My somewhat less than enthusiastic review of G. Paul Chambers' recent book Head shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination is now on the CTKA website:
Sunday, 19 December 2010
As much as the Warren Commission tried to hide the fact, the “Single Bullet Theory (SBT)”¾usually referred to by its critics as the “Magic Bullet Theory”¾is the keystone of its central conclusion that Oswald acted alone. As Commission lawyer Norman Redlich candidly admitted to author Edward Epstein, “To say that they [President Kennedy and Governor Connally] were hit by separate bullets, is synonymous with saying that there were two assassins.” (Inquest, p. 38) Indeed, as critics and researchers have maintained ever since the publication of the Warren Report, without the SBT there could not have been a single gunman whether it was Oswald or anybody else. In order to fully understand and appreciate this concept, it is important to explore the origins of the commission’s most controversial conclusion.
When it began its work the Commission believed that, as far as the facts of the shooting were concerned, the FBI had handed it a simple case. The Bureau’s report, Commission Document [CD] 1, concluded with little elaboration that there had been one shooter (Oswald), three bullets and three hits; Kennedy had been struck by the first and third bullets fired and Connally by the second. The Commission members proceeded under this assumption until June of 1964 when they had originally hoped to wrap up their investigation. But when the Bureau’s director J. Edgar Hoover elected to leak the contents of CD 1 to the press he unintentionally forced the Commission to confront the evidence of a missed shot in Dealey Plaza.
Soon after the details of the FBI’s report appeared in the papers, United States attorney for northern Texas Harold Barefoot Sanders contacted the Commission to inform them of facts he had learned from Dallas Morning News photographer, Tom Dillard. Dillard had publicly confronted Sanders with information that proved the Bureau’s conclusions were wrong¾or at least incomplete. He explained that on the day of the assassination Deputy Sheriff Buddy Walthers had directed his attention to a spot on the south side of Main Street where a bullet had apparently struck the curb and wounded bystander James Tague. Dillard had taken a photograph of the chip in the concrete that had appeared in the following day’s edition of the newspaper with the caption “Concrete Scar.” Walthers filed a report with the Sheriff’s Department and told Tague that he should report his minor injury to the Homicide Branch of the Dallas Police Department. But despite his experience being common knowledge, the FBI did not contact Tague and did not bother to interview him until December 14, 1963, after he contacted their Dallas office. Even then the Bureau did not see fit to examine the curbstone until July 1964 when it was directed to do so by the Commission. Apparently still preferring to pretend that the Tague shot did not exist, and attempting to hoodwink the Commission, the Dallas field office quickly reported back that “The area on the curb…was carefully checked and it was ascertained that there was no nick in the curb in the checked area, nor was any mark observed.” (21H474) It concluded its report with the implausible claim that “since this mark was observed on November 23, 1963, there have been numerous rains, which could have possibly washed away such a mark and also that the area is cleaned by a street cleaning machine about once a week, which would also wash away any such mark.” (Ibid) In the end, FBI Supervisor Lyndal Shaneyfelt was dispatched to Dallas to locate the damaged area of curbstone which was promptly dug up and transported back to Washington for spectrographic analysis. According to the FBI this analysis “disclosed metal smears” which were “spectrographically determined to be essentially lead with a trace of antimony.” (R116)
In truth, even before Sanders had his assistant write the Commission, it was already fully aware that a shot had likely missed the Presidential limousine and its occupants¾it had been quietly noted in a December 23, 1963 report from the FBI’s Dallas field office and the Commission itself had taken testimony from witnesses like Virginia Baker who remembered seeing “a shot or something hit the pavement.” (7H508) Nonetheless, for as long as they were able, the Commission fully intended to ignore the Tague shot and stick with a three-shot, three-hit scenario. However, with a United States attorney and a newspaper reporter publicly drawing attention to the evidence, the Commission could no longer play dumb. Accepting that a shot had missed placed the Commission in quite a quandary. The time constraints imposed by the Zapruder film and the mechanical firing time of Oswald’s rifle left little possibility for a fourth shot without necessitating a second gunman. This, of course, was unacceptable because it would prove a conspiracy the Commission was not looking to find. It was now forced to rely upon an already controversial theory being proposed by Commission lawyer and future senator Arlen Specter.
It had been established in early 1964 through frame-by-frame analysis of the Zapruder film and physical re-enactments conducted by the FBI and Secret Service in Dealey Plaza that the shots had all been fired in less than six seconds. The FBI re-enactment disclosed that an assassin on the sixth floor of the TSBD would have had his view blocked by the foliage of an oak tree between frames 166 and 210 of the Zapruder film. (R98) In a rare display of logic, the Commission concluded that the first shot was probably not fired before frame 210 “since it is unlikely that the assassin would deliberately have shot at him [the President] with a view obstructed by the oak tree when he was about to have a clear opportunity.” (Ibid) The final shot¾the shot which exploded President Kennedy’s head¾struck at Zapruder frame 312. Since the film was found to run at 18.3 frames per second (Ibid 97) this established a time frame for the shooting of 5.6 seconds. FBI examination of Oswald’s rifle found that the time required to fire a shot, work the bolt, and squeeze off another round was a minimum of 2.3 seconds or the equivalent of 42 Zapruder frames. (3H407) As the lawyer responsible for “the basic facts of the assassination” this was a cause of serious concern for Arlen Specter because the Zapruder film showed Kennedy and Connally reacting to being hit at different times but well within the 42 frames necessary for a lone gunman.
When Kennedy reappears from behind the Stemmons Freeway sign at frame 224 he is already reacting to the impact of a shot fired somewhere between frames 210 and 223 but Connally is showing no sign of being hit at all. The precise moment of impact on the Governor is unclear but Connally’s doctors testified that he was probably struck around frame 236 (5H114, 128) and it was decided that he was no longer in a position to receive a shot from the “sniper’s nest” after frame 240. (5H170) The Zapruder film, therefore, established that Connally was hit after Kennedy but within 30 frames, which was much too soon for Oswald to have recycled the bolt on his antique Mannlicher Carcano rifle. With this major discrepancy in mind, a lawyer working on an honest, “let the chips fall where they may” investigation would have likely conceded the probability of a second gun. But for Specter, who was committed to maintaining the Commission’s preordained conclusion that Oswald acted alone, this was simply not an option, regardless of what the evidence showed. Luckily for the Commission, the cunning and resourceful Specter found a way to shoehorn the evidence into a hypothesis that facilitated the inevitable outcome of its inquiry. Specter proposed that if there was not enough time for Oswald to have fired two shots then Kennedy and Connally must have been hit by the same bullet. Connally, he claimed, had simply suffered a “delayed reaction.” The seven members of the Warren Commission were not in unanimous agreement about the validity of Specter’s theory but they had to accept it. Because if one bullet had missed the limousine and one had shattered the President’s skull, without admitting to a second assassin, they only had one round left to account for the seven non-fatal wounds.
The SBT as advanced by the Warren Commission has a bullet, dubbed Commission Exhibit (CE) 399, enter the back of JFK’s neck heading downwards and leftwards. Hitting no bony structures it exits his throat just below the Adam’s apple and strikes Connally in the back of his right armpit. The bullet sails along Connally’s fifth rib, smashing four inches of it before exiting his chest below the right nipple, and then pulverises the radius of his right wrist¾one of the densest bones in the human body. It then enters his left thigh just above the knee, depositing a fragment on the femur, before miraculously popping back out to be found in near-pristine condition on an unattended stretcher in Parkland Hospital. The problems with the SBT are myriad and they start near the very beginning of CE399’s alleged journey.
No bullet, CE399 or any other, could have entered the back of Kennedy’s neck and ranged downward out of his throat¾because there was no bullet wound anywhere in the back of his neck. The President’s rearward entrance wound was in the upper back, below the shoulders and, most importantly, below the wound in the throat. In its desperation to legitimize the SBT the Commission simply moved the wound up to the neck! And in an attempt to ensure they got away with it, the Commissioners suppressed the autopsy photos and published an inaccurate drawing prepared by a navy artist who did not have access to the pictures. (CE385) In his mammoth re-writing of the Warren Report, anti-conspiracy buff Vincent Bugliosi tried to explain away the Commission’s dishonesty by claiming it was all a “mistake” made because the Commission “did not have access to the autopsy photos and X-rays.” (Reclaiming History, p. 425) Bugliosi’s assertion is pure, unadulterated nonsense as this passage from the Commission’s January 27, 1964, executive session clearly shows:
RANKIN: Then there is a great range of material in regard to the wounds, and the autopsy and this point of exit or entrance of the bullet in the front of the neck...We have an explanation there in the autopsy that probably a fragment came out the front of the neck, but with the elevation the shot must have come from, the angle, it seems quite apparent now, since we have the picture of where the bullet entered in the back, that the bullet entered below the shoulder blade, to the right of the backbone, which is below the place where the picture shows the bullet came out in the neckband of the shirt in front, and the bullet, according to the autopsy didn’t strike any bone at all, that particular bullet, and go through. So how it could turn--
BOGGS: I thought I read that bullet just went in a finger’s length.RANKIN: That is what they first said. [Author‘s emphasis]
It is a fact to be lamented that the official autopsy report failed to record the precise location of Kennedy’s back wound according to the fixed anatomical landmarks routinely used in forensic pathology. As a result, there remains to this day considerable confusion about its exact location. The President’s death certificate signed by his personal physician, Admiral George Burkley, on November 23, 1963, places the bullet hole at “the level of the third thoracic vertebra” which is several inches below the neck. This original placement is supported by the bullet holes in the jacket and shirt worn by the President at the time of his assassination¾both found approximately 5 and ¾ inches below the top of the collar (7HSCA81-3)¾and by the autopsy face sheet prepared by Dr. Boswell at the autopsy. (CE397) The Warren Commission, or course, moved this wound up to “the base of the back of President Kennedy’s neck.” (R87) This location has absolutely no evidentiary support whatsoever. A third location was proposed by the Forensic Pathology Panel (FPP) for the House Select Committee On Assassinations (HSCA) in 1979. The nine-member FPP, made up of some of the United States’ most distinguished medical experts, made careful measurements from the autopsy photos and X-rays and placed the back wound at the level of the first thoracic vertebra (7HSCA175), approximately 5 cm below the shoulder (Ibid 85), and roughly 1 cm below the wound in the throat (Ibid 92). Because they did not have access to the actual body, the conclusions of the HSCA cannot be considered definitive. Therefore, the best that can be said is that President Kennedy’s back wound was somewhere between the first and third thoracic vertebra. What we can say with a certainty, what is obvious from even a cursory glance at the autopsy photos, is that the back wound was below the throat wound.
So, what does this mean for the SBT? The FBI re-enactment established that the angle from the sixth floor of the TSBD to the President’s back between frames 210 and 225 of the Zapruder film was 20-21 degrees below the horizontal plane. (18H89-90) Any bullet hitting Kennedy at the level of the first thoracic vertebra (or lower) and continuing on a 20 degree downward trajectory would have exited his chest and could not possibly have exited his throat just below the Adam’s apple. It is possible that a bullet could have entered the back heading downward, been deflected, and ranged upward out of the neck. However, after leaving the throat headed on an upward trajectory it could not have then changed direction in midair to course back down into Connally’s right armpit.
The FPP concluded that the SBT was possible providing Kennedy was leaning forward far enough to raise the back wound several inches above the one in the throat, and the HSCA published a diagram to illustrate the amount of forward lean necessary. (7HSCA100) But what the FPP ignored is that all available films and photos, the Zapruder film especially, show that the President was sitting perfectly upright when he was struck. Nothing like the amount of lean portrayed in the panel’s illustration is seen in the Zapruder film. When Dr. Cyril Wecht, the only member of the FPP to dissent from its findings, raised this issue with his colleagues he was told, “ah, but we cannot know what happened when they were behind the Stemmons Freeway sign.” (1HSCA339) As Dr. Wecht dryly opined, “what presumably they are asking us to speculate upon is that in that 0.9 second interval, the President bent down to tie his shoelace or fix his sock, he was then shot and then sat back up.” (Ibid) Of course, such a supposition is absurd. There is no getting around the evidence as the HSCA tried to do; the back wound was below the throat wound and Kennedy was sitting upright when first struck. These simple facts essentially destroy the SBT all by themselves.
But we’re not done with the back wound yet.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Upon viewing the Zapruder film, the majority of people are struck by the apparent disparity between the official pronouncement that all shots were fired from behind and the obvious fact that the President was propelled backwards and leftwards by the impact of the projectile that struck him in the head. But over the last four and a half decades, we have been assured by numerous experts working on behalf of the US government that the medical evidence supports only the official fairytale. The President's reaction, they told us, was meaningless. But in actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The official autopsy X-rays completely contradict the “lone nut solution” and demonstrate that the fatal shot was most likely delivered by a gunman on the infamous “grassy knoll.”
Humes further claimed that the "through-and-through" hole exhibited external "beveling" and, in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, claimed that this was absolute "proof" that the bullet passed from back to front: “It happens 100 times out of 100, and I will defend it until I die. This is the essence of our autopsy...This is a law of physics and it is foolproof – absolutely, unequivocally, and without question.” (JAMA, May 27, 1992) Finally, Dr. Humes claimed that the bullet that passed through the head left a track of "multiple minute metallic fragments along a line" beginning at the alleged small hole and extending to the large defect on the right side. (CE387)
Note: "Beveling" of skull bone is essentially the same as what occurs when a BB hits a pane of glass - a small hole on the impact side and a larger, cone-shaped defect on the other side.
When the Clark panel and the HSCA pathology panel reviewed the autopsy materials - in 1968 and 1978 respectively - they found that there was no small entry hole where Humes claimed there was one. Still determined to uphold the official story, both panels moved the wound four inches up the head (!) to the approximate location of a large round fragment that it was later claimed was a cross-section of the bullet that had shaved off on impact. But both panels were blowing smoke out of their asses. During its tenure between 1992 and 1998, the Assassinations Records Review Board asked three independent forensic specialists to review the photographs and X-rays and all three were in unanimous agreement that the skull X-rays show no entry hole of any kind at any point on the back of the head. (Doug Horne, Inside the ARRB, pgs. 584-586) And, in fact, both of Hume's colleagues at the autopsy had already admitted as much.
In 1978, Dr. J. Thornton Boswell admitted to the HSCA pathology panel that what they had actually discovered after reflecting the scalp was not a through-and-through hole but a semicircular, beveled notch on the margin of the large defect, (7HSCA246, 260) a fact confirmed by Dr. Pierre Finck in his appearance before the Warren Commission when he explained that a “portion of [a] crater” had been used to identify the point of entrance. (2H379) So the conclusion that a bullet had entered the back of the head at this point was based on an inference and not on observation as Humes had claimed. And the alleged beveling of this notch was not the "foolproof" indicator he claimed it was. When a through-and-through hole is present, beveling is usually a valid indicator. But even then, as Dr. Donald Thomas writes in his brilliant book, Hear No Evil:
“There are important exceptions...even through-and-through perforations, are not infrequently beveled on the impact side...collateral information (evidence from the scalp wound, bone chips, fracture patterns, angle of trajectory, bullet fragments) must all be taken into consideration rather than reliance on external beveling alone...a common exception to the beveling rule are tangential entrance wounds, which may be beveled on either or both sides. The fact is, however, when dealing with fragments or margins of bone, and not through-and-through holes, all bets are off. [emphasis mine] This is because the laminate nature of the cranial bone lends itself to chipping that can easily be confused with beveling.” (pgs. 272-273)
One cannot help thinking that Dr. Humes was fully cognizant of the problems with relying solely on beveling which is why he lied and said that he had found a through-and-through hole. The fact is, as observers of the autopsy have confirmed, the autopsy doctors were confused by the evidence in front of them and, in reaching their conclusions, relied on reports coming in from Dallas that a lone assassin had fired on the President from above and behind.
So What's the Truth?
The true path of the bullet is established by the track of "missile dust" thorugh the brain - as seen on the autopsy X-ray. Although Humes claimed in his report that this fragment trail began at the entry hole he located in the back of the head, it actually begins at the right temple and extends to a point in the back of the head far above both his proposed entrance and the "revised" location offered by the Clark and HSCA panels.
When a bullet disintergrates on striking a skull, the smaller, dust-like fragments are found closer to the entry point and the larger particles are found closer to the exit. This is because the larger fragments, having greater mass, have greater momentum and are carried further away from the point of entry. This is precisely what is seen in the X-ray above, with the smaller particles located at the right temple and the larger ones towards the top back part of the skull.
The bullet dust aligns with semi-circular notch in the right temple seen in the above photo (showing the front of the skull with the scalp reflected over the eyes) and the lesion in the hairline seen in the photo below.
These pictures are consistent and show the true entrance of the bullet in the right temple.
Lone-nut-believers and Warren apologists with no understanding of terminal ballistics usually argue that a rifle bullet entering the right temple would have to exit the left side of the head. This is pure, unadulterated, ignorant nonsense. A bullet will follow a straight-line trajectory up until the point it intercepts a hard suface at which point it will usually deflect, taking the path of least resistance. As Warren Commission Exhibit 844 shows, even bullets fired into soft ballistic gelatin can easily deflect.
In the JFK case, we have a tangential strike from the grassy knoll deflecting upwards and leftwards - perfectly consistent with the expected effects of momentum, penetration and yaw on deflection. (for more on this, see the aforementioned book by Dr. Thomas)
But What About the Wound in the Scalp?
The autopsy doctors described the "ragged, slanting" defect in the back of the scalp as "a laceration and tunnel, with the actual penetration of the skin obscured by the top of the tunnel." (ARRB MD14) The HSCA panel noted an "abrasion collar" in the "inferior margin" (7HSCA104) which is indicative of an upward trajectory. Obviously, then, the missile that caused this wound came from below and not above.
The anterior X-ray shows a large round fragment attached to the outer table of the back of the skull, aligning with the scalp laceration.
The official explanation is that this fragment represents a cross-section from the center of the bullet that attached itself to the back of the skull whilst the nose and tail carried on out the right side of the head. This is a physical impossibility with no support in the forensic literature and has been rightly dismissed by forensic and ballistics experts. Dr. Russell Fisher, who headed the Clark Panel's review, confided to ballistics expert, Howard Donahue, that the panel had come to the conclusion that it must have been "a ricochet fragment" from the shot that hit the street behind the Presidential limousine. (Bonar Menninger, Mortal Error, p. 65) Despite this being the most reasonable explanation for the presence of this large round fragment on the back of the skull, the Clark panel did not include this information in its report. Why? Because it would have been plainly obvious that it was this ricochet fragment that created the upward tunneling wound in the scalp. And once we realize that the only wound in the scalp was caused by shrapnel from the shot that struck the pavement, all evidence of a rear-entering shot flies right out the window.
Monday, 9 August 2010
JFK researchers have long been suspicious of Michael and Ruth Paine. They were, after all, guardians of much of the evidence responsible for convicting Lee Harvey Oswald in the eyes of the public. Perhaps most importantly, Ruth Paine was responsible for finding Oswald the job at the Texas School Book Depository that would put him in the perfect place to assassinate President Kennedy — or to take the fall. The Warren Report claimed that on October 14, 1963, “at the suggestion of a neighbour, Mrs Paine phoned the Texas School Book Depository and was told that there was a job opening. She informed Oswald who was interviewed the following day...and started to work there on October 16, 1963.” (R14-15) What the commission did not see fit to report was that the neighbour whom Mrs Paine claimed had informed her of the job opening, Linnie May Randle, flatly contradicted her testimony. Randle swore before the commission, “I didn't know there was a job opening over there.” (2H247) Just as suspiciously, as the commission also knew, Mrs Paine had withheld from Oswald information that may have led to a better, higher paid job.
The day before Oswald began working at the TSBD, Robert Adams of the Texas Employment Commission had phoned the Paine home to give Oswald a referral for permanent employment as a cargo handler at Trans Texas Airways for $310 per month — $100 per month more than he would earn at the depository. As Adams told the commission, he “learned from the person who answered the phone that Oswald was not there.” Adams left a message and said that Oswald should contact him at the Commission. Receiving no call from Oswald, Adams phoned the Paine residence again the following morning and was informed by Ruth Paine (9H389-90) that Oswald had obtained employment elsewhere. As Adams told the Warren Commission, he did not believe that Oswald was ever informed of the job referral. (11H481) When Mrs Paine was questioned about this matter by the commission, she first denied any knowledge of the job possibility, then vaguely recalled it. Finally she lied and said that Oswald had gone “into town with some hopes raised by the employment agency...but then reported that the job had been filled and was not available to him.” (9H390)
Another suspicious event involving the Paines occurred on the day of the assassination. At 1:00 pm on November 22. 1963, Michael Paine placed a collect call to his wife to discuss Oswald's involvement in the assassination. While the telephone operator remained on the line, Michael Paine told his wife that he “Felt sure Lee Harvey Oswald had killed the President but was not responsible.” Rather ominously he added, “We both know who is responsible.” (FBI report of Robert C. Lish, November 26, 1963, JFK Document No. 105-82555-1437) The most extraordinary thing about this call is that it took place one hour before Oswald's arrest. For obvious reasons, the Warren Commission wanted to sweep this little problem under the rug as swiftly as possible. During Michael Paine's testimony, the ever resourceful commission attorney Wesley Liebeler changed the date of the call to the following day:
LIEBELER: Did you talk to your wife on the telephone at any time during Saturday, November 23?
PAINE: I was in the police station again, and I think I called her from there.
LIEBELER: Did you make any remark to the effect that you knew who was responsible?
PAINE: And I don't know who the assassin is or was; no. So I did not. (2H428)
As researcher John Armstrong pointed out, “Liebeler had phone company records and an FBI report in hand which showed the collect call was placed on November 22 and not on November 23. By intentionally asking Michael Paine about a non-existent telephone call Liebeler was obstructing justice and colluding with a witness to falsify testimony.” (Armstrong, Harvey and Lee, p. 832)
The above oddities, and many more besides, demonstrate that there is much more to the Paine family than meets the eye. At the time of the assassination, Michael Paine was working as a research engineer with defence contractor, Bell Helicopter. He admitted in his Warren Commission testimony that his job carried a security clearance but claimed, somewhat unbelievably, not to know what the classification of that clearance was. (2H385) What Michael Paine did not reveal, and what it took researchers 30 years to find out, was that his stepfather, Arthur Young, was the inventor of the Bell Helicopter. As Jim Douglass noted, “By heritage, Michael Paine was well connected in the military-industrial complex.” (Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 169) His mother was connected to none other than Warren Commissioner, Allen Dulles through her lifelong friendship with Mary Bancroft who, according to Douglass, “worked side by side with Allen Dulles as a World War II spy in Switzerland and became his mistress.” (Ibid)
Ruth Paine's family was directly connected to the CIA. Researcher Steve Jones uncovered documented evidence that the CIA had approached her father, William Avery Hyde, in 1957, “to run an educational co-operative alliance in Vietnam.” (Jones, New Evidence Regarding Ruth and Michael Paine, Kennedy Assassination Chronicles Vol. 4 issue 4) A few months after the release of the Warren Report, Hyde received a three year government contract from AID (Agency for International Development) — an organisation said to have “extensive” ties to the CIA. Indeed, as Jones discovered, Hyde's AID field reports had been routed through the Agency. (Ibid) Former Governor of Ohio and later AID director John Giligan admitted, “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. It was pretty well known in the agency who they were and what they were up to.” (Douglass, p. 170) According to Jones, Ruth Paine admitted to a close friend that her father had worked for the CIA as an “executive agent.” What she did not tell her friend was that her sister, Sylvia Hyde Hoke, was also employed by the CIA. Steve Jones found documented evidence that Sylvia had worked for the Agency as a staff Psychologist in 1961. When New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison called Ruth Paine before a grand jury in 1968, he asked her if her sister had done any work for the U.S. government. Amusingly, she admitted that Sylvia had a “government job” but claimed not to know what agency she worked for. (Ibid, p. 171)
Most researchers are aware that Marina Oswald was cut off from Ruth Paine within days of the assassination. What the majority are unaware of is the reason why. Apparently, she was advised by the Secret Service to stay away from Ruth Paine because “she was sympathizing with the CIA.” As Marina swore under oath before the new Orleans grand jury, “Seems like she had friends over there and it would be bad for me if people find out a connection between me and Ruth and CIA.” (Ibid p. 173) Bad for Marina or bad for the official story?
With the above in mind, there is one question that must be asked: Is there any evidence that Ruth and Michael Paine were involved in any significant intelligence activities in 1963? Well, there is certainly nothing concrete. Much information about the Paine family remains classified. However, buried in volume 19 of the Warren Commission hearings and exhibits is a tantalizing and often overlooked clue. According to a report written by Dallas Deputy Sheriff Buddy Walthers on the day of the assassination, upon searching the Paine's garage, officers found “a set of metal file cabinets that appeared to be names and activities of Cuban Sympathizers.” (19H520) These metal file cabinets did not make it onto the Dallas Police inventory sheets and were never entered into evidence alongside Lee Harvey Oswald's belongings. And if they did not belong to Oswald, then they must have belonged to the Paines. And if Ruth and Michael Paine had a “set of metal file cabinets” containing “the names and activities of Cuban sympathizers” then they were most certainly involved in the same intelligence activities that most researchers believe Oswald was involved in during the summer of 1963. Needless to say, the whereabouts of these filing cabinets is currently unknown.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
As far as mainstream historians and media outlets are concerned, the Warren Commission reached the right conclusion in 1964: Lee Harvey Oswald, alone and unaided, was a deranged lunatic who ended the life of America's 35th President simply for attention. That the evidence never did allow such a definitive conclusion does not seem to bother them one bit. Take for example the Commission's claim that Oswald sneaked his cheap, mail-ordered Mannlicher-Carcano rifle into the Texas School Book Depository on the morning of the assassination inside a brown paper bag.
On the evening of Nov 21, Oswald rode with fellow depository employee Buell Wesley Frazier to Irving to visit his estranged wife Marina, who was living with a friend, Ruth Paine. Frazier lived a block away from Ruth Paine with his sister Linnie Mae Randle. Since Oswald would usually visit Marina on weekends, Frazier asked why he was doing so on a weekday. Oswald replied that he was going to pick up some curtain rods to use in his rooming house. The following morning Linnie Mae and Frazier both saw Oswald carrying a package in a brown paper bag. When Frazier asked what it was, Oswald replied, “curtain rods”. The commission claimed that Oswald had fabricated the curtain rod story and that the package contained the sixth floor rifle. The evidence indicates otherwise.
Firstly, the conclusion that Oswald lied about going to Irving to pick up Curtain rods may actually be correct but the Commission always new the real reason he went there that Thursday and it had nothing to do with picking up curtain rods or the rifle. On Sunday, November 17, Marina attempted to call Oswald at his North Beckley rooming house and was told that there was no one named Lee Oswald living there. The next day, according to the Warren report, "Oswald telephoned his wife. When she indicated that she had been upset by the fact that there had been no Lee Oswald at the number which she had asked Mrs. Paine to call Oswald became angry; he said that he was using a fictitious name and that she should not have called the Beckley Avenue number. He did not telephone on the following day, which was unusual." (R740) When Oswald turned up at the Paine home unannounced on Thursday evening it was obvious to Ruth and Marina "that he had come to Irving because he felt badly about arguing with his wife about the use of the fictitious name. He said that he was lonely, because he had not come the preceding weekend, and told Marina that he 'wanted to make his peace' with her." (Ibid) Oswald was a very quiet, private man and it is highly unlikely that he would have wanted to share his marital difficulties with Frazier. This the most likely reason that he invented the curtain rod excuse.
Frazier and Randle were the only two witnesses who saw Oswald carrying the package the following morning and both repeatedly stated that it was about 27-28 inches long. On December 1, 1963, Frazier was asked by FBI agents to mark the point on the back seat of his car that the bag had reached when Oswald had put it there with one end against the door. The FBI “determined that this spot was 27 inches from the inside of the right rear door” (24H408-9). Frazier was also certain that Oswald had carried the package with one end cupped in his hand and the other tucked under his arm. Even broken down the rifle was 34.8 inches long (R133) and would have been impossible for Oswald or anyone else to carry in this manner.
Linnie Mae Randle was looking out of her kitchen window when she saw Oswald cross the street, carrying the “heavy brown bag.” The FBI presented Randle with a “replica” brown paper bag and it was folded over until it reached “the proper length of the sack as seen by her on November 22, 1963.” Her estimate was measured at 27 inches long, exactly the same as that of her brother. (24H407-8) On March 11, 1964, when Randle appeared before the commission, she was asked to fold the bag again. Validating her earlier estimate, the resultant length was 28 ½ inches. (2H248-50) Perhaps most importantly, she testifed that Oswald carried the package with his hand at the top "and it almost touched the ground as he carried it." (2H248) If Oswald had been carrying a package of nearly 3 feet long with his hand at the top, unless he had the world's shortest arms, it would have been dragging on the ground! In fact, it would have extended beyond it.
The only witness to see Oswald enter the Texas School Book Depository on the morning of November 22 was employee Jack Dougherty. As the Warren report notes, “one employee, Jack Dougherty, believed that he saw Oswald coming to work, but he does not believe that Oswald had anything in his hands as he entered the door.” (R133) As it was harmful to the case against Oswald, the commission simply chose to ignore Dougherty’s testimony. However, he was certain in his recollection:
Mr. BALL: Do you recall him having anything in his hand?
Mr. DOUGHERTY: Well, I didn't see anything, if he did.
Mr. BALL. Did you pay enough attention to him, you think, that you would remember whether he did or didn't?
Mr. DOUGHERTY: Well, I believe I can---yes, sir---I'll put it this way; I didn't see anything in his hands at the time.
Mr. BALL: In other words, your memory is definite on that is it?
Mr. DOUGHERTY: Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. In other words, you would say positively he had nothing in his hands?
Mr. DOUGHERTY: I would say that---yes, sir. (6H377)
Warren commission apologists often point out that Dougherty had learning difficulties which led to his receiving a medical discharge from the US Army as if this invalidates his testimony. In truth, Dougherty may not have been the sharpest tool in the box, but since he was at least intelligent enough to perform his duties at the depository, it is safe to assume that he could tell whether or not somebody had held something in their hands. But what to make of the apparent contradiction between Frazier’s and Dougherty’s observations?
As Frazier testified, he and Oswald did not walk into the depository together. Frazier had sat in his car for a few minutes with the engine running to charge up his battery and then lagged behind Oswald as he paused to watch the trains. (2H227-8) When Oswald entered the depository building, he had to pass through an enclosed loading dock where a number of rubbish bins were located and it seems that he must have discarded his package there so that his hands were empty seconds later when he emerged in the depository proper to be seen by Dougherty. The only question left unanswered is if it did not contain the rifle or curtain rods, just what was in the package? The precise answer to this question will probably never be known but the Paine garage was, as police would discover, full of junk. So Oswald could have picked out any number of objects that he could stick in a bag and tell Frazier it was curtain rods.
A 38-inch long paper bag, made from wrapping paper and tape from the depository’s shipping department, was allegedly found near the sixth floor window. The commission claimed that this was the bag Oswald had used to carry the rifle. Oswald had, they said, kept the rifle wrapped up in a blanket in Ruth Paine’s garage. The commission further claimed that the bag contained fibres that “could have come” from the blanket. (R129) The paper bag in question may be the most meaningless piece of “evidence” in the entire investigation. The commission offered no evidence that connected the rifle to the bag or even the bag to the so called “snipers nest.“ FBI Special Agent James C. Cadigan examined the paper bag supposedly found at the depository for any distinguishing marks that might link it to the rifle. From Cadigan’s testimony:
Mr. EISENBERG: Mr Cadigan, did you notice when you looked at the bag whether there were - that is the bag found on the sixth floor, Exhibit 142 - whether it had any bulges or unusual creases?
Mr. CADIGAN: I was also requested at that time to examine the bag to determine if there were any significant markings or scratches or abrasions or anything by which it could be associated with the rifle, Commission Exhibit 139, that is, could I find any markings that I could tie to that rifle?
Mr. EISENBERG: Yes?
Mr. CADIGAN: And I couldn't find any such markings. (4H97)
Whilst the absence of any distinguishing markings doesn’t automatically prove that the bag was not used to the carry rifle, it also does not in any way permit the conclusion that it was. The only other “evidence” the commission offered in an attempt to connect the bag to the rifle were the fibres found inside the bag that they said “could have come” from the blanket found in Ruth Paine’s garage. The Bureau’s hair and fibre expert Paul M. Stombaugh carried out various examinations of Oswald’s shirt, the blanket and the fibres:
Mr. EISENBERG: Now, what do you think the degree of probability is, if you can form an opinion, that the fibers from the bag, fibres in the bag, ultimately came from the blanket?
Mr. STOMBAUGH: When you get into mathematical probabilities, it is something I stay away from, since in general there are too many unknown factors. All I would say here is that it is possible that these fibers could have come. from this blanket, because this blanket is composed of brown and green woollen fibres, brown and green delustered viscose fibers, and brown and green cotton fibres. Now these 3 different types of fibers have 6 different general colors, and if we would multiply that, say by a minimum of 5 different shades of each so you would have 30 different shades you are looking for, and 3 different types of fibers. Here we have only found 1 brown viscose fiber, and 2 or 3 light green cotton fibers. We found no brown cotton fibers, no green viscose fibers, and no woollen fibers. So if I had found all of these then I would have been able to say these fibers probably had come from this blanket. But since I found so few, then I would say the possibility exists, these fibers could have come from this blanket. (4H81)
Was it really fair for the commission to state that the fibres “could have come” from the blanket based on Stombaugh’s testimony that “the possibility exists“? Stombaugh wouldn’t even say that they had “probably” come from the blanket, merely that “the possibility exists.” It would be fair to say, then, that the fibres “could have come” from any number of sources other than the blanket.
Just as there is no evidence that the paper bag was ever used to carry the rifle, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Oswald constructed the bag. As noted above, the bag was made from wrapping paper and tape from the depository’s shipping department. The depository employee responsible for looking after these materials was Troy Eugene West. As West testified before the commission, he would almost never leave his work bench, except to get water for coffee first thing in the morning before starting work, and was even in the habit of eating his lunch there. (6H356-63) When West was asked if he had ever seen Oswald “around these wrapper rolls or wrapper roll machines, or not?” he replied, “No, sir; I never noticed him being around.” (6H360) The commission had established through FBI agent Cadigan’s testimony that the tape used on the paper bag showed marks from the tape dispenser at West’s work station. The commission was ready to assume that Oswald had taken the paper and the tape and made the bag elsewhere. However, as West explained, the gummed tape was automatically moistened as it was dispensed by the machine:
Mr. WEST: Well, we have those machines with the little round ball that we fill them up with water, and so we set them up. In to other words, I got a rack that we set them in, and so we put out tape in a machine, and whenever we pull the tape through, why then the water gets, you know, it gets water on it as we pull it through. (6H361)
Bearing in mind that the tape bared marks from the dispenser, the commission wanted to know if the tape could be dispensed without being moistened:
Mr. BELIN: If I wanted to pull the tape, pull off a piece without getting water on it, would I just lift it up without going over the wet roller and get the tape without getting it wet?
Mr. WEST: You would have to take it out. You would have to take it out of the machine. See, it's put on there and then run through a little clamp that holds it down, and you pull it, well, then the water, it gets water on it. (6H361)
Thus the bag would have had to have been constructed at West’s workstation. Since West testified that he had “never” seen Oswald around and that he “never did hardly ever leave” his work area, Oswald simply could not have made the paper bag.
Equally as damning for the commission’s conclusions is the fact that the paper bag does not appear in any of the Dallas Police Department’s crime scene photographs. Additionally, the testimony of the three law enforcement officials who were first on the scene does not support the notion that the bag was found in the “snipers nest.” Dallas Police Sergeant Gerald Hill told the commission, “if it was found up there on the sixth floor, if it was there, I didn't see it.” (7H65) Deputy Sheriff Roger Dean Craig was asked "Was there any long sack laying in the floor there that you remember seeing, or not?" Craig’s reply was simple and direct, "No; I don't remember seeing any." (6H268) Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney testified, “No, sir; in my running around up there, I didn't observe it.”(3H289) Further doubt is cast by John B Hicks, a Dallas police detective who worked in the crime laboratory, was also asked about the paper bag:
Mr. BALL: Did you ever see a paper sack in the items that were taken from the Texas School Book Depository building?
Mr. HICKS: Paper bag?
Mr. BALL: Paper bag.
Mr. HICKS: No, sir; I did not. It seems like there was some chicken bones or maybe a lunch; no, I believe that someone had gathered it up.
Mr. BALL: Well, this was another type of bag made out of brown paper; did you ever see it?
Mr. HICKS: No, sir; I don't believe I did. I don't recall it.
Mr. BALL: I believe that's all, Mr Hicks. (7H289)
The evidence presented above leads one to the inescapable conclusion that the paper bag was in no way related to the assassination. To recap, the bag bore no distinguishing markings from the rifle (there was not even a trace of oil despite Marina Oswald’s testimony that her husband had kept the rifle well oiled), Oswald had neither the means nor the opportunity to construct the bag, it does not appear in any of the crime scene photographs and Dallas law enforcement officials who were in a position to see the bag testified that they did not. The only evidence lone assassin theorists have left to suggest a connection between Oswald and the bag is the fact that a single fingerprint and a palm print identified as Oswald’s were found on it. However, it hardly needs to be pointed out how meaningless it is that a paper bag, said to have been found on the floor where Oswald worked, had his prints on it.
So what does all this mean for the official story? Oswald's only rifle was, according to Marina, stored in the Paine's garage. For Oswald to be the lone assassin he had to have removed it on the morning of November 22 because at no other time was he seen taking a package from the garage, at no time was any rifle seen at his rooming house and at no other time did he take a large package into the depoistory. It was his only opportunity. So, if the package he carried that morning did not contain the rifle, and all of the evidence tells us it did not, then someone else placed the Mannlicher-Carcano on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and Oswald was exactly what he said he was: A patsy.