Pig on a Leash: A Question of Authenticity

David S. Lifton

118 pages (pp. 309–426); 7 photographs; 2 diagrams; 1 table

David Lifton has sent me his own response to Josiah Thompson’s attack on his chapter. I include it here verbatim. Following Lifton’s response is my own listing of the topics covered in his chapter and Thompson’s responses, as done in the other pages of this site.

[DSLResponsToJThompson,11/3;Rv1]  11/10/3; Rv 1 = 11/14/3; p/o xxx

 

LIFTON (and Horne) RESPONSE TO THOMPSON:

 

“Zavada Refutes Lifton’s Hearsay Claim”—posted on the anti-Fetzer website in early November, 03.

 

1.  Referring to Best Evidence, Thompson asserts:

 

“As the years passed, the theory has become less and less likely.”

 

            RESPONSE: Precisely the opposite is the case.

 

            See ARRB work, and specifically:

 

                        --additional witness for body bag (Van Hoesen of Gawlers funeral home)

 

--additional document, dated 11/22/63, from Gawler’s funeral home establishing body’s arrival in “shipping casket.”  Document was made out by Joseph Hagen, the senior person there, and states: “Remarks:  Body removed from metal shipping Casket at U S N H at Bethesda.”

 

                        --enormity of Bethesda skull hole as drawn on medical accurate model of skull by Dr., Boswell, questioned under oath by ARRB, and hundreds of percent bigger than in Dallas

 

                        --In general: as Doug Horne, former Chief Analyst for Military Records on ARRB has repeatedly said (see Black Ops radio interview of 11/13/03 for good discussion on this)  the case for Best Evidence has only become strengthened by the work of the ARRB.  Horne is now in the process of writing a detailed book about his work on the ARRB, and a major focus is how the medical depositions and other documents have strengthened the case for Best Evidence. So Thompson et al’s statements are simply false.

 

2.   “Lifton wanders all over  the place in his garrulous piece on the Zapruder film.  . . “

 

COMMENT: This “wandering” is the history of the controversy, your opinion notwithstanding.  It also includes Thompson’s antics in covertly copying the film, and the major analytical error he made in combining Dallas and Bethesda head wound info, rather than contrasting them.

 

3.  Lifton has a “single reason for believing the Zapruder film has been altered”

 

                        This is a serious misrepresentation of my position.

                        I interviewed the closest witnesses in 1971; all said the car stopped.

 

                        Now that’s not direct “optical” evidence but it sure is important circumstantial evidence.

 

                        Moreover, as Horne likes to point out, the car stop witnesses and the problem they pose only gain in credibility because of the direct optical evidence indicating that this film is not an out-of-camera original.

 

4. “By going full flush left, the—the forgers—did something the camera can’t do.”

 

                        RESPONSE:

 

 In fact, its worse than that.

                        In frame after frame on the DVD, the left margin is “beyond full flush left.”

Both Doug Horne and I agree that this is a key point: although I originally dubbed this matter an issue of “full flush left,” in fact the image goes “beyond full flesh left” and that will be the true litmus test in any future test done.

 

5. “Lifton never explains how this purported anomaly would follow from an alteration of the film.”

 

                        RESPONSE.  False.

 

                        I discuss at length the left margin problem as it would appear to those forging the film, how it would be addressed by making two passes on an optical printer; and how all this is circumstantial evidence of two passes on an optical printer.

 

                         So how can Thompson make the statement “Lifton never explains” when all this is so clearly spelled out?

 

6. “More importantly, he fails to cite either Zavada or Zavada’s long report as the basis for his claim. Instead, Lifton cites the hearsay report of an ARRB staffer (Doug Horne) who allegedly spoke to Zavada. When shown Lifton‘s claim, Zavada pointed out it was based on a simple misunderstanding by the ARRB staffer.  Since the penetration of the image into the intersprocket area is a function of available light, shots made in the studio failed to fill the area while shots made outside (like in Dealey Plaza) did.  The staffer simply confused the later with the former and Lifton passed on the confusion.:

 

                        RESPONSE:  False.

 

Only 2 frames of all those shots could possibly be claimed to show full flush left;  and NONE go “beyond full flush left” (which is what the actual Z frames show).  It cannot be stressed too strongly that just about ALL the frames in the Zapruder film go “BEYOND full flush left” as shown on the DVD of the Zapruder film.  Zavada’s test frames do NOT show this behavior, and certainly not consistently. In addition, they all show the embarrassingly obvious “light bleed” at the lower right hand corner of the sprocket hole (on his test films), something not present on the Zapruder film frames, and another indicia that they were NOT exposed in Zapruder’s camera.

 

Does Zavada, or anyone else for that  matter, have an explanation for why the Zavada test frames show this very obvious “light bleed” but the Z film frames do not?

 

7.   Writes Thompson:  “The staffer simply confused the later with the former and Lifton passed on the confusion.”

 

                        RESPONSE: The staffer did not confuse anything.  Most of the Zavada test shots clearly do NOT go full flush left.  The actual Z frames consistently go beyond full flush left.

 

8.   “Pointing out that his own published report makes this clear, Zavada wrote:

 

                        “Under the correct circumstances of lens and light—YES [emphasis in original] the image can fill the area between the sprockets.  See my test shots; Study 4, Fig 4-28 and Study 3, Figure 3-12.

 

                        RESPONSE: These test shots do NOT replicate the Z frames:

                                    (a) what Rollie is trying to say happens does not happen consistently

                                    (b) these frames do not go “beyond full flush left” which is what the Z frames clearly do.

 

((CONTINUING. ..  .with Zavada. . .))

 

“I have no idea why a respected author (Lifton) needs to revert to hearsay  to support his arguments. The tests referenced above are described on page 41 of study 4—including the reason for the limitation of full intersprocket penetration (we simply didn’t have enough light available). . .

 

                        RESPONSE: 

                        This is a false argument. The shots were taken in full sunlight at Dealey Plaza.

 

                        What kind of light does Rollie Zavada want—a laser beam which would go “full flush left” but vaporize the camera and operator in the process?

 

                        This discussion shows why the proper tests—which weren’t done—should have been done in the first place.  When anyone writes—as Thompson does here--that the Zavada report contains language “including the reason for the limitation of full intersprocket penetration,” that is false and misleading.  To the extent that the report’s “language” is interpreted that way, that is simply nothing more than Zavada theorizing  out loud as to WHY the test shots don’t match the actual Z frames.  But he never resolved the issue because the proper tests were not done.

 

                        Again, this is why a proper test—using actual film in Zapruder’s camera, and under equivalent lighting—should have been done.  Then instead of Zavada theorizing to explain away the mismatch (“we simply didn’t have enough light available” etc.), there would be final proof, one way or the other, whether this film could have been exposed in Zapruder’s camera.  And based on the available data, i.e., the test films that Zavada did expose, I have little doubt about which way that verdict would go.

 

                        CONTINUING. . with Zavada/Thompson on Lifton:

 

                        “There is no detectable evidence of manipulation or image alteration on the “Zapruder in-camera-original” and all supporting evidence precludes any forgery thereto. [emphasis in original]

 

                        RESPONSE: This is simply false. The film barely reeks with “detectable evidence” and “image alteration”.  First of all, there is the “beyond full flush left problem,”i.e., the repeated failure of the test films to produce an image with the geometry at the left margin that exists on the so-called original (i.e., to go “beyond full flush left”).  In addition, there is the fact that the original does not contain the proper lab-processing edge print markings in the motorcade portion—explained away by Zavada in a rather peculiar way (that the edge print is normally only on Side B, he says; a claim he makes without citing any source). 

 

                        THE THOMPSON RESPONSE STATES:

 

                        “The ‘test shots’ cited by Zavada show flush left image penetration into the inter-sprocket area and are shown below”

 

                        LIFTON/HORNE RESPONSE:

 

                        1. Only 1 frame shows “flush left”; this is not a result Zavada got consistently.

 

                        2. More important, none of Zavada’s frames go “BEYOND full flush left” and that is the true state of affairs with regard to just about all the Zapruder frames, as shown on the DVD.  And that in itself is enough to impeach the Zapruder film as  evidence, by demonstrating the “Zapruder film” at the National Archives is not an out-of-camera original and could not have been exposed in Zapruder’s camera.

 

My own summary of Lifton’s chapter, and Thompson’s responses, now follows.

The pig story (2 pages)

David Lifton explains why he chose to title his chapter as he has.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

1965: The Z film and the JFK researchers (1 page)

David describes what it was like for researchers in 1964 and 1965 to come to grips with the content of the Zapruder film. He explains how the public were not permitted to see the film; that Life paid almost a million dollars in today’s money for it; how they never attempted to recoup their investment at all; and how Life’s publisher, C. D. Jackson, was connected with the CIA. He also describes what it was like for those few researchers who trekked to the National Archives to view the film itself.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Stewart Galanor at the National Archives (2 pages)

David describes what it was like for researchers in 1964 and 1965 to come to grips with the content of the Zapruder film. He explains how the public were not permitted to see the film; that Life paid almost a million dollars in today’s money for it; how they never attempted to recoup their investment at all; and how Life’s publisher, C. D. Jackson, was connected with the CIA. He also describes what it was like for those few researchers who trekked to the National Archives to view the film itself.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

C. D. Jackson and the CIA (1 page)

David describes the connection between Life’s publisher, C. D. Jackson, and the CIA.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The various Warren Report issues of Life (1 page)

David describes the various versions of Life magazine that were issued on 2 October 1964, following the publication of the Warren Report and containing selected frames from the Zapruder film, and discusses where the decision to interrupt a press run and “break a plate”—twice—would have to have been made.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The switching of two crucial frames in the Warren Commission’s 26 volumes (1 page)

David describes the two switched Zapruder frames in Commission Exhibit 885 that further confounded researchers when the 26 volumes of Hearings and Exhibits were published in November 1964.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The splice in the film: the destruction of evidence (4 pages)

David retells the events related in his book Best Evidence (1980) surrounding his encounter with Warren Commission counsel Wesley Liebeler regarding the obvious splice in the Zapruder film in Commission Exhibit 885, Liebeler’s astonishment, the lack of interest in the matter by other staff of the Warren Commission, and the importance of this destruction of evidence for those with a legalistic viewpoint. He also describes the remarkable response he received from the head of Life’s photography lab to his November 1965 request for clarification as to how the film came to be damaged.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The small forward movement (1 page)

David describes his opportunity to write for Ramparts magazine in 1966, and his attempt to obtain a comment on the “back and to the left” from the famous physicist Richard Feynman, who had only recently received the Nobel Prize for Physics. Feynman detected the small forward movement from Frame 312 to Frame 313 that confounded researchers for decades.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Life admits the splice but refuses access (1 page)

In 1967, Life finally admits the splice, and puts out a curious story to account for it. But they fail to allow access to the film to CBS for a special they were preparing on the Warren Report.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The integrity of the evidence (4 pages)

David relates his experiences with Liebeler and his awakening to the legal view of evidence and the need to ensure its integrity.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Access to the Life slides, and Josiah Thompson’s parallel path (4 pages)

David describes how he got access to the slides of the Zapruder film held by Life, and notes the symmetry with Dr. Josiah Thompson’s efforts to smuggle out copies of Life’s transparencies on the other side of the country. He describes his publication of an article arguing for three assassins shooting at Kennedy, only to see the same idea published nine months later by Josiah Thompson in Six Seconds in Dallas. He also describes his reaction when he realised that Thompson had published an image that should have alerted him that the head wound was different at Parkland than at Bethesda, but failed to notice the difference—instead combining the two different wounds into one.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute. Do you really believe Thompson’s Gang would comment on his disregard for priority when publishing his book, or inability to recognise the discrepancies in the descriptions of the head wound?!

Access to copies of the Zapruder film; the second splice (4 pages)

David describes how Jim Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw gave David the opportunity to have 100 bootleg copies of the Zapruder film made. He describes the reaction of researchers to the discovery of a second splice in the film, in the frames before those published by the Warren Commission.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

A “trifocal” view of the alteration of evidence (1 page)

David describes his “trifocal” approach when dealing with the alteration of evidence, whether the body of the President (as described in Best Evidence), or the Zapruder film.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Removing the limo stop (3 pages)

David describes his “trifocal” approach when dealing with the alteration of evidence, whether the body of the President (as described in Best Evidence), or the Zapruder film.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Optical printing (2 pages)

David provides an overview of his films are edited by means of optical printer.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

1970: Getting access to Life’s Zapruder film materials (6 pages)

David describes how he and a group of researchers managed to inspect some of Life’s Zapruder film materials first-hand. He describes the implications of what he saw on the film for his own work on the medical evidence that would later become Best Evidence (still a decade away at this point in time).

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

1971: Maiden trip to Dallas; speaking with Mrs. Zapruder (4 pages)

David describes his maiden trip to Dallas in November 1971; his interviews with witnesses, including Mary Moorman; and how these witnesses drove home the reality of the limo stop, that is not faithfully depicted on the extant Zapruder film. He also describes the events that led to his talking to Mrs. Zapruder, and the contents of that conversation.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The sale of the film to Life (3 pages)

David discusses the many curious and incomprehensible aspects of the sale of the film to Life, and their failure to exploit it commercially.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Enter Robert Groden (4 pages)

David describes his introduction to Robert Groden, and his dealings with this strange character in the “early years” of 1971–1973.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The Nix film and “Executive Action” (2 pages)

David describes how he planned to make use of the production of the first feature film on the assassination, “Executive Action” (1973), to gain access to the Nix film through Robert Groden at Moe Weitzman’s lab.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Paul Hoch and CIA document 450 (1 page)

David describes the discovery by Paul Hoch in 1976 of CIA document 450, which described the presence of the Zapruder film at the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center in Washington, possibly on the night of the assassination.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Groden goes public, works for HSCA (3 pages)

David describes his disillusionment with Groden circa 1974, Groden’s “going public” with the film, his testimony before the Rockefeller Commission, and his employment by and testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The autopsy photographs (2 pages)

David describes his viewing of the autopsy photographs at Groden’s home, and the tangled web involved in their attempted sale to the tabloid media.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The Zapruder film footnote in Best Evidence (2 pages)

David describes the 750-word footnote in Best Evidence describing his attitude to the Zapruder film in connection with the medical evidence that was the focus of the book. This footnote is the first reference I have found in print that clearly enunciates the modern understanding of the alteration of the film: not that it was spliced and mishandled (as earlier publications, such as those of Weisberg, had already noted), but rather that it had been fraudulently altered in its content. This realisation appears to have been a turning point for Lifton, who took another ten years to collect the material needed to investigate the film further—and then realised that the task was too big for one man anyway.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

More on the autopsy photographs (3 pages)

David describes his experiences from 1981 through 1988 with the various extant sets of the autopsy photographs.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Breaking Groden’s monopoly on the Zapruder film (5 pages)

David describes how, in the late 1980s, he managed to break Groden’s vicelike grip on the high-quality copies of the Zapruder film originally made by Moe Weitzman.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Discussions with Moe Weitzman (5 pages)

David describes his discussions with Moe Weitzman, including mind-boggling information about how many feet of assassination footage Time-Life asked him to copy. He relates Weitzman’s complete ignorance and naivety of the money Groden was making off Weitzman’s technician’s copies. Lifton describes his massive gaffe that led to a falling out with Weitzman, and which allowed Groden the opportunity to somehow get back into Weitzman’s good books.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Oliver Stone’s “JFK” (2 pages)

David relates the incident on the set of “JFK” that led many to believe that it was Lifton that leaked the screenplay to the press; his advice to Gayle Nix Jackson, the granddaughter of Orville Nix, on what she should ask Warner Brothers for the rights to her grandfather’s film; and the benefits to the research community of having Stone’s movie on the big screen riding such a wave of publicity (not all of it good, of course).

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Seeding a new generation of researchers (1 page)

Lifton describes how he realised, in 1992, that the task of investigating the Zapruder film was too big for him, and decided to give all his materials away to seed a new generation of researchers. Looking at the names listed, and their subsequent publications throughout the 1990s, one can only wonder how Zapruder film research would have progressed if Lifton had decided to keep his materials to himself.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The Assassination Records Review Board (8 pages)

David provides some of his written advice to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which was created by the JFK Act in order to publicly release the remaining files related to the assassination held by agencies of the U.S. government. We trace the ARRB’s attempts to deal with Robert Groden and the many copies (or originals) of film and photographic evidence.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The Zapruder family makes a killing (3 pages)

David describes the remarkable settlement made with the Zapruder family, which was simply another chapter in the history of this whole grubby affair.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The “Full Flush Left” problem (9 pages)

David describes the “full flush left” problem with the extant Zapruder film, namely, the fact that the imagery between the sprocket holes extends fully to the left edge of the sprocket holes, and indeed somewhat further. He describes how Roland Zavada failed to properly account for this phenomenon in his study of the Zapruder camera.

The Gang’s response:

Josiah Thompson attacks this section of Lifton’s essay in his section “Zavada Refutes Lifton’s Hearsay Claim”. There is a genuine point of scientific contention at issue here: for technical reasons, which I describe below, the “full flush left” problem is one that evades any simple and direct scientific test.

However, Thompson cannot avoid throwing his characteristic mud before getting to the point—which is that Thompson hasn’t actually contributed anything at all, but rather is quoting directly from Roland Zavada.

First, he impugns Lifton’s work on body alteration. Lifton has recently challenged Thompson or anyone else to debate this huge area of research at the upcoming Wecht “golden oldies” conference in Pittsburgh, which Lifton and Doug Horne were black-balled from. If Thompson is so convinced that Lifton’s work on this is wrong, let’s see the debate.

I won’t hold my breath.

Secondly, Thompson implies that Lifton has only recently realised that the Zapruder film is at odds with the medical evidence, by saying that “He admits as much in this volume:”, and quoting from The Great Zapruder Film Hoax. He ignores, of course, the massive footnote in Best Evidence dealing with the Zapruder film, and indeed the previous 86 “garrulous” pages of Lifton’s essay. Lifton clearly describes the full evolution of his understanding of the Zapruder film; his claims are supported by the Best Evidence footnote, published 22 years ago. One need only read Lifton’s essay, and decide for oneself whether it rings true.

Of course, Thompson is stinging from the revelation and explanation of the massive blunder he made in Six Seconds in Dallas, the book that was his one and only contribution to the case. One would hardly expect him to be impartial to Lifton.

Thirdly—and finally getting somewhere near the actual point of contention—Thompson implies that Lifton’s entire argument is based on “the hearsay report of an ARRB staffer (Doug Horne) who allegedly spoke to Zavada”. Allegedly spoke to Zavada? What sort of rubbish is Josiah Thompson, PI, trying to pull on us? Either Horne did, or he didn’t, speak to Zavada. Thompson made his claim to Zavada, who “pointed out it was based on a simple misunderstanding by the ARRB staffer”. In other words, Zavada confirmed that Horne spoke to him, but believes that Horne misunderstood. “Allegedly” spoke to him? Is Josiah Thompson completely losing his marbles?

But let’s consider the actual allegation being made here: that Lifton worked from simply a “hearsay report” of Horne’s. Is this borne out by the evidence? Surely not! All one has to do is consider Appendix H, in which Lifton summarises the full Zavada Report, including all of its attachments—well before most researchers even knew of its existence. Is there any doubt that Lifton has read the entire Zavada Report? That he understands it, in both global terms and in detail? That he has one of the valuable colour copies of it? That he has not studied every single image attached to it in fine detail? How absurd!

Thompson, of course, relays this allegation to Zavada (who doesn’t even want to read The Great Zapruder Film Hoax for himself, lest it give him nightmares). Zavada assumes that Thompson is telling the truth (a poor assumption to make at the best of times), and works on the premise that Lifton is basing his entire argument on something he heard from Horne. He provides a almost perfunctory reply.

In other words, Thompson tells Zavada that Lifton heard from Horne something he heard from Zavada, and asks Zavada what he thinks so that he (Thompson) can tell Lifton and the rest of the world.

Gee, I’d be rushing out to hire Josiah Thompson, PI! What an exemplary way to collect information!

This whole allegation is, of course, pure baloney. Lifton is basing his claim on his careful study of the entire Zavada Report, together with the information he gleaned from Horne regarding Zavada’s methods, procedures, and results.

So let’s actually concentrate on the issue under contention: the “full flush left” problem. Lifton points to the many Zapruder frames which show imagery extending past the left edge of the sprocket holes towards the actual edge of the film itself. This can be seen even in Volume XVIII of the Warren Commission Exhibits, but can now be studied for the entire film using the MPI disc. (The frames in the “Costella Combined Edit” on assassinationscience.com cannot be used directly for this particular purpose, because the pincushion distortion correction warps the relative position of the sprocket holes. Only if all other comparison frames also have the pincushion distortion corrected can these frames be used.)

Thompson simply quotes Zavada, who in his leg of the Chinese whisper refers to a couple of figures from his Report. Thompson then reproduces scans of these figures.

The only problem is that these figures do not refute Lifton’s claim!

Figure 3-12 shows a red vehicle travelling down Elm Street. The imagery in the middle of the frame extends to the left edge of the sprocket holes, and the “circle of exposure” curves around so that it intersects the sprocket holes in the middle of their rounded corners. This falls short of the imagery in many Zapruder frames, which continues on beyond the left edge of the sprocket holes.

Figure 4-28 shows a test pattern exposure, made to explain a different phenomenon (the blue arrows are pointing to “ghost images”—they are part of the original Zavada report, not added for this discussion). It is difficult to see what this example proves at all. What is visible does not extend past the left edge of the sprocket holes either.

The fundamental problem with Zavada’s test exposures may well be the fact that he was forced to use different film. The coloured streaks down the left side of the film strip seem to remove any chance he had of obtaining imagery in that region. This doesn’t prove anything one way or the other, of course—it simply may explain why Zavada was unable to provide definite counterexamples.

It would be nice to perform a direct scientific test that could definitely determine if the penetration beyond the left edge of the sprocket holes is or is not to be expected for the Zapruder camera. However, this is complicated by the “electric eye” of this model of camera, which automatically adjusted the amount of light allowed through the lens, as lighting conditions changed. Because the operation of this “electric eye” is damped, it is a function of how much light was received in previous frames. Indeed, this form of “feedback mechanism” is designed so as to maintain an appropriate level of illumination, regardless of how the physical lighting condition changes (the pupils of our own eyes perform the same task). This makes it difficult to reproduce experimentally.

Let me say plainly that I do not believe that this issue has yet been resolved conclusively, one way or the other. Certainly, Josiah Thompson’s regurgitation of Zavada’s comments do not demonstrate that Lifton is wrong. However, a recreation film shot with the same model of camera in Dealey Plaza by researcher Rick Janowitz appears to achieve a better degree of penetration than Zavada was ever able to obtain. (A frame from a previous film of Janowitz’s—which I showed to Lifton during his presentation at the Duluth Symposium, after interjecting from the audience—was insufficient to prove the case: it, like Zavada’s, extended to the left edge of the sprocket holes in the centre, but did not extend beyond it as Lifton required. I am not sure if the DVD of his presentation will show this exchange—we were out of camera, I think—but I accepted Lifton’s argument about that frame at the time, as I do now.)

What is really required, however, is a scientifically controlled recreation of the Janowitz type. I am not satisfied that the entire process—from camera to processing to digital scanning—was sufficiently witnessed and documented to be a proof of such an important issue. This is not to criticise Rick in the least—his ingenuity in performing these state-of-the-art experiments, completely off his own back, is remarkable—but rather to suggest that he has now provided the “proof of concept” experiment that calls out for a scientifically controlled verification.

Finally, moving away from genuine research, and returning to the world of The Gang, Josiah Thompson cannot resist a final “dig” by explicitly claiming that Lifton never read Zavada’s report.

Obviously, Thompson never bothered to read Appendix H.

Summary and Recapitulation (4 pages)

David summarises and recapitulates the first 95 pages of his chapter.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

The method and timeline for altering the film (4 pages)

David describes his favoured scenario and timeline for the editing of the Zapruder film.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Hawkeyeworks (2 pages)

David describes the remarkable circumstances that arose at the ARRB when the top-secret facility name “Hawkeyeworks” was revealed in an interview with a CIA employee in 1997.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Full Flush Left, the splices, and the creation process (2 pages)

David describes his belief as to how the “full flush left” problem, together with the splices in the “camera original” film, and other problems, fit together with the process used to create the extant film.

The Gang’s response:

The earlier “full flush left” section is discussed above. This section is not itself addressed.

The other films of the assassination and the second shooter (3 pages)

David emphasises—as almost every author in the book does—how the other extant films of the assassination required alteration or fabrication in order to bring them into line with what is depicted in the extant Zapruder film. He also recaps how his understanding of “conspiracy” has evolved from a “second shooter” mentality in the 1960s, to the deeper understanding of political conspiracy and falsification of the evidence he has today.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

2003: Pig on a Leash (4 pages)

Lifton describes the situation today with the control of the Zapruder film rights by The Sixth Floor Museum. He describes the treatment of Mary Moorman in a recent film shoot for a Discovery Channel special, in which Gary Mack admonishes Mary for “mistakenly” stating that she stepped forward before taking her snapshot, and then back again afterwards, and any hint that the limousine slowed down—as she has maintained over the decades, since the day of the assassination.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Summary and notes (3 pages)

David summarises his understanding of the Zapruder film today, followed by endnotes.

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

Appendix: Zapruder film flowchart (1 page)

This flowchart summarises the important copies made of the extant (altered) Zapruder film, including by Life, the Secret Service and FBI, Moe Weitzman, Robert Groden, and Lifton himself (in 1990).

The Gang’s response:

No dispute.

My comments on Rollie Zavada’s response to Thompson

Although I have discussed some aspects of Rollie Zavada’s response to Thompson with regard to Durnavich and Wimp’s attack on Healy’s chapter (where the final one-third of their “critique” is actually just a regurgitation of Zavada’s material), it appears that Zavada responded primarily with regard to Lifton’s chapter, so I will discuss his response here.

Firstly, it is important to emphasise that Rollie Zavada has not read The Great Zapruder Film Hoax. He states this unequivocally. Rather, Josiah Thompson wrote to Zavada, providing only an extract of a specific section from Lifton’s chapter. Zavada also states this unequivocally. He notes carefully that his answers may be limited, incomplete, or answered elsewhere in the book. Zavada is a man telling the truth. He reminds me of the autopsy surgeon Humes. He has been told what is expected from him, but he ensures that he “covers his backside” with a sufficient number of caveats and qualifications that any scientist worth their salt knows what message he is sending. Namely, “I have been told to say these things—please, please read between the lines.” It’s like someone being held hostage at gunpoint in their own house, trying to get a visitor to the front door to understand that they are being held hostage, without actually saying so.

Zavada begins by taking exception to some of Lifton’s explanations of how an altered Zapruder film was created out of an original Zapruder film. His observations about the technical problems in performing this feat appear to me to be completely correct, as I have described in Durnavich and Wimp’s attack on Healy’s chapter. If Lifton were the physics expert in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax, The Gang may well have been able to rest their case at this point. That, certainly, was the hope of Gary Mack and Josiah Thompson when they tested these arguments on me, prior to the Duluth Symposium.

However, that’s not quite how it works.

My own opinion is that most of Lifton’s understanding of the Zapruder film’s fabrication is on target. However, at the time of the Symposium, and the writing of his chapter, he was still one “stage” behind in understanding precisely how this key piece of evidence was falsified. He still believes that Abraham Zapruder took a film in Dealey Plaza (which he may well have done, but the evidence leans to the contrary), but more importantly that this film was then edited optically, i.e., as a motion picture film, using an optical printer, as described in most of Healy’s chapter.

In my chapter, however, I explain how this is only one “half” of the story. I believe that a motion picture film (whether from Abe Zapruder or elsewhere) was quickly edited, using an optical printer, in the way that Lifton describes. This was the film that was quickly projected in Dallas on the day after the assassination, and the days following that. In fact, it need not have been a static end-product: as the days and weeks passed, it could be edited further, as required.

However, the other “half” of the story is the photographic fabrication of the film. This proceeded at a more modest pace. Initially, a few dozen poor-quality black and white images were created for publication in Life on the first weekend. Within another week or two, a dozen or two high-quality colour frames were created. It was only twelve months after the assassination, when Volume XVIII of the Hearings was published, that around 180 of these completed frames needed to be finished. Quite possibly the entire 486 frames of the film was done by that time.

At Duluth, I tried to pre-empt any complaints by Lifton about this “two-film-paths” explanation by making some remark to the effect that “Well, you’ve got two caskets, so you can’t complain!”

In any case, I don’t think that I have convinced Lifton of the absolute necessity of this explanation. (Yet.)

Let us, therefore, consider the way that Zavada has been “managed”. When he went head-to-head with me by email, he quickly withdrew from Duluth, and from further communication. Thompson sends him extracts of one particular section of Lifton’s chapter from the book. Why not the actual book? The answer’s simple: by dealing only with these extracts, Zavada can avoid dealing with my own explanations. Whether it is Zavada that requested this approach from Thompson, or whether Thompson is keeping a genuine Zavada in the dark, is something I cannot determine. But by employing the usual Gang tactic of ignoring 95% and pretending that the remaining 5% is the entire 100%, Thompson has a fair chance of getting Zavada a chance of regurgitating his lesson on film stocks, without confronting the really tough issues that arise when you consider the equation Lifton + Healy + Costella = The Full Explanation.

But let’s continue with Zavada’s response.

A telling comment follows his technical regurgitation:

Other researchers have addressed the “time-line” and the fact that the “same-day” copies would have also required “matched alteration”. I’m exhausted envisioning the logistics of this purported set of “miracles”.

Zavada has clearly been completely immersed in the standard mythology of the Zapruder film. I know exactly how he feels. They did the same to me, when I started working on the film, right after they introduced me to the idea that some people believed the film to be a fake. I think it may actually be part of their “scientist induction programme”.

I will not go into the full details here of how this sleight of hand could have been achieved, other than to point to my “two-film-path” explanation. The rest of the story is in Lifton’s chapter, as summarised above. He does a much better job explaining how the control of the evidence is the key issue of the entire assassination. If you haven’t heard him explain that, his recent Black Op Radio interview is a wonderful overview. (His Duluth presentation was an even more in-depth masterpiece; it will be on DVD soon.) The read the book. J

The next point that Zavada addresses is “Hawkeyeworks”. Zavada states, “I know of no Kodachrome processing available at Hawkeye (an equipment division).” Zavada does not state that one does not exist. Merely that he does not know of it. Well, I didn’t know of it either. But the logical assumption is that someone of Zavada’s long service at Kodak would know such things. Perhaps. But if it was so secret that the CIA blew a gasket when it was revealed to the ARRB, is it at all possible that Zavada never knew of it? Consider the alternatives. If Zavada wasn’t in a position to know of it, then his statement is useless. On the other hand, if he was in a position to know, does that open up a new side of Zavada that we haven’t investigated?

In any case, I have no idea if there was or was not a processing facility at Hawkeyeworks. At this stage I am unsure of Lifton’s response to this comment.

In the same paragraph, however, Zavada displays—or at least feigns—remarkable naiveté. He argues that if a fabricated film were processed at a lab other than Dallas, the other lab’s ID and date would appear on the film! Surely he must have a much more sophisticated understanding of the idea that, if you are fabricating a film of the crime of the century, you don’t just drop it down to the local film processing plant and pick it up the next day. Really!

The next couple of pages have already been dealt with above.

Another eyebrow-raising paragraph appears on page 5. Zavada succinctly lays out the history between the ARRB and Kodak. The ARRB requested that Kodak examine the image content of the Zapruder film. Kodak did not accept that request. We then learn that “… the ARRB expressly acknowledged that there would be no ‘statement of authenticity’ required …”. If the ARRB acknowledged this, then it implies that Kodak demanded it—namely, they refused to supply a ‘statement of authenticity’ of the film. This has all been known before, but Zavada’s concise and careful explanation of it is, again, intriguing.

Further down, Zavada states that his knowledge convinced him at that time that a dissertation on the probability of alteration was not needed. Is he implying that he is now of a different opinion? Again, he has masterfully allowed himself the flexibility of taking either option.

Zavada is a very clever man.