At the time of his assassination, President Kennedy was in the midst of intense efforts to end the Cold War. Had he lived to run for a second term, it seems likely that the Cold War would have ended some 25 years earlier than it did. Instead, through the time that the Cold War ended in 1991 we were ruled by a series of U.S. presidents who (with the exception of Jimmy Carter) sought to expand the Cold War, and along with it the imperial presidency and the scope and size of the Military Industrial Complex.
I believe that the question of how President Kennedy was killed and who killed him is still of great importance to our nation today. If as I and many others believe, powerful interests were behind his assassination, that has grave implications for where we stand as a nation -- then and now. If they could get away with it then, they could probably do so again. A 2003 Gallup poll on the subject shows that the American people, by an 75% to 19% margin, believe that people other than Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the president. If that belief is accurate and if our elected representatives hold a similar belief, that could have major implications for the way that our government operates today. Certainly it has major implications over how much control our president and other elected representatives have over the operations of our government. More specifically, perhaps it could help explain why our government is so far to the right of the American people today.
My objective in this post and three (or more) that will follow, is to describe what I see as the important evidence on the subject of whether or not a conspiracy was involved in the JFK assassination. Since the official government position on the subject, as reported by the Warren Commission Report, holds that Lee Harvey Oswald acted as the lone assassin, and that he shot the president from the Texas School Book Depository, which was facing the back of the president's head when he was shot, the question boils down largely to whether the bullets came from behind the president or in front of him or both. If they came only from behind, that is consistent with the official story. If any of them came from in front of the president, then that flatly contradicts the official story and is clearly indicative of a conspiracy.
The most important evidence in this case is therefore the medical evidence, which comes in two parts: 1) from the doctors who saw and treated the president's wounds at Parkland Hospital prior to his death; and 2) from the autopsy. The doctors at Parkland Hospital are on record as saying that both the fatal bullet to the head and the one that caused the throat wound came from the front. The autopsy report, on the other hand, indicates that those bullets came from the back.
With that in mind, here is an outline of how I intend to approach this subject over four or more posts:
Outline of presentation of evidence
In this post I do not intend to cover what I consider to be the most important issues -- the evidence from the doctors who treated the president at Parkland Hospital, and the autopsy. Rather, in this post I will talk about what I consider to be ancillary evidence, which I do not claim to be definitive, though I do believe that it is highly suggestive of a conspiracy. Since I am less familiar with (and less interested in) this ancillary evidence than I am with what I consider to be the more definitive evidence, I will cover it in less detail.
The medical evidence from Parkland Hospital
In my second post I'll discuss the evidence from the medical professionals, including nine doctors and a nurse, who saw and treated President Kennedy at Parkland Hospital prior to his death. In David Lifton's book, "Best Evidence", those medical professionals are quoted (four in Warren Commission testimony, three in their official medical reports, one in a contemporary newspaper account, and Lifton doesn't provide the source for the other two) as saying that the fatal wound produced a large hole (5-7 centimeters by one account) in the back right side of the head. The skull at the back of the head was noted to have "exploded outwards". The physicians characterized this wound as an exit wound. Lifton also deals with the wound at the front of the throat, which the physicians characterize as being an entrance wound.
Clearly, the autopsy report contradicts the doctors who saw the president at Parkland hospital. So they cannot both be right. In my third post I'll discuss what I consider to be abundant evidence that the reason for this contradiction is that the president's body was altered prior to the autopsy, to make it look as if the bullets that caused both the head and throat wound came from the back rather than from the front.
Vincent Bugliosi's book
My fourth post will be a critique of Vincent Bugliosi's book, "Reclaiming History -- The Assassination of John F. Kennedy", which I have not yet read. It has been suggested (or demanded) by some who have vehemently disagreed with my expressed opinions on this subject that I read that book. I was reluctant to do that because of its length and because my opinion from what I know about it is that it does not contain information that I will find enlightening. However, I've decided that if I'm able to share my opinion of the book with a wide audience on DU, that will make it worth my while to read it.
Some will undoubtedly say that my above statement indicates that I intend to read and critique the book with a closed and biased mind. All I can say to that is that I will attempt to keep my mind open. I can't deny that I believe it highly unlikely that the book will change my mind to a considerable degree, just as I believe it even more unlikely that my opinion of the age of the earth would be changed if I read a book claiming that the earth was four thousand years old. Obviously, I already have strong opinions on this subject. But that doesn't mean that I can't keep my mind open.
SOME ANCILLARY EVIDENCE
Eye-witnesses at the scene
David Lifton notes in his book, "Best Evidence", that 64 of 90 eye-witnesses whose accounts appeared either in the published records of the Warren Commission or in contemporaneous news accounts indicated that shots originated from the grassy knoll area, in front of and to the right of the president's motorcade.
Three witnesses, including two motorcycle cops, actually noted brain or skull material flying backwards from JFK's head. Here is Lifton's description of these eye-witness accounts:
I've talked about motives in previous posts, so I won't go into them in great detail here. In one post I discuss JFK's conflicts with his CIA, which led him to fire three of its most prominent members, including CIA Director Allen Dulles, who was quoted as saying shortly before his death, "That little Kennedy" he thought he was a god".
In another post I discuss how Kennedy resisted four times over two years the strenuous efforts of his CIA and military to draw him into an invasion of Cuba. Instead of letting them draw him into a situation that could very well have led to a nuclear war, Kennedy sought an accommodation with Castro's Cuba in the last months of his life.
In this post I discuss how Kennedy further confronted the Military Industrial Complex by refusing to go to war in Laos, thwarting their plans for control over the Congo, making plans for withdrawal from Vietnam, and pressuring the steel industry to reverse their price hikes.
Obviously, no evidence of motives could prove who assassinated JFK. But when combined with everything else, it paints a chilling picture in my opinion.
A statement that Robert Kennedy made to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin in the course of their back channel negotiations during the Cuban Missile Crisis provides additional evidence that JFK treaded on dangerous grounds when he defied his military or CIA. According to Nikita Khrushchev, Bobby told Dobrynin (p 618) that his brother:
Nikita Khrushchev's son Sergei fills in additional details of the RFK-Dobrynin conversations. According to Sergei Khrushchev, Bobby told Dobrynin (p 498):
The head motion
Frames 312 to 323 of the Zapruder film demonstrate the motion of Kennedy's head after being struck by one of the bullets, which initially made contact with Kennedy's head between frames 312 and 313. In frame 312 Kennedy is leaning slightly forward with his head tilted slightly down. Between frames 312 and 313 his head moves down and about two inches forward*, so that his chin is resting against his chest. Then, between frames 313 and 323 the motion is reversed as the head is thrown back against the back seat of the car. This all takes place over a little more than half a second.
What explains the double motion? David Lifton discussed the sequence with Dr. James Riddle, a physicist on the UCLA faculty, whose opinion was that the initial slight forward motion resulted from a downward rotation of the head, which was hit by a bullet coming from the front and slightly above the head. Following that short and quick rotational movement, the forward momentum of the bullet carried the head backwards. Riddle concluded:
Other possibilities are that the double motion is explained by two separate bullets or that the initial down and forward movement was a ducking motion in response to the sound of rifle fire.
The Warren Commission Report did not discuss this issue.
* Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 7, page 560
Many years after the assassination, acoustical science progressed to the point where many believed it could be used to help determine how many bullets were fired at Kennedy on October 22, 1963, and which direction they came from. I don't understand this science, so I can only report what some others have said.
Most striking are the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which was established in 1976 to reinvestigate the JFK assassination (among other things), and released its final report in 1979. Based on then newly available acoustical evidence that indicated the existence of a fourth shot which probably came from the front, the report contradicted the Warren Commission findings by concluding that the assassination was "probably a conspiracy".
I find it very telling how little play this finding received in our national news media. In fact, I'll bet that not 1% of the U.S. population even knows about this. Given the great pressure on the HSCA not to come to a conclusion of this nature, the fact that they did come to that conclusion takes on all the more significance in my opinion.
I was informed by an angry fellow DUer that the HSCA's acoustical evidence was later discredited. I asked him for a reference, and he told me to read Bugliosi's book. Nor could I find any discussion on the Internet to the effect that the HSCA's acoustical evidence was discredited, though I did see the phrase "discredited acoustical" evidence used in respect to the HSCA report.
Anyhow, this is a messy subject, but I thought it would be worth mentioning since it is an instance where a governmental body contradicted the Warren Commission Report. Whether or not the acoustical evidence that the HSCA relied on, in part, to contradict the Warren Commission, was itself discredited, I cannot determine. Maybe Bugliosi's book will shed some light on that.
The single (magic) bullet theory
What has become known as the "single (magic) bullet theory" is that a single bullet hit Kennedy in the back, exited the front of his neck, and then continued on to hit Governor John Connally (sitting in the front seat, in front of Kennedy) in the back, wrist and leg. That bullet was later allegedly found on Connally's stretcher at Parkland Hospital.
I won't get into the physics of how a bullet could have made such a journey, which has been argued back and forth by both sides. Aside from the fact that the doctors at Parkland said that the wound at the front of the neck was an entrance wound, there are other problems as well with the single bullet theory.
First, FBI ballistics expert Robert Frazier testified that bullet 399 was "clean". The bullet weighed 158.6 grains, which Frazier determined to be underweight by 3 grains, an amount which he said could have been accounted for by normal variations in the manufacturing process, and therefore "There did not necessarily have to be any weight loss"*.
Commander James Humes, the chief autopsy pathologist, testified in response to Arlen Specters question, "Could that missile have made the wound on Governor Connally's right wrist?"
Colonel Fink, another of the autopsy doctors, responded to the same question from Specter, "No, for the reason that there are too many fragments described in that wrist." And Dr. Shaw, one of the Parkland doctors, responded:
Yet, despite all this, the Warren Report concluded:
* Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 20, page 174
** Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 7, page 510
Lee Harvey Oswald's CIA connection
If Lee Harvey Oswald was found to be connected with the CIA, that would of course cast quite a cloud over the theory that he acted as the lone gunman in the JFK assassination. Many researchers have discussed apparent connections between Oswald and the CIA. James Douglass, in his book "JFK and the Unspeakable", discusses quite a bit of evidence tying Oswald to the CIA. I'll discuss just one of those here: Oswald's association with George de Mohrenschildt:
In the summer of 1962" Lee was befriended by George de Mohrenschildt" De Mohrenschildt would admit in a 1977 interview that he had been given a go-ahead to meet Oswald by J. Walton Moore, the Dallas CIA Domestic Contacts Service Chief" De Mohrenschildt said he was handed Lee Harvey Oswald's address by "one of Moore's associates, who suggested de Mohrenschildt meet Oswald" Moore then gave de Mohrenschildt the go-ahead to befriend the Oswalds, which de Mohrenschildt promptly did -- with the firm understanding that he was carrying out the CIA's wishes". On October 7, 1962" de Mohrenschildt urged his new friend Lee Harvey Oswald to move to Dallas" Oswald" the next day he quit his job and made the move. De Mohrenschildt then became Oswald's mentor in Dallas" Lee Harvey Oswald reported to work at a defense contractor that was apparently involved in logistics support for the U-2 mission" Oswald was once again" defying the normal laws of government security barriers" None of George de Mohrenschildt's extensive U.S. intelligence connections are mentioned in the Warren Report.
Douglass then discusses de Mohrenschildt's last day:
Unfortunately, my discussions on the JFK assassination have sparked quite a bit of hostility, insults, and contempt among a minority of DUers. I would be happy to respond to any disagreements to what I've said here, as long as we can carry on a civil conversation about it. But I will not feel in the least bit obligated to respond to anyone who posts insulting remarks, regardless of whether or not the insults are accompanied by intelligent argument. I have no respect for such behavior, it irritates the hell out of me, once it starts I find it nearly impossible to carry on a productive or civil discussion, and I have much better things to do with my time.
What I've posted here today is just a very small sample of arguments against the official story of a lone gunman. I've been in book stores where there were entire sections devoted to this topic, with dozens, or maybe over a hundred books. Even so, in the absence of any other evidence I would consider the sum total of what I've discussed in this post alone to be reason enough to be highly suspicious of the Warren Report's conclusions. And as I said above, I haven't yet gotten into what I consider to be the most important evidence, which is the medical evidence and the evidence that the president's body was altered prior to the autopsy.