Was the Zapruder Film at the Hawkeye Works?
By William Kelly
“The research community, I argued, should get the records first, and debate what the data meant after we got the records.” – Doug Horne (Page 1365, Chapter 14, Volume IV, Inside the Assassinations Records Review Board – IARRB, 2009)
The very week that the first large batch of previously secret government JFK Assassination Records were released, Gerald Posner’s book Case Closed was published, clearly provoking the message that the files were released and the case was closed.
When the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) ceased its operations after releasing millions of pages of documents, one of the former board members, Kermit Hall, confident that the released records would confirm the government’s official version of events, said that it would take at least ten years before the board’s work could be seriously evaluated. It would take that long for people to read all the information that was released.
Well now it’s been over a decade since the ARRB closed up shop and said its work was done, and in retrospect with the publication of Doug Horne’s Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, we know their work, identifying and releasing the government records, is not done, and neither is ours.
While each of the five volumes of Horn’s IARRB addresses important subjects, the one issue that has raised some of the most intense debates is whether the Zapruder film gives an accurate account of the assassination.
For the most part, those who claim the film has been altered, and now branded “alterationists” by those who believe in the film’s authenticity, have based their claims primarily anomalies in the content of the film – whether Jean Hill was standing on the curb or in the street, cuts and splices here and there, reversed frames in publications, and certifiably false descriptions of the content by Dan Rather and the Life correspondent Paul Mandel.
In comments to reviews of his book at Amazon.com, Douglas P. Horne wrote:
“…Although I did not set out to write a book about the Zapruder film, during my final year of writing it became a subject of intense focus for me, and the evidence I found of its alteration was astonishingly persuasive. I write about new evidence of the Zapruder film’s alteration not yet presented elsewhere, so I encourage everyone who has not read Chapter 14 yet to keep an open mind and decide what to believe about the film’s authenticity themselves, AFTER READING IT, and not to defer to the opinions of others. For decades I believed the film was authentic, because it was the natural assumption to make. Now, I am convinced it could not possibly be. I kept an open mind and went where the evidence took me on this issue, just as I did with the medical evidence.”
Jack White, Professor James Fetzer, David Healey, Harry Livingstone and others have focused on the anomalies and discrepancies in the film in an attempt to prove that it has been altered, while Josiah Thompson, Bob Groden, Gary Mack, David Wrone, Rollie Zavada and others have tried to dismiss their clams and maintain the Zapruder film is an authentic rendition of the assassination as it happened.
While I have followed the debate from a distance, I was persuaded that the film was authentic by Thompson, who points out that three copies of the film were made and all four films would have to have been altered and that other films and photos that were taken at the same time and place would also have to be manipulated for the alterationists’ theory to be true.
I was also against the alterationist theory because I thought the extant Zapruder film was itself proof of conspiracy in exhibiting the appearance of a shot striking JFK in the head from the front and driving him “back to the left,” as Jim Garrison famously said.
While I thought it would be great if it could be proven to have been tampered with because that would constitute tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice – crimes that individuals could be indicted for, the anomalies themselves didn’t point to any particular person who could have altered the films.
I was also against the alterationist theory because I didn’t think the Z-film was the best evidence of conspiracy, and didn’t lead to anyone specific – a new witness who could shed more light on the case or a suspect who could be indicted.
In Chapter 14 of IARRB Volume IV, Doug Horne does get into the micro analysis of anomalies, describing each one in detail, and adding a new one to the mix – the edge of the Stemmons Freeway sign, which was recently uncovered by Sydney Wilkerson, who works on Hollywood movies. Sydney bought some first generation large 35 mm stills of the Z-film from the NARA and with a team of professional Hollywood special effects producers, has examined the film closely. They are preparing a yet to be released report on their study which could include positive scientific proof of tampering, or at the very least will show how the film could have been tampered with, – eliminating the brief stop that over 50 witnesses claim they saw, fudging up JFK’s head wound to indicate a large frontal exit wound, and eliminating the blowout of the back of the head.
But more significantly, without regard to the content of the film, Doug Horne went back to where the first enlargements were made of the original Z-film still frames at the National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC) and interviewed some of those who made the enlargements. From their reports, he determined that two different enlargement sessions were held at two different times and using two different types of film. This inquiry into the Zapruder film trail leads to where the film could have been tampered with – at the CIA’s secret Hawkeye Works plant, and who there might have done it.
While Doug Horne’s Chapter The Zapruder Film Mystery contains details of the debate over the anomalies in the content, the new Stemmons Freeway sign anomaly and the study being done by the Hollywood special effects team, the rest of this review will deal strictly with the disputed provenance of the hard copies of the celluloid film, and if this leads to new records that weren’t covered by the JFK Act, or new witnesses and/or suspects.
One way to gage the value of evidence or the veracity of witnesses is to weight it by how much can be independently verified and whether it leads to new records, new documents, new witness and new evidence.
In addition, if one’s approach to a subject has repeatedly run into a dead end wall, as the debate over the anomalies seems to, sometimes it is best to stop the head banging and try a different approach to the problem.
[BK Notes: The Z-film chapter 14 in Volume IV runs 193 pages, from P 1185 to P 1378, and the quotes are sourced by the page number at the end of the quote.]
In Chapter 14, The Zapruder Film Mystery Doug Horne writes:
“No one would greet with equanimity being told that his approach to researching a subject has been incorrect—based on a false foundation—and that his life’s work has essentially been a waste of time. This characterizes all fields of scientific and historical research, and explains the virulent passions aroused within academia whenever a new paradigm is introduced which calls into question the accepted research methodology for a given discipline. The more central the subject matter, the more those emotions are on display whenever the fundamental bases for a given approach are challenged. Thomas Kuhn’s seminal 1962 work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, readily reveals this.”
In order to determine its authenticity the ARRB brought in a specialist, Rollie Zavada of Kodak, who studied the film and issued a report shortly before the termination of the board.
At that time, Horne writes, “In late September of 1998, when the authenticity study was completed, I was simply grateful that Kodak had agreed to perform this task for the ARRB, and that we had been successful in getting them to do it on a pro bono basis. Physically and intellectually exhausted at the end of my frenetic three-year ARRB experience, I placed my copy of the report on the shelf, and didn’t even begin to study it in any detail until May of 1999.2 What I began to find then, and continue to find today, is evidence within the report itself that casts doubt upon the film’s authenticity…” P. 1186
“At one time in 1998, as the report was nearing completion, and as I was receiving frequent status reports from Rollie (Zavada) about his progress (on the Kodak report), he almost had me convinced that it was authentic. But since I began to study his report in detail in May of 1999, I have modified my position and now firmly suspect the extant film in the National Archives is a forgery, created from the true original in a sophisticated CIA photo lab at the Kodak main industrial plant in Rochester, New York.”
“That’s right: I just said that I believe that the presumed ‘original’ of the Zapruder film in the National Archives today was not exposed inside Abe Zapruder’s Bell and Howell movie camera, but rather was created in a photo lab run for the CIA by Kodak, at its main industrial site and corporate headquarters, in Rochester, New York (using Abe Zapruder’s camera-original film, of course, as the baseline). Astronomer Carl Sagan once said: ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’”
“Fair enough. I intend to provide that evidence in this chapter. Before I proceed I wish to make one thing perfectly clear: during the period 1996-1998, I had the highest respect and admiration for Rollie Zavada, and I did not believe, at that time, that he was part of any attempt by Kodak to ‘cover up the truth.’ The Rollie Zavada with whom I worked so closely for over two years, from 1996-1998, was in my judgment at that time a man of sterling integrity, and an honest actor in all respects. We just happened to disagree about whether or not the Zapruder film was likely authentic, I reasoned, because each of us honestly and independently imbued selected aspects of the evidence with differing levels of importance.” P 1188
“While I believe the film certainly does indicate that shots were fired from in front of, as well as from behind the limousine — and thus proves conspiracy — I believe that it cannot be used as a ‘time clock’ of the assassination, and that because of its alteration, it is worthless in this regard, and will lead anyone who attempts to use it as a ‘time clock’ to formulate invalid conclusions. Before I begin to present my case for these assertions, it is necessary to review the film’s provenance prior to 1997.” P 1194
“The Bell and Howell camera shot what was called ‘double 8’ film: each roll consisted of 25 feet of useable film that was 16 mm wide, with approximately 4 extra feet of ‘leader’ on each end, for a total of about 33 feet of 16 mm wide, double perforated film (i.e., with sprocket holes on both sides of the 16 mm film strip) on the spool. As a new reel of film was exposed in the camera, only one half of its width (8 mm wide), known as the “A” side of the reel, was exposed to images coming through the lens. When each 25-foot (actually, 33-foot) reel of film had been completely exposed on one side, the camera operator would open up the camera, move the full take-up reel at the bottom of the magazine to the upper position where the supply reel had been, and place the now-empty original supply reel where the take up reel had been at the bottom of the film magazine. Once this was done, and the film had been manually re-threaded in the camera, the camera operator was ready to expose another 25 feet of useable film, called the “B” side of the 16 mm wide reel of film. After each roll of double 8 film was completely exposed on both A and B sides, it was developed while still a 16 mm wide double perforated reel of film. After developing, the 16 mm wide reel of film contained two adjacent 8 mm wide image strips going in opposite directions; this necessitated slitting the 16 mm wide film down the center of the entire reel, and then joining together the two 8 mm wide film strips (sides A and B) with a physical splice. The result was a developed home movie product that consisted of 50 feet of useable film, with varying amounts of leader attached at the heads and tails ends, and with perforations on only one side—the left-hand side (when the image is viewed correctly). The finished product was now only 8 mm wide, and was a ‘single perf’ film that could only be played in an 8 mm movie projector.” P 1195
“Zapruder had already exposed a home movie of family scenes on side A of his reel of film, and had flipped the full takeup reel over and placed it in the supply position in the film magazine prior to the motorcade, so that he could expose side B when President Kennedy’s motorcade passed by on Elm Street. Prior to filming the motorcade on side B, he exposed about 177 frames of test footage [about 60 frames of a close-up of a green chair, and about 117 frames of people — apparently Marilyn Sitzman and the Hesters —near the white cement pergola west of the Book Depository], to ensure his film was threaded properly and that his camera was operating as it should be…” P 1196
“Without prejudice regarding whether the film in the Archives is authentic or not, it can be described as follows: the assassination portion of the Zapruder film in the Archives is now 480 frames in length (6 frames of the extant film—155-156, and 208-211—were damaged and removed by LIFE, but are still present on the two Secret Service copies); it is about 26 and one half seconds in duration when played at 18.3 frames per second; and the image content is only about 6 feet, 3 inches in length…”
Zapruder, accompanied by others, including a Secret Service agent, took the film to the Kodak lab in Dallas to be developed, but because that lab cannot make copies, special arrangements had to be made with the Jamieson lab where three copies were to be made.
Horne reports that, “…Since they knew that the Jamieson lab’s contact printers could only accommodate 16 mm film, Kodak initially did not slit Zapruder’s 16 mm wide, ‘double 8’ film down the center to create an 8 mm wide home movie, as they normally would have. His camera original film, as developed, was 16 mm wide, and had image strips on both sides (his home movie and the assassination sequence from Dealey Plaza), running in opposite directions.”
“Following their return to the Kodak lab at about 8 PM, the three Kodachrome IIA contact prints were developed by the Kodak staff and the ‘first day copies’ were then slit lengthwise, down the middle of the entire length of each film, per normal practice, and reassembled as 8 mm ‘single perf’ movies (presumably with the home movie shot on side A first, followed by the assassination film shot on side B) that could only be viewed in normal circumstances thereafter on an 8 mm home movie projector. The assassination film—either the slit original, or one of the ‘first day copies’—was then viewed at the Kodak plant in its 8 mm configuration.”
“Whether the original film was slit or unslit on the day of the assassination, the record shows that it was retained throughout Friday night and into Saturday morning by Abraham Zapruder, along with one of the ‘first day copies.’ The only Zapruder film to leave Dallas on November 22, 1963 was the ‘first day copy’ that agent Max Phillips put on an airplane to Washington, D.C.” P 1199
“The official record shows that Zapruder went home late Friday night with his original film and with one of the three ‘first day copies’—the other two ‘first day copies’ had been loaned to the Secret Service. Zapruder would never see them again.” P 1200
“Trask writes that the original was sent to LIFE’s Chicago printing plant in preparation for the publication of still frames (the black-and-white images) in LIFE’s November 29 issue, and Trask implies, but does not specifically state, that this occurred on Saturday. Although Richard Stolley told Esquire magazine in 1973 that the sole remaining first day copy went to LIFE’s New York office on Saturday, Trask notes that this cannot be true because the film was viewed by various persons in Dallas throughout the weekend, and by others (including CBS news reporter Dan Rather) on Monday, November 25. The only film in Dallas available to be viewed on Sunday and Monday — since the Secret Service had two copies and LIFE reportedly had the original—was the third of the three ‘first day copies’made by Zapruder, thus proving that it did not go to New York on Saturday as Stolley incorrectly recalled in 1973. The transfer of the original to the LIFE publishing plant in Chicago, which Trask assumes occurred on Saturday (simply because of the language in the Saturday contract and because Stolley shipped it to Chicago on Saturday), is by no means certain.” P. 1201
“Richard Stolley approached Abe Zapruder Sunday night about renegotiating the contract signed on Saturday, in order to give LIFE full rights, rather than the limited print rights negotiated on Saturday—and that on Monday morning, LIFE publisher C. D. Jackson called Stolley and formalized what had been set in motion the night before, giving him official permission to acquire all rights to the film,…” P 1202
If any shennagans with the Zapruder film went on, those who claim it was altered point to the National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC) in Washington D.C., run by the CIA, which turned hand written notes over to the ARRB that had been given to the Rockefeller Commission and indicated the Zapruder film was at the NPIC at some point during the weekend of the assassination.
According to Horne: “Six pages of photocopied notes related to the Zapruder film had been retained by the NPIC since 1963. [There are five sheets of paper that constitute the notes; one sheet had information on both sides, yielding six pages of photocopied notes.] The undated notes, in retrospect, describe three different activities conducted at different times within NPIC by different groups of people, but this was not understood at the time by the Rockefeller Commission and indeed, was not understood by the JFK research community until 1998 when the ARRB’s office files were released. One activity was the creation of enlargements—color prints—from individual frames of the Zapruder film, which were subsequently used in the creation of briefing board panels. A second activity was the creation of the briefing board panels themselves, which may have been done immediately after the enlargements were made, but in any case were created by different persons from the photographers who enlarged the Zapruder frames. [Three of the six pages of notes refer to the photographic work, and the organization and content of the briefing board panels.] We now know that photographic specialists enlarged frames from the Zapruder film by first making greatly magnified internegatives, and then by making individual color prints from each internegative; graphics specialists then created three briefing board sets, of four panels each, using the photos. The third activity was a shot and timing analysis of the image content contained in the Zapruder frames, which uses identical language found in a shot and timing analysis published in the aforementioned article by Paul Mandel on page 52F in the December 6, 1963 issue of LIFE magazine.” P. 1207
After buying the print and then belatedly the motion picture rights to the Zap film, and gaining control over the original film, Life then suppressed the film and kept it from being shown to the public, though bootleg copies flourished. Then Life sold the film back to the Zapruder family for $1 and the ARRB had to determine if the film could be considered for inclusion in the JFK Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives. Towards that end the ARRB conducted a rare public hearing on the subject of the Zapruder film, which was telecast on TV on C-SPAN and sparked some interesting investigative leads, or “walk ins,” as they say in the intelligence profession.
As Horne describes it, “On April 2, 1997, the ARRB conducted a Public Hearing at the old Archives building on the National Mall in order to “…seek public comment and advice on what should be done with the camera original motion picture film of the assassination that was taken by Abraham Zapruder on November 22, 1963.”
“The issue facing the Review Board was whether the Zapruder film was an ‘assassination record’ under the JFK Act that should be placed into the JFK Records Collection at the National Archives, and whether it should be considered U.S. government property, rather than the property of private citizen…The Public Hearing was aired on C-SPAN television and makes for interesting viewing;…” P 1214
A MAJOR CHAIN-OF-CUSTODY DISCREPANCY
“Until 1997, there were no discrepancies in the film’s chain-of-custody that seriously challenged the belief that the film in the National Archives was the same film described in the affidavit trail from the Kodak and Jamieson film labs in Dallas. There was one possible problem: that was the mention in the Rockefeller Commission’s 9 page 1978 FOIA release (CIA Document 1641-450) that someone at NPIC had shot internegatives, conducted a print test, and made three copies. Although provocative and worthy of further attention and investigation, the meaning of this single, undated page out of the 9 total pages of released working notes from NPIC was both unclear, and as it turned out, misleading.”
“However, in 1997, and again in 2009, very strong evidence was uncovered indicating that while the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) never did replicate or copy the Zapruder film as a motion picture, that it did briefly possess the film, and perform two compartmentalized operations the very weekend of the assassination, in which two separate and distinct briefing board products were created for different customers within the U.S. government. Furthermore, the information obtained in 1997 (by the ARRB) was that the film brought to NPIC for analysis at the second of these two events that weekend did not come from Dallas (where the original film had been developed on Friday, November 22) but instead came from a CIA film lab at the Kodak main industrial facility in Rochester, New York, whose very existence was highly classified not only in 1963, but in 1997 as well.” P 1220
“The ARRB’s Public Hearing on the Zapruder film that C-SPAN televised on April 2, 1997 was seen by a former NPIC employee named Morgan Bennett Hunter (hereafter referred to as “Ben”), who was still employed by the CIA in 1997 in another capacity. His wife, who was also CIA, relayed to the CIA’s Historical Review Group (HRG) that her husband had been involved in events related to the Zapruder film at NPIC the weekend of the assassination, as well as the name of her husband’s supervisor at that event, Mr. Homer A. McMahon. HRG (represented by Mr. Barry Harrelson) then dutifully informed the ARRB staff that the HRG was aware of two witnesses to the handling of the film at NPIC the weekend of the assassination, and provided both of their names to us. In relatively short order, the CIA cleared both men to talk to us.” P 1221
“Both men recalled that they were called in to work at NPIC the weekend of the assassination “a couple of days” or so after the assassination, but before the President’s funeral, and that they worked throughout the night into the next morning to complete their assigned work on a home movie taken of the assassination (which no one called ‘the Zapruder film’ at the time, but which they both subsequently identified as that when they saw the surviving briefing board panels in 1997). The essentials of the event they both described are summarized below:
McMahon was the Head of the NPIC Color Lab in 1963, and Ben Hunter, his
assistant that night, was a relatively new CIA employee who had just left active duty
as an enlisted man with the U.S. Air Force at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska (SAC
headquarters). Hunter began working with NPIC on December 17, 1962, and helped
NPIC relocate from the Steuart Motors building (a Ford dealership used for cover)
in downtown Washington into its new quarters in building 213 at the Navy Yard in
Washington D.C. on January 1, 1963. Robert F. Kennedy apparently had an old
warehouse converted into NPIC’s new, more secure location inside the Navy Yard
following a 90-day crash renovation and conversion, following the Cuban Missile
Crisis in 1962. In 1997, building 213 was still a nondescript-looking building with
its windows bricked up, located across the street from the Navy Yard ‘Metro’ (i.e.,
subway) station in southeast D.C., and it was still dedicated to photography, except
that in 1997 it was the home of NIMA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.
In 1963, McMahon stressed, the existence of the NPIC was so sensitive that he was
not allowed to tell anyone that he worked at NPIC—in fact, he was required to use
the CIA as his cover. While the CIA paid his salary, he was secretly an NPIC employee, working for a subdivision of the Agency whose existence was still secret”
“McMahon made clear that the reason he was so certain about the location where the
film was developed was because the Secret Service agent used the in-house code name for a state-of-the-art CIA-funded Kodak photo lab at Rochester when he described where the film had been developed. The code word had only one possible meaning, and that meaning precisely identified that site as the CIA lab at Kodak’s industrial facility in Rochester, New York. [When the CIA’s HRG found out that McMahon had used the still-current code name for the facility in Rochester, they demanded that the ARRB excise the code name of the CIA’s Kodak-manned Rochester photo lab from the audiotape that was to be released to the public, which I dutifully did. Any researcher who listens to the Archives recording of the July 14, 1997 interview will not hear the name of the facility on that tape, for this reason. However, there is also an unredacted tape in the JFK Records Collection — the original — which does contain Homer McMahon’s coded reference to the CIA’s Kodak-run lab in Rochester.]…”
“Homer McMahon consistently claimed that he had enlarged individual frames from
the original film, and that he recalled it was a 16 mm wide unslit double 8 home movie. During the first McMahon interview, he stated he was “sure we had the original film,” because “we had to flip it over to see the image on the other side in the correct orientation.” McMahon confirmed this recollection of an unslit double 8 home movie with opposing image strips during his in-person interview which was tape recorded on July 14, 1997…”
“…Although McMahon personally thought he saw JFK reacting to 6 to 8 shots fired from at least three directions, he said that the Secret Service agent arrived with his mind made up that only three shots had been fired, and that they all came from the Texas School Book Depository, behind the limousine.” P 1224
“Both McMahon and Hunter said they had never seen the 3 legal-sized yellow pages
of notes related to the shot and timing analysis before. There was only one piece of
paper among the original notes which contained the handwriting of either man—a
half-sized sheet of yellow paper—the piece of paper upon which the handwritten entries ‘shoot internegs, proc and dry, print test, make three prints,’ and ‘process and dry prints’ are annotated, along with the respective times required for each step. McMahon recognized some of this handwriting as his own, and some of it as Hunter’s. On the reverse side of this sheet of paper is a handwritten organization chart of the briefing board panels, and Hunter recognized two entries on this page as being written in his own hand.”
“Analysis: First of all, we can now state with certainty that NPIC never copied the Zapruder film as a motion picture, even though for years the NPIC notes had mislead some researchers into believing that it had. However, Homer McMahon’s rock-solid certainty that the film brought to him was an original, unslit 16 mm wide, double 8 movie—and that it came from a classified CIA photo lab run by Kodak at Rochester—implies that McMahon and Hunter were not working with the true camera-original film developed in Dallas, but were instead working with a re-created, altered film masquerading as ‘the original.’…”
“…If McMahon was correct that he had viewed an original, 16 mm wide, unslit double 8 movie film the weekend of the assassination, and if it was really developed in Rochester at a CIA lab run by Kodak (as he was unambiguously told it was), then the extant film in the Archives is not a camera original film, but a simulated ‘original’ created with an optical printer at the CIA’s secret film lab in Rochester.”
Dino Brugioni is not new to those who have studied the JFK assassination. Besides writing the book “Eyeball to Eyeball” about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the role photo recognizance played in that affair, Brugioni wrote a book about the CIA’s photo lab and how they uncover fake photos, like the one of Mao swimming is a fake, and the one of Oswald in the backyard with the weapons and commie magazines is real.
In conclusion to his book on photo fakery, Brugioni says that one day photos will not be admissible in court as evidence because they can be so readily altered and manipulated. But it wasn’t the ARRB who got Brugioni’s acount, it was a tenacious independent researcher Peter Janney.
Doug Horne explains how they got Brugioni’s story:
“During the period January 30-June 27, 2009, an extremely curious and energetic researcher, Peter Janney of Beverly, Massachusetts, after being alerted by Gerald McKnight (author of Breach of Trust) to the lead in Wrone’s book, contacted Dino Brugioni and interviewed him on seven (7) separate occasions,”
“…Dino Brugioni was the Chief of the NPIC Information Branch, and worked directly for the Director of NPIC, Arthur Lundahl, from 1954 until Lundahl retired in 1973. Arthur Lundahl, as Dino Brugioni explained to Peter Janney, was the western world’s foremost photoanalyst during those two decades. And anytime that Mr. Lundahl needed a briefing board prepared, it was Dino Brugioni, working with NPIC’s photo-interpreters and graphics department, who oversaw its preparation, and the preparation of the associated notes that Lundahl would use to brief Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, for example. Dino Brugioni was so closely involved with the briefing boards prepared for President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis that he was able to author an excellent and captivating book about the role of NPIC in that crucial Cold War episode, called Eyeball to Eyeball. Dino Brugioni, therefore, is the ultimate, insider source for what was going on at NPIC during the 1950s and 1960s. He possesses unimpeachable credentials.”
“…the event he participated in actually commenced on Saturday evening, November 23rd (rather than Sunday, November 24th, as he had incorrectly estimated for David Wrone in 2003); that it involved the original 8 mm film — not a copy — and that it did not involve either Homer McMahon, or Ben Hunter, or Captain Sands, but an entirely different cast of characters. Furthermore, Dino examined photographs Peter Janney had made at Archives II of the 4 surviving briefing board panels made from the photos developed by Homer McMahon and Ben Hunter, and Brugioni stated categorically that the four panels in flat # 90A in the JFK Records Collection are not the briefing boards he produced while on duty at NPIC;…” P 1230
“…The event began about 10 PM in the evening, when Dino personally met two Secret
Service agents at the entrance to the NPIC, and ended at about 6 or 7 AM the next morning when Brugioni’s boss, Art Lundahl (the Director of NPIC), arrived and the briefing boards which Brugioni and the NPIC staff had created were presented to Lundahl, along with the briefing notes Brugioni had prepared. Lundahl then took both sets of briefing boards to the office of CIA Director John McCone,…along with the briefing notes Brugioni had prepared for him; briefed the DCI; and then returned to NPIC later Sunday morning, November 24, and thanked everyone for their efforts the previous night, telling them that his briefing of McCone had gone well. P. 1231
“Dino said that Captain Pierre Sands, U.S. Navy, was the Deputy Director of NPIC,
which Peter Janney subsequently confirmed on the internet. Sands’ one-page bio states that Pierre N. Sands was born on April 16, 1921, and died on May 26, 2004. He served in the Navy from May 1939-June 1973, and was placed in charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Photographic Center after serving at NPIC. His biography on the internet identifies him as a member of the Presidential briefing staff during the Cuban Missile Crisis.” P 1232
Horne quotes Brugioni as saying, “’I’m almost sure there were images between the sprocket holes.’ During a follow-on interview when Janney tested Dino’s firmness of opinion about whether the film was the original or not, Brugioni said definitively: ‘I’m sure it was.’”
“…He also said that the Secret Service was vitally interested in timing how many seconds occurred between various frames, and that Ralph Pearse informed them, to their surprise and dismay, that this would be a useless procedure because the Bell and Howell movie camera (that they told him had taken the movie) was a spring-wound camera, with a constantly varying operating speed, and that while he could certainly time the number of seconds between various frames if they so desired, that in his view it was an unscientific and useless procedure which would provide bad data, and lead to false conclusions, or words to that effect. Nevertheless, at the request of the two Secret Service agents, Ralph Pearse dutifully used a stopwatch to time the number of seconds between various frames of interest to their Secret Service customers. Dino Brugioni said that he placed a strong caveat about the limited, or suspect, usefulness of this timing data in the briefing notes he prepared for Art Lundahl. Brugioni’s most vivid recollection of the Zapruder film was ‘…of JFK’s brains flying through the air.’” P 1233
“The obvious implications of the two NPIC Zapruder film events prior to the President’s funeral are noted below, in what I shall call a working hypothesis, explaining what I believe likely transpired with the Zapruder film the weekend of the assassination:
• First, the camera original Zapruder film really was slit in Dallas at the Kodak
processing plant after the three ‘first day copies’ were developed the evening of the
assassination, just as the Kodak employees told Rollie Zavada when he interviewed
them for his authenticity study. On Saturday morning, November 23rd, after the Secret
Service in Washington, D.C. viewed the first day copy (that had been placed on a
commercial airplane in Dallas and sent to Washington, D.C. by Max Phillips late on
Friday evening), they no doubt realized an immediate need for the original film, so that briefing boards could be made from the clearest possible image frames. [No one would send a copy of an 8 mm film to NPIC to make briefing boards from—one would obtain and send the original film.]
• Second, Richard Stolley’s recollection that the original film went to LIFE’s printing plant in Chicago on Saturday, November 23rd, for immediate processing, obviously requires reexamination ….
. Third, the Secret Service and the CIA, obviously working together on the project, must have rushed the 8 mm camera original film from Washington, D.C. to the “Hawkeye
Plant” in Rochester by air, immediately after Bill Banfield’s photo technicians had run off the last enlargement prints for the McCone briefing boards, just prior to dawn on Sunday morning. The CIA’s Kodak-staffed lab in Rochester would have had most of the day (probably about 9 or 10 hours), using an optical printer such as the Oxberry commonly used by Hollywood’s special effects wizards, to remove whatever was
objectionable in the film—most likely, the car stop seen by over 50 witnesses in Dealey Plaza, and the exit debris which would inevitably have been seen in the film leaving the rear of President Kennedy’s head—and to add to the film whatever was desired, such as a large, painted-on exit wound generally consistent with the enlarged, altered head wound depicted in the autopsy photos which were developed the day before on Saturday, November 23rd by Robert Knudsen at NPC Anacostia. Captain Sands, a Naval Officer who was the Deputy Director at NPIC, was apparently instrumental to those altering the film in setting up a compartmentalized operation at NPIC, in which workers who had not participated in the events which commenced Saturday night (with the unaltered, true camera original film) would be used to create briefing boards from the now-sanitized, altered film. The delivery of an unslit, 16 mm wide double 8 film to Homer McMahon, well after dark on Sunday night, is proof that he received an alteration, and not the same film processed the night before (which was a slit 8 mm film). Furthermore, if the film worked on by McMahon and Hunter had been the same film worked on the night before, there would have been no need for a compartmentalized operation, and the same duty crew that worked on Saturday night could have been called in again. The fact that the same work crew was not used on Sunday night reveals that a covert operation was afoot.
• Fourth, the three black-and-white, 16 mm unslit versions of the Zapruder film
discovered in 2000 after the LMH Company’s film holdings were transferred to the
Sixth Floor Museum, and which both David Wrone and Richard Trask have written
about in their books on the Zapruder film, were almost certainly made from the altered film after it was manufactured at the “Hawkeye Plant” in Rochester.”
. Fifth, three newly minted ‘first generation’ copies must have been struck from the new ‘original’ in Rochester before the altered ‘original’ was flown to Washington, D.C. Sunday evening for the preparation of the sanitized briefing boards at NPIC. Quite simply stated, if you are going to alter the original film, you have to manufacture altered copies as well. [We shall examine the qualities of the three extant ‘first generation’ copies later in this chapter to see whether this part of the hypothesis holds up.]
• Sixth, switches obviously must have been made, as soon as possible, with all three ‘first day copies’ (which had been made on Friday in Dallas). The FBI, as well, must have been complicit in this early switchout, since it supposedly made all of its subsequent second generation copies from the ‘first day copy’ loaned to it by the Secret Service on Saturday, November 23rd. Although the FBI may have viewed a first day copy of the true original film following its arrival in Washington, all second generation FBI copies in existence today would have been struck after the first day copy was switched out with its replacement. A Secret Service ‘first generation’ copy was returned to Dallas by the FBI on Tuesday, November 26,…”
– Seventh, it is highly likely — a virtual certainty, in my view — that the additional sum of $100,000.00 that LIFE agreed to pay to Abraham Zapruder on Monday, November 25 in a new contract was in reality “hush money,”
– Eighth, and finally, only so much in a film can be altered—there are also things that cannot be altered. It is my belief that the most damaging information in the film to the lone assassin hypothesis—the brief car stop on Elm Street in which the President was clearly killed by a crossfire, by multiple hits to the head from both the front and the rear, and the frames of exit debris leaving the rear of his skull — were removed at Rochester when the new ‘master’ was created. In addition, wounds were painted onto his head with special effects work which somewhat (but not precisely) resembled the damage recorded in the autopsy photos after the clandestine surgery at Bethesda Naval hospital.
Horne concludes: “Because the infamous ‘headsnap’ back-and-to-the-left could not be removed from the film, the film had to be suppressed as a motion picture, and not shown to the public.” P 1244
Kodak’s Hawkeye Works – Rochester, New York
“In his 2003 article about the Zapruder film titled: ‘Pig On A Leash,’ David Lifton
had called the CIA’s lab in Rochester ‘Hawkeye works.’ I am prohibited from directly releasing the term provided to me in 1997 by Homer McMahon, so instead I have used both of these descriptors — obtained from open sources — interchangeably in this chapter. We know that the lab definitely existed in 1963, for Homer McMahon — the former Head of the Color Lab at NPIC — told me about the lab in 1997, and Dino Brugioni confirmed its existence, and its ability to handle the processing of motion picture film, repeatedly in 2009 during his seven interviews with Peter Janney. The name for the facility was still so sensitive in 1997 that the CIA’s Historical Review Group had demanded that the ARRB redact from our interview tape the codename used by Homer McMahon during his July 1997 ARRB interview (but not the fact that the facility had existed in 1963). The ‘Hawkeye Plant’ is of great interest, the reader will recall, because Homer McMahon of NPIC told the ARRB staff that the Zapruder film he handled the weekend of the assassination was delivered to him from that location, where its courier, Secret Service agent ‘Bill Smith,’ told him it had been developed. Since overwhelming evidence exists that the out-of-camera Zapruder film was developed in Dallas on November 22, 1963 — and not in Rochester, New York on November 24, 1963 — the clear implication of the Homer McMahon testimony (at the present time) is that an altered Zapruder film may have been created at ‘Hawkeye works.’ The upper management of the ARRB was loathe to inquire with either the CIA or Kodak about the facility…” P 1364
“…In April of 2009. Finally, six months after its preparation began, the AARC’s FOIA was mailed.) It, too, requests any and all records pertaining to: (1) the creation of all briefing boards at NPIC the weekend of the assassination; (2) the briefing on the Zapruder film given by NPIC Director Arthur Lundahl to DCI John McCone on November 24, 1963; (3) the processing and/or alteration of the Zapruder film at “Hawkeye works” the weekend of the assassination (if such activity occurred); (4) work done on any and all assassination films by the Federal government outside the city of Dallas, Texas after the assassination of President Kennedy; and (5) those portions of the NPIC history written by Dino Brugioni…” P 1377
While the idea that the Zapruder film was at the CIA’s supersecret lab at Hawkeye Works stems from the Secret Service Agent “Bill Smith,” likely an alias, this wasn’t just any person, but someone with the Secret Service, someone who had access to the equally supersecret NPIC, and someone with the original and/or a first generation copy of the Zapruder film.
Why isn’t there any record of this person and this event?
Just as Adele Edisen’s story called attention to Col. Jose Rivera and Secret Service Agent in Charge of the New Orleans office John W. Rice, giving researchers years of research that is still incomplete, “Bill Smith,” Ben Hunter and Homer McMahon give us a lead that if true, could completely rewrite the history of the Zapruder film.
Was the Zapruder film at the Hawkeye Works?
And why is the very name and existence of the Hawkeye Works still a national security secret?