Fidel Castro and Arlen Specter talk about the Kennedy assassination.
Shortly after the death of Joe Ball, Specter rose in the Senate chambers and read the following into the Congressional Record.
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 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 Boswell 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…..
Bill Kelly Notes: Specter’s position as a key player remained strong, and he was a significant and pivotal mover and shaker in the national political drama, especially as it relates to the U.S. Senate and the Supreme Court, until he ran into the fatal issue of the American public’s confidence in government.
The purpose of his book Passion for the Truth – what he was really was trying to accomplish, was to set a framework to regain the American public’s confidence in their government, despite the fact his legal base is founded on a basic, fundamental lie – that JFK was killed because of the actions of one, lone, deranged gunman.
X-RAYS & AUTOPSY PHOTOS
Under the Chapter in his book Passion for the Truth 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.”
THE SINGLE BULLET CONCLUSION REVIVED
“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 his 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.xxx
“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 and oversee 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.
It can be positively determined if The Single Bullet theory is true, and that’s to have a proper forensic autopsy. Those specialists called together by the ARRB, after looking at the autopsy photos and x-rays, unamously concluded that a new, proper autopsy was the only way to determine how many bullets hit Kennedy and Connally and what directions they came from.
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.”
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.