Monday, August 1, 2011

                                       Head Shot- A Physicist Analyzes the Assassination
                                                             John Delane Williams

Andy Winiarczyk (Last Hurrah Book Shop) recently called me and suggested I might be interested in a newer book, Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination, by E. Paul Chambers. [1] Andy’s synopsis perked my interest. Chambers holds a Ph.D  in physics; Currently, he is working on development of renewable energy for Bellatrix Energy. As many of us who have become interested in pursuing the mysteries of the JFK assassination, Chambers is an outsider, or, as Baars [2] refers to them , a nucleator . A nucleator is a scientist with considerable expertise in an area of science who then applies their expertise to another area). Because of at least a slight similarity of backgrounds with Chambers (My first Ph.D. was in statistics [3]), I gladly accepted Andy’s suggestion. I was somewhat disappointed with portions of Chambers’ work(and, of course, there are criticisms).

Chambers organized his book into ten chapters, and like a lot of newcomers to research on the assassination, he takes the Warren Report to task—this seems to be a rite of passage for new critical assassination researchers. For myself, I am content that many researchers before me have done a sufficiently good job of criticism of the Warren Report that, in my opinion, we don’t need to have another proof that the Warren Report lacks credibility. [4] For those who do seek additional proofs, the book by Chambers is a worthy addition. Chambers uses Edward Epstein’s Inquest [5] as his guide to addressing the Warren Report in general, and the single bullet theory in particular. On the other hand, Chambers uses the works by Gerald Posner [6] and Vincent Bugliosi [7] to contrast his findings and interpretations.

Chambers states, regarding Bugliosi ,”Many in the news media and in the general public now consider Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History the last word on the subject.  However, his physics is wrong, and his science is, frankly, impossible.” [8] Chambers described his background thusly;  “My background in detonation physics and high speed photography of explosive events allows me to properly and accurately assess the scientific data set associated with the assassination.” [9]

The Beginnings of the Warren Commission
Chambers addresses the beginning meeting of the Warren Commission, which occurred on January 27, 1964. This was an emergency meeting, called to address allegations that Lee Harvey Oswald had been either an “undercover agent” or “paid informant” of the FBI. The only reference to the FBI “problem” was Bugliosi [10]. This is curious. Through of Freedom of Information request, Harold Weisberg secured the transcript of the first meeting of the Warren Commission and published it in toto, with interpretive notes. The transcript published by Weisberg [11] is a primary document, and perhaps the most important ever published about the manner in which the Commission would work. Why depend upon a second hand source of dubious merit when the primary source is available? Doing a good literature review is a necessary part of scientific research.

Chambers goes to some length to explain the scientific process to a presumably less scientifically             sophisticated readership.  While he goes about saying scientific research is self-correcting, i.e., if someone either misinterpreted data, or simply had a non-representative data set, other researchers will point this out. He doesn’t make it clear how long this process might take. For example Galileo, whom Chambers refers to several times, suffered for his contributions to science. What he doesn’t mention is that Galileo’s experiments ran afoul of the church, which led to his imprisonment and excommunication from the church. He died as an excommunicant in 1642. The excommunication was removed in 1985, as I remember. In fairness, Chambers does cover the Galileo issue more thoroughly in the Epilogue. When science confronts those in control, acceptance may be a long time in coming. Yet another example of a scientist whose fame came years after his research being discarded and dying in scientific obscurity after giving up on his experiments was Gregor Mendel. Upon his death in 1884, his papers were all destroyed in a disagreement with the civil government on taxation of religious properties; Mendel was an abbot at a monastery . Only in the 20th Century was his work appreciated for its importance. [12] Science is filled with controversies. Many years may pass before a view is finally accepted. Theories guide scientific practice, until more useful theories are developed. Theories are to be used only until they fail to correctly predict the outcomes of experiments. When they fail, they are to be discarded. Those who continue to believe in failed theories no longer continue to be scientist. Consider that a Flat Earth Society continues to exist. Unfortunately, Chambers oversimplification obscures this dialectic in science. Being a scientist is a lot messier than Chambers implies. Yet, by other comments in his book, I’m sure that he knows this.

                                                             The Medical Evidence
Chambers does a reasonably good review of the medical evidence. For me, I kept thinking, ‘Why has he not even referenced the extensive work of Douglas Horne’s seminal effort on the medical evidence, which was published about six months before Chambers finished his book? Horne’s exhaustive effort (over 1000 pages on the medical evidence alone) is the centerpiece on his report of the work of the Assassination Records Review Board. [13] In fairness to Chambers, his interest in the medical evidence was in relation to its usefulness in applying his knowledge base in physics.

Regarding the official autopsy performed in Bethesda, in Chambers view, the autopsy is of little value regarding reconstructing the facts of Kennedy’s death.  Most importantly the data are unstable. The head wound moves from the side of the head in the Zapruder film to the lower rear, occipital region, to the top of his head at the autopsy, to the top front of his head in the x-ray. These reports are inconsistent with both the Zapruder film and the reports of the physicians at Parkland Hospital. The Harper fragment was originally identified as an occipital bone (from the rear of Kennedy’s skull).  A…“ recent evaluation by Dr. Joseph Riley, a neuro-anatomist, indicates that the bone is instead from the parietal (side) portion of the skull.”  [14] The Harper bone fragment being a parietal bone is consistent with the Zapruder film, showing a wound to the right side of Kennedy’s head. Using a blowup of Z-333, the only apparent wound is to the right side of Kennedy’s head; in Z-333, the top rear part of Kennedy’s head, hair and skull are intact. The results of the official autopsy are at variance with the Zapruder film.            

Was the Zapruder Film Altered?

In this chapter, I was hoping to see Chambers address the Zapruder film with his own independent analysis. Instead, he relies heavily upon  Wrone’s The Zapruder Film: Refraiming Kennedy’s Assassination [15 ]. Chambers dismisses in particular the work of a scholar who holds both a Ph.D. in physics and an M.D., David Mantik’s article in Assassination Science [16]. Rather than provide his own analysis regarding Mantik’s article, Chambers stated, “These works, have been widely criticized, however, as documents that distort facts and suffer from serious errors and omissions. A most telling argument against these claims has been advanced by Harold Weissberg in his books Whitewash and Never Again!” [17]. As an aside, Chambers refers to Mantik as a “medical doctor”. Mantik is a medical doctor, but also a Ph.D. physicist, or in that sense a colleague of Chambers. Lest one conclude that Weissberg had leveled this criticism at Mantik, Never Again! [18] was published in 1995; Mantik’s article was published in 1998. We know that Chambers was still writing the book as late as June 16, 2010 (from his references). Why did he not review Doug Horne’s chapter (almost 200 pages long) in Inside the Assassination Record Review Board [19], which was published in 2009? Horne explains at length how two different groups worked separately on November 23-24, 1963 on the Zapruder film at a C.I.A. secret facility in the Kodak plant in Rochester, New York. Earlier, Horne described in detail the workings of one of the groups working in the C.I.A. laboratory [20].  He also points out that he sees Wrone’s work to be less than honest. Wrone reported that Horne indicated that Time turned the Zapruder film over to be altered. In the article by Horne, a report of an interview with Homer McMahon mentions the Secret Service delivered the film to the C.I.A. film laboratory in Rochester, NY. [21]

I’ll also offer an observation of my own. Whether or not there was an alteration, there is a clear discontinuity in the Zapruder film between Z-132 and Z-133. Z-132 shows the motorcycles preceding the limousine; the limousine is not yet shown. Z-133 shows the limousine after it has already made the turn and is heading down Elm Street [22]. Missing is the entirety of the turn, which reportedly had limousine driver William Greer driving poorly, almost driving the limousine up on the North curb near the Texas School Book Depository’s front door. The limousine would have covered a minimum of 20 feet, and perhaps as much as 40 feet between Z-132 and Z- 133. The reported speed of the limousine was 12 mph. At 12 mph, the limousine would travel 17.6 feet a second. As it happened, the Zapruder film had approximately 18 frames per second, so that at least 20 frames are missing between Z-132 and Z-133. [22] While Zapruder might have stopped the camera momentarily, the turn of the limousine onto Elm Street is definitely missing. Whether the frames are missing by Zapruder’s hand, or by an alterationist, it is propitious to the Secret Service that the incompetence of the Secret Service driver is hidden from the public eye.  In my opinion, Chambers, like many of the early critics of the Warren Report, used the Zapruder film for doing their calculations to discredit the Warren Report.  Of course, if alterations were made, those alterations are a withholding of facts regarding the assassination and can by themselves be seen as being part of a conspiracy. Some of the other missing information might also be due to Zapruder’s handling of the camera, for example, the apparent stop at the time of the fatal shot, which is not apparent on the film. There are other possible alterations that would not be at the hand of Zapruder. Whether there are alterations or not, it seems simplistic to view the film in an all or nothing at all manner. The film is not a perfect representation of reality even if there were no alterations. Insofar as alterations are hypothesized, do they render the film worthless? I think not. In any event, the film is ambiguous, but useful.

The Shooter on the Grassy Knoll

Presumably the raison-d’etre of Chambers’ book was the process of identification of the type of weapon used in Dealey Plaza for the fatal shot, and the location of the shooter. To do this, he was relying heavily on the Zapruder film, and hence the concern that the film be authentic, though not all of his analysis is tied to the Zapruder film. Chambers asserts that the bullet that killed Kennedy was likely a small caliber frangible round that fragmented inside his head. That it was a frangible bullet is deduced from the many bullet fragments seen by witnesses, without an exit wound; Chambers surmised that the point of entry was the right side of his head where the flap was visible after the shot (and on the Zapruder film as well). “The bullet that caused the extensive tissue jetting observed in Z-313 was a high velocity round traveling at or near 4000 ft/sec. “ [23] (A Mannlicher-Carcano missile travels at about half that speed). The blood that spewed out of Kennedy’s head would have been forced through the entrance wound, there being no exit wound because of the frangible bullet. The likely weapon to deliver this velocity would be the Winchester .220 Swift. I would point out that the shot would be consistent with a Winchester Swift, but could have been a custom made rifle, or some other rifle with similar ballistics characteristics to the Winchester .220 Swift. I lack the expertise to follow that up. However, I would only elevate the Winchester .220 Swift to being a likely candidate, and not exclusive to all other possibilities, which surely would include custom made weapons. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that a conclusion such as Chambers makes in identifying the model of gun used is not a statistical interpretation, but only that the model may be a likely candidate. In a later chapter, Chambers acknowledges that the fatal shot was likely fired a Winchester .220 Swift, or a rifle with similar characteristics. It would be interesting however, to check into the distribution of these (and similar) guns that were existing in 1963. Chambers also surmises that the Grassy Knoll was the most likely place where the shooter was located. While Chambers does an excellent job of analyzing the information that he has gleaned from the Zapruder film, he concludes that the weapon was a Winchester .220 Swift; it seems tenable to me , but I’d like to see others address his analysis, trying other possible weapons, giving their confidence limits for the different weaponry. As Chambers says himself, science is about repeatability. If there is no other suitable candidate, then the most likely candidate has been identified—but someone could still look into the records of the whereabouts of Winchester .220 Swifts in 1963. One of the important points about Chambers presentation is that, for those who are not trained in physics, Chambers explains the aspects of physics directly applicable to understanding the scientific base of his argument.

Why it Matters

 When Abraham Lincoln became the first president to be assassinated, a conspiracy was quickly exposed. The exposure of that conspiracy was important, because history matters. One could argue that we still don’t have all the details about the conspiracy that ended in Lincoln’s assassination. There is some disagreement as to whether Mary Surratt was a part of that conspiracy (she was the landlady at the boardinghouse where some of the conspiracy planning took place; she was hung shortly after the assassination), more was publicly known about the Lincoln conspiracy shortly after the assassination than is yet known about President Kennedy’s assassination. If “The truth shall set you free” then we have been held captive from the truth about President Kennedy’s assassination for forty-eight years and counting.

1.       Chambers, E.P. (2010). Head Shot: The Science behind the JFK Assassination. Amherst, NY : Prometheus Books.
2.       Baars, B.J.  (1986).The Cognitive Revolution in Psychology. New York: Guilford Press.              
3.       A second Ph.D. was received in clinical psychology.
4.       Just a brief selection of books that disprove the Warren Report would include: Harold Weissberg’s Whitewash-The Report on the Warren Report (1965). Frederick, MD: Author; Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment (1966). New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston;  Sylvia Meagher’s Accessories After the Fact (1967). New York: Vintage; J. Gary Shaw, Cover-Up (1976). Austin, TX: Thomas: Henry Hurt’s Reasonable Doubt (1985). New York: Holt, Rinehart &Winston; Robert Groden & Harrison Livingstone’s High Treason (1985). New York: Conservatory Press; Jim Marrs’ Crossfire (1989). New York: Carroll & Graff; Dick Russell’s The Man who knew too Much (1992). New York: Carroll & Graf; Walt Brown’s Treachery in Dallas (1995). New York: Carroll & Graf; Assassination Science (1998) Peru, IL: Catfeet Press , edited by Jim Fetzer; and Gerald MacKnight’s Breach of Trust  (1995). Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. There are several other excellent refutations of the Warren Commission findings.
5.       Epstein, E.J. (1966). Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth.  New York: Bantam.
6.       Posner, G. (1993). Case Closed. New York: Random House.  
7.       Bugliosi, V. (2007). Reclaiming History. New York: Norton.
8.       Chambers, p. 8.
9.        Ibid, pp. 8-9.
10.   Bugliosi, p. 346.
11.   Weisberg, H. (1974). Whitewash IV: JFK Assassination Transcript. Frederick, MD: Author.
12.   Carlson, E.A.  (2004). Doubts about Mendel’s Integrity are Exaggerated. Mendel’s Legacy. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, pp. 48-49.
13.   Horne, D.P. (2009). Inside the Assassinations Record Review Board, Vols I-V. Lexington, KY: Author.
14.   Chambers, p. 94.
15.   Wrone, D.R. (2003). The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK’s Assassination. Lawrence KS: University Press of Kansas.
16.   Mantik, D.W. Special Effects in the Zapruder Film: How the Film of the Century was edited. In Fetzer, J.H., Ed. (1998). Assassination Science. Peru, IL: Catfeet Press, pp. 263-344.
17.   Chambers, p.188.
18.   Weisberg, H. (1995). Never Again! New York: Carroll & Graf.
19.   Horne, D.P. (2009). Inside the Assassinations Record Review Board: The U.S. Governments Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK. Volumes I-V. Lexington, KY: Author.
20.   Horne, D.P. Interviews with Former NPIC Employees: The Zapruder Film in November 1963. In Fetzer, J.H., Ed. (2000). Murder in Dealey Plaza. Chicago: Catfeet Press, pp. 311-324.
21.   Horne, D.P. (2009). P. 1227.
22.   Images of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film. (1967, 1995). Washington DC: MPI Media Group, The LMH Company.
23.   Chambers, p. 207.

           To be published in JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly

Sunday, July 31, 2011

                                        Inside the Assassination Record Review Board  
                                     Part III- The Political Context of the Assassination
                                                          John Delane Williams                                                                    
The fifth volume of Inside the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) [1] also corresponds to Part III-The Political Context of the Assassination. It would be easy to envision this volume being released as a book for the mass market (presuming that the mass market would welcome a pro-conspiracy publication.) Were this to become such a publication, we could hope for more than two chapters for over 400 pages of material. The first chapter addresses the set-up
for events in Dallas.

Getting Kennedy to Dallas and the Planning of Events

If Horne is on the right track, John Connally and Lyndon Johnson were the spearheads behind the Texas trip. It would seem political considerations enticed President Kennedy to venture to Texas. A planned testimonial dinner for Congressman Al Thomas, which occurred in Houston on the night of November 21, was pivotal. Thomas was said to be dying of cancer—just as importantly, Thomas controlled the funding for JFK’s space program. Horne also points out that it was Thomas who winked at Lyndon Johnson, during Johnson’s swearing in ceremony, which was also photographed (p. 1388); see [2]. To be sure, Connally and Johnson had their own agendas as well. Connally wanted the luncheon planned at the Trade Mart, which seated 1500, rather than the Women’s Building, which seated 4000. The Women’s Building was preferred by Jerry Bruno, JFK’s advance man from the Democratic National Committee. The Women’s Building site was considered much easier to insure safety, and also, it would allow attendance by a larger cross-section of citizens; the smaller venue at the Trade Mart was said to likely be attended by those who reflected the conservative wing of the Texas Democratic Party. Connally was adamant about the Trade Mart site. Secret Service (SS) Agent Winston Lawson and Jack Puterbaugh, also from the Democrat National Committee, and in charge of motorcade political protocol, recommended the Trade Mart as the luncheon site. The choice of the luncheon site dictated the motorcade route (pp. 1387-1398). It has been purported than one reason for the preference for the Trade Mart was that the Women’s Building was not nearly as dignified venue as the Trade Mart. [3]  

Lyndon Johnson and Pre-Knowledge of the Assassination

 On the eve of the Dallas motorcade, Vice President Johnson argued with President Kennedy about the placement of Senator Ralph Yarborough and Governor John Connally in the next day’s Presidential parade. Johnson wanted Governor Connally in his car and Senator Yarborough in President Kennedy’s limousine, rather than vice-versa. Kennedy would not relent. Later that evening, Johnson attended a party at the estate of Clint Murchison. Johnson arrived long after the party started, and immediately called a meeting for selected dignitaries, including  J. Edgar Hoover, H.L. Hunt, John Currington (Hunt’s Chief of Staff), George Brown (of Brown & Root), John McCloy, and Richard M. Nixon (pp. 1429-1430); the event was termed a “victory party” by Livingston. [4] The celebration reportedly regarded the next day’s planned assassination. As Johnson left the meeting, he bellowed to Madeleine Brown, his former mistress, “After tomorrow those goddam Kennedys will never embarrass me again—that’s not a threat--that’s a promise.” [5]

Lyndon Johnson’s behavior in the motorcade on 11/22/1963 was curious. Johnson was ducking down 30 to 40 seconds before the shooting started. He was listening to a walkie-talkie at the time the shooting started (p. 1433). Immediately after the first shot, Secret Service Agent Rufus Youngblood pushed Johnson to the floor of the Vice-Presidential limousine, and proceeded to lie on top of Johnson as they sped out of Dealey Plaza. [6]

Security Stripping in Dallas

The motorcycle escort for the Presidential limousine was cut in half, from four on either side to two on either side, and the remaining motorcyclists were stationed to the rear of the limousine; Captain Perdue Lawrence, Dallas Police Department (DPD), and driver of the pilot vehicle, testified to this arrangement at the Warren Commission, saying that President Kennedy wanted no motorcycle policemen between him and the crowd. Lawrence was told this not by JFK, but by SS Agent Winston Lawson. Lawson also gave the order for no secret service agents to ride on the back of the Presidential limousine, again suggesting that this came from President Kennedy. Vince Palamara, in presentations at two research symposia in 1995 & 1996, was given assurances by both Gerald Behn (Head of the White House detail in the Secret Service) and Floyd Boring (#2 man under Behn) that JFK never vetoed or modified any Secret Service procedures ever. Apparently Palamara has contradicted himself on this issue on various websites. [7] The Dallas motorcade is contrasted with the previous day in Houston, when there were nine motorcycle escorts on either side of President Kennedy’s limousine (p. 1401-1405). When Clint Hill ran toward the Presidential limousine in Dealey Plaza, a second agent, Jack Ready, was also going to run to the limousine, but was told not to move by SS Agent Emory Roberts (pp. 1410-1412). That decision seems inexplicable.

It was standard practice for one of JFK’s two military aides, Air Force Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, or Naval Captain Tazewell Shepard, to ride in the Presidential limousine; minimally, they would ride in the follow-up car; both were placed 12 cars behind the Presidential limousine. President Kennedy’s personal physician, Rear Admiral George Burkley, was also usually placed as close as possible to the president. In Dallas, he was in a vehicle- one of the two press busses 20 cars behind the Presidential limousine- unable to respond to any trauma that might occur. Quite often a press vehicle was placed directly in front of the Presidential limousine to film the President’s tour; in Dallas the two press cars were 13th and 15th respectively behind the Presidential limousine (pp. 1413-1414). However, the 6th, 7th, and 8th vehicles behind the Presidential limousine were camera cars; Thomas M. Atkins, a White House cameraman, was in the first of the camera cars. [8]

William Greer

William Greer was the driver of the limousine. Horne has hearsay evidence that a steward on Air Force One was helping Clint Hill change his blood stained clothes on the way back to Washington. Reportedly Hill told the steward that Greer pulled his gun on Hill as he jumped on the back of the limousine (pp. 1415-1418). Given that the Secret Service agents were not supposed to be on the limousine (by Winston Lawson’s orders), it is not surprising that Greer would pull his gun on someone jumping onto the back of the limousine. Horne alludes to the possibility that Greer shot President Kennedy in the head. Horne stated, “The very unpleasant tentative possibility exists that limousine driver William Greer fired a fourth head shot into the President’s temple with his revolver.” (p.1150). Personally, I would have preferred this conjecture had been placed in the Appendix rather than in the body of the text.  In my view, the evidentiary base is just not there for this interpretation—a shot to the left temple, yes—by Greer—no. This statement tends to detract from the rest of the text. The evidence is far too weak to suggest that William Greer shot President Kennedy in the head from the information presented. [9]

The Secret Service’s Involvement with the Assassination

It is because of Doug Horne’s work that we now know how much more deeply the Secret Service (at least several key members) was involved with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Their involvement can be seen in the security stripping, which included not only reducing the protection around Kennedy’s limousine, but the planning of the route to the Trade Mart, the selection of the Trade Mart instead of the Women’s Building, and the changing of the placement of cars in the Presidential parade in Dallas, putting Kennedy’s personal physician far enough behind the Presidential limousine, so that he couldn’t respond to an emergency. Also, the press would be unable to record the parade on film, as was normally done (But see note 8). At Parkland Hospital, the Secret Service stole the slain president’s body, illegally removing him from Texas, and avoiding an autopsy in Texas. At the Bethesda autopsy, SS Agent Roy Kellerman was in charge of allowing persons to view the proceedings; some persons were kept from being in a particular audience to try to keep the body alterations unknown to attendees at the autopsy. It is likely that Dr. Burkley was in a liaison with the Secret Service. Burkley was one of the individuals shouting instructions to the autopsists in Bethesda. The Secret Service personnel took possession of the Presidential limousine and had it torn down to remove evidence, and apparently had a new windshield installed to try to eliminate evidence of a frontal shot. According to Horne, William Greer not only slowed or stopped the limousine during the motorcade, but also possibly shot President Kennedy in the head. After the ARRB was instituted, the Secret Service deliberately destroyed files relating to the assassination, some 32 years after the assassination. Also according to Horne, Kellerman likely did some alterations on his own to remove a frontal bullet from President Kennedy’s body. I am not convinced of the veracity of the involvements of Greer and Kellerman in these allegations. Burkley testified at one point about his anger about where he stuck in the motorcade; but he did NOT blame the SS; he stated that placement in vehicles was usually left to local folks, of the ‘host committee’ not the SS. Kellerman, it should be stated, also testified that there was a bullet entrance in what would be JFK’s right ‘sideburn’ [2H 91], and such testimony casts doubt on Kellerman consciously playing any cover-up role.

Not emphasized in Horne’s analysis is the treatment of Abraham Bolden, the first black SS agent to serve in the presidential detail. After a year in Washington, Bolden asked to be transferred back to Chicago. Bolden was part of the Secret Service detail in Chicago that unearthed a threat against President Kennedy and caused the cancellation of his trip to Chicago on November 1, 1963. During Bolden’s tenure in Washington, he began to have strong misgivings about presidential security.  In May of 1964, Bolden flew to Washington to attend a Secret Service training school. When he arrived in Washington, he attempted to call J. Lee Rankin, counsel to the Warren Commission. His call was placed to the White House Switchboard. Bolden wished to give testimony to the Warren Commission on the low level of protection afforded President Kennedy by the Secret Service. The Secret Service apparently got wind of Bolden’s plans. Bolden was sent home directly, and charged with counterfeiting on his return to Chicago. Bolden would eventually be convicted and sentenced to prison. Though he was paroled in 1969, the government never saw fit to offer him a pardon. After all, his conviction could be construed to be because of government misconduct. The government rarely acknowledges its own misconduct.  [10]

 The Enablers- J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson

Horne refers to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Vice-President (and on 11/22/1963, President) Lyndon Johnson as “enablers” of the plot to eliminate John F. Kennedy (p. 1472). Without being an apologist for either, it is hard to conceptualize two people that apparently became aware of the plot as late as 11/21/1963, as enablers to the plot. They likely became instrumental in the cover-up, making both enablers of a different sort, as they kept the heat off of the actual plotters, but overstates their involvement with the assassination. And, their participation in the cover-up was “different”. For J. Edgar Hoover, his participation in the cover-up was more akin to “business as usual” (his business as usual was in its own way nefarious). For example, at no point did Hoover and his FBI ever venture away from a two shot hit scenario (one shot in the back of President Kennedy’s skull, exiting at the top of his skull, and the other a shallow, non-transiting wound in the back), despite Arlen Specter’s magic bullet scenario. Hoover’s bureau seemed to have saved most of their collected materials in relation to the assassination of President Kennedy and cooperated with the ARRB with this process (obviously, Hoover was long gone), but the FBI’s collected materials were apparently destroyed less often than by other agencies.

Johnson, as president, set in motion the Warren Commission, which was the means to covering up the incriminating evidence from the assassination, and pinning it onto Lee Harvey Oswald. Johnson would have been seen to be an enabler for the interests of the military, and would deliver on that aspect following the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Perhaps Johnson thought he was going to be removed from the 1964 ticket, but if JFK would only remove him were an indictment against Johnson made, Johnson had little to worry about. [11] It was not likely that he would be indicted by any Texas court, and insofar as the Rules Committee hearings held in the Senate, even on the day of the assassination, Johnson had little to fear. The Senate Rules Committee members, made up of 6 Democrats and 3 Republicans, were if anything (the 6 Democrats) defending their former colleague, rather than trying to gather evidence against him.  See [12].

The Military (JCS) and their Relationship with President Kennedy

To say the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had a conflicted relationship with President Kennedy would be a gross understatement. Presumably, the JCS would have looked forward to the Kennedy Presidency—he campaigned as a Cold Warrior, seemingly more interested in combating the Soviet Menace than his opponent Richard Nixon. In particular, he wished to close the missile gap with the Soviet Union. Once elected, he found that there was no missile gap or bomber gap; any gap that existed was in the United States’ favor. Then the impending Cuban issue arose. Unlike his predecessor, President Eisenhower, JFK initially attended meetings with the JCS without any experts from his own administration. The Bay of Pigs planning would be affected within a series of meetings with the JCS. What President Kennedy did not understand was that if the Bay of Pigs operation were to have a chance of success, direct intervention by the American military would be necessary. The JCS and the CIA were expecting the cold warrior to accede to the use of the military rather than face defeat for the Cuban ex-patriots attempting to invade Cuba. JFK refused to allow any direct intervention by American militia. More meetings would bring out the strong differences between JFK and the JCS. Included in these meetings were aspects of the Northwoods plan. This bizarre plan had several scenarios for creating a pretext for an invasion of Cuba by the U.S. military. One such plan was to implement a fake “Communist Cuban Terror Program” in Miami in which Cuban refugees would be exposed to actual exploding bombs, with attempts on the lives of the Cuban refugees, perhaps wounding some, and also using false documents to implicate the Castro regime (pp. 1525-1530).

The Vietnam situation was yet another area of contention. President Kennedy was continually being pushed to allow American combat troops there. Kennedy had become aware that the glowing reports of success in Vietnam were far removed from the truth.  Though he earlier decided to reduce the number of advisors in Vietnam by 1000 by the end of 1963, using the erroneous information supplied to him, he remained steadfast in the drawdown in American advisors; after his reelection, he planned to withdraw all American military personnel by the end of 1965 (pp. 1583-1602). Eventually the JCS would come to see JFK as a traitor, and that his elimination would be necessary.

A Convenient and Agreeable Replacement Was Found

On April 27, 1961, a crisis meeting was held regarding Laos. Present were 15 congressional members, the JCS, President Kennedy, and Vice-President Johnson. Arleigh Burke, sitting in for General Lemnitzer, advocated immediate military intervention in Laos with combat troops, with possible escalation up to and including the use of nuclear weapons. President Kennedy asked for the views of those present. Only one person sided with Burke--Lyndon Johnson (pp.1553-1554). On May 5, 1961, President Kennedy indicated that Vice President Johnson would be going to Vietnam in the near future--without discussing it with Johnson. When Johnson got on the plane 5 days later, he was given a briefing book about the goals of the trip by USAF Colonel Howard Burris. After studying the book for about one minute, Johnson said, “Howard, if you give me any of this State Department crap again, I’ll throw you off the plane.” (p. 1569). On May 12, without authorization, Johnson promised President Diem that the U.S. would fully fund and equip the 20,000 man additional increase Diem wanted. Later that evening, LBJ called Diem the “Churchill of Asia” (p. 1571). As the war effort in Vietnam deteriorated, but rosy reports of success were reported back to JFK, Johnson was given accurate back channel information about how badly things were going in Vietnam (p. 1583). If need be, it would appear that the military might have a suitable replacement for President Kennedy.

The CIA Became the Operational Arm of the Security Establishment in the Assassination

It is Horne’s assertion that the CIA was the operational arm of the security establishment in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I think it would be more correct to say that key personnel from the CIA were likely a part of the operational arm of the security establishment in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, this does not mean that the CIA, nor any of its members, was part of the group that made major decisions about the assassination. Horne placed David Atlee Phillips in the midst of the CIA operational arm in the assassination. Phillips was involved with the sheep-dipping attempt with Lee Harvey Oswald, with the intended outcome of labeling Oswald as a pro-Castro assassin of President Kennedy. A second person was David Sanchez Morales, a notorious CIA hitman, who bragged about the CIA’s involvement in the assassination. Morales was the Operational Manager at a training base in Florida, training Cuban exiles for a possible invasion of Cuba. According to Bradley Ayers, also involved in training exiles at that base was mobster Johnny Rosselli. [13] A third CIA planner named by Horne was James Jesus Angleton. Angleton stressed a relationship between Oswald and Valery Kostikov, a Soviet official at the Mexico City embassy who was in charge of assassinations in the Western hemisphere. Covering up this relationship (or pseudo-relationship) would help keep the U.S. out of war with the Soviet Union, but more importantly from Angleton’s view, also get the CIA off the hook for their part in the assassination. Mark Lane argued this theory persuasively in Plausible Denial, suggesting, with credibility, that the entire Mexico City scenario was fraudulent, yet presented quickly to the WC by the CIA in order to drum up the possibility of nuclear war as a pretext/excuse for the WC to find a lone, non-political assassin. [14] Edward G. Lansdale, a Brigadier General in the Air Force, owed his true loyalties to the CIA.  President Kennedy disappointed Lansdale in both Vietnam and Cuba. Lansdale had the offer to be Ambassador to Vietnam rescinded by Dean Rusk, who did not want a CIA “spook” serving as an ambassador; Project Mongoose (an attempt to start a popular uprising in Cuba against Castro) was shut down in early 1963, following President Kennedy’s no invasion pledge to Kruschchev, after the Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK’s intent to withdraw from Vietnam after the 1964 election also rankled Lansdale (pp. 1613-1649). According to Horne, Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty identified Lansdale as being in the photograph of the three tramps in the yard area behind Dealey Plaza in Dallas on 11/22/1963 (p. 1648).  This statement by Horne is accurate but possibly misleading. Colonel Prouty identified Lansdale as being a person photographed with the three tramps when the tramps were being escorted by two men dressed as Dallas police. The man identified as Lansdale by Prouty was walking in the opposite direction as the three tramps. The three tramps would then be escorted to the nearby County Jail by the same two Dallas policemen. It seems highly unlikely that the Dallas police would escort persons to the County Jail. The whole scene seemed bogus to Prouty in an interview he gave in 1989. [15] [ In an aside, the police interviewed stated that “the tramps” removed from the boxcars—there were more than three, were taken off trains parked near Union Station, three blocks SOUTH of Dealey Plaza; the implication regarding the “tramps” is that they were behind the picket fence. [16] The question then becomes, why march them through Dealey Plaza if they were caught three blocks south?

The Longstanding Desire of Hawks to Obliterate the Soviet Union
Horne reviewed Richard Rhodes’ book on the history of America’s nuclear arms race [17]; the planning for the obliteration of the Soviet military and industry was begun as early as September 1945.  In 1950, Paul Nitze and Dean Atcheson (then Secretary of State) deliberately began exaggerating the Soviet threat in order to boost defense spending (p. 1694). This exaggeration apparently continued to the 1960 election year; JFK campaigned on the premise that he would move, as president, to erase the missile gap. Shortly after JFK became president, Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara concluded there was no missile gap (pp. 1690-1692). In terms of nuclear warheads, the U.S. held a 20 to 1 advantage.  In 1954, President Eisenhower issued an updated Basic National Security Policy statement: “The United States and its allies must reject the concept of preventative war or acts intended to promote war.” (p. 1695). Air Force General Curtis LeMay authorized the Strategic Air Command (SAC) to plan for preemption—for beating the Soviet Union to the punch if intelligence indicated the Soviets were beginning a first strike. LeMay’s plan would have left virtually the entirety of the Soviet Union as a smoking, radiating ruin in two hours. LeMay deliberately had begun overhead flights of the Soviet Union from the mid- 1950’s, apparently hoping a response from the Soviet Union would justify a preemptive first strike (p. 1696). 
At the end of WWII, custody of the U.S. nuclear bombs was transferred to the civilian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). In 1957, LeMay wrestled physical custody of the nuclear weaponry from the AEC. Robert Sprague, chairman of a committee appointed by President Eisenhower to study SAC’s response abilities, expressed his concerns to LeMay. LeMay said, “If I see the Russians are amassing their planes for attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.” Sprague protested, “But general, that’s not national policy.” LeMay responded: “I don’t care. It’s my policy. That’s what I’m going to do.” (p. 1699).
The Single Integrated Operational Plan for 1962 (SIOP-62)  
This plan was first revealed to President Kennedy at a meeting with the JCS on July 20, 1961. Horne discussed SIOP-62 in Chapter 5 (pp. 482-487). Briefly, SIOP-62 was a plan for a nuclear war in 1962, annihilating the Soviet Union, China, even Albania. It was to be an obliterating attack on everything Red. Once begun, the entire plan was to be executed. It involved using 3,423 nuclear weapons against 1,077 military and urban-industrial targets scattered throughout the Sino-Soviet bloc. The enormousness of this plan was incredible. In all human history, only two atomic bombs had ever been used against another nation, the bombs used to end WWII. Many of the thermo-nuclear warheads available to the U.S. in 1962 were much more powerful than the two atomic bombs used in 1945. Generals Lemneitzer and LeMay were strong advocates of this plan (pp. 1701-1707).  
What was the Meaning of the Assassination of President Kennedy?
If the Warren Commission and its defenders are to be believed, there is no major meaning to the assassination of President Kennedy. He was murdered by a madman; the policies which President Kennedy was promulgating were kept intact, and there was no change in government. It is Horne’s assessment that the JFK presidency was a break from “business as usual”. Horne argues against those historians who maintain that nothing would have changed had President Kennedy lived. Horne claims that this sort of thinking--Kennedy’s death was irrelevant to subsequent events, ignores Kennedy’s role as a reformer who was in the process of a paradigm change--a change that infuriated the military-industrial complex. Kennedy had plans to remove American troops from Vietnam in 1965; 58,000 American lives and over a million Asian lives would have been saved. D├ętente with the Soviet Union could have come 25 years earlier. Just perhaps, hundreds of billions of dollars could have been saved in the military budget. A cooperative effort for putting mankind on the moon, rather than the race which took place, could have signaled that a transformative change in our way of interacting with other nations had begun.
Even more importantly, it is likely that a nuclear war was avoided in regard to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) were unanimous in recommending a military solution to end the crisis. The JCS wanted to bomb the missiles in Cuba. Their view was that the missiles were not yet operational. The CIA had also seriously underestimated the number of Soviet personnel in Cuba. There were at least 42,000 Soviet troops there. Nor did the JCS know that the missiles were operational, armed with nuclear warheads and permission to use them was granted if the Soviet installations were attacked. Had the president given the green light to attack the Soviet missile structures, the ensuing holocaust would have been almost unimaginable. As it was, the U.S. Navy harassed four Soviet diesel-electric submarines, which were each carrying 10 kiloton nuclear warheads, though this information was not known until years later (p. 1740).  Had the captains of any one of these submarines had the mentality of, say, General Curtis LeMay, World War III would surely have been underway. Such a war would have had profound effects worldwide; a long lasting nuclear winter would have been the prize for the survivors. In saving the world from the devastation implicit in such a conflict, President Kennedy was seen by some as a traitor, and he was marked for assassination. The nuclear winter theory espoused here, which I agree with, would have accounted for far more than the “39 million” dead that Lyndon Johnson sold to the WC; it could have been closer to 1.5 billion dead, particularly as the fallout were to go eastward, to India, Pakistan, China, and Japan- all heavily populated.
A Quick Synopsis of Horne’s Contribution
This massive writing encompassing over 1800 pages; it is an important contribution to understanding the events of 11/22/1963. Part I, almost half of the five volumes, makes the set a must reading for any person seriously wanting to understand the assassination. The medical evidence involved with the autopsy is riveting. Yet it is hard to read in such detail about the handling of President Kennedy’s body. Horne leaves seemingly no detail out of his magnum opus. Part I is a major contribution to the assassination literature. In a real sense, it is hard for Part I not to overshadow the final two Parts.         Part Two was an extension and interpretation of Part One. The two brain hypothesis (JFK’s real brain, and a substitute, more intact brain) is explored. Horne’s looking into the Zapruder film is well worth reading. One issue that deserves more emphasis in ballistics evidence is the use of sabots (a sabot would allow a bullet which would have been fired from a rifle to retain its original ballistic markings when fired from a sabot in a larger caliber rifle), particularly when the government is trying to frame a suspect. Part Three is an uneven contribution. Horne presents no evidence that William Greer acted improperly, but provided only hearsay reports of Greer improprieties. Were Greer under the understanding that no secret service agents would approach the limousine, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for him to pull out his handgun when someone jumped on the limousine. Even on a hearsay basis, I didn’t read anything that suggests Clint Hill said that Greer fired the handgun at either Hill or President Kennedy. Perhaps such evidence may eventually surface; at that time hypothesizing a shot from Greer would then be appropriate. On the other hand, the involvement of General Curtis LeMay, laid out in considerable detail, is handled more gingerly than that of William Greer. The richness of Part III is in regard to the coverage given to the relationship of the military brass to President Kennedy. Horne presents considerable evidence of disdain toward Kennedy on the part of several key top brass in the military, including their seeing Kennedy as a traitor for not using a military response to the missile crisis. Given inaccurate assessments of the Soviet nuclear preparedness in Cuba, the military brass were adamant about a military attack on the missiles in Cuba. It was the steadfastness of President Kennedy against the military attack on Cuba that likely saved the world from a massive nuclear holocaust. While it is not Horne’s specific interpretation, it is not a long stretch to postulate that selected military brass were at the center of the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Whatever criticisms have been brought up herein, I would strongly recommend the five volumes by Horne to any researcher interested in the JFK assassination.      
1.      Horne, D.P. (2009). Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK, Volumes I-V. Lexington, KY: Author.
2.      Lifton, D.S. (1980). Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. New York: Macmillan.
3.      This seems like a trumped up excuse. I am reminded of the time I saw President Kennedy; JFK gave a speech in a high school football stadium in front of 20,000 onlookers. All the dignity necessary for the occasion was provided by President Kennedy. Williams, J.D. (2009). How “Typical” was the Protection for President Kennedy in Dallas? Dealey Plaza Echo, 13, 1,1-4.
4.      Livingstone, H.E. (1993). Killing the Truth: Deceit and Deception in the JFK Case. New York: Carroll & Graf. (pp. 483-487).
5.      Brown, M.D. (1997). Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of Madeleine Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Baltimore: The Conservatory Press. (p. 166). See also, The Men Who Killed Kennedy: Part 7: Smoking Guns. The History Channel, 11/21/2003.
6.      Youngblood, R.W. (1973). 20 Years in the Secret Service: My Life with Five Presidents. New York: Simon and Schuster. (pp. 113-115).
7.      Palamara, V. (1993). The Third Alternative-Survivors Guilt: The Secret Service and the JFK Murder. Pittsburgh, PA: Author. The two presentations Palamara made were at the Coalition on Political Assassinations meetings in Washington, DC in 1995 & 1996. Videotapes were made of Palamara’s presentations (along with other presenters).
8.      Trask, R.B. (1994). Pictures of the Pain: Photography and the Assassination of President Kennedy. Danvers, MA: Yeoman Press. (p. 306). In the three camera cars were six cameramen (NBC, CBS, the White House cameraman, three local TV affiliates,) seven photographers, an NBC sound technician a pool electrician, and three drivers.
9.      This is not to say that I would absolutely reject the idea that William Greer shot at President Kennedy, only that I am unaware of any additional evidence that would conclusively show that Greer fired at the President.
10.   Bolden, A. (2008). The Echo from Dealey Plaza. New York: Harmony Books.
11.  Williams, J.D. (1999). LBJ and the assassination conspiracies. JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly, 4, 2, 25-28.
12.  Williams, J.D. & Conway, D. (2001) The Don Reynolds Testimony and LBJ. Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, 7, 1, 19-28. No publication of the Senate Rules Committee hearings (being held on November 22, 1963) was ever made, because they were never concluded. Because the hearings, involving Donald Reynolds, an insurance salesman purportedly involved with kickbacks to Johnson, were resumed, we can discern what happened at the hearings at the time of the assassination from Reynolds later testimony regarding the hearings on 11/22/1963.
13.  Ayers, B.E. (2006). The Zenith Secret: A CIA Insider Exposes the Secret War Against Cuba and the Plot that Killed the Kennedy Brothers, Brooklyn: Vox-Pop. Also, Ayers, B.E. (1976). The War that Never Was: An Insider’s Account of CIA Covert Operations Against Cuba. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
14.  Lane, M. (1991). Plausible Denial. New York: Thunder’s Mountain Press.
15.  A U-Tube video of Colonel Prouty’s 1989 interview regarding General Lansdale was received from Treefrog ( on 8/1/2010. The video is available at The picture that Colonel Prouty identified General Lansdale as being in with the three tramps can be found in Trask, R.B. (1994). Pictures of the Pain. Danvers, MA: Yeoman Press. (p. 340).
16.  From the testimony of D.V. Harkness, DPD; at the WC hearings, Harkness was not asked about the tramps. See Brown, W. (1996). The Warren Omission. Wilmington, DE: Delmax, p. 310.
17.  Rhodes, R. (2007). Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Monday, June 27, 2011

                                   Inside the Assassination Record Review Board
                        Part II- Fraud in the Evidence- A Pattern of Deception
                                               John Delane Williams
Throughout the five volumes [1], Horne takes to task several individuals, including Dr. James Joseph Humes, “J” Thornton Boswell, David Marwell, G. Robert Blakely, Dr. Michael Baden, and sometimes even Jeremy Gunn, (among others). He accuses Dr. Humes and Dr. Boswell of perjury, fraud, and presumably, breaking their Hippocratic oaths, regarding their behavior in the autopsy of President Kennedy. But Horne’s vituperation grows strongest in counterattacking Vincent Bugliosi (pp. 822-829) for the attack Bugliosi made on Horne in Reclaiming History [2]. I would guess that some readers may be turned off to Horne’s excellent contributions because of these personal responses. Enough said.
Evidence for Two Brain Examinations
Horne contends that two separate brain examinations were conducted; one on Monday morning, November 25, 1963, on President Kennedy’s brain, and a second, between November 29 and December 2, 1963. The second examination was purportedly on a substitute brain, one that was almost intact with very little loss of mass. At the first examination, Dr. Humes, Dr. Boswell, a corpsman, and John Stringer, the Navy photographer, were present. The second examination included Dr. Humes, Dr. Boswell, Dr. Pierre Finck, and an unnamed naval photographer, other than Stringer. The first examination was apparently a normal examination for gunshot wounds, including sectioning the brain. Stringer took only superior (top) views of the still intact brain. He shot serial sections of the brain. Stringer used unnumbered portrait pan film in duplex holders to create black and white negatives; unique notches were present in each corner of each piece of film. Stringer used Ektachrome E3 film to create color positive transparencies. In the official collection of films of the brain, NONE of Stringer’s photographs of President Kennedy’s brain exist. Different film was used, basal (bottom side up) views were photographed, and no sectioning was shown. The official photographs feature an almost intact brain, which was reported to weigh 1500 grams. At the second examination, Dr. Finck suggested having a neuropathologist examine the brain, which Dr. Humes refused.
For the longest time, I felt that the three pathologists chosen to do the autopsy were barely competent in addition to being involved in a brazen way in the cover-up. Now, I’m not so sure, but my sense is that I was wrong. After finishing his testimony with the ARRB, Dr. Humes walked towards the elevator with Jeremy Gunn, David Marwell, and Doug Horne at the Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Humes cryptically remarked, “I sure hope you guys can figure this out.” (p. 834). Perhaps Dr. Humes was trying to do things that would lead to the eventual exposure of the cover-up. The examination on President Kennedy’s brain apparently was done in an appropriate manner. Were the pictures ever to surface, the cover-up would likely be exposed. The determining of the weight of the second brain to be exactly 1500 grams perhaps was a tip off. It was far too large for a brain that had lost 1/3 its volume, and the weight being exactly 1500 grams was likely another tip off. It just took a long time for someone to put this all together. Dr. Humes particularly, but also Dr. Boswell, were caught in a squeeze. Once they agreed to falsify the record, including alterations to President Kennedy’s body, they had crossed the Rubicon. There was no turning back. They were put in a Hobson’s choice by military brass, and having made a choice to “play along”, turning back would mean a court-martial, prison, and loss of their medical licenses.
There is also the question, “What happened to Kennedy’s brain?” Apparently, the brain was turned over to Admiral Burkley, with the intent that it be interred with Kennedy’s body on Monday, November 25, 1963. It is not known whether such a burial of the brain took place, however. It could have been interred either on November 25, 1963, or at the re-interment on March 14, 1967; several pictures of that re-interment can be seen in Russo [3]. Horne opined that the brain was put into the ceremonial casket from Dallas and buried at sea in November, 1966. The disposition of the substitute brain is not known (pp. 839-842).
The Autopsy Reports- A Botched Cover-up
Three separate autopsy reports appear to have been prepared; the FBI wrote their own preliminary report based on what they observed and heard from the autopsists when they left around midnight, thinking that the autopsy was almost completed. Thus, four different lenses are associated with the autopsy, the FBI report and the three different autopsy reports. The FBI report, or the Sibert –O’Neill report, includes two hits to the president, a shot to the back of the skull, which exited out of the top of the skull, and a shallow non-transiting back wound; the bullet was presumed to have fallen out of JFK’s body during cardiac massage in Parkland Hospital. This set of conclusions was abandoned after Sibert and O’Neill left the autopsy; shortly after the two FBI agents left, a conversation took place between Dr. Humes and Dr. Perry (Parkland Hospital), about the wound in JFK’s throat; this necessitated adding a third shot hitting President Kennedy, which constituted lens 2, the first written draft (reviewed by Dr. Humes, Dr. Boswell, and Captain R.O. Canada, USN). A third shot was added to lens 1, a shot which purportedly entered high in the neck/or low in the skull, exiting through the throat. In turn this report would be abandoned when it became known that one bullet missed the limousine and caused an injury to James Tague; the strong inference made was that since three shells were found on the sixth floor, and one shot missed the limousine entirely, that no more than two shots could have hit President Kennedy. This gave rise to the third lens. The two shots became the head shot, now having a fragment causing a throat wound as it exited the body, plus the non-transiting back wound. This second autopsy report, and the first signed report, was completed on November 24, 1963. This lens had to be abandoned when the Zapruder film was reviewed; the film showed that JFK was visibly reacting to the throat wound before the fatal head shot, making the explanation that the fragment from the head shot caused the throat wound untenable. The fourth lens reverted to the head shot (as in lens 1 and lens 2) and a shot that entered the upper back and transited through the throat (the previously non-transiting back wound, pp. 845-878). Horne surmised that, “…the evolving autopsy findings serve as evidence not of the true events of what happened in Dealey Plaza, but of what those in charge of the coverup wanted us to believe about the assassination—namely, that all of the shots were fired from above and behind the limousine, and from the same location.” (p. 879).
Revisiting the Autopsy Photographs
The next issue that Horne addressed was to investigate the authenticity of the photographs. The ARRB digitized the autopsy photographs for posterity; this process allowed examining their authenticity. Horne accompanied the autopsy photographs to the Kodak facility in Rochester, New York. The Kodak employees understood that they were to informally see if there was any evidence of forgery or alterations evident in the photographs. The conclusions drawn from the examination was that the images were not forgeries (pp. 890-892). While the photographs were authentic, they were seen as being deliberately made to misinform.  The autopsy photographs showing the back of the President’s head to be intact were accomplished in such a way to intentionally be misleading to viewers. The scalp was rearranged to make it appear that the rear of President Kennedy’s head had only the entry shots in an otherwise undisturbed manner. It is interesting that the surviving photographs don’t actually show actual entry points; these two holes were made by Humes to correspond with what was thought to be what would have been the pattern of injuries caused by shots from the sixth floor. One actual shot from behind was included as one of three wounds to President Kennedy’s head and back. These photographs (of three wounds) were probably taken by John Stringer. It was later understood that at most three shots could have emanated from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and there was one missed shot. Thus a photograph showing three wounds would have been unacceptable. The wound eliminated was the one actual wound in the back of Kennedy’s head. Horne surmised that few if any of the photographs taken by John Stringer and Floyd Riebe are now available in the National Archives (p. 908). Rather, the photographs taken by Robert Knudsen were to be the main surviving autopsy photographs. As Knudsen had no previous experience in photography at an autopsy, normal procedures at an autopsy by a photographer were simply not in his experience base. Thus, some of his close ups didn’t show the detail well. He also didn’t know that he should have used rulers and other devices to help the viewers orient to the images. It would appear that some of Knudsen’s images were excluded from the final set as well. Dennis David saw pictures at William Pitzer’s office that included a small puncture wound in the right forehead (an entry wound) that never became part of the official autopsy pictures.
Then there is the issue of interpretation of data by Robert Blakely. Horne quotes Blakely as writing: “In disagreement with the observations of the Parkland doctors are the 26 people present at the autopsy. All of those interviewed who attended the autopsy corroborated the general location of the wounds as depicted in the photographs; none had differing accounts.” (p. 886). Though Blakely does not indicate how many attendees were interviewed, 12 attendees gave evidence disputing the autopsy photos; 12 are definitely more than none! (pp. 886-887).
Horne makes the interesting observation that the entrance wound in the back of the head was likely fired from the 2nd floor of the Dal-Tex Building; the shot did not exit but was lodged behind JFK’s right eye. The shot was nearly on the horizontal (pp. 911-912).
A Bit of Backbone for the Autopsists
Apparently the autopsists were willing to go only so far in accommodating their military superiors.   They were not in control of which films made at the autopsy would become part of the permanent record. The one legitimate shot from behind in the head was removed from the photographic record. This shot was duly recorded in the final autopsy report, and the doctors were unwilling to “move” the entrance wound to coincide with the pictures that did not show this point of entry.  Horne interpreted their attitude as: “To hell with these people, we are going to report the actual location of the entry wound, not that thing they photographed up high in the scalp.” (p. 912) Horne concluded that the doctors were willing to suppress evidence of shots from the front to help prevent World War III, but they were unwilling to lie about the location of the shot from behind; if the president’s body were ever exhumed, their mistake would be obvious. Besides, they did not know that the photographs displaying the actual shot from behind had been removed from the autopsy photo collection.  Ultimately, when testifying before the House Subcommittee on Assassinations (HSCA) they stood their ground, now knowing the photographs showing the actual shot from behind were missing from the collection.  The HSCA Forensic Panel chose to believe the autopsy pathologists were incompetent (pp. 912-914).
The X-Rays
According to Horne, the existing photographs, though they are misleading, at least are not forged. The same cannot be said for the x-rays. In particular, at least five skull x-rays were taken. Only three skull x-rays now exist. Each of the existing skull x-rays has been altered. The two lateral x-rays have been altered to remove evidence of a frontal shot. The existing anterior-posterior skull x-ray was said to be a composite film; the x-ray had added to it an object that appears to be a 6.5 mm bullet fragment; it only appears as a bullet when viewed as a right lateral view. The x-ray was shown to be a forgery through optical densitometry. No bullet was found at the autopsy, nor did the original (no longer available) x-ray show any bullet (pp. 963-969).
 Tampering of the Body in Dallas
Horne’s take on the tampering of the President’s body had its origin in Dallas: “It is my belief that the throat wound…was tampered with prior to receipt of the body at Bethesda, in an attempt to remove evidence of a shot fired from in front of the motorcade. [Boldface in the original text]. Based upon the absence of any bullet in the body at Bethesda associated with this wound, I infer that someone in Dallas, at Love Field, successfully removed a bullet that had damaged the trachea just to the right of the midline, and had lodged atop the right lung, just above the pleura, severely damaging the pleura dome, and the apical tip of the lung, as well.” (p. 997). In doing so, the tracheostomy incision was severely altered. Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent who was also seated next to William Greer in the front seat of the Presidential limousine, was noticed to have blood over the front of his shirt on the trip back to Andrews AFB from Love Field, according to a copilot on Air Force One. Kellerman was in charge of the Texas trip, and “was controlling access to the Bethesda morgue after about 7 PM on November 22, 1963, it does not surprise me that he appears to be implicated in the alteration of President Kennedy’s throat wound. Someone did, and he is clearly the prime candidate.” (pp. 997-998).
But Kellerman is not the only candidate. As reported in Part VII of The Men Who Killed Kennedy, [4] John Melvin Liggett, then a 31 year old mortician employed at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas, was called to the Parkland Hospital for some important work. Liggett was reputedly among the best at restorative work. His ex-wife (they’d been married for only three months at the time of the assassination) said that Liggett was gone for about 24 hours. The inference was that he had something to do with Kennedy’s body. Or another mortician with skills similar to those attributed to Liggett might have been employed. And of course, there is the possibility that all of the alterations were performed at the Bethesda morgue. 
The Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald
The pristine “magic bullet” (CE 399) lacks a chain of custody that presumably would have been inadmissible in a trial (p. 1089). The rifle found in the Texas School Book Depository was a German Mauser 7.65 mm rifle. As Mark Lane pointed out in his deposition to the Warren Commission, almost every Mauser and every Mannlicher-Carcano have their caliber stamped on them. The rifle said to belong to Lee Harvey Oswald, and held in evidence by the Warren Commission had stamped on it:”Made Italy” and “Cal. 6.5”. It seems highly unlikely that two deputy sheriffs and a deputy constable would misidentify such a rifle as a Mauser. Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman pointed to a stamp on the barrel of the rifle saying “7.65 Mauser” (p. 1102-1104). “The case of the vanishing Mauser’ teaches us either there was only one rifle found in the Book Depository—a Mauser—and that the rifle in the custody of the Dallas Police Department was replaced with Oswald’s rifle on Saturday after the FBI had determined that he had purchased the 6.5 mm Italian carbine through a mail order house; or that perhaps two different rifles were found in the Book Depository on November 22, 1963; both a Mauser and Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano.” (p. 1106).
I have something to add to Horne’s just stated assertion. Back in November 2001, fellow researcher Gary Severson and I were interviewing Madeleine Brown; Brown had been a mistress of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and bore him a son. [5] In a three hour interview, I obviously missed something. I finally got around to begin transcribing the interview the following March. As I listened to what Madeleine said, I was flabbergasted: “See, through all these years, I’ve met Marina. And I’ve talked to Marina over and over again. And I say, ‘Marina, tell me what you want [people] to know. You couldn’t speak English in those years.’ And she told that the police came and picked up the rifle the day after the shooting. I said, ‘Are you sure?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’” [6] I immediately called Madeleine, wanting to confirm what I had just transcribed. She assured me that the quote was accurate—Marina Oswald Porter had indeed told her that the police came and picked up Oswald’s rifle on Saturday, November 23, 1963. [7] The implication was that all of the evidence regarding shots from the Mannlicher-Carcano had been planted to implicate Oswald—Oswald could not have shot a gun on November 22, 1963 that was stored in Mrs. Paine’s garage. If there was a Mannlicher-Carcano with identically the same serial number as Oswald’s and found in the Texas School Book Depository, it needn’t have been Oswald’s. In the 1930’s the Italian dictator Mussolini ordered all arms factories in Italy to manufacture the Mannlicher-Carcano. Since many companies manufactured the same rifle, the same serial number could appear on rifles manufactured by different companies. [8] Why would Marina tell the police that when she went to look for Oswald’s rifle, that it wasn’t there? One good reason was fear of being deported back to the Soviet Union.
Another issue is the use of sabots (p. 1159). A sabot is a small plastic device which fits around the lip of a shell casing, allowing bullets smaller than those intended to be fired from a rifle, using a casing appropriate for the larger rifle; if the bullet had already been fired from the original rifle into a barrel of water, when shot in a sabot, the ballistic markings would be the markings from the original rifle. A Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mm bullet could be reshot in a sabot from a 30.06 rifle. A spent 30.06 bullet casing was found on the roof of the County Records Building in the 1970’s during construction work. It had markings on its lip indicating it had been fitted with a sabot when it was fired. [9]    
 Floyd Boring
Horne met with Floyd Boring at Boring’s home on September 18, 1996. Boring was a Secret Service agent who held the title of Special Assistant in Charge at the time of the JFK assassination. Horne asked Boring about two shell fragments reportedly found in the presidential limousine by Boring on the night of November 22, 1963. These two fragments were entered as CE exhibits 567 and 569, and were presumably fired by Oswald’s gun. Boring stated, “I didn’t have anything to do with it, and I don’t know anything.” (p. 1096) Boring did recall that he searched the follow-up car which carried several secret service agents. Boring recounted without any prompting that he found a piece of skull bone with brain attached in the footwell just in front of the back seat of the Secret Service follow-up car (called the Queen Mary, p. 1097). Horne interpreted Boring’s statements as, “It could have only meant one thing: that the shot responsible for the debris came from in front of the Presidential limousine.” (p. 1145).       
Boring called the next day to retract his statements regarding finding the skull bone with brain attached in the follow-up car. He claimed it could not be that he found the skull bone and brain fragment in the follow-up car. Therefore he must have discovered them in the Presidential limousine instead. Horne interpreted Boring’s retraction to mean that this was powerful evidence that the U.S. government’s cover-up of the JFK assassination was still continuing 33 years later (pp. 1098-1099).
Was the Zapruder Film Altered?
In a word, Horne would say, “Yes”. If so, how much alteration was done, and the who, why, where and when questions arise as well. And of course, sub-questions also arise. Anytime an author writes an almost 200 page chapter on a subject, you can expect many, many, details. Areas where Horne suspects altering would include:
1.      Around frames 132 &133, the slowing to a crawl of the Presidential limousine as it began the 120 degree turn onto Elm Street; Horne suggests that William Greer was driving poorly, almost running the limousine up onto the North curb near the TSBD’s front door. Given what transpired seconds later, having what appears to have been an incompetent driver would be unacceptable on the film (p. 1299).
2.      Numerous eye witnesses reported the limousine stopping briefly near the fatal shot (frame 313); the extent film shows no stopping (p. 1299).
3.      In the fatal shot many witnesses noted debris moving back from the limousine, consistent with a shot from the front. Motorcycle escort Bobby W. Hargis, who was the escort to the left rear of the limousine, closest to the left rear wheel: “…I felt blood hit me in the face, and the presidential car stopped immediately after that and stayed stopped for about half a second, then took off at a high rate of speed.” (p. 1299).
4.      Cartha DeLoach of the FBI and Dan Rather of CBS News both saw President Kennedy’s head move violently forward, from their viewing of the Zapruder film the weekend of the assassination. While this was evidence of a shot from behind, this scene also showed evidence of a shot from in front, a scenario consistent with a crossfire, and hence not due to a lone assassin (p. 1294).
5.      The head wound seen in the right front skull in most frames after 313, and particularly in frames 336 & 337, is inconsistent with the head wound observed at Parkland Hospital (p. 1303).
6.      There are undeniable differences between the Zapruder film and other Dealey Plaza films. In Zapruder’s film, Jean Hill and Mary Moorman are standing in the grass and wearing white shoes; in the Mary Muchmore film and a slide taken by Charles Bronson, their shoes are black and they are standing in the street (pp. 1318-1319).
The Who, Where, When, and How            
It is likely that the Zapruder film alterations were made at the “Hawkeye Plant” a CIA facility within the Kodak plant in Rochester, New York, probably no later than Monday, November 25, 1963. Two separate groups of personnel worked on successive nights, on different versions of the Zapruder film. The two crews were entirely separate from one another, and presumably, were unaware of the other crew. In Horne’s view, the second crew, working from what they thought was an original, in camera (the original from Zapruder’s camera) film were working from a copy of the Zapruder film prior to the original being slit; the original was slit in Dallas, and several persons saw the original film; Zapruder was trying to market the film to the highest bidder. The “how” is best read from Horne’s Volume 4. It is far beyond my expertise (my non-existent expertise) in photography. Actually, Horne defers to David Healey’s presentation in Jim Fetzer’s The Great Zapruder Film Hoax. [10]
What happened to the original film that Zapruder recorded with his camera? One might surmise that intelligent conspirators would have destroyed this evidence to remove their being eventually found out. Dick Russell [11] reported that Paul Rothermel, Jr., a high level aid to Oil man H.L. Hunt, took a large amount of money to get the Zapruder film. He insists that he got one of the original copies for Hunt. Horne speculates that Hunt might even have purchased the original (p. 1342).
A Hollywood Connection     
After Horne had finished his chapter on the Zapruder film, he was put in touch with Sydney Wilkinson, an accomplished professional in film and video post-production in Hollywood. Wilkinson purchased the best available copy (a dupe negative) of the Zapruder film from the National Archives. She, along with several colleagues, looked at the film in terms of authenticity. The film was termed to be a fake—and in some ways, a poor fake (p. 1361).
Undoubtedly those who held the extant Zapruder film knew that, even with the changes, someone would eventually determine the fakery. Their best means of continued concealment was to keep close control over the film. The efforts of Jim Garrison finally got a copy out of the hands of Time-Life in 1969. While in Garrison’s control, 100 bootleg copies were made. It is not clear, at least to me, which version of the Zapruder film Garrison made available.
1.       Horne, D.P. (2009). Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK, Volumes I-V. Lexington, KY: Author.
2.      Bugliosi, V. (2007). Reclaiming History. New York: Norton. (pp. 434-437).
3.      Russo, G. (1998). Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK. Baltimore: Bancroft Press.
4.      The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part VII: Smoking Guns. The History Channel, November 21, 2003.
5.      Brown, M.D. (1997). Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of Madeleine Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Baltimore: The Conservancy Press.
6.       Interview with Madeleine Brown, November 18-19, 2001.
7.      Telephonic interview with Madeleine Brown, 4/3/2002. Ms. Brown died on 6/22/2002.
8.      Armstrong, J. (2003). Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald. Arlington, TX: Quasar. (pp. 437-453).
9.      Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New York: Carroll & Graf.
10.  Healey, D. (2003). Technical Aspects of Film Alteration. In Fetzer, J. (Ed.) The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK. Peru, IL: Catfeet Press.  (pp. 113-144).
11.   Russell, D. (1992).The Man who knew too Much. New York: Carroll & Graf.  (p. 584.)