Saturday, November 13, 2010

Murder in Dealey Plaza: A Review

                      MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA: A REVIEW
                          John Delane Williams

   Murder in Dealey Plaza:What We Know Now That We Didn't Know Then About the Death of JFK [1] is a book of readings about newly developed information. It is edited by Jim Fetzer, who also edited Assassination Science, [2] and convened a conference [3] in Minneapolis with many of the same authors. Fourteen different articles are the meat of this book. Fetzer begins this with "Smoking Guns".  Sixteen smoking guns are discussed, many of which are gone over in considerable detail by the other authors. Fetzer chose a logical sequence for presenting the articles. With apologies, the order is changed here, with significance to the overall story dictating order.

                   Two Different Brains

A logical starting point for me is Doug Horne's "Evidence of a goverment Cover-up: Two Different Brain Specimens at President Kennedy's Autopsy". I had attended the conference in Minneapolis where John Tunheim, who had directed the work of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), stated that there would be no smoking guns in the released records. [4] Doug Horne has apparently proven his boss wrong. Horne concluded that there were two different examinations of the JFK brain. The first examination occurred on (or about) November 25, 1963. Dr. Pierre Finck was not present for that examination, but was present at an examination, purportedly of JFK's brain, on November 29, 1963. An autopsy photographer, John Stringer, claimed Finck was not present at the examination. Stringer took several photographs. Yet the archive photographs include several different views that Stringer did not take. This present rendering is but a short outline of the intricate story that comes from the files at the archives that allowed Horne to posit two different brains at the two examinations.

               A Chronology of 22 November 1963

Ira David Woods III has been working on a chronology of events in Dallas. His chronology, JFK Assassination Chronology, is said to be over 400 pages long and still not completed. The present reported chronology ("22 November 1963: A Chronology",) is 101 pages long. The chronology has its own smoking guns. One favorite of mine is Oswald's wallet. At 7:10 AM, he left his wallet in the dresser with $170 in it; Oswald carried $13.87 to work. Sixty-one pages later, he left wallet #2 at the Tippet murder scene, together with a driver's license. Eleven pages later, wallet #3 showed up at the Texas Theatre where Oswald is arrested. WFAA newsfilm shows the wallet being gone through at the theatre. It should be noted that five wallets of Oswald's have been accounted for; in addition to the three mentioned here, two additional wallets were taken from the Paine residence by the FBI. [5] Also related in this chronology is the Summers [6] story that J.D. Tippet had begun an affair with a waitress who worked at Austin's Barbecue Drive In. Tippet worked at the barbecue in his off hours. The recently divorced paramour of Tippet was taken to the funeral parlor by her ex-husband to see Tippet's body before Tippet's widow and family arrived. The Tippet paramour then revealed to her jealous ex-husband that she was pregnant by Tippet. The ex-husband had on occasion followed the two at night in his car. The couple reunited, with the husband raising the child as his own until their next breakup in 1968.

                          The Secret Service

Douglas Weldon has focused on the JFK limousine; this focus has lead directly to the involvement of the Secret Service ("The Kennedy Limousine: Dallas 1963"). Weldon reviews the confusing and contradictory history of the limousine. What is clear is that the Secret Service either destroyed, or had destroyed, evidence of the assassination regarding the limousine. An agent was photographed with a bucket and water and sponge to wash blood and brain matter out of the area where JFK sat. [see 7, p.41] Also, a boy was taking pictures of the limousine outside Parkland Hospital; a Secret Service agent took away his camera and exposed the film. The Altgen's photo [see 8, pp. 30-31] shows the bullet hole in the limousine; the picture was taken at a time equivalent to Z-255. It was rumored that the Secret Service ordered 20 windshields for the limousine. The picture of the windshield produced by the Secret Service a week after the assassination likely could have been one of these substitutes.

Weldon hypothesizes the windshield damage was caused by a shot from the south knoll, perhaps from the storm drain. Secret Service agent Emory Roberts, in command of the agents in the second car, ordered the agents not to move at the sound of the first shot. Roberts also appeared to take command at Parkland Hospital exercising authority he did not possess.  

The centerpiece of Weldon's article is the witness from the Ford Motor Company. The Ford employee, who asked not to be named (actually he didn't want his story told during his lifetime; he did partially relent. Weldon played the tape recording of his conversations with the Ford employee at the Minneapolis Conference [9]). The Ford employee was at work at the Dearborn, Michigan plant on 11/25/63 when he was told by a division Vice President to go to the glass plant lab. He and two other employees were to make a template from the limousine windshield so that it could be replaced. The windshield had a bullet through it, emanating from the outside. The carpeting and the interior were completely stripped out. The original windshield was removed, broken up and scrapped, as they were ordered to do. Only two people could have ordered the limousine taken to Dearborn, Lyndon Johnson and James Rowley, Chief of Secret Service. It seems unlikely that Rowley would make this decision except at Johnson's approval.

A scathing review of Weldon's article was recently published by Tim Smith. [10] Smith maintains that there was no hole in the windshield, and berates Weldon for not naming the Ford employee. The idea that someone fears for their life if they tell what they know seems to escape Smith.

Vincent Palamara, a leading student of the Secret Service's involvement with the assassination, [see 11] addresses three focal members of the Secret Service, Floyd Boring, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the White House Detail, Emory Roberts and Bill Geer. Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker had promised full support to motorcade security; this help was rejected, presumably by Boring, who was in Washington but in charge of planning for the Texas trip. More stripping of security included removal of flanking police motorcyclists, and without agents sitting on the back of the limousine. Roberts left two agents at Love Field, Henry Rybka and Don Lawton. Both had been involved in protection to JFK in recent motorcades.  Roberts also ordered agents not to move toward the limousine. Only Clint Hill, assigned to protect Jaqueline Kennedy, ran to the limousine, but too late for JFK. At Parkland Hospital, Roberts usurped Agent Kellerman's authority. Upon seeing JFK was dead in the limousine, Roberts said to Kellerman, "You stay with Kennedy. I'm going to Johnson". [12] Bill Geer was the driver of the limousine who apparently slowed the limousine down almost to a stop (or did momentarily stop), allowing a better shot (or shots).

                         The Zapruder film

An article that addresses eyewitness statements, Vince Palamara reports (59 Witnesses: Delay on Elm Street, pp. 119-128) on 59 Dealey Plaza witnesses. The witnesses reported that a) either the limousine stopped; or b) the limosine slowed to almost a complete stop. The Zapruder film shows no such event corresponding to these reports. The eyewitness accounts would cast doubt on the authenticity of the Zapruder film.

A second article by Doug Horne involves interviews with two former CIA employees of the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC). The existing record says the Zapruder film had three copies made in Dallas. Bill MacMahon of the NPIC says he was told by Secret Service agent Bill Smith that Smith took the film from the person who exposed it, flew it to Kodak in Rochester, NY to  get it developed, and then brought it directly to the NPIC. It was brought there because the NPIC had special state of the art equipment. They could enlarge each frame up to 40 times its original size; then they would produce internegatives which were used to produce multiple colored prints of selected frames. A second NPIC worker, Ben Hunter, recalled that a "Captain Sands" delivered the film. He later amended this recollection to say that a secret service agent brought the film. MacMahon and Hunter were to find the three shots and select frames for reproduction. MacMahon said his opinion was that Kennedy was shot 6-8 times from three different directions. He was told that there were three shots from behind from the School Book Depository; MacMahon concluded they were to make frames, not do an analysis. 

A 16 page inset of photographs are shown and discussed by Jack White in "The Great Zapruder Film Hoax, and Other Photographic Frauds Perpetuated by the U.S. Government." White has done considerable photographic work. He served as an advisor on photographic evidence to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, as well as seved as a consultant to Oliver Stone on JFK. White also produced the video Fake! [13] on the Oswald backyard photos. In his present contribution, White casts doubt on whether Zapruder actually did the filming. Several frames from the Zapruder film are compared to other photographic evidence. There are several indications of differences. A comparison of the photos of the Nix film and the Zapruder film are such that that at least one of them is falsified. For example, Z-369 and the equivalent Nix frame show some but not all the same people from the front and the back. The Zapruder figures seem less lifelike. It would appear to me that there is a slight time differential between the Nix and Zapruder films; it appears at least three new people have run into the area. It appears to me that one of the persons has vanished (this person is labeled 4 by White in Z-369, and labeled "S.O.B." in Cicione. [14] Unfortunately, Cicione did not include younger people in his master list of Dealey Plaza witnesses. At least some of the people appearing in the Nix frame, but not the Zapruder frame, appear to be younger (under 21). What White does is show that the Zapruder film and the Nix film are incompatible; at least one of them has been altered. One final note on the White pictures: I was unaware of the painted yellow stripes in the "kill zone" until my trip to Dallas in November, 2000. White uses the yellow stripe from the Zapruder film to make an exact frame match to show alterations in the Zapruder film.

The final essay on the Zapruder film controversy is provided by David Mantik, who is a major contributor to this volume. Mantik had three articles in Assassination Science [15, 16, 17] as well as presenting at the conference in Minneapolis. [18] His presentation in Assassination Science was more a technical explanation of how the Zapruder film was altered. Mantik's essay on the Zapruder film is more of an reasoned approach attempt to show altering the film was not unthinkable. Mantik first reviews the resemblances of the JFK assassination to that of Fedinand in 1914. He makes the point that our knowledge of the Franz Ferdinand assassination is almost entirely by eyewitness testimony. Were we to take the same view with the JFK assassination, we might have a different view; the availability and use of several different recording devices seems to feed a sense that the evidence provided by the still film and moving film would seem to be more reliable than eyewitness recollection; Mantik points out that, from a legal view, for a tape to be introduced into evidence in court, eyewitness testimony needs to preceed the introduction of photographic evidence. For the Zapruder film to be authentic and have an evidentiary base, a chain of posession needs to be established. The work of Horne in this volume would strongly call into question an unbroken chain of posession.
A very strong case for film alteration can be inferred from eyewitness testimony, which reports either a complete stop or an almost complete stop of the limousine on Dealey Plaza. An alternative interpretation is either the camera was erratic, or Zapruder turned off the recording to exactly coincide with the stop. There are probably technical details that would render the latter argument to be rejected, however, I don't have the expertise to do so. A possibility that Mantik gives is the simple excision of frames in selected places that could achieve a number of aims, including removing evidence on a stop by the limousine. Such an excision could have been directed by the Secret Service for the purpose of eliminating the inappropriate stop (or near stop) by William Greer. The anomalies in the Zapruder film are quite numerous. The intersprocket images extend all the way to the left edge, unlike the simulations done by Roland Zavala, a retired Kodak engineer who was re-hired to do work with Kodak for the AARB. The overexposure typical of a beginning filming sequence is missing in the film. The likely interpretation is an excision. Other anomalies include William Greer's rapid head turn, Toni Foster's unusual stop (and her growing to almost seven feet tall [19]), among many others.

It should be noted that there are persons who support a conspiracy approach who argue that the Zapruder film is authentic. Notable among them is Hal Verb [see, for example, 20, 21]. On the other hand, a long term dissenter against accuracy of the Zapruder film is Harrison Livingston [see 22-26].

                   The Medical Evidence

Gary Aguilar, in "The Converging Medical Case for Conspiracy in the Death of JFK", makes the point that the available medical evidence grabs the skeptic who searches for a responsible explanation of the conflicting evidence. Witnesses who saw Kennedy's head wounds overwhelmingly describe a wound in the back of JFK's skull that couldn't have been caused by a shooter from behind. Credible witnessess, when shown the autopsy photos, called them 'doctored' because they don't show the rearward skull damage. More photographs were taken by autopsy photographers than are now extant. On the matter of missing photographs, Drs. Humes, Boswell, and Ebersole, together with autopsist photographer John Stringer signed on 11/1/66 a document saying, "The X-rays and photographs described and listed above include all the X-rays and photographs taken by us during the autopsy and we have no reason to believe that any other X-rays or photographs were made during the autopsy". [27] Another false affidavit, signed on 11/22/63 by Stringer and Floyd Reibe, an assistant autopsy photographer, specified the number of autopsy photographs that were taken and surrendered to Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman. Both Stringer and Reibe stated they were ordered to sign by Captain Stover, the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Medical School. At least the 11/1/66 affidavit was apparently at the command of Lyndon Johnson. [28]
David Mantik is uniquely qualified to address the JFK autopsy issues; Mantik holds a Ph.D in physics as well as an M.D. The article on "The Medical Evidence Decoded" is more an integration of his research with the recent efforts of other researchers. From Douglas Weldon, he notes that several witnesses indicate a shot from the left front, probably from the storm drain south of the first overpass. Mantik concludes that this shot is consistent with a shot to the right forehead. A right frontal shot seems likely and consistent with metallic debris found in the X-rays. Mantik systematically attacks the existing evidence. Much evidence is missing. This is garnered from addressing witness testimony. Many photographs taken at the autopsy are missing. Witnesses disagree drastically with existing photographs. Two photographs that seem unlikely to be of the same person are a posterior head photograph that shows an intact head (p.221); when this photograph is contrasted to the one showing a massive head injury (p.297), one's credulity is stretched beyond reason that they represent different views of Kennedy's head. Mantik also explains how a metallic object can later be added to an X-ray, using film extant in 1963. Mantik hypothesises that Kennedy's throat wound was due to glass fragments from the windshield. Mantik concludes that high government officials had to approve, and probably transmit, orders for alteration of critical forensic evidence. Persons who might have warranted grand jury investigations included James Rowley, who led the Secret Service, which held the critical autopsy materials; Robert Knudsen, White House photographer; and Admiral George Burley, Kennedy's personal physician. All three kept their jobs in the Johnson administration. 

                 Righting the Record and Epilogue

Jim Fetzer addresses the question, "Could Oswald be Convicted?", using material from Jesse Curry's JFK Assassination File. [29] This article uses Curry's evidence to construct a probable conspiracy. The evidence suggests that Oswald was not likely a shooter. It does not address a possible involvement in a conspiracy for Oswald.

David Mantik addresses the lack of historians becoming involved in researching the Kennedy assassination. Mantik laments the "Silence of the Historians". I would suggest Barbie Zelizer's Covering the Body [30] as another way to view the lack of historian involvement regarding the JFK assassination. Zelizer maintains that journalists refuse to allow the assassination story be given to historians. Many journalists gain prestige by their relation to the JFK story. Journalists form an interpretive community and marginalize persons and views they oppose. Within the journalistic community, the JFK assasination was a turning point to allow national television journalists to elbow out local and print media for the ascendency. The day that Kennedy died was the most important day in the career of Dan Rather. He went from being a regional journalist to a national correspondent. Rather claimed to be at Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination, but a mile away four minutes later after running the distance, talking to Walter Cronkite later. The importance of "being" at the assassination was important to the careers of other journalists. Life Magazine could "be there" by purchasing the Zapruder film. One might guess that, as the Dan Rathers are gone from the scene, historians may start to assert a claim to researching the story.

A final essay by Bertrand Russell, noted British mathematician and philosopher, was previously published in 1969. [31] This essay seems relevant today, and adds a few snippets that have not been widely reported. District Attorney Henry Wade made a statement of Oswald's movements. Oswald took a taxi driven by Darryl Click, who had signed an affidavit to his having driven Oswald. Wade later altered the driver's name to William Wahley. If "Click" was Wahley, then Wahley had signed a false affidavit. If the two were not the same, there is conflicting evidence. In either case, Wade's actions were compromised. "Good showing, Bertrand."     

Some might fault this book for the lack of inclusion of other information that we now know that we didn't know then. These might include the involvement of LBJ [32, 33, 34], which includes identifying Mac Wallace's (an LBJ henchman) print on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository. This print had long been unidentified. [35] The work of Peter Dale Scott [36] as well as other research deserves mentioning. But a book has to end somewhere. This is an excellent start.
1. Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) (2000). Murder in Dealey Plaza: What We Know     Now that We didn't Know Then About the Death of JFK. Chicago:      Catfeet Press.
2. Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) (1998). Assassination Science: Experts Speak     out on the Death of JFK. Chicago: Catfeet Press.
3. The Death of JFK Conference. (1999, May). Minneapolis.
4. Tunheim, J.R. (1999, May). The AARB Records. The Death of JFK      Conference. Minneapolis.
5. Armstrong, J. (1998). Lee and Harvey Oswald; the Mystery of the     Wallets. The Fourth Decade, 5,6,20-28.
6. Summers, A. (1980). Conspiracy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
7. Trask, R. (1994). Picture of the Pain. Danvers, MA: Yeoman's       Press.
8. Groden, R.J. (1993). The Killing of a President. New York:         Viking Studio Books.
9. Weldon, D. (1999, May). Kennedy Limousine. The Death of JFK        Conference. Minneapolis.
10. Smith, T. (2001). Windshield Reflections.  JFK Deep Politics
    Quarterly, 6,2,16-21.
11. Palamara, V.M. (1993). The Third Alternative: Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service and the JFK Murder. Pittsburgh: Author.
12. Manchester, W. (1967). The Death of a President. New York:         Harper & Row.
13. White J. (1990). Fake! (Video). Fort Worth: Third Coast             Productions.
14. Cicone, C. (1996). Schematic and Master List of Witnesses in       Dealey Plaza. Highland Park, MI: Author.
15. Mantik, D.W. (1998). The JFK Assassination: Cause for Doubt.      In Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) (1998). Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on the Death of JFK (pp. 93-139). Chicago: Catfeet Press. 
16. Mantik, D.W. (1998). Optical Density Measurements of the JFK X-rays and a new Observation Based on the Chest X-ray. in Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) (1998). Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on      the Death of JFK (pp. 153-160). Chicago: Catfeet Press.
17. Mantik, D.W. (1998). Special Effects in the Zapruder Film: How     the Film of the Century was Edited. in Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.)         (1998). Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on the Death      of JFK (pp. 263-343). Chicago: Catfeet Press.
18. Mantik, D.W. (1999, May). The Zapruder Film. The Death of JFK      Conference. Minneapolis.
19. White, J. (2000). The Great Zapruder Film Hoax. in Fetzer,        J.H. Ed.) Murder in Dealey Plaza: What We Know Now that We        didn't Know Then About the Death of JFK (ins. 1-16). Chicago:     Catfeet Press.
20. Verb, H.(1998. Book reviews: Bloody Treason and Assassination      Science. The Fourth Decade. 5,2,12-17.
21. Verb, H. (2000). Livingston's creation science and the             Zapruder film. The Fourth Decade. 7,2,12-15.
22. Livingston H.E.(1999). The Zapruder film: a study in              deception- part one. The Fourth Decade. 6,4,14-31.
23. Livingston H.E. (1999). The Zapruder film: a study in              deception- part two. The Fourth Decade. 6,5,12-26.
24. Livingston H.E. (1999). The Zapruder film: a study in              deception- part three. The Fourth Decade. 6,6,25-37.
25. Livingston H.E. (1999). The Zapruder film: a study in              deception- part IV. The Fourth Decade. 7,1,17-28.
26. Livingston H.E. (2000). The Zapruder film: a study in              deception- part V. The Fourth Decade. 7,2,7-12.
27. Weisberg, H. (1975). Post Mortem. Frederick, MD: Author.
28. Aguilar, G. (2000). The Converging Medical Case for Conspiracy      in the Death of JFK. in Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) (2000). Murder in       Dealy Plaza: What We Know Now that We didn't Know Then About       the Death of JFK (pp. 175-217). Chicago: Catfeet Press.
29. Curry, J. (1969). JFK Assasination File. Dallas: American          Poster & Printing Co.
30. Zelizer, B. (1992). Covering the Body: The Kennedy                 Assasination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective            Memory. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press.
31. Russell, B. (1969). The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell,         1944-67. London: Allen & Unwin.
32. Brown, M.D. (1997). Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of        Madeleine Brown and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Baltimore: The          Conservatory Press.
33. Brown, W. (1998). TSBD Evidence Places LBJ "Hit Man" in            Sniper's Nest. JFK Deep Politics Quarterly (extra edition)        3,3.
34. Williams, J.D. (1999). Lyndon B. Johnson and the Assassination     Conspiracies. JFK Deep Politics Quarterly. 4,2,25-28.
35. Sloan, B. (1993). Breaking the Silence. Dallas: Taylor Pub.        Co.
36. Scott, P.D. Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Mexico & Cuba.      Skokie, IL: Green Archive Publications.            

     In The Fourth Decade: A Journal of Research on the John F.        Kennedy Assassination.(2001). 8, 2, 12-17.     

In The Fourth Decade: A Journal of Research on the John F. Kennedy Assassination. (2001). 8, 2, 12-17.


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