Archive for January, 2010

Doug Horne – 20 Questions

January 25, 2010

1) Your job description with the ARRB was that of an “Analyst.” What’s an analyst?

Doug Horne: Each of the four records teams consisted of a team leader (a supervisory analyst) and about 4 analysts. The job of the analyst was to define search criteria for records; liaise with pertinent agencies; and then analyze records with proposed redactions that were submitted for review by the ARRB. The “analysis” consisted of determining which portions of the document were important, which portions were unimportant, and developing recommendations for the Board Members regarding whether or not the records should be opened up, or whether the agencies’ proposed redactions should stay in place—applying the standards in the JFK Records Act.

2) As the Chief Analyst for Military Records for ARRB you handled many classified records and were approved to handle such records based on your previous work in the Navy. In your opinion why are there still so many records about the assassination still classified?

D.H.: The redactions that remained in place in the military records I saw pertained only to military operational plans which were still in effect and had not changed since the assassination. Other redactions which remained in place in CIA or FBI records often pertained to protecting someone’s true identity when a pseudonym had been used; or protecting a source or method which was in use at the time the record was created and was still in place in the mid 1990s. I am not aware of any redactions which were an attempt to withhold JFK assassination facts per se. The language and codes put in place by the ARRB analyst to explain the reason for each redaction is recorded on each redacted document—and in every case the codes/language used identifies the language in the Act that justified the redaction.

3) Why do you think you are qualified to review the medical records without having an academic background in science or medicine?

D.H. The readers of my book can judge, one by one, whether they think I am qualified to discuss particular medical issues on a one-by-one basis. I can say this: one of the persons who edited and peer-reviewed my book (who shall go un-named) was an M.D., and I benefited tremendously from his assistance. I also learned a lot from the 5 medical consultants who assisted the ARRB in evaluating the evidence: Ubelaker, Fitzpatrick, Kirschner, Lee, and DiMaio. My chapter on the x-rays, furthermore, was reviewed by a board-certified radiologist.

I have been immersed in reading about the medical evidence since 1967, so have gradually gained a pretty good understanding (for a layman) of the key medical issues surrounding the assassination. Most of the points I raise do not require an M.D. to understand or evaluate; most of the points I raise are where one person’s testimony changes over time, or conflicts with that of another person, or with photographs in the official record. Anyone can connect those dots the same way I did. All you need is time and patience—not a medical degree. Dr. Cyril Wecht implored his audience at the 2003 conference in Pittsburgh NOT to defer to the so-called “experts” or to “authority” when evaluating the medical evidence in the Kennedy assassination, because, as he pointed out, the experts all disagree with each other. As he also pointed out, the positions taken by many of the so-called “experts” on the medical evidence defy logic and are really unsupportable from
an intellectual standpoint.

4) To jump to the chase, you conclude from your analysis of the records, that the President was killed as a result of a coup d’etat. Was there any specific record that made you come to that conclusion or was that based on the overall review of the records?

D.H.: The FBI’s then-Top Secret December 1966 report on its bugging of the KGB Residency in New York City (which named LBJ as responsible for the assassination); the February 14, 1964 “Seven Days in May” Secret Service memo from Thomas Kelley to James Rowley (which implied a coup had already taken place, and cast suspicion on J. Edgar Hoover); and the 1968 Army Intelligence document that named Vice President Johnson as a close associate of George DeMohrenschildt (Oswald’s surrogate father and handler before he went to New Orleans) in 1963, were three specific documents that led me to believe in a coup d’etat.

What those documents did was confirm my previous sense that there had been a coup, based on (1) my study of the serious frictions between JFK and his military leadership: Arleigh Burke, Lyman Lemnitzer, Curtis LeMay, and George Anderson; and (2) the publicly available knowledge of serious frictions between JFK and the CIA. The confessions of former DCI Allen Dulles to an interviewer after JFK’s death that JFK had been “set up” at the Bay of Pigs; and the Northwoods documents (about pretexts for invading Cuba) from February-March of 1962, and the April 10, 1962 memo to McNamara from the Joint Chiefs strongly recommending an immediate invasion of Cuba, all further confirmed that the national security establishment was at war with JFK. The last straw was clearly JFK’s decision not to invade Cuba during the Missile Crisis. This was the proximate cause of the assassination plot, given all that had come before the Missile Crisis.

The Peace Speech in June of 1963; the Test Ban Treaty in July of 1963; the 1963 decision to withdraw from Vietnam; and the secret attempt to establish a rapprochement with Castro in the fall of 1963, merely strengthened the resolve of the coup plotters, who I am convinced made their decision after the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved through diplomacy, rather than on the battlefield. The confessions of two CIA officials (David Sanchez Morales and the dying E. Howard Hunt) that they were either involved in the operational details of the assassination, or had personal knowledge of CIA involvement, was the clincher for me. In summary, it was a combination of all of the above factors that allows me to state with confidence that JFK was eliminated by a coup, and That the coup was carried out for reasons of foreign policy at the height of the Cold War.

5) In pointing to one of the items that the records appear to indicate quite firmly -that there were two distinct post-autopsy brain exams involving two different brains – why doesn’t this automatically require a new, proper, forensic autopsy, which it would normally do under any other circumstances?

D.H.: The fact that there were two brain exams after JFK’s autopsy (instead of one, as there should have been), and that the second exam was the vehicle for placing false and misleading brain photographs into the official record, does in fact invalidate the autopsy and casts all of the so-called official findings about JFK’s death into serious doubt. The problem is that this is not an official finding of the government or of any medico-legal body—it is the opinion of one individual, me. Never mind that it has been endorsed by Drs. Mantik and Wecht in a 2003 paper—it is a private finding of one staff member. Perhaps if a grand jury was also persuaded by the same evidence that persuaded me, an exhumation and a new autopsy could be ordered.

6) Congress gave the ARRB the powers to subpoena records and require the sworn testimony of witnesses, powers that were apparently used sparingly. Why didn’t the ARRB utilize its powers to answer the outstanding questions related to the records?

D.H.: According to my boss, Jeremy Gunn, none of the Board Members believed there had been a conspiracy to kill JFK; their minds were made up before the ARRB began its efforts. Since they did not believe there was anything to be “solved” or “uncovered,” they were not engaged with the details of the medical depositions or the CIA depositions related to Mexico City.

None of the Board Members attended any of these depositions; they considered them to be academic exercises in “clarifying the record.” They were motivated to release previously withheld records simply because they had an inherent dislike of excessive Cold War secrecy. They had a great interest in participating in an experiment in citizen review of goverment records, because all historians generally want to see more records released. I believed they thought they could do two things at once: restore faith in governmental institutions by releasing previously sealed records; and in the process, discredit unfounded conspiracy theories. This latter goal was, I am convinced, perhaps “the” major hidden agenda of the Board Members. It was not an official goal of the JFK Records Act, but it was clearly a personal desire of all five Board Members, whether they publicly admit it now or not. (Anna Nelson did admit it to one author circa 2000.) On the few occasions when Jeremy Gunn tried to brief the Board Members about some of the strange findings coming out of the medical depositions—about serious irregularities in the medical evidence—he told me he was summarily cut off by several Board Members, who didn’t want to hear about any reasons to doubt the official record of what had happened. They had closed minds about the JFK assassination; generally trusted the Warren Report’s conclusions; and were only interested in releasing records (without comment) and placing them in the Archives. They were completely unwilling to stretch the envelope and engage in any activities that could have been viewed as a reinvestigation—this was forbidden by the JFK Records Act. Jeremy Gunn and I were damned lucky that these five Board Members let us play in our medical evidence “sand box” as much as they did. Four of the five Board Members were almost completely unaware of the results we were gathering, and wished to remain so. This is what happens when G. Robert Blakey is allowed to write legislation which forbids a reinvestigation of the case, and which allows an establishment which is more interested in institutional stability, than in truth, to nominate the Board Members.

7) In the course of your studies of the assassination you had a couple of “epiphanies,” that changed the way you looked at it, particularly in regards to Tink Thompson’s “Six Seconds” and David Lifton’s “Best Evidence.” Can you say how those two books affected your thinking?

D.H.: Thompson’s “Six Seconds” still provides clear evidence of crossfire in Dealey Plaza. Lifton’s “Best Evidence” provided clear evidence that the wounds observed at Bethesda Naval hospital (at the autopsy) were no longer the same wounds that had earlier been observed at Parkland hospital in Dallas (during emergency treatment). In both cases, the evidence of eyewitnesses was so strong, and so persuasive, that it caused me to question not only official findings, but some photographic evidence.

8) In the course of your work as an analyst for the ARRB you had some similar “epiphanies.” Can you say what they were and how that changed your thinking?

D.H.: Dr. Boswell’s 3-D diagram on a skull model depicting the area of missing bone on JFK’s skull constituted proof for me that there was indeed post mortem surgery prior to the autopsy; the statements of former FBI agents Sibert and O’Neill about the inaccuracy of the autopsy photos of the back of the head impugned those photographs as evidence and proved to me that the Parkland physicians made accurate observations of a posterior exit wound; and John Stringer’s testimony about the film he used at the brain examination he attended convinced me that the brain photos in the Archives cannot possibly be of JFK’s brain.

9) You pretty much divide many of the critical characters into Good Guys and Bad Guys, some surprising, such as FBI Agents Sibert and O’Neill and autopsy doctor Finck being basically good guys who were hoodwinked, while Greer and Kellerman and G. Robert Blakey are clearly bad guys who were in on the shenanigans going on behind the scenes and chose to cover it up.

D.H.: These characterizations of yours are oversimplifications; there are many shades of grey here. For example, Finck was certainly unaware of the illicit, post mortem surgery to JFK’s cranium when he first arrived at the morgue at 8:30 PM, and as a result (per John Stringer) “caused too much trouble at the autopsy.” Certainly he knew something was seriously amiss when he arrived a week later for a brain exam (the second one) and saw a brain that looked different than the one he had previously seen already removed from the body at the autopsy—and yet, did he walk out and refuse to participate in a charade? No; he simply left a clue for us in his written report to General Blumberg. He “went along to get along.”

FBI agents Sibert and O’Neill are to be commended for stating under oath that the single bullet theory of Arlen Specter is an impossibility based on what they saw at the autopsy; and they are personal heroes of mine for impugning the accuracy of the dishonest autopsy photos which (incredibly) show the back of the head to be intact. But they also failed in their mission to “stay with the body,” and allowed themselves to be separated from the Dallas Casket by the Secret Service while manipulations were being performed on JFK’s wounds. They hinted at this in bureaucratic doubletalk in their official report of November 26, 1963, but ever since they have “stonewalled” and refused to admit outright that they were separated from the Dallas casket and kept sequestered outside the morgue for a considerable period of time prior to the start of the autopsy. This stonewalling (which O’Neill continued until his death) has been a disservice to history.

Unlike Finck and the two FBI agents, Robert Blakey (Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the HSCA) is someone who I have absolutely no sympathy for, and no respect whatsoever. He withheld the results of his staff’s medical interviews (about the Harper fragment and the observations of the autopsy witnesses) from his own Forensic Pathology Panel, and then approved a report which lied about what these autopsy witnesses said about the autopsy photos. He refused to question the Dallas treating physicians about the autopsy photos under oath, as he should have. He elected not to call in the autopsy photographers and x-ray technicians and question them under oath for the purposes of authenticating the autopsy photos and x-rays. (Some of them were questioned by the staff while not under oath, and then those interview reports were buried for 50 years.) He buried the HSCA deposition of Robert Knudsen for 50 years, as he also did with the depositions of Finck and Ebersole. (Thanks to Oliver Stone, and the resulting JFK Records Act, he did not get away with that.) He misrepresented what the Department of Defense said about the autopsy camera. I could go on and on. He only reluctantly reached a finding of probable conspiracy, when forced to by the acoustics evidence—and then had the arrogance to support the single bullet theory anyway and claim that shots impossibly close together in time had been fired by the same junk rifle, when he knew that was a physical impossibility. He told the press immediately after the HSCA issued its final report that the Mafia had killed the President, even though the HSCA’s report did not say so. With virtual unanimity, his entire staff (except perhaps Richard Billings, co-author of both the HSCA Final Report and of Blakey’s subsequent book) disagreed with that conclusion of his.

In the final analysis, all Blakey gave America was a modified, limited hangout conspiracy we could all believe in, and still sleep well at night. His very limited conspiracy (blaming the assassination on the Mafia) still proposes that Oswald’s bullets (alone) killed the President, and that there was no government coverup. Like Gaeton Fonzi, I believe Blakey had a mission—and that mission was to uphold support for America’s institutions, no matter the cost to the truth, or to his personal reputation. As a result of his actions and decisions, both have suffered terribly.

10) Do you believe, as it has been alleged on internet forums, that Greer shot JFK in the head with his pistol?

D.H.: No, I do not “believe” this as an article of faith, or as a firm finding. It is merely an unpleasant and disturbing possibility. I raised it as an “evidentiary afterthought,” because there were so many nagging and interlocking indicators of both a left temporal entry wound, and of a pistol being discharged during the assassination. Four physicians at Parkland have strongly supported a left temporal entry at one time or another: McClelland; Jenkins; Jones; and Puerto (Porto). So did father Oscar Huber. So did Dr. Charles Wilbur (a renowned pathologist) in a 1999 letter, in which he stated his reasons in detail. Since the head of the deceased President was not shaved at autopsy, the autopsy photos do not answer this question. The autopsy report has been rewritten at least twice, so it is not trustworthy. The fact that Triage Nurse Bertha Lozano smelled gunpowder as JFK and Connally were wheeled past her at Parkland implies that there was a firearm discharged in the limousine and that particulate matter was embedded in someone’s clothing – otherwise she would not have smelled gunpowder. Hugh Betzner observed a nickel-plated revolver in someone’s hand inside the limousine during the assassination; and Jean Hill observed plain clothes men “shooting back.” Both Clint Hill and Sam Holland heard a pistol discharged near the end of the shooting sequence. The fact that we do not see Greer doing so in the extant Zapruder film is meaningless, since we now know the film has been altered and the brief car stop was almost certainly removed from the film. This disturbing pattern of evidence is simply one of the many reasons why an exhumation should be conducted, and is further evidence that we really don’t know exactly what happened in Dealey Plaza.

11) As the agency responsible for protecting the president, the Secret Service not only failed to do its duty in Dallas, but they also controlled the assassin’s wife, the body and the Zapruder film, and then purposely destroyed assassination records after Congress passed the JFK Act. Didn’t that anger the board, the staff or any Congressman, and what were their reactions to that brazen act?

D.H.: Executive Director David Marwell and General Counsel Jeremy Gunn were initially extremely angry that the Secret Service had destroyed assassination records related to Presidential protection (including the cancelled trip to Chicago in November of 1963). At first they wanted to conduct public hearings which would embarrass the Secret Service, call them on the carpet (so to speak), and set an example so that other agencies would not emulate that behavior. Tempers on the ARRB staff eventually cooled, and no public hearings were ever held—no Secret Service officials were censured. I have always assumed that Board Chair Jack Tunheim (and perhaps other Board Members) had something to do with the watered down approach taken by the ARRB to this Secret Service malfeasance, but this is just an impression of mine and I cannot prove it. As far as I know, no member of Congress was aware that the Secret Service had destroyed assassination records until the Final Report of the ARRB was released.

12) The person who destroyed the records is named in your book. Was he ever questioned by the Review Board, the staff or Congress?

D.H.: I do not know the answer to that question. Only Jeremy Gunn or David Marwell would know the answer to that question.

13) Besides the Secret Service records that were destroyed, your book is replete with instances of numerous other records that were either destroyed or went suspiciously missing, like for instance the autopsy records turned over to Mrs. Lincoln, the missing autopsy photos, the missing bullet fragments, Dr. Finck’s notes, RFK’s appointments book, the negative of the “wink” photo from the inauguration, the AF1 unedited radio transmissions and transcript. The “wink” photo negative must have been stolen from a vault safe at the NARA administered LBJ library. How is that possible, with no retribution?

D.H.: How is it possible for these things to occur without a proper investigation and punishment, where it is appropriate? It occurs when the national government (the Executive Branch) does not want to know the truth—or be forced to deal with the truth. The Justice Department has either run away from, or ignored, numerous chances to deal with these matters. From this I draw two conclusions: (1) there are insiders within the Executive Branch who know today, and who always have known, that there was a coup d’etat in America in 1963, and that there was a coverup afterwards; (2) incumbents do not want to deal with exposing this because they are afraid it will completely destroy what little faith is left in American institutions, and they don’t have the guts to be at the center of the shitstorm that would ensue if the truth were to be told. The short answer to your question is that at the national level, within officialdom, we are a nation that would rather believe in myths about itself than deal with the truth; we are a nation engaged in denial, on a massive scale.

14) Many of your key witnesses are technicians, like photographers, the Navy grunts like Paul O’Conner and funeral hall employees like Robinson. Do you trust these people a little more than those above them?

D.H.: In general, yes, I have trusted them much more than highly ranked officials above them. They had no motive to lie about what they had seen, and most of them were not attempting to spin any theories when they provided their recollections. They also had no “turf” to protect, and therefore no axe to grind. Most of them were unaware of how important certain aspects of their testimony was, because they didn’t have the big picture. The more unaware these people were about the serious conflicts in the evidence, the more I tended to trust them.

15) Then there are those obstructionist, like the ARRB staff analyst who was fired for trying to sabotage the taking of medical witness testimony and the guy who tried to plant a false story to discredit you. Why do you think they don’t want any more sworn testimony in this case and will do anything to prevent it?

D.H.: The ARRB analyst who opposed the medical depositions was not fired; he was simply summarily removed from that project. (He resigned less than a year after that.) My colleagues on the staff who opposed “clarifying the record” with depositions and interviews were simply Warren Commission true believers who didn’t think anything good could come of such efforts—they believed that creating new records by taking new testimony would only cloud the record and create doubt. When people already have their minds made up, they never want to be confused with facts from a new data set. Human beings are very stubborn animals—territorial animals. And human beings defend ideas as territory.

On another level, I do believe the government has engaged in infiltration of the research community for decades, and has used surrogates to oppose views considered dangerous, and to spread confusion and discord. As you know, I had an experience with this myself, as recounted in my Epilogue.

16) Of course if there are Congressional Oversight Hearings, one of the things Congress can do is to subpoena records and require the sworn testimony of witness. Is there any specific document that you’d like to see if you could call for it, and is there any particular witness still alive who you would like to have testify, if there is ever oversight?

D.H.: It is very important that the American people see, in their entirety, the materials associated with the interviews conducted of Jackie Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy by author William Manchester. They are currently under a 100-year court seal (because the Kennedys sued to withold the interviews that they originally voluntarily granted) and are not to be released until 2067; Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg refused the ARRB’s request to open the court seal and release those records. I find this patently unacceptable; the American people deserve to know what their own history is. I would also like very much to see a concerted effort by Federal investigators to find the original Air Force One audiotapes—the unedited version. (The ARRB was unsuccessful in this area because of stonewalling and indifference by both WHCA and the USAF.)

17) Just as you figured out how there were two brain exams, you now have evidence that there were two photo sessions at the NPIC, using two different types of film that is supposed to be the Zapruder film. One of these sessions made briefing boards for a briefing of CIA director McCone. Do you know who the other set of briefing boards were made for, and who was briefed? And what became of the briefing boards?

D.H.: We do not know with any certainty who the second (sanitized) set of briefing boards was made for, using the photo enlargements made by Homer McMahon and Ben Hunter (at NPIC event #2). Apparently there were three sets (of four panels each) made from those photos; only one set (of four panels) survives. It was turned over to the Archives in 1993 by the CIA’s Historical Review Group.

18) If you are correct, and those who killed JFK also controlled his body, the autopsy, the Zapruder film, and took over the government, then wouldn’t the evidence be in the government records, and the suspects be well known to us?

D.H.: The suspects ARE well known to us, and are named in Chapters 15 and 16 of my book. I am doubtful that there is any “master report” of what happened in government files. It there is, it was withheld—willfully—from the ARRB in violation of the JFK Records Act. I do believe there is probably oral knowledge of what likely happened in 1963, passed down from one official to another within the government, but there is not likely any master written report in existence.

19) After seeing how the Warren Commission, HSCA and ARRB worked, or didn’t work, do you think there’s any hope at all of getting a resolution to the assassination or will it always be just a big debate?

D.H.: Like Gaeton Fonzi, I am very skeptical about the government ever coming clean with the American people about the coup d’etat in 1963. It is simply too embarrassing to those in power, and all they can see is a downside to such admissions—whoever attempted to try to do so would be branded as “unpatriotic” and would be discredited (or removed) by those who are still engaging in spin control over this issue. The best we can do is press for additional documents, one at a time, and try to put the puzzle together ourselves.

20) Now that you’ve done your part, what do you think should happen now, as far as determining the truth and seeking justice in the assassination?

D.H. I would love to see the mainstream historians remove their heads from the sand and stop acting like ostriches—and admit that there is overwhelming evidence of crossfire in Dealey Plaza, and therefore of conspiracy; and furthermore, that there is now also overwhelming evidence that there was a medical coverup immediately following the assassination. If the mainstream historians would do this, some in the national media might do the same. The American people should hold the national, mainstream media accountable for their blind, willful, and stubborn support of an indefensible position (the Warren Report) which has been discredited since 1966 or 1967.

I suspect that the media in this country is still riddled with part-time intelligence assets, as it was in the 1960s and 1970s.(This was all well-documented by reporter Carl Bernstein and the New York Times during the mid-1970s.) People sense this, which is why they don’t buy what Posner or Bugliosi or Tom Brokaw or Roger Mudd or Peter Jennings or Chris Matthews have to say on this subject. If the mainstream historians would come around, this might help break the logjam in the media.


Inside ARRB Table of Contents – Expanded

January 19, 2010

Research Notes: While it’s not an index, and it doesn’t include them all, yet, here’s an expanded Table of Contents with the addition of Subchapters, sub-subchapters and chart listings, with their page number. Hope this helps. – BK

Inside the Assassinations Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK
(2009) ISBN-13: 978-0-9843144-0-9

By Douglas P. Horne
Chief Analyst for Military Records, Assassinations Records Review Board

Dedication: Jeremy Gunn.

Table of Contents

Volume 1
Preface: Why Do I Care?
PART I: The ARRB Medical Witnesses
Introduction: Beginning My ARRB Journey
PROLOGUE: The Culture of the ARRB
Chapter 1: Epiphanies p. 25
Chapter 2: The ARRB Medical Evidence Depositions and Unsworn Interviews p. 59
Chapter 3: The Autopsy Pathologists p. 69
Illustration Section (Details Below)
Chapter 4: Autopsy Photography (Part One) p. 131
Volume II
Chapter 4: Autopsy Photography (Part Two) p. 255
Chapter 5: The Autopsy X-Rays p. 389
Chapter 6: The Morticians p. 589
Chapter 7: A Short Trip to Texas p. 641
Volume III
Chapter 8: FBI Agents Sibert and O’Neill p 667
Chapter 9: The Dallas Doctors Depositions – A Government FUBAR of Major Proportions p. 741
PART II: Fraud in the Evidence – A Pattern of Deception
Chapter 10: Two Brain Examinations – Coverup Confirmed p. 777
Chapter 11: Three Autopsy Reports – A Botched Coverup p. 845
Chapter 12: The Autopsy Photographs and X-Rays Explained p. 883
Volume IV
Chapter 13: What Really Happened at the Bethesda Morgue (And in Dealey Plaza?)
Chapter 14: The Zapruder Film Mystery p. 1185
Volume V
Part III: The Political Context of the Assassination
Chapter 15: The Setup – Planning the Texas Trip and the Dallas Motorcade p.1379
Chapter 16: Inconvenient Truths p. 1469
Epilogue p. 1777
Afterword p. 1797
About the Author p. 1805
The illustrations are located at the end of Chapter Three

Volume 1

Preface: Why Do I Care?


Part I: The ARRB Medical Witnesses

Introduction: Beginning My ARRB Journey

Prologue: The Culture of the ARRB p. 9

Chapter 1: Epiphanies p. 25

February 26, 1996: Boswell’s Skull Diagram. p. 25

March of 1997: Dr. Crenshaw and Nurse Bell Draw the Head Wound Seen in Dallas p. 27

September of 1997: The FBI Agents and the Autopsy Photographs p. 29

JFK’s Post-Autopsy Brain Exam: A Major Deception p. 35.

The Official Autopsy Photographer and an FBI Agent Impugn the Brain Photographs in the National Archives p. 38

September 25, 1996: The Oral Utterance by the Undertaker p. 55

Summation and Synthesis p. 56

Chapter 2: The ARRB Medical Evidence Depositions and Unsworn Interviews p. 59

Two Important Interviews That Never Took Place p. 64
(Paul K. O’Conner and James C. Jenkins)…

Chapter 3: The Autopsy Pathologists p. 69


The “Dallas Lens” p. 69

The “Bethesda Lens”

The Origins of the ‘Bootleg’ Autopsy Photos p. 77

The “Second Bethesda Lens:” Unraveling This Mystery Became a Major ARRB Staff Goal

OtherAutopsy-Related Issues


Humes, Boswell and Finck

The Credentials of the JFK Autopsy Pathologists p. 80

The Dates and the Site of the Deposition p. 81

Three Distinct Personalities p. 81

ARRB Depostions Were Fact-Finding Events, Not Adversarial Proceedings

The ARRB Deposition of Dr. James J. Humes p. 84

Who Was In Charge of the Autopsy? P. 85

Why Was the Weight of the Brain Not Recorded at Autopsy? P. 88

Questions About Surgery of the Head Area p. 89

Was There Reconstruction of the Skull Prior to X-Rays Being Taken? P. 92

What Exactly Did Humes Destory By Burning In His Fireplace? P. 92

The Nature of the Entry Wound in the Back of the Head p. 101

The Nature of the Exit Wound p. 103




Illustration Section (Details Below)

90 Illustrations over 40+ unnumbered pages

Chapter 4: Autopsy Photography (Part One) p. 131

The Paper Trail

The November 22, 1963 Photographic Receipts, the Sibert-O’Neill Report, and the December 5, 1963 Bouck Letter p. 132

Development of the Autopsy Photographic Images p. 135

Robert Kennedy Obtains Possession of the Autopsy Materials, with the Assistance of Dr. Burkley p. 136

The Burkley Inventory of April 26, 1965 p. 137

The Kennedy Family Deed-of-Gift Transfers the Autopsy Materials to the National Archives, Under Conditions that Prevent the Public from Seeing Them p. 138

Some of the Materials Transferred from the Secret Service to Evelyn Lincoln Are Found to be Omitted from the Deed-of-Gift – ‘Missing’ – Immediately After Donation by the Kennedy Family to the Archives p. 140

The Key Autopsy Participants Prepare the Numbered, Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs and X-Rays That Is Still in Use Today p. 143

The Missing Sheet of Ektachrome Color Positive Transparency Film p. 144

Carl Belcher and the ARRB: A Confrontation p. 147

The November 10, 1966 Military Inventory Yields Nine Views of the Body and Brain of President Kennedy Used by the ARRB Staff at All of its Autopsy-Related Medical Evidence Depositions. P. 151

A Fortuitous Circumstance: The ARRB Stumbles Across Government Photographer Earl MacDonald at the National Archives, and Learns All About the Normal Standards for Photographing an Autopsy p. 152

Summary Comments p. 160

Outside Expert Review of the Autopsy Photographs and X-Rays p. 161


HSCA Staff Outside Contact Report Regarding John Stringer and Autopsy Photography p. 164

The ARRB’s Initial Contact with John Stringer p. 166

The ARRB Deposition of John T. Stringer p. 168

Floyd Riebe’s Role at the Autopsy p. 176






Volume II p. 255

Chapter 4: Autopsy Photography (Part Two) p. 255


The ARRB Staff Conducts Its First Interview of Joe O’Donnell on January 29, 1997

The ARRB Staff Conducts Its Second Interview of Joe O’Donnell on February 28, 1997.

Analysis of O’Donnell Interviews p. 287





Testimony About Photographs Missing form the Autopsy Collection in the National Archives. P. 333

Joint Testimony (Unsworn) by Drs. Humes and Boswell on September 16, 1977 (In Closed Session) Before the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel About the Location of the Entrance Wound in the Skull, As Shown In the Autopsy Photographs of the Rear of the Head. p. 341


Testimony About Photographs Missing from the Autopsy Collection in the National Archives

Testimony Before the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel on March 11, 1978 About the Location of the Entrance Wound in the Skull, As Shown in the Autopsy Photographs of the Rear of the Head p. 375


Inevitable Questions About Dennis David’s Pitzer Recollections p. 383



Chapter 5: The Autopsy X-Rays p. 389


The Ebersole-Kellerman Receipts, and the Contents of the Sibert-O’Neill Report

The Harper Fragment p. 392

Dr. Burkley’s April 26, 1965 Inventory and Receipt of Materials Transferred to Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln at the National Archives. p. 395

The Kennedy Family Deed-of-Gift p. 395

The Military Inventory Signed on November 10, 1966 p. 395


Additional Testimony About the X-Rays of the Body (chart) p. 413



Pages From the Past: A Possible Clue to Who Was Controlling the Autopsy is Pulled From the Trash ‘In the Nick of Time’ p. 478 (AF1 Andrews AFB Logbook)

Deep Background: The Rift Between President Kennedy and General LeMay p. 482

Dr. Ebersole Destroys an Assassination Record p. 490







Chapter 6: The Morticians p. 589



Gawler’s Documents p. 616





Chapter 7: A Short Trip to Texas p. 641

Crenshaw’s Summary of President Kennedy’s Wounds p. 642




Dr. Robert N. McClelland p. 655

Dr. Charles J. Carrico p. 660

Dr. Paul Peters p. 661

Dr. Malcolm Perry p. 662

Dr. Ronald Coy Jones p. 662

Dr. Marlon T. Jenkins p. 662

Dr. Charles Rufus Baxter p. 663

What the Parkland Testimony Does Not Say – And Why That Is So Important p. 664

Volume III

Part 1 The AARB Medical Witnesses (Continued)

Chapter 8: FBI Agents Sibert and O’Neill p 667

Previous Government Interviews of Sibert and O’Neill Prior to their ARRB Depositions p. 668

Arlen Specter’s Inteview of Sibert and O’Neill on March 12, 1964 (in which he reveals that Secret Service agents Kellerman and Greer have repudiated certain statements made previously to the two agents) p. 669

The ARRB Depositions of James W. Sibert and Francis X. O’Neill p. 682

Sibert and O’Neill disavow the Autopsy Photographs of the Back of the Head p. 690

President Kennedy’s ‘Oral Utterance’ p. 695

Confirm Humes’ Statement About ‘Surgery of the Head Area,…’ p. 709

SUMMARY p. 738

Chapter 9: The Dallas Doctors Depositions – A Government FUBAR of Major Proportions p. 741

Dark Forces at Work? p. 752


Part II: Fraud in the Evidence – A Pattern of Deception

Chapter 10: Two Brain Examinations – Coverup Confirmed p. 777


Previous Efforts to Disseminate This Information p. 778.



Summary of Evidence in Support of a Brain Examination on November 25, 1963 chart, p. 791

Evidence of a Brain Examination Between Nov 29-Dec 2, 1963 p. 793

Summary of Evidence in Support of a Brain Examination Between Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 1963 chart p. 802

How John Stringer’s ARRB Testimony Impugns the Authenticity of the Brain Photographs in the National Archives p. 812



Additional Evidence that the Brain in the Archives Photos Cannot be President Kennedy’s p. 820



The Opinions of Others p. 827

Summary of Evidence for Two Separate Brain Exams Following JFK’s Autopsy chart, p. 832


Brain Weight p. 833



Chapter 11: Three Autopsy Reports – A Botched Coverup p. 845


Basic Conclusions of the Sibert-O’Neill Report p. 849


Lipsey’s Recollections of the Autopsy Conclusions p. 857

Tabular Comparison of Autopsy Conclusions in Sibert-O’Neill Report with Autopsy
Conclusions in the HSCA-Lipsey Interview chart, p. 861

Did the Conclusions in the HSCA-Lipsey Interview Become the Contents of the First Draft of the Autopsy Report on Saturday, November 23rd, 1963? p. 861


The Change in Content in the Autopsy Report Signed on Sunday, November 24th, 1963 Redescribed the Cause of the Throat Wound p. 864

A Timeline for the Revision of the First Draft of the Autopsy Protocol p. 867

The First Signed Autopsy Report Was Definitely Completed on Sunday, November 24, 1963—But It Cannot Be the Autopsy Report in Evidence Today p. 869

The Receipt Trail for the Signed Autopsy Protocol Reveals That There Were Once Two Signed Autopsy Reports, and That One Such Version Is Now Missing p. 870

The Significance of the Secret Service Transfer in October of 1967 p. 871

Tabular Comparison of the Changing Autopsy Conclusions chart, p. 872

p. 878

Chapter 12: The Autopsy Photographs and X-Rays Explained p. 883


The HSCA Could Find No Evidence of Fakery or Forgery in Either the Autopsy Photographs or X-Rays p. 884


Unresolved Mysteries About the Autopsy Photographs: Subjective Impressions from Rochester p. 893



Photographs Taken Immediately After President Kennedy’s Body Arrived at Bethesda p. 904

Photographs Taken Immediately After Clandestine, Post-Mortem Surgery p. 904

The Skull X-Rays Were Taken Immediately After the Clandestine Surgery p. 906

Autopsy Photographs Taken by John Stringer and Floyd Riebe p. 908

Photographs Taken After the Departure of FBI Agents Sibert and O’Neill p. 909

The ‘White Spot’ Explained p. 910

The ‘Red Spot’ Explained p. 911

Saundra Spencer’s Recollections Supports My Hypothesis p. 914

The Brain Introduced Into the Morgue – Another Mystery Solved p. 915



ARRB Post-Script p. 953



Possible Future Tests That Could Be Conducted p. 962





A Second Post-Script: Humes ‘Screws the Pooch’ During the JAMA Interview in 1992 p. 984


Volume IV

Chapter 13: What Really Happened at the Bethesda Morgue (And in Dealey Plaza?)


Summary of Shipping Casket and Body Bag Witnesses chart p. 989-992

Two Key Witnesses Provide Unassailable Evidence That President Kennedy’s Body Did NOT Leave Parkland Hospital in Either a Shipping Casket or a Body Bag, and that JFK’s Body Was NOT Wrapped Inside a Clear or Transparent Mattress Cover at Parkland Hospital p. 993

Summation of What the Differences Between the Dallas and Bethesda Descriptions Mean p. 995


Implications of This Revised Time fo the Conclusion of the Autopsy p. 999


Stringer’s Testimony to the ARRB Makes the 7:35 PM Arrival Time for the Body Reported by Humes in 1964 Impossible. p. 1001



Dallas: Aubrey Rike and Dr. Peters p. 1003

Bethesda: Paul O’Conner p. 1004

Bethesda: James Jenkins p. 1027




CE 399: The ‘Magic Bullet’. P. 1079

The Bullet Fragments Found in the Front Seat of the Presidential Limousine May Have Been Planted [ or: “Boring Is Interesting”] p. 1096

The “Air Force One” Audiotapes p. 1099

The ‘Wrong’ Rifle Is Found in the TSBD Building in Dallas: The Vanashing Mauser p. 1102

Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig Witnesses the Discovery of a .45 Caliber slug Across the Street from the Grassy Knoll. P. 1106

Testimony of the Missed Shots for Which There Are No Photographs p. 1109

Two Different People Were Seen on the 6th Floor of the TSBD Just Prior to the Assassination; One of Them Is Seen Escaping; and Oswald Is Seen In His Company After the Assassination p. 1009

Evidence of Crossfire in Dealey Plaza Was Overwehelming on the Day of the Assassination p. 1115

The HSCA Acoustics Study p. 1127

Josiah Thompson Sums It All Up in 1988 – And A New Research Paradigm Takes Over in the Mid-1990s p. 1132


Secret Service Agent Hill, p. 1140

The Moorman Polaroid Photograph p. 1141

The Dallas Motorcycle Policeman in the Left Rear of the Limousine Were Covered by Bloody Debris p. 1142

Two Bone Fragments Found in Dealey Plaza Are Consistent with a Fatal Shot from the Right Front p. 1144

What It All Means p. 1146

The Throat Wound p. 1155

The Back Wound p. 1157

Governor Connally Was Shot from the County Records Building p. 1159

The Limitations of What Is ‘Knowable’ Must Be Accepted p. 1160

Motion Picture Film Post Production Technician Moses Weitzman of New York City Once Detected the Presence of an Apparent Grassy Knoll Gunman in the Original Nix Film of the Assassination, Providing Further Evidence of a Crossfire, and Therefore of Conspiracy. p. 1161

The Government’s Attempt to Suppress Evidence of Crossfire in Dealey Plaza Immediately After the Assassination Is the Surest Indication of a Larage, Sophisticated Conspiracy p. 1162


Robinson and Reed Provide Proof That A Clandestine, Modified Craniotomy Was Performed at the Bethesda Morgue Prior to the Autopsy on President Kennedy p. 1163

The Strange Warren Commission Testimony of Roy Kellerman p. 1171

Humes, Boswell, and the Medical Illustrator, Harold A. Rydberg p. 1177

Pushing People’s Buttons and Getting Them to ‘Play Ball’ p. 1181

Chapter 14: The Zapruder Film Mystery p. 1185

Volume V

Part III: The Political Context of the Assassination

Chapter 15: The Setup – Planning the Texas Trip and the Dallas Motorcade p.1379

Primary References Used to Study Planning for the Texas Trip and for the Dallas Motorcade p. 1379


Vice President Johnson Was A Key Player Involved In the Origins of Texas Trip Planning in April of 1963. p. 1382

Governor John Connally Repeatedly Lied About, and Misrepresented, the Origins of the Texas Trip After President Kennedy’s Assassination p. 1385

The Crucial Role of Congressman Al Thomas in Luring JFK to Texas, and Why It Matters p. 1387


Jerry Bruno Goes to Texas, and In Opposition to Governor Connally, Recommends Against the Trade Mart Luncheon Site; In Washington D.C., the Secret Service Concurs and Agrees Not To Use the Trade Mart p. 1391

The Luncheon Site Dictated the Motorcade Route p. 1397

The Final Details of the Motorcade Route Are Determiend, and Then Reluctantly Published p. 1398

Have You No Sense of Shame, Sir? P. 1400


The Motorcade Escort for the Presidential Limousine in Dallas Is Cut In Half, and Directed to Stay Behind the Rear Wheels of the Limousine, by Winston Lawson, The Secret Service Advance Agent for Dallas p. 1401

ASAIC Floyd Boring Instructed Clint Hill Just Prior to the Dallas Trip That President Kennedy No Longer Wanted Agents Riding on the Rear Steps of the Limousine During Motorcades – And Then Recanted Years Later. Admitting That JFK Actually Never Interfered With Any of the Operational Procedures Followed by Secret Service Agents p. 1406

Emory Roberts is Identified as Another Secret Service Agent Involved In Security Stripping p. 1410

Numerous Arrangements Pertaining to the Dallas Motorcade Deviated from Normal Practice and Bring Suspicion Upon the Secret Service, the Agency Soley Responsible for All Aspects of Motorcade Planning p. 1413

The Actions (and Inactions) of Roy Kellerman and William Greer p. 1415


Many Secret Service Agents Viewed President Kennedy as a Dangerous Communist Appeaser, Who Was ‘Soft on Communism’ p. 1419

President Kennedy’s Private Sex Life Created Deep-Seated Feelings of Disapproval and Disloyalty Among Some Members of the Secret White House Detail p. 1421


Lyndon Johnson Unsuccessfully Attempted to Have Connally’s Seat in the Presidential Limousine in Dallas Replaced by Senator Ralph Yarborough, His Political Enemy p. 1428
The ‘Victory Party’ at the Estate of Clin Murchison Proves LBJ’s Foreknowldge of the Assassination, and the Involvement of J. Edgar Hover and LBJ’s Financial Backers p. 1429

Governor Connally’s Brutal, Irrational Behavior During Trip Planning, and His Excited Oral Utterance During the Shooting, Indicate To Me That He Had Foreknowledge of the Assassination p. 1431

Lyndon Johnson’s Actions in the Motorcade Immediately Preceding and During the Shooting bring Suspicion and Dishonor Upon Himself p. 1433

LBJ’s Statements Prior to the Texas Trip, and His Own Psychological Assessment of the Situation Afterwards, Suggests His Foreknowledge of the Assassination, and His Knowledge of a Medical Coverup After the Assassination p. 1434

LBJ Reportedly Confessed His Assassination Guilt to a Psychiatrist After Leaving the White House p. 1435


Eyewitness and Earwitness Testimony, and the HSCA’s Acoustics Analysis Provide
Incontrovertible Evidence of Crossfire p. 1436

Two Distinct Impact Debris Patterns Demonstrate Shots From Both the Front and Behind p. 1439

Damage to the Limousine Provided Incontrovertible Proof of Crossfire and Conspiracy p. 1439

The Bullet Strike on the Chrome Strip Above the Windshild is Proof of a Shot Fired from Behind p. 1439

The Bullet Hole in the Windshield is Proof of A Shot Fired From the Front p. 1439


The Mystery Is Resolved: The Windshield Was Swapped Out in Detroit on Monday, November 25, 1963, the Day President Kennedy Was Buried at Arlington National Cemetery p. 1445

Both the Official and Unofficial Record of What Happened to the Windshield Is Incomplete, and Is Replete With False Leads, Red Herrings, and Subterfuge Meant to Confuse Researchers and Investigators—As Well As Evidence of a Botched, Inept Coverup p. 1448


A Summary of the Records Destroyed by the Secret Service in January of 1995 p. 1452

Chronology of Letters Exchanged Between the ARRB and the U.S. Secret Service Over the Destruction of Protective Survey Reports p. 1454


Comparison of CE 385, CD 298, and the Warren Report’s Conclusions chart p. 1462


Chapter 16: Inconvenient Truths p. 1469


The Eisenberg Memo p. 1474

Did LBJ Obtain the Vice-President Spot on the 1960 Democratic Ticket by Blackmail? P. 1477

The TFX Scandal p. 1485

The Bobby Baker Scandal p. 1486

Was President Kennedy Going to Drop LBJ From the 1964 Ticket p. 1488

Madeleine Brown’s Allegations p. 1489

A “Smoking Gun” Army Intelligence Document: LBJ Is Linked to Oswald’s Friend George deMohrenschildt Prior to the Assassination of President Kennedy p. 1490

The KGB Fingers LBJ: The Ultimate “Smoking Gun” Document p. 1492

J. EDGAR HOVER p. 1497 – 1500


The Book

The Film p. 1503

The Document p. 1505

The Emissary Who Delivered the ‘Seven Days In May’ Message to the USSR p. 1506


The Bay of Pigs p. 1511-1523

The Approaching Missile Crisis: May 1961-September 1962 p. 1523

The Cuban Missile Crisis p. 1532

Post-Missile Crisis Policy p. 1535

Presidential Peace Feelers p. 1547





CIA Officials and Operatives Involved in the Assassinations p. 1628

David Atlee Phillips

David Sanchez Morales p. 1631

James Jesus Angleton p. 1640

Edward G. Lansdale p. 1648

The ‘Mafia Did It’ Red Herring p. 1649


A Comparison of the Polygraph and the PSE Machine p. 1655






Retrospective: The Legacy of the ‘Peace Speech’ and the Test Ban Treaty p. 1753

A Dignified and Proper Remembrance for John F. Kennedy Can Only Be Achieved in the Proper Historical Context p. 1768

Epilogue: The Education of a JFK Researcher p. 1777


Concurrent Lines of Research

Pet Peeves

About the Author p. 1805

The illustrations are located at the end of Chapter Three

LBJ, JFK & Gen. LeMay

January 12, 2010

In the background of this photo of the Warren Commission, the three photographs on the wall are of LBJ, JFK and General LeMay?

Why is General LeMay looking over the shoulder of the Warren Commission?

Can anyone tell me where this photo was taken?

Posted by Picasa

Thanks to Larry’s tip I found two quick references to the Warren Commission meeting at the VFW Hall.

One is in the testimony of Lyndal Shaneyfelt when three of the Commissioners saw the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films and entered them into evidence.

The conversation was so interesting I’ve copied it here.

Then there’s Arlen Specter’s ancedotal story entered into the Congressional Record about Joe Ball, the California attorney and Warren Commission Senior Counsel, and the real origin of the single bullet theory. Specter mentions that the only identification they had was the pass to get into the VFW Hall, that they used to get into Bethesda to interview the autopsy doctors before questioning them on the record. This too is interesting because he tells how Frank Adams, also a Senior Counsel to the WC, got his job. – BK


Warren Commission Meets at VFW Hall WC Volume V, Page 176 –

Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt

Testimony of Lyndal L Shaneyfelt Resumed

(Present were Mr. McCloy, Mr. Dulles, and Representative Ford.)

Mr. Specter.

May the record now show that the Commission has now reassembled on the first floor of the VFW Building where a motion picture projector and slide projector and screen have been set up for viewing of the films. Mr. Shaneyfelt, what are you going to show us first of all?

Mr. Shaneyfelt.
The first film will be of the color motion picture made through the rifle scope as the car drove down the assassination route at approximately 11 miles an hour. It wi11 give the view the rifleman had as he aimed the rifle from the sixth floor window of the Book Building.
Mr. Dulles.
Is that going 11 miles per hour?
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This film will be the black and white photographs of the car in the fixed still positions in each of the frame numbers described in previous testimony.
In addition the final portion of the film is a run through of the car at 11 miles an hour on three separate runs filmed as the rifleman would have seen the car looking through the rifle.
On the first run of the car going down the assassination route I have stained frames in the vicinity of frame 222 which is after the first clear shot after the tree, I have stained the frame at the location of shot 313, which is the second pink flash you will see.
I found, in examining the film, that this is a shorter span of time than in the actual film. It is a span on the reenactment of about three and a half seconds between 222 and 313.
The second frame stained is 313 but since it is running at a faster speed I have also stained a spot that represents 5 seconds which is what the time lapse was between frame 222 and frame 313 in the actual assassination films. That will be after the car driving scene.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This is the last clear shot and this is an adjusted last clear shot before going under the tree. This is the shot approximately 185. This is frame 186 which is the adjusted shots which would account for a 10-inch variance.
Shot of frame 207, and the adjusted frame which was 210. This is frame 222 and you can see the tree is still in the background.
This is 225 now. 231. At this point Governor Connally states he has been hit by now. This is 235. 240–249–255–and the shot to the head which is 313.
Mr. Specter.
What is this? Describe this, Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This is the run at 11 miles an hour containing the pink stain. This is another run at 11 miles an hour. It will give you some idea of the difficulty of tracking a car with a heavy camera mounted on the rifle.
Mr. Mccloy.
You have to sight that with a camera?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Sighting through a camera.
Mr. Redlich.
Just as a final thing, Mr. McCloy, would you like to see the Zapruder film?
Mr. Mccloy.
I think we will take the original Zapruder again, I don’t know whether we have anything that is more significant in the black and whites, I am talking about the particular movies of the frames, we have not seen those.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Mr. Mccloy.
I think we have seen all we need to see with regard to that. What have you got left?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
The original Zapruder film.
Mr. Mccloy.
We will see that.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
We have the duplication of the Zapruder film reenactment. The first portion of the reel is the still shots and the last portion is the run through at 11 miles an hour.
Mr. Specter.
I think you would find that worth while to see.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Then we have Nix and Muchmore of the same run.
Mr. Mccloy.
Let’s do those, too.
Representative Ford.
First is the original Zapruder.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Original Zapruder. This is not the original. This is the first copy.
Mr. Specter.
Will you state for the record what film we just saw?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This film we just viewed is a copy made directly from the original Zapruder film of the actual assassination.
Mr. Specter.
Could you now show us the film which was taken at the reconstruction from the Zapruder position?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
These films we made in Dallas have been developed and left intact and have not been edited in any way so there are a lot of blank spaces where we run the leader off and turn the film. This is position 161. This side-to-side jiggle is a camera malfunction.
Mr. Mccloy.
This is 16 mm.?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
No; 8 mm.
Representative Ford.
Is this from his camera?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Yes; taken with his camera. Frame 222, frame 225. This is frame 231.
Representative Ford.
He has a delayed reaction compared to what the President did.
Mr. Specter.
What frame is this, Mr. Shaneyfelt?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
313, the head shot.
Mr. Mccloy.
The head shot.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This is the position which is not duplicated on the Zapruder film. This is running the film out to reload it.
During that run at 11 miles an hour we made no effort to duplicate the body position because it would have been most difficult to know just when to turn. The only other films we have are the ones we shot with the Nix and Muchmore cameras of this same run from their positions.
Mr. Mccloy.
Did Nix, Muchmore get a second shot of the head shot?
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Mrs. Muchmore got the head shot and Mr. Nix got the head shot.
Mr. Mccloy.
They both got it.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
We have both those films.
Mr. Mccloy.
We might take a look at it while we are here. I don’t think I have ever seen those. Those are 8mm, too.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This film is the film that was taken by Mr. Orville Nix of the assassination. This is along Houston street going toward Elm. There
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
was the head shot. We will roll it back and run it at slow motion. The head shot shows just a very faint pink.
Mr. Mccloy.
Very soon after this sequence begins. Just as the President is directly under the white abutment in the background. I will try to give you a clue about when it is going to happen, there.
The next film is the film that was exposed in Mr. Nix’s camera standing in the position determined to be his camera position at the reenactment in Dallas, with the car traveling at approximately 11 miles an hour along Elm street.
These films were compared with each other and found to be consistent in the size of the car in the area of the picture and verified the position as being that of Mr. Nix.
Mr. Specter.
Have you now shown us, Mr. Shaneyfelt, all of the movies that we saw, we took in Dallas?
Mr. Mccloy.
Mrs. Muchmore.
Mr. Specter.
Mrs. Muchmore.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
This is the motorcade coming down Main and turning into Houston street.
Mr. Mccloy.
She didn’t know she took that.
Mr. Shaneyfelt.
Mr. Specter.
Have we now seen all the films from Dallas? That concludes the films.
Mr. McCloy, for the record, I would like to have the films marked with Commission Exhibit No. 904 identifying the Zapruder copy. That is the copy of the original Zapruder film.
May I say here, parenthetically, that we do not intend to reproduce all of this in the published record of the Commission since we have extracted the key numbers on Exhibit 885 on the album which shows the frames of the Zapruder film after the President’s automobile turns left off of Houston onto Elm, but for the permanent archives these films should be made a part of the permanent record.
I would like to have a copy of the original Nix film marked as Commission Exhibit No. 905. I would like to have the copy of the original Muchmore film marked as Commission Exhibit No. 906. I would like to have all of the movies which we took at Dallas marked in a group as Commission Exhibit No. 907.
Mr. Mccloy.
That is all the movies that were taken on May 24 in Dallas by the test team, so to speak.
Mr. Specter.
Right, Commissioner McCloy. They are marked as Commission Exhibit No. 907, and I would like to move formally for the admission into evidence of Commission Exhibits Nos. 904 through 907 at this time.
Mr. Mccloy.
They may be admitted.
(Commission Exhibits Nos. 904, 905, 906, and 907 were marked for identification, and received in evidence.)
(Whereupon, at 7:20 p.m., the President’s Commission recessed.)

Mr. SPECTER. The Times article details the specifics on the positions held by Mr. Ball in the lawyers associations, his professorial associations as a teacher, his experience as a criminal lawyer, and his experience, most pointedly, as one of the senior counsel to the Warren Commission, the President’s commission which investigated the assassination of President Kennedy. It was on the Warren Commission staff that I came to know Joe Ball.

The original complexion of the Warren Commission on staffing was that there were six senior counsel who were appointed and six junior counsel. That distinction was replaced by putting all of the lawyers under the category of assistant counsel. But if there was a senior counsel, it was Joe Ball.

Then, in his early sixties, he was a tower of strength for the younger lawyers. When the commission began its work, I was 33. Most of the junior lawyers were about the same age. We looked to Joe Ball for his experience and for his guidance. He had a special relationship with Chief Justice Earl Warren, which was also helpful because Joe Ball could find out what Chief Justice Warren had in mind in his capacity as chairman and provide some valuable insights that some of the younger lawyers were
unable to attain.

Joe Ball worked on what was called area two, along with the very distinguished younger lawyer, David Belin from Des Moines, IA. Area two was the area which was structured to identify the assassin. Although the initial reports had identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin, and on television, on November 24, America saw Jack Ruby walk into the Dallas police station, put a gun in Oswald’s stomach and kill him, the Warren Commission started off its investigation without any presumptions but looking at the evidence to make that determination as to who the assassin was.

My area was area one, which involved the activities of the President on November 22, 1963. There was substantial interaction between the work that Joe Ball and Dave Belin did and the work which was assigned to me and Francis W.H. Adams, who was senior counsel on area one.

Frank Adams had been New York City police commissioner and had been asked to join the Warren Commission staff when Mayor Wagner sat next to Chief Justice Warren at the funeral of former Governor and former Senator, Herbert Lehman. Mayor Wagner told Chief Justice Warren that Frank Adams, the police commissioner, knew a lot about Presidential protection and had designed protection for motorcades in New York City, with dangers from tall buildings, which was an analogy to what happened to President

There was question as to how we would coordinate our work, and it was sort of decided that Joe Ball and Dave Belin would investigate matters when the bullet left the rifle of the assassin in flight, which was no man’s land, and when it struck the President. That came into area one, which was my area: the bullet wounds on President Kennedy, the bullet wounds on Governor Connally, what happened with the doctors at Parkland Hospital, what happened with the autopsy, all matters related to what had happened with President Kennedy.

We had scheduled the autopsy surgeons for a Monday in early March. They were Lieutenant Commander Boswell, Lieutenant Commander Humes and Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck. The autopsy was done at Bethesda, where President Kennedy was taken, because of the family’s preference that he go to a naval installation because he was a Navy man, so to speak, who had served in the Navy.

The testimony was to be taken on this Monday in March. There was quite a debate going on with the Warren Commission staff as to whether we should talk to witnesses in advance. It seemed to many of us that we should talk to witnesses in advance so we would have an idea as to what they would testify to so we could have an orderly presentation, which is the way any lawyer talks to a witness whom he is about to call. The distinguished Presiding Officer has been a trial lawyer and knows very well to what I am referring. There was a segment on the Warren Commission staff which thought we should not talk to any witnesses in advance, lest there be some overtone of influencing their testimony. Finally, this debate had to come [Page: S9562] to a head, and it came to a head the week before the autopsy searchers were to testify.

And on Friday afternoon, Joe Ball and I went out to Bethesda to talk to the autopsy surgeons. It was a Friday afternoon, much like a Friday afternoon in the Senate. Nobody else was around. It was my area, but I was looking for some company, so I asked Joe Ball to accompany me–the autopsy surgeons falling in my area. We took the ride out to Bethesda and met the commanding admiral and introduced ourselves. We didn’t have any credentials. The only thing we had to identify ourselves as working on the Warren Commission was a building pass for the VFW. My building pass had my name typed crooked on the line, obviously having been typed in after it was signed. They sign them all and then type them in. It didn’t look very official at all.

So when Commander Humes and Commander Bozwell came down to be interviewed, Commander Humes was very leery about talking to anybody. He had gone through some travail with having burned his notes and having been subjected to a lot of comment and criticism about what happened at the autopsy, and there were FBI agents present when the autopsy was conducted. A report had come out that the bullet that had entered the base of the President’s neck had been dislodged during the autopsy by massage. It
had fallen out backward as opposed to having gone through the President’s body, which was what the medical evidence had shown.

That FBI report that the bullet had entered partially into the President’s body and then been forced out had caused a lot of controversy before the whole facts were known. Later, it was determined that the first shot which hit the President–he was hit by two bullets–well, the second shot, which hit him in the base of the skull, was fatal, entering the base of the skull and exiting at the top at 13 centimeters, 5 inches–the fatal wound. The first bullet which hit the President passed between two large strap muscles, sliced the pleural cavity, hit nothing solid and came out, and Governor Connally was seated right in front of the President and the bullet would have to have hit either Governor Connally or someone in the limousine.

After extensive tests were conducted, it was concluded that the bullet hit Governor Connally. There has been a lot of controversy about the single bullet theory, but time has shown that it is correct. A lot of tests were conducted on the muzzle velocity of the Oswald rifle. It was identified as having been Oswald’s, purchased from a Chicago mail order store. He came into the building with a large package which could have contained the rifle. He said they were curtain rods for an apartment which already had curtains. The muzzle velocity was about 2,200 feet per second, and the velocity after traveling about 275 feet was about 1,900 feet per second.

At any rate, as Joe Ball and I went through it with the autopsy surgeons, we found for the first time–because we had only seen the FBI reports–that the bullet did go through President Kennedy and decreased very little in velocity. It was at that moment when we talked to Dr. Humes and Dr. Finck that we came to hypothesize that that bullet might have gone through Governor Connally. We didn’t come to a conclusion on that until we had reviewed very extensive additional notes, but it was on that occasion that Joe Ball and I had interviewed the autopsy surgeons. It was a marvel to watch Joe Ball work with his extensive experience as a lawyer and as a fact finder.

He lived to the ripe old age of 97. The New York Times obituary had very extensive compliments about a great deal of his work and focused on his contribution to the Warren Commission, where he had written an extensive portion of the Warren Report, as he was assigned to area two which compiled a fair amount of the report.

America has lost a great patriot in Joe Ball, a great citizen, a great lawyer, and a great contributor. I had the pleasure of knowing him and working with him on the Warren Commission staff and have had occasion to reminisce with him about his work. I noted that on his office wall in California is his elegantly framed building pass.

In the absence of any other Senator seeking recognition, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

Cuban Missile Crisis Briefing Map

January 7, 2010
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President Kennedy: What is this map?

Carter: That shows the circular range capability…

…Kennedy: Well, I was just wondering whether San Diego de los Banos is where these missles are.

Carter: Yes, sir….

From The Kennedy Tapes – Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Edited by E. May and P. Zelikow; Belknap Press, Harvard, 1997) which notes: “Kennedy was in the Cabinet Room with his 5-year old daughter, Caroline, when the advisors filed in, accompanied by Arthur Lundahl from NPIC [National Photo Interpretation Center], and another CIA expert, Sidney Graybeal. CIA as a whole was represented by Acting Director Marshall Carter. McCone was on the West Coast, arranging the burial of his stepson. As Caroline left and the meeting began, Kennedy turned on the tape recorder…”

Missile Analysist Sidney Graybeal briefed President on Soviet missiles in Cuba using maps, photos and briefing boards prepared by the National Photo Interpation Center (NPIC), which also prepared two sets of briefing boards using Zapruder film photos of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Homer McMahon and his assistant Ben Hunter were color photo technicians at the NPIC at the time of the assassination and prepared one set of briefing boards. Another set of briefing boards were prepared by Dino Brugioni, which were used by Arthur Lundahl, who also briefed the President during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Sidney Graybeal, the analysist of the missile photos, was also responsible for directing the flight path of the U2s that flew over Russia, including Gary Power’s ill fated fight. Here is an excerpt of a heavily redacted interview with Sidney Graybeal in which he describes in detail his briefing of President Kennedy, which set off the 13 days of what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Sidney Graybeal: Well, when the mission flew on the fifteenth of October and provided the photographs, they came into the National Photo Interpretation Center at around four, five o’clock in the afternoon. The photo interpreters started looking at these pictures and one of my branch chiefs was there and when he looked at ’em, he called me on the phone and said, we have something very hot, you’d better come down here immediately.

So I went to the Photo Interpretation Center. When I got there, the photo interpreters laid out the photographs of these canvas-covered objects. There was no question in my mind that we had offensive missiles in Cuba. The question was, what type of offensive missile is this and they could give very precise measurements of the length of this canvas-covered object. Now if this were a missile without its nose cone – you see nose cones are normally mated later – then it would be one type of missile, but if the nose cone was on, it would be a different one. So essentially, that measurement said if this is a complete missile with the nose cone, it would be an SS-3, a relatively short-range missile. If the nose cone is not on, it would be an SS-4, which is an eleven hundred-mile range missile. Now, knowing from Penkovsky and others that the nose cone is normally not mated, it was my judgment that this was an SS-4 and then if you look at a map, an SS-4 with a thousand, eleven hundred mile range can reach Washington and so my view was if the Soviets are going to deploy offensive missiles into Cuba, they would not deploy something that could only hit the southern part of the US when they had a missile that could hit Washington and that would be a real deterrent. So my judgment immediately was that this is an SS-4 missile, even though we didn’t actually see the missile, we saw a canvas-covered object and we could see the erector that went with it and we could see all the information that we thought unambiguous, that we had an offensive missile and working with the PI’s and looking at the range and looking at the data we had from Penkovsky, and looking at the data from the Moscow parades, where we had pictures of the missiles, we discerned that this was an SS-4 and that’s when I advised my boss that night.

SG: Well, you’re doing an evaluation of a ballistic missile’s capabilities, specifically the missiles that we saw on photography in Cuba, it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You have a piece of information here that comes from human sources that tells you about it, of which Penkovsky was clearly a critical aspect on the manuals and how these missiles operate. You had photographic information, both of missiles in the parade in Moscow, but photographic information of the test range where these missiles had been tested. You had telemetry information which told you the characteristics of the missile, that it was a liquid fuel missile, how you would have to operate the missile, so these combined, give you a sufficiently clear picture that when we looked at the missiles in Cuba and when we get the question about how will they operate, how long will they operate, all the things that were asked during that first Ex-Comm committee meeting, it was a combination of intelligence sources put together by intelligence analysts, including the photo interpreters and the missile experts, which gave you an understanding to be able to, one, identify the missile, two, determine its characteristics, it carries a three thousand pound payload which could be two megaton warhead on the front end of the missile, so all of these things fit together which an intelligence officer uses to provide the conclusions.

SG: There is no question in my mind that finding offensive missiles in Cuba was an extremely important, startling development here within the US government, because it put a whole new perspective on the threat to the continent of the United States when the ICBM program in the Soviet Union was small, but here you’re putting in ballistic missiles with range sufficient to hit a good part of the United States, so you have essentially doubled your capabilities of the Soviet Union to threaten the US. So as soon as we saw these were ballistic missiles, I knew we had something that was critically important process, but you don’t panic in these type of situations, because you have to deal with facts and as an intelligence officer you recognize sometimes you will be wrong. But now you’ve got hard facts, so now you have to deal with these. These were provided to the DDI, which at the time Deputy Director for Intelligence was Ray Cline and he knew it was extremely important. The word was being passed that night to various senior officials.

The next day when I went to the White House with Art Lundahl to brief McGeorge Bundy, McGeorge Bundy knew exactly that this was extremely serious. There was no laugh, there was no joking about anything to do with this situation. McGeorge Bundy wanted to know the facts, are you sure these are missiles? Yes, we’re absolutely sure these are missiles. Are you sure of the type of missile? Yes, we know the type of missile this is, what we don’t know is the operational status of these missiles right now. Dillon came in, Dillon took it extremely seriously, no joking, left. Bobby Kennedy clearly knew that this was a major because Bobby Kennedy had been the person dealing with Dobrynin and others who were assuring the President there will be no offensive missiles in Cuba. So Bobby Kennedy’s view immediately was they’d been lying to us. I mean, so immediately he understood the significance and he took off to go upstairs to speak to the President about the situation…

SG: Well, after we had identified the missiles in Cuba and reported these to the senior officials, we met with the Deputy Director of Intelligence at about seven o’clock in the morning, the next morning, and we prepared a three paragraph introduction to the subject which General Carter, who was acting Director of CIA because McCone was on the West Coast, for him to give at the Ex-Comm committee that meeting that morning. Art Lundahl, the Director of the Photographic Interpretation Center, and Sidney Graybeal, myself, were sent to the White House with our briefing boards of the missiles in Cuba to brief McGeorge Bundy, the head of the National Security staff, so we went to the White House, we laid out the pictures, the briefing from McGeorge Bundy. Dillon came in and we gave the same briefing to Dillon. Bobby Kennedy came in, we gave the same briefing to Bobby Kennedy and he took off to go upstairs to the personal quarters of President Kennedy to tell him.

We stayed in the White House all morning until the first Ex-Comm committee meeting took place at around eleven o’clock and then we all went into the Cabinet Room and we waited for the President. The President came in, good morning gentlemen, sat down and a side light, which is kind of interesting to me personally, is the door that the President had come through all of a sudden burst open and Caroline Kennedy came in and essentially said, Daddy, Daddy, they won’t let my friend in. The President got up, went over, put his arm around her, took her out of the room, came back within a minute and says, gentlemen, I think we should proceed. The meeting started. What transpired at the meeting is General Carter read the three paragraphs, essentially what was the status, suggested the President should look at the evidence. Art Lundahl, head of the NPA, had these very large briefing boards which he laid on the table in front of President Kennedy, McNamara on the right, Rusk on the other side, so the three of ’em could see them and Lundahl said this is Cuba, this is San Forego , so forth. Then he mentioned, these are offensive ballistic missiles and he specifically pointed to them on the chart. The first question the President asked was, how long before they can fire those missiles? And Art Lundahl said, well, Mr. Graybeal is the missile expert. So he turned to me, I stood up behind the President, McNamara and Rusk and for the next probably five to ten minutes fired one question after the other. In answer to the President’s question, how long can they fire these missiles, I relied primarily on the combination of intelligence sources…

The Ex-Comm committee meeting we had that morning was all business after the little… well there was all business in the sense that the President was extremely serious, he wanted to get the facts His first question clearly was how long before they can fire those missiles, ‘cos he knew I’ve got an extremely serious situation here. These are offensive missiles threatening the United States. How much time do I have to act. And of course, as developed later, during those Ex-Comm meetings, do we go in and take them out? How do we get them out of there and there’s a whole litany of debates within Ex-Comm which very, very well reported in various other publications. So the meeting was serious, the people were serious, the President wanted to know how much time he had, McNamara wanted to know where were the nuclear warheads. Rusk was worried about the political implications, what exactly had taken place here, what had they said to us, what did you say in your last speech Mr. President. So there was a whole variety of very good exchanges that took place.
Now Lundahl and I were excused from that first meeting after we had presented the facts, after we had answered all the questions that they asked about the operational characteristics of the missiles. So I was not present during the time where they started debating what do we do and if you want to get a good record of that get the book The Kennedy Tapes which has got an excellent description of what transpired in all of those meetings…

From: The Kennedy Tapes :

LeMay, Air Force General Curtis

“The Pacific War that had commenced at Pearl Harbor ended with Japan’s surrender in August 1945….Curtis LeMay, who would be the Chief of Staff of the Air Force in October 1962, and Kennedy’s most hawkish advisor, had been transferred from the European theater to take over the 20th Air Force, based on Guam. Slightly older than Rusk, he had joined the Army Air Corps in 1928, leaving Ohio State University without a degree. The mission of LeMay’s command was strategic bombing of the Japanese home islands. After analyzing the command’s operations, LeMay ordered a complete change in tactics. The B-29s had been flying at high altitude in order to be safe from antiaircraft fire. LeMay calculated that at much lower altitudes there might be a somewhat greater loss of aircraft, but that this disadvantage would be more than offset by increases in bomb loads and in bombing accuracy. Experience seemed to prove him right….”

“An admiring observer of LeMay’s management of the 20th Air Force was Army Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert S. McNamara, who would later be Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense, and LeMay’s civilian boss. McNamara was less than a year older than Kennedy. He, too, came from Irish immigrants, but his forebears had taken the Panama route to California…McNamara and LeMay didn’t see eye to eye during the missile crisis. Indeed, they may not have seen eye to eye in 1945, when LeMay was clearly gratified not only the cost-effectiveness of his operations but by their consequences. Of the March 1945 raid, LeMay boasted later, ‘We burned up nearly sixteen square miles of Tokyo,’ then quoted the official report…’There were more casualties than in any other military action in the history of the world.’ LeMay also had command responsibility for the special bomber group that attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and his attitude toward the first atomic bombs was dismissive. He rejected the notion that they were somehow special, morally or otherwise. ‘The assumption seems to be,’ he wrote, ‘that it is much more wicked to kill people with a nuclear bomb, than to kill people by busting their heads with rocks.’ At least in later years, McNamara would come to argue vehemently that nuclear weapons were special and ought never to be used.”

“McNamara, [Robert] Lovett’s nominee for Defense, was president of the Ford Motor Company, where he had gone after World War II…

“On October 14 a high flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft of the American Strategic Air Command flew a limited photographic mission over Cuba…During October 15, experts at the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), in a nondescript building at 5th and K in Washington, pored over photos from the October 14 U-2 flight…”

October 19th Cabinet Room.

Taylor: Well, I would just say one thing and then turn it over to General LeMay. We recognize all these things, Mr. President. But I think we’d all be unanimous in saying that really our strength in Berlin, our strength anyplace in the world, is the credibility of our response under certain conditions. And if we don’t respond in here in Cuba, we think the credibility is sacrificed.

President Kennedy: That’s right. That’s right. So that’s why we’ve got to respond. Now the question is: What is our response?

LeMay: Well, I certainly agree with everything General Taylor has said. I’d emphasize, a little strongly perhaps, that we don’t have any choice except direct military action. If we do this blockade that’s proposed, a political action, the first thing that’s going to happen is your missiles are going to disappear into the woods, particularly your mobile ones. Now, we can’t find them, regardless of what we do, and then we’re going to take some damage if we try to do anything later on.

President Kennedy: Well, can’t they put some of these undercover,….now that they’ve been alerted?

LeMay: there is a possibility of that. But the way they line these others up – I’ll have to say it’s a small possibility…I don’t think there are any hid….Now as for the Berlin situation, I don’t share your view that if we knock off Cuba, they’re going to knock off Berlin. If we don’t do anything in Cuba, then they’re going to push on Berlin and push real hard because they’ve got us on the run….

President Kennedy: What do you think their reply would be?

LeMay: I don’t think they’re going to make any reply if we tell them that the Berlin situation is just like it’s always been. If they make a move, we’re going to fight. I don’t think it changes the Berlin situation at all, except you’ve got to make one more statement on it. So I see not other solution. This blockade and political action, I see leading into war. I don’t see any other solution. It will lead right into war. This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich.


LeMay: Because if this whole blockade comes along, MiGs are going to fly….and we’re just going to gradually slip into a war under conditions that are at great disadvantage to us, with missiles staring us in the face, that can knock out our airfields in the southeastern portion of the United States. And if they use nuclear weapons, it’s the population down there. We just slipped into a war under conditions that we don’t like. I just don’t see any other solution except direct military intervention RIGHT now.

Anderson [Adml. George ] : Well, Mr. President, I feel that the course of action recommended to you by the Chiefs from the military point of view is the right one. I think it’s the best one from the political point of view….

LeMay: ….There’s one other factor that I didn’t mention that’s not quite our field, which is the political factor…I think that a blockade, and political talk, would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as being a pretty weak response to this. And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel that way, too. You’re in a pretty bad fix, Mr. President.

President Kennedy: What did you say?

LeMay: You’re in a pretty bad fix.

[Transcript note: Kennedy makes an unclear, joking reply.]

[In the film “13 Days” Kennedy’s reply is: “If I’m not mistaken you’re in the fix with me.” ]


The Cuban Missile Crisis movie “13 Days” serves as a prequil to Oliver Stone’s “JFK”

As a testament to the idea that the things that happen to real people are more interesting and sometimes more incredible than anything you can possibly make up, the film “13 Days” takes the events of October, 1962 – the Cuban Missile Crisis, and presents them in a credible and fascinating way.

It’s interesting that President George W. Bush invited some of the Kennedy family to watch the film with him at the White House, a newsworthy situation that tells us that at least the new Pres saw the film even if he might not get the movie’s message, though it’s frightening to even ponder how the President today would be able to disregard the advice and desire of practically all of his generals.

Leaving the theater however, thoughts and conversations weren’t about how things would play out today, as most people didn’t even talk about the movie or the Missile Crisis, but instead, the focus of interest was on the assassination of President Kennedy. “13 Days” provides a motive as to why the assassination happened and who was really responsible. As researcher John Judge noted, “13 Days” is kind of a prequel to Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” as it lays out the groundwork and sets the stage for what was to come.

Of course the primary producer, Kevin Costner and actor, probably wouldn’t have made this film if he didn’t make “JFK,” but there’s more than just Costner’s starring roles in both film that brings these two startling events and movies together.

Since most of the viewers of both films weren’t even alive when the events portrayed actually happened, and those of us who were only know the secondary participants by name, “13 Days” gives good insight into the character and personalities of some major players in the JFK assassination drama, especially Air Force General Curtis LeMay, Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, national security advisor McGeorge Bundy, defense secretary Robert McNamara and UN ambassador Adele Stevenson, as well as the Kennedy brothers themselves.

The movie opens at Kenny O’Donnell’s home breakfast table where Costner quizzes his kids on the names and titles of Kennedy’s cabinet, of which he is a part. An important part of this movie is seeing how the Kennedy administrators thought and talked with each other, sometimes doubting and questioning each other’s judgment and then implicitly trusting other decisions while questioning the advice and motives others, especially those who tried to box them into a forced military reaction. Withholding that option and continuing a reasoned diplomacy was probably one of the most pivotal decisions that has shaped our society, while the assassination of JFK became a watershed event from which democracy has yet to recover.

Gearing up for a fight, and then not having one was harder on the military than we had been led to believe. A bar owner once told me that he hired bouncers, not to fight or eject unruly patrons, but to keep things cool and not have any fights. But sometimes bouncers don’t see it that way and don’t think they’re earning their money if they don’t punch somebody out every once in awhile. It’s sort of like a “Jack Ruby-Sparky Syndrome,” except in a more institutionalized form.

You see it in the wrath of the eyes of General LeMay, (played by Kevin Conway) the strategic “Bomb’m back to the stone age,” Air Force commander who was used to giving orders, not following the demands of a couple of punk rich kids a few years out of college. The generals weren’t even trusted by Robert McNamara (Dylan Baker), who had to sleep in his office at the Pentagon because he was afraid if he left the military would make a move without him, and McGeorge Bundy, the national security aid who served as a “buffer” between the military and the administration. Both were eventually taken in by the assassination and Vietnam.

It was the Cuban Missile Crisis and how Kenned handled it, which made the national security forces recognize that they weren’t going to be able to force their hand during a crisis, when they were paralyzed from holding a coup d’etat when it would be particularly visible and blatant. So they had to do it during a lull in the action, at Dealey Plaza, when the palace guard was down and most vulnerable.

After JFK permitted the producers of Fletcher Nebel’s “Seven Days In May” to film scenes in the White House, he was asked by journalist Joe Alsop if he thought such a coup attempt as depicted in the fictional story could ever actually happen, and Kennedy said it could, “if there was such an event such as the Bay of Pigs,” and then a similar event, then a military takeover of the government could happen.

The motive for the military’s acquiescence for the assassination, if not the actual execution, stems from the failure of the Bay of Pigs, together with the triumph of diplomacy over military action during the Cuban Missile Crisis, iced by the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the American University “Peace Speech,” all together ensured the removal of the Kennedy administration and replacing it, constitutionally, with one headed by Lyndon Johnson. This military take-over included McNamara and Bundy, who got the message, helped devise the necessary strategy and ensured the redirection of national security policy away from detente and diplomacy and towards war and covert and overt aggression.

The acceptance of this general outline and framing of the assassination of President Kennedy is one generally accepted by most people, but vehemently denounced by mainstream historians, politicians and the media, though it is one that will be born out by the evidence when all the facts are in and the total truth is known.

The association of the Missile Crisis and the assassination is not made as clearly in the otherwise excellent made-for-tv movie “The Missiles of October,” which stars Marty Sheen and also clearly delineates the back room dealings that went on during the crisis. The association may come out even more clearly with a closer reading of the actual transcripts of the taped conversations published in The Kennedy Tapes – Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, (Edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow; Belknap Press of Harvard, 1997).

These recently declassified and released papers are now available at the National Security Archives (NSA), at George Washington University, which was established by a group of journalists who researched and wrote books on national security matters based on government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many of these documents are published on their web site, which makes note of the fact that few, if any of the official documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis even mention Kenneth P. O’Donnell, whose role played by Costner is a featured attraction in “13 Days.”

Some critics have said that O’Donnell’s actual limited role takes some legitimacy away from the truthfulness of the film, while the producers, in the aim of accuracy, pulled some early New York Times advertisements that included photographs of missiles that had yet to be developed in 1962. While the extent of O’Donnell’s role can be questioned, if not measured, you can’t get around the fact that he was there, in the room, when most of the significant events occurred, and I intend to explore his role further.

According to The Kennedy Tapes, “On Monday morning, October 22, Kennedy convened his advisors…in the Cabinet Room. One of those who had probably attended earlier meetings but who spoke for the first time at this meeting was Kenneth O’Donnell. A Harvard classmate of Robert Kennedy and an aide to John Kenney since the senatorial campaign of 1952, O’Donnell was Special Assistant to the President, charged especially with managing the President’s time…”

As described in A Common Good – The Friendship of Robert F. Kennedy and Kenneth P. O’Donnell, by daughter Helen O’Donnell (William Morrow, N.Y., 1998), “Kenny’s desk was right outside the Oval Office. As special assistant and appointments secretary, he was the gatekeeper to the president. He was relentless and tough in his new job as had ever been on the campaign. He was widely known as Kennedy’s political chief of staff,…won the nickname ‘the Cobra’….There were three words that epitomized Kennedy O’Donnell in Jack Kennedy’s White House….’Cut the crap.’…That attitude made him valuable to President Kennedy, who knew he could rely on Kenny to handle what needed to be handled, preserve the president’s time, and protect the president’s back.”

As seen through the eyes of O’Donnell, “13 Days” takes you into the White House, the Pentagon war room and cockpits of the Surveillance planes, but leaves the reactions of the Cubans and Russians, other than backchannel KGB contact, totally out of the picture. Before they put in the Hot-Line red phones in the White House and the Kremlin, so both leaders can talk one-on-one in times of crisis, the official bureaucratic channels were so cumbersome that the best and quickest way to communicate a message to Khrushchev in Moscow was either through the press, which in this case meant a KGB officer who they knew had the direct ear of the Russian leader.

In the movie, the KGB officer’s bonafides as a close associate of Khrushchev are checked by comparing career chronologies of both men, which came up with a match of them having served in the same place at the same time during WWII, and shows the importance of compiling such chronologies when conducting such research.

One message RFK gives to to his KGB friend that’s not in the movie is that JFK is afraid that he can no longer keep the military leaders at bay and if he doesn’t take a more aggressive stance, they may even attempt to get rid of him and take over the government. Khrushchev knew the feeling well, as he too was under the same pressures from his military commanders, who eventually did contribute to the removal of Khrushchev within a year of JFK’s murder.

Rather than the Soviets, it is the U.S. Military commanders who come off as the Bad Guys they apparently were. In discussing the possible options the U.S. had in response to the placement of Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba, about one fourth of the advisors, mostly military men, advocated an immediate surgical, tactical air strike and full scale invasion of Cuba. As we know today, that would have resulted in a total thermonuclear war since the Russians already had tactical nuclear weapons in place in Cuba under the command of field Colonels who would have used them if attacked. [We didn’t know this at the time however, and only learned of the tactical nukes at a unique conference on the Missile Crisis that was held in Havana in the 1990s and included Cuban, Russian and American scholars and participants, including Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Cubans have already engaged in two similar conferences with American researcher in regards to the JFK assassination.]

JFK mentioning these tactical nukes in the movie is one of the few historical gaffs in the film. Another technical inaccuracy is press secretary Pierre Salinger shown giving a press conference – “The President has a cold,” without a cigar in his hand, while General LeMay is never shown without one, which brings up an interesting anecdote.

LeMay is reported to have been at JFK’s autopsy at Bethesda by attending technician, Paul O’Conner, who told me that one of the physicians performing the autopsy ordered him to tell whoever was smoking a cigar in the room to leave. When O’Conner told him it was Gen. LeMay, the order was withdrawn.

LeMay comes off as a particularly bad guy before the first day is over, when he storms out of a meeting saying, “Those Kennedy boys are going to destroy this country!”

LeMay wants the Air Force to be given the ball so they can throw their bombs, but instead, JFK, RFK and O’Donnell make personal phone calls to the pilots of reconnaissance planes to order them not to even get shot at so as not to instigate a forced retaliatory strike. When one pilot returns with the photos, his ground grew marvels at the bullet holes in the wing, which the pilot says were made by a flock of sparrows. “Were they .20 or .40 caliber sparrows?” the ground crewman asks, but LeMay is more forceful in his questioning, “Did they shoot you with so much as a BB gun?” LeMay wants to know, but the good soldier, true to his Commander-in-Chief, just says it was a “cakewalk.”

It was a good way of emphasizing the desire and determination of the military brass to get into a scrum, while at the same time showing how President Kennedy operated, and how his administrative style included making personal contact with the players on the front lines, making sure they knew the game plan and what their role was, as well as the fact that the guy issuing the orders was really on top of things.

The Kennedys, as they did in their personal as well as professional lives, looked towards challenges as they did the game of football. In the movie, as in their lives, events overtook them, but they still made time to joke a little, throw the ball around the meeting room or backyard and confront crisis as a team effort.

Rather than a close associate of the President, Kenny O’Donnell was one of RFK’s guys, the quarterback on Bobby’s Harvard team, and so he was given a quarterback position in the White House, the Appointments Secretary. O’Donnell was the greater at the door, the Sgt-at-arms who you had to get past in order to get to the President.

Bobby, as the Attorney General, was the nation’s Top Cop, but also served as JFK’s right-hand-man and chief crisis coordinator. While the Cuban Missile Crisis was probably RFK’s greatest moment, everyone in the entire country and probably the civilized world eventually became caught up in the anxiety of the crisis, as it concerned the continuation of our society as we know it.

In the middle of it all, Coster’s O’Donnell takes time out to see his son play some high school football. Then back at the office he has to run physical interference and step in for a block to keep LeMay from putting his chest into Kennedy’s face.

The football analogy is brought into play again later when JFK tells Bobby to get ready to take Adlai Stevenson out of the UN and put in someone more force full (John J. McCloy), but when nuclear push comes to shove Stevenson comes through in the clutch. Asking quite succinctly if the Russian Ambassador denies that there are long range offensive ballistic missiles in Cuba, Stevenson says, “I’ll wait for an answer until Hell freezes over.” Stevenson stayed in the game, then got roughed up by a gang of thugs in Dallas on UN Day and urged JFK not to go to there.

Kennedy however, did take General Walker out of the game, as he did CIA chief Allen Dulles along with Richard Bissell, the Godfather of the U2 and the architect of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Also pulled from his position was “America’s James Bond,” William Harvey, who experienced the wrath of RFK when Bobby learned that Harvey had sent in a commando team to Cuba after RFK had ordered a halt to all such operations.

Oswald was in the Great Game too, only a less significant player, but a player nonetheless. He had previously been associated with the U2 program as a USMC radar operator in Japan, before he defected to the Soviet Union, where his knowledge of the U2 (altitude and speed) would have been of interest to the Russians. Gary Powers said that he believed Oswald gave them the information they needed to shoot him down, thus averting the Eisenhower-Khrushchev detente meeting and postponing the end of the Cold War for decades. It’s possible Oswald attended Powers’ trial in Moscow.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, in October, 1962, Oswald was back home in Texas with his Russian bride and baby daughter, and just beginning a technicians job at Jaggers-Chiles-Stoval, a graphics art firm that employed Oswald for six months. Besides doing routine advertising work for corporate clients, this company also did classified work for U.S. Army Intelligence, reportedly placing marks, arrows and captions on photographs, including aerial photos taken from the U2.

So it is conceivable that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, some of the U2 photos of the missiles in Cuba may have been tagged with their place names by Lee Harvey Oswald before they were seen by the President and his national security advisors. [See : Oswald at JCS – “Legend – The Secret Life of Lee Harvey Oswald” by E.J. Epstein.]

The possibility that the Russians would place long range offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba had been suggested years earlier by Gen. Walker, who claimed that such a scenario was played out in war games as long as seven years earlier, before Castro even came to power, and the prelude for crisis was enunciated quite clearly by Clair Booth Luce in Life Magazine a week before the actual crisis.

So the number of possible options they had to work with should have been more numerous than were available at the time, and the administration shouldn’t have had to think on it’s feet and devise their own plays once the crisis got underway, which is when the U2 photos showed undeniable, irrefutable and certifiable evidence of the presence of the missiles in Cuba.

From the transcripts of the tapes, Kennedy seemed to approach it like a chess match:

“President Kennedy: Let me just say a little, first, about what the problem is, from my point of view. First, I think we ought to think of why the Russians did this. Well, actually, it was a rather dangerous but rather useful play of theirs. We do nothing, they have a missile base there with all the pressure that brings to bear on the United States and damage to our prestige.

“f we attack Cuban missiles, or Cuba, in any way, it gives them a clear line to take Berlin, as they were able to do in Hungary under the Anglo war in Egypt….We would be regarded as the trigger-happy Americans who lost Berlin. We would have no support among our allies….After all, Cuba is 5 or 6,000 miles from them. They don’t give a damn about Cuba. But they do care about Berlin and about their own security…So I think they’ve got…I must say I think it’s a very satisfactory position from their point of view…And clearly, if we do nothing then they’ll have these missiles and they’ll be able to say any time we ever try to do something about Cuba, they’ll fire these missiles. So that I think is dangerous, but rather satisfactory, from their point of view…

“Now, that’s what makes our problem so difficult. If we go in and take them out on a quick air strike, we neutralize the chance of danger to the United States…On the other hand, we increase the chance greatly, as I think – there’s bound to be reprisal from the Soviet Union, there always is – [of] their just going in and taking Berlin by force. Which leaves me only one alternative, which is to fire nuclear weapons – which is a hell of an alternative – and begin a nuclear exchange, with all this happening…

“So I don’t think we’ve got any satisfactory alternatives…On the other hand, we’ve got to do something. Because if we do nothing, we’re going to have the problem with Berlin anyway…So that’s why we’ve got to respond. Now the question is: What is our response?”

During the course of the crisis, the lessons of history are mentioned throughout the great debate that would set the course of action – JFK mentions the failures of the strategic policy makers of World War I when he cited The Guns of August, which explains how the technology of warfare outpaced outdated and obsolete policies, which led to the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions of soldiers and civilians.

LeMay brings up “Munich,” after which there is a long, discernable pause in the conversation, since that is where the British under Lord Chamberlain, and the U.S. behind Joseph Kennedy, Sr., the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, attempted to avoid World War II by adopting a policy of appeasement towards the militaristic Nazi German government. JFK, as Joe Kennedy’s son, showed however, that he didn’t share his father’s position on isolation, nor his allegiances to his old bootlegger friends.

JFK: “We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth – but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.”

Both George Ball and Bobby bring up Pearl Harbor, and how the U.S. had not nor should pull off such a sneak attack, while others, like LBJ, didn’t want to “telegraph” the fact that we’re coming.

JFK even quotes Sun Tzu’s The Art of War when he says, “The war is won or lost in the temple, years before the battle is fought,” to emphasize the point that there’s something wrong about doing something against your own basic ethics and instincts.

LBJ, who is undisputedly the ugliest person in the entire show, gets in the last word, congratulating the President on his handling of the crisis with some offhand remark about “passing the mid-terms,” which I think he means by the positive effect the whole episode will have on the next election, which of course, he will win.

It must have been difficult to cram in so much in just a few hours, but the movie’s script, by David Self, is really well done, and such writers seldom get the credit when their work is so good.

It all quite fittingly ends with a voiceover of JFK giving the punch line of his American University speech of June 10, 1963, that many credit as laying the groundwork for detente, which ends with the final truth, “…and we are all mortal.”

O’Donnell and Dave Powers wrote their recollections of the Kennedy campaigns and administration in Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, (Little, Brown, 1970), but the book ends before Dallas, though both men were in the motorcade and were witnesses to Kennedy’s death, as recalled in A Common Good, by Helen O’Donnell (Wm. Morrow, 1998).

“When we were riding through Dallas on our way from Love Field to the Trade Mart luncheon, the sun was shining brightly and warmly. The crowd at the airport had been warm, enthusiastic, and friendly. The crowds lining the street were equally warm and friendly. In the backup car, next to Dave Powers, I turned to Dave and said, ‘There is certainly nothing wrong with this crowd.’…Sitting on the two jump seats of the Secret Service backup car, only about ten feet behind the president and Jackie, we could see their faces clearly when they turned to nod and wave to screaming people pushing into the street beside them. The president seemed thrilled and fascinated by the crowd’s noisy excitement. I knew he had expected nothing like this welcome.”

“When we were making the sharp turn around Dealey Plaza in front of the School Book Depository building, I asked Dave Powers what time it was. Ahead of us in the back seat of the Lincoln, the president was sitting on the right side of the car with his arm outstretched, waving to the crowd in front of the Depository. Mrs. Kennedy, in her pink suit with matching pink pillbox hat perched on the back of her seat was beside him on his left with red roses presented to her at the airport on the seat between them….’It’s twelve-thirty,’ Dave said, looking at his watch. “Fine,’ said Kenny. ‘It’s only five minutes from here, so we’re only running five minutes behind schedule.”

“I had just finished speaking when we heard shots, two close together and then a third one. There must have been an interval of at least five seconds before the third and last shots, because, after the second shot, Dave said to me, ‘Kenny, I think the president’s been shot!’ I made a quick sign of the cross and said, ‘What makes you think that?’ ‘Look at him,’ said Dave. ‘He was over on the right, with his arm stretched out. Now he’s slumped over toward Jackie, holding his throat.’”

“While we both stared at the president, a third shot took the side of his head off. We saw pieces of bone and brain tissue and bits of reddish hair flying through the air. The impact lifted him and shook him limply, as if he were a rag doll, and then he dropped out of our sight, sprawled across the backseat of the car. I said to Dave, ‘He’s dead.’”

At Parkland Hospital, LBJ deferred the first few decisions to O’Donnell, then when JFK was officially pronounced dead, LBJ left to commandeer Air Force One, saying O’Donnell told him to take it instead of his own plane, Air Force II.

“Kenny O’Donnell often said, ‘We mustn’t live on might-have-beens.’ Sadly, he didn’t follow his own advice. He became trapped by the deaths of John and Bobby Kennedy in a realm of lost possibilities. My father never recovered from Bobby’s death….After those two tragedies, he never cared about politics again, and he never gave his heart over to another politician again…the fight in the man was gone. Though it was alcoholism that would be the technical cause of both my mother’s and father’s deaths, in reality they died long before their last breath was released.”

Francis W. H. Adams & Arlen Specter

January 6, 2010

You probably never heard of Francis William Holbrook Adams, but he was a New York City Police Commissioner (54-55) who was appoined Senior Counsel to the Warren Commission and given responsiblity for developing the basic facts of the case.

Adams was a no-nonsense guy, and when he realized there wouldn’t be any real investigation, he didn’t bother to do anything, though his name is still on the Report. By backing out however, Adams gave the Junior counsel on the commission to step up and make a name for himself.

Here’s a book review that I wrote when the book came out in 2000. – BK


Arlen Specter’s Passion for Truth – From Finding JFK’s Single Bullet to Questioning Anita Hill to Impeaching Clinton, by Arlen Specter, with Charles Robbins (William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2000) – A review by W. Kelly

Sometimes, probably most times, passion isn’t enough. Passion reflects deep-rooted, engrained beliefs exhibited by feelings that are sometimes irrational, often wrong and frequently misdirected. Passion always raises the volume of conversation and blood pressure and sometimes escalates into violence, while seldom changing minds or opinions.

The truth on the other hand, is something worth being passionate about. I’m passionate about the truth too. But I’m after the total truth that makes for revelation, understanding and sometimes action, and not the politically expedient kind that Arlen Specter expresses in his autobiography.

This book is a good self-portrait of the senior Senator from Pennsylvania, and is well-written with the assistance of his long-time aid Charles Robbins. Being well-written doesn’t make it right, however, and Mr. Specter is wrong about one of the most significant points of modern American political history – the assassination of the 35th President of the United States.

Specter’s position as a key player remains strong, as he is a significant and pivotal mover and shaker in the national political drama, especially as it relates to the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court and the American public’s confidence in government.

The people’s confidence in the government, or lack of, is the gist of this book. The purpose of this book, what it’s really trying to accomplish, is to set a framework to regain the American public’s confidence in their government. It’s a legal base founded on the basic, fundamental lie that attempts to perpetuate the myth that the 36th President of the United States assumed power because of the actions of one, lone, deranged gunman.

This lie is important to uphold, at least for those in power, because the truth, if legally established, breaks the line of democratic succession and begins a line of illegal governments that maintains power today. Like the line of heavyweight champions of the world that stems back to Jack Johnson, or the succession of Popes, the legitimacy of the Presidency and the American government depends on this lie being maintained.

And thus, even though it is in total opposition to the truth, we have Specter and the 20% of the citizens allegedly believing and in this case espousing this lie. The basic truth that’s understood by most Americans and people of the world is that John F. Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, a covert intelligence operation and a coup d’etat that can and should be exposed, but whose perpetuators have yet to be held accountable for their actions.

Specter however, can, should and will be held accountable for his actions. Specter himself has been blamed for the continuing decline in the public’s confidence because of his “Single-Bullet Theory,” the “Conclusion” reached by the Warren Commission that the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of the actions of one individual – Lee Harvey Oswald.


As recounted by Specter in his “Prologue: The Single Bullet Conclusion,” he claims he cannot go an entire week without having someone ask him about it.
One particular incident stands out for Specter, the time at the Perot presidential forum in July 1995 when he was confronted by a newspaper reporter with the allegation that, “Cynicism in America all began with your Single-Bullet Theory and was flamed by Watergate.”

Indeed, as Arlen says, “It was a heavy charge. I had developed the Single-Bullet Theory more than thirty years earlier as a staff lawyer on the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, more commonly known as the Warren Commission. [See: Sidebar A]. It began as a theory, but when a theory is established by the facts, it deserves to be called a conclusion. The conclusion is that the same bullet sliced through President John F. Kennedy’s neck and then tore through Texas Governor Connally’s chest and wrist, finally lodging in the governor’s thigh, as the presidential motorcade wound through downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963. The Warren Commission adopted the Single-Bullet Conclusion as its official explanation. Essentially the reporter was accusing me of bringing cynicism to American government, with Richard Nixon as an accomplice years after the fact.”
As Specter did with that reporter, “I gave him the same basic discourse I had given to Chief Justice Earl Warren several blocks away at the Texas School Book Depository Building on an equally torrid Dallas day thirty-one years earlier,” and the same one he gives today, now on an almost daily basis. [See: Sidebar A].
“I do not know how much my explanation impressed the journalist at the Perot forum…. But the reporter who raised the issue about cynicism in government struck a raw nerve, far more important to the public dialog than any budget blueprint or crime control formula.”


“A central problem in America today is distrust of government. It goes beyond cynicism. Many Americans believe that their elected representatives are for sale and that their government lies to them. When momentous historical events occur, such as the assassination of President Kennedy, the popular reaction is that the government deceives and covers up through an explanation like the Single-Bullet Theory….In the three decades since President Kennedy’s assassination, voter participation has plummeted, threatening our democratic process; militias have sprouted in more than forty states; and public confidence in America’s institutions has gone into free fall.”

“Part of the cure demands that Americans move off the sidelines and onto the playing field. Democracy, after all, is not a spectator sport. But our political and social health also rests on government’s doggedly following the facts to find truth and then acting on that truth to create public policy. Generally, when people can agree on the facts, on what is true, they can agree on what should be done in a just society.”

Okay, agreed, Arlen, I’ll take you up on that, get off the sidelines and into the game, and if we can agree on some specific, important facts, we should be able to agree on what should be done and change public and government policy as it relates to political assassination in America.

While this book also contains Specter’s suggestions “for combating distrust in America by showing how congressional and other governmental inquiries can reveal the truth, how Senate hearings on Supreme Court appointments can answer important public questions on nominees’ fitness, and how the Congress responds to international crisis,” this report sticks strictly to the references to the assassination of President Kennedy, which Specter calls “the single most investigated event in world history, with the possible exception of the crucifixion of Christ.”

Specter also calls our interest in the mystery murder of the century as “an almost morbid obsession,” and that, as he continually points out, “questions still linger about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.”

But unlike the Lincoln assassination, which has slipped into the realm of history and for which a number of conspirators were tried and executed, the murder of John F. Kennedy remains an unsolved homicide for which someone can still be indicted, as there is no statute of limitations. And that’s the way we must approach this crime.
While this book has all the pretensions of an official autobiography, details of Specter’s family life and education, from Kansas to Cornell, are left for a more responsible biographer. For example, the years 1949 thru 1956 are summarized in one sentence: “I met a beautiful blonde, Joan Lois Levy, at a dance when I was a college sophomore, and she was still in high school. Four years later, in 1953, we married, months before I entered Yale Law School. I joined Dechert [Barnes, Dechert, Price, Myers and Rhodes of Philadelphia] upon graduating in 1956.”

Okay, that’s two sentences, but a lot of formidable, formative years lost to posterity. Yale Law School? No Skull & Bones, no impressionable profs, no schoolmates, best friends for life?

We’ll blow right past all that too, as well as other interesting tidbits, like Specter taking on and standing up to some of Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters, Anita Hill and Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and go right for the jugular, without even getting into the argument over whether the back would was in the back or the neck.

Specter’s in Philly in the district attorney’s office on New Year’s Eve, 1963 when his law school classmate Howard Willens, then working for Robert Kennedy, called to ask him to join the staff of the Warren Commission.


Establishing the template for how not to properly investigate a political homicide, “The Commission had divided the investigation into six major areas…..Area 1Covered President Kennedy’s activities from his departure by helicopter from the White House lawn on November 21,1963, to his body’s return to the White House early in the morning of November 23, after the autopsy. Area 2 covered the identity of the assassin [Lee Harvey Oswald]. The Area 2 team would treat it as an open question, despite Oswald’s arrest. Area 3 covered the life and background of Lee Harvey Oswald, except for his foreign travel and his activities the day of Kennedy’s assassination. Area 4 picked up Oswald’s foreign travel. Area 5 covered the background and activities of Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald to death in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters on Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, two days after the Kennedy assassination. Area 6 covered presidential protection for the future.”

As Mark Lane pointed out when he addressed the Warren Commission, these six panels cover everything, except “Who killed John Kennedy.” There was no panel established to review any evidence that anyone other than Oswald was responsible for the murder. Today, there is still no place for anyone to take evidence of crimes related to the assassination.

As Specter recalls, “….I chose Area 1, the president’s activities. It seemed the most compelling. Obviously, John F. Kennedy was the focal point of the entire event. I had no idea at that point of the turns the medical evidence would take or where Area 1 would lead…”

Specter notes that he was the junior attorney handling that area, while the senior lawyer was Francis W. H. Abrams, a former New York City police commissioner (1954-1955), who was quoted in the New York Post as calling the Kennedy assassination, “just another first-degree murder case.” According to Specter, “Adams thought the commission should conduct an incisive, piercing investigation, wrap up the matter, and file its report.”

“Of course,” as Specter said Abrams usually began a sentence, when Abrams realized that no such incisive, piercing, first-degree homicide investigation would take place, he left most of the work up to the junior attorney, who wrote in this book that, “The commission had hired a team of lawyers from around the country, accomplished but with limited courtroom and investigative experience. The commission deliberately chose a geographically diverse team with limited government connections to avoid any appearance of a whitewash. We lawyers used to laugh that many documents were marked ‘Top Secret,’ even though we would not get our security clearances for more than a month.”

“At the first staff meeting,” Specter specifically recalls how, “Warren stressed that our mission, and our obligation, was to find the truth and report it. From the very start, the commission understood that we should not be advocates out to prove a case but must act as independent, disinterested professionals with a duty to find and disclose all the facts, regardless of their implications. ‘Your client is the truth,’ the chief justice told us.”

Well, the truth was badly misrepresented, as was Oswald, whose official legal representative from the American Bar Association was offered the opportunity, but declined to question or cross-examine witnesses.

In addition, it is hard to accept Warren’s client as the truth with the other revelations in this book, including the fact that, “Allen Dulles may have withheld vital information from the commission, the type of vital information we were counting on him to supply. Dulles, for example, did not tell other commission members about CIA plots against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Attorney General Katzenbach later testified before the House in 1978 that he was ‘astounded’ by the omission.”

Later, Specter writes, “In general, the various intelligence agencies hoarded information rather than sharing it. ‘It really was set up to the contrary, not to share information but to impose barriers to the attainment of information, one from the other,’ recalled Sam Stern, who dealt extensively with the agencies.”


Under the Chapter entitled “The Biggest Mistake,” Specter writes: “The Warren Commission has been attacked – and rightly so – for not examining the X rays and autopsy photographs of President Kennedy in its investigation,” an opinion shared by fellow Warren Commission attorneys David Belin, Joe Ball and Norman Redlich. As Specter quotes Belin, “It was a decision that gave rise to wild speculation and rumor. It was a decision that violated the basic elementary rules of evidence familiar to every law student in America that when a person testifies he should have the ‘best evidence’ available.”

Then again with the Tippit photos and X-rays, Mrs. Tippitt wanted to keep “private,” instigated Specter to quote Belin again when he wrote: “One of the basic lesson of the Warren Commission investigation is the ramifications that arise when special treatment is given to a favored few….The reverberations from the decision to withhold publication of the autopsy photographs and X-rays will be felt for many decades as apart of the overall diminution of the confidence that the American people have in the integrity of their elected officials.”

“Any investigator likes to have all the facts before drawing conclusions,” writes Specter. “That applies to corroborative evidence, such as photographs and X rays, as well as to general testimony. A picture is usually worth a thousand words. The photographs and X rays could have gone a long way toward resolving the controversy over the direction and location of the shots.”

“The bullet wounds, as shown on the photographs, were consistent with the Single-Bullet Conclusion. The entrance wound on the neck was about an inch below the shoulder line in the president’s back. The exit wound, at the site of the tracheotomy in his throat, was lower. The massive head wound was also consistent with a shot from above and behind.”


A case he handled while working or Dechert was that of the bail hearing for Philadelphia Hippie Guru Ira Einhorn, aka “The Unicorn,” charged with the murder of his former girlfriend, Texas cheerleader Holly Maddox, who was found stuffed in a trunk in Einhorn’s apartment a few years after she was murdered. According to Specter, “The inference was that Einhorn had killed Maddux, because they’d been heard arguing and she was threatening to leave him. The Unicorn was madly in love with the blond Texan.”

“I agreed to handle the case for the purposes of the bail hearing. When I talked with Einhorn at the Philadelphia detention center, he insisted he’d been set up by the CIA and that mind control was involved, like the feats performed by spoon bender Uri Geller. I thought Einhorn might have a winning defense: temporary insanity. A person would arguably have to be out of his mind to keep his lover’s corpse in a trunk for such a long time. That devotion and attachment might be consistant with a passion killing to stop her from leaving him.”

“Einhorn’s friends produced a long line of Philadelphia’s finest to attest to his good reputation and the likelihood of his appearing for trial. The commonwealth requested bail in the amount of $100,000. The judge set bail at $40,000, requiring Einhorn to post $4,000 cash for his pretrial release. A month before he was slated to stand trial in January 1981, the Unicorn jumped bail and fled. He remained at large for sixteen years, an international cause celebre, and was finally located in June 1997 in a village in the south of France. In December 1997 a French court set Einhorn free, ruling that extraditing him would violate his civil rights because he had been tried and convicted of first-degree murder in absentia. Recently the French have reconsidered, and Einhorn may yet face punishment.”

“Although my part in Einhorn’s case was limited to the bail hearing, the news media emphasized my role after I was elected to the Senate, to give the case more flavor.”

It’s not that the Einhorn saga needs any more flavor, when in fact Einhorn was a subject of intense study and interest by the CIA, possibly even the KGB, and definitely his good friend and neighbor Arthur Young, the inventor of the Bell Helicopter and stepfather of Michael Young, Lee Harvey Oswald’s Irving, Texas patron.

Young was married to Michael’s mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, whose best friend and travel companion was Mary Bancroft, Allen Dulles’ Swiss agent and lover who participated in the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler.

Of course, Allen Dulles was just as quite about his relationship with Mary Bancroft and friendship with Michael Paine’s mom as he was about the CIA’s plots to kill Castro.

So we are to believe that Specter’s ignorance of all these significant facts at the time, allows him to escape the proper conclusions today?

No way, as we are going to inform him, so he can no longer use the trap-door, escape hatch, excuse the Warren Commission wrote into their report that, “the Commission found no evidence of conspiracy.”

Indeed, they never found it, not for the lack of effort in looking, but because they never wanted to find it and turned a blind eye towards all the evidence and facts that indicated other than what they wanted determined.

In his defense, Specter rightly cites an NBC Dateline show using an out-take clip of Specter speaking on an entirely different topic, and a NBC docudrama on Einhorn in 1999 that had an actor playing Arlen Specter saying things he never said, with the following response from NBC: “As a dramatization based on fact, the movie didn’t purport and was not understood by viewers to confine itself to the presentation of precise documented facts as does a documentary.” Specter is certainly correct when he says: “That is absurd on its face. When a person identified as Arlen Specter, an individual known to the public, makes statements in a television program, the obvious conclusion would be that Arlen Specter spoke those lines,…” Indeed they would.

And now, thanks to “Passion for Truth,” the real words Specter says, and boy are they better than anything a hack docudrama scriptwriter could dream up:

1- “That Dulles withheld vital evidence from the Commission”
2- “Various intelligence agencies hoarded information rather than sharing it”
3- “The decision not to review the autopsy X-rays was the biggest mistake and violated the basic elementary rules of evidence.”
4- That they “…got into a lot of trouble because the Illinois State Police did the ballistics.”

5- That one of the lessons the Warren Commissioned learned is the “ramifications of when special treatment is awarded a certain few,” and that the Tippitt family and the family of victims should not be able to intervene in the investigation by prohibiting the use of autopsy photos and X-rays.

6- “Lyndon Johnson, a conceivable suspect and a witness, was never interviewed.”
7- That Specter was responsible for the release of fugitive Ira Einhorn, who claimed the CIA was responsible for the murder of Holly Maddox, and who is facing extradition to the U.S. from France to stand retrial for the murder.

We don’t need any more chilling facts to beef up the drama or to know that there really hasn’t yet been an unhindered, independent homicide investigation into the murder of John Kennedy, yet.

“Truth Vanquishes Distrust”

According to Sen. Specter, “To combat distrust in America, senators – along with all others in government – must simply tell the people the truth. Sometimes this is tough. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. There is never a time when the alternative is better. I there is cause to suspect a governmental cover-up, the Senate or the House, through prompt oversight, should ferret out the facts. Had congressional oversight on Waco been as effective as it was on Ruby Ridge, the militia movement would have been less motivated to mobilize. It is even conceivable the Oklahoma City bombing could have been avoided.”

On the same token, I make the proposition that if the murder of JFK had been properly investigated and those responsible prosecuted, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and most of those that have followed could have been avoided, and assassination remains a political threat as long as the JFK case is left a mystery.

I agree with Sen. Specter when he says: “Congress should work to restore public trust by acting on key problems of public concern in a bipartisan way. People are sick of partisanship and politics as usual. President Kennedy said it best: ‘Sometimes party asks too much.’ I am thoroughly convinced that trust is the glue that holds a democracy together. Public trust must be earned, nurtured, and insulated from the effects of a sound-bite society that too often encourages the white lie or the whitewash.”

Now the first step towards the restoration of public trust is for the government, beginning with Congress, through public hearings, to review the JFK Act, the work of the Assassinations Records Review Board and the reactions of the various government agencies to the law.

The public’s confidence cannot be regained until all of the questions are answered as to what began the decline – the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Only the truth will vanquish the distrust. Let’s have it.

Specter & Castro

From “Passion for the Truth” by Arlen Specter:

“My longest session with any world leader took place on the night of June 2 and into early morning of June 3, 1999, with Cuban President Fidel Castro, at the end of a three-day trip to Havana. Those who are waiting for Fidel Castro to die before the United States normalizes relations with Cuba may wait a long time. I can attest that in June 1999 Castro was a vigorous seventy-three-year-old, as well as garrulous, humorous, and engaging. He looked fit in his trademark green military uniform with modest insignia. We had been advised that Castro enjoyed lengthy talks. We knew we were in for a long night when the Cuban president said he had worked until 5:45 A.M. the night before but had then slept eight hours, waking at 2:00 P.M. – just six hours before our meeting. We didn’t even more from the president’s conference room to his dining room until midnight.”

“Naturally, we talked politics. I urged him to run in a contested election. He laughed and replied that if he ran against the United States. It may be that the United States is the only opponent less popular with the Cuban people than Fidel. Castro didn’t complain about the U.S. embargo or urge its removal. When I broached the subject, he said its end might actually make him weaker, because it could no longer be blamed for Cuba’s economic problems. The U.S. – Cuban situation has changed enormously in the nearly thirty-seven years since we imposed the embargo. Castro no longer threatens to instigate revolution throughout Latin America, and Cuba is no longer an outpost for Soviet expansion.”

“I questioned Castro closely about his allowing the U.S.S.R. to base nuclear missiles ninety miles from Florida in 1962 and within striking distance of Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. He replied that he had first tried to buy weapons from Belgium, a NATO nation, to defend himself against attacks like the Bay of Pigs. When those efforts were sabotaged, he turned to the Soviet Union.”

“Castro then brought out a handwritten copy of the agreement to allow the U.S.S.R. to position missiles in Cuba. He described how he had personally redrafted legal papers. He told of going hunting with Nikita Khrushchev near Moscow when the Soviet leader read to him President Kennedy’s letter promising to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey and Italy and to leave Cuba alone. Castro said he then knew that Khrushchev had decided to unilaterally to remove the Soviet missiles, which Castro regarded as a breach of their deal. In the end, Castro said, the Russian withdraw also served Cuba’s purpose. ‘We preferred the risk of invasion to the presence of Soviet troops, because it would have established an image [of Cuba] as a Soviet base.”

“When our conversation reached its fifth hour, I brought up the CIA attempts on Castro’s life, as documented by a Senate committee in the 1970s. Plans were launched to poison Castro’s milk shake and to plant an exploding cigar. ‘Some of them were childish,’ he said. Castro said he had survived largely ‘as a matter of luck.’”

“I asked him how he felt about being the target of so many assassination attempts. ‘Muy bien,’ he replied – very well. I repeated the question. He gave essentially the same answer. I pressed, asking how he really felt. Castro replied. ‘Do you play any sports?’”

“I said, ‘I play squash every day.’”

“`This is my sport,’ he said. A truly remarkable answer. Castro claims he has escaped 637 attempts on his life. The CIA cites a much smaller number.”

“I gingerly asked about the early rumors that he had conspired with Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President Kennedy. Castro said neither he nor anyone else in Cuba had anything to do with Oswald. ‘I’m a Marxist, not a crazy man,’ he said. I asked him if he had been concerned about the early international speculation that he was involved in JFK’s murder. He said, ‘Si,’ given that the Untied States, by his reckoning, was looking for a provocation or pretense to invade Cuba.”


Warren Commission

January 6, 2010
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The Warren Commission Conclusions:

“The Commission was created to ascertain the facts relating to the preceding summary of events and to consider the important questions which they raised. The Commission has addressed itself to this task and has reached certain conclusions based on all the available evidence…These conclusions represent the reasoned judgment of all members of the Commission and are presented after an investigation which has satisfied the Commission that it has ascertained the truth concerning the assassination of President Kennedy to the extent that a prolonged and thorough search makes possible…”

“…1 (f)…There is no credible evidence that the shots were fired from the Triple Underpass, ahead of the motorcade, or from any other location…”

“…9. The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy….”

“….(a) The Commission has found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald in planning or carrying out the assassination…”

“….(b) The Commission has found no evidence that Oswald was involved with any person or group in a conspiracy to assassinate the President,….”

“…(d) The Commission …was unable to find any evidence that the contacts which he initiated were related to Oswald’s subsequent assassination of the President…”

“…(e) All of the evidence before the Commission established that there was nothing to support the speculation that Oswald was an agent, employee, or informant of the FBI, the CIA, or any other government agency…”

“…(f) No direct or indirect relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby has been discovered by the Commission…”

“….(g) The Commission has found no evidence that Jack Ruby acted with any other person in the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald.”

“….(h) After careful investigation the Commission has found no credible evidence either that Ruby and Officer Tippit, who was killed by Oswald, knew each other or that Oswald and Tippit knew each other.”

“Because of the difficulty of proving negatives to a certainty, the possibility of others being involved with either Oswald or Ruby cannot be established categorically, but if there is any such evidence it has been beyond the reach of all the investigative agencies and resources of the United States and has not come to the attention of this Commission.”

“ 10. In its entire investigation the Commission has found no evidence of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the U.S. Government by any Federal, State, or local official…”


T. Jeremy Gunn

January 6, 2010
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T. Jeremy Gunn on Declassification Issues

January 3, 2010

T. Jeremy Gunn on Declassification Issues

T. Jeremy Gunn
Executive Director and General Counsel
Assassination Records Review Board
Prepared Statement for
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
Hearing on S. 712
March 25, 1998

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee — I appreciate the opportunity to testify on S. 712 from the perspective of a person who has labored in the declassification trenches for the past three and one-half years. Although I serve as the Executive Director of the Assassination Records Review Board, I wish to emphasize that I am testifying here today not as a spokesman for the Review Board, but as an individual who has been involved in day-to-day interactions with numerous Federal agencies on issues related to declassification. The Review Board members, who were appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, are Judge John R. Tunheim, Professor Henry F. Graff, Dean Kermit L. Hall, Dr. William L. Joyce, and Professor Anna Kasten Nelson. The Board members have provided the American people unparalleled access to information that has been held secret for more than a third of a century. The Review Board’s official positions on matters related to declassification will be set forth in its Final Report to Congress and the President later this year.

I applaud the efforts of Senator Moynihan, Senator Helms, and this Committee to reduce government secrecy. One of the tragic consequences of government secrecy has been the widely held belief that the government has known much more about the assassination than it has been willing to reveal to the public. Many of the assassination records that we have seen could have been opened to the public years ago without any harm to the national security. The efforts of this Committee could go a long way to help alleviate the suspicion of government — some of it being justifiable suspicion — that has festered since the assassination of President Kennedy.

Because my experience comes principally from the field of declassification, I will focus my remarks on that area rather than discuss the very important issue of initial classification.

I. Background
Although the word “unique” is over-used, it can fairly be applied to the work and accomplishments of the Review Board. The Board was created by Congress in an effort to release the government’s still-secret files related to the assassination of President Kennedy. In accordance with the declassification standards articulated in Section 6 of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, 44 U.S.C. sect. 2107, Pub.L. 102-526 (as amended) (“JFK Act”), the Review Board has opened up previously classified records from numerous agencies and departments, including the CIA, NSA, FBI, the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and Justice, as well as the Military Services, Secret Service, Senate and House Committees, and the National Security Council.

Under the JFK Act, agencies are required either to open assassination records in full, or to present to the Review Board proposed redactions and evidence in support of their proposed redactions. After receiving the agencies’ evidence, the Review Board deliberates and makes “formal determinations” as to whether the records should be opened. The Board’s determinations have been overwhelmingly in favor of opening records. If an agency disagrees with the formal determination of the Review Board, its sole recourse is to appeal the Board’s decisions to the President. Thus far, only one agency, the FBI, has appealed Board decisions. (The appeals ultimately involved approximately 90 records and four different issues.) After extensive briefings had been submitted to the President — with each side arguing why the records should or should not be released — the FBI ultimately withdrew its appeals and negotiated with the Review Board for resolution of the issues. Without exception, every formal determination ultimately made by the Review Board has prevailed and records have been released in accordance with Board decisions. It has now been almost two years since an agency has appealed a decision to the President. Thus, the Board’s work has been a success. Although I do not consider the JFK Act to be the precise model for future government-wide declassification efforts, it nevertheless has provided valuable lessons that may be of use to you as you consider S. 712.

II. The “Four Noble Truths” of Declassification
In my opinion, any legislation that would attempt to have a significant impact on the culture of secrecy must do more than articulate worthy goals and establish bureaucratic entities to reiterate those goals. Effective legislation must address the significant institutional impediments to declassification. Any conscientious effort to change the secrecy system should take into account what I will call the “Four Noble Truths” of declassification:

first, an independent entity, not the classifying agency, should be the final decision maker on declassification;

second, the independent declassification entity should be informed, committed, and skeptical;

third, in order for declassification to be successful, there must be internal institutional incentives to declassify information; and

fourth, the key to successful declassification is not the articulation of the categories of information exempt from release (although the clear articulation of such categories is important), but the allocation of the burden of proof to the party that seeks to exempt information from release.
Because these four points are inextricably interconnected, I will discuss them in reference to our work and to a series of documents that are attached as exhibits to this testimony.

During the past four years, I have spent hundreds of hours talking with officials from more than a dozen agencies and reviewing memoranda that argue against the release of certain types of classified information. It has been my general impression that the officials making such arguments are intelligent, conscientious, competent, and hardworking. (I also have had the general impression that they have sought to be cooperative with the Review Board and that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the JFK Act.) One nevertheless cannot help but observe a deep-seated, institutional reluctance to release information — particularly on the part of those institutions that were created for the purposes of collecting secret information and preserving secrets.

In order to facilitate declassification, S. 712 requires agencies to articulate their reasons for initial classifications and for exemptions from declassification. For example, Section 4(c)(2)(A) would require the agency to “provide in writing a detailed justification for [an initial classification] decision.” Similarly, with regard to the 30-year review, agencies would “certi[fy] to the President at the end of such 30-year period that continued protection of the information from unauthorized disclosure is essential to the national security of the United States ….” (Sect. 4(d)(2)). The talented officials who are hired by the agencies will be able to provide such explanations and such justifications. The issue from my perspective is not whether agencies are able to articulate such justifications, but to what extent their justifications can withstand scrutiny. Let me provide some examples where initial justifications for withholding information did not withstand scrutiny.

Illustration 1. See Exhibit A. The first illustration is a CIA cable dated November 27, 1963, that has now been released in full. As you can see, the second line of typed text includes the crypts (or cryptonyms) “RYBAT” and “GPFLOOR.” These crypts appear in what is called the “slug line” and they are routing and sensitivity indicators. “GPFLOOR” is the crypt that refers to Lee Harvey Oswald. This same crypt appears in the first line of the second paragraph of text. The CIA originally advised that GPFLOOR could not be released in the slug line although it could be released in the text of the cable. I had several discussions with agency officials as they tried to explain why GPFLOOR could be released in one place but not in the other. I could not understand their explanations. At that time I was new to the work and I did not know whether I was simply not bright enough or experienced enough to understand the explanation being offered. I again raised the question in a later meeting with several agency officials that covered other topics. Finally, an official said: “I don’t see why it can’t be released. This is an issue for COMMO [COMMO is the Communications Office.] Someone ask COMMO whether it cares.” COMMO was subsequently asked — and it had no objection to the release. I now infer that protecting crypts in slug lines was an ingrained agency habit rather than a considered judgment. The disclosure came only after incessant questioning by a skeptical interlocutor.

Illustration 2. During the course of our review of records from the Secret Service, the Board identified for the Secret Service a record it intended to open in full and the agency objected. The Board then advised that a copy of the record had actually been published in full in 1964 as an exhibit to the Warren Commission Report. The agency continued to object, arguing that even a subsequent release of an open document would again disclose matters that should be kept secret. The Board subsequently voted to open the record.

Illustration 3. In several FBI documents that were subject to appeal to the President, the FBI argued that certain types of its electronic surveillance had not previously been disclosed. In our opposing memoranda, we showed that Director J. Edgar Hoover, in open testimony to Congress, had effectively disclosed the existence of the electronic surveillance. Those records are now open.

Illustration 4. See Exhibit B. The Review Board was presented with a heavily redacted but provocative document pertaining to an FBI “Internal Security” inquiry into Lee Harvey Oswald in October 1960. The FBI declined to release the information, arguing that it contained the equities of a foreign government and that the government had refused to release the information. The Review Board, with the assistance of the Department of State, thereupon approached the Swiss Government and requested that it consent to the release of information about the assistance that the Swiss Federal Police provided to the FBI to track down Oswald. The Swiss government agreed and the record is now open in full.

Illustration 5. See Exhibit C. The Review Board located several Top Secret documents related to military contingency planning for a coup in Cuba. Exhibit C contains one page from a 58-page document from this group that had been “excluded from automatic downgrading and declassification.” The Review Board staff arranged for a group of declassifiers from several military and other national-security entities to meet at the Review Board offices in a joint-declassification session. The 58 pages of this document, and many other records from this group, have gone from being completely closed to completely open.

Illustration 6. See Exhibit D. In May 1963, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with military advisers in the eighth of a series of conferences on Vietnam. Exhibit D includes all of the material that had been publicly released on the conference prior to Review Board action (a 6-page summary published in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-63 Vol. 3) and the title page of a 213-page Record [of the] Eighth Secretary of Defense Conference from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Official File that has now been opened in full. Prior to Review Board action, the memorandum had been excluded from automatic downgrading and declassification and could presumably have remained classified forever. A stamp on page 1 discloses that the document was systematically reviewed by JCS in May 1989 and the classification of Top Secret was continued. The document was opened in full at a declassification session in July 1997.
Illustration 7. See Exhibit E. Like the FBI, the CIA typically is reluctant to release information regarding technical surveillance. Exhibit E is a monthly operational report from Mexico City from September 1-30, 1963, a period that includes Oswald’s arrival in the Mexican capital. In 1993, the document was postponed in its entirety. The Review Board voted to open the record in its entirety.

Illustration 8. See Exhibit F. The Review Board has also had some success in releasing NSA records. Exhibit F is dated November 26, 1963, and discloses NSA’s intercepts of communications related to Cuban military alerts after the assassination. It was originally unavailable to the public in any form and was exempt from declassification. After Board action, the important information has been released.

Illustration 9. See Exhibit G. Exhibit G is a National Security Council document that pertains to an alleged plot to assassinate Castro. Although it was originally classified “Secret” and was deemed to be exempt from declassification, the NSC agreed to release it in full after discussions with the Board.

I trust that these examples show that agencies are initially inclined to protect information that can and should be released. But the examples also show that, with a little prodding by an independent entity, agencies can and will participate in a cooperative spirit to declassify secrets. Under the current regime, outside of the JFK Act, agencies have little internal or external incentive to take an energetic approach to declassifying records. Agencies do not send the message to agency personnel that a fast track to career advancement lies with the release of more information than is absolutely necessary. Agencies have the natural disinclination to release information that has been painstakingly acquired. Ultimately, secrecy becomes a habit and declassification is mired in lack of attention and inertia. There is, however, an important and encouraging message that comes out of the Board’s experience: once agencies come to the understanding that they must declassify records and that there is a presumption that records should be opened, the agencies will cooperate in good faith with the requirements established by Congress.

III. The Mechanics of Declassification
Declassification involves more than appropriate standards for the release of information. It also calls for the establishment of effective mechanisms to move records through the bureaucracy. Once again, the experience of the Review Board provides valuable lessons that should be of use to this Committee in considering legislation. I would like to draw attention to four important points involving the mechanics of declassification.

First, the “referral process” is one of the most significant, government-wide bottlenecks to the declassification of records. Before an agency can release information in its records that was obtained from another agency, it must refer the record to the agency from which it derived that information. Although this procedure is a sensible arrangement that promotes the valuable goal of sharing information among agencies, it becomes a costly and time-consuming obstacle to declassification. Very frequently, records become trapped in the morass of the referral process.
The Review Board developed essentially three procedures to help expedite the referral process: (a) establishing joint-declassification sessions where several agencies convened at the Review Board offices (or sometimes at another site) and declassified records; (b) hand-carrying records from one agency to another and having them declassified on-site; and (c) giving agencies notice that unless records were reviewed by a certain date, the Board would simply vote to open the records without receiving the benefit of their input. In my opinion, any legislation designed to improve the declassification process must take into account this referral bottleneck by giving to the independent, supervising agency, the authority to set enforceable timetables.

The ability to bring agencies together, such as in the joint-declassification sessions, has important beneficial effects that extend beyond expediting the referral process. In our experience, agencies tended to lose some of their institutional inhibitions as they sat at a table with each other and discussed records openly. Surprisingly, agencies typically assumed that another agency would not release information when the other agency was in fact willing to do so. Frequently, it is the suspicion that one agency does not want to release information that inhibits other agencies from releasing information. Like the COMMO example from Illustration 1 above, the perception of unwillingness to open records is sometimes greater than the need to keep records closed.

Second, the Review Board profitted from the power, authorized by Congress, to “direct a Government office to make available to the Review Board . . . additional information, records, or testimony from individuals, which the Review Board has reason to believe is required to fulfill its functions and responsibilities ….” JFK Act, sect. 7(j)(1)(C)(ii). This power enabled the Review Board to obtain information about the basis for classifications, the existence of records relevant to completing its mandate, and the circumstances surrounding the creation of records. It is important that an agency with supervisory responsibility over declassification have the authority to obtain the information it needs to accomplish its work.

Third, as with the referral process, a frequent bottleneck in the declassification process is the final transfer of records from the declassifying agency to the National Archives. An independent entity responsible for supervising this process should have, the authority and responsibility of guaranteeing that once the declassification process is complete, the final step of making records available to the public is taken.

Fourth, although the start-up process is very time-consuming, it is a necessary prelude to more efficient and productive work. The start-up time for the Review Board, as I understand is also the case for Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), required education not only of the Board and staff, but also of the agencies. It is important that any future planning of an endeavor of this nature take into account the initial costs and, importantly, take advantages of the lessons learned by the Review Board. The initial cost can be recuperated in the long run.

When an independent agency, such as the Review Board, has the authority to set the agenda (by establishing timetables), sponsor joint declassification sessions, require the production of evidence, and ensure the prompt transfer of declassified records from the agencies to the National Archives, declassification can be a success. I strongly urge this Committee to take advantage of the momentum created by the JFK Act and by ISCAP, and create an authority that will be able to bring independence, consistency, and energy to the process of making the government more open and accountable to the people who have paid for it.

IV. Recommendations for Making S. 712 More Effective
With regard to S. 712, I wish to summarize the following recommendations that have been offered either explicitly or implicitly in the testimony above:
First, the entity responsible for overseeing the declassification process (which, in the current version of the S. 712, is the National Declassification Center), must be genuinely independent of the agencies whose records it oversees. The Center should be staffed by persons who are both sensitive to the genuine secrets of the agencies, but who also are skeptical and demanding of proof.

Second, the independent entity should have the power to set reasonable timetables by which an agency must complete the declassification review (or referral review). The independent entity should be empowered to release information on its own authority if agencies do not comply with reasonable timetables. The independent agency should additionally be empowered to obtain information from the agencies that is essential for completing its work.

Third, the legislation should incorporate a statutory provision that, at a certain point in time, records will presumptively be opened unless the agencies are able to articulate specific and persuasive reasons for continued redactions. Although it would be sensible to provide agencies with the benefit of the doubt regarding declassification for an initial period (e.g., between 10 and 25 years), once this period has passed the presumption should shift decisively in favor of releasing the information.

Fourth, agencies should be required to do more than provide mere “detailed justifications” (see, e.g., S. 712 sect. 4(c)(2)(A)) for classifying and refusing to declassify records. The written explanations must be more than “justifications,” they must be able to convince a skeptical reader who has sufficient information to evaluate the merits of the writing.

Fifth, it would be highly advisable to provide the declassification entity (the National Declassification Center), with the authority to make binding requests to agencies to search out records that may have been misplaced or misfiled.
Finally, there is one additional recommendation that I would make that presumably goes beyond the scope of today’s hearing and so I will raise it only in passing. I believe it would be advisable for future Executive Orders to break down the “sources and methods” exemption, inasmuch as it is used too casually and it covers a multitude of very distinct issues. To the extent that the Committee is interested, I would be willing to submit additional comments at a later point to develop this issue.

* * * *

I would like once again to thank the Committee for taking seriously the right of the American people to better understand how their government functions. I would be pleased to answer your questions.

List of Exhibits
Statement of T. Jeremy Gunn

Exhibit A.
Cable to the Mexico City Station from CIA Headquarters, November 27,1963.
This document was released in full after a Board vote in 1995. The second line of typed text includes the crypts (or cryptonyms) “RYBAT” and “GPFLOOR.” These crypts appear in the “slug line” and they are routing and sensitivity indicators. “GPFLOOR” is the crypt that refers to Lee Harvey Oswald. This same crypt appears in the first line of the second paragraph of text. CIA originally advised that GPFLOOR could not be released in the slug line although it could be released in the text of the cable.

Exhibit B.

Letter to the Legal Attache in Paris from the Director of the FBI, October 12,1960.
Subject: Lee Harvey Oswald – Internal Security.

This document was one of several records exempted by the FBI because it contained foreign government information. The stamps on the page suggest that the document was reviewed in 1977 and stamped exempt from declassification. This document was re-reviewed in 1992 and severely redacted. The Review Board, with the assistance of the Department of State, approached the Swiss Government and requested that it consent to the release of the information. In December 1995, the document was released in full after a Board vote and with the concurrence of the Swiss Government.

Exhibit C.

Memorandum to the Secretary of Defense from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 31, 1964.

Subject: A Contingency Plan for a Coup in Cuba.
The Review Board located several Top Secret documents related to military contingency planning for a coup in Cuba. This exhibit contains one page from a 58-page document formerly classified Top Secret–Sensitive. The document was excluded from automatic declassification and was unavailable to the public in any form. It was systematically reviewed in October 1989 and the classification was continued. This document and many similar documents were opened in full at a declassification session in July 1997 after review by representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the National Security Council, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Exhibit D.

(a) Vietnam January-August 1963, Foreign Relations of the United States, Vol. 3. pp. 265-270.
(b) Memorandum for the Record of the Eighth Secretary of Defense Conference on Vietnam, May 6,1963, Honolulu, Hawaii .

In May 1963, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with military advisers in the eighth of a series of conferences on Vietnam in Honolulu, Hawaii. Part (a) of this exhibit includes all of the material that had been publicly released on the conference prior to Review Board action (a 6-page summary published in Foreign Relations of the United States) and part (b) includes the title pages of the full 213-page Record [of the] Eighth Secretary of Defense Conference from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Official File that has now been opened in full. Prior to Review Board action, the memorandum had been excluded from automatic regrading and declassification and could presumably have remained classified forever. A stamp on page 1 discloses that the document was systematically reviewed by JCS in May 1989, and the classification of Top Secret was continued. The document was opened in full at an ARRB declassification session in July 1997.

Exhibit E.

Monthly Operational Report 1-30 September from the Chief of Station, Mexico City to Chief KURIOT, October 18, 1963.
The CIA typically is reluctant to release information regarding technical surveillance. This document is a CIA monthly operational report for Mexico City for September 1963, a period that includes Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrival in the Mexican capital. The attached form discloses that this document was reviewed in 1993 and postponed in its entirety. It was opened in full in 1995 after a Board vote.

Exhibit F.

NSA SIGINT product report, November 26, 1963.

The Review Board has had some success in releasing NSA records. This document discloses NSA’s intercepts of communications related to Cuban military alerts after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was originally unavailable to the public in any form and was exempt from automatic declassification. This document was released with sanitizations by Board vote.

Exhibit G.

Memorandum to McGeorge Bundy from Gordon Chase, June 15, 1964. Subject: Assassination of Castro.

This document from the files of the National Security Council was originally classified “Secret” and was exempted from declassification in 1976. The NSC agreed to release it in full after discussions with the Review Board in 1998.

Horne Memo AF1 Radio Tapes

January 3, 2010


October 17, 1995

To: Jeremy Gunn

cc David Marwell
Joan Zimmerman
Anne Buttimer
Dennis Quinn

From: Doug Horne

Subject: Air Force One Audiotapes from November 22, 1963

1. As directed, Joan Zimmerman and I visited Archives II to listen to audio recordings of the November 22, 1963 Air Force One tapes. Our initial effort lasted two working days, October 10-11, 1995.

2. The Air Force One tapes presently held by NARA are 3 edited cassette copies provided by the LBJ library, and are identified as follows:

LBJ Library Cassette No. Identifiers

NLJ 3 SRT 969-1
NLJ 4 SRT 969-2
NLJ 5 SRT 969-3

An unidentified voice informs the listener at the outset of the first cassette (NLJ 3) that the recording is “edited and condensed.” The agency or organization which performed the editing is not identified either. Total length of the recorded material on these edited tapes is estimated at about 2 hours; without running a stopwatch a more precise estimate is not possible, since the 3 cassettes used for the transfer by the LBJ library are not uniformly filled with material. For example, the second side of tapes NLJ 4 and NLJ 5 are almost 100% blank, and the first side of tape NLJ 3 is not completely filled.

3. Procedures: The audiotapes at NARA must be listened to in Suite 4000 at Archives II. The tapes are requested in suite 4000; they are not held by Steve Tilley. An imperfect,

Horne e:\wp-docs\AF1.wpd
File: 4.0.4

[…An] incomplete “transcript” of the edited audiotapes can be found in LBJ library box # 19. It is highly recommended that anyone listening to the tapes first check out this item from Steve Tilley on the sixth floor, and run off a photocopy of the transcript.

4. Joan Zimmerman and I took voluminous notes, noting the many occasions when spoken word on the tapes is not accounted for on the LBJ transcript. We also took notes in an attempt to expand on areas of the “transcript” which are only summations of conversations (vice verbatim accounts), and attempted to correct occasional inaccuracies found in the LBJ “transcript.” We both feel that it would be premature, at this time, for the ARRB to attempt to create a true, verbatim transcript of the edited Air Force One tapes, since the Review Board is engaged in a search to locate the unedited tapes from which the LBJ variant is condensed. If-and-when a complete audio record of these conversations is located, it may be considered worthwhile for the ARRB to expend the resources necessary to create a complete and precise transcript for inclusion in the JFK Collection at NARA.

5. The Air Force One tapes commence when the Presidential aircraft (Special Air Mission, or “SAM” 26000) is still on the ground at Carswell AFB near Fort Worth, Texas on the morning of November 22, 1963; as the tape begins, President Kennedy has not yet boarded the aircraft following the Fort Worth breakfast event, so the aircraft is not yet referred to as “Air Force One.” The LBJ tapes include the flight from Carswell AFB to Love Field outside Dallas before the assassination, and the flight from Love Field to Andrews AFB outside Washington DC after the assassination. The various parties (or “patches,” to use military communications jargon) include the following, listed exactly as spoken on the tapes:

Name/Call Sign Remarks

SAM 26000 The Presidential aircraft, when the President is not onboard.

Air Force One The Presidential aircraft, when the President is aboard.

SAM 86972 The State Department aircraft carrying Press Secretary Salinger, Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Agriculture Freeman and other Cabinet members and Administration officials. When the assassination occurred, this aircraft was enroute from Hawaii to Japan; subsequent to the assassination, the aircraft returned to Hawaii to refuel, and then flew directly from Hickam AFB in Hawaii to Andrews AFB Washington.

“Andrews” An “Airman Gilmore” answers for Andrews AFB throughout the tape and appears to be the central player attempting to facilitate all “patches.”

“Liberty” Precise definition unknown, but through context, “Liberty” appears to be the party controlling radio frequency assignments among 26000, 86972, and the various parties in Washington DC who are talking with Government officials on Air Force One while it is enroute Andrews AFB. [Now know to be “the Fish Bowl” at Collins HQ, Cedar Rapids, Iowa]

“Command Post” Command Post’s location is never specified.

“Air Force Command Post” Air Force Command Post’s location is never specified.

“SAM Command Post” SAM Command Post’s location is never specified.

“Crown” White House Situation Room.

6. The LBJ transcript from LBJ box # 19 has appended to it many of the USSS-WHCA code names used by personnel onboard SAM 26000, SAM 86972, and at the White House situation room; additional code names found on the tapes can be found on pages xxi and xxii of Death of a President, by William Manchester. Nevertheless, there are still some code names used in the tape which Ms. Zimmerman and I could not decipher using the research tools mentioned above. Two of these unidentified dramatis personae on the tapes are “Stranger” and “Dagger”. It was interesting to note that on November 22, 1963 following the assassination, presumably due to the great stress induced by the day’s events, use of the USSS-WHCA code names was sloppy and inconsistent, with many speakers interchanging their code names and real names during the same conversation (thus compromising the purpose of the code names).

7. As a result of our review of the LBJ library’s edited and condensed version of the Air Force One tapes, many noteworthy observations were made which clearly justify ARRB’s pursuit of the unedited versions of these audiotapes, or of other records which could shed light on the ambiguities inherent in the incomplete and intriguing record constituted by these taped conversations. These “investigative leads” are summarized below in no particular order or priority, and regardless of how they are eventually resolved or clarified, any assassination records which could shed light on these sometimes confusing and controversial passages belong in the JFK Collection at NARA:

A. Four radio frequencies were identified as the means of communications between parties onboard aircraft SAM 26000, SAM 86972, and the White House Communications Agency in Washington, namely:

11176 MHZ (Upper sideband)
15011 MHZ (Upper Sideband)
13247 MHZ (Upper sideband)
18027 MHZ (Lower sideband)

Part of the LBJ library collection donated to the JFK Collection at NARA includes a typed summary prepared by Master Sergeant John C. Trimble, USAF (the WHCA technician who was the radio operator onboard Air Force One during the flight from Dallas to Washington on November 22, 1963). In his statement, he says: “I…had three phone patches going simultaneously most of the time.” Since total fight time, from takeoff from Love Field, until “on the blocks” at Andrews AFB was 2 hours and 17 minutes, the unedited audiotapes could conceivably be as long as 7-9 hours in total duration, although how much of this time would be “dead time” is unknown. One serious problem with the edited Air Force One tape is that the listener does not know which frequency (i.e., “patch”) he is listening to at any one time, or whether or not the various conversations which are condensed onto the tape are recorded in the proper time sequence.

B. Onboard Air Force One on the return flight to Washington, Secret Service Agent Kellerman, and later General Ted Clifton (Military Aide to the President) make it clear that their desire is for an ambulance and limousine to take President Kennedy’s body to Walter Reed General Hospital for autopsy “…under guard…,” as specified by General Clifton. Gerald Behn, Head of the White House Secret Service Detail, counters that a helicopter has been arranged to take the President’s body to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda for autopsy, and that all other personnel will be choppered to the South Grounds of the White House. Ultimately, the President’s physician, Admiral George Burkley (on Air Force One), sides with Gerald Behn (at the White House) in support of a Bethesda autopsy and persuades the Surgeon General of the Army, General Heaton (in Washington) to cancel arrangements for a Walter Reed autopsy. Once it becomes clear that Bethesda is to be the site, two things happen: first, both Admiral Burkley and General Clifton insist that the President’s body be transported to Bethesda by ambulance (vice helicopter), even though Gerald Behn at the White House

informs General Clifton that President Kennedy’s Naval Aide, CAPT Shepard, has assured him that it will be no problem for the helicopter to carry the heavy casket; second, even though Admiral Burkley and General Clifton insist on ambulance transport of JFK’s body to Bethesda, Gerald Behn at the White House subsequently orders Roy Kellerman: “You accompany the body aboard the helicopter.” Finally, General Clifton insists and then repeats, in great detail, orders for a forklift and platform at the left rear of the aircraft for the casket, a personnel ramp at the left front of the aircraft for President Johnson and other passengers’ debarkation, and another personnel ramp at the right front of the airplane (the dark, unlit side of the aircraft where there is a galley door) for the departure of Jacqueline Kennedy. These concerns are mirrored at flight’s end in a conversation from Colonel Swindal (Air Force One pilot) to Colonel Cross (USAF also) on the ground. (Editorial notes: (1) The fact that Jacqueline Kennedy never used the ramp at the right front of the aircraft has caused at least one researcher to question the real motivation for its placement; (2) An Air Force document titled: “Historical Highlights of Andrews Air Force Base, 1942-1989″ states that “…the body of the slain President was removed to Walter Reed General Hospital…,” which further fuels the controversy over the movements of the President’s body after Air Force One landed at Andrews. )

C. On one occasion on the tape, Admiral Burkley states to Gerald Behn at the White
House, “I have called General Heaton and asked him…,” but on the LBJ edited audiotape, there is no previous conversation recorded with General Heaton, leading one to the conclusion that a conversation took place which is not present on the edited tape. The first conversation between Burkley and Heaton on the tape comes after this remark.

D. On 4 different occasions on the edited tape, “Crown” (the White House Situation Room) attempts to put “Witness” (CAPT Tazewell Shepard, President Kennedy’s Naval Aide) in communication with Air Force One (and the Air Force One patch with General Heaton) in order to resolve the confusion over the arrangements for the President’s autopsy. There are so many crude edits and breaks on this edited and compressed audio recording that it is unclear whether CAPT Shepard “never got through” to Air Force One at all, or whether he perhaps did on one or more occasions, but those conversations have simply been omitted from of the present version of the recording.

E. Concerning the President’s limousine, SS-100X, two remarks of interest can be heard on the tape. In the first, Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman says to Gerald Behn (at the White House), “I’m sure the Volunteer boys will go over his car and so forth.”

(Note: “Volunteer” was the USSS-WHCA code name for Vice-President Johnson.) Second, apparently late in the flight to Andrews, someone onboard Air Force one is informed about the status of the plane carrying the two cars from Dallas (SS-100X and the Secret Service follow-up car), namely that “…373 (a tail number) departed at 2141 Zulu…the one with the Presidential cars onboard.” Near the end of the flight Air Force One can be heard inquiring if there is an ETA for “the C-130 with the vehicles.”

F. Background chatter can be heard at one point, discussing a “limousine and ambulance at Andrews,” and later in the same background conversation, something about a “black Cadillac”. This is probably an indication of simultaneous conversations taking place onboard Air Force One on different frequencies, which only highlights the importance of obtaining unedited tapes of all of the conversations.

G. During the flight from Dallas to Washington, “SAM Command Post” calls Air Force One and a “Colonel Arnbuck (phonetic) from OPS” expresses a concern from the Chief of Staff (General LeMay?) as to whether President Johnson and Mr. Kennedy’s body is onboard the aircraft. This question is followed immediately on the tape by the confusing tug-of-war over who will control autopsy arrangements, etc.

H. On more than one occasion during the flight, personnel in Washington specifically ask whether Mrs. Kennedy is onboard. “A.F. Command Post” first asks this question, immediately before the “Chief of Staff’s Office” inquires about the whereabouts of President Johnson and Mr. Kennedy’s body. Subsequently, “Air Force Command Post” asks who the top people onboard are. “Winner” (a Mr. Hatcher at “Crown”) later asks if Mrs. Kennedy is onboard. During the flight Admiral Burkley assumes that Mrs. Kennedy will accompany the body, General Clifton very carefully arranges separate debarkation arrangements from the aircraft for Mrs. Kennedy, and Gerald Behn (Head of White House Secret Service Detail) attempts on two occasions to separate all passengers on Air Force One from JFK’s body after arrival (desiring to send the body alone to Bethesda on a helicopter, and all other personnel to the South Grounds of the White House). The significance of this repeated concern about Mrs. Kennedy’s whereabouts and her plans upon landing is a source of controversy among some researchers and is another reason to pursue unedited audiotapes of these flight conversations.

I. Immediately after Behn orders Kellerman to “…accompany the body aboard the helicopter”, the following exchange takes place:

Kellerman: “I was unable to get ahold of Payne and Bob Burke (names are phonetic approximations).” After a break, the words “…Payne and Burke at the ranch…” are heard; it is unclear whether the speaker is Kellerman or Behn. Finally, an unidentified speaker says, “…Payne and Burke were not notified…”. The meaning or possible significance of this exchange, if any, is not known.

J. Immediately after the above exchanges, an unidentified voice twice says, “…is on 6970…”. (Note: Aircraft #86970 was the Vice-Presidential aircraft, which also flew back to Andrews AFB from Love Field on November 22, 1963.)

K. One last noticeable exchange worth reporting is from “Wing” (Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, USAF, President Kennedy’s Air Force Aide) to “Slugger”(Capt. Cecil Stoughton, USAF, White House photographer who photographed both the swearing-in of LBJ onboard Air Force One in Dallas, and the onloading of JFK’s casket at Love Field): Wing asks that Crown relay to Slugger that he must meet the aircraft as soon as possible after arrival Andrews, and that if he cannot do this, he is to see Wing as soon as possible after arrival, or contact him in any way feasible. The urgency and importance of this matter to Wing is very clear from his tone of voice. Later, Crown informs Wing that Slugger remained on the ground in Dallas. One of the many conversations not on the LBJ transcript which is on the edited tape reads as follows:
Andrews(?): “Air Force One, this is very important.”
Slugger: “This is Capt. Stoughton in Dallas.”
Air Force One: “Warrior advises he is unable to speak with you at the present time and asks would you please call the White House in about 30 minutes.”(Note: It is unclear what this is all about, and additionally unclear why Warrior is the party unable to speak with Slugger, when it was Wing who asked to speak with him in the first place.)

Collins Radio Connections

January 3, 2010
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Air Force General Curtis LeMay and Arthur Collins

THE COLLINS RADIO CONNECTIONS to the Assassination of President Kennedy

By William E. Kelly – Revised from report originally published in Backchannels magazine and presented as an abstract at the national conference of the Coalition On Political Assassination (COPA), October 10, 1994.

If the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of not only a conspiracy, but a covert action and coup d’etat, as many people believe, there should be evidence of this from both the scene of the crime(s) as well as from the highest echelons of power among those who took over the government. This would be especially so if the assassination was not a foreign attack by Cuban or Soviet intelligence service sponsors, but an internal manipulation of policy and control, an inside job.

As Edward Luttwack describes in his “How-To” book Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook (Alfred A. Knopf, 1968, p. 117), “Control over the flow of information emanating from the political center will be our most important weapon in establishing our authority after the coup. The seizure of the main means of mass communication will thus be a task of crucial importance.”

At the scene(s) of the crime, eyewitness testimony is always suspect. Homicide detectives prefer more solid leads that provide documented evidence that can be introduced in court, such as fingerprints, telephone and automobile license records.

There are a number of automobile license records of significance in regards to the assassination of President Kennedy, including the tampered photo among the possessions of Lee Harvey Oswald of the license on 1957 Chevy in General Walker’s driveway, plus the license numbers of cars seen in Dealey Plaza photos immediately before and after the assassination.

Most significant however, is the Texas plate PP4537, which was jotted down on a piece of paper by an elderly Oak Cliff mechanic T. F. White, who noticed a man acting suspiciously behind the wheel of a 1958 two tone Plymouth sedan. The car was parked behind a billboard in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant, with the driver, like White, watching the flurry of Dallas police cars racing down the street with sirens blaring, called to the nearby scene of the shooting of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit.

White walked across the street to get closer and exchanged glances with the man who quickly drove away. White wrote down the license tag PP4537 on a piece of paper and forgot about it until later that day when he saw Lee Harvey Oswald on television and recognized him as the man he saw acting suspiciously in the Plymouth earlier that afternoon.

A few weeks later, when Dallas radio reporter and later mayor of Dallas Wes Wise gave a talk at the Oak Cliff restaurant, the owner of the garage where Mr. White worked mentioned the suspicious Plymouth to Wise, who then met White, who reluctantly told his story. “Do you have the piece of paper with the license number on it?” Wise asked, and sure enough, White had it right there in his pocket. PP4537.

Wise later said that he had to use all of his reportorial persuasions to convince White to hand over the paper with the number on it to him, that it was the patriotic and right thing to do and promised White that he wouldn’t get in trouble with the law. White said nobody knew who or what was really behind the assassination of President Kennedy and he really didn’t want to get involved, but he handed over the paper to Wise, who passed it on to the police and FBI.

A quick check of the Texas plate #PP4537 indicated that it was assigned to Carl Mather, of Garland, Texas. When the FBI went out to the listed Garland address they found the two tone 1958 Plymouth right there in the driveway and knocked on the door. Mrs. Mather answered, acknowledged the car belonged to her husband, who was then away at work at Collins Radio. When asked where her husband and the car was on Friday, November 22, 1963, she said that the car was in the parking lot at Collins Radio until sometime in the afternoon when her husband returned home and picked up the family to go to the Tippit residence to pay their respects to the widow and family of their good friend who was murdered that day.

Instead of going out to Collins Radio to interview Mather however, the FBI go to Mr. White, who Wes Wise had promised wouldn’t be involved, and took additional statements from him, changing his story for the official reports and exchanging the two tone Plymouth to a red Ford Falcon. CBS News made a polite inquiry years later, leaving Carl Mather of the documentary program they aired but listing Mrs. Mather in the programs credits. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) briefly looked into the affair, granted Mather immunity from prosecution to testify and then failed to question him under oath, and published a short report they titled “The Wise Allegation,” when in fact Wes Wise made no allegations, and merely followed up on his reporter’s instincts. He came up with an automobile license plate number that was scene near the murder of a Dallas policeman that was traced to one of the victim’s best friends, Carl Mather, whose alibi is that he was at work at the time, at Collins Radio.

Documents later released under the JFK Act indicate that Mather was questioned by investigators and claimed that he worked on electronics at Collins, his specific job being the installation of the radio equipment aboard Air Force Two – the Vice President’s plane.

That this lead was not properly investigated, and remains uninvestigated today, is because such leads actually do lead to the heart of the plot to murder not only Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, but as many believe, is tied directly to the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Tippit murder may be the “Rosetta Stone” that could explain the mysteries of both murders.

The significance of the Collins Radio connections becomes apparent with a quick review of the published record, and that :

1. On November 1, 1963 the New York Times published a photograph of the ship the Rex, which Fidel Castro identified as the boat that dropped off a team of assassins in Cuba a few nights previous. The Rex was docked at Palm Beach, Florida, near the JFK family compound, and the Rex’s Halloween eve mission was in clear violation of President Kennedy’s March 1963 edict that no para-military raids against Cuba were to originate from U.S. shores. According to the article in the NYTs, the Rex had been sold by the Somoza regime in Nicaragua to the Belcher Oil Company, its dock fees paid by the CIA front company Sea Ship Inc., with the ship then being leased to the Collins Radio Company of Richardson, Texas.

2. Founded by Arthur Collins, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Collins Radio first made news headlines when young Collins was an amateur radio buff with the only, home made radio receiver who could pick up the radio communications of Navy Commander Richard E. Byrd from his polar exploration expedition. [Richard Byrd is the cousin of the founder of the Civil Air Patrol and owner of the Texas School Book Depository building].

3. Collins Radio became a major defense contractor during World War II, and following the war, participated in Operation Paperclip, hiring Dr. Alex Lipisch, the former Nazi scientist who developed the Delta I glider and ME 163 Komet jet fighter. For Collins, Lipisch was assigned to the boat development program that worked with General Dynamics in attempting to build a sleek, swift speedboat that could be used for Cuban infiltration missions like the Rex mission.

4. David Ferrie’s telephone records reflect that in the weeks before the assassination he made frequent calls from the New Orleans law office of G. Ray Gill to the Belcher Oil Company of Dallas, Texas, the company that was the listed owner of the Rex.

5. In the week before the assassination, a reservation was made at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club for a large party of Collins Radio employees.

6. The Dallas P.D. Intelligence Division maintained a paid informant who worked at Collins Radio and reported on fellow employees who appeared suspicious or subversive, including one who subscribed to the leftist I.F. Stone Weekly.

7. When Lee Harvey Oswald returned to Texas from Soviet Russia, George DeMohrenschildt introduced him to retired Navy Admiral Chester Bruton, an executive at Collins Radio, with the idea of Oswald getting a job there, as he had worked in a radio factory in Minsk, USSR.

8. At the time of the assassination Adml. Bruton was working on a top-secret nuclear submarine communications project, with the Navy’s nuclear sub radar and communications HQ being based at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

9. In 1963 Collins Radio began receiving large military contracts including one for the construction of a microwave communications network in Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam.

10. After Oswald was murdered while in Dallas police custody by Jack Ruby, his widow Marina P. Oswald married former Collins Radio employee Kenneth Porter.

11. In Miami, Florida, a Cuban exile, and former executive of Collins Radio, was murdered, assassinated in a still unsolved homicide.

12. Collins Radio supplied and maintained the equipment used by the Voice of America, all manned NASA space flights, the Strategic Air Command (SAC), as well as all equipment used for the CIA’s Guatemalan and Cuban operations. Most significantly, Collins Radio was responsible for installing and maintaining all radio equipment aboard Air Force One, Air Force Two and the Cabinet’s plane.

13. According to the Collins Radio Annual Report to stockholders for 1963-64, Collins Radio not only installed and maintained the radios aboard most military and executive branch planes, they also operated the station known as “Liberty” at their Cedar Rapids, Iowa headquarters, which served as a relay station for all radio communications between the White House, the Pentagon, Air Force One, Air Force Two, the Cabinet plane and Andrews AFB in Washington.

[This “Liberty” station is misidentified on most transcripts of the edited version of the radio transmissions from Air Force One on 11/22/63. “Air Force One, the Presidential airplane, was placed in service in 1962 using communications equipment developed and manufactured by Collins. The aircraft…was modified to meet special requirements…In 1962, the station many remember as “Liberty” was opened and operated from the new communications building…(in Cedar Rapids, Iowa)…Collins had a contract with the Air Force to serve as either the primary communications station or as a backup whenever Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, and other aircraft in the VIP fleet carried cabinet members or high ranking military officers. Over the airwaves the station’s call word was ‘Liberty.’” – From Collins Radio – the First 50 Years.]

In his book The Making of a President – 1964, Theodore H. White wrote: “There is a tape recording in the archives o the government which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the Signal Corps Midwestern center ‘Liberty,’ between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs’ Communications Center in Washington….On the flight the party learned that there was no conspiracy, learned the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President’s mind turned to the duties of consoling the striken and guiding the quick.”

According to the analysis of E. Martin Schotz and Vincent Salandria (in History Will Not Absolve Us, 1996), “And yet the White House had informed President Johnson and the other occupants of Air Force One, all of them witnesses to the hail of bullets which had poured down on Dealey Plaza, that as of the afternoon of the assassination there was to be no conspiracy and that Oswald was to be the lone assassin. If White’s report were correct this would mean that federal officials in Washington were marrying the government to the cover-up of Oswald as the lone assassin virtually instantaneously. This could have occurred only if those federal authorities had had foreknowledge that the evidence would implicate Oswald and that he would have ‘no confederates.’ An innocent government could not have reacted in such a fashion internally.”

Unfortunately, there is no longer “a tape recording in the archives of the government,” as the original, unedited, multiple tape recordings of the AF1 radio transmissions cannot be located despite an Act of Congress, the request of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) and numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. Our government seems to have simply lost the recordings, with no records being kept of their whereabouts or destruction, if in fact they were destroyed.

The Final Report of the ARRB (p. 116) notes:

“6. White House Communications Agency.

“WHCA was, and is, responsible for maintaining both secure (encrypted) and unsecured (open) telephone, radio and telex communications between the President and the government of the United States. Most of the personnel that constitute this elite agency are U.S. military communications specialists; many, in 1963, were from the Army Signal Corps. On November 22, 1963, WHCA was responsible for communications between and among Air Force One and Two, the White House Situation Room, the mobile White House, and with the Secret Service in the motorcade.”

“The Review Board sought to locate any audio recordings of voice communications to or from Air Force One on the day of the assassination, including communications between Air Force one and Andrews Air Force Base during the return flight from Dallas to Washington D.C. As many people are now aware of, in the 1970s, the LBJ Presidential Library released edited audio cassettes of the unsecured, or open voice conversations with Air Force One, Andrews AFB, the White House Situation Room, and the Cabinet Aircraft carrying the Secretary of State and other officials on November 22, 1`963. The LBJ Library version of these tapes consists of about 110 minutes of voice transmissions, but the tapes are edited and condensed, so the Review Board staff sought access to unedited, uncondensed versions. Since the edited versions of the tapes contain considerable talk about both the forthcoming autopsy on the President, as well as the reaction of a government in crisis, the tapes are of considerable interest to assassination researchers and historians.”

“Given that the LBJ Library released the tapes in the 1970s, the paper trail is now sketch and quite cold. The LBJ Library staff is fairly confident that the tapes originated with the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). The LBJ Library staff told the Review Board staff that it received the tapes from the White House as part of the original shipment of President Johnson’s papers in 1968 or 1969. According to the LBJ Library’s documentation, the accession card reads: “WHCA?” and is dated 1975The Review Board staff could not locate any records indicating who performed the editing, or when, or where.”

“The Review Board’s repeated written and oral inquiries of the White House Communications Agency did not bear fruit. The WHCA could not produce any records that illuminated the provenance of the edited tapes.”

At the time I delivered my report on “The Collins Radio Connections” to the National COPA Conference in Washington in October, 1994, the Washington Post had just then exposed the true occupant of a new, mammoth, suburban Virginia building. It was not the headquarters for Collins Radio/Rockwell International as had been previously reported, but they had just been the cooperating cover company for the super secret National Recognisance Office (NRO), just as Collins Radio had served as a cover for the CIA in the operation of the Rex in Cuba in1963.

[Note: Former ARRB investigator Doug Horne, who led the effort to find the unedited AF1 tapes, discussed these issues at his presentation at the JFK LANCER confernce in Dallas, and writes about some of these issues in his new book IARRB (2009).]

Also, in the October, 1998 issue of John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s George Magazine, – David Wise reported on how the NRO had “lost” $6 billion in U.S. taxpayer’s money, and specifically mentioned the fiasco surrounding the construction of the HQ building, or which Collins/Rockwell served as a cover company. ]

William E. Kelly is a freelance journalist whose research into the assassination of President Kennedy is partially sponsored by the Fund For Constitutional Government Investigative Journalism Project. You can contact him at