Monday, October 26, 2009

Oswald Innocent: The Four Books You MUST READ!

1. The Second Oswald by Richard H. Popkin:
Comments by Judyth Vary Baker
3. Supporting Evidence of Oswald’s Innocence and the Cover-Up

THE SECOND OSWALD BY Richard H. Popkin: Comments by Judyth Vary Baker
Thanks to Dr. Jim Fetzer’s kindness, I finally possess books about the assassination. A friend once gave me several books, but they were the baddies --- Posner’s, for example. Dr. Howard Platzman gave me Robert Groden’s The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald. At that time, I remarked on how many photos showed smiling Lee Oswald, how very many photos there were of the so-called “lone nut” and how many friends he seemed to have – quite the opposite of the malapropos portrait the public has been given of him. Those few books I did have were all stolen by thieves in Holland in 2004, and I have been unable to live anywhere, since then, long enough to accumulate any books. My life of exile has been doubly harsh because so many beloved books are missing from my life.
You may have been told that ‘no’ historians or reputable people had written any early books about Lee Oswald that tended to exonerate him. That simply isn’t true. I read with amazement people’s statements on YouTube that no evidence exists that would clear Oswald’s name. People making such remarks are deeply suspect: WHY do they show up all the time at discussions about the Kennedy assassination? They must have a motive, since there they are. And anyone who has studied the Kennedy assassination honestly knows that evidence abounds that tends to exonerate Lee Oswald.
Certainly I was “na├»ve” in that I hadn’t read, until recently, books about the Kennedy assassination. I studiously avoided everything mentioning the assassination for years. Why? I dreaded being exposed, dreaded showing my feelings. I feared for my safety and the safety of my family. Such a mask I had to keep, that my natural love of life was deeply affected. Photos of me in 1964 do not show the formerly happy woman. I had been wounded to the core. The last thing I ever wished to do was to see or read anything about the most traumatic experience of my life, which I had to keep secret, and to myself.
Therefore, I avoided reading anything about the HSCA, Garrison’s New Orleans trial of Clay Shaw, and even the ARRB that met after Oliver Stone’s film JFK reawakened the pubic conscience and demanded release of records (only partially accommodated by the RRB, it turned out). And I missed Richard Popkin’s book, The second Oswald. Because this small (169 pages) book was published in September, 1966, by a reputable scholar, I consider it a valuable window on how the Kennedy assassination and the actions of Lee Oswald were interpreted by the public and the government at that time, as well as by Popkin. It’s eye-opening!
Consider this statement about the Warren Commission:
“The Commission, clothed in the imposing dignity of its august members, declared its conviction that one lone alienated assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had indeed carried out the crime. The ready acceptance of this by then expected finding by the press and the public – except for a few critics – suggests that the American public got the kind of explanation it wanted, and perhaps deserved. “ (p 18)
Popkin stated that the American people had faith in authority, faith in the mass of data accumulated in 26 volumes – never mind how carefully selected to incriminate Oswald, and faith that the FBI, the CIA and the government would never, ever lie to them.
Look at this gem:
“ The majority of eye and ear-witnesses who had clear opinions as to the origins of the shots thought the first shot was from the knoll or the overpass (and these witnesses included such experienced hands as Sheriff Decker, the sheriff’s men standing in Houston Street, diagonally across from the Book depository, Secret Service Agent Sorrels, and many others).” 9p 23)
We always hear that Lee Oswald’s “sharpshooter” score in the Marines meant he was a good shot. But he actually scored as low as possible while still passing, missing the target itself more than once when he was tested. Writes Popkin:
“All of the Commission’s obfuscation notwithstanding, Oswald was a poor shot and his rifle was inaccurate. The Commission tried hard to account for Oswald’s very poor score on his last shooting test in the Marines. “It might well have been a bad day for firing the rifle – windy, rainy, dark.” (XI:304) …Mark Lane took the trouble to check on this, and reports in Rush to Judgment, p. 124, that the weather on that day in the Los Angeles area, where the test took place, was sunny and bright, and that there was no rain.” (p 24)
Many fine arguments follow that are still patent, today, concerning the “Magic Bullet” and amazing failures of the police and FBI concerning the rifle not even being checked to see if it was fired that day, etc. Imagine! The rifle was not even checked to determine if it had been fired! We’re talking about the President’s death, in a city where “Wanted for Treason” posters were plastered on every other street corner, and yet ONLY Oswald was involved, and this decision was made without even bothering to see if Oswald’s rifle had been fired!
I am a witness in this case, and have stated that Lee Oswald could drive. In my book, Me & Lee, I describe how lee drove us to Jackson, Louisiana. I was seen in the car we borrowed for the occasion, by LA. State representative Reeves Morgan’s daughter, Mary. At that time, she only observed a woman in the car—Lee was inside talking to her father. I am the only person who has ever claimed to be this woman, and at that time I had no driver’s license, because I couldn’t yet drive well. Here’s what Popkin says, on p. 64, about another witness who stated that Lee Oswald could drive:
“…(Albert) Bogard, a car salesman, reported that on November 9, 1963…” Lee Oswald “went driving with him…” He was supposed to have driven the car at high speed. “…on September 19, 1964, the FBI” gave Bogard a lie detector test, which he passed. The FBI “…established , both through finding corroborating witnesses, and by its polygraph test, that Bogard was a credible witness. Nevertheless, the Commission satisfied itself from other testimony that (a) Oswald didn’t drive, and (b) he spent November 9th in Irving…” (all day?JVB)
What Popkin doesn’t mention is that Bogard was too credible a witness: researcher Penn Jones reported that
“Shortly after Bogard gave his testimony to a Commission attorney in Dallas, he was badly beaten and had to be hospitalized. Upon his release, he was fearful for his safety. Bogard was from Hallsville, Louisiana. He was found dead in is car at the Hallsville Cemetery on St. Valentine’s Day in 1966. A rubber hose was attached to the exhaust and the other end extending into the car. The ruling was sicide. He was just 41 years old.” (
I include an interesting report from Spartacus Educational (at the bottom of this essay) where another ‘suicide’ using carbon monoxide was posited— supposedly the act of yet another witness who would have helped indict Vice President Johnson in the Billy Sol Estes matter –a suicide attemot supposedly committed via carbon monoxide from his car AFTER he shot himself FIVE TIMES with a bolt-action .22 ridfle. Oh, he also had a severe bruise on his head. The FBI investigator stated the poor fellow, Henry Marshall, having shot himself five times, and still not having found himself dead, then stuck his head under his truck’s pipe to finish himself off with carbon monoxide, by putting his shirt over his head. This ludicrous explanation was unacceptable to J. Edgar Hoover, but hey, anything goes when witnesses speak out. Suicide has been a common side-effect of doing so.
Popkin soon gets overwhelmed by the duplicate “Oswald’ activities. He of course cannot tell who is who. It was important to set Lee Oswald up as somebody rancorous and mean enough to kill Kennedy. Lee was obeying orders in New Orleans, but even then was aware that he was in danger. He told me that he wasn’t being treated right. In his own home town of New Orleans, where he had family, he was asked to make sure he got arrested, that he came off looking like a communist. Lee told me that he had never got in trouble when he was a teen, even though “everybody” around him got into petty trouble because he lived in a rough area, and also attended a rough school. Now, he was expected to dirty himself up in his home town. But I digress.
Popkin sees Lee Oswald’s lies as lies, it seems, rather than efforts to go into deep cover (USSR) or to appear to be a dissident (New Orleans) in order to seem pro-Russia and pro-Cuba. It was his job. Popkin makes a brilliant observation about Lee’s trip to Mexico City:
“On September 22, 1963, he told Mrs. Paine’s friend, Mrs. Kloepfer, that it usually takes six months to go to Russia (XXIII: 725). Then he supposedly went to Mexico City a couple of days later, on September 25th, on a fifteen-day visa (not the six-month one that he might have easily obtained) , visited the Cuban Embassy and asked for a transit visa to go to Russia via Cuba. By linking his trip to Cuba with a Russian voyage, he led the Cubans to call the Russian Embassy, who said the case would take months to handle. Oswald then became furious with the Cubans, not the Russians, and…claimed he was entitled to a visa because of his background, partisanship, and activities ( XXV:636)…he said he needed a visa right away because his Mexican visa was running out and he had to get to Russia immediately. He obviously could have got to Russia faster by traveling from New Orleans to Europe….” Popkin seems to be puzzled by these actions, because he adds that “…he doesn’t seem to have…cared about the final disposition of his case by the Cubans a few weeks later…his behavior in Mexico seems almost to have been designed to make sure that he could not succeed in his avowed aim of going to Cuba and Russia.”
Popkin is correct: the original reasons for going to Mexico City needed a time frame of only a day or two. When this mission was canceled, Lee Oswald, at the very least, needed an excuse for having made the trip, and at the most, he may have made a last-ditch effort to enter Cuba which he knew was doomed to failure. What I know is that Lee Oswald was deliberately impersonated at the same time that he, himself, was in Mexico City. Popkin states on p. 73 that “Much needs to be clarified about Oswald’s activities in New Orleans and Mexico.” I find his insight amazingly accurate, given the era in which he wrote.
On p. 75, Popkin assumes, as does almost everyone, that Lee Oswald did not have the means to travel by plane. He makes some astute judgments and is correct, but he doesn’t know he’s correct, nor can he cannot separate true sightings of Lee Oswald from those made by impersonators. I have been contacted by one of the individuals who was present when Sylvia Odio was introduced to Lee Oswald in Dallas. In addition, I know most of Lee’s activities just before he entered Mexico, because I was supposed to meet him there, and, instead, he had to telephone to tell me that the man responsible for my ride, and his pilot, were in some kind of trouble. Two days later, they were dead.
On p. 81, I see an interesting quote:
“…Oswald attended two meetings (in Dallas), one on October 23 to hear General Walker, the other on October 25 , a meeting of the ACLU, at which he spoke up and criticized Walker, and told one person after the meeting that John F. Kennedy “is doing a real fine job, a real good job” (IX:465).
Oops! Once again, we have a statement connected to Lee Oswald where he expresses approval of Kennedy. Oswald is no John Wilkes Booth – who proclaimed “Death to all tyrants!” right after shooting Lincoln, and whose anti-Lincoln feelings were well know. Where is Oswald’s motive? Ah, but I digress again.
Popkin mentions that while Lee rarely left his boarding house room in Oak Cliff, “he made calls (apparently long distance) at a gas station (XXVI: 250) ; he was at a Laundromat at midnight on the 20th or 21st…” I have mentioned in my book and elsewhere, such as in the banned History Channel documentary The Love Affair (Baker—The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Episode 8) that Lee called me about fifteen times, at night, after returning from Mexico City. I told researchers in 1999 that I could hear cars passing and thought Lee was calling me maybe from an underground garage., as I coukld hear car engines, but of course it could have been a gas station. Nobody ever told me about this reference to Lee making calls from a gas station during this same time period, and of course I am glad to see it. The Laundromat visit is important because Lee had no reason to be at a Laundromat to wash clothes, since he always did so at the Paine residence. But there must have been a phone nearby, because Lee did call me at about 10:30 his time, and we talked for an hour and a half. His last words in my ear were spoken only a day and a half before Kennedy was shot. And how heartbreaking those words were.
I personally believe Lee Oswald’s words that he had penetrated the assassination ring. Further, I believed him when he said that if he did not cooperate and stay with the assassins as part of their team (though he was hoping an ‘abort team’ would be in place to stop the assassination, which whom he would cooperate), his words “If I stay, that will be one less bullet aimed at Kennedy” still haunt me. He chose to stay and ‘play the part’ – at least as far as seeming to bring a package—too short to hold the ‘killer rifle’ –but perhaps passing long enough to decoy an observing eyes—that indeed he, Lee Oswald, HAD brought a ‘rifle’ to do his part that day. Instead, it was curtain rods, and he may have even ditched the package outside before entering the building, believing the play had worked, for nobody inside the building saw any package at all. Perhaps the package was for watching eyes?
At any rate, he then removed himself from the higher levels of the building, even bought a coke and stood there drinking it – officer Baker’s statement that Oswald held a coke being struck form the official report—but you can still see the struck-out word—that coke proving Oswald didn’t have time to shoot Kennedy. Lee then walks right out the front door of the building—but not before stopping to direct somebody to the nearest pay phone. By such slow and deliberate actions, he proved he was innocent. The police waiting to shoot him at back entrances waited in vain.
But there was one more way to catch the man who had so cleverly escaped being shot dead, as he had feared he would be, with the killer rifle placed in his hands: shoot the not-too-bright police officer Tippit, and blame it on Oswald. That would bring the police to his area. Popkin thinks maybe Oswald decided in cold blood to shoot the police office in order to appropriate his car for an escape (p. 109). The otherwise reasonable Popkin, who had stressed how Oswald wasn’t in any hurry,, suddenly has to have Oswald killing Tippit to take his police car. It is out of character, and one wonders if Popkin felt obliged to put this into his book in order to assure its publication. YouTube has a fine clip showing that Oswald didn’t have time to reach the scene before Tippit was shot; “Did Oswald Have Time to Make It to the Tippit Murder Scene? (No!)
There are so many strange peculiarities: a police car driving up and tooting, while Lee Oswald is inside his room changing his clothes. His housekeeper, Earlene Roberts, hears and sees the police car, sees Oswald leave a couple minutes later and go outside and stand there, waiting…apparently for a bus…he is there a couple of minutes, and those minutes ticking by are important, because Tippit is killed at about that same time, about a mile away. Still, Oswald is blamed.
They find him in the Texas Theater. Strangely, the guy who sold popcorn to Oswald says he was there too many minutes to have been the man who ran into the theater without buying a ticket, thus drawing attention to himself. He was supposedly Oswald. There is a photo of an “Oswald’ being arrested, quite dark, other figures have been blacked out, but it does not look like Lee Oswald to me. I assume somebody else ran into the theater, and the girl who sold tickets seems to have been harassed to state that it was Oswald. But her tears make her final statements as given under pressure.
Popkin’s final assessment is still being repeated today:
“The American Press, as well as others in positions of responsibility, would not and could not dream of a conspiratorial explanation. In a world in which conspiracies are going on all the time – in business (the anti-trust cases), in crime (the Mafia), in foreign affairs (the CIA)- it somehow was still not imaginable that two or more persons could decide to assassinate the President of the United States. “ (p. 117)
“the assassination of Kennedy was a momentous event in our history,” Popkin concludes. “We cannot hide from it by clinging to a hope that one lonely, alienated nut did it all by himself, and that nobody else was involved. ..Can we continue to live a lie about what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963? The public must cry out for a real examination and understanding of the events of that day.”
Mr. Popkin—the people did cry out. Many were threatened or killed for speaking out. Others had their lives ruined (such as what happened to me). After The Warren Commission proved insufficient, the HSCA (another case of the fox guarding the henhouse) came to the same basic conclusion that the Warren Commission did. However, they later learned that the CIA and the FBI withheld vital information. Jim Garrison attempted to get to the bottom of it, but we now know that his efforts were sabotaged with plants from the CIA in his own office, who fed him false information. (see Appendix II, and III, below).
And what about today? Or do you believe everything the government tells you? Who profited from Kennedy’s death? Follow the money, as Deep Throat said. And look at those who get paid big bucks to keep selling you the lie that Oswald did it: the History Channel banned the truth. The government ignores demands that this case be re-opened with all the new evidence we now have.
Read Dr. Mary’s Monkey, by Edward T. Haslam ( to learn how cover-ups are made and how they affect you today via vaccines, cancer epidemics, and yes, the Kennedy assassination. Read my book: Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald ( Get Jim Marrs’ great book – Crossfire-the Plot That Killed Kennedy. And finally, read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass.
Appendix I: Another “Convenient Death” Story
Billie Sol Estes was born in Abilene, Texas, in 1924. After marrying in 1946 he moved to the small town of Pecos. As a result of high irrigation costs, local farmers found it difficult to make profits from their cotton crops. Estes started up a company providing irrigation pumps that used cheap natural gas. Farmers had previously used irrigation pumps powered by electricity. Estes also sold anhydrous ammonia as a fertilizer. This was a great success and Estes soon became a wealthy businessman.
Estes's business encountered problems when the Department of Agriculture began to control the production of cotton. Allotments were issued telling the cotton farmers how much they could and could not plant. In 1958 Estes made contact with Lyndon B. Johnson. Over the next couple of years Estes ran a vast scam getting federal agricultural subsidies. According to Estes he obtained $21 million a year for "growing" and "storing" non-existent crops of cotton.
In 1960 Henry Marshall was asked to investigate the activities of Billie Sol Estes. Marshall discovered that over a two year period, Estes had purchased 3,200 acres of cotton allotments from 116 different farmers. Marshall wrote to his superiors in Washington on 31st August, 1960, that: "The regulations should be strengthened to support our disapproval of every case (of allotment transfers)".
When he heard the news, Billie Sol Estes sent his lawyer, John P. Dennison, to meet Marshall in Robertson County. At the meeting on 17th January, 1961, Marshall told Dennison that Estes was clearly involved in a "scheme or device to buy allotments, and will not be approved, and prosecution will follow if this operation is ever used."
Henry Marshall was disturbed that as a result of sending a report of his meeting to Washington, he was offered a new post at headquarters. He assumed that Bille Sol Estes had friends in high places and that they wanted him removed from the field office in Robertson County. Marshall refused what he considered to be a bribe.
A week after the meeting between Marshall and Dennison, A. B. Foster, manager of Billie Sol Enterprises, wrote to Clifton C. Carter, a close aide to Lyndon B. Johnson, telling him about the problems that Marshall was causing the company. Foster wrote that "we would sincerely appreciate your investigating this and seeing if anything can be done."
Over the next few months Marshall had meetings with eleven county committees in Texas. He pointed out that Billie Sol Estes scheme to buy cotton allotments were illegal. This information was then communicated to those farmers who had been sold their cotton allotments to Billie Sol Enterprises.
On 3rd June, 1961, Marshall was found dead on his farm by the side of his Chevy Fleetside pickup truck. His rifle lay beside him. He had been shot five times with his own rifle. County Sheriff Howard Stegall decreed that Marshall had committed suicide. No pictures were taken of the crime scene, no blood samples were taken of the stains on the truck (the truck was washed and waxed the following day), and no check for fingerprints were made on the rifle or pickup.
Marshall's wife (Sybil Marshall) and brother (Robert Marshall) refused to believe he had committed suicide and posted a $2,000 reward for information leading to a murder conviction. The undertaker, Manley Jones, also reported: "To me it looked like murder. I just do not believe a man could shoot himself like that." The undertaker's son, Raymond Jones, later told the journalist, Bill Adler in 1986: "Daddy said he told Judge Farmer there was no way Mr. Marshall could have killed himself. Daddy had seen suicides before. JPs depend on us and our judgments about such things. we see a lot more deaths than they do. But in this case, Daddy said, Judge Farmer told him he was going to put suicide on the death certificate because the sheriff told him to." As a result, Lee Farmer returned a suicide verdict: "death by gunshot, self-inflicted."
Sybil Marshall hired an attorney, W. S. Barron, in order to persuade the Robertson County authorities to change the ruling on Marshall's cause of death. One man who did believe that Marshall had been murdered was Texas Ranger Clint Peoples. He had reported to Colonel Homer Garrison, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, that it "would have been utterly impossible for Mr. Marshall to have taken his own life."
Peoples also interviewed Nolan Griffin, a gas station attendant in Robertson County. Griffin claimed that on the day of Marshall's death, he had been asked by a stranger for directions to Marshall's farm. A Texas Ranger artist, Thadd Johnson, drew a facial sketch based on a description given by Griffin. Peoples eventually came to the conclusion that this man was Mac Wallace, the convicted murderer of John Kinser.
In the spring of 1962, Billie Sol Estes was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on fraud and conspiracy charges. Soon afterwards it was disclosed by the Secretary of Agriculture, Orville L. Freeman, that Henry Marshall had been a key figure in the investigation into the illegal activities of Billie Sol Estes. As a result, the Robertson County grand jury ordered that the body of Marshall should be exhumed and an autopsy performed. After eight hours of examination, Dr. Joseph A. Jachimczyk confirmed that Marshall had not committed suicide. Jachimczyk also discovered a 15 percent carbon monoxide concentration in Marshall's body. Jachimczyk calculated that it could have been as high as 30 percent at the time of death.
On 4th April, 1962, George Krutilek, Estes chief accountant, was found dead. Despite a severe bruise on Krutilek's head, the coroner decided that he had also committed suicide. The next day, Estes, and three business associates, were indicted by a federal grand jury on 57 counts of fraud. Two of these men, Harold Orr and Coleman Wade, later died in suspicious circumstances. At the time it was said they committed suicide but later Estes was to claim that both men were murdered by Mac Wallace in order to protect the political career of Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations also began to look into the case of Billie Sol Estes. Leonard C. Williams, a former assistant to Henry Marshall, testified about the evidence the department acquired against Estes. Orville L. Freeman also admitted that Marshall was a man "who left this world under questioned circumstances."
It was eventually discovered that three officials of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Washington had received bribes from Billie Sol Estes. Red Jacobs, Jim Ralph and Bill Morris were eventually removed from their jobs. However, further disclosures suggested that the Secretary of Agriculture, might be involved in the scam. In September, 1961, Billie Sol Estes had been fined $42,000 for illegal cotton allotments. Two months later, Freeman appointed Estes to the National Cotton Advisory Board.
It was also revealed that Billie Sol Estes told Wilson C. Tucker, deputy director of the Agriculture Department's cotton division, on 1st August, 1961, that he threatened to "embarrass the Kennedy administration if the investigation were not halted". Tucker went onto testify: "Estes stated that this pooled cotton allotment matter had caused the death of one person and then asked me if I knew Henry Marshall". As Tucker pointed out, this was six months before questions about Marshall's death had been raised publicly.
However, the cover-up continued. Tommy G. McWilliams, the FBI agent in charge of the Henry Marshall investigation, came to the conclusion that Marshall had indeed committed suicide. He wrote: "My theory was that he shot himself and then realized he wasn't dead." He then claimed that he then tried to kill himself by inhaling carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipe of his truck. McWilliams claimed that Marshall had used his shirt to make a hood over the exhaust pipe. Even J. Edgar Hoover was not impressed with this theory. He wrote on 21st May, 1962: "I just can't understand how one can fire five shots at himself."
Joseph A. Jachimczyk also disagreed with the FBI report. He believed that the bruise on Marshall's forehead had been caused by a "severe blow to the head". Jachimczyk also rejected the idea that Marshall had used his shirt as a hood. He pointed out that "if this were done, soot must have necessarily been found on the shirt; no such was found."
The Robertson County grand jury continued to investigate the death of Henry Marshall. However, some observers were disturbed by the news that grand jury member, Pryse Metcalfe, was dominating proceedings. Metcalfe was County Sheriff Howard Stegall's son-in-law.
On 1st June, 1962, the Dallas Morning News reported that President John F. Kennedy had "taken a personal interest in the mysterious death of Henry Marshall." As a result, the story said, Robert Kennedy "has ordered the FBI to step up its investigation of the case."
In June, 1962, Billie Sol Estes, appeared before the grand jury. He was accompanied by John Cofer, a lawyer who represented Lyndon B. Johnson when he was accused of ballot-rigging when elected to the Senate in 1948 and Mac Wallace when he was charged with the murder of John Kinser. Billie Sol Estes spent almost two hours before the grand jury, but he invoked the Texas version of the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer most questions on grounds that he might incriminate himself.
Tommy G. McWilliams of the FBI also appeared before the grand jury and put forward the theory that Henry Wallace had committed suicide. Dr. Joseph A. Jachimczyk also testified that "if in fact this is a suicide, it is the most unusual one I have seen during the examination of approximately 15,000 deceased persons."
McWilliams did admit that it was "hard to kill yourself with a bolt-action 22". This view was shared by John McClellan, a member of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He posed for photographs with a .22 caliber rifle similar to Marshall's. McClellan pointed out: "It doesn't take many deductions to come to the irrevocable conclusion that no man committed suicide by placing the rifle in that awkward position and then (cocking) it four times more." (source:

Lasting Questions about the Murder of President Kennedy
Rex Bradford
November 2001
Are There any Smoking Guns in the New Records?
Researchers will hunt in vain for a memo containing the words "LeMay to Dulles: Get Kennedy in Dallas." Anyone who expected such, or holds it up as the standard for qualifying as a "smoking gun," is not serious. But if the term "smoking gun" is too strong, then there are many shining needles of truth in the vast haystack of chaff now available at the National Archives. Some would indeed have qualified as smoking guns in an earlier era, but the bar has been set very high of late by the defenders of the lone nut thesis. That the bar is continually raised, to meet the material which continues to emerge, is itself a phenomenon worth noting.
In any case, there is indeed much new of interest, though more of it related to coverup activities than actual direct leads to conspirators. Before jumping to these new finds, it's worthwhile to pause and examine one of the starker examples from the past.
In the 1970s it came out that Nicholas Katzenbach, then Assistant Attorney General, had written a memo to Presidential Assistant Bill Moyers at the White House on November 25, 1963, the day of Kennedy's funeral. Katzenbach's memo comes the closest an official document will probably ever come to announcing a baldfaced coverup:
"The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he had no confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial."
Of course, the silencing of Oswald by Ruby on the 24th would indicate to most open-minded people a high likelihood of a conspiracy, and the FBI had hardly run down its investigative leads by the next day, when this memo was written. Katzenbach's memo was a call to coverup, pure and simple. The concern behind it can be glimpsed in the second paragraph:
"Speculation about Oswald's motivation ought to be cut off, and we should have some basis for rebutting thought that this was a Communist conspiracy or (as the Iron Curtain press is saying) a right-wing conspiracy to blame it on the Communists."
The logic of the latter of these possibilities is acknowledged:
"Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat—too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.)."

But the Katzenbach memo, while kept from the public for many years, has nonetheless been known for over two decades. What about the mass of declassified material released since the passage of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act? Has anything of import been found there, or should we all be reassured that the government didn't have really anything to hide after all?

Nicholas Katzenbach
LBJ Library
To read the newspapers, one would have to assume the latter, that nothing terrible or especially illuminating has come from the new files. This assumption would be dead wrong, as it turns out. What this says about press reporting in the modern era will be left for the reader to decide.
Two big stories, and a host of lesser ones, have emerged in the 1990s. One is a wealth of new material pointing to a medical coverup of previously unsuspected proportions. The second story is the Mexico City affair alluded to previously, about which a great deal more is now known. Beyond these two areas, there is much new of interest concerning Oswald, Ruby, the Garrison investigation, the HSCA's internal affairs, foreign policy secrets of the Kennedy administration, and more.
First, some highlights from the medical releases:
• As noted earlier, the HSCA's Report lied about the testimony it took on the nature of JFK's large head wound. Several autopsy witnesses corroborated the Dallas doctors' observations of a large exit-like wound in the rear of the head, something seemingly contradicted by autopsy photographs showing a full head of hair there. Equally amazing, HSCA investigators have revealed that the HSCA's nine-member forensic pathology panel was unaware of these interviews. Interviewed by the ARRB in 1996, HSCA staffer Andy Purdy, who conducted most of these interviews, said that the failure to make them public was "embarrassing," "shocking," and "inexcusable."
• The HSCA also reported, buried in a footnote, that it could not check the autopsy photos for authenticity against the original camera: "Because the Department of Defense was unable to locate the camera and lens that were used to take these photographs, the [photographic] panel was unable to engage in an analysis similar to the one undertaken with the Oswald backyard pictures that was designed to determine whether a particular camera in issue had been used to take the photographs..." But records reveal that the HSCA indeed acquired the Navy's camera, after a lengthy bureaucratic battle with the Department of Defense, and tested it. But the camera didn't match the photos (see memo with document attachments by ARRB Senior Analyst Doug Horne). Note that in this instance, through clever wording, the HSCA's quote is technically true, though quite misleading.
• The ARRB located a woman named Saundra Kay Spencer, who was identified as having developed Kennedy autopsy photos as part of her job at the Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia. Ms. Spencer viewed for the first time the full collection of autopsy photographs held at the National Archives. She testified, under oath, that they were not the pictures she developed. She gave detailed reasons why, involving both the content of the photos and the type of film used.
• The autopsy photographer of record, John Stringer, denied to the ARRB that there was a large wound in the rear of Kennedy's head. This despite suffering the embarrassment of having the ARRB play an audio tape from 1972, of a phone conversation in which Stringer told researcher David Lifton, repeated and unequivocally, that there had indeed been a large rear head wound. In any case, when Stringer was shown the Archives' photographs of what is purported to be the brain of JFK, he disavowed them. Stringer pointed to the lack of pictures of sliced "sections," the type of film used, the presence of basilar views, and other reasons why these were not the photos he took at a supplementary brain exam. At one point, Stringer was asked whether the brain photos represented accurately his memory of what Kennedy's brain had looked like. Stringer told the ARRB, "Well, it has to be, if that's Mr Kennedy." ARRB Chief Counsel Jeremy Gunn's reply: "Well, that's the question."
• FBI agent Francis O'Neill Jr., who like many believes Oswald to have been the lone gunman, was shown the same brain photos (he was one of two FBI witnesses to the autopsy). O'Neill's reaction: "'s too looks like a complete brain."
• Multiple interviews newly in the record cast grave doubt on the story, always hard to believe, that the autopsy doctors didn't know of Kennedy's neck wound until they called Parkland Hospital the morning after the autopsy. Among other people, the President's personal physician had been at Parkland Hospital and was also at the autopsy, and had surely told the autopsy doctors about the neck wound. One of these was the suppressed HSCA interview of Chief Radiologist John Ebersole, who remembered calls to Dallas on the night of the autopsy, "in the range of ten to eleven PM." Knowledge of the neck wound at autopsy makes even more grave the failure to dissect the neck organs and trace the path of the bullet. But there is additional new testimony which suggests that in fact bullet paths were traced, and photographs taken of the body with metal probes through it. White House photographer Robert Knudsen was one person who told the HSCA that he saw such photographs; his interview was also suppressed. If the story of the metal probes is true, then the deceit of the three autopsy doctors is of staggering proportions.
• One of those who spoke of the Friday night calls to Dallas was Nurse Audrey Bell of Parkland Hospital. This nurse also drew for the ARRB diagrams of bullet fragments she remembered were taken from Governor Connally—greater in number and size than those held at the Archives. Fragments of that size could also not have come from CE399, the "magic bullet," thus invalidating the single bullet theory and the entire Warren Report. The ARRB declined to take her drawings back to Washington.
• The HSCA files contain "memo to file" written by lead investigator Richard Sprague, who was soon to be forced to resign after attacks from the media and Committee Chairman Henry Gonzalez. This incredible memo states: "William F. Illig, an attorney from Erie, Pa., contacted me in Philadelphia this date, advising me that he represents Dr. George G. Burkley, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy retired, who had been the personal physician for presidents Kennedy and Johnson.....Dr. Burkley advised him that although he, Burkley, had signed the death certificate of President Kennedy in Dallas, he had never been interviewed and that he has information in the Kennedy assassination indicating that others besides Oswald must have participated. Illig advised me that his client is a very quiet, unassuming person, not wanting any publicity whatsoever, but he, Illig, was calling me with his client's consent and that his client would talk to me in Washington." Sprague's replacement as HSCA Chief Counsel, Robert Blakey, apparently chose not to interview Burkley at all, as did the Warren Commission before it. The ARRB sought permission from Dr. Burkley's daughter, Nancy Denlea, for the release of any relevant information from the lawyer's files, which she at first agreed to do. She subsequently decided not to sign the waiver after all.
• Documents released by the National Archives in 1999 tell an odd story. They show that the ceremonial casket used to transport JFK's body from Dallas to Washington was dropped from military aircraft into 9000 feet of water off the coast of Maryland in early 1966. This strange event, whose implications will be discussed outside this essay, was initiated by a latter from former Dallas mayor Earl Cabell, and signed off by Robert Kennedy. Strange bedfellows.
• The military control of the autopsy has long been a subject for concern, but David Lifton's book Best Evidence went far beyond that, alleging military control over the body of Kennedy itself en route to Washington. The rationale given by Lifton for this alleged intervention, alteration of the body in preparation for autopsy, has long been controversial among assassination students. New testimony about the large head wound has lessened the argument that such alteration took place. Nonetheless, Lifton's thesis regarding military control of the body got stunning corroboration in an HSCA interview which was suppressed and not made public until 2000. The HSCA interviewed Richard Lipsey, aide to General Wehle, the Military District Commander of Washington, DC. Lipsey told the HSCA how General Wehle put him in charge of the body. He then related how a decoy casket had been used, with Mrs. Kennedy and her entourage accompanying an empty casket while a second limousine took the body separately to the Bethesda Naval Hospital morgue.
The bullet-item list above contains allegations which are shocking and in some cases not readily believed. That the list itself is accurate can be determined simply by following the links in it to their sources. That all the allegations are in fact true is of course another matter, and several of them remain controversial even among those convinced of a conspiracy and coverup. That said, it should be noted that in all cases where a controversial witness statement is presented, the person making the statement is indeed a witness to what is being alleged, not some self-appointed person from the general population. Such persons should be taken seriously at a minimum. It is this author's view that even a conservative view of the "new" medical evidence has knocked the floor out from under what is supposed to be the "bedrock" evidence for a lone gunman (not that it was ever really that).
There are also a great many revelations and allegations outside the area of medical evidence. A sampler of these, and it is only a sampler, appears below:

Marina Oswald
HSCA Numbered Boxes
• Grand jury transcripts from the Garrison investigation contain several surprises. Among them is a statement from Lee Oswald's widow, Marina. She was asked why she cut off contact after the assassination with Ruth Paine, the woman she was living with, and in whose house much incriminating evidence against Oswald was found. Marina's answer: "I was advised by the Secret Service not to be connected with her.....she was sympathisizing with the CIA. She wrote letters over there...."

Clay Shaw
• The "friends" of Lee Oswald continue to look less like friends and more like intelligence contacts. It has long been known that, before his death, Oswald's "best friend" George DeMohrenschildt admitted that local CIA man J. Walton Moore had suggested that George strike up an acquaintance with Oswald. In corroboration for Marina's statement above are the released documents showing that Ruth Paine's sister worked for the CIA, and her father was an informant to it. Another case is Priscilla Johnson, the reporter who interviewed Oswald in Moscow and later wrote Marina and Lee. Documents show that she applied for a job at the CIA, but was turned down, but was also viewed as a potential "witting asset" for the Agency. If Lee Oswald was not a U.S. intelligence agent, he was certainly surrounded by them. Whether or not he actually knew Oswald, it is interesting to note that businessman Clay Shaw, charged by New Orleans D.A. Garrison in the JFK murder, also had a relationship with the CIA. Besides being a contact of the CIA's Domestic Contact Division, a 1967 memo released in 1992 noted that Shaw was granted a covert security approval in December 1962 for "Project QKENCHANT." Another person approved for this same project was none other than E. Howard Hunt, of Watergate fame.
• Regardless of the excess or failures of the Garrison investigation, there is now abundant evidence that the federal government was bent on destroying it. Walter Sheridan, producer of a highly critical NBC White Paper in 1967, met with mobster Zachary "Red" Strate, according to the testimony of Strate, Judge Malcolm O'Hara, and attorney Edward Baldwin (the latter two disagreed as to who arranged the meeting, pointing the finger at each other). The purpose of the meeting was apparently to work out a deal whereby Strate would deliver anti-Garrison witnesses in exchange for help with a pending appeal. Other grand jury testimony supports the allegation that it was anti-Garrison forces who were bribing witnesses, not Garrison. The Justice Department also rushed JFK autopsy doctor J. Thorton Boswell to New Orleans during the trial, because, according to Boswell's ARRB testimony, "Pierre [Finck, another JFK autopsy doctor] is testifying, and he's really lousing everything up." Earlier that day Finck, after having told the court that an Army General had stated that he was in charge of the autopsy, was pressed repeatedly to explain why he did not dissect Kennedy's neck to trace the bullet path. Finck, after attempting to duck the question several times, finally stated "As I recall I was told not to, but I don't remember by whom." The CIA also was very keenly interested in the Shaw trial. A series of internal CIA memos also show great concern over the Garrison investigation, corroborating ex-CIA officer Victor Marchetti's claim that CIA Director Helms would begin staff meetings by asking, referring to Shaw and his lawyers, "Are we giving them all the help we can down there?"

Mexico City "Mystery Man", mistakenly identified as Oswald
• A torrent of cables, memos, and other documents have been released on the "Oswald" trip to Mexico City affair. Besides showing that Oswald was impersonated in phone calls to the Soviet Embassy, these documents show that the tapes were part of a broader effort, involving CIA officers, to implicate Oswald in a Cuban or Soviet conspiracy. There are also disturbing indications that the documentary record now available has been tampered with. For instance, there is reason to believe that one "Oswald" phone call was of a more sinister nature than any of the relatively innocuous transcripts now public. The many incredible details of these files and the stories they tell cannot be adequately presented in such a short space—see The Framing of Oswald topic.
• New information on foreign policy initiatives regarding both Vietnam and Cuba have begun to alter the Kennedy-era history of that time. The Pentagon Papers, published in the early 1970s, had curiously sparse information from 1963. That gap has now been filled—with detailed plans for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. More information has also come to light on a "second track" of accomodation with Castro's Cuba, as well as military plans to stage a fake Cuban provocation as a pretext for invasion. In all, the previously-secret records add weight to the thesis that, after the Missile Crisis at least, the Kennedy administration was moving toward peace and detente with the Soviet Union.
The list given above is the tip of a very large iceberg, and is hardly meant to be comprehensive. There is much for researchers to chew upon. Whether it is possible to make sense of the vast contradictory record, to pull all the threads together into a coherent narrative, is as yet unknown. The fact that the murder was never honestly investigated by the federal government with all its vast powers is a sad legacy, as armchair analysts can't subpoena witnesses and use the other tools which are needed to really solve such a crime. And at this late date, with most of the participants and witnesses dead or soon to be so, even the exceedingly unlikely event of a new investigation would set upon a trail long gone cold. Armchair analysts are all that remain, but what a wealth of material they have to work with. This website is devoted to highlighting and analyzing the assassination's documentary base, in particular the amazing new releases. Perhaps more importantly, its goal is to supply these documents in accessible electronic form to a new generation of scholars
(To see the rest of this fine essay, go to:

Bernardo De Torres infiltrated Garrison's investigation before it started
9 infiltrators sounds high, but as we hear in this interview. The CIA spared no expense in their efforts to derail and discredit Jim Garrison.

Bernardo De Torres and Edwin Collins in 1963 Black Op Radio Interview

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