reads. Don't believe people read in this country. There will be a
professors who will read the record ... the public will read
Science is the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. It is the highest standard of critical thought. Any critique of scientific literature must maintain that standard. The book reviewed here, because its authors understand and aspire to that standard, is one of the most important in the historiography of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That murder is the most important and difficult historiographically. For those reasons, this book's successes are monumental and its failures are all the more notable and frustrating.
On the back cover of Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out On the Death of JFK (James H. Fetzer, Ph.D. ed., Chicago IL: Catfeet Press, 1998, pbk.: alk. paper, 463 pp.) is the blurb, "Completely lacking the wild speculations that have marred some books on the shooting of JFK, Assassination Science sticks to the hard facts, interpreted by medical and scientific expertise."
Dr. Fetzer's compilation of expert articles may lack some wild speculations that have marred other books on the shooting, but it is not without some of its own. Beyond the skepticism inherent to science, I have a personal reason for approaching that blurb with a high degree of skepticism.
I admit my example is a minor one, offered somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But I use it to make a fundamental point. Near the end of an article by photography researcher Jack White is the statement, "Richard Bartholomew...is a relative by marriage of the Zapruder family..." (p. 218). Since no evidence, scientific or otherwise, is presented to support that claim, let me -- the world's foremost expert on myself -- speak out on that "hard fact" as interpreted by medical and scientific expertise.
I am not related to the Zapruder family.
It might be wise for me to preface my next declaration of fact by saying I have never presumed any family would claim me. Nonetheless, I am related by marriage to Abraham Zapruder's long-time business partners (two generations). Dr. Fetzer, the editor of Assassination Science and a "Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota, Duluth," who "has published over 100 article and 20 books on philosophy of science, artificial intelligence, computer science, and cognitive science," knew that genealogical fact. He, along with several of this book's contributors including Jack White and Dr. David Mantik, asked me and I told them on November 7, 1996, and on June 25, 1997. The book was still being revised in July, 1997 (pp. 119, 177). The error was published in late 1997.
My point? It's okay. Science is self-correcting. If you are going to make a mistake, it is best to make a scientific one because every scientific claim can be tested and proved true or false. Even without my expert anecdotal evidence, anyone can test this Zapruder-relationship claim because it is properly falsifiable and can be put to any number of conclusive tests. That is the ultimate value of science, and of this book.
One of the behaviors that gives scientists a bad reputation, however, is when one accuses others of ignoring evidence to support a theory, while the accuser is grossly guilty of the same violation. Assassination Science does not rise above that failing. But far more importantly, it does give definitive proof of conspiracy and illustrates that such proof is not enough to correct the official, corrupt, politically expedient "lone-assassin" definition of John F. Kennedy's murder.
Which of the book's scientific claims about Kennedy's assassination have passed this ultimate truth-test? In his preface, Dr. Fetzer lists three major findings:
I will confine my comments mostly to that prioritized list. To support those findings, Fetzer presents his own studies and those of ten others. They are, in order of appearance: Dr. Charles Crenshaw, M.D.; Bradley Kizzia, J.D.; David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.; Robert B. Livingston, M.D.; graphic arts specialist Jack White; Mike Pincher, J.D.; film development specialist Roy Schaeffer; cable engineer Ron Hepler; labor specialist Chuck Marler; and Ronald F. White, Ph.D.
Scientifically, how do we know the three publicly known autopsy X-rays (one taken from the front and one each of the left and right profiles) have been altered? Basically, two ways.
First, they do not appear to be consistent with the autopsy photographs or even with each other, and "The medical evidence appears to be inconsistent with reports of numerous eyewitnesses, including physicians and non-physicians, who observed the President's body at Parkland and at Bethesda" (p. 5). Appendix A (pp. 414-15) shows diagrams of Kennedy's wounds as seen by those eyewitnesses. They were approved on October 6, 1993, by Dr. Charles Crenshaw, one of the Parkland physicians who saw the wounds and who, with J. Gary Shaw, wrote a book about the experience in 1992. The head wound is diagrammed as an open hole, shaped like a wide oval, directly behind and slightly larger than the right ear. The corresponding autopsy photographs show that part of Kennedy's head to be completely intact (pp. 52, 442-44).
Is Dr. Crenshaw correct? If his critics' desperation, overreaction and failure to discredit him are any indication, yes. A non-scientific but important contribution of Assassination Science is its first widely published telling of the American Medical Association's bias and abuse of power, which demonstrated how "the awesome power of the media...can be employed. so irresponsibly to damage individuals in the eyes and minds of millions of people..." and "destroy the reputation of a distinguished and honorable medical professional who merely offered his opinions on a controversial subject...."
In May, 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association, aided by massive media attention -- especially that of The Dallas Morning News -- suggested that he "should not be relied upon because Dr. Crenshaw may not have even been in Parkland Hospital's Trauma Room 1 at the time that emergency treatment was provided to President Kennedy." (p. 63) After a long defamation lawsuit, in which the Plaintiff's were represented by Dallas attorney D. Bradley Kizzia, "approximately $213,000.00 was paid to Dr. Crenshaw and Gary Shaw, on behalf of the JAMA Defendants, to partially compensate them for the damages to their reputations and reimbursement for a portion of their court costs." (p. 80) The Dallas Morning News published a "correction/clarification" followed by a rebuttal article on December 19, 1995. JAMA published "a limited and edited version of Dr. Crenshaw's rebuttal article" in its May 24-31, 1995, issue. However, "no apology or retraction was published. Rather, JAMA aggravated the situation and emphasized its irresponsibility by publishing a new smear piece about Dr. Crenshaw, Mr. Shaw, their book, and the case." Fetzer published Crenshaw's complete article (p. 37).
If Dr. Crenshaw is right -- and so far he has not been proved wrong -- the X-rays and photos are fake.
Second, replicable experimental data presented by Dr. David Mantik, "an M.D. specializing in X-ray therapy who also has a Ph.D. in physics," disproves claims that the known X-ray films are authentic.
Mantik's May, 1993, article , "The JFK Assassination: Cause for Doubt" (p. 93), concisely reviews the autopsy controversies over the skull wound and the back and throat wounds, the aberrations in the pathologists' performance, the prima facie evidence of alteration of the autopsy photographs, conflicts in the X-rays in general and Mantik's own tests of the image of a 6.5 mm bullet fragment in particular. These issues are inherently complex.
Those not already familiar with these subjects will have difficulty comprehending them. Those who are familiar with them must develop a new familiarity with radiological optical densitometry. Mantik does a good job making these subjects accessible to non-scientists. But the less experienced reader of technical and scientific texts will have the greater difficulty seeing this proof of forgery. Nonetheless, I urge all readers to struggle through it. Dr. Mantik's proof is substantial, comprehensive and compelling. Critical thinkers, regardless of prior familiarity with the material, will be astonished by the level of obfuscation made clear by this synthesis of the evidence.
In a literary disservice to readers, Fetzer gives a simplified description of Mantik's work (p. 141-42) in the chapter after Mantik's more lengthy, complex explanation. For those who have not yet read this book, I will correct that error:
"X-rays are created by projecting radiation through an object that is suitably situated in relation to a photographic plate. The object will absorb radiation proportional to its density, where denser objects absorb more than do those that are less dense. Consequently, denser objects permit less radiation to impact on the photographic plate, thereby creating a lighter image. Using an extremely sensitive device known as an optical densitometer, it is possible to measure the amount of light an X-ray permits to pass through it. [emphasis Fetzer's]
"Using this technique, Mantik was able to reconstruct the density of the objects that created the X-ray and detected a striking abnormality. The properties of the lateral images reveal that very dense material (possibly of a kind employed in oncology) was used to "patch" a major defect to the back of the head--not by filling in the cranium at the location where many witnesses reported having seen a gaping wound, apparently, but by superimposing X-rays to create composite fabrications. He has replicated these results many times by repeated measurements and by fabricating X-rays."
However, the discovery that some X-rays "have been altered to conceal a massive blow-out to the back of the President's head" (p. xiii) is not dealt with first as it is in Fetzer's preface. Mantik merely raised the issue in his May, 1993, article:
"The condition of the right posterior skull, based on the AP [anterior-posterior] radiograph [X-ray], was largely ignored. There appear to be surprising findings on the AP view that warrant further investigation. Were the radiologists deliberately avoiding the condition of the right occiput on the AP view? Quantitative scans of the original AP radiograph could still be done to ascertain just how much bone remains in the right occiput. So far, however, access to this material has been remarkably limited and the proper studies have never been done" (p. 111).
In the same article, Mantik presents evidence that some autopsy photographs have been altered to conceal the rear head wound. That evidence includes some history of the wild, grossly unscientific, vacillations and contradictions by the autopsy pathologists regarding both the anatomical location of the wounds and the most fundamental aspects of the case:
"To JAMA, [senior JFK autopsy pathologist James J.] Humes stated, "I believe in the single bullet theory that it struck Governor Connally immediately after exiting the President's throat." However, when queried by the Warren Commission on exactly the same point he said, "I think that is extremely unlikely." Actually he stated this twice in quick succession to the Warren Commission so there can be no possibility of misunderstanding him...Then, after all this testimony, [fellow autopsy pathologists] Boswell and Finck, who were listening to it, offered their unqualified support for it. These totally opposite statements by Humes are absolutely irreconcilable. Even more astonishing, he seems (JAMA, too, for that matter) to be oblivious to this. No questions have been asked and no explanations have been offered by him for this astounding behavior." (pp. 106-107)
Leaving the discovery of the rear head wound X-ray forgery until the next chapter, Mantik's May, 1993, article presents the discovery that other X-rays "have been changed by the imposition of a 6.5 mm metal object." Mantik's experiments demonstrate how, using a simple, standard technique of special effects cinematography, a template was used to superimpose the image of a round bullet fragment over a smaller existing image of a piece of shrapnel. This piece of shrapnel, located below the scalp but outside the skull, probably came from the bullet that caused the shallow wound near Kennedy's right shoulder blade. That existing shrapnel image was used by the forgers to register the false image in the same anatomical location on two different X-rays.
In contrast to the extensive explanation of the fake bullet-fragment image, Mantik's October, 1993, explanation of his discovery of the rear head wound forgery is succinct (pp. 154-56, and illustrations pp. 59-60):
"What I found was quite astonishing. The posterior white area transmits almost 1000 times more light than the dark area! This large difference was seen on both the left and right lateral skull X-rays...I measured these same areas for patients whom I had seen in the clinic...My measurements showed only small differences...I concluded therefore that the measured differences of about 1000 between the front and back of the JFK skull were too large to be explained by any ordinary differences as seen in typical patients. In fact, the very lucent area at the rear of the skull was almost as lucent as the densest bone in the body -- and I actually measured this on the JFK autopsy X-ray. This bone is the one which surrounds the ear canal. Not only is this bone around the ear very dense, but it is also very thick -- it extends from one side of the skull to the other. In order for the white area at the rear of the skull to match the whiteness of this very dense bone, all of the brain in this posterior area would have to be replaced by very dense bone -- and the bone would have to extend from one side of the skull to the other. No human skull is constructed in this fashion...
"If this white area really represents a normal bone fragment, it should have about the same shape on both the left and right lateral X-rays, allowing, of course, for a small differences in perspective. In fact, however, the superior border has a distinctly different shape on these two lateral views: on the left view, a small, but distinct, peninsula juts upward at one point where no similar feature is seen on the right view. The other, more normal appearing, bone fragments do not show such odd features.
"On close inspection, this remarkable white area is distinctly wider on one lateral view than on the other. This implies that it was located closer to the right side of the skull. On the frontal X-ray, such an extremely dense object should have been as visible as a tyrannosaurus rex in downtown Manhattan at noon. However, when I looked at the frontal X-ray, there was no such beast to be seen.
"The aberrations seen on these X-rays are so diverse that no explanation can accommodate such an ensemble except for the explanation of composites, i.e., they are composed of superpositions of more than one image."
If Dr. Mantik is right -- and so far he has not been proved wrong -- the X-rays and photos are fake.
The Brain Diagrams
Scientifically, how do we know that diagrams "in the National Archives purporting to be of JFK's brain must be of someone other than John Fitzgerald Kennedy"?
Robert B. Livingston, M.D., was scientific director of both the National Institute for Mental Health and the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Blindness in both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. Fetzer tells us (p. 142) that Livingston, "a world authority on the human brain, had come to the conclusion that the diagrams of the brain stored in the National Archives, which displayed an intact cerebellum, must be of the brain of someone other than JFK. He knew from observations made by competent physicians who had attended JFK, including Kemp Clark, M.D., the Director of Neurosurgery at Parkland Hospital, that cerebellum had been seen extruding from a massive wound to the back of the President's head. He had concluded that the diagrams and the observations could not have been of the same brain."
How did Dr. Livingston reach this scientific conclusion?
Livingston (p. 164): "It simply cannot be true that the cerebellum could have been seen extruding from the occipito-parietal wound--by several experienced and thoroughly competent physicians--and for the same brain to be seen in superior and lateral photographs, and depicted in a drawing (superior view) showing the cerebellum as being apparently intact. A conclusion is obligatorily forced that the photographs and drawings of the brain in the National Archives are those of some brain other than that of John Fitzgerald Kennedy."
Livingston cites Mantik as his source for the photographs in the archives, and, since he gives no other source for them, presumably also for the physicians' direct observations. Backtracking to Mantik, therefore, we read (pp. 109, 110):
"To virtually every eyewitness, these photographs are perplexing. They show a completely intact right posterior skull, which is in absolute conflict with the medical records of numerous Parkland physicians...At least six Parkland physicians saw cerebellum, usually reported as injured, through the skull defect; their reports appear for all to read in the widely available Warren Report. To make the point even clearer, Dr. Kemp Clark, the neurosurgeon, in a handwritten note described seeing both cerebral and cerebellar tissue [in the endnote for those statements, Mantik cites appendix VIII of the report]. The intact posterior skull, as seen on the posterior head photographs, however, clearly prohibits viewing a structure as inferior as the cerebellum."
Mantik had previously cited his source for one photograph as "HSCA 1978; 7, 104" [or volume seven, page 104, hearings and exhibits of the House Select Committee on Assassinations]. Presumably that photograph, not of the brain but of the intact back of Kennedy's head, is the same as the one Fetzer printed (p. 52).
Livingston's source for the superior view drawing of the brain (p. 165) is HSCA exhibit F-302, a drawing made from a photograph of the brain illustrating subcortical damage, reproduced in Joseph N. Riley's article, "The Head Wounds of John Kennedy: 1. One Bullet cannot Account for the Injuries," The Third Decade (March, 1993), p. 5.
Simple enough. If Dr. Livingston is right -- and so far he has not been proved wrong -- the drawing, X-rays and photos are fake.
With two of Fetzer's three fundamental claims proved in the first half of his book (parts I and II), readers will find a short break from all of this medical science. Part III is a 24-page section reporting on "attempts to reach out to the press to advise them that major developments were afoot." This report actually starts earlier with the story of the doctors' failed press conference and letters from Livingston to Newsweek, and from Fetzerto The New York Times.
To experienced researchers of the JFK assassination these examples of these doctors' quaint former beliefs in a free press, investigative journalism, a virtuous government (all now oxymorons) and the superiority of science and reason over politics may invoke melancholy amusement. Especially poignant is Professor Fetzer's attempt to show Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, the error of his ways by sending him an article clipped from Fetzer's college newspaper.
Fetzer also writes (p. 144): "For several days, I tried to persuade ABC that it should pursue this story, but World News Tonight thought that it was appropriate for Nightline, and Nightline would not bite." I hope Dr. Fetzer was paying close attention to the political content "between the lines," as it were, during ABC's World News Tonight broadcast of April 23, 1998, when news anchor Peter Jennings, reporting on the death of James Earl Ray, twice emphasized that conspiracy theories are "always proved wrong."
The Zapruder Film
Scientifically, how do we know the Zapruder film has been extensively edited using highly sophisticated techniques?
The fourth section of Assassination Science is devoted entirely to the Zapruder film. It is the largest section, comprising over a quarter of the book. In the section's introduction, Fetzer lists the fundamental discoveries presented about the film by five contributors. I will confine my comments to his prioritized list in the order introduced.
1) Jack White's "cinematic anomalies that establish a prima facie case that it has been edited in many different ways."
The anomaly in Jack's article I know best is the one attributed to me (p. 218). In the beginning of this review I addressed his misinformation regarding my relationship to the Zapruder family. However, Jack's point about my "inside information" is essentially correct. I have talked to people who knew Abraham Zapruder best, people who lived or worked with him every day, including his late wife. I am able to read his Warren Commission testimony with the knowledge that he was unhappy because he felt the Commission did not ask him the right questions. He objected to the way his questioners seemed to treat him as an unimportant eyewitness. He considered himself the only one who really saw the assassination -- through a telephoto lens.
As Jack notes, Zapruder spent much of his time before the Commission searching the film's frames for movements by Kennedy and Connally that impressed him, movements which no longer existed in the frames of his film. The climax of those movements comes at frame 227.
Following the advice of Penn Jones, Jr. to "Pick out one or two JFK subjects that really interest you, and then research the hell out of them," which Jack quoted at the beginning of his article, I compiled the available information about frame 227 and wrote a research paper about it: "Z-Film: Red Frame, White Light," JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly, (Vol. 2, No. 1, October 1996), pp. 22-25.
Here are some of the facts I compiled for that study that were repeated piecemeal and without synthesis in Jack's article and throughout Assassination Science: Jack's observation that "Connally said he turned to his left to look at the President, then turned to his right," movements which "The film does not show...", and his observation that "Unnatural jerkiness of movement or change of focus or movement is apparent in certain frame sequences" (p. 214); Ron Redmon's observation about "Dan Rather's description of the film..." (pp. 216, 299); Milicent Cranor's report that "She did an extensive study of Connally's movements from photos and witness statements, and says the Z-film does not correspond to other evidence" (p. 217); and Daryll Weatherly's "Vector Analysis blurring study" which "alone may prove tampering" (pp. 218, 315-17).
Jack White's compendium of anomalies proves the film wasalt ered. Analyzed together, along with a few other factors, the anomalies cited above prove, simplify and pinpoint the Zapruder film's forgery at frame 227. They also reconstruct a description of what was edited from the film at that point.
2) Ron Hepler's "indications that John Connally was struck twice..."
Hepler's article, "The Wounding of Governor John Connally" (p. 239), was originally published in Fair Play Magazine (#18, Sept./Oct., 1997). For my critique, I refer the reader to my letter to the editor in the issue that followed it (#19, Nov./Dec., 1997). I will limit my comments here to some interesting background information about his article and my critique of it.
At Ron's request, I peer reviewed the article a year before its first publication. I agreed with his opening statement that "if the presence of a fact, or the lack of a necessary fact, makes a theory impossible, then that theory must be discarded and a new theory developed which includes all of the known facts," so I was compelled to use that standard in critiquing his methodology and findings.
I found that he was selectively excluding and misinterpreting evidence that does not fit his theory, something he accuses "Many highly regarded critics of the Warren Commission" of doing (p. 239). I subsequently discussed it with him via e-mail. He resisted my critique by ignoring some of my comments, ridiculing others and by attacking me personally. Ron Hepler even ridiculed the evidence that the Zapruder film had been altered! I eventually had to tell him that if he did not wish to hear my opinion, he need only cease to ask for it and stop replying to it. That is what he did.
Hopeful that Ron was a reasonable person of scientific repute, I felt he would eventually either mount a rational defense of his theory or heed my comments and revise his article. I was astonished to see it published unchanged. To prevent readers from being misled, I edited our e-mail correspondence into my letter to the editor. The comments I attributed to "true believers" in that letter are Hepler's. He did not respond to the letter.
Because of Hepler's continued resistance to scientific skepticism and his unscientific belief in the authenticity of the film, I was again astonished that his unchanged article was accepted for a book scientifically refuting the film's authenticity by an editor who is acutely aware of the pitfalls of inadequate peer review (see Fetzer's article "A Piece of My Mind: Lundberg, JFK, and JAMA," p. 27).
Referring to Hepler's article in his Zapruder film introduction, Fetzer commented that "This study by itself supplies enough evidence to refute The Warren Report--even on the basis of the edited Zapruder film!" (emphasis Fetzer's) I agree. But, as I noted in my critique:
"The Single Bullet Theory has long been demolished by the clothing holes problem, by the positions of Kennedy and Connally, and by James Tague's certainty that the first shot did not wound him. Determining the exact moment of each of their wounds will help trajectory analysis, which in turn will help identify shooters in photographs and possibly lead to reconstructing their movements into and out of Dealey Plaza. But the forgers of the Zapruder film define more of the scope of the conspiracy." (Ironically, for an excellent analysis defining that scope, see Fetzer's "The Death of JFK," pp. 366-72.)
Hepler's article was included to refute The Warren Report by way of refuting the authenticity of the Zapruder film -- something Hepler avoids doing. In light of Fetzer's documentation of a "clarification" whereby Dr. Livingston reverses himself on his opinion of Kennedy's damaged cerebellum (p. 175), Fetzer owes his readers a clarification regarding Hepler's views on the film's authenticity. Otherwise it appears, to me at least, that Hepler irrationally rejects the findings of every Zapruder film article in this book except his own.
3) Mike Pincher's and Roy Schaeffer's "reconstruction" of the film's early chain of custody which "substantiates" that on the day of the assassination, the film covertly left Dallas about 4 p.m. CST, was counterfeited by the CIA and returned to Dallas by 7 a.m. CST.
My critique of Pincher and Schaeffer may seem harsh. But in introducing it, Fetzer chose to focus attention on their chronological reconstruction of the film's early chain of custody as substantiation of one of the most horrific -- and on-going (!) -- criminal acts in history: the CIA's theft, forgery and cover-up of the Zapruder film. Extreme allegations invite the most extreme scrutiny.
With his unqualified endorsement of this article, Fetzer lost some credibility. Ironically, over a hundred pages later in an editor's note (p. 341), he gives an excellent example of why the early chain of custody of the Zapruder film must be accurately substantiated. I consider that example important enough to repeat here in its entirety:
"During the final production of this book, we had what appears to have been a close encounter with the CIA. In the course of ordinary events, we have become familiar with a person claiming to have been a high-ranking official of the CIA, who has told us that the Zapruder film was in the hands of the CIA almost immediately and that it was edited at Ft. Meade under the authority of the National Security Agency, part of which was done prior to the publication of selected frames in Life. He has advised us that instructions for this undertaking would have had to emanate from a level of government at least equivalent to that of Lyndon B. Johnson or of J. Edgar Hoover. We have found much of what he has to say quite fascinating and, in general, consistent with our discoveries. We are unable to confirm the specific details of his claims, which deserve further investigation. He was not personally involved in these activities, however, and his reports are not comparable in evidential significance to the scientific findings presented here. But we have found much of what he has to say quite fascinating and, in general, consistent with our discoveries. See Mike Pincher and Roy Schaeffer, Part IV."
Unfortunately, therefore, while the co-authors' conclusion of theft and extensive tampering is proved by the evidence (their blinking study of the limousine's flashing lights is one of the most monumental successes of the book), most of Pincher's and Schaeffer's chronology is unsupported by their source citations and proved wrong by the evidence. For a more correct sequence of events, see Noel Twyman, "Chain of Possession of the Zapruder Film," Bloody Treason, (Rancho Santa Fe, CA: Laurel Publishing, 1997), pp. 133-49.
The co-authors miscalculated from the outset of their chronology by speculating about what happened with the film just after it was developed at the Dallas Kodak laboratory: "...after quickly reviewing the film, Zapruder and [Secret Service agent] Sorrels went to the Jamieson Film Company...to have three copies of the original [made]..." (p. 224).
Actually, Zapruder and his partner took the film back to their dress factory about 4 or 4:30 p.m. where they stayed until closing about 6 p.m. The two men then went to Jamieson, had three reversal duplicates made, then went back to Kodak to get positive prints developed from the reversal duplicates. Two of those three positive prints were delivered to the Dallas office of the Secret Service around 9:30 p.m.
In addition, other time-consuming events occurred during and after the above time interval which Twyman did not report. Pincher and Schaeffer speculate that the film was flown from Love Field to Andrews Air Force Base by a conventional-speed aircraft. When Zapruder and his partner delivered the film they were told it would be flown to Washington that night by a Navy jet waiting at Hensley Field, a.k.a. the Dallas Naval Air Station. (Twyman, pp. 138, 141; Bartholomew notes from interview of Zapruder's partner, Nov. 21, 1994.)
Pincher and Schaeffer reproduced a copy of a handwritten memo transferring an "enclosed" film copy from Secret Service Special Agent Max D. Phillips to Chief Rowley in Washington. The memo indicates it was written at "9:55 p.m." In their endnote citing that memo as proof the film was in Washington by 10 p.m. EST, Friday, November 22, 1963 (9 p.m. Dallas time), Pincher and Schaeffer wrote, "Harold Weisberg, Photographic Whitewash (1967), p. 138, prints a copy that indistinctly indicates the date of '11/22'." The cited source shows that, directly above the time notation, there is only a "2" followed by a round bottom fragment of a number, making it either a "3", "5", "6", or "8". More likely, Agent Phillips was in Dallas and enclosed the note with the film at 9:55 p.m. on Friday and mistakenly wrote the date as the 23rd.
It is also a faulty supposition by Pincher and Schaeffer that the film had to be altered before it was viewed by Zapruder and others the morning after the assassination (p. 225). As noted in several other Zapruder film articles in Assassination Science, eyewitness statements, including Zapruder's, indicate that they are describing the original, unaltered, film as late as Dan Rather's viewing the next Monday.
The only alteration and compositing required in a limited time would be to the nine frames published in the issue of Life magazine that went on sale on November 26th. No frame between 166 and 216 was published in that issue. Suspiciously, Life got those nine frames from the government since, by the agreement signed between Life and Zapruder on Saturday, Richard Stolley did not have the film in hand until November 26th. (Bartholomew notes from interview of Zapruder's partner, Nov. 21, 1994.)
Pincher and Schaeffer state (p. 225), "At about 9:00 a.m. CST on 23 November 1963, the film was shown once by the Secret Service at Zapruder's dress shop to a small press corps that included Dan Rather of CBS..." For this fact, the co-authors seem to cite the entry about Richard Stolley in Michael Benson's 1993 book, Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, pp. 431-32 (the co-authors' endnote reference numbers are transposed). There is nothing at that citation to support that statement. Not even Benson's un-cited entry on Rather supports it (Benson, p. 375).
Zapruder's partner, who ran the projector that morning, is certain Rather was not present and therefore could not have seen the film at any of the viewings the morning of November 23rd. Moreover, in his 1977 book, The Camera Never Blinks (p. 124), Rather says his first viewing was in the office of Zapruder's lawyer, Sam Passman. Zapruder's partner said Passman was not consulted until after JFK's funeral. Zapruder first met with Passman at his law office early the next week. Rather's first broadcast describing the film, which Rather claims was immediately following his first and only viewing of the film in Passman's office, was not until Monday, the 25th. (Richard B. Trask, Pictures of the Pain [Danvers, MA: Yeoman Press, 1994], pp. 86-90; Bartholomew notes from interview of Zapruder's partner, Nov. 21, 1994.)
4) Chuck Marler's study of "the Warren Commission's use of phoney numbers that were changed from those established by the original surveyors of Dealey Plaza."
Some of the findings reported by Chuck Marler are the most monumental in Assassination Science. Others are preliminary but promising.
According to Marler (p. 250), "analysis of existing Warren Commission exhibits, along with the discovery of new documents, now establishes a clear and convincing case that the survey measurements made for the Warren Commission by Robert H. West, Dallas County Surveyor, were altered, the 24 May 1964, re-enactment was orchestrated by Arlen Specter to insure his single bullet theory would not be contradicted, and the Zapruder film was altered to conceal footage that would have proved President Kennedy was struck by multiple assassins. Initial evidence of the crime scene and the shooting sequences as established by theZapruder film produced a different version of the assassination than depicted in the Warren Commission's final report. To understand what occurred, it is necessary to study the evidence and exhibits that had been produced prior to 24 May 1964."
If Marler's case can be proved, presidential hopeful Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is guilty of obstruction of justice, which makes it even more necessary to study this evidence and these exhibits. Regrettably, Fetzer and Marler have made that task more difficult than it might have been.
The existing Warren Commission exhibits (CEs) Marler refers to are CEs 585, 882, 883 and 884. One of the "new documents" is the 1964 field notes of re-enactment surveyor Robert H. West who conducted all of the three known surveys, including the November 26, 1963 survey -- the first -- commissioned by the Time-Life Corporation. That first plat, according to Marler, presumably the second of the "new documents," has not yet been made public.
West's second survey was commissioned by the Secret Service and done on December 5, 1963. CE 585 (17H 262) is the resulting plat. West's third survey was commissioned by the Warren Commission and done on May 24, 1964. It resulted in at least two plats, CE 882 and 883 (17H 901). I say "at least" because, according to Marler (p. 251), CE 882 "came wrapped and sealed in a container--one which was never opened and to date has never been released to the public. It was Commission Counsel Arlen Specter who asked Chairman Earl Warren that the seal not be broken and the plat not be taken out of its container. Mr. Specter instead introduced what was represented as a cardboard reproduction of Mr. West's survey as CE-883. Specter also introduced as CE-884, a tabulation of elevations and angles for selected Zapruder film frames which Specter stated were also contained on the sealed survey map."
Supporting this mysterious introduction of evidence by Specter, Marler cites the testimony of Leo J. Gauthier, head of the FBI's exhibit section (5H 136-37). Sure enough, the testimony shows that Specter seems to have done exactly what Marler reported. However, unless I am confused, Marler never explained why CE 882 does not depict a container, sealed or otherwise. It depicts a survey plat. The only difference between it and its "cardboard reproduction" (CE 883) is the addition on the latter of a few more landmarks and witness position labels (Harrison E. Livingstone, Killing Kennedy and the Hoax of the Century, [New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995], photo no. 11, caption).
Reading Gauthier's testimony more carefully -- which, as any respectable JFK researcher knows, is mandatory whenever witnesses are questioned by the artful Mr. Specter -- may solve the "container" mystery while establishing a greater one.
Specter seemingly established only that Gauthier had a "tracing of that survey," which was already wrapped and sealed in the container. Specter asked Gauthier if he "brought a cardboard reproduction of that." To which Gauthier answered, "A copy made from the tracing; yes." Specter then established only that the printing on the cardboard copy represents an exact duplication of the tracing. He then had the pre-sealed "tracing" marked as exhibit 882. The "copy" of the "tracing" was then marked as exhibit 883.
Now the only way anything in this pre-sealed container could bear the typewritten text, "Commission Exhibit No. 882," as this exhibit does (17H 901), and "not be taken out," is if the typewriting was on it before sealing it in the container. That would mean, at minimum, that the person who labeled it knew the exhibit number well in advance of the moment it was introduced as evidence on June 4, 1964. Either that or, unless I am hopelessly confused, Marler is wrong when he says it "was never opened and to date has never been released to the public."
That mystery notwithstanding, Marler reveals more problems for the reader (p. 251): "In order to adequately study these exhibits it may be necessary to make enlargements since the plats were reduced in size to less than a half-page photo in Volume 17 of the Commission's hearings" [sic]. May be necessary? It is necessary. The reader will not find any reproductions of them, large or small, in Assassination Science, however.
The Commission's reproductions cannot be enlarged because of the loss of resolution in the halftone screens the printer used. Slightly more legible reproductions of these exhibits can be found in Harold Weisberg's 1966 book, Whitewash II, p. 243 (CE 585), and Livingstone's 1995 book, Killing Kennedy, photograph numbers 9 (CE 585), 10 (CE 882) and 11 (CE 883).
The reader of Assassination Science does not learn of these sources until 54 pages later in the next article, where an important related article by Daryll Weatherly is also cited: "A Comparison of the Official Reconstructions of the John F. Kennedy Assassination," The Investigator, Winter 1994-95, pp. 6-16; which, on page 11, includes the largest reproduction (8.5 by 11 inches) of the December 5th plat (CE 585).
Weatherly's article, along with research by Marler and others, was the basis of Livingstone's third chapter in Killing Kennedy, which also includes, on page 56, a readable detail enlargement of the bottom of CE 585, showing the legend, an "essential aid in the understanding of any survey," admits Marler (p. 251), and an important revision date ("2-7-64") mentioned by Marler (p. 252), both of which are impossible to see on any of the other reproductions.
The original exhibits are 40 inches by 72 inches, drawn to a scale of "1 inch equals 10 feet" (5H 137). Without the "necessary" and "essential" means to "adequately study these exhibits," what immediate benefit can readers get from Marler's article?
Fortunately, Marler answers that question modestly: "Hopefully, this article provides new research information and raises questions about the assumptions that have been made about the accuracy of the crime scene data used by the Warren Commission."
That it does. By using the exhibit reproductions cited above, I was able to check some of Marler's data. The location of the pairs of traffic lines in the May survey plats (CEs 882 and 883) are in error and placed too far west (downhill) on Elm Street. At the very least, as Marler notes, "This issue is of extreme importance when determining the Zapruder frames in which the oak tree blocked an assassin's view of the motorcade from the sixth floor window" (p. 253).
By using several excellent reproductions of the photograph by Associated Press photographer James Altgens showing the limousine just after the first shot sounded, I was able to verify Marler's claims about it. When the FBI re-enacted that photo (CE 900; Warren Report, p. 113), the re-enactment vehicle was placed too far west, but seemingly in correct alignment with the fifth traffic line painted on the street.
Using West's December plat (CE 585), and visual alignments seen in the Altgens photo between the fifth traffic line, the limousine and the tree in the background, and by verifying it with other landmarks, I was able to plat Altgens' position at the south curb of Elm Street (directly next to the middle of the seventh traffic line just west of the 416.5 street elevation -- he, the driver and Zapruder are aligned at Zapruder frame 343) and thus properly plat the position of the limousine (centered at street elevation 421.25). That in turn verified the correctness of the traffic lines in CE 585 and, from witness statements, the shot sequence shown on that plat. All of which disproves Arlen Specter's single bullet theory.
It is also very easy to verify Marler's observations about CE 884 (17H 902), a data block containing Zapruder film frame numbers, elevations and distances from the re-enactment. It contains data for frames 161, 166 and 210. But Robert West, according to what Marler reports about his field notes, did not make measurements for those frames. The numbers entered forthose frames are the ones West entered for frames 168, 171 and 208. It is easy to see in the Warren Commission's reproduction of CE 884 that someone erased the correct frame numbers and wrote in the fake numbers. The result of this alteration was to artificially move the first two frames westward and downward, and the third slightly eastward and upward. As Marler notes, this also has a devastating impact on the authenticity of the filmed movement and speed of the limousine (p. 255).
Suspiciously, frames 208 through 211 were not published by the Warren Commission and, as noted by David Mantik in his Zapruder film article, frames 208 and 210 were among the six frames from the original film (207 through 212) destroyed by Life magazine (p. 305; Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas [New York: Berkley, 1967, 1976], pp. 271-74).
Those are also frames in which the limousines occupants were apparently hidden behind a street sign. Supporting Marler's suspicion that "the Zapruder film was altered to increase the height of the Stemmons sign to conceal President Kennedy's reactions when struck by the first bullet," it is easy to verify his observations about the film's re-enactment photos (CEs 888 through 902). Fetzer only published three of them, CE 888 (p. 220), CE 895 (p. 248) and CE 902 (p. 262). But even with that limited information, I was able to verify Marler's observation that the re-enactment camera was at a lower elevation than Zapruder's, thus artificially raising the sign to hide the car's occupants.
Arlen Specter, Marler tells us, was in charge of the May re-enactment. He also authored the single bullet theory between the dates of the December and May re-enactments. Therefore, if possible, "Arlen Specter, who with a sleight of hand introduced altered evidence (CE-883 and CE-884) and concealed the original survey plat, should be tried for obstruction of justice at the very least" (p. 260).
5) David Mantik's "study of multiple indications that the film has been subjected to at least two kinds of editing..."; "reconstruction of the missing frames, which concludes that the driver, William Greer, actually brought the vehicle to a stop in Dealey Plaza after bullets had begun to be fired..."; finding "that JFK was hit at least twice in the head--once from behind and once from in front..."; and discovery of "a strikingly high degree of agreement among multiple witnesses about shots that hit the President's head."
Mantik's third and final contribution in Assassination Science, "Special Effects in the Zapruder Film: How the Film of the Century was Edited" (p. 263), is generally an outstanding overview of the first 34 years of history of the Zapruder film and the scientific investigation thereof.
The short version of Mantik's list of indications of editing is (p. 273):
Overly skeptical readers who are inclined to dismiss reports that the limousine stopped while on Elm Street -- an event contradicted by the Zapruder film -- will find themselves opposite a sizable and impressive group that includes (p. 273-75): United Press International, Newsweek magazine, Time magazine, several policemen including all four motorcycle officers riding beside both sides of the car, and Gerald Posner who is the preeminent pundit of conspiracy denial in the JFK murder.
For those still inclined to think of eyewitnesses as unreliable after reading Mantik's report of a study conducted at the University of Michigan in 1971, which was endorsed by the American Psychological Foundation and the Harvard Law Review, I have something to add. As a graduate of the first class of my local police department's Citizen Police Academy, I can report that it is common knowledge among police that most criminal investigations fail to properly solve a crime, and that 90% of those which are solved succeed as a direct result of eyewitness reports.
Mantik thus found that "the eyewitnesses merely provide the key for unlocking the door" behind which "lies a small mountain of evidence" for two successful head shots following the shot to the throat. The first was from the rear, jerking Kennedy's head slightly to the left. Mantik speculates that Zapruder may have seen him grasp his left chest at the moment of this head shot. That ignores his testimony that he saw that motion just after the first shot sounded and well before any head shot (see my article, "Z-Film: Red Frame, White Light," cited above). Next, a bloodless skull fragment fell into the limousine. Jackie then raised his head to look into his eyes. Mantik says this is the movement that was used to create the false rear head snap. At that moment, more than a second after the first shot and probably several seconds later, the other head shot hit, entering from the front right at his hairline. He fell forward a second time and into Jackie's lap. Mantik says this occurred 40 feet farther down Elm Street and produced a bloody halo. Mantik cites a Newsweek photograph that identified that location (November 22, 1993, p. 74). Indeed, the cited page shows a photograph of Dealey Plaza over which is diagrammed bullet trajectories including a "possible fourth shot from second assailant." Mantik's evidence for the above scenario is exhaustive, comprising 12 pages.
The rest of Mantik's 82-page article details the evidence for the five arguments listed above. Mantik eloquently sums up his findings:
"A strong case can be made for extensive editing of the Zapruder film. In fact, the conclusion seems inescapable--the film was deliberately altered. No other explanation is in the same league, in terms of explanatory power, for the myriad of anomalous characteristics that are seen everywhere in this case. Many frames were excised, some individual frames were extensively altered, others were changed only enough to fill in for missing frames, and others were left alone. Frames that were excised were simply too embarrassing for the official story or contained troublesome edge prints. What is perhaps most remarkable, though, is that, even in the past several years, to say nothing of the past several months, yet more evidence has accumulated--all of it pointing toward alteration. One can only wonder what still remains to be discovered."
As a researcher of the JFK assassination who long ago, and partly for personal reasons, picked the Zapruder film as one of the few subjects to "research the hell out of," and who is included in a small e-mail discussion group of Zapruder film students and experts, namely Chuck Marler, David Wimp, James Fetzer, Milicent Cranor, Michael Griffith, Russell Burr, Ron Redmon, David Mantik and Jack White, I can and do wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Mantik's summary statement.
The ultimate value of sound scientific discovery is that it is truly monumental. Governments rise and fall, as do their monuments to themselves. But competent works of art and science survive for all generations. The conspirators who killed John F. Kennedy knew that, and those who continue the cover-up know that.
It is appropriate, therefore, that Assassination Science ends with two facing pages showing a picture on the left of the Kennedy brothers. Its caption reads: "Bobby, Teddy, and Jack, circa 1960. Far-right conservatives not only feared that Jack would be reelected in 1964 but that Bobby would serve two terms after him and Teddy two more, indefinitely perpetuating a Kennedy dynasty."
On the right-hand page is a quote:
new form of government
is going to take over the country...
The coup plotters have always known that their time in power is limited. Their hollow denial of their conspiracies has never been more desperate, as evidenced by the embarrassing media spinning used to attacked Oliver Stone's JFK, and by ridiculous, anti-intellectual books like Case Closed. They know time is running out. What have they planned for that inevitable day when they are exposed? The more important question to keep in mind is therefore: Who is using their time more wisely, the coup plotters or we who are countering them?
It is unfortunate for readers interested in the scientific investigation of the JFK assassination that Daryll Weatherly's excellent article, "A New Look at 'the Film of the Century'," (Harrison E. Livingstone, Killing Kennedy and the Hoax of the Century, [New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995], pp. 371-80), was not included in Assassination Science. It was mentioned and discussed numerous times and in highly complimentary terms by other contributors (pp. 218, 269, 304, 315-17, 330, 333, 341, 363).
That study of the Zapruder film by Weatherly, a mathematician at the State University of New York, was the result of the physics method of adding and subtracting vectors. It is particularly missed here because, as Dr. Fetzer noted in his epilogue (p. 345), "The sense of 'proof' appropriate to empirical science, for example, is less stringent than that appropriate to pure mathematics, but more demanding than that appropriate to courts of law."
I would be remiss if I did not mention another oversight by Fetzer: his complete omission of the digital photographic photometry experiments of former U.S. Steel scientist Tom Wilson. Those experiments, completed and presented years earlier, but never published, reached many of the same conclusions as Fetzer's contributors (Harrison E. Livingstone, High Treason 2, [New York: Carroll & Graf, 1992], pp. 338-39).
I saw both of Wilson's initial public presentations. The first was at the Assassination Symposium on John F. Kennedy (ASK) in Dallas in 1991. It was a presentation involving charts of mathematical calculations and color slides of computer-processed images.
That debut of Wilson's work was videotaped by South by Southwest, the conference organizers, but the quality of the presentation and the video was compromised by a loud party in the next-door ballroom. The two ballrooms were separated by a non-soundproof, movable partition. In what is at best an amazing coincidence, that party was part of a reunion of U.S. Secret Service agents, some of whom had served on Kennedy's Dallas trip. That was learned about three years later by Vince Palamara while interviewing some of those former agents.
The second presentation by Wilson was his unscheduled appearance during a break-out session given by Jack White at ASK 1993, the same conference at which Doctors Fetzer, Mantik and Livingston repeated the presentation just given at their November 18th press conference in New York (pp. 17, 144). Wilson's talk was nothing more than a sketchy review of his methodology and an update of his and forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht's attempts to present Wilson's data in a way that would prevent it from being misunderstood or compromised. Those attempts led to Wilson's work as an expert witness, using his image processing technique in a federal murder trial in Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1994. That was followed by his first substantial media exposure in the sixth episode of Nigel Turner's six-hour documentary "The Men Who Killed Kennedy."
>From the beginning few JFK assassination researchers have given much thought to Wilson's methods. But I have tried to approach Wilson's work scientifically, concentrating on those aspects that are precise and susceptible of some sort of check or proof.
Because he claims his method reveals photographic forgery and even exposes authentic images within and beneath the forgery, skeptics have asked, "What principle of optics would allow the image deposited on the paper to have a 'hidden' image which would not be optically visible? (other than the possibility of random or differing thicknesses/densities which could cause random 'ghost' images, or images under images like Renaissance paintings which have been refurbished). Is he talking about some non-visible light spectrum, radiation, or infrared?"
Wilson has said his studies lie within the scientific discipline of "Photonics, the science and measurement of light." I was not familiar with that term until I heard Wilson use it. The branch of science that deals with the calculation and measurement of light or of its time rate of flow is photometry. Perhaps Wilson's term is derived from the definition of "photon" as an informal unit of light energy.
Photometry is usually restricted to electromagnetic radiations of wavelengths that are capable of affecting the human eye. That makes it more closely related to Wilson's studies than anything involving the non-visible light spectrum. Photometry has, however, come to mean also the measurement of radiations in the nearby ultraviolet and infrared regions. That less common definition may be the basis for some confusion.
Wilson's work is also related to photochromism because it deals with differences in the way substances appear on exposure to radiant energies such as light. But what Wilson is actually talking about seems to be the digital-electronic updating of a science commonly called photographic photometry. By traditional photographic photometry, intensity of radiation, or its spectral distribution, can be measured by photography. The radiation intensity to be measured is compared with that from a standard source by matching the photographic densities produced by both. That method has a high degree of precision if the characteristics of photographic materials are accurately known and the results are interpreted intelligently.
Basically, Wilson's imaging process, developed over his 30 years of employment with U.S. Steel, digitally extends the 30 shades of light value delineated by the human eye to the 256 shades made available by using computers. The key to it is the database he has developed for interpreting the light intensity of different substances in comparison to the characteristics of different photographic materials. The accuracy of his database in identifying substances recorded on photographs has been extensively verified through decades of trials in the steel industry.
It was so accurate, a federal judge allowed the method to be admitted as evidence in a 1994 murder trial in Clarksburg, West Virginia. It was one of the first tests of Wilson's method for identifying biological or natural materials. It also involved determining bullet wounds of entry and exit. Wilson's results were verified by exhuming the corps whose photographs he studied. Re-examination of the corps completely verified Tom Wilson's results. Wecht and Wilson also established a legal precedent for the admissibility of his data as trial evidence.
According to Jack White, Tom Wilson filed suit in 1996 against the U.S. government over the Kennedy Assassination. He intended to use his studies of various photos and films of the assassination to prove not only the conspiracy to assassinate, but the conspiracy to cover up the truth through forgery of Kennedy's autopsy with the use of reconstructive mortician's techniques and direct photographic techniques.
I have not heard what, if anything, has come of the lawsuit. But as with the findings presented in Assassination Science, my confidence in Wilson's method lies in its basis in science. Further confidence is justified by Wilson's and Wecht's determination to present their data as legal evidence in a federal proceeding. In short, it is not paranormal pseudoscience nor is it theoretical quantum physics. The data will either be replicable and falsifiable or it won't.
As with the data James Fetzer and his contributors have presented, we need only await peer review of Tom Wilson's scientific data. So far, he has not been proved wrong.
Despite its omissions and other flaws, I highly recommend Assassination Science, warts and all. Readers are cautioned, however, to do their own fact-checking, research and thinking.
In his "Undelivered Speech for the Dallas Citizens Council, the Dallas Assembly and the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest in Dallas," President Kennedy wrote: "...leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." Compare that idea to the quote by former CIA Director Allen Dulles that opened this review and you will understand why the United States, and therefore the world, are in grave danger.
Fortunately, it is not against the law to learn. Not yet anyway.