DID SINGLE BULLET THEORY SINK SPECTER? By William Kelly
Was Arlen Specter shot down by a still ricocheting bullet from Dealey Plaza?
Did the Single Bullet Theory play a role in Arlen Specter’s recent election loss?
The Single Bullet Theory is a long discredited legal theory that Arlen Specter still tries to promote as a fact, a small point in a long and powerful political career that’s spanned decades, generations and political parties.
While Specter has done many notable things in his public life, he will always be best remembered by most people as the proponent of the Single Bullet Theory that provided the legal loophole that allowed the Warren Commission to officially conclude President John F. Kennedy was killed by one lone assassin from above and behind in a three shot fuselage that also wounded Texas Governor John Connally.
Specter is the man who is credited with crafting the legal perogative that helped frame Lee Harvey Oswald as the patsy for the assassination and allows those really responsible for the murder to go free. If it didn’t happen according to the Single Bullet Theory then there had to be more than one shooter and thus a conspiracy, with the co-conspirator(s) gone free, since nobody’s bothering to purse them, having officially rested the case on the lone assassin scenario as conceived by Specter.
Specter was just another Philadelphia lawyer until he got a phone call from a former Yale law school chum Howard Willins asking him to work on the Warren Commission, where he would make his name and “single-bullet” reputation, thanks mainly to Howard Willins, W. H. Adams and George Ball.
Even if you know all about the Single Bullet Theory you probably never heard of Willins, Adams or Ball. Willins offered him the job, but Specter only got a big role on the commission because the senior lawyer W. H. Adams decided not to be a part of the cover-up. On recognizing the whole commission idea was a raw deal, Adams didn’t bother to show up and let Specter fill in for him, and it is Ball who Specter credits with helping to devise the Single Bullet Theory in the first place.
Establishing the template for how not to properly investigate a political homicide, as explained by Specter: “The Commission had divided the investigation into six major areas…Area 1 Covered 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.”
When he addressed the Warren Commission, Mark Lane pointed out that 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.
In his book Passion for the Truth From Finding JFK’s Single Bullet to Questioning Anita Hill to Impeaching Clinton, with Charles Robbins. William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2000), Specter wrote, “…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….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.
Once they got down to business Specter learned that his boss, F. W. Adams, the senior attorney in his area, wasn’t going to do much of any work, and one would be hard pressed to determine why his name is on the Warren Report. [BK Notes: I noticed that Max Holland has announced that he will cease updating his Wasington Decoded blog as he is trying to wrap up his Reconstructionist history of the Warren Commission, so maybe he’ll fill us in on W. H. Adams, but for some reason I doubt it.]
As far as I can tell Francis William Holbrook Adams was 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,” but once he realized that there was not to be any real investigation he decided not to participate.
Specter himself acknowledges that, “Adams thought the commission should conduct an incisive, piercing investigation, wrap up the matter, and file its report.” According to Specter, “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 Kennedy.” But the analogy ended there.
The Single-Bullet shot didn’t kill Kennedy, and had he been pulled down and not been shot in the head, he could have lived, the assassination would have failed, the government wouldn’t have changed hands, and the coup would have been exposed then rather than now. And even if there was only one gunman, if that gunman was Lee Harvey Oswald then it was most certainly a conspiracy because Oswald fits the covert operative profile and the assassination was a covert operation.
The government, the Justice Department of the United States, uses the Single Bullet Theory and the official conclusion that there was only one assassin as an excuse not to pursue those actually responsible for the murder, mainly because those responsible took over the government and controlled the investigation and the Warren Commission, and compromised every official atempt to get at the truth since then.
Specter said that while, “The Single-Bullet-Theory has been debated….I think it is correct,…but if it isn’t, so be it. Let someone come forward and disprove it. Was there a conspiracy? It is not possible to prove a negative, it can’t be done conclusively.”
But the Single Bullet Theory can be scientifically and conclusively proven to be wrong by simply adding up the weight of the bullet fragments taken from Connally and what remains in him, and if they are more than what’s missing from CE399 – the pristine “magic” bullet, then the Singe Bullet Theory is wrong. You do the math. See, it doesn’t matter what the truth is, as long as the theory holds water, no matter how many holes are punched in it, the official take is the legal take, and there’s nothing you can do about it other than be one of the statistics, 20% who believe the Single Bullet Theory or the 80% who don’t. It doesn’t really matter, your vote doesn’t count. See how much the Single Bullet Theory weighs? Quite a lot, huh?
Since Specter made the Single-Bullet pitch to the commission, he is given credit for the Single-Bullet theory, but Specter actually gives some of the credit for devising the theory to another Warren Commission attorney, Joseph Ball.
Shortly after the death of Joseph Ball, Specter rose in the Senate chambers and read into the Congressional Record about Joe Ball and how the Single-Bullet Theory really came about: “…It was on the Warren Commission staff that I came to know 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…”
“…And on Friday afternoon, Joe Ball and I went out to Bethesda to talk to the autopsy surgeons….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….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…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…”
So unlike Oswald, who he claims killed Kennedy alone, Specter didn’t come up with the Single Bullet Theory all by himself, but acknowledges the contributions of Joe Ball.
As its co-author, Specter said that he is normally asked about the Single-Bullet theory about once a week, and that typically, after his explanation, they agree to disagree, like water off the back of a duck.
Even when he was a Republican, Specter was friends with Dr. Cyril Wecht, a former Pittsburgh pathologist and a leading conspiracy advocate for whom the Cyril Wecht Institute of Forensic Science is named. Wecht derides the very idea the Single-Bullet Theory could be taken seriously, yet they remain friends. Specter even attended a conference on the assassination Wecht sponsored, but after giving his regular Single Bullet “conclusion” spiel, he didn’t bother to stick around to answer many questions.
Jerry Policoff, a journalist who has written extensively about the media and the assassination noted that, “Specter seemed to think that the fact that he showed up and was Cyril’s guest should have spared him from having to answer tough questions. He literally walked out in a huff after three or four questions.”
“The first time Specter came to Lancaster as a candidate,” says Policoff, who is now running for Congress in the same district, “he came up to introduce himself and asked me what I did. I reminded him that we had met at Cyril’s symposium and that I was a long-time critic of the Warren Report, and especially of the single-bullet theory. He was a bit startled but maintained his composure and at least continued to act friendly. I had previously been at one of his town hall meetings where he talked about his disdain for Oliver Stone and threatened to sue him some day for slandering him in JFK. I got up and told him and the audience…that I was sure Stone would welcome such a suit and I dared him to file it. That exchange was captured and broadcast around the state.”
“There is a lot of grass roots anger among Pa. Dems over the embrace of Specter by the Democratic Establishment,” and Specter’s failure is generally recognized as a failure of the Democratic Party machine. But did the Single Bullet Theory play a role?
Policoff thinks so, as he said in a widely distributed email note to friends, “Most of you know me from my work on the JFK case, but for those of you who do not know about the new chapter in my life, I am the Democratic candidate (endorsed by the Party and unopposed in the Primary) for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in PA 41. Last week I endorsed the candidacy of Joe Sestak, and he endorsed mine…. By the way, Sestak and I have discussed the single-bullet theory, and he privately ridicules both the theory and the man who authored it…Lancaster was not the only place where local Dems said ‘hell no,’ and instead endorsed Sestak. People are also pretty savvy about Specter’s ownership of the single-bullet theory, and I never miss an opportunity to remind them. It is not just those of us who have studied the case that know what a crock of shit the SBT is. My history as is JFK critic is well known around here, and it has never hurt me in the least.”
A progressive liberal who became active in the overhaul of the healthcare system, Policoff was recruited by the Democrats to run in a heavily Republican district, but appears confident that he can overcome both party machines, and he could make the assassination records an issue like they tried to make the Single Bullet Theory an issue with Specter.
Robert Morrow, who doesn’t even live in Pennsylvania, also tried to make the Single Bullet Theory an issue in the election, mounting a high intensity internet campaign to get people from around the country to call in to Pennsylvania radio talk shows and make the topic an important issue, with some success.
In mass emails to people networked to conspiracy forums and data bases, Morrow tried to rally people like a coach and a cheerleader, writing: “Gameplan to STOP Arlen Specter: Call LIVE to Philadelphia talk radio…Get on the air and bash Arlen Specter, Warren Commission con artist, creator of bogus “magic bullet theory.” Also the guy who harassed and intimidated key JFK eyewitness Jean Hill, threatening to put her in a mental hospital if she kept saying there were 4-6 shots.”
“Call at night to Dom Giordano Show – Also on the Big Talker,” wrote Morrow, “Get on Dom’s show and bash magic bullet fraud Arlen Specter! We need LOTS of folks to call in. Also, please leave a voicemail (any time of day) bashing Arlen Specter for his fraudulent role on the Warren Commission at this number. Your message might get played on the air: Call (voicemail) to Defeat Arlen Specter – charlatan creator of “magic bullet theory” – Warren Commission fraud is in close race for PA Democratic primary – let’s put a golden daggar in this joker’s corrupt political career. Read below Specter’s intimidation of key JFK eyewitness Jean Hill threatens to put her in a mental institution.”
“In order to STOP Arlen Specter, please call Philly radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and leave a 15 second voice message telling folks to VOTE AGAINST SPECTER, the guy on the Warren Commission who created the ridiculous ‘magic bullet theory,’ thus protecting the murderers of John Kennedy. Call and tell folks what a fraud Arlen Specter, Warren Commission and the “magic bullet theory” is and to vote AGAINST Arlen Specter!”
Morrow did this with limited success. On the one hand Specter lost the election, and both Policoff and Morrow played acrtive roles in acomplishing that. On the other hand, they haven’t received any credit or recognition.
One of the one talk show hosts he tried to convince, Michael Smerconish was the only mainstream media political commentator to even bother mentioning the Single Bullet Theory as an issue when he endorsed Specter in the Philadelphia Inquirer in the days before the election when he wrote that “Even conspiracy theorists have gotten hostile, deriding his single-bullet theory in the JFK assassination.” [Sunday, May 16, 2010, p. C3]
Specter himself hits the nail on the head – “the issue about cynicism in government…is far more important” than any other issue, and that is the issue that must be carried into the November elections and used to get the release of the still secret records on the assassination.
See: The Single Bullet Theory and the Origin of Distrust in Government