JAHS Chapter 23
The Deliberation Dilemma
By early August 1964, the Commission and its remaining staff are busy busy busy preparing for the release of their report, re-writing draft after draft...trying to be clear as heck that Oswald was guilty as heck. An 8-8-64 critique by Commission Counsel Howard Willens of a 7-21 draft of the report's chapter on "The Assassin," however, gives us reason to be pessimistic about the thoroughness of the report. Willens, the Justice Department's point man on the commission, notes "I still have a question about the validity of including as a minor finding Oswald's capability with a rifle. I think our case remains the same even if Oswald had limited or negligible capability with a rifle. In a way, we are emphasizing an argument we don't really need, which prompts controversy and may tend to weaken the stronger elements of our proof."
This confirms our worst suspicion--the commission and its staff have decided that, no matter how difficult the shots, and how incredible it would be for someone like Oswald to have made these shots, they're prepared to say he made them, without any assistance. This is weak sister stuff. IF Oswald had negligible ability with a rifle, it's unlikely he fired the shots; IF it's unlikely he fired the shots, then, Willens, an attorney for the Justice Department, should be asking "how is it that so much evidence exists that he did fire the shots"? "Was he, in fact, the patsy he claimed he was?"
A Word from Howard
(In 2013, Warren Commission counsel Howard Willens published History Will Prove Us Right, his adamant defense of the Commission and its work. Towards the end of his book, he runs through the Commission's report chapter by chapter, and discusses who wrote what and when it was approved by the Commission itself. Of Specter's chapter on the assassination, he writes:
Chapter 2: The Assassination
Specter's first draft was supplemented by material from other areas, reorganized and substantially edited by Belin and me. The chapter's description of the Secret Service's functions and reactions at the assassination scene came from Stern's work on presidential protection. The commission concluded that the first nine questions on its list were addressed satisfactorily in a June draft of this chapter. These were:
1. What was the purpose of the trip?
2. Who participated in the planning of the trip?
3. When was it decided to visit Dallas?
4. What was the purpose of the motorcade?
5. Who planned the motorcade route?
6. Why was this route chosen?
7. Why did the motorcade turn from Main Street and pass the intersection of Elm and Houston?
8. When was the route announced to the public?
9. What time was the President assassinated?
The commission discussed an additional seven questions addressed in this chapter:
10. How fast was the car going?
11. Did the car slow down after the first shot?
12. What treatment was given President Kennedy at Parkland?
13. What wounds were observed by the doctors?
14. What treatment was given Governor Connally?
15. When and where did President Johnson take the oath of office?
16. What wounds were observed at autopsy?
The notes from the commission meeting on July 2. reflect its conclusions that the car was going 'between 11 and 12 miles per hour' and that the treatment of questions 11 through 16 in the proposed draft was satisfactory.
After receiving the commission's conclusions, we prepared another draft. Goldberg, who was familiar with the facts about the Dallas trip, suggested a new organization for the chapter and provided editing suggestions. Both Stern and Specter participated in rewriting sections of this chapter and providing the needed footnotes. I finished working on a new draft on July 21, and it was distributed to the commission that day.
At its August 11 meeting, the commission approved a revised draft with only minor suggestions and authorized its printing. After implementing the commission's suggestions and clarifying its discussion of a few points, I delivered the chapter to GPO on August 20.
Chapter 3: The Shots From The Texas School Book Depository
When we decided tentatively in early June to have a separate chapter consider the shots from the depository, I prepared an initial draft. I used material from the reenactment project prepared by Specter, supplemented by the discussion of eyewitness testimony and ballistics evidence written by Ball and Belin. My draft was circulated to the commission and staff in mid-June.
Questions 17 through 27 on the commission's list related to the shots fired at the president. The commission's answers to the questions and assessment of the draft chapter were brief and straightforward.
17. How many shots were fired? "A preponderance of evidence indicates that there were 3 shots fired."
18. How many times was the President wounded? "Twice."
19. What was the course of the bullets through his body? "Treatment (of this subject in the proposed draft) satisfactory."
20. Were both shots lethal? "First shot not necessarily lethal; second shot unquestionably lethal."
21. How many times was the Governor wounded? "One."
22. What was the course of the bullets through his body? "Treatment...satisfactory."
23. Where did the shots come from? "It was agreed that all of the shots came from the Texas School Book Depository Bldg. and the treatment in the proposed draft is satisfactory."
24. Did they all come from one place? "Treatment...satisfactory."
25. is there any evidence that the shots came from the Triple Overpass or any other place in front of the car? "Overwhelming weight of the evidence is that the shots did not come from the Triple Overpass (commission indicated that in referring to the three railroad crossings at that point on Elm Street reference should uniformly by the name 'Triple Overpass').
26. What damage was done to the windshield of the Presidential car? "Treatment in draft satisfactory, but make certain that there is a comment that there was no penetration of the windshield and also that there was no roughness that could be felt on either side of the windshield."
27. From what kind of gun were the shots fired? "Treatment satisfactory."
The commission's conclusion that the treatment of the subject was "satisfactory" meant only that it accurately reflected the commission's answer to the relevant question. It did not amount to an endorsement of either the organization of the chapter or the staff's presentation of the evidence bearing on the question. The commission members always made suggestions, both large and small, for the staff to consider in preparing the next draft...
Rankin also authorized Specter to take five additional depositions in Dallas on July 16, including two witnesses who might have information regarding what we called the "missing bullet"...
Based on the comments received and the results of further investigation, I put together another draft that now included the discussion of the expert examination of rifle, cartridge cases, and bullet fragments; the bullet wounds; the trajectories of the two bullets; the number of shots; the shot that missed; and the time span of the shots. After reviewing the draft, Mosk recommended that he and Arthur Marmor, our second historian on loan from the State Department, sit down with the authors of the earlier drafts so that the text and footnotes could be edited to reflect the authors' intentions more accurately in the course of undertaking this chore. Marmor advised Redlich that important information provided by a deputy sheriff had not been used in the chapter. This prompted an immediate request from Redlich to Liebeler, who was then in Texas, to take the deposition of this deputy Sheriff and others.
After further revision the commission considered Chapter 3 again on August 14. I rewrote the section dealing with the missed shot to reflect the testimony of James Tague and James Altgens...
Chapter 3 was approved by the commission later in the month and, by the end of August, the chapter was ready for printing. The commission reached two conclusions in this chapter that have been challenged by critics--the number of shots fired and the probability that the bullet that pierced Kennedy's throat also caused Connally's wounds. The commission did not reach a conclusion on the second issue--the single-bullet theory--until its final meeting on September 18..."
Chapter 4: The Assassin
This chapter provided unanticipated drama in July. Ball and Belin concentrated their investigative efforts in the area called "Oswald as the Assassin," which mostly ended up in Chapter 4. Ball was back in California by this time and Belin was in Iowa, resuming their law practices. After we decided to move the discussion of the shots from the depository to a separate Chapter 3, Redlich prepared a new draft of Chapter 4. Eisenberg helped out with various scientific issues, Specter polished up the discussion of Oswald's rifle, and we included some of Ely's earlier work on Oswald's experience in the Marines and his post-arrest treatment by the Dallas police. Redlich's first draft of the revised chapter was circulated to the commission and staff late in June with a comment that it was incomplete.
The commission considered fourteen questions (28-41) addressed in this chapter and made these decisions based on Redlich's new draft:
28. Who owned the gun? "Lee Harvey Oswald.'
29. WaS Oswald at the window from which the shots were fired? "Treatment satisfactory except that it was suggested that in describing the cartons piled up near the window as a rest for the gun, there be a reference to the Rolling Readers and their light weight."
30. How did the weapon get into the building on November 22? "Treatment satisfactory."
31. Who fired the gun? "Treatment satisfactory."
32. How did Oswald leave the building? "Treatment satisfactory except the report should be explicit that he presumably left by the front entrance and that he had a Coke in his hand when he was seen Mrs. Reed in the office."
33. What time was the building closed off by the police? "Treatment satisfactory."
(questions 34-40 deal with the murder of J.D. Tippit and the attempted murder of Gen. Ewin Walker.)
41. Did Oswald practice with his rifle during October and November of 1963? "This question should be answered by the statement that there is some evidence by reputable people that Oswald practiced with his rifle during October and November 1963 but this is a matter of their recollection without their having known Oswald, and that other circumstances tend to negate any such conclusions. There was some discussion at this point about the Irving Gun Shop incident and whether investigation had been sufficient to conclude that there was no other gun. The Commissioners commented that all the surrounding circumstances that they knew of caused them to question whether the testimony about the Irving Gun Shop incident should be believed, but they desired to have any additional, reasonable, investigation made that might help to determine the matter."
After the commission's review of this chapter, we expanded the material supporting the conclusion that Oswald was the assassin...Redlich set forth the evidence and summarized the basis for the commission's conclusion on each issue. Several members of the staff reviewed this draft to ensure we discussed the issues thoroughly and accurately.
Redlich's revision prompted David Belin to renew his (and Joe Ball's) opposition to a separate chapter dealing with the shots from the depository, rather than include this evidence to support the conclusion that Oswald was the assassin. In an impassioned letter to Rankin, (Note: this letter was dated July 7) he complained that he and Ball were not consulted about this proposed change. He told Rankin that the failure to consult with Ball "frankly shocks me; from my work with Ball I can honestly say that I have never met a lawyer who had better insight on the practical effectiveness of presentation of argument combined with an ability to understand and judge the heart of the testimony of witnesses."
Belin recognized, however, the lack of prior consultation was not the issue. "Rather, the sole question is what is the most effective way of presenting our findings." Belin argued that "the evidence on the source of the shots is among the strongest evidence there is to show that Oswald was the assassin" and therefore it should be included in the chapter dealing with Oswald as the assassin. He suggested that devoting an entire chapter to the shots was an example of "gilding the lily" and expressed concern that "the overproof in this type of a separate chapter serves as a contrast to point up the weaknesses of other aspects of other evidence showing Oswald was the assassin."
Belin was not one, then or later, to soften his arguments for diplomacy's sake. "My frank opinion," he wrote Rankin, "is that this report is far too much influenced by the short-range concern with Buchanan and Lane, et al. Writers of this ilk all center their attack on a claimed shot from the overpass. There can be absolutely no doubt about the source of the shots, and it does not take 68 typewritten pages to prove it. All Buchanan and Lane have succeeded in doing is to steer the Commission on the false course of meeting the short-range argument while undercutting the entire function of what should be the historical findings of fact that will save for the next 100 years or more."
Belin's argument highlighted an important difference of opinion within the staff. He and Ball had developed sufficient evidence that would likely have persuaded a jury to convict Oswald of the assassination...Ball and Belin reasonably concluded that there was no need for the commission report to do more than present the existing evidence--physical evidence, eyewitness testimony, and expert testimony--that proved Oswald was the assassin. They objected to the commission undertaking a rebuttal of possible alternative explanations of the crime.
Others on the staff, including me, had concluded that the Ball-Belin approach would not be sufficient to achieve the commission's objectives. Instead, we thought it was necessary to anticipate criticism directed at the commission's work. And to do that, we had to do just what Ball and Belin wanted us to avoid: marshal the evidence to rebut allegations or contentions that had been made or might be anticipated...
Our effort to document critical facts in Chapter 4 prompted new investigative requests in July and August...
In August, staff lawyers continued doggedly pursuing details on Oswald's activities. New requests asked the agencies to confirm, clarify, or supplement earlier reports. Other requests sought appropriate documentation that could be used in the report. Still others pursued newly developed information. In a few instances, the requested investigation led to further testimony before the commission or by deposition.
In late July, Redlich circulated another draft of Chapter 4 incorporating the suggestions of the commission and members of the staff. Several of us responded in early August with further comments on the new draft. There were forty-one suggestions in my memo, generally focusing on improving the clarity and persuasiveness of the presentation of the evidence demonstrating that Oswald was the shooter...
Goldberg's review of this draft chapter included general comments and fifty-one specific observations or questions...
We were under pressure to get a revised version of Chapter 4 back to the commission for its review. Redlich still had the editing responsibilities for the chapter and had to consider all the comments he had received about the last draft. In addition, the FBI was responding promptly to our requests and this new information had to be reflected in the next draft, which went to the commission on August 20.
After the commission met on August 21, I was surprised to learn that a few members had already returned the latest draft of Chapter 4, which had gone to them the day before. According to Rankin, one of the members had said the chapter "was all factual and that therefore there was not much controversy to it." To the contrary, most of the staff anticipated that this chapter would be of the greatest interest to the critics such as Mark Lane and the broader audience in the United States and Europe...
An 8-21-64 entry in Willens' diary supports Belin's complaint the commission is obsessed with its critics. He writes that on this day "Mr. Rankin also told me that he had raised with the Commission the problem of Archives handling of Commission materials. There is apparently a feeling among the members of the Commission that it would be desirable if all the material of the Commission were not available to the public for a year or two after the report comes out. They suggest that the organization and the screening of these materials will take this long, but of course the principal interest here is making sure that sufficient time elapses before any real critics can get access to material other than those which the Commission desires to publish simultaneous with its report. Apparently the Chief Justice intends to talk with the National Archivist on this subject."
(Well, heck, that's as good as an admission that the commission was not the straight-ahead fact-finding committee some claim them to have been, but the politically-motivated fact-hiding committee others fear they really were. Major props to Willens--a devout commission defender--for both including this juicy tidbit in his book, and for publishing his diary on his website.)
Above: Warren Commission Counsel Wesley Liebeler. Liebeler was the most independent-minded member of the commission's staff, prone to do the unexpected...like, say, grow a beard, or, even crazier, act like an investigator as opposed to a prosecutor...
Liebeler for the Defense
Fortunately, at least a few members of the staff have an interest in doing their jobs--investigating the possibility Oswald was set up. On 8-28-64, Commission Counsel Wesley Liebeler writes a memo to General Counsel Rankin informing him that Burt Griffin, David Slawson, and himself are troubled by the circumstances under which Oswald's palm print was identified on a lift taken from the rifle...days after the FBI had inspected the rifle and concluded there was no such print on the rifle. To be specific, Liebeler seeks to clarify a number of matters with Lt. J.C. Day of the Dallas Police. (Day claimed he'd taken a lift from the rifle before handing it off to the FBI, but did not give it to the FBI along with the other key evidence on 11-22, nor analyze the lift before giving it to the FBI on 11-26). In essence, Liebeler seeks to:
Determine whether or not anyone had assisted Day when working on the prints who could corroborate his story.
Determine why Day covered the prints on the trigger guard (which the FBI had failed to identify) with cellophane tape, but failed to cover the print he later claimed he'd found on the barrel.
Determine why he lifted the print from the rifle barrel, but failed to lift the prints from the trigger guard.
Determine if Day felt certain the print was still on the rifle after the lift (the FBI claimed no such print was visible on the barrel when they received the rifle).
Determine if Day had in fact photographed the palm print on the barrel, as he had taken numerous photographs of the trigger guard prints and had forwarded them to the FBI, and it made no sense for him to fail to take pictures of the barrel print he thought was a "better bet" for identification.
Determine if there is any way the FBI could study the lift of the palm print and conclude it had in fact come from the rifle barrel.
On 8-28-64, General Counsel Rankin and Counsels Liebeler and Griffin meet with the FBI's fingerprint expert Sebastian Latona, and ask the FBI's help not only with the problematic palm print but in ascertaining whose fingerprints and palm prints were found on the boxes of the sniper's nest Here, only NINE MONTHS after the shooting, it finally dawns on them that not knowing whose prints were found in the sniper's nest "leaves room for the allegation and speculation that Oswald had a co-conspirator in killing President Kennedy." The FBI's memo on this meeting reflects no genuine interest on their part in finding out whose prints these were, mind you, only that they were concerned about the speculation should they not endeavor to find out whose prints, besides Oswald's, were found in the nest.
In any event, Rankin ends up making formal requests that the FBI help resolve these issues "by whatever additional investigation (is) necessary." Within days, the FBI takes both a closer look at the rifle print, and compares the unidentified box prints to those of 16 current and former employees of the depository, 4 employees of the Dallas Police Department, and 5 employees of the Bureau itself. From this they discover that 14 of the 19 fingerprints, and 4 of the 6 palm prints, came from the DPD Crime Lab's Robert Studebaker, who originally dusted the boxes for prints. They discover as well that of the other 5 fingerprints and 2 remaining palm prints, all but one palm print came from an FBI clerk named Forrest Lucy. Despite their best efforts, however--over the course of the next month, the FBI checks this lone palm print against the prints of another 85 Dallas Police and FBI employees--they are unable to identify the source of this print.
And that's far from the only loose thread on Rankin's mind. On 8-31-64, he writes another letter to Hoover, this time asking the FBI to interview Roy Truly, Oswald's boss at the Texas School Book Depository, to see if anyone came across a bag of curtain rods in the building. Yep, here it is, months after the Warren Commission's staff has written a report claiming Oswald lied when he told Buell Frazier the package he brought to work on 11-22-63 contained curtain rods, and months after the commissioners have signed off on this finding, and it finally occurs to someone that, hey, maybe, the package DID contain curtain rods--and that, geez, we should at least ask Roy Truly if he recalled anyone ever finding a package of curtain rods in the building. The FBI interviews Truly on 9-1-64, and forwards a memo on this interview to the commission on 9-4-64. The brief memo on this interview claims Truly said he never saw any curtain rods in the building, and that he would almost certainly have heard if anyone else had found any curtain rods. But there's a problem here. No sworn affidavit, or sworn testimony, has been provided. And that's by design. The 9-1-64 airtel from Hoover to Dallas Special Agent in Charge J. Gordon Shanklin in which Hoover orders Truly be interviewed specifies that the results of this interview should be communicated in a memo, and that "it will not be necessary to incorporate Truly's interview in a subsequent report." So what's going on here? Was Hoover just trying to save his men some time? Or was he afraid an interview with Truly might lead to more questions, and that a report on such an interview might lead to even more questions? In any event, the memo advising the results of the FBI'S interview with Truly is sent to the commission without a signature line, as one would find on a report. As a result, there's no suggestion whatsoever that the memo reflects what Truly actually told his supposed interviewer, Ray Hall, or that Ray Hall was even consulted in the creation of this memo, or that Ray Hall even spoke to Truly. No, the memo reflects simply that Truly said something to somebody, without noting who this somebody was, or even who was claiming Truly said something to somebody. Here, see for yourself:
(It should be noted, moreover, that the Commission was less than impressed with Hoover's "investigation" of this matter. When the Commission's Final Report was published on 9-24, it cited a Commission Exhibit 2640 re the curtain rods. This Exhibit was then published in the 26 volumes of supporting evidence released later in the year. Well, CE 2640 was the unsigned letter reproduced above. So the Commission bought what Hoover was selling. Only, not entirely. You see, the passage in the report citing this memo was far from convincing, and more than suggestive the Commission itself (or at least the members of its staff finishing up its report, i.e. Willens, Redlich, and Rankin) was dissatisfied with Hoover's investigation. Instead of flatly declaring no curtain rods were found within the building, or even that the DPD and FBI's investigations found no curtain rods within the building, the report offered, meekly, "No curtain rods were known to have been discovered in the Depository Building after the assassination." Well, no cockroaches were known to have been discovered in the building after the assassination, either, but it's a pretty safe bet they'd have found one should anyone have actually looked for one in the days following the shooting.)
Meanwhile, in Washington, on 9-1-64, FBI photo expert Lyndal Shaneyfelt testifies before the Commission. This is actually the the third time he's testified. He discusses the various photos of Oswald with his rifle, and how the newspapers and magazines showing these photos had tampered with them, and accidentally created the illusion the rifle was not the rifle recovered at the Book Depository. He then discusses photos of Oswald's shirt, which essentially prove nothing other than that Oswald had been wearing that shirt when arrested. He also discusses a photograph by Phil Willis. This photo was taken, per Willis' testimony, a split second after the first shot. Egged on by Norman Redlich, Shaneyfelt testifies "it is my opinion that photograph A of Shaneyfelt exhibit no. 25 was taken in the vicinity of the time that frame 210 of the Zapruder film was taken. This is not an accurate determination because the exact location of Mr. Willis is unknown. This would allow for some variation, but the time of the photograph A, as related to the Zapruder film, would be generally during the period that the President was behind the signboard in the Zapruder films, which covers a range from around frame 205 to frame 225." Redlich then interjects "Prior investigation has also revealed that when viewed from the southeast corner window of the sixth floor, the President emerges from the oak tree at approximately frame 210." Redlich then asks Shaneyfelt if it would be possible to fix Willis' exact location, and thus the exact time of his photograph as compared to the Zapruder film. Shaneyfelt replies "Yes, it would be possible having Mr. Willis' camera, to fix his location with some degree of accuracy..." When then nudged by Redlich "You are reasonably satisfied, however, that the technique that you have used to fix his location is a reasonably accurate one upon which you can base your conclusions which you have stated today?" Shaneyfelt responds "Yes, yes. I feel that the exact establishing of the position of Mr. Willis would not add a great detail of additional accuracy to my present conclusions."
Well, wait a minute. On June 4, Shaneyfelt testified in a curious manner that Kennedy appeared to be un-hit before he went behind the sign around frame 210 of the Zapruder film. Now he has testified that the Willis photo was taken around frame 210, the exact moment, as Norman Redlich was so kind to point out, that Kennedy was first visible to the sniper's nest after passing under the oak tree. A more accurate location for Willis's photo might mean that Willis took his picture before Kennedy went behind the sign. It might be an indication that someone fired a shot when a tree was blocking the view of anyone firing from the sniper's nest. It might be an indication, then, there was a second shooter. That Shaneyfelt refused to accurately plot Willis' location, and thus the timing of his photo, when added to the fact that he and Redlich went to such great lengths to assure everyone a more accurate assessment was unnecessary, when added to the fact that this testimony is being taken in the last weeks of the Commission, suggests the possibility that both men know the photo was taken when Oswald couldn't have fired the shot, and were trying to keep this off the record.
(Sure enough, it was subsequently demonstrated that the photo was taken at frame 202 of the Zapruder film, before Kennedy went behind the sign. Equally intriguing, when deposed in a Freedom of Information act lawsuit brought by Harold Weisberg in 1977, and asked about his work on the Willis photo by Weisberg's lawyer Jim Lesar, Shaneyfelt testified "I may have" three times and "I don't recall"five times, and concluded smugly that "I am sure the record speaks for itself." Yes, it does--to those who listen.)
Here is the proof the photo was taken at frame 202. A crop from frame 202 is on the top and a crop from the Willis photo is on the bottom. Not only is Willis seen snapping his photo in the Zapruder film, he captures Zapruder in the background of his photo, filming him. When one aligns the two photographers, moreover, one finds that Secret Service Agent Clint Hill is mirrored, just to the left of Zapruder in Willis, and just to the right of Willis in Zapruder. Thus, the images were created within a split second of each other. Well...why couldn't the FBI's top photo expert figure this out!
On 9-4-64, FBI Director Hoover sends General Counsel Rankin a letter claiming the FBI's examiners have studied the background marks and irregularities of the palm print lift and have been able to positively identify it as having come from the assassination rifle. Accompanying this letter is a blurry illegible comparison of a small part of the barrel with and the palm print lift. This comparison is nevertheless accepted into evidence as exhibit CE 2637. No testimony is taken from the actual examiners, and Hoover is not asked to submit under oath that his letter is anything more than a fantasy. There is nothing to indicate, furthermore, that the small part of a barrel used in the comparison was even on the famous rifle.
Huh. In the last week of August, Rankin wrote two letters to Hoover in which he asked his help in answering some questions--1) whether or not the palm print purportedly lifted From the rifle could be associated with the rifle, and 2) whether or not the curtain rods Oswald told Frazier he was bringing to work were ever located in the depository, and Hoover has responded to both questions with letters, and not reports. As a consequence, then, no official document detailing the efforts of the FBI to answer these questions, and no sworn testimony in which the FBI agents conducting these investigations offered their support for the results claimed by Hoover, has been provided.
In the years to come, supporters of the Warren Commission's conclusions would come to claim the evidence supporting Oswald's guilt all came from sworn testimony. And yet, here are two prime pieces of evidence used to convict Oswald in the public eye, that came solely from letters from Hoover.
Leave It to Liebeler
Elsewhere on 9-4-64, after rapidly devouring a copy of chapter 4 of the report, Warren Commission Counsel Wesley J. Liebeler nearly has a heart attack. Sensing that critics would see this chapter, which lays out the Commission's reasons for believing Oswald was the assassin, as, in his own words, "a brief for the prosecution," he fires off a 26 page long memorandum to Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin on 9-6. His comments on the Oswald's Rifle Capability section of chapter 4 follow... (with some of the key parts highlighted).
OSWALD'S RIFLE CAPABILITY
1. The purpose of this section is to determine Oswald's ability to fire a rifle. The third word at the top of page 50 of the galleys, which is apparently meant to describe Oswald, is "marksman." A marksman is one skilled at shooting at mark; one who shoots well. Not only do we beg the question a little, but the sentence is inexact in that the shot, which it describes, would be the same for a marksman as it would for one who was not a marksman. How about: the assassin's shots from the easternmost window of the south side of the Texas School Book Depository were at a slow-moving target proceeding on a downgrade virtually straight away from the assassin, at a range of 177 to 266 feet."
2. The last sentence in the first paragraph on galley page 50 should indicate that the slope of Elm Street is downward.
3. The section on the nature of the shots deals basically with the range and the effect of a telescopic sight. Several experts conclude that the shots were easy. There is, however, no consideration given here to the time allowed for the shots. I do not see how someone can conclude that a shot is easy or hard unless he knows something about how long the firer has to shoot, that is, how much time is allotted for the shots.
4. On nature of the shots--Frazier testified that one would have no difficulty in hitting a target with a telescopic sight, since all you have to do is put the crosshairs on the target. On page 51 of the galleys, however, he testified that shots fired by FBI agents with the assassination weapon were "a few inches high and to the right of the target * * * because of a defect in the scope." Apparently no one knows when that defect appeared, or if it was in the scope at the time of the assassination. If it was, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary one may assume that it was, putting the crosshairs on the target would clearly have resulted in a miss, or it very likely would, in any event. I have raised this question before. There is a great deal of testimony in the record that a telescopic sight is a sensitive proposition. You can't leave a rifle and scope laying around in a garage underfoot for almost 3 months, just having brought it back from New Orleans in the back of a station wagon, and expect to hit anything with it, unless you take the trouble to fire it and sight the scope in. This would have been a problem that should have been dealt with in any event, and now that it turns out that there actually was a defect in the scope, it is perfectly clear that the question must be considered. The present draft leaves the Commission open to severe criticism. Furthermore, to the extent that it leaves testimony suggesting that the shots might not have been so easy out of the discussion, thereby giving only a part of the story, it is simply dishonest.
5. Why do we have a statement concerning the fact that Oswald's Marine records show that he was familiar with the Browning automatic rifle, .45-caliber pistol and 12-gage riot gun? That is completely irrelevant to the question of his ability to fire a rifle, unless there is evidence that the same skills are involved. It is, furthermore, prejudicial to some extent.
6. Under the heading "Oswald's Rifle Practice Outside the Marines" we have a statement concerning his hunting activities in Russia. It says that he joined a hunting club, obtained a license and went hunting about six times. It does not say what kind of a weapon he used. While I am not completely familiar with the record on this point, I do know for a fact that there is some indication that he used a shotgun. Under what theory do we include activities concerning a shotgun under a heading relating to rifle practice, and then presume not to advise the reader of the fact?
7. The statements concerning Oswald's practice with the assassination weapon are misleading. They tend to give the impression that he did more practicing than the record suggests that he did. My recollection is that there is only one specific time when he might have practiced. We should be more precise in this area, because the Commission is going to have its work in this area examined very closely.
8. On the top of galley page 51 we have that statement about Oswald sighting the telescopic sight at night on the porch in New Orleans. I think the support for that proposition is thin indeed. Marina Oswald first testified that she did not know what he was doing out there and then she was clearly led into the only answer that gives any support to this proposition.
9. I think the level of reaching that is going on in this whole discussion of rifle capability is merely shown by the fact that under the heading of rifle practice outside the Marine Corps appears the damning statement that "Oswald showed an interest in rifles by discussing that subject with others (in fact only one person as I remember it) and reading gun magazines."
10. I do not think the record will support the statement that Oswald did not leave his Beckley Avenue rooming house on one of the weekends that he was supposedly seen at the Sports Drome Rifle Range.
11. There is a misstatement in the third paragraph under rapid fire tests when it says "Four of the firers missed the second shot." The preceding paragraph states that there were only three firers.
12. There are no footnotes whatsoever in the fifth paragraph under rapid fire tests and some rather important statements are made which require some support from someplace.
13. A minor point as to the next paragraph--bullets are better said to strike rather than land.
14. As I read through the section on rifle capability it appears that 15 different sets of three shots were fired by supposedly expert riflemen of the FBI and other places. According to my calculations those 15 sets of shots took a total of 93.8 seconds to be fired. The average of all 15 is a little over 6.2 seconds. Assuming that time is calculated commencing with the firing of the first shot, that means the average time it took to fire the two remaining shots was about 6.2 seconds. That comes to about 3.1 seconds for each shot, not counting the time consumed by the actual firing, which would not be very much. I recall that chapter 3 said that the minimum time that had to elapse between shots was 2.25 seconds, which is pretty close to the one set of fast shots fired by Frazier of the FBI. The conclusion indicates that Oswald had the capability to fire three shots with two hits in from 4.8 to 5.6 seconds. Of the 15 sets of 3 shots described above, only 3 were fired within 4.8 seconds. A total of five sets, including the three just mentioned were fired within a total of 5.6 seconds. The conclusion at its most extreme states that Oswald could fire faster than the Commission experts fired in 12 of their 15 tries and that in any event he could fire faster than the experts did in 10 of their 15 tries. If we are going to set forth material such as this, I think we should set forth some information on how much training and how much shooting the experts had and did as a whole. The readers could then have something on which to base their judgments concerning the relative abilities of the apparently slow firing experts used by the Commission and the ability of Lee Harvey Oswald.
15. The problems raised by the above analyses should be met at some point in the text of the report. The figure of 2.25 as a minimum firing time for each shot used throughout chapter 3. The present discussion of rifle capability shows that expert riflemen could not fire the assassination weapon that fast. Only one of the experts managed to do so, and his shots, like those of the other FBI experts, were high and to the right of the target. The fact is that most of the experts were much more proficient with a rifle than Oswald could ever be expected to be, and the record indicates that fact, according to my recollection of the response of one of the experts to a question by Mr. McCloy asking for a comparison of an NRA master marksman to a Marine Corps sharpshooter.
16. The present section on rifle capability fails to set forth material in the record tending to indicate that Oswald was not a good shot and that he was not interested in his rifle while in the Marine Corps. It does not set forth material indicating that a telescopic sight must be tested and sighted in after a period of non-use before it can be expected to be accurate. That problem is emphasized by the fact that the FBI actually found that there was a defect in the scope which caused the rifle to fire high and to the right. In spite of the above the present section takes only part of the material in the record to show that Oswald was a good shot and that he was interested in rifles. I submit that the testimony of Delgado that Oswald was not interested in his rifle while in the Marines is at least as probative as Alba's testimony that Oswald came into his garage to read rifle--and hunting--magazines. To put it bluntly that sort of selection from the record could seriously affect the integrity and credibility of the entire report.
17. It seems to me that the most honest and the most sensible thing to do given the present state of the record on Oswald's rifle capability would be to write a very short section indicating that there is testimony on both sides of several issues. The Commission could then conclude that the best evidence that Oswald could fire his rifle as fast as he did and hit the target is the fact that he did so. It may have been pure luck. It probably was to a very great extent. But it happened. He would have had to have been lucky to hit as he did if he had only 4.8 seconds to fire the shots. Why don't we admit instead of reaching and using only part of the record to support the propositions presently set forth in the galleys. Those conclusions will never be accepted by critical persons anyway.
(Let's skip ahead. It should not come as a surprise that Liebeler's complaints about this section of the report were for the most part ignored. According to writer Edward Epstein, with whom Liebeler confided regarding this matter, General Counsel Rankin at first refused to even read the memo, declaring "No more memorandums! The report has to be published!" But Liebeler persisted. Ultimately, Rankin relented and allowed Liebeler to argue his points one by one with Norman Redlich, Rankin's top aide and the man responsible for reviewing and re-writing both the chapters on the shooting and those on Oswald's likely guilt. According to Epstein, "Redlich heatedly objected to all Liebeler's criticisms" and explained to Liebeler that the chapter had been written exactly how the commissioners wanted it written, and had even admitted "The Commissioners judged it an easy shot, and I work for the Commission." According to Epstein, Rankin then adjudicated the memo point by point, and almost always sided with Redlich.
Now, let's think about this a second. Liebeler, one of the Warren Commission's top lawyers, had told his superiors in the commission that there were deceptive, even dishonest, passages in their report. And they ignored him, by and large, telling him that this was what the commissioners wanted. This makes it clear then that by September, if not earlier, they just didn't give a damn. They were there to sell the public what they wanted them to believe, not lay out all the evidence and let the public decide for itself.
(Apparently they thought it best that someone else tackle that job...)
In History Will Prove Us Right, Warren Commission Counsel Howard Willens addresses Liebeler's memos. He writes:
Liebeler got the galley proofs of Chapter 4 on September 4 and submitted detailed comments two days later. Although Liebeler was aware of the controversy about this chapter and the decision to treat the shots from the depository in another chapter, I do not believe that he had reviewed earlier drafts of Chapter 4. Liebeler had a passion for detail, a keen eye for lack of clarity, and a deep love of identifying potential improvements in the work of his colleagues, especially Redlich and me. With Chapter 4 already in the galley proofs, it was a very difficult time to deal with the range and detail of his suggestions. But Liebeler's concerns--ten pages worth--were important...
I did not realize at the time that this was the first of four such memos that Liebeler would be delivering to me and Rankin, who expected me to manage this project and bring it to a successful conclusion on time...I was not pleased with Liebeler's last minute decision to be the staff gadfly who would bring me detailed criticisms of chapters that had already been approved by Rankin and the commission...
But even at this eleventh hour, I knew it was essential to carefully consider all of Liebeler's suggestions. I made changes responding to about fifty of his eighty comments. About fifteen of his eighty suggestions required no changes, either because they were not substantive or had already been addressed. The remaining fifteen involved questions of judgment on which reasonable observers might disagree, and I decided to stick with what had been written...
About fifteen of Liebeler's eighty comments included substantive aspects of the chapter where Liebeler would have preferred a more extensive, or modified, discussion of the evidence...I did not make these proposed changes because I believed that commission members and other staff members, if presented with these suggestions in plenty of time, might have reasonably decided not to change the chapter's language...
I was impressed with Liebeler's request for a more nuanced statement of the facts, and I would have supported some further editing if I had gotten the suggestions before we had galley proofs in hand for final approval. But they would only have added nuance, not substance, and by this time I limited changes to those that significantly clarified the commission's conclusions.
On 9-6-64, Commissioners Russell, Boggs, and Cooper visit Dallas, and receive a tour of Dealey Plaza and the book depository. This completes a task, as all the commissioners can now say they went to Dallas and personally investigated the case, etc. It also provides Senator Russell the opportunity to sit down in the sniper's nest, and aim a rifle out the window. Presumably, he did this so he could judge for himself the difficulty of the shooting. But maybe he was just having fun.
In any event, this trip does not go unnoticed by the media. Some news articles emerge.These men are hard at work, etc.
Here is an Associated Press photo of the tour. From L to R, Commissioner Hale Boggs, Secret Service agent (and part-time tour guide) John Joe Howlett, Commissioner Richard Russell, and Commissioner John Sherman Cooper.
Now look what's behind them... It's the school book depository! So where are they pointing? At the Post Office across the Plaza! Presumably, Russell asked Howlett "What's that?" and Howlett said "That's the Terminal Annex for the Post Office." And someone thought this looked dramatic, and decided that this was exactly what America needed to see to be assured the President's Commission was on the case.
Believe it or not!
Cover-ups are afoot. The wound ballistics expert at Kennedy's autopsy, Dr. Pierre Finck, writes a memo to himself on 9-11-64, stating: "I am called by Captain Stover, CO of Naval Med school. He tells me that Adm Burkley, White House Physician called him. The Warren Commission Report will be released to the Press shortly. However, the prosectors involved in Kennedy's autopsy are still required not to release information to the press. Inquiries should be referred to the White House Press Office. Brig Gen Blumberg, AFIP Director, calls me within two hours, notifying me of the same White House orders." This memo suggests that Johnson himself is behind the scenes, orchestrating a hush-hush of the medical evidence. For who else could pressure the President's personal physician into making phone calls first to the boss of Dr.s Humes and Boswell (Stover) and then to Finck's boss (Gen. Blumberg) insisting that the doctors stay quiet? While one might venture that Burkley has taken this upon himself, due to his loyalty to his former patient, Kennedy, it is highly doubtful that an Admiral in the Navy would give orders to a Brigadier General in the Army without first obtaining backing from his Commander-in-Chief.
Now, to be fair, the problems with Day's testimony regarding the palm print were apparent to a number of those working for the Warren Commission. On 8-28-64, but weeks before the release of the Commission's report, Commission Counsel J. Wesley Liebeler begged the Commission to have the FBI re-interview Day, and make an attempt to figure out what happened.
But there's a curious twist here. Here is a memo on the "Palm print on E-1 rifle" written by Liebeler on 8-31, as found in the files of his superior, Howard Willens: "I attach a proposed letter to the F.B.I. on the above subject, as requested by Mr. Rankin. I have previously expressed my views to him that Lt. Day should be deposed on this question. I think, because of the nature of the problem, that that should be done with as little advance notice as is permitted by our rules."
And here is the key line in Rankin's 9-1 letter to the FBI: "Would you please conduct the investigation necessary to resolve the questions raised in the attached memorandum."
Apparently, deposing Day on this issue was verboten.
In any event, here is the FBI's immediate response.
Now, to be fair, the problems with Day's testimony regarding the palm print were apparent to a number of those working for the Warren Commission. On 8-28-64, but weeks before the release of the Commission's report, Commission Counsel J. Wesley Liebeler begged the Commission to have the FBI re-interview Day, and make an attempt to figure out what happened.
But there's a curious twist here. Here is a memo on the "Palm print on E-1 rifle" written by Liebeler on 8-31, as found in the files of his superior, Howard Willens: "I attach a proposed letter to the F.B.I. on the above subject, as requested by Mr. Rankin. I have previously expressed my views to him that Lt. Day should be deposed on this question. I think, because of the nature of the problem, that that should be done with as little advance notice as is permitted by our rules."
And here is the key line in Rankin's 9-1 letter to the FBI: "Would you please conduct the investigation necessary to resolve the questions raised in the attached memorandum."
Apparently, deposing Day on this issue was verboten.
In any event, here is the FBI's immediate response.
The FBI's 9-4-64 Letter to the Warren Commission (CE 2637)
And here is the attachment.
Well, let's start by noting the gross inadequacy of the FBI's response. The Warren Commission asked the FBI for evidence proving the lift came from the rifle, and the FBI responded with a photograph of the lift beside the photograph of another piece of tape, which it purportedly had pulled from the rifle. It then purported to match up a whopping FIVE specks or marks on the DPD's lift with their lift.
Here are just a few of the problems with this development.
1. Hoover responded in a letter. No sworn testimony was taken along these lines.
2. No FBI report was generated about this comparison.
3. No photos were taken or at least put into the record showing where the FBI's lift was lifted from the rifle. As a result, there is no record--anywhere--in the DPD's records or even in the FBI's records--showing us where the palm print was supposedly discovered.
4. No record exists of the FBI's asking Lt. Day for specifics regarding the location of the lift. As a result, one is forced to assume the FBI searched the "area of the wooden foregrip" for five specks or marks in the same arrangement as on the DPD's lift, and then, once discovered, assumed this was the location on the rifle of the DPD's lift. This is undoubtedly subjective and not exactly scientific. For all we know, the FBI's five specks were found on the visible part of the rifle barrel, where Lt. Day said no print was found.
5. Even if one assumes the FBI's lift was lifted from the rifle near the end of the wooden stock, and that marks on their lift matched up with Lt. Day's lift, they found but 5 matches. They should have performed a series of tests to determine the likelihood of a 5 point match with a non-specific area of another rifle. No such tests were performed.
Still, let's do our best with what we have available.
This is Not a Joke
Let's begin by trying to place the Hunt scan of the lift onto where Day said he found the print. An attempt at this is presented above. The roughly 4 3/4 inch wide lift card is sized to be proportionate to the 28.9 inch long barrel and tang. The blue line on the right represents the beginning of the wood stock. The blue line on the left is about three inches down from the beginning of the stock, where Day said he found the print. The lift card was then centered over the barrel so that the print on the card sits lined up with the blue line.
A closer view is presented below. (The print is between the arrows.)
Well, the first thing that stands out is that the lift tape is 1 inch wide, much wider than the rifle barrel, so much wider, in fact, that some of the tape would have to have been wrapped around onto the far side of the barrel.
And then a second thing that stands out is that the print was purportedly on the barrel at a point where the barrel is only covered by the wood stock on one side.
Well, think about it. Initially, before he decided to make the palm print on the other end of the barrel disappear, Lt. Day was most adamant that the palm print he ended up lifting was entirely covered by the wooden stock. And this even though the print covers 3/4 the width of the lift.
Now, this more than suggests the palm print was only apparent on the side covered by the wood stock.
It also suggests the possibility there was a reason for this, that is, that the print at one time extended from the underside of the barrel covered by the stock out into the open on the top half of the barrel, but that it was rubbed off or wiped off over time.
Well, this supports that this was an old print, exactly as determined by Lt. Day.
Let that brew for a minute.
In the meantime, let's see if we can figure out the orientation of the hand on the rifle barrel.
The Missing Ridges
Ahh, there it is. The undiscovered country. The Hunt scan of Day's lift was hi-res enough where I could match the loop formation to the location of a similar formation on Oswald's palm, and then match his palm print to its orientation on the rifle.
This is demonstrated above.
It raises quite a question, however. If the palm print was left on the rifle while Oswald was holding the barrel in the above manner, why the heck did the latent print stop at the middle of the palm? Wouldn't someone holding a barrel in the above manner need to squeeze the barrel with his upper palm between his index finger and thumb? Well, then, why are there no prints on the barrel reflecting the upper palm?
Now this leads to another question, this one courtesy my octogenarian mom.
Since the DPD and FBI failed to show us how the palm print fit onto the rifle, the possibility remains that the palm print was headed in the other direction, that is, that the fingers on the hand pointed back to the bolt, instead of to the end of the barrel. These two options are shown below, first with the fingers facing to the end of the barrel, and then with them facing back to the bolt. (Keep in mind that the palm print was, at least according to Lt. Day, at the bottom of the barrel, and not on the side, as I've depicted.)
Now, here comes my mom's question. Why would someone carry a rifle barrel by either of these two options? Wouldn't most anyone ever, should he/she find himself/herself carrying a rifle barrel, or even a piece of pipe, hold it with the length of the barrel cutting across the palm of their hand, from just below the little finger to the web between the index finger and thumb (as shown in the third option below)?
I suspect Ma has a point (and I don't mean when she told me I should stop wasting my time on this stuff--that should be obvious).
But all kidding aside, before we got sidetracked by the FBI's response to the Warren Commission's questions about the rifle lift, we were discussing Lt. Day's ever-changing stories about this lift...and that on 8-31, Wesley Liebeler had told his boss he'd told their boss that Lt. Day should be deposed as soon as possible and with as little warning as possible, and be asked to once again explain the sudden appearance of this lift...under oath.
And yes, you read that right... On 8-31, Liebeler told Willens he'd told Rankin that Day should be deposed as soon as possible... Well, then, how did Rankin respond?
He dropped the ball or passed the buck, or both, take your pick. He responded by sending the FBI a letter, asking that they "conduct the investigation necessary to resolve the questions raised in the attached memorandum."
A week blew past. But then, on 9-8-64, Lt. Day was interviewed...by FBI agent Vincent Drain (that's right--his buddy on the Dallas FBI) and was allowed to skate, by golly, without even submitting a statement...
The FBI's 9-9-64 Report on its 9-8-64 Interview of Lt. J.C. Day (CE 3145)
"Lt. Day stated he made a written report on January 8, 1964, to Mr. G. L. Lumpkin. Deputy of Police, Service Division of the Dallas Police Department. This report is set forth as requested of Lt. Day, and a copy of such report was furnished for transmittal to the President's Commission investigating the assassination pf President Kennedy. Lt. Day stated he preferred to let the written report speak for itself and would rather elaborate orally on the lifting of the palm print from the underside of the rifle, which palm print was found when he examined the rifle on November 22, 1963, rather than to make a written signed statement."
Hmmm... It's hard to see this as innocent. Day has told FBI Agent Vincent Drain (the writer of this report) that he'd rather not sign a sworn statement to the Federal Government about the supposed lifting of the palm print from the rifle, and would rather the Federal Government just accept a letter he wrote to one of his superiors way back when. Well, of course he would. There's no legal peril in lying to your superiors in a letter. Perhaps, even, this is why Day wrote this letter--as opposed to an official record, such as, God forbid, a report placed in the files. So...why is Day so worried? Is it because he knows, and he knows that Drain knows, there was no such print? And what about Drain? Is he in on this? Is he worried that the taking of a sworn statement he knows is untrue--might put his own ass in jeopardy?
"Lt. DAY stated he dusted the left side of the rifle at about where the clip housing is located and in front of the trigger housing and observed three impressions, two of which indicated ridge patterns .
Lt. DAY stated he told Captain FRITZ he wanted to remove the gun to the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory where more suitable conditions were present in which to further examine this gun. The rifle was taken to the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory of the Dallas Police Department where on the evening of November 22, 1963, Lt. DAY Stated he made three photographs of the impressions of the fingerprints which had been raised near the clip housing and in front of the trigger housing. Lt. DAY advised he took the wooden part of the rifle off by loosening three or four screws and uncovered what he considered to be an old dry print with a loop formation underneath the barrel. He stated this appeared to him to be the right palm print of some individual. This print was found on the underside of the barrel which was completely covered by the wooden stock of the gun and not visible until he had removed the wooden portion of the gun. Lt. DAY estimated this print was within three inches of the front end of the wooden stock. Lt. DAY advised he dusted this print with black powderand made one lift. Lt. DAY stated at this point he received instructions from Chief of Police, JESSE H. CURRY not to do anything else concerning the examination of evidence as it was to be immediately turned over to SA VINCENT E. DRAIN of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for transmittal to the FPBI Laboratory. Lt. DAY stated he normally would have photographed this print, but since his instructions from the Chief of Police were not to do anything further, he literally took him at his word."
So here we have it. A scapegoat. Day is now naming names. He says it was Jesse Curry who told him to stop working on the evidence and to hand it all over to Drain. This was, what? 10 o'clock at the latest? While this might explain Day's failure to photograph the as-yet-unphotographed prints remaining on the rifle, it fails to explain why Day failed to compare the print he'd already lifted from the rifle with Oswald's prints.
"Lt . DAY stated the reason he had preserved the other prints found on the gun by photography was the fact he had already photographed these prints prior to getting the instructions from the Chief of Police to cease further examination of the evidence. Lt . DAY stated he had no assistance when working with the prints on the rifle, and he and he alone did the examination and the lifting of the palm print from the underside of the barrel of the rifle which had been found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963. Lt . DAY related that after he made the lift of the palm print on the underside of the barrel, he could still see this palm print on the underside of the barrel of the gun and would have photographed same had he not been ordered to cease his examination. Lt. DAY stated he had no reason for not photographing this palm print first before attempting to lift it other than in the interest of time."
Well, wait a second. According to Day, there was not enough time for him to photograph the print before being told to stop working on the rifle, and not enough time for him to photograph the print after being told to stop working on the rifle. This makes little sense unless...hmmm...he made the lift AFTER being told to stop working on the rifle, so that he'd have something to work on while the rifle was in Washington. But wait a second...again. He claimed he never did get around to comparing the print to Oswald's prints. So let's go back to square one. Day's claim he failed to take a photo because he was in a hurry makes no sense.
"Lt . DAY stated he did not take any photographs of the palm print which he lifted on the underside of the rifle barrel after the lift was made, and that the prints of the less valuable ones he had found near the trigger housing and clip housing were photographed prior to the time he received instructions to conduct no further examination of this evidence. Lt. DAY advised it was customary practice to photograph fingerprints in most instances prior to lifting them, but in some cases where it was felt by him that he could make a lift, he would go ahead and make the lift and then photograph the print in question."
So now Day's changing speeds. He's shifted from claiming he failed to take the photo because he was in a hurry to claiming he didn't think the usual order of business for crime scene investigators--photograph first and then lift--applied to him.
"Lt. DAY stated he saw no reason for wrapping the palm print on the underside of the barrel with any protective covering since it was protected by the wood stock when fully assembled and that it was not necessary to use cellophane or other protective coating as it would have been on the exposed prints.Lt. DAY stated he tentatively identified the palm print that was lifted off 'the underside of the rifle, which was believed to have been used in the assassination of President KENNEDY, as matching that of the known palm print of LEE HARVEY OSWALD. He stated this was done on the night of November 22, 1963, in the Crime Laboratory of the Dallas Police Department, Dallas, Texas. Lt. DAY related on that night he told only two people that he had made the tentative identification of the palm print obtained off the underside of the rifle barrel with that of the known palm print of LEE HARVEY OSWALD. Lt. DAY stated these two individuals were Chief of Police JESSE E. CURRY of the Dallas Police Department and Homicide Captain WILL FRITZ of the Dallas Police Department. Lt . DAY advised he could not remember the exact time he made the identification nor the exact time he advised Chief of Police CURRY and Captain WILL FRITZ of the tentative identification, but he did know it was on the night of November 22, 1963, prior to the time he released the rifle to SA VINCENT E . DRAIN of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for transmittal to the FBI Laboratory, Washington, D.C."
Hubba...what the Fred? With this interview, conducted ten months after Kennedy's assassination, Lt. Day suddenly offered that he'd not only studied the print on the lift on the night of the 22nd, but that he'd tentatively ID'ed this print as Oswald's print, and had even told this to Curry and Fritz. Well, why hadn't he said this before?
Now get this. Neither FBI agent Drain, who conducted this interview, nor the Warren Commission, whose job it was to get to the bottom of this mess, followed-up on this with Curry and Fritz, if only just to see, y'know, whether the chief crime scene investigator on the murder of the century was a big fat liar.
"Lt . DAY stated he received instructions from Chief of Police JESSE R. CURRY, Dallas Police Department, Dallas, Texas, to turn over all of the evidence collected that he was examining, which related to LEE HARVEY OSWALD, to the FBI shortly before midnight on November 22, 1963. The exact time he received these instructions he cannot recall, but the evidence which included the rifle believed to have been used by OSNALD was turned over to SA VINCENT E . DRAIN, Federal Bureau of Investigation, at 11 :45 p.m., November 22, 1963, for transmittal to the FBI Laboratory. Lt. DAY stated that he could positively state that the palm print, which was lifted by him from the rifle, came from the underside of the barrel which, when the gun is fully assembled, is covered by the wooden stock. This palm print, which was lifted by him from this location, was not turned over to SA VINCENT E . DRAIN for examination by the FBI laboratory until November 26, 1963, inasmuch as he wanted to make further comparisons of this palm print with the known palm print of LEE HARVEY OSWALD."
So here we go again. More BS. Day claimed he couldn't remember when he was told to hand over the evidence. This helps obscure that he'd previously claimed he'd lifted the print around 8 to 8:30, and that this was hours--hours!--before he was told to give the evidence to Drain. And even more BS... Day also claimed he'd withheld the lift from Drain because he wanted to make further comparisons of the print on the lift with Oswald's prints. SO WHY DIDN'T HE? It would have taken at most a few hours, and would have helped nail down the case against Oswald. It was the most important piece of evidence gathered by the Dallas Police. And yet Lt. Day failed to act upon it. Or even tell the FBI about it. BS.
"Lt. DAY stated the gun was carefully reassembled, and when the wooden stock was reassembled to the barrel of the gun, this afforded the print that was still visible on the underside of the barrel sufficient protection that it would not be disturbed in his estimation. Lt. DAY related he would have offered this print the same protection by photographing it as he had other less identifiable prints found on the gun near the trigger housing and clip housing had he had enough time prior to receiving instructions to cease examination and turn the rifle over to the FBI. Lt. DAY stated he had no other reason for not affording all of the prints found the same protection. Lt. DAY related that when the rifle was turned over to SA VINCENT E. DRAIN of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it was fully assembled and in the same condition as when he had found it on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963."
And that's it--the bulk of a long-assed FBI report on what Lt. Day had to say about the barrel print that never mentions the other print Day claimed to see on the barrel, y'know, the one partially covered by the wood stock that Day said he saw before removing the wood stock. Has Day stopped talking about it? Or has the FBI elected to keep it out of the record? Their top fingerprint expert, we should recall, claimed no such print existed! While Day claimed he lifted the other barrel print, he said he failed to do anything to this one...AND that it was mostly covered by the wood stock. Well, think about it. He was thereby claiming the barrel print he'd first noticed--that he never got around to photographing or lifting--remained on the rifle when he handed it over to Drain, AND that no one but no one could claim he removed the bulk of this print during lifting, or that he screwed up by lifting it before he photographed it, etc, because he didn't do anything to it outside of covering it up with the stock.
So, yes, it's clear. The other barrel print was a major problem for the FBI..that disappeared from Day's story just after the FBI was asked to investigate Day and verify his story. Go figure.
The Paper Trail of Tears
Let us now take a leap from what Lt. Day supposedly said, to what others have said about him.
The Day Kennedy Was Shot (1968), as we've seen, had quite a spotty record when it came to presenting the facts. Just look at how its author, Jim Bishop, portrayed Lt. Day.
The Day Kennedy Was Shot (1968)
p. 478 "Lieutenant Day would be interested in these slugs. He and his men were still working on the fourth floor at police headquarters. As evidence came in, they studied it, analyzed, made notes and photographs. The Dallas Crime Laboratory was doing well. Day and his assistants had found two smudgy fingerprints on the side of the rifle close to the trigger guard. A palm print was raised from the underside of the barrel. There was a good palm print from the packing case. In some cases, they photographed their finds without completing comparison tests so that they could work on new evidence."
Boy, is this misleading. What notes? What photographs? They failed to photograph the print on the "packing case" while it was on the "packing case." They failed to photograph the paper bag at any time that day. And they failed to photograph the palm print supposedly found on the rifle...while it was on the rifle.
p. 543 "On the fourth floor, Lieutenant Day looked at the side of the rifle, smiled and murmured: Yes, sir." It wasn't much of a print, and it was coming up slowly, but there it was as plain as a slap mark on a tender cheek. "The metal is rough" he said to an assistant. "If it was smooth, this print would be sharper." It was part of a palm of a hand, on the underside of the wood stock. The screws of the stock were loosened, and the print seemed clear. The police photographer took several closeup shots of it. Day took Scotch Tape, carefully applied, and slowly lifted the print free. It was faint but it was discernible."
Wow! And I mean it. This is serious serious bullshit. Day claimed he photographed the trigger guard prints because the metal was rough, but said nothing like this regarding the barrel. And how can a print be on 'rough' metal, while simultaneously being on 'the underside of the wood stock?' And what's this about Day raising the print before loosening the screws? It was the other barrel print that could be seen with the stock still on the barrel, not the one lifted by Day. And what's this about the 'police photographer'? Yikes. That reeks of propaganda. Anyone studying the case long enough to write a book about it oughta know no such photos were taken. So what was Bishop up to?
p. 543 "He had a palm print on a carton taken from the sixth floor window. If both were of the same hand and they matched, the lieutenant would put them on a projector beside some he had taken from Oswald. If all three matched, then Oswald handled this gun and also sat in that window. Vincent Drain of the FBI came up to the laboratory to see how the Lieutenant was doing. Day showed him the material..."
Oh my Lord. This is such nonsense. Drain claimed he was never told about the lift from the rifle. And yet Bishop has him not only being told about the lift, but being shown this lift long before he collected the evidence.
p.543 "The tall, good-natured Drain left. The men on the fourth floor continued their work. They knew that the FBI wanted all this material. Day had orders to process it, and that's what he was doing. The room smelled of developer. Lights went on and off as negatives were fixed. The men worked in silence, at microscopes, cameras, acid baths, calipers, projectors, spectroscopes. There were hairs on the blanket which housed the rifle, but they were short and kinky. They were pubic. Someone had slept in this thing nude."
While there is no record of the DPD's examining the blanket for hairs and fibers on the day of the shooting, such an examination was performed...the next day...by the FBI in Washington.
p.543-544. "A clear palm print was thrown up on the projector. The smudged print from the underside of the rifle went up beside it. The officers stopped work to look. The one from the rifle wasn't clear enough. Still, the swirls which could be defined appeared to match the ones taken from Oswald's left hand tonight. The photos were reversed, and the eyes of the men scanned them again. It wasn't the best of evidence, but both appeared to be made from the same hand."
Okay, this is made up from whole cloth. Day did not put the palm print up on a projector. According to Vincent Drain, moreover, "Lt . DAY stated he had no assistance when working with the prints on the rifle, and he and he alone did the examination and the lifting of the palm print from the underside of the barrel of the rifle."
p.544 "Be back in a minute," the lieutenant said. He ran down the stairs and into the chief's office. "I make a tentative identification from a palm print on the rifle which matches one I got from Oswald," he said. The chief smiled and looked up from his desk. "Good," he said. Day fought his way down the center hall into Fritz's outer office. He called the captain out. Fritz said that the prisoner was on his way down again. He was making a couple of phone calls. The lieutenant whispered the story of a print match. Fritz smiled a little. "Give me a report on it when you have it," he said. "We're moving along--a little at a time." "It's tentative," Day said. "It looks pretty good."
Well, alright. This is a dramatization of what Day told Drain. At least it's based on something beyond Bishop's imagination.
p. 614, "about the transfer of evidence... "The chief surrendered. He said that he would order Fritz and Day to hand the stuff over to Washington right away. It must be clearly understood that the FBI would sign a receipt for each item, they would photograph it and send copies to the Dallas Police Department, they would fly it up tonight, they would run it through their mill, and have it back in police headquarters tomorrow night."
Well, here's more BS, presumably dished up to boost the reputation of the Dallas PD. Get this. Not only were NO receipts signed by the FBI for the evidence collected on 11-22-63, no list of this evidence was even created by the Dallas Police.
So, now, that nightmare out of the way, let's look at what some other books have to offer.
As we've seen, Investigation of a Homicide, by Judy Bonner, was a BS-laced defense of the Dallas Police Department, written by a Dallas science reporter with the help of at least one member of the Dallas Police Department. One might have expected something right out of the Warren Report. But no, it was far far worse than that.
Investigation of a Homicide (1969)
"Day squeezed between the boxes and carefully examined the rifle. 'No prints on the bolt that I can see,' he said. 'Looks like there might be a partial print on the barrel. I can't tell for sure. We'll dust it here and lift the prints after we get back to the lab.'Lifting' a print involves use of adhesive material to remove fingerprint powder which has been dusted over the print. In this way, an entire impression of the dusted print can be removed from the object for extensive examination and comparison."
Now this is something conjured up by Orwell, si? Instead of Day's discovering a palm print on the rifle all by his lonesome, and failing to tell anyone about this outside of a few superiors who were never called to support his story, Bonner has Day finding this palm print when first inspecting the rifle, and telling EVERYONE about it! And not only that, she presents lifting as the primary way one documents a print, and suggests that it's normal for the "entire impression" of a print to be removed via one lift. Well, this smells like obvious BS on her part designed to hide the super-suspicious fact Day claimed he'd left a faint ridge impression on the rifle which should have been discovered by the FBI, but was not.
It is fortunate, however, that Bonner wasn't the only one pumping out a defense of the Dallas PD in 1969. For that year--the year of Jim Garrison's prosecution of Clay Shaw--also saw the release of former Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry's book JFK Assassination File. Although Curry failed to acknowledge ever being told about the palm print on 11-22-63, or claim he wasn't told about it, he did claim something which damaged Day's credibility, at least a little bit...
JFK Assassination File (1969)
"By midnight we had recorded and photographed most of the physical evidence, and it seemed entirely reasonable to cooperate with the FBI for further laboratory investigation. By midnight Friday (November 22,1963) I agreed to allow Vince Drain to fly the evidence to Washington D.C. to have further laboratory tests completed. The evidence was released only for lab reports to be made, and it was clearly understood that the physical evidence was then to be returned to the Dallas Police Department."
Hmmm This appears to contradict Day's claim Curry prevented him from photographing the print on the barrel. As we've seen, Day initially claimed he'd lifted the barrel print before 8:30. And now here's Curry indicating he allowed his people to record and photograph the physical evidence up till around midnight. Well, it follows then that Day had hours and hours with the rifle in which he could have photographed the print on the rifle, but either failed to do so out of incompetence, or failed to do so because no such print existed.
Let us jump ahead now to 1977, when the assassination was re-investigated, and Lt. Day's actions once again fell under scrutiny.
Notes on a 10-18-77 interview by HSCA investigators Harold Rose and Al Maxwell with Lt. J. C. Day (HSCA record 180-10107-10176)
Now, this might appear to be more of the same. But there are differences. The parade of the rifle to Fritz's office has by now migrated to 8:00 or so, when it was really around 6:17.
Still, this change is to little benefit, and could be innocent. I mean, does Day really expect anyone to accept that there was just no time for him to photograph a print on a rifle discovered shortly after 8, by 11:30 or so? I hope not. And then there's the change in casting. Apparently, Day has swapped Fritz into the role formerly occupied by Curry--that is, the role of the bully who pressured Day into not photographing the print on the rifle. And what's with this claim Day used white powder on the rifle? Where does that come from?
There are, of course, more substantial changes as well. Most notably, Day now claims he told Drain about the palm print on the rifle. Not just that he thought the FBI would find it. But that he specifically told them about it.
Now, let's skip ahead to 1984. Journalist Henry Hurt has interviewed both Lt. Day and Vincent Drain for his book Reasonable Doubt. Just look at what Drain told Hurt about the rifle lift...
Reasonable Doubt (1985)
p.109 "In 1984, the author interviewed both Lieutenant Day and Agent Drain about the mysterious print. Day remains adamant that the Oswald print was on the rifle when he first examined it a few hours after the shooting. Moreover, Day stated that when he gave the rifle to Agent Drain, he pointed out to the FBI man both the area where the print could be seen and the fingerprint dust used to bring it out. Lieutenant Day states that he cautioned Drain to be sure the area was not disturbed while the rifle was in transit to the FBI laboratory. Drain flatly disputes this, claiming Day never showed him such a print. 'I just don't believe there was ever a print,' said Drain, He noted that there was increasing pressure on the Dallas police to build evidence in the case. Asked to explain what might have happened, Agent Drain stated, “All I can figure is that it (Oswald's print) was some sort of cushion, because they were getting a lot of heat by Sunday night. You could take the print off Oswald’s card and put it on the rifle. Something like that happened.”
Well, yowza! Drain just went ahead and said what everyone was thinking. This was not just some old FBI guy venting, moreover. Drain, we should recall, was the agent tasked with interviewing Day back in '64 and finding out why he'd failed to photograph the rifle lift while it was on the rifle. In that report, of course, Day offered excuse after excuse.
And yet, as revealed to Hurt, Drain hadn't believed a word of it!
And why was this? Why did Drain suddenly turn on Day? Well, think about it. This is 1984, 20 years after the Warren Commission investigated the case. Day and Drain are both retired, reliving their glory days. And Hurt goes to Day and Day says, for the first time to a member of the press, that he told Drain about the print before handing him the rifle. Now, this is in April. Well, then, in May, Hurt goes to Drain and tells him what Day said. He tells him something like "Hey, Day says that he told you all about the print, but that you apparently forgot about it, and that he's been covering for you all these years. What's your response?" So of course Drain goes off.
And that's how things sat for awhile, and sat for awhile, until Gary Savage started chatting with his uncle Rusty Livingston and convinced him to collaborate on First Day Evidence (1993), a defense of the Dallas Police in general, and Lt. Day in particular.
First Day Evidence (1993)
p. 71 "At the time of President Kennedy's assassination, Rusty was working nights and was home asleep. He first heard of the assassination when his wife, Daisie, had awakened him with the news she'd just heard on television. He told me 'I called in and talked to Captain Doughty to see if they needed me to come in and help out. He told me not to come in until my regular time, which was eleven in the evening.'"
Well, this is kind of shocking. The Crime Scene Search Section had but one employee at the depository from 2:00 to 3:00, and Lt. Day was buried under the evidence from 6:00 to 12:00 or so, and Doughty told Rusty not to show up until 11:00. Go figure!
p. 72 (Quoting Rusty) "I am sure that Lieutenant Day, who was in charge of the Crime Lab, dusted the rifle that was found on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository, and lifted a partial palm print off the underside of the barrel after the rifle was taken apart. They had an actual print there in the office that night. I compared it myself with Oswald's print, and it looked to me like there was enough to say yes, it was Oswald's print. I think all the other people on the day shift had already looked at the palm print before I arrived that night, but I went ahead and looked at the palm print myself and was satisfied that it was Oswald's."
Wow! That's a whopper, right? In 1964, Day says he showed the barrel lift to no one and then 29 years later Livingston comes out of the shadows to say he not only looked at it, but analyzed it, and concluded the print was Oswald's print. But there's a problem, besides the obvious. Livingston says he thought the day shift had all looked at this print. It's beyond belief that 1) he would have access to this print when no one else did, and 2) he would never realize the significance of his having studied this print prior to telling his nephew about it almost 30 years later. The thought occurs then that Rusty studied the palm print on the cardboard taken from Box D--which may very well have been studied by the day shift--and not the palm print purported to have been lifted from the rifle.
p. 106 "As Lieutenant Day worked on the rifle during the evening, Chief Curry came into the Crime Lab Office. Lieutenant Day told him at the time that he had located a print on the trigger housing, but he had not yet had a chance to do a comparison check with Oswald's print card. He told Rusty and me that the Chief then went back down to the third floor and told the newsmen that we had a print. He said that he had not told Chief Curry that it was Oswald's print at the time."
Well, okay. This is useful. It almost makes First Day Evidence worthwhile. It helps explain why on the evening of 11-22 NBC said Chief Curry said there was a print on the rifle but then later, after Lt. Day had had a chance to compare the trigger guard prints to Oswald's prints, said no prints had been found on the rifle.
p.107 "Lt. Day recalled that, as he was beginning to dust the rest of the rifle following the photographing of the trigger-housing prints, Captain Doughty came in and told him to stop working on the rifle. He said this was probably about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. A few minutes later, Captain Fritz came into the Crime Lab Office and told him that Marina Oswald was in his office and he needed some information about the gun. He need to know if Lee Oswald's prints were on the rifle. So Lieutenant Day began to once again dust the Mannlicher-Carcano and soon located a palm print."
Uhh, no. Marina Oswald was in Capt. Fritz's office when Day showed her the rifle, around 6:17. She wasn't in there for hours and hours. Day has either forgotten the circumstances of his finding the palm print or he found the palm print shortly before 6:17. And, oh yeah, what's with Doughty? Has he been swapped in for Fritz, who was himself swapped in for Curry?
p.108 "Lieutenant Day told us that, after he had photographed the trigger-housing prints and been stopped by Captain Doughty, he continued work on the rifle under the order of Captain Fritz. It was at that time that he noticed a print sticking out from the barrel. He said it was obvious that part of it was under the wooden stock, so he took the stock off and finished dusting the barrel. He said he could tell it was a palm print, and so he proceeded with a lift."
Well, it just keeps getting better, no? Having been shot down by Curry, Day now blames Capt. Doughty. And what's with this bit about Day noticing a print sticking out from the barrel, and then taking the stock off and lifting it? His earlier statements had made clear that the print he saw sticking out from the barrel was a different print. Had Day conflated two prints together? Or had Savage?
Or was Day sticking to a deal made back in 1964 after the FBI was asked to check into Day's story about the print on the rifle barrel, whereby they verified the authenticity of his rifle barrel lift in exchange for his no longer claiming there was a print on the barrel which he did not lift which should have been photographed and analyzed by the FBI?
p.108 "He told Rusty and me that he could tell it wasn't put on there recently by the way it took the fingerprint powder. He said what makes a print of this sort is a lack of moisture, and this print had dried out. He said he took a small camel hair brush and dipped it in fingerprint powder and lightly brushed it. He then placed a strip of 2" scotch tape over the developed print and rubbed it down before finally lifting the tape containing the print off and placed it on a card. He said he then compared the lift to Oswald's palm print card and was certain that it was Oswald's. He also said that after the lift, he could still see an impression of the palm print left on the barrel."
So what was once a tentative ID had hardened over time into a certain ID. So why didn't Day tell anyone?
p. 108 "Next, Lieutenant Day had intended to photograph the area of the rifle barrel from which the palm print had been made, but was again interrupted by Captain Doughty at about 10:00 P.M. He was told once again to stop working on the gun and release it to FBI Agent Drain, who would arrive about 11:30 p.m. Lieutenant Day did not have time to write any reports about what he had found, but did have time to reassemble the rifle before Drain arrived."
So it's official. By 1993, Capt. George Doughty had replaced Chief Jesse Curry as the heavy in Day's story. And what's this crap about Day not having the time to write reports, but having enough time to reassemble the rifle? Drain didn't pick up the rifle until 11:30, at the earliest. It took but 10-15 minutes to re-assemble the rifle. So what did Day do for the remaining 75 minutes or so--bitch about how he was just too busy to write a report?
p. 110 "Rusty was standing by as Lieutenant Day gave the rifle to Drain. Rusty told me that Drain was in a hurry to leave and was distracted by another FBI agent who was hurrying him to leave. According to Rusty, 'Drain was half-listening to Lieutenant Day and half to the other FBI man and evidently didn't get the word about the palm print at that time.'"
Well, this reveals the true nature of this book--that it's but a whitewash of the DPD's flawed and suspicious investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. Rusty just so happens to have been standing there when Day told Drain about the print, and can confirm that Day did so, but that Drain wasn't paying attention. Oh my, how convenient.
p. 180-181 "Rusty told me that he helped to process the boxes in the Crime Lab Office after they had been brought down on the Monday following the assassination...Rusty told me that he did develop some prints on the boxes using silver nitrate and determined that they were Oswald's."
Yeah, I know, this is a repeat from the last chapter. But just think of it. Day claimed he lifted a print from the rifle, that he told the FBI about this print but they failed to hear him, and that he failed to study this print prior to his being asked to do so by the Warren Commission. And here comes Rusty to his rescue, almost 30 years later. Not only did Rusty hear Day tell the FBI about this print, he studied Day's lift of this print on the night of the shooting and identified it as Oswald's print. And not only that, he performed the tests on the boxes that Day should have performed in the days after the shooting, and ID'ed Oswald's prints on these boxes as well. Dut-da-da-duh! Super Rusty to the rescue! The DPD Crime Lab's reputation is saved! Except...it's not. It's further tarnished. No silver nitrate was added to the boxes in Dallas. This was a procedure performed by the FBI in Washington. Nice try, Rusty. Except...not.
Of course, First Day Evidence wasn't the only whitewash released in '93 as a response to Oliver Stone's JFK and the 30th anniversary of the assassination. In fact, it wasn't even the most prominent. No, that honor goes to Gerald Posner's Case Closed.
Case Closed (1993)
p.283 "'At the Dallas police crime lab, Lt. Carl Day had begun dusting the metal on the rifle. He found partial prints near the trigger guard and at the main barrel. 'There were some looping impressions,' Day told the author, and 'incidentally, it later turned out that Oswald had looping impressions as opposed to arches or whorls. But there was not enough to positively identify them as his.' Then Day moved to the wooden stock. 'Down toward the end of the stock, there was a print partially developed,' he recalls, 'and I could see it running back up under the stock. So I lifted the gun out of the stock. When I dusted that print, it developed. I kept looking at it as it did not stand out real good--it wasn't a great print. So I took the tape and lifted that print off as best I could. It lifted off pretty well, considering it was dim print." That print was Oswald's right palm."
So there it is again. Day initially claimed the barrel print he lifted was a print completely covered by the wooden stock, that he came to see after noticing another print peeking out from under the stock and removing the stock. But over time he started claiming the print he saw peeking out was the print he lifted. It's hard to say if this was by design or not.
p. 283-284 "Day then prepared to take pictures of the stock, using reflected light and time exposures. But before he could finish, he was told the FBI was sending an agent to collect the rifle and to take it to FBI headquarters in Washington for further tests. "So I put the gun back in the stock," Day says. "I had my orders and I didn't do anything else to it. Around 11:30, the FBI came, Agent (Vince) Drain, and I gave him the gun. I told Vince, "Here's a print right here,' and I pointed to it. I didn't give him that lifted print on the tape. They said give him the gun, and that's what I gave him. The gun had our powder all over it by then, and I know I wouldn't have liked to receive it in that condition once somebody else had started their work on it. It should have stayed with us."
No real problems here, outside Day's now claiming he pointed out the location of the barrel print to Drain..
Not in Your Lifetime (1998)
p.54 (while referencing a 1994 interview of Day by Robyn Summers, in which Lt. Day discussed the barrel print) "I would say that this print had been on the gun several weeks or months."
Now this is a bit surprising. Over time Day not only changed his story, he became more dismissive about the value of the rifle print.
Oral History Interview of Lt. J.C. Day for the Sixth Floor Museum (8-15-96)
(On analyzing the trigger guard prints) "I spent an awful lot of time with that. I couldn't get them to where I could definitely say they were his, working at it that length of time, I wasn't able to say one way or the other, although I suspected they were his, but there was no way of saying they were his. Then I took that gun out of the stock and started putting powder on the rest of the gun. Down toward the end of the stock I found traces of a fingerprint that extended out from...Well, actually I found the print before I removed it from the stock... Anyway, I found traces of a print that extended out on the barrel, part of them apparently went up under the barrel between the barrel and the stock. So then I took the gun (sic, he means stock) off and finished dusting the area, and then I found a piece of a palm print there. It looked reasonably good for comparison purposes. The usual method of collecting these prints after you develop them and can see them, is to take a piece of Scotch tape and mash it down over good. And the powder will cling to the tape when you pull it off, and you can put the powder (sic, he means tape) on a 3 by 5 card like this (holds up card), put it on the back. And then you've got the print under that tape, and you can take it and compare it. But this was very dim, which indicated that it was not a new print. It didn't take much powder...It was a very dim print, and for presentation to a jury, you like the best print you could show...So I was fixing to set up my camera to try to take a photograph of that print...About that time, I got orders from my captain, Captain Doughty 'Don't do anything else on the gun. Stop what you're doing...the FBI will be in at 11:30 to pick it up'...anyway, I stopped and stripped it back in the stock and put it aside...I didn't have time to write any reports or anything like that. It must have been 10 o'clock then, so I just put the gun back in the evidence room and left it alone until Drain came in at 11:30...I'd known Drain a long time. And I told him at the time there's a print there. I showed him where it was. But I don't know whether it registered with him or not...I didn't turn over the lift that I'd previously made of that dim print...I didn't even think of giving them this print that I had lifted off there...Now, I thought there was a print on that gun that was better than the one I'd lifted. I thought I could see it. And that was what I was going after at the time they stopped me."
Well, this is kinda depressing. Day's story grew more and more self-serving over the years. Here, he once again blamed Doughty, and not Fritz or Curry. Here, he claimed it was the print he lifted that convinced him to remove the stock, and not the print he never got around to analyzing. Here, he claimed he was told to stop working on the rifle around 10, as opposed to his earliest statements when he said he was told to stop working on the rifle just after he lifted the barrel print, which was between 8 and 8:30. Here, he not only claimed he told Vincent Drain about the palm print on the rifle barrel, he claimed he showed him its location on the barrel. And here, he resurrects that there was another print on the rifle, but only as a way of explaining why he didn't give Drain the lift. These changes all serve to make Day's failure to photograph the print he claimed he found on the rifle--or even write a report describing the print he claimed he found on the rifle--understandable. When it's not. Not if there really was a print, anyway. I mean, think about it. Day's story had evolved to where he claimed he showed Drain the faint, barely visible location of a print he'd already lifted, but said nothing about the "better" quality print he was going after before being ordered to give the rifle to Drain. P.U. That doesn't pass a smell test, now does it? He would, if anything, have shown Drain the location of the "better" print he was actively pursuing, as opposed to the "dim" or "old" one already captured. That's just common sense.
Oh, wait! He did tell Drain about that print, and not the lift. At least according to the FBI's 11-30-63 report on Day, in which he was asked to explain the lift...
Hmmm... That sounds about right.
In 1987, writer Larry Sneed began interviewing witnesses to Kennedy's assassination and law enforcement officers involved in its investigation. He then turned these interviews into first person narratives. Sneed continued this project for a decade, before publishing these interviews in No More Silence (1998). (Unfortunately he didn't provide exact dates for his interviews.)
Day's Recollections in No More Silence (1998)
p.236: "When the barrel was removed, I noticed more of that print which had been concealed by the stock. Obviously someone had had the mechanism out of the stock laying in his hand. I tried to lift it with scotch tape and it came off dimly. By then I had Oswald's palm prints, and just at a quick glance, it looked like it was his. I didn't go far enough with it to get on the witness stand and say absolutely that it was his print, but it looked like it was through the preliminary examination..."
p. 237: "But I still wasn't satisfied with the lift because it was pretty dim. By turning the rifle and letting the light shine on it, I could still see the print on the barrel. To take the proper pictures, you have to set a time exposure on the camera and move the light which reflects around the barrel because you can't twist the barrel while you're taking pictures. I was in the process of doing that when I got word from one of my captains, which came directly from the chief's office, not to do anything else. Right in the middle of the stream I was told not to do anything else with it! So I slipped the barrel back on the stock and put it back in the lock box."
Well, okay, this could explain the shift of blame from Curry to Doughty. They were both guilty.
p. 238: "Around 11:30 that night, I received orders which merely said "Release the rifle to the FBI." Shortly thereafter I handed it to Vincent Drain of the FBI. I told him "There's a trace of a print here" and showed him where it was. It was just a verbal communication to him. I didn't have time to make any written reports; I just gave it to him and he signed for it without saying anything. I don't remember whether he wrapped it up with anything or not, but he took it on to Washington that night."
Now, this has got several problems. No receipt was signed for the rifle, etc.
p.238 cont'd "It's a funny thing about that. We had a few other items around such as some of his clothes and paper off the roll at the Book Depository that we didn't do anything else with. I didn't send the lift card either. They told me not to do anything else, so I didn't even look at it again. There was some friction somewhere. I never quite understood how all that happened, but it was a confusing thing. Later, all the stuff that was sent to Washington came back to us. The rifle came back in a wooden box but we didn't open it. We were told to just hold it, so I put it in our evidence room and locked it up. We held that stuff a few days then we got an order to release everything to the FBI, the gun, the box, everything we had. At that time, I then released the card with the lifted print.
p. 241: "I didn't work on Saturday, but that Sunday morning, the 24th, Mr. Truly had given me a key to the School Book Depository so that we could take measurements of the whole floor and make diagrams of everything. I had one or two detectives with me. We were the only ones in the building, so it was pretty quiet, but I noticed that somebody had been taking pictures up there somewhere between Friday and that Sunday morning as there was film all over the floor."
Yeah, right! Lt. Day had a piece of molding from the window that needed more testing. He had boxes from the window that needed more testing as well. And he had a palm print "lifted" from the rifle that needed to be compared to Oswald's prints. And yet...he claims he took Saturday off and only came in Sunday to measure the Texas School Book Depository!
Oral History Interview of Lt. J.C. Day for the Sixth Floor Museum (7-11-06)
"I do definitely remember telling Drain there's a palm print on the underside of the barrel, when you lift it out of the stock. You could see a little of it sticking out when I put the powder on and then I took it out of the stock and then more of it came out...I did not send the palm print in. They said give him the rifle and I gave him the rifle. I didn't write any reports or anything like that. I didn't have time to. But I told Drain, definitely I remember, showing, pointing there and saying there's a palm print under there...But he didn't hear me or pay attention to me..."
Now this was a repeat of Day's most recent story.
This brings us, then, to 2006, and the publication of a book written by a veteran detective, Mark Fuhrman.
A Simple Act of Murder (2006)
p.76 "A palm print lifted from the underside of the barrel of the C2766 Mannlicher-Carcano, partially beneath the stock, was found to match Oswald's right palm print."
And that's it. One sentence on the rifle prints. Well, if ever a book on the assassination lived up to its name, it's this one. The book was a simple act of murder, alright. Murdering the truth. By making it as simple as can be... A piece of evidence that was as complicated as can be was stripped down to be as simple as can be, and the truth was murdered in the process.
I mean, he couldn't even make it through his one sentence without misrepresenting the facts. The earliest reports on the palm print make it absolutely clear the palm print lifted from the rifle was completely covered by the stock. Period
Well...if a former detective turned best-selling author of true crime stories could screw this up so bad, how would a former prosecuting attorney turned best-selling author of true crime stories fare?
This brings us to Bugliosi.
Reclaiming History (2007)
p.147 "6:16 p.m. In the fourth-floor crime lab, Lieutenant Carl Day examines the rifle carefully, looking for fingerprints that the gunman might have left behind. Captain Fritz walks in and tells Day that Marina Oswald has arrived and is downstairs in the Forgery Bureau office."I want her to look at the gun and see if she can identify it," Fritz says. "But there's an awful mob down there. I don't want to bring her through that crowd. Can you bring the rifle down there? " "I'm still working with the prints," Day replies, "but I think I can carry it down there without disturbing them." In a minute, Day is ready and the two of them make their way downstairs. When they get to the third floor, Day hoists the rifle high over his head and wades into the throng of reporters, who shout questions, "Is that the rifle? What kind is it? Who made it?"
p.800 "Lieutenant Day carried the rifle from the building around 2:00 p.m. and took it to the fourth-floor crime lab in the Identification Bureau at police headquarters, where he locked it in an evidence box until later that evening. Day returned to the Depository and super-vised the taking of fifty photographs of the southeast corner of the sixth floor, the dusting of the boxes in the sniper's nest for fingerprints, and the drawing of a scale map of the sixth-floor crime scene.
p.800 "Returning to the crime lab about 7:00 p.m., Day began examining the fingerprint traces he had seen on the trigger housing earlier that afternoon. Despite the fingerprint pow-der adhering to them, the traces were still unclear. Day decided to photograph them rather than try to lift them with an adhesive material similar to cellophane tape, since the latter actually removes some of the oil, dust, and fingerprint powder making up the visible print. Day later testified that because the prints were only "traces " and "unclear," he "could not positively identify them." However, Day added he "thought" the fingerprints "appeared to be the right middle and right ring finger" of Lee Harvey Oswald. (Day, long since retired, told me that "the general pattern of the two prints were the same as Oswald's but the ridges just were not clear enough for me to say they were his .")
Let this be a cautionary tale. Should you decide to write a mammoth book about a complex subject, make use of as many proof-readers as possible. Here, Bugliosi (or one of his ghost-writers, let's get real) presented a narrative in which Lt. Day returned to this office around 6:00, but then slipped out of this narrative 650 pages later, and had Lt. Day return to his office at 7:00.
p.800 "Day then began dusting the rest of the rifle and noticed a print on the bottom of the barrel, partially covered by the wooden stock. Taking the stock off, it looked to him like a palm print, and he could tell by the way the powder was sticking to the print that it had been there quite a while. Day placed a strip of two-inch cellophane tape over the print, then peeled the tape off, lifting "a faint palm print" off the barrel. He made a quick comparison between the palm print lifted from the rifle and Oswald's palm prints taken earlier in Captain Fritz's office and tentatively identified the palm print on the rifle as Oswald's, but he wanted to do some more work before declaring that he had a positive match. He did, however, tell both Captain Fritz and Chief Curry that night that he had a tentative match."
p.801 "At 11:45 p.m., the rifle and film negatives of the prints were turned over to the FBI's Vince Drain. In a 1984 interview, Day said that he pointed out to the FBI man the area where the palm print was, adding that he "cautioned Drain to be sure the area was not disturbed. Though Drain denied that Day showed him the palm print, crime-lab detective R .W. "Rusty" Livingston, who was standing nearby, recalled that another FBI agent was there pressuring Drain to leave. "Drain was half listening to Lieutenant Day and half to the other FBI man and evidently didn't get the word about the palm print at that time. (The FBI agents were in a hurry to catch a C-135 jet tanker, its crew waiting on the runway at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth to fly the evidence to Washington.) Also, Day told me that technically he didn't "show" Drain where the print was because "you couldn't see it. It was under the stock. But I told him where it was."
Well, let's jump back in to point out Bugliosi's trademark sloppiness/dishonesty. He says the DPD turned the negatives of their trigger guard photos over to the FBI on the night of the shooting. This was not true. He then pushes Rusty Livingston's latter-day excuse for Drain's not hearing Day. This lets Day off the hook. He then invents some nonsense in order to let Drain and the mystery agent supposedly distracting Drain off the hook. He says they were in a hurry. Except...they weren't. As we've seen, the "jet tanker" in which Drain flew to Washington didn't leave Carswell 'til 3:10 in the morning, almost 3 1/2 hours after Bugliosi claims it was "waiting" for Drain "on the runway." And then, finally, Bugliosi has Day claim Drain couldn't see the palm print since it was under the stock. Well, gosh, what's wrong with that? Uhh, nothing except that two paragraphs earlier he'd reported that this print was only partially under the stock, and that Day first saw it before the removal of the stock. You can't have it both ways.
p. 802 "Lieutenant Day, in looking back on the event, told me, "I don't fault the FBI for not being able to find the palm print. It was already faint when I lifted it, and it's even more difficult to lift the same print a second time because some of the detail has been removed from the first lifting of the print."
Oh boy. This is garbage--presumably spat out by Day to smooth things over with the FBI. The issue wasn't whether or not the print could have been lifted a second time, but whether or not the print raised by Day was readily visible on the barrel, and could have/should have been photographed by the FBI. Day testified that it was. This put him on a collision course with Sebastian Latona, who testified it was not.
p.802 "Apart from the absurd notion that for some reason Lieutenant Day would decide to frame Lee Harvey Oswald for Kennedy's assassination, as he told me in 2002, "I don't even think such a thing [transferring Oswald's prints on the finger and palm print samples, or exemplars, he gave to the Dallas Police Department, onto the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle] could be done. In this day and age they might be able to figure out some way to transfer the ink print on the card to the weapon, but I wouldn't know how to do it myself. Sounds like an impossible task to me."
Well, I'll be. Day was either playing Bugliosi, or the two of them were playing Bugliosi's readers. First, Day acts as though the problem between his claiming he lifted a print and the FBI's claiming they saw no sign of such a print was that there wasn't enough print remaining after he'd lifted his print for the FBI to lift a print. (As stated, this wasn't the problem at all. The problem was that he said the print was still apparent on the rifle when he handed it over to the FBI, and they said it was not apparent.) And then he says "aw shucks I wouldn't know how to plant a print on the rifle anyhow"--when the problem was not that the print he'd lifted had been planted on the rifle, but that there was no real proof it had ever been on the rifle.
Well, okay. I know some will argue with this last complaint. They believe that, at the request of the Warren Commission, just before its report was heading to print, the FBI was able to match the lift of the palm print to the exact location where Lt. Day claimed he found the print on the gun.
But, as we've seen, this is a pipe-dream. Perhaps even literally....
There is, after all, no evidence whatsoever that the FBI matched the defects and rust spots on the rifle where Day said he found the print with the marks on the lift. The FBI's lift could have been pulled from a pipe, or even a table top, anyplace where five marks could be added in the same relative alignment in which they appeared on the lift, CE 637.
My concern about this issue, moreover, led me to read all I could on the detection of fingerprint fabrications and forgeries.
Fibers and Bubbles
While reading through two articles about fingerprint forgery and fabrication, moreover, I heard a couple of ding-ding-dings. As shown above, the 1994 article Detection of Forged and Fabricated Latent Prints by Pat Wertheim (published in the Journal of Forensic Identification) made note that prints lifted from a fingerprint card or another piece of paper may have fibers trapped under the lift tape. Well, voila!, researcher James Olmstead had long taken note of a fiber trapped under the tape on CE 637.
And that wasn't the last voila! I had a second voila! years later while reading through Forgeries of Fingerprints in Forensic Science, a chapter by Christophe Chambod in a book entitled Handbook of Biometric Anti-spoofing. I noticed an air bubble present on Figure 11 of this chapter. This air bubble looked exactly like a previously unidentified anomaly on CE 637. The kicker, though, was that this air bubble was presented as evidence the lift tape had been lifted from one glass and then placed onto another.
So...does the fiber and/or air bubble mean anything? Do they suggest CE 637 was lifted from a fingerprint card (i.e. that the print was "fabricated"), or that a print on a glass from which Oswald was allowed to drink was later planted on the rifle (i.e. that the lift was "forged")? I don't know.
But I do feel certain some expert will eventually tackle this subject, and that the fiber and bubble will be explained, one way or another.
At one point, for that matter, I tried to enlist such an expert.
E-mail from Pat Wertheim to Pat Speer (2009)
Sent: Sun, 29 Mar 2009 12:05 pm
Subject: Oswald gun palm print
Dear Mr. Speer,
You had sent an enquiry to my ex-wife regarding whether I might be interested in reviewing the fingerprint evidence in the JFK assassination to see if it was "planted."
I met Carl Day in the early 1990's and had the privilege of sitting in on a conversation between him and Bob Hazen regarding the print on Oswald's gun. At the time of the assassination, Bob Hazen was training in fingerprints at the FBI and was present when the packages arrived from Dallas. Both were retired when they talked about the case and both have since died. In their conversation, Mr. Day explained how he developed the latent print with black powder and Bob confirmed that when the package was unwrapped in his presence at FBI, it was visible in black powder. I can assure you there is no possibility of that print having been planted.
I have neither the desire nor the time to get involved in a re-examination of this evidence. Thank you for contacting me.
Pat A. Wertheim
Now this is curious. I asked Wertheim if he was willing to take a look at the fingerprint evidence and determine if the palm print on the lift could have been faked or planted, and he responded with a story suggesting an FBI fingerprint examiner (Bob Hazen, a trainee in '63) had told him he'd observed the palm print Day claimed was still apparent on the rifle...just where Day said one could see it, on the rifle. While this sounds well and good, Hazen's boss Latona would have had a big big problem with this, seeing as he testified in direct opposition to what Day, and apparently Hazen, claimed occurred. I then re-contacted Wertheim to see if he was willing to stand by Hazen's claiming he saw the print on the rifle, and he backed down, and admitted he could very well have been mistaken about the specifics of the conversation he'd witnessed between Day and Hazen. In any event, this exchange with Wertheim left me a little more confused, yes even more confused, than before. I mean why did he "assure" me there was no chance the print had been planted, when he apparently didn't know very much about the case, and should have volunteered that the palm print could have been faked in other ways?
Is there a good ole' boy network among fingerprint examiners, that continues to conceal the shenanigans of Day, Latona, Mandella, Scalice, etc?
I suspect so, but hope to hell not.
The Day Who Cried Wolf?
In summing up these last few chapters, for that matter, one can't help but think of Aesop's fable of the boy who cried wolf. Day lied about so much of the evidence that one can't help but assume he lied about the rifle print as well.
But what if he didn't?
This re-booting of one's thinking leads in a surprising direction. Even IF, and that's a big IF, Lt. Day really did lift a palm print from the underside of the barrel on 11-22, but failed to do a thorough comparison with Oswald's prints, or even tell the FBI about this print, prior to releasing this print to the FBI on 11-26, Day's story is a disaster for the Oswald did-it crowd.
Let's recall that Day said the print was, to all appearances, an old print.
Let's recall that he initially insisted the print was entirely covered by the wooden stock, and not visible on the exposed part of the barrel.
Let's recall that this suggests a part of this print or even additional prints had been wiped off the exposed part of the barrel.
Let's recall that Day said there was a second print that was visible both under the stock and on the exposed barrel.
Let's realize, then, that, if true, this print was most probably a more recent print than the print Day lifted.
Now recall that the FBI supposedly found NO signs of either of these prints.
Well, this suggests something unpalatable to many if not most of those claiming Day DIDN'T Lie about the lift--that the FBI, after examining the rifle and finding two prints on the barrel, one of which could be matched to Oswald, and a newer one that could not be matched to Oswald--opted to pretend NO prints at all were found.
Or, should that be too much of a reach, simply that the FBI screwed up bigly and failed to notice not one but two presumably identifiable prints on the rifle barrel.
In either case, the circumstantial evidence regarding the barrel print is more damaging to the Oswald-did-it scenario than helpful.
Well, then what about the trigger guard prints? Scalice's ID of these prints as Oswald's is undeniably damaging to the position Oswald was innocent, no?
Not necessarily. Implicit in Scalice's claim the prints belonged to Oswald is that the FBI missed this fact, even though they had the DPD's negatives of the trigger guard photos, their own trigger guard photos, and the rifle itself. Such a claim by Scalice, if true, undermines the entire investigation conducted by the FBI. What else did they miss? How are we to know?
Six Quick Summaries
A. A quick summary of what we know about fingerprints.
The Myth of Fingerprints (1963)
1.No two are alike.
2.Fingerprint examination is a precise science, and fingerprint examiners rarely make mistakes.
3.Having one’s prints found at a crime scene is a sure sign of guilt.
The Reality of Fingerprints (2018)
1.Fingerprints are sometimes so alike that experienced finger-print examiners have trouble telling them apart.
2.Fingerprint examination is a highly subjective science, if it’s a science at all, and fingerprint examiners frequently make mistakes.
3.Law enforcement officers have been known to fabricate fingerprint evidence.
B. A quick summary of the literature on fingerprint fabrication and forgery
Signs of Fabrication (i.e. that the print was not photographed or lifted from where it was purportedly discovered)
2.Fibers under lift (if taken from card)
3.Card marks (apparent on lift or photo)
4.Black ink instead of powder (on lift)
Signs of Forgery (i.e. that the print had been transferred from another location prior to its being photographed or lifted at the crime scene, or from an incriminating piece of evidence)
1.Sharp cut-offs to the ridge lines
C. A quick summary of the fingerprint evidence against Oswald
The Warren Commission used 6 latent prints to suggest Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence in the sixth floor sniper’s nest on 11-22-63. These were discovered on four pieces of evidence.
1. Box D—There are NO photographs of Box D as first observed. There are NO photographs of a right palm print as discovered on Box D. There is, however, a photograph of a right palm print on a piece of cardboard torn from Box D, which was taken on the evening of 11-22. This print was identified as Oswald’s print that evening, and the FBI confirmed this identification on 11-23.
2. The paper bag—There are NO photographs of this bag as first observed in the building. There are NO DPD photographs of this bag from 11-22. The bag was sent to the FBI on 11-22. The FBI ID’ed a left fingerprint and right palm print on this bag as Oswald’s prints on 11-23.
3. Box A—There is one photo of Box A as first observed in the building, but it only captures part of one side of the box. There are other photos from 11-22 of Box A after it was moved and stacked up in the sniper's nest. Although the box was purportedly left in the building until 11-25, photos from 11-23 show the box to be missing, and photos from 11-25 show a different box entirely. The box was not sent to the FBI until after Oswald's death, on 11-26. The FBI identified a left palm print and right index fingerprint on Box A as Oswald's prints on 11-27.
4. The rifle—There are photographs of the rifle as first observed in the building. There are photographs from 11-22 of three prints on the right trigger guard. The rifle and at least one of these photos were sent the FBI on 11-22, but the FBI claimed the photos were of no value, and there were no identifiable prints on the rifle. The Dallas Police were not to be denied, however. A card bearing a palm print purportedly lifted from the rifle on 11-22 was sent the FBI on 11-26, along with the negatives to the photos the DPD had taken of the left trigger guard. The print on this lift was identified as Oswald’s print on 11-29. There are NO photographs of this right palm print on the underside of the barrel of the rifle, however. There are also NO records regarding the lift of this palm print prior to 11-26.
D. A quick summary of the changes in Lt. Day's story about the rifle lift
1. 11-29-63--4-22-64 Lt. Day's initial story regarding the rifle is that he removed the wood stock after noticing a print going under the wood stock down at the bottom of the barrel near the trigger guard, and that he then discovered a print that had been completely covered by the wood stock near the firing end of the barrel. He says he then lifted this print, and was pressured into turning the rifle over to the FBI before he could photograph both what remained of this print and the other print on the barrel he hadn't even started to work on.
2. 9-9-64 Lt. Day stops claiming he removed the wood stock from the rifle after noticing a print on the barrel by the trigger guard. As this print was not lifted by Day nor developed by the FBI, the FBI's failure to observe or document this print was quite a problem, and its disappearance from Day's story within days of the FBI's telling the Warren Commission they found evidence supporting Day's claim CE 637 was lifted from the rifle... is quite the coincidence.
3. 9-9-64 Lt. Day names the person he claims pressured him into discontinuing work on the rifle, and it's Chief of Police Jesse Curry.
4. 10-18-77 Lt. Day begins claiming it was the print down by the end of the barrel--the print he claimed he lifted--that he observed before removing the wood stock. This is quite the change considering he originally claimed this print was completely covered by the wood stock.
5. 10-18-77 Lt. Day also begins claiming it was Capt. Will Fritz, as opposed to Chief Jesse Curry, who pressured him into discontinuing work on the rifle.
6. 10-18-77 Lt. Day also begins claiming he told FBI agent Vincent Drain about the print on the underside of the rifle barrel before handing him the rifle on 11-22-63.
7. 1993 Lt. Day begins claiming it was Capt. George Doughty who pressured him into discontinuing work on the rifle, as opposed to Curry and Fritz.
8. 1993 Lt. Day also begins claiming he not only told Vincent Drain about the print on the underside of the barrel, but pointed out its location.
E. A quick summary of a circumstantial argument for one or more of the prints attributed to Oswald being fakes
1. Books on fingerprinting reflect that identifiable latent fingerprints are more commonly found at crime scenes than identifiable latent palm prints.
2. This was even admitted by Vincent Bugliosi, on page 806 of Reclaiming History. He asserted "Latent fingerprints (as opposed to a fingerprint exemplar, which is the model for comparison taken in in k at the police station) is the technical term for fingerprints left on everyday objects. These prints are transmitted to the surfaces of objects by a residue of oil secreted from the body, and are eventually "lifted" from the objects by fingerprint specialists. Contrary to popular belief, the perspiration from one's fingers and palms contains no such oily substance. The fingers and palms acquire that residue of oil when they come into contact with parts of the body that do have such secretions, such as the hair and face. Fingerprints are more popularly known than palm prints, most likely because people generally touch objects with their fingers rather than their palms."
3. Now consider that of the 25 non-Oswald prints discovered on the sniper’s nest boxes by the FBI, 19 were fingerprints and 6 were palm prints, and that this is in keeping with expectations.
4. And yet...4 of the 6 prints linking Oswald to the crime scene—1 each on the seat box, paper bag, rifle, and rifle rest—were palm prints, while only 2—one on the paper bag, and one on the rifle rest box—were fingerprints, of Oswald’s right index finger and left index finger, respectively.
5. Yes, that's right. Oswald, who was purported to have moved the 4 boxes removed from the sniper's nest while they were full of books and Rolling Readers, supposedly left but 2 fingerprints on these 4 boxes, while Studebaker and Lucy, who were purported to have moved these boxes while they were empty, left 19 fingerprints on these boxes.
6. This statistical anomaly would normally be taken, moreover, as an indication Oswald's hands were relatively free of the oily perspiration necessary for the deposit of fingerprints.
7. So then why the 4 palm prints?
8. Also intriguing is that 2 of these palm prints—the palm print on the bag and on the rifle—were of the same small area of the right palm, and that a third palm print—the palm print found on Box D—was of an area just adjacent to this area.
9. Were 1 or more of these palm prints lifted from another source?
F. A quick summary of an argument for cynicism about the fingerprint evidence
It's as simple as this.... Consider: the President of a third world country is murdered and the crime scene investigator tasked with building a case against his suspected assassin fails to take pictures of not one but three important pieces of evidence (the box the assassin supposedly sat on, the bag supposedly used by the assassin to smuggle his weapon into the building from which the fatal shots were fired, and the palm print on the underside of the weapon supposedly used in the assassination), and instead gives tours of the crime scene to the media, and parades key evidence before the cameras. He then takes a few days off, during which he fails to perform any of the comparisons or tests he knows can shed further light on the case.
And not only that, in the investigation that follows, he tells numerous lies about the evidence, and pays no price for his dishonesty.
Do you then give both him and those backing him the benefit of the doubt, and assume the supposed solution to the crime--that a weirdo got up one day and decided to shoot the President--is correct?
Or do you think the whole thing smells to high heaven?
It's maddening, isn't it? Every bit of evidence against Oswald seems tainted by strange circumstance or misrepresentation. It 's hard to get beyond it.
Still...is there any evidence he didn't shoot Kennedy, beyond that so much of the evidence supporting that he did shoot Kennedy is questionable, or worse?