:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work;
the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Note further the irony that Seaton is claiming copyright to an image he almost certainly stole from someone else, the x-ray, superimposed atop an image he undoubtedly stole from someone else, the Kennedy autopsy photo.
Unfortunately, Seaton's disingenuity on this issue is pretty much par for the course in LNT-land.
While my examination of Dale Myers' animation in chapter 12c makes it more than clear to most that his work can not be trusted, not one LNT has acknowledged that my work has proven anything. They recite like a mantra that Dale Myers' animation is the most accurate simulation ever done, blah blah blah. One prominent LNT, David Von Pein, after realizing that Dale Myers' response to my criticisms included his admission that the animation presented in Beyond the Magic Bullet was distorted, announced that he thought Myers--the creator of the original animation distorted by the program--was probably wrong about this.
Furthermore, while conspiracy theorists fight all day long over shadows on Polaroid photographs, LNTs usually present a united front to the public. From watching TV and frequenting single-assassin theorist websites, one might never know that Gerald Posner and Larry Sturdivan completely disagree on the head wounds, or that Dr. John Lattimer and Dale Myers disagreed on the entry wound on the neck/back. The media, in their well-intentioned attempts to present both sides of every story, have inadvertently propped up the LNTs as defenders of the status quo, a status quo they truly don’t believe or represent. Accordingly, I’ve come to think of the LNTs as really a construct of the media, the anti-conspiracy theorist theorists. The tag-team in white.
Some believe the hype. On August 26, 2006, lone-nut theorist Tom Lowry boasted on alt.assassination.JFK that “I just love being part of gangbuster - team America.” In May 2007, on alt.conspiracy.JFK he started a thread on my research which began with "Pat Speer=dufus" and ended up with him swearing "MAY YOU AND YOURS BURN IN HELL FOREVER."
And some just love to hate. One anonymous character on the IMDB forum for the film JFK responded to a 2008 post in which I mentioned the inability of most single-assassin theorists to make sense of the medical evidence with "Sorry. pal. You don't possess the intellect to warrant such pomposity...You are a classic doryphore, calling out petty complaints from the peanut gallery when your own "research" is far more pathetic and delusional than any of the errors made by the WC or the HSCA or even Lattimer. You also engage in uninvited attacks on researchers yourself, so you are no passive "above-it-all" observer of the foibles of others. You also lie about other researchers' work. You don't get off your ass to do a single bit of your own research; you plant yourself at your TV and your computer, getting hard ons from minor errors and disagreements among real researchers and run to your silly website to lie about what you've observed. Of all the conspiracy clowns around here, you are the most pathetic."
It seems I have a fan.
Q and A with the LNTs
When I first put my work online, in November 2005, I was prepared for the worst. I came to so many unique conclusions, I felt that a few of them must be nonsense. I fully anticipated that within days of my going public, I would find a thread on one of the JFK forums about what an absolute fool I was. Instead, I received a number of compliments on my work. Some conspiracy theorists disagreed with my basic approach, because I relied upon the Zapruder film and the autopsy photos, or trusted ___’s word over ____’s, but few disputed my ability to understand information and come to valid conclusions.
Emboldened, I decided to risk the Lion’s Den known as alt.assassination.JFK, a newsgroup dominated by single-assassin theorists and aggressive conspiracy theorists, each with his own take on the assassination and more than willing to argue about it. Here, I had numerous exchanges with long-time researcher John Canal, author of Silencing the Lone Assassin. Canal believes that Oswald acted alone, but that Lyndon Johnson, the Warren Commission, the Clark Panel and even the HSCA misrepresented the medical evidence to try and hide the possibility of conspiracy. Eventually, I sought common ground with Canal, and found it. While he adamantly believes that the “mystery photo” is of Kennedy’s forehead, and has even persuaded autopsy photographer John Stringer and forensic pathologist Henry Lee of this, he agrees that the photo needs to be studied in more detail by a panel of experts, so that the matter finally be put to rest.
Of course, like all true believers, Canal spent much of his energy trying to convert me to his cause. To that end he sent me his take on the mystery photo, which is depicted on the slide above. This, of course, led me to take an even closer look at the photo, and find more reasons to doubt its current official interpretation. You see, in Canal’s analysis the bone to the right of the ruler is the left back section of the skull. Well... where is the scalp that covered this skull? Since the right back part of the skull has scalp apparent, why not the left? Did the doctors reflect the scalp down on just one side? The side of the skull said to be undamaged? My, that would be odd.
Anyhow, here are some typical encounters with Canal…
To dispute my contention that a full-metal jacket bullet shattering upon impact would create a larger entrance than one that did not, and that therefore the 6 mm entrance on the back of Kennedy’s skull was too small for an entrance of a 6.5 mm bullet that shattered, Canal responded: “the major pieces couldn’t have INSTANTANEOUSLY distanced themselves from the rest of the missile…even by half an inch or so…right? So if those major pieces took, let’s say 100 microseconds to separate, the bullet would have been intact for that long…and, as I recall the bullet would probably have traveled about two inches in that time… Moreover, while the nose of the bullet was undoubtedly “deformed” by the time it cleared the INNER table of the skull, an “undeformed” bullet pierced the OUTER table of the skull…and the skull’s elasticity, as little as there was, kept the hole in the outer table at the size noted in the report.” (I believe he’s wrong. The fracturing of a bullet, or a skull, occurs faster than the speed of the bullet. A fracture is not caused by an impact, but by the deformity resulting from an impact. It’s hard to see how this deformity would develop subsequent to the initial impact. When a baseball player hits a ball so hard it tears the cover off, does the cover tear when the ball is on the bat, or 100 microseconds later? Finally, wouldn’t skull elastic enough to make bullet holes shrink be too elastic to shatter a bullet?) At another point, when I mentioned that few forensic pathologists were willing to agree with Larry Sturdivan that the low entrance described at the autopsy is consistent with the brain injuries, Canal said “That’s because no one considered a deflection of the bullet as it pierced the rear skull near the EOP…and dry human test skulls didn’t reveal any deflecting bullets. The bottom line is that the bullet deflected just above the tentorium, and only bruised the cerebellum. Moreover, the longitudinal laceration is perfectly consistent with an EOP entry and coronal suture exit”. (I believe he’s wrong again. In Larry Sturdivan’s The JFK Myths he describes how all the bullets fired into the dry test skulls deflected, but only to the left. Canal’s also wrong about the trajectory. A bullet entering one inch to the right of the EOP and traveling left to right within the skull is not consistent with a “longitudinal laceration” along the midline. ) But Canal, in his defense, makes no claims of being an expert. When pressed, he will frequently write something like “IMO, the results of the autopsy should be consulted if one needs to know how many rounds hit JFK in the head and the direction of fire…anything else is speculation, most likely based on examination of x-generation copies of autopsy photos and x-rays and/or statements from witnesses who were at best only indirectly involved in the autopsy.” At other times, when a conspiracy theorist keeps bringing up facts he can’t counter, he calls for help.
Back then, the man who answered Canal’s calls for help was Dr. Chad Zimmerman. Dr. Zimmerman, whose flawed and misleading writings have been discussed in both the "Single-Bullet “Fact” and "Demystifying the Mystery Photo" sections of this work, presents himself as an expert on the medical aspects of the assassination, despite the fact he is not a doctor of medicine, but a chiropractor. (Of course, I’m no expert either.) I approached him seeking common ground. I asked him to take a look at the Believing is Seeing slide of my presentation, in hopes he would agree that the bullet fragment on the x-rays is the one seen at the autopsy. As this conclusion was in keeping with his stated beliefs that the autopsy doctors got most things right and that there was no alteration of the evidence, I felt sure he would agree. Instead, he looked at the Solving the Great Head Wound Mystery sections, took great offense that I dared to disagree with his interpretation of the mystery photo (often called F8), and refused to agree with any of my theories. Here are some excerpts from our exchanges…
On 1-29-2006, Zimmerman defended his and Sturdivan’s interpretation of the “mystery” photo: “We could undeniably see the right cheek, right upper trapezius, and the yellow adipose tissue. This was undeniable. Period. The scalp is being reflected down over the forehead, covering the eyes. Again, this was undeniable…The yellow adipose was not seen in all the pictures. If my memory serves correct, it was only seen in one. I’m not quite sure at this time which one showed it. However, make no mistake about it, it was definitely there. It was definitely the front of his face covered by the anterior scalp. The area that CT’s think the neck is located is where I could see the unmistakeable blue and white cloth that was on the autopsy table beneath his head. We could see blood on it. It was not his neck, which it would have to be if it were to show the back of his head in the foreground…You think you’ve identified the neck line in the F8 photograph, but you are way off. In the actual photographs, that is the left parietal area. There is a fracture there and congealed blood. Just past that margin is the blue and white striped drop cloth beneath his head with blood smears on it…If you could actually see the photographs, you would need a large eraser and an apology.”
When I mentioned that I wanted to seek common ground and would like his confirmation that the bullet slice was really behind Kennedy’s eye, he said “however Pat, you assailed my representation of F8, which is based upon sound viewing of ALL the autopsy head photographs at the archives. You blatantly disregard what can only be one interpretation of those photographs and recycle the same old CT orientation of the photograph…Common ground might only be attainable if you’d actually be able to explain to me why what I call adipose is not, why what is facial skin and cheek contour is not, why smooth upper back skin overlying the trapezius is not. Please do explain to me why Larry and I both agreed on those features without argument?”
On 1-30-2006, he continued his defense of his interpretation of the mystery photo: “Now, I’ve not come across any mention of adipose tissue anywhere. However, it was only seen in one photograph. My memory suggests it was 45. Our feeling at the time was that it was from reflected tissue after the Y-incision. However, it may be from reflected lower neck tissue following the examination of the right lung apex and neck structures. Either way, it is rather immaterial. The adipose tissue was certainly present and could not be anything else…What is important to consider is that the view with the adipose provided additional features not seen in the F8 photograph, particularly to the right side of the President’s head. In addition, we could see the blue and white drop cloth lying on the autopsy table, complete with smears of blood. This is where your neck is supposed to be, but isn’t. Therefore, your orientation can’t physically be. The adipose tissue, which was plainly evident, was not noted during other evaluations of the photographs in the record. I do not know why, but it would be rather immaterial, imo… Why is there such difficulty orienting the photograph? To this day, I do not know...However, during the HSCA interview, they had it oriented properly. I have often wondered if (HSCA photo-analyst Robert) Groden ever looked at the color photographs (Groden has; of course, not only seen the color photographs, but copied them; his color copy is the only one available to the public. Perhaps Zimmerman means specifically the color originals.)… I can only adequately address the issue of that photograph as such; it is truly something you need to see for yourself. Otherwise, you cannot appreciate through printed words how easily identifiable structures such as the right cheek are. The adipose is not mentioned in the record, that I am aware of, but it exists quite clearly in the bottom left hand side of the photograph. My sketch of that photograph reflects that position.”
Since Zimmerman’s discovery of adipose tissue in the photo appears to have had an inordinate influence on his interpretation of the photo, I decided to do a little reading on adipose tissue. According to Gray’s Anatomy “Adipose tissue is the name given to tissue in which there is an accumulation of connective tissue cells, each containing a large vesicle of fat. In an obese individual these accumulations may occur wherever there is loose fibrous connective tissue. In all but emaciated individuals, however, they are found in certain areas where they act as packing or padding tissue. Examples of the latter are the orbit (the eye socket), perirenal fat pad, and various areas of the subcutaneous tissue.” The Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine states further that “White adipose tissue serves three functions: heat insulation, mechanical cushion, and most importantly a source of energy. Subcutaneous adipose tissue, found directly beneath the skin, is an especially important heat insulator in the body.” When one digs even further and actually looks through anatomy books one finds that one of the most prominent locations in which adipose tissue is stored is the Buccal fat pad, which Mosby’s Medical Encyclopedia describes as “a fat pad in the cheek over the main muscle of the cheek.” So, in opposition to Dr. Zimmerman’s contention the adipose tissue in the photograph is conclusive evidence for his interpretation of the photo, the truth is that fat is stored behind a man’s eyes (which is why starving people have sunken eyes) and in his cheeks (which is why fat people have fat cheeks). In Oncolog, an online publication about cancer research, I found an article about the attempts to harvest the adipose tissue of one part of the body and re-use it in other parts. In the article Filling the Void, by Dawn Chalaire, there was one passage that was particularly noteworthy: “Researchers have been trying for years to develop a good method of repairing the soft tissue deficits that result from oncologic surgery, particularly in the head, neck, and breast. These contour deformities, as they are sometimes called, are typically caused by the removal or scarring of the dermis and adipose tissue.” Well, this confirmed for me that not only is there adipose tissue on people’s faces, but that the loss of this tissue can make one appear deformed. The appearance of adipose tissue in the photo, therefore, is not as significant as Zimmerman contends.
At another point in our exchanges, Dr. Zimmerman reviewed the evidence that led me to conclude the impact at 313 was on the top of Kennedy’s head. Not surprisingly, he dismissed all my evidence. He claimed that Spitz and Fisher’s assertion that missing scalp is indicative of a bullet’s entrance did not apply in this instance. He wrote: “The last paragraph about the missing scalp is not representative of the head injury.They’re referencing a normal entry hole and a normal exit hole, not a giant gaping wound from the explosion of tissue through the fractured skull. This was not a neat wound. It was terribly disrupted and much different from your sample pictures and the normal cases referenced in texts.” (Spitz and Fisher wrote their book for forensic pathologists, men who are likely to see all kinds of wounds. Zimmerman has no way of knowing whether they intended their generalization about missing skin to apply to “giant gaping wounds.”) Zimmerman then dismissed the significance of the interior and exterior beveling apparent on the Harper fragment by stating that “the bullet was already gone by the time that happened. The force was imparted by the bullet, but that expansion of tissue happens in all directions and through the weakest points-such as the exit hole (which wasn’t 13 cm).” (Once again, he has no evidence for this whatsoever. There was beveling on the outside of the Harper fragment as well as the large fragment inspected at the autopsy; this beveling was believed by the forensic pathology panel to be related to the exit of the bullet itself, not to the explosion of the temporary cavity.) Finally, he dismissed my assertion that a slap wound to the skull could account for Kennedy’s “back-and-to-the-left” movement apparent on the Zapruder film by stating “What you described is a normal phenomenon that cannot explain the rate of his acceleration backwards. It occurs when muscles have resting tone that resists gravity. However, it is not going to throw an entire torso backwards. The neuromuscular reaction is the only mechanism that explains this." (This is interesting because Larry Sturdivan, to whom Dr. Zimmerman most always defers, no longer subscribes to the neuromuscular reaction theory.) Finally, he declared "I don’t know that I should continue…You’ve put a lot of effort into this, but I’d have to say that most ballistics experts would deny the possibility of this. Your work is peppered with gross assumption and contradicts much of the evidence. It is based on a patently false presentation of F8, etc…” (Let the reader be the judge.)
Later, when I asserted that the large fractures by the supposed exit were much too large to have come from the exit of such small bullet fragments, Dr. Zimmerman returned to his unsupported contention that the supposed exit fractures by the large defect were created by the temporary cavity surrounding the bullet fragments and not by the fragments themselves. He stated “You seem to be thinking that the bullet caused all the holes. The bullet causes directly and indirectly. The expansion of the pressure cavity creates much more damage than the actual bullet. Thus, you can not attribute direct damage from a bullet in that manner. he pressure cavity is secondary to the bullet’s passage.” He also returned to his contention books written by experienced military surgeons and forensic pathologists are written about “normal” wounds and should not be applied to Kennedy’s wounds. To be specific, he dismissed Delorme’s assertion that dural tears occur most frequently at entrance. He stated: “You keep forgetting about the massive pressure build up of the pressure cavity’s formation, which can cause dural tears, fractures, etc. It is an expansive pressure.” When I asked him why, if the large defect was created by the explosion of a temporary cavity, there were no concentric rings surrounding this exit, as has been described in forensics journals, he wrote: “No, the bone was gone in that area.” (This ignores that the large bone fragment examined at the autopsy is believed to have been adjacent to the exit and yet showed no signs of concentric fractures.) When I pointed out that neither the large fragment nor the Harper fragment showed signs of concentric fractures, he countered “The spider web effect isn’t something that has to occur over a tremendous distance. Sometimes the radius is only an inch or two. In this case, much was missing for proper evaluation of such.” (This is in conflict with the belief of Dr.s Humes and Boswell that, with the discovery of the Harper fragment, virtually the entire skull had been recovered.) When I pointed out that the bullet broke into multiple fragments and almost certainly exited in more than one location, and that having multiple exits along the top of the skull would decrease the skull’s internal pressure, and thereby decrease the likelihood of the skull exploding from a temporary cavity, he asserted that the large bullet fragments would “exit in close proximity, but not necessarily through the same exit point.” (He ignores that there is a beveled exit on the Harper fragment several inches away from the beveled exit on what he interprets as forehead.) When I pointed out that these bullet fragments appear to have struck the windshield several feet apart, he responded: “Point of divergence. When physical matter first splits, it is close together. Thus the bullet may not have begun to fully separate until just before the exit.” (This is unlikely since 1) the fragments found in the front of the limousine were the nose and base of the bullet, 2) a middle section representing half the bullet was never found, and 3) fragments from this missing middle were (according to Zimmerman himself) scattered across the skull).
On 8-18-2006, my disputes with Zimmerman reached a new low. When I tried to point out an inconsistency in his attitude regarding the “mystery photo,” in that he generally accepted the original statements of the autopsy doctors over the subsequent panels, and yet he rejected Humes, Boswell and Stringer’s 11-10-1966 identification of the “mystery” photo as a photo taken from behind, he surprised me by playing word games. He claimed: “The 1966 inventory does not say that. It says the pictures are of the entry wound in the posterior skull, which that photo does show from the anterior view looking into the back of the head...” Yep. Zimmerman was thereby claiming that photos purportedly “depicting missile wound over entrance in posterior skull, following reflection of scalp” were in fact photos “depicting the anterior aspect of a wound of entrance in posterior skull, taken from the front of the skull, following reflection of scalp over the frontal bone” only the doctors forgot to mention the anterior aspect bit and the scalp reflected over the frontal bone bit. What rubbish! Similarly, he explained the change in interpretation of the photo from entrance to exit between 11-66 and 1-67 by stating “the photo DOES show an entry. It DOES show part of the probable exit. In one case, they call it entry. In another, it is called exit. It just depends on which one you're seeing. Again, the exit is far more readily seen than the entry is in those photographs. It is NOT a clear view of an entry, although it is there.” He doesn’t even try to explain why on the 11-10-66 inventory, which was, for all they knew, the only time the doctors would ever see the photographs, they failed to mention this exit, which “was far more readily seen” in the photograph, and only mentioned the entrance. He also offers no explanation as to why they failed to mention this entrance in the January 67 review.
My disputes with Canal became equally strange. On 10-8-2006 he asserted that “there was well-intended lying going on about the evidence, UNDOUBTEDLY IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE NATION. IOW, they didn't think it was best for the nation that the medical evidence "appeared" to indicate there was another shooter. Call it a conspiracy if you want, but what Baden and a few others did (again, well-intended) would have been nothing compared to the conspiracy to assassinate JFK that you believe in.” Canal was thereby stating that it was somehow less paranoid to believe that a series of government experts deliberately lied to cover up evidence in the murder of the president than that Oswald had a still unidentified buddy or two in the Plaza. I fail to comprehend his logic. Perhaps he mistook me for one suspecting a "massive conspiracy" involving the CIA and U.S. military, as opposed to what I am, one suspecting a "small conspiracy" of unknown origin. In any event, Canal's words made me suspect that I am in fact less of a conspiracy theorist than he. (FWIW, by 2009, much of the single-assassin theorist community had come to agree with me on this point, and had taken to either ignoring Canal's posts on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, or attacking them as if he were conspiracy theorist.)
So why is it so freakin' hard to make headway on this stuff?
Clognitive Thinking 101
I think I know. Yes, unfortunately I've done way too much thinking about why others have such a hard time thinking.
It goes like this...
People get used to what they know, without realizing a large part of what they "know" is what they've been told. People raised to believe communists are insidious and will do most anything to undermine American life find it hard to believe a communist sympathizer like Oswald could be innocent. Similarly, people used to thinking ambitious "losers" like Oswald are desperate and dangerous find it easy to believe Oswald could just wake up one morning and decide to kill the President he admired, and then pretend that he didn't do it. Thus, Oswald's guilt seems perfectly reasonable or even readily apparent to those with a rightward bent, as well as those from the upper castes of society, ever-fearful of what they believe to be the jealous rabble down below.
This bias undoubtedly clouds their thinking. While many will argue their opinions are based purely on the evidence, they fail to see that they have a built-in bias that filters out the evidence they consider unimportant. They will say that Oswald's palm-print was on the rifle, without considering that this evidence is tainted by the very strange fact the palm print was not identified until after the FBI had already declared there was no such print. They will say that Howard Brennan identified Oswald as the shooter, without admitting that Brennan's refusing to ID Oswald in a police line-up, but then later saying he knew it was him all along, and then later changing his story about how many shots he heard and where he was looking when he heard these shots, undermines his credibility.
The credibility of single-assassin theorists is rarely as suspect, in fact, as when they hold Brennan up as their star witness. While the literally dozens of witnesses to state the first shot struck Kennedy and/or the last two shots were closer together than the first two are inevitably dismissed by these theorists due to "eyewitnesses not being credible" they nevertheless hypocritically persist in using Brennan to prove Oswald was the shooter in the sniper's nest. This signals that there is some sort of disconnect going on...that their emotional response to the case--that it must have been Oswald--has led to their unplugging their rational minds from its wall socket.
A February, 2009 online discussion with single-assassin theorist David Von Pein further illustrates this point. On the IMDB Forum for the film "JFK" Von Pein kept citing a 2003 ABC News poll as evidence the majority of Americans think Oswald shot Kennedy. I tried to correct him on this, and point out that the poll's question "Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald was the only gunman in the Kennedy assassination, do you think there was another gunman in addition to Oswald there that day, or do you think Oswald was not involved in the assassination at all?" was misleading. I argued that by saying "not involved in the assassination at all" at the end, the questioner misrepresented this as the only remaining alternative and pressured people convinced that Oswald was somehow involved to pick one of the first two options. I likened this to asking people "Do you think the Warren Commission was created to deceive, do you think the Warren Commission decided on their own to deceive, or do you think the Warren Commission told the American people the truth ABOUT EVERYTHING?", a question that, in my opinion, would lead people to overwhelmingly state that the Warren Commission deceived the public. But Von Pein would have none of this. He continued to claim, and continues to claim, that ABC's poll demonstrated that 32% of the populace believed Oswald was the lone gunman, 51% believed Oswald was one of multiple gunmen, 10% had no opinion, and only 7% of the American people believed someone other than Oswald fired from the sniper's nest in the school book depository.
This was obviously incorrect. If 83% believed Oswald fired from the book depository, and only 7% believed he did not, then it follows that for every conspiracy theorist suspecting Oswald was framed, TWELVE people believed he was guilty. This is ludicrous. If, as Von Pein claims, only 7% of the American people believed then and continue to believe Oswald innocent of shooting Kennedy, then why are he and his fellow single-assassin theorists so driven to convince others of Oswald's guilt? I mean, far more than 7% of the American people think Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster, or that AIDS was designed by the CIA, and you don't see a nation-wide movement of journalists, historians, and "researchers" arguing that these people are wrong. Such wild theories, when held by only a small minority of people, are just ignored. Furthermore, if by 2003 only 7% of Americans thought there was anything to the possibility raised by Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK--that Oswald was framed by the American government--then where in the world do people like Vincent Bugliosi and Von Pein get off blaming Oliver Stone for misleading the American people? Are we to believe that BEFORE the movie "JFK" hit the theaters, far FEWER than 7% of the American people thought Oswald an innocent man?
A year later, as part of his ongoing campaign, Von Pein dredged this up again. This time, however, I asked him WHO the supposedly 51% of the public thinking Oswald fired shots as part of a team thought Oswald was working for. For this, he referred me to yet another poll, one in which 34% of the public said they believed the CIA was involved. This makes Von Pein's assertion only 7% of the public thinks Oswald innocent of shooting Kennedy positively bizarre. Could he really believe that at least 27% of the public believes Oswald shot Kennedy as part of a CIA plot? Could he really believe those thinking Oswald fired shots on behalf of the CIA outnumbered those thinking he was a patsy by a ratio of almost 4 to 1? And if so, how could he or his hero Vincent Bugliosi possibly believe the public was remotely swayed to believe such a thing by Oliver Stone's movie JFK, or any other film or publication? Outside a few researchers claiming Oswald was part of a CIA mind-control program, and a Manchurian Candidate-type assassin programmed by the CIA, no one, and I mean no one, in the conspiracy research community believes Oswald was an assassin for the CIA. I have talked to hundreds of non-buffs over the years, and can absolutely assert that this suspicion is next to non-existent in the non-buff public as well. Von Pein's assertion that as many as one out of every four Americans thinks Oswald was a hit man for the CIA is just plain wacky, and is proof positive that his thoughts on the assassination are not grounded in anything resembling reality.
And when I pushed him on this...he admitted as much. On March 4, 2010, on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, he admitted: "if I WERE to disbelieve that "7%" ABC poll, where does that really lead? I'll tell you where -- such a belief leads to a vast MAJORITY of Americans actually falling into "Kookville." Yes, you read that right. In Von Pein's mind, his acceptance of that poll equates to his rescuing the vast majority of Americans from "Kookville." He doesn't want to believe HE is in the vast minority, so he trumpets flawed polls from years past to convince himself he is not, even though his acceptance of this poll leads to the inescapable conclusion a substantial percentage of Americans believe Oswald was a hit man for the CIA...which he KNOWS to be untrue.
And this is not an isolated example. One can see such cognitive dissonance, or "clognitive thinking", if you will, at work in our everyday lives. At times we all lack the ability to step outside our normal frame of reference and look at something with a fresh pair of eyes. On the image above, for example, the middle square on the side of the cube in shadow appears to be a much lighter color than the middle square on the side on top. Even after blacking out the squares surrounding these squares, and realizing that they are both the same shade, I still see the one in shadow as much lighter than the other every time I look at the image. My mind is stuck in its way of interpreting color. I propose then that many of those interpreting evidence in the Kennedy case are similarly stuck.
I have an anecdote that further illustrates this phenomena. One day, some years back, I was talking with a woman of above-average intelligence. She was telling me about a friend who'd purportedly had terrible luck with the lottery, and had bought over 150 "scratchers" without ever winning a dollar. When I pointed out that her friend was obviously exaggerating, as the odds of winning back a dollar at that time were 1 in 10, this college-educated woman with two degrees said no, that's what her friend said, and she believed her friend. I probably should have let it drop, but this annoyed me. I whipped out a calculator, and got her to agree that the odds of not winning on each scratcher were .9, and then multiplied .9 by .9 by .9 etc., and showed her that there was effectively a 0% chance someone could buy 150 scratchers in a row without encountering a single winner. Perhaps as a response to my arrogance, she STILL refused to believe that her friend was exaggerating her bad luck. Her friend had told her the truth and had had an amazing run of bad luck. Period.
The "Monty Hall Problem" presented in the movie "21" provides yet another example. In the problem, modeled on TV's Let's Make a Deal, someone is offered a choice of 3 doors. Behind one there is a prize. After the selection of a door, however, the host, who knows which door has the prize, opens up a door that has no prize, and then asks the contestant if he/she would like to stick with his/her original selection, or choose the other remaining door. Intuition tells most of us that the odds of choosing the right door at this point are 50/50 and that maybe we should stick with out first choice. But our intuition is wrong. The odds of our first choice being right are only 1 in 3, while the odds of the other door being right are 2 in 3.
The explanation is simple but, for some, incredibly hard to follow. (It took me awhile to figure it out myself.) It goes like this. Since, the odds of your first choice NOT being right are 2/3, the other 2 doors represent a 2/3 probability of having the prize. When the host opens one of these doors, however, the remaining un-opened door becomes the sole bearer of this 2/3 probability. This is clear, right? And yet, we're so conditioned to look at two doors, and assume the odds of something being behind one of those doors is 50/50, that many can not accept this explanation. They just can't grasp it. To one acquaintance, an entirely different woman from the one described above but one equally intelligent and college-educated, I tried to demonstrate the concept by using sugar packets instead of doors. I put seven sugar packets on a table. I told her that one of them held a prize. She picked a packet. Playing the role of the game show host, I then excluded prize-less packet after prize-less packet, until there was but one packet beyond the one chosen. I then offered her a choice between these two. Even though the remaining non-chosen packet had effectively passed a series of 5 tests indicating it could hold the prize, and the chosen packet was entirely untested, she couldn't see how this effected the odds, and still thought her first choice had a 50/50 chance of being correct.
I believe these examples correlate to the resistance of some to the possibility of a conspiracy. Much as the first woman, they resent the know-it-alls in the conspiracy research community telling them what they should think. Much as the second woman, they've made their choice and are sticking to it, no matter how much the odds add up on the other side. They see that there is evidence implicating Oswald in the crime, but fail to see how most all this evidence is tainted, and that the Zapruder film and eyewitness evidence suggests at least two shooters. They also fail to see how both the Warren Commission and HSCA skewed the evidence to their advantage, and how this suggests that maybe, just maybe, both of them knew that the evidence never pointed to Oswald as a lone gunman, yet pretended it did for political reasons. And they also fail to see how the vastly different conclusions of the autopsy doctors and HSCA medical panel demonstrate the likelihood at least one of these groups was incompetent, or less than truthful--either of which suggests the case is far from closed.
From the thousands of online discussions I've had with single-assassin theorists, it's also clear that they just can't conceive a world in which the FBI could be wrong and conspiracy theorists like Mark Lane and Oliver Stone could be right. In direct opposition and yet perfect congruity with the Kennedy cultists they so despise, their world view revolves around their fervent belief Jack Kennedy was a bad president, or a playboy, or an anti-communist, or all three, and that, in any event, no right-winger could possibly have conspired to kill him. To them, conspiracy theorists are not just wrong, but "dangerous."
They are stuck in a box and they can't see their way out.
Their cognitive dissonance is deafening.
Keeping the Magic Alive
And only getting louder...
In July 2009, single-bullet theorist and Dr. Lattimer devotee Tom Lowry began sharing an image that thoroughly proves this point. His blind worship of Lattimer, and his blind hatred of conspiracy theorists, had led him to push a comparison of photos of Kennedy purporting to demonstrate that Lattimer was right, and that Kennedy's back wound really was inches above his throat wound. There was a HUGE problem with this comparison, however. The creator of this comparison had lined up the location of the base of Kennedy's skull on a photo of Kennedy while standing, with the location of the base of Kennedy's neck on an autopsy photo in which his head is tilted backwards. This image is shown above.
(Should one have trouble recognizing the silliness of this image, one should focus on the bottom of Kennedy's ear in the photos. The line purportedly matching up the photos rests just below the bottom of Kennedy's ear in the photo at left, but well below the bottom of Kennedy's ear in the photo at right. And no, the rearward tilt of the head did not lift the ear. OOPS!)
Now if this were just one sloppy image created by one sloppy researcher, we could write it off, right? I mean, we can't use the F-level work of one poor student to characterize a whole class, can we?
Except this wasn't just the work of one student... I subsequently came to realize that this comparison had been posted elsewhere on the web by David Von Pein, a similarly-obsessed single-bullet believer, and Vincent Bugliosi's number one fan. Perhaps I'd seen it before, but had blocked it out of my mind. In any event, when confronted about this on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, Von Pein admitted that he, in turn, had first found the image in the 2006 online posts of Oswald's Game author Jean Davison. Von Pein said further that "The comparison photo in question (linked below) looks just fine to me. The top black line is being drawn from HAIRLINE to HAIRLINE. So what's the big complaint? Granted, as I've mentioned previously on this newsgroup when talking about that very same photo montage, such comparisons of two-dimensional images that were taken from different angles and distances from the subject are always going to be problematic, and can likely never be ideal in a "Perfectly Lined Up To The Inch" sense (just ask Dale Myers about the difficulty or the impossibility of performing that photographic task). In addition, JFK's head is being tilted back somewhat in the autopsy photo on the right, which could be affecting the comparison to a small extent as well (since Kennedy's head isn't tilted back at all in the left-hand picture). But, in general, it looks like a fairly good comparison montage."
So there you go... In the eyes of LN zealots, deliberately matching up hairlines in photos taken from different angles, without taking into account that one of the photos shows the head of the subject tilted back and little visible neck, makes for a "fairly good comparison", and a good way of establishing the vertical level of a wound on the back. This is sheer LuNacy. I mean, why not match up another feature--like the base of the neck--whose relative location is comparatively undistorted by the tilt of the head?
Could it be--just a thought here--that that would fail to give LNTs like Lowry, Von Pein, and Davison their desired result?
The Invisible Smirk
That Lone Nut Theorists such as Lowry, Von Pein and Davidson have crossed the bridge to Fantasyland was confirmed yet again in March, 2010. While discussing the prickly issue of whether or not Oswald actually smirked at the midnight press conference on 11-22-63, as so many have claimed, single-assassin theorist David Von Pein posted links to a number of photos which he felt showed Oswald smirking. These photos are on the slide above. While at most two of these photos show Oswald to be a bit angry at his predicament, at least two of them, IMHO, show him on what appears to be the verge of collapse, a seemingly broken man.
Certainly none of them show him smiling...which is quite surprising considering he is supposedly smirking in these photos, and a smirk, by definition, is "an affected, often offensively self-satisfied smile." It seems likely, then, that men like Von Pein are so blinded by their irrational hatred of Oswald that they see him, even at the heights of his misery, as someone unrecognizable as a fellow human being deserving of compassion, and as someone, in fact, basking in the afterglow of his wicked wicked deeds.
Still, perhaps I am too harsh on Von Pein. On January 21, 2015, on the JFK Facts website, the subject of Oswald's smirk or lack of smirk came up once again, and Von Pein pulled a bit of a retreat. He wrote:
"I don’t know why anyone thinks Oswald is reacting with utter shock and surprise when he is told “You have been charged” during the noisy and confusing Midnight Press Conference.
IMO, his facial expression and body language are conveying only *annoyance* and “exasperation* due to all the questions and remarks being shouted at once. He’s more *ticked off* than he is surprised or shocked.
To me, this is very obvious when we watch either the film version of the Midnight Press Conference or the videotaped version. Oswald is exhibiting his traditional tight-lipped smirk here. He’s irritated. Not shocked or surprised. Just watch…."
Yes, let's do that. Here is a link to a video of Oswald at the press conference:
Note that Oswald never smiles a smile of self-satisfaction. He never once appears to be pleased with himself. It follows then that he does not smirk.
And should that not suffice, here's this same moment from a different angle, as subsequently broadcast on CNN.
The man was on the verge of tears.
So why do Von Pein and others of his persuasion consistently claim Oswald smirked, to such an extent even that they claim his "smirk" revealed his irritation...which makes no sense at all?
I have a theory. I suspect that Von Pein and others consistently claim what they know isn't true because they're hoping the word "smirk" will poison people's perception of Oswald. They know if they repeat certain words, e.g. "nobody", "failure", "loser", "wife-beater", that people will form a negative opinion of Oswald, regardless of how Oswald viewed himself, or even the facts. And they know that if they beat it into people's brains that this "nobody/failure/loser/wife-beater" "smirked" when told he'd been charged with killing the President, that they can help sell his guilt.
Or, at the very least, show solidarity with those previously claiming Oswald smirked...
While it is believed that ABC News commentator Paul Goode, on the evening of Kennedy's assassination, was the first to describe Oswald's looks of disgust and disbelief as a "smirk", he was not remotely the only one misinterpreting and misrepresenting Oswald's demeanor in such a manner. The next day's Dallas-Times Herald, for example, described Oswald's performance at the midnight press conference as follows: "Grinning broadly, he mumbled: "I didn't know I was a suspect. I didn't even know the president was killed until newsman told me in the hall." Well, yikes. Oswald neither grinned nor pretended he didn't know the president had been killed.
The effect of these misrepresentations should not be underestimated, as they may very well have fed into misinterpretations by the public, and one member of the public in particular. Jack Ruby, we should recall, claimed he had no intention of killing Oswald when he ducked into the underground parking garage and shot him, but was compelled to do so by Oswald's smirk. As stated, a smirk is a self-satisfied smile; it is the smile of someone pleased, positively giddy even, by what he is witnessing or experiencing. It is, in this instance, the smile of a guilty man. There was no such smirk on Oswald's face, of course, when Ruby ran up and shot him. But that doesn't stop Goode's and Ruby's claims Oswald was a serial smirker from being repeated ad nauseum. When one does a google search for "Lee Harvey Oswald" and "smirk", to be clear, one gets over 31,000 hits.
And it's not as if I'm the first to note the Oswald-did-it crowd's Orwellian use of the word "smirk." While reading Gerald Posner's prosecution of Oswald, Case Closed, researcher Jerry Rose spotted Posner's use of the word "smirk" to imply Oswald's guilt, and double-checked the 6 "smirks" in Posner's book against the reports and statements Posner was supposedly referencing. Not surprisingly, Rose found that in every instance, the actual report or statement made no reference to Oswald's smirking, and that Posner had added these "smirks" for dramatic effect...apparently, to make his readers hate Oswald as much as he hated Oswald.
It's clear he found his audience, moreover. U.S. News and World Report editor Gerald Parshall not only raved about Posner's book in a special report included in the August 30, 1993 issue of U.S. News, but titled his article on Posner's book "The Man with the Deadly Smirk."
(While not the serial abuser of 'smirk" that was Posner, fellow Oswald character assassins Thomas Mallon and Vincent Bugliosi used "smirk" to similar effect.)
And this despite the fact there is not one photo in existence of Oswald smirking...
Not so Posner himself, mind you.
That's right. Irony of ironies, Posner himself is a world-class smirker. Here he is, smirking away after traveling to Afghanistan to provide legal assistance to a notoriously corrupt politician, or some such thing...
Yes, Gerald Posner is a world-class smirker.
It's enough to make one wonder, even, if the man referred to in the title of Gerald Parshall's article on Case Closed, entitled "The Man with the Deadly Smirk," was Oswald, or Posner.
Because the winner of the smirk-off is Posner... Case closed.
The "Nutter" Professor
But enough with the small fry. It's time for the Big Cheese. The respectable face of the LNTs, if not their ringleader and head cheerleader, is John McAdams, professor of Political Science at Marquette University. McAdams has been interviewed on television and NPR numerous times, both about the assassination and other events of the day. His website on the assassination is also the number one such website on google. While much of his website is informative, and while I agree with many, perhaps even a majority of its conclusions, its overall tone is deliberately offensive and insulting to those inclined to suspect a conspiracy.
But that's not why McAdams is King of the Nutters. He's King of the Nutters because he sets a horrible example for others on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup he moderates by routinely dismissing EVERYTHING he doesn't want to believe out of hand...and making up transparent and disingenuous excuses to justify his dismissal.
This became clear to me in 2010. While I had been semi-active on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup for years, I had had few run-ins with McAdams prior to late 2009, when in an online debate with researcher Jim DiEugenio he attempted to explain away my photo comparison of the paper bag in its various incarnations as the work of a "crackpot". This charge, as you might suspect, led to a less-than-friendly exchange of ideas on his newsgroup. In the end, he refused to waiver from his claim that my using a similar camera and lens to demonstrate that the bag in the news photos was much wider than the bag in the archives was meaningless, and that the ONLY way to compare the "Dillard photo" with the archives photos was to create a simulation using the exact same camera and lens as "Dillard's camera" and lens. (Although newsman Tom Dillard never took a photo of the bag, and I corrected McAdams on this repeatedly, he continued to call the news photos of the bag outside the depository, "the Dillard photo.") McAdams' position, of course, was ludicrous. If we'd been discussing a comparison in which an item appeared to be 3-5% larger than the supposedly exact same item in another picture, that would be one thing. But my photo comparison showed the bag in the news photos to be roughly 25% wider than the supposedly exact same bag in the archives. Nikons equipped with 50 mm or 35 mm lenses don't make middle-distance items look 25% wider than Canons equipped with a 50 mm or 35 mm lenses, and McAdams almost certainly knows this.
This run-in set the stage. On January 9, 2010, McAdams posted his response to a claim by Ben Holmes that the single-bullet theory bullet trajectory runs right through the spine. His response was illuminating. He revealed his woeful understanding of anatomy and the issues at hand by claiming "How in the world did it have to go through the spine if it entered to the right of the midline?" and then asserting that "You can put a dowel right through, between the transverse processes" (of C7 and T1). He then told Ben Holmes that "you are not allowed to just make up your own 'evidence'." This response intrigued me, and on January 11 I asked McAdams if he had any video of him passing a dowel between the transverse processes, and provided links to some of my slides indicating the bullet would not slide right through, as he'd suggested. He responded "Sorry, I'm not going to the trouble just to please you." (This, to me, was as much as an admission that he'd lied, as his doing so would not have been to please me, but to prove Holmes and myself wrong.) He then refused to acknowledge my slides, by claiming that it wasn't possible to see what my point was. To my point that the HSCA portrayal of the back wound was not at C7/T1 as he claimed, but at T1, he responded "Oh, now I know where people get 'C7/T1.' The Dox drawing shows that." This was indeed strange, as I had just used the Dox drawing to show him that the wound was at T1. He then claimed that the significant upward movement of the back wound by the HSCA trajectory panel (see chapter 11) was not in the least bit suspicious. He wrote "You think every discrepancy shows conspiracy. On this planet, it does not."
He then defended the Artwohl exhibit on his website, and his belief the entrance wound location on the Artwohl exhibit was consistent with the entrance wound location measured by the HSCA pathology panel. He wrote: "Pat, you seem to think that Artwohl shows the wound at C5. It doesn't. You are just drawing stuff, not to scale and not knowing what the point is, and announcing this or that conclusion. To get the wound up to C5, you have to reproduce the lateral photo at a much smaller scale than the Dox Drawing. This stuff means nothing at all unless you scale it properly. Ignore your mis-scaled middle drawing, and you can see that Artwohl's drawing makes sense."
That's right. I had shown him the comparison on the slide above. And he had claimed that the giant head on the left of the slide better matched the skull in the Dox drawing on the right than the much smaller skull in the middle. I was horrified. This proved to me that McAdams was either a certifiable LuNaTic or the biggest, fattest, liar this side of Rush Limbaugh.
I decided to see where this might lead. Since he had previously stated that he both thought the back wound was at C7/T1, and that the bullet creating this wound headed 21 degrees downward, as in the Artwohl exhibit, I asked him where this would exit on Kennedy's body. He conceded the obvious--that he did not agree with the HSCA's conclusion that the bullet went slightly upward in the body--but, strangely, refused to concede that he thought the bullet exited at a different location than the HSCA. He either failed to see or pretended to fail to see that a bullet entering Kennedy's back at C7/T1 and descending 21 degrees through 14 cm or so of his flesh, would, by necessity, emerge two inches or so lower on his body. When I tried to get him to at least concede that a bullet heading downwards from C7/T1 would not exit at C7, the exit level on the Dox drawings created for the HSCA pathology panel, by pointing out that it was impossible for a bullet heading downwards in the body to exit higher on the body, he again blew my mind. He responded: "It makes no sense to use 'C7' or 'T1'" when talking about the throat wound." I tried again, with similar results: "Your problem is that you arrive at an 'opinion' and then start to treat your opinion as fact." When I tried yet again to get him to agree that Artwohl's depiction of a downward trajectory was at odds with the HSCA's depiction of the bullet trajectory and wound locations, he answered "HSCA trajectory: yes. Wound location: no."
And from there things only got uglier, and weirder... Like a computer starting to melt down after being asked a trick question in a science-fiction movie, McAdams wrote: "Artwohl is correct" and "You are a Ben Holmes clone!..." and then blamed me for my failure to convince him of anything by claiming my slides are "self-contradictory and confusing..."
When I returned to the subject of the slide above, and asked him how he could possibly think the much larger head at left was a much better match for the Dox drawing at right, when the head at left was twice the size of the head in the Dox drawing, he re-confirmed his LuNacy by writing: "You are just making stuff up. Your own composite shows that the 'right photo' (the larger one) corresponds with the Artwohl analysis. Your 'middle photo' shows the head much smaller than in the Artwohl analysis." He then responded to my request that he correct my errors on the slide and create a proper match between the Artwohl analysis and Dox drawing. He wrote "I don't need to. Your own analysis shows Artwohl to be correct."
When, returning to the original topic, I pointed out that Ben Holmes and I were not alone in our conclusion the single-bullet theory bullet trajectory heads through the spine, and that Dr. Nichols in the 70's and Dr. Mantik in the 90's had come to the same conclusion, McAdams once again showed his closed-mindedness. He responded: "I simply don't believe people like Mantik and Nichols. Mantik is a certified crackpot." When I pointed out that the HSCA panel failed to portray the internal passage of the bullet to show this wasn't true, McAdams took another flight of fancy. He wrote: "They didn't think any such was needed since they had no idea that crackpots like Mantik would raise the issue. Simple fact about the HSCA: they refuted conspiracy notions that were on the table in the late 70's. They could not know what people like Mantik would claim."
This "simple fact", however, simply wasn't true. Nichols was a well-respected forensic pathologist, and had published a paper claiming the bullet trajectory would have to have passed through the spine in the October 1977 Maryland State Medical Journal, within a month of the panel's first meetings. When I then tried to explain the key to Nichols and Mantik's findings, by pointing out that the spinal column and its transverse processes were not adjacent to the back wound entrance but mid-way between the entrance and the supposed exit on the middle of the throat, McAdams once again revealed his ignorance of basic anatomy. He claimed "That's absurd. There is a reason the spine is called the 'backbone.'" He then got nasty: "This is like your 'faked bag' business. You simply make no attempt to model these things with precision."
And the war raged on... When I challenged McAdams to create an image showing the trajectory of the bullet within the body, he once again started in with the insults. He wrote: "It is not necessarily easy to do it. Which is why people like you should probably avoid trying, at least until you learn about modeling." He then justified his refusal to address my slides by insisting "I'm sorry, but your claims are not assumed to be true until disproven. In fact, it's obvious looking at your graphics that you aren't able to model this stuff..." Eventually, he offered what he thought to be the official explanation, and noted that HSCA Exhibit 46, on the slide above, shows: "the trajectory going between T1 and C7, and exiting the throat." This was indeed strange, as McAdams had already pronounced the HSCA pathology panel's trajectory incorrect. But it was more than strange. It was dead wrong. HSCA Exhibit 46 most definitely did not show a bullet heading between T1 and C7, as suggested by McAdams, who'd previously claimed he'd pushed dowels along this path, but a bullet heading straight through the first rib...which was hmmm...conveniently left off the drawing!
When I smart-assedly pointed out that his credibility wasn't high, seeing as he refused to admit a bullet heading downward from C7/T1 would not exit at C7, he replied "It can enter at C7/T1 on a 21 degree angle and exit below the Adams's Apple." He then attacked my characterization of HSCA trajectory analyst Thomas Canning's movement of the back wound upwards two inches from the location depicted in the pathology panel's drawings, whilst simultaneously claiming he'd received his information from the panel, as a "lie", by first claiming that "that assertion of yours assumes you know how to scale these drawings. It's obvious that you don't" and then acknowledging "Canning used various kinds of data to locate the wound. He apparently did his own measurements, rather than blindly following the FPP. And you, in a very mean-spirited way, say this was a 'lie'." (Well...what would YOU call it when someone says they got their information from a presumably credible source... when the information they offer is clearly at odds with the information provided by that source?)
He then got defensive of Artwohl, claiming that "an ER doctor has vastly better credentials than you to discuss these issues", missing entirely that Artwohl himself was second-guessing NINE forensic pathologists with vastly better credentials than himself to discuss these issues.
He then decided to go on the offensive. Like an angry child, he changed the name of the topic to "Pat Speer believes Kennedy was not hit in the back", and got personal. He asserted "Pat, you are among the die-hard faithful. Only people like DiEugenio accept your claims...I feel like I'm debating with somebody with no ability to read and assimilate information..." He then taunted: "You are in the Jack White tradition of photo analysis" and "You really are Jack White for a new generation," missing entirely that Jack White's studies are often rapidly refuted by his fellow CTs, and that neither McAdams himself nor anyone else had refuted my studies. He then, without any deliberate irony, proclaimed "it's a serious character defect to refuse to answer simple questions and to obsess on your pet obsessions."
Of course, I wasn't exactly a bystander in this kerfuffle. By now, it was clear to me that McAdams' offensive was a ploy designed to hide that he knows damn well that the wound locations in the Artwohl exhibit aren't consistent with the findings of the HSCA pathology panel, and that he simply doesn't have enough respect for the truth to admit it to the likes of me. So I continued pestering him to tell me at what vertebral level he thought the bullet exited Kennedy's throat. His responses grew more and more agitated..."Using vertebra numbers is silly...Below the Adam's Apple...The bullet exited at the knot in the tie...The bullet exited where the gash in the neck shows it exiting...The bullet exited where it is shown to exit in the lateral autopsy photo... It's where the damn photo shows it!" and then, in all caps: "PLEASE QUIT ASKING ME TO USE LANGUAGE THAT MAKES NO SENSE!" And then finally: "THE GODDAMN LOCATION IS SHOWN IN THE LATERAL PHOTO!"
McAdams' failure to answer a simple question--at what level in the neck did the magic bullet magically exit--and acknowledge what is readily obvious--that two bullets entering the same location and traveling in a straight line in opposite directions vis a vis up or down cannot exit from the same place--was for me an epiphany. For a long time, I'd assumed that other researchers--LN and CT alike--had a similar reverence for the truth as myself and my friends, but that they were just frequently mistaken. I never suspected that a University Professor would spout such obvious nonsense, and tell such obvious lies, rather than admit that he was wrong, or that an exhibit on his website was bunkum.
Boy, was I wrong. In the years subsequent to our famous kerfuffle, McAdams became even more entrenched in his support of the accuracy of the Artwohl exhibit. This came to a head February 3, 2016, on the Jfkfacts website. No longer content to argue from authority, and claim I was simply out of my element when discussing the medical evidence, McAdams now changed tactics and claimed there was actually no disagreement between the Artwohl exhibit and HSCA Exhibit F-24, and that the apparent disagreement on my Nutter Professor slide above was due to my use of "photoshop" to "fiddle with the evidence." I had proved him wrong about something, and his only defense was that it was all some sort of illusion conjured up by...a conjurer. It's a good thing our disagreement happened in modern times, or he would quite possibly have called for me to be burned at the stake.
There are brazen liars in this world. People who will happily lie about serious matters, even when they have nothing to gain from this lie, beyond the benefit of keeping a self-serving illusion alive. And I have come to suspect that John McAdams is one of them.
In retrospect, I should have suspected as much from the beginning. While I don't dispute that one can be both sincere and a lone-nutter, it's become painfully clear to me in recent years that those frantically pushing the LN position on the American public have issues, serious issues--serious enough where they can no longer think clearly.
Yes, I know full well this is what they claim of CTs--that they've got a loose screw somewhere. So let's perform a test. I'll present a statement by a prominent CT, and then a response by a prominent LN, and you decide which one's got the loose screw.
On January 8, 1995, Harold Weisberg wrote David Belin:
"In referring to the so-called magic bullet, Commission Exhibit 399, and to Governor Connally's wounds in your New York Times op-ed piece of June 25, 1993, you say that 'All the physicians who treated Mr. Connally for his wounds agree that he had been struck by just one bullet, fired from behind.' I go into that testimony in the last two chapters of my first book. It was completed in mid-February 1965. What you say is not true and in saying it you should have known it is untrue."
On January 31, 1995, Belin responded. In a 12-page letter, currently available on the Weisberg Archives website, Belin acknowledged that Connally's doctor Robert Shaw told the Warren Commission he had "No firm opinion" on how many bullets hit Connally, and that, when asked if it could have been two bullets, he responded by saying "Yes, or three." He then quoted Dr. Charles Gregory's testimony, in which Gregory claimed Connally's wounds "could have" been caused by one bullet, and not that he thought they were caused by one bullet. He then dragged out the testimony of Dr. Tom Shires, in which Shires claimed that, after operating on Connally, "Well, we all thought, me included, that this was probably one missile, one bullet" and that this "we" included Dr.s Shaw and Gregory.
Belin then pounced, as if speaking to a jury: "Mr. Weisberg, Dr. Shires did in fact say that 'Well we all thought, me included, that this was probably one missile, one bullet.' (6H109) He then insisted: "My June 25, 1993 New York Times piece was accurate when I said that 'All of the physicians who treated Governor Connally for his wounds agree that he had been struck by just one bullet, fired from behind.'"
Well, I don't know about you, but when I read that last bit, my head spun around. Well, not quite, but close... I mean, how could Belin not realize that the testimony he cites in his own defense PROVES, beyond any shadow of a doubt, he was wrong?
Did he misread his own statement--"All of the physicians...agree that he had been struck by just one bullet" as "All of the physicians...agree that he could have been struck by just one bullet"? Did he, when faced with the obvious truth he'd L-I-E-D in his op-ed piece, have some sort of brain hiccup, which momentarily blinded him, and allowed him to save face through a misreading of his own words?
It boggles the mind, yes?
And this is sadly typical of what one gets when one argues with LNs: nonsense, drivel, 2+2 = 5--and you're a liar if you say it doesn't, then more nonsense.
This is profoundly disappointing. While I once had hopes the LN/CT divide could be bridged through an acknowledgment by both sides that aspects of what they believe might be mistaken, I no longer believe this is possible...at least not as long as "true believers" like McAdams are running the show.
The Re-invention of Lying
In September 2010, I got another peek inside McAdams' brain. I had noted on the alt.assassination.jfk newsgroup the repeated claims of many LNTs that Mark Lane, Jim Garrison, and Oliver Stone are liars. I pointed out that I considered this a double-standard, as these same LNTs were not remotely interested in the evidence Dr. Lattimer, Gerald Posner, and Vincent Bugliosi are liars. McAdams then defended this particular LN obsession by insisting that Lane, Garrison, and Stone really were liars. He posted a link to his webpage, in which he discussed a number of inaccuracies in Jim Garrison's On the Trail of the Assassins. He claimed that by making so many errors, which inevitably exaggerated either the case against Clay Shaw or Garrison's role in the investigation and trial of Shaw, Garrison had revealed himself to be a liar. I then pointed out that, by McAdams' own definition, Dr. Baden was also a liar, as his books and television appearances have included a number of errors, which inevitably exaggerate both the case against Oswald and his--Dr. Baden's--role in demonstrating Oswald's guilt.
But I couldn't get McAdams to agree with this. It was clear as day--what's good for the goose is good for the gander, etc. But McAdams wouldn't budge.
And then finally, on September 19, 2010, he explained why he felt Baden was not a liar, and confirmed my worst suspicions. He wrote
"If somebody misstates a strong case against Oswald, we would have to assume he's mistaken and/or confused. If you don't *need* to lie to find Oswald guilty, it's not plausible to believe somebody did."
He then further excused Baden's persistent mis-statements and exaggerations by repeating
"People don't lie when the truth serves their purposes just as well. He should have checked things out. The fact that he didn't actually shows he was not lying. People who are lying usually calculate carefully what lies they are going to tell (at least if not caught off guard). If he actually sat down to write thinking "I'm going to lie about this," he would check the HSCA material to see what lies he could tell and possibly get away with. But if he checked the HSCA, he would find he didn't need to lie."
Well, great googley moogley! Here was the author of a book entitled JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think About Claims of Conspiracy telling me that, to his way of thinking, those who invent their own facts about the Kennedy assassination are not liars, as long as they claim Oswald acted alone...since those claiming Oswald acted alone do not "need" to lie!!!
What utter horsecrap!
And what a blatant double-standard! Does McAdams really believe Jim Garrison's lazy research and/or convenient memory proves him to be a liar, while, at the same time, Dr. Baden's lazy research and/or convenient memory proves him not to be a liar? I mean, to use McAdams' logic, if Garrison's lies had only been as SLOPPY as Baden's lies, we would have reason to believe he wasn't actually lying.
But wait, it gets worse. To a related question, as to whether people with bad memories who make things up can be called liars, or if those telling untruths have to KNOW what they say is untrue before they can be called a liar, McAdams later added:
"They have to *know* it's untrue before they can be called a liar."
He, of course, had never demonstrated that Garrison had "known" any of his inaccuracies were untrue! He had concluded that Garrison had misrepresented events and facts that he should have known were incorrect, and had concluded from this that Garrison had knowingly lied. And I had offered the same case against Baden. At which time, McAdams attempted to preserve the illusion of Baden's and the HSCA's integrity by claiming that someone with such disregard for the truth that they refuse to read or memorize their own reports before going on TV and babbling on about something for which they are supposedly an expert can not be considered a liar if they did not "need" to lie, i.e. if their original report was something he--McAdams-- had personally agreed with.
He had thereby re-defined the word "liar", which can be used to designate those who tell falsehoods whether they know them false or not, to suit his own needs. Garrison was a liar, whether or not he knew what he said was untrue, but Baden was not a liar, as he may not have known he was lying.
This erodes any claims McAdams may make to cognitive superiority, IMO. Rather than questioning Baden's and the HSCA panel's conclusions because Baden had revealed himself to be a lazy researcher who preferred to make stuff up, McAdams had insinuated that Baden's and the HSCA panel's conclusions were BEYOND DISPUTE, and that, therefore, Baden's subsequent failures as a researcher and story-teller were irrelevant.
Pardon my French...but that is worse than utter horsecrap, it's freakin' bullshit.
Above: John McAdams, the public face of the single-assassin theorist industry. And what a face it is...
The Bully and the Pulpit
In late 2014, McAdams' reign as the single-assassin theorist community's star academic came to an abrupt end. A student in an ethics class at Marquette University approached his teacher, a graduate student, after class and asked her why he couldn't discuss the merits of same-sex marriage in class. The graduate student responded that that day's discussion was limited to a discussion of how philosopher John Rawls' theories could be applied to some of today's issues, including same sex marriage, and was not intended as an all-out discussion of same sex marriage as being right or wrong. But the student persisted, and claimed studies showed that children raised by same sex couples were harmed as a result. The graduate student pointed out that that was irrelevant as to whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, questioned the accuracy of such a study, and noted that some arguments against same sex marriage come across as homophobic. She said that students unwilling to refrain from such speech were welcome to drop out of her class. The student then contacted the school's administrators to complain. The administrators asked the student at this time if he'd recorded the conversation he'd had with the graduate student. He said no. A few days later, however, he met with Professor McAdams, his academic advisor, to discuss his dropping out of the class taught by the graduate student. At this time, he told McAdams that he had in fact illicitly recorded his conversation with the graduate student. McAdams then asked for and received access to this recording. He told the student he intended to reference it on his personal blog. He then posted a complaint about the graduate student's actions on his blog, The Marquette Warrior. He claimed, inaccurately, and in opposition to the tape he had been provided, that the graduate student (who he chose to name) had cut off a planned discussion of same-sex marriage, had boasted that there was no real disagreement about it, and had said any disagreement about same-sex marriage could be classified as hate speech. He indicated as well that the student (whose name he did not reveal) had left her class as a result of his being told he could not discuss same-sex marriage in class. He cited her as an example of the liberal take-over of his university, and linked to her personal webpage so his readers could see her personal political views and voice their complaints.
These misrepresentations, of course, led to protests against the graduate student. And yet McAdams still wasn't satisfied. Again and again he denounced her on his blog. As a consequence, she received dozens of hate emails, many of them saying she should die or be raped. The university hired private security for her protection. She felt compelled to leave school.
The school then began to investigate. During this investigation, McAdams was relieved of his classes and banned from campus. And yet, he continued to blog about the left-wing take-over of his school, now denouncing not only the graduate student but the school's administration. This caught the attention of the right-wing press. A number of online articles appeared, virtually all of which denounced the school's administrators and defended McAdams' right to free speech.
In February 2015, Richard Holz, the Dean of Marquette's College of Arts and Sciences, sent McAdams a letter telling him he was being fired. McAdams placed this letter (which McAdams would subsequently come to characterize as a "deranged rant") online, and attempted to rally his friends in the media to support his actions as a matter of free speech, and to attack Holz for trying to stifle free speech in the name of political correctness.
McAdams overplayed his hand, however. According to Holz's letter, not only had McAdams been warned about naming students on his blog on two prior occasions, in 2008 and 2011, but that the university had conducted a thorough review of McAdams' behavior and initial complaint about the student teacher and had found that instead of embracing "multiple internal avenues of review" of the student teacher's actions, he had "chose to shame and intimidate with an Internet story that was incompetent, inaccurate, and lacking in integrity, respect for other's opinions, and appropriate restraint." The Dean had thereby come to acknowledge what many in the Kennedy assassination research community, on both sides of the fence, had come to know as true: that McAdams has no problem lying and misrepresenting the facts of a given situation when it serves his higher purpose.
In this case, it was discovered that in his blog posts McAdams had mis-characterized the student who'd surreptitiously recorded the graduate student as one who had dropped the graduate student's class after being shut down by the graduate student, and told he couldn't argue against same-sex marriage in her class. Holz told McAdams: "That is false. As you knew or should have known... the student told the university three days after withdrawing that he had done so because he was getting an 'F' at mid-term. He further specifically agreed that his grade fairly reflected his performance and had nothing to do with his political or personal beliefs. Similarly, by leaving out any reference to (the student teacher's) follow-up class discussion in which she acknowledged and addressed the student's objection to gay marriage, you created a false impression of her conduct and an inaccurate account of what occurred. You either were recklessly unaware of what happened in the follow-up class, or you elected not to include these facts in your Internet story."
Holz continued: "As a result of your unilateral, dishonorable and irresponsible decision to publicize the name of our graduate student, and your decision to publish information that was false and materially misleading about her and your university colleagues, that student received a series of hate-filled and despicable e-mails, including one suggesting that she had committed 'treason and sedition' and as a result faced penalties such as 'drawing, hanging, beheading, and quartering,'" He then added: "Another note, delivered to her campus mailbox, told the student, 'You must undo the terrible wrong committed when you were born. Your mother failed to make the right choice. You must abort yourself for the glory of inclusiveness and tolerance.' Accordingly, and understandably, the student feared for her personal safety, and we posted a Public Safety Officer outside her classroom. In addition, as a result of your conduct and its consequences, (the student teacher) now has withdrawn from our graduate program and moved to another university to continue her academic career. You have been asked, advised and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts. With this latest example of unprofessional and irresponsible conduct we have no confidence that you will live up to any additional assurances on your part that you will respect and protect our students. Indeed, you specifically discussed in your blog the fact that your conduct would negatively impact the student’s opportunities in the future and you expressed pride in that result."
In short, the Dean of Marquette's College of Arts and Sciences, Richard Holz, had finally seen the light. Professor John McAdams is an unrepentant bully who will fudge the facts to make a point.
In March 2015, McAdams discussed his situation with myself and others on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup. He told me that he felt certain he would win his case for reinstatement, and that in his view the student who started the whole thing when he was told he couldn't argue against gay marriage in a class session devoted to John Rawl's theory of justice, was a "victim" of the student teacher who dared suggest that his arguments were homophobic. When I told him that I felt he was exaggerating the pain felt by someone who, at worst, had been called a "homophobe," which roughly translates to "someone who is afraid of homosexuals." he objected profusely, and insisted, by way of an ongoing analogy, that the student teacher's calling this young man a homophobe was akin to her calling a black student an N word. I was surprised by this, and thought it a gross exaggeration, an attempt to win the debate by disingenuously comparing apples with oranges. When I told him I thought his fight to regain tenure would be helped considerably if he expressed remorse over the student teacher's receiving what amounted to death threats as a response to his blog post over her disagreement with the student, he responded "I have no remorse at all, since I did nothing to provoke, encourage or condone any threatening e-mails." When I tried to point out that the student teacher, who McAdams consistently claimed was the "bully" in the story, had never listed the name of a student online, or facilitated the harassment of a student by linking to his or her personal webpage, and that that was instead the behavior of a tenured professor, John McAdams, McAdams once again refused any responsibility for his precarious predicament, and claimed instead that he was merely a "whistleblower" about the "serious misconduct" of the student teacher and the university's "leftist" administration. He added further that this would be the school's "undoing."
This was crazy-assed conspiracy talk, of course, the ramblings of a former faculty member who'd clearly lost his faculties. Let's let Wikipedia (a website whose articles on the Kennedy assassination often show the mark of McAdams) relate what happened next, and what is still to come:
"On March 24, 2016, Marquette released an announcement detailing the decision of University President Michael Lovell, formally implementing the unanimous recommendation contained in a 123-page report composed by the Faculty Hearing Committee after a 4-day investigation. McAdams' suspension was extended until January 2017 without pay but with benefits, and any return was conditioned on his writing a full letter of apology by April 4, 2016. McAdams told local news media that the requirement to write an apology was "a deal killer. No, I`m not going to do that." The announcement triggered a barrage of hateful and threatening messages from McAdams's supporters directed at the grad student and at Marquette University officials.
On April 4, 2016, McAdams issued a 4-page letter to President Lovell, formally rejecting his demands, and calling them "compelled speech."
McAdams has filed a lawsuit against Marquette, alleging that the suspension and pending dismissal amount to a breach of contract. In response the university released the 123-page Faculty Hearing Committee report, which alleges a pattern of bullying and reckless behavior by McAdams, including at least three previous attempts to intimidate fellow faculty members by threatening to publish their names on his blog."
McAdams is, in the professional opinion of his long-time employer, an unrepentant bully and liar.
But that's not the end of the story.
On May 4, 2017--oddly enough, my birthday--Judge David Hansher dismissed McAdams' lawsuit, and ruled in Marquette's favor. McAdams, with the financial backing of multiple right-wing organizations, then appealed his case to the bitterly divided Wisconsin Supreme Court. On July 6, 2018, the court announced its decision. It had ruled 4-2 along partisan lines in McAdams' favor. Somehow, four of these "justices" convinced themselves McAdams bore no responsibility for the attacks on Abbate, even though he'd fomented attacks upon students in the past, had been warned not to do this again, and had followed this same M.O. in his treatment of Abbate. And that's not all. These justices also claimed bias was demonstrated in Marquette's treatment of McAdams, and that the University was out of line in asking a tenured professor to apologize to a student teacher whose career he had pretty much ruined. They ignored, among other things, that Marquette had discovered in the time since the original incident that the student McAdams claimed was the real victim was in fact a student leader of an activist organization committed to combating liberalism on campus, and that the whole incident had almost certainly been a set-up from the beginning, with McAdams, the student's adviser, advising him to record a conversation with Abbate about gay marriage and provoke her into saying something they could sell to the right-wing media as being "politically correct," so he, McAdams, could then spin this to their mutual advantage. I mean, really, McAdams has a blog in which he attacks liberals on campus, A student leader of an organization sharing his goals just so happens to make him his adviser. This student then just so happens to get into an argument with a student teacher in whose class he just so happens to be failing. This student just so happens to then provide McAdams with an illicitly-recorded copy of this argument. And McAdams just so happens to go public with the contents of the recording, and even lie about its contents, which just so happens to endear him to the right-wing media and get his fat face all over Fox News. Hmmm... Do the math... It's not exactly calculus.
Of course, McAdams isn't the only bully using the internet to attack those with a more progressive view of American history. He has a multitude of supporters.
Some of those devouring McAdams' propaganda are, in fact, way out there on the fringe, and potentially...dangerous.
In 2009, an anonymous gun-aficionado using the name mag30th began posting videos of his shooting feats on youtube. (Apparently, he'd been posting these videos for years, but really went crazy with it in 2009, shortly after Barack Obama took office...) Anyhow, some of these videos were of him firing a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. In some videos he fired for accuracy. In others he fired for speed. In the comments section of each of these videos, however, the subject matter was always the same. It was a series of complaints about conspiracy theorists, and how none of them knew anything about weapons, and how they'd conned people into doubting Oswald could have fired the shots that killed Kennedy.
As I knew full well that any doubts Oswald could have fired the shots sprang not from the fantasies of conspiracy theorists, but the official record, and the testimony of the men who'd actually tested Oswald's rifle, I joined the discussion, and tried to stop those impressed with mag30th's shooting from believing his shooting prowess said anything about the assassination. Unfortunately, I even expressed doubts his videos were honest depictions of his shooting ability. This led to a tremendous amount of nastiness, and challenges to my manhood, etc. Mag30th then bet me 5,000 dollars he could rapid fire his rifle twice as fast as anyone had fired Oswald's rifle. As the speed at which he could fire his rifle--particularly in that he now admitted he'd had far more experience than Oswald and had in fact been firing bolt-action rifles competively for more than 30 years--was immaterial to my research, and as I really had no desire to bet such a sum, or even meet the man, I refused. This led to even more attacks on my manhood, etc.
It was around this time that I noticed that some of my comments had disappeared. I challenged mag30th to join a discussion forum where he would have no control over what others could say about his videos. He refused to do so. At this point I stopped responding to many of his attacks. He then posted a terribly misleading video on myths about the Mannlicher-Carcano, pretending for his viewers that these "myths" all derived from conspiracy theorists, when most of them had in fact derived from the official record.
This video was not a waste of time, however. At one point in the video, mag30th shot a couple of simulated skulls, and asserted that their falling to the side after being hit was proof that skulls fall back to the shooter after being hit, and that this disproves the conspiracy theory that the movement of Kennedy's skull after frame 313 indicates the shot came from the front. While these tests were far from convincing on this point--a point which I might readily concede, I might add, should it be clearly demonstrated--they were, not surprisingly, fairly convincing on another point. A significant amount of simulated blood and brain matter splashed back toward the shooter from the entrance location on each of these skulls. Mag30th's tests, therefore, demonstrated once again that the shot at frame 313 would have most logically caused a splash of blood from the back of JFK's head, should it actually have impacted on the back of JFK's head as purported.
So why didn't mag30th note this? Why was he so intent on using his knowledge of guns and his prowess with his rifle to mislead people, when he could have used it to inform?
Well, the bio on his youtube channel gave me a clue. It began:
I despise Socialism and the modern day liberal democrat (another word for Socialist), and all the rest of the share the wealth types. Obama represents the Socialist mentality to perfection. Karl Marx would have been proud of him.
"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."--Norman Thomas, U.S. Socialist Party presidential candidate 1940, 1944 and 1948.
Socialism hasn't worked in 6,000 years of recorded history because it didnt have me to run it. - Ted Kennedy.
Mag30th was thereby bragging that he HATED socialists, and considered the Kennedy family--at one time one of the wealthiest families in America-- socialists. (John McAdams has similarly crowned President Obama a socialist.)
Sadly, one finds this attitude all too prevalent within those supposedly "defending" history from conspiracy theorists. Just as there are knee-jerk conspiracists, who think every crime committed in the last 60 years is somehow connected to the Bush family, there are knee-jerk single-assassin theorists, who pathetically and desperately refuse to allow that the death of John F. Kennedy could have any meaning, or that he could have died for his country much as Abraham Lincoln died for his country. These people are, in my opinion, disturbed, and possibly dangerous. One of them regularly pollutes discussion forums and youtube with diatribes against Kennedy, and how he was a "spavined hunchback" and a sexual deviant who was totally undeserving of praise or respect.
A typical post from this individual (he who shall not be named):
"The Great JFK Assassination Hoaxing of America is FINISHED! The decline of America didn't occur after JFK was shot, it happened when America voted him into office. JFK WAS A PIECE OF SHIT SIMILAR TO THE PEOPLE WHO DEFEND THAT SHIT AND LEE OSWALD WHO WE SHOULD REMEMBER TOOK OUT THAT GARBAGE! THANKS LEE!"
Such lunacy could be laughed at and ignored should it not be so obsessive and omnipresent.
As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if the next Presidential assassin springs from the ranks of those currently claiming Oswald acted alone.