Warren commission report
is riddled with gaping holes
By Roger Conant
President John F. Kennedy was shot to death on a Dallas street 21 years ago. Yet despite inquiries by the Warren Commission, the Rockefeller panel on CIA abuses, the Church intelligence review and the House assassinations panel, all of which examined allegations related to the JFK slaying, many questions remain.
- The evidence accepted by the Warren Commission for use in its final report proves that either Lee Harvey Oswald got a ride to the slaying of Officer J.D. Tippit or he didn't kill Tippit. The glossing over of such an elementary matter as the timing question strongly suggests the complicity of local and federal authorities in a coverup.
- How were the police able to enter the rear of the theater where Oswald was arrested? Theater fire doors don't open from the outside. The police sccenmts contain glaring contradictions.
- In order to substantiate the "lone gunman" theory, the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (which did not find for a conspiracy until late in its probe) had to accept the idea that a single bullet from a rifle where Oswald was ostensibly located had hit the President in the back of the neck and exited his throat at the necktie. But photographic evidence proves JFK was facing the wrong way.
- A series of photos by different persons shows a man standing adjacent to the President, raising an open umbrella up and down at the moment of the first shot. After the gunfire, this man sits down at the curb next to another man who had been standing nearby with his arm raised oddly over his head during the shooting. The umbrella man calmly folds it up and hides it. It's a sunny day. While everyone is running around, this pair calmly split up and walk off in opposite directions.
- Various photos also show that the President's car, driven by Secret Service Agent William Greer, slowed down as the crowd began to thin out and that, as shots rang out, he didn't acellerate for six or seven seconds. rider. A man_can run 75 yards in that interval. Key evidence, a movie filmed by amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder was altered while in the hands of either the CIA or Life magazine.
- Several boxcars rolled over the Triple Underpass in the moments the shots were fired and, as photos show, moved behind the grassy knoll area. Some time later, at least three alleged tramps were pulled off a boxcar that would have been on the same stretch of track. These men were freed and no records were kept concerning them.
- Oswald, branded a leftist defector "nut," had worked at a CIA base in Japan and had "taught himself" Russian and German while in the Marines. A number of his Texas and New Orleans associates have been linked to the CIA.
- Many persons who have had some knowledge of the assassination have been slain or have died prematurely.
A half hour, roughly, after
the assassination, Oswald was spotted
his rooming house
Cliff section by
landlady, Earline Roberts. He changed hurriedly and hustled outside, she
said. It was no earlier than 1 p.m., she said. (If it had been, the [Warren] panel
would have had
got all the:way to Oak_Cliff
by bus and cab in such a short time.)
At 1:16 p.m. a citizen who had come upon the shooting of Officer J.D. Tippit called in the murder aver the patrol car radio, the radio log showed.
The commission said Oswald had walked briskly to 10th Street at Patton Avenue, in his rush to get away, and had encountered Tippit, who was about to arrest him.
Domingo Denavides drove by.Tippit and his assailant, who were facing each other across the hood of the cop car, and heard shots. He pulled over and then, as the commission put it, "waited until the gunman ran to the . corner," after which he dashed over and called in the report.
Mrs. Helen Markham was waiting to cross the'street at the intersection when she saw the assailant shoot Tippit as he was walking around the left front of the car. Peeking through her hands, she watched in terror as the gunman walked back toward the intersection -- "fooling with his gun -- and then jogged away from her toward Jefferson Boulevard. "I was afraid he was fixing to kill me," [s]he said.
Benavides testified, though the commission report did not say so, that he had waited "a few minutes" in his truck before doing anything. Even assuming Markham had made the call, is it likely she would have moved while the gunman was still in sight?
Taking the commission's account at face value places the time of the shooting as no later than 1:13 p.m. An FBI report filed a day after the murders said the bureau had been informed the Tippit killing occurred at "about 1:13 p.m."
Though it might be possible to trot to the slay site in 15 minutes from Oswald's rooming house, it is implausible in 13 minutes. Nil Alexander, at the time an assistant D.A. told writer Anthony Sommers years later that "we still don't know" how Oswald "got to where he was" even after checking cab records and bus drivers. But in 1963 Alexander raised no hue and cry over the discrepancy. The House probers slid over the Tippit affair.
At 1:45 p.m., the commission determined, a police dispatcher alerted police in the Oak Cliff section to a "suspicious man" in the Texas Theater, about eight blocks from the Tippit slaying. Squad cars converged on the scene and police dashed in and grabbed Oswakd after a scuffle, the panel said. According to this scenario, Patrolman M.N. McDonald had entered a rear door -- where he met a shoe salesman who supposedly had spotted Ouwaa rushing into the theater -- and was accompanied in by other police officers. McDonald walked carefully back to where Oswald was sitting, after checking two other patrons, and got into a scuffle. Other cops piled on and subdued Oswald, who had been pointed out to McDonald by the shoe salesman.
The commission skipped the question of how McDonald and the other cops got into the rear door or doors (there are two) by saying the shoe salesman, Johnny Brewer, "met them" at the door.
Other cops had rushed up to the balcony and ordered the projectionist to turn on the house lights, the commission said. McDonald asserted "the lights were up" when he entered.
Reports of officers who said they were at the rear doors clash.
McDonald testified that ''when I got to the front of the theater there were several police cars already at the scene, and I surmised that the officers were already inside the theater." He went around to the back alley and saw policemen with shotguns guarding the rear exits, he said. Then, he and three other cops "walked into" one of the rear doors. He didn't explain how they got in.
One policeman, T.A. Hutson, said he was the first one in the back alley with another two cops wheeling up behind him. Just as he reached the rear door, he said, salesman Brewer opened it and he pointed his pistol at Brewer, thinking it was the suspect, until Brewer corrected him. Brewer, however, did not mention how the cops got in, but did say he had tested the rear fire exits to be sure they were still locked. Had one been unlocked, it meant someone had exited.
Another cop, C.T. Walker, said there was a "plainclothesman" on "the ladder," but he wasn't sure why. In 1984 there is a fire escape leading to two balcony exits.
The most jarring discrepancy is, again, timing. The commission accepted McDonald's version but fails to explain why policemen weren't already swarming through the theater from the front entrance -- especially as the lights were on, meaning several car's-worth of police were already inside. Everyone seems to have waited for McDonald to saunter up the aisle.
Oswald was supposedly pointed out by Brewer. Even if true, why didn't the police simply order the 15 or so patrons to their feet and line them up -- a procedure used by McDonald and others when checking out a fleeing man report at a library earlier[?] Why did McDonald allegedly not have his pistol drawn when the suspect may have killed the President and a cop?
The day after Oswald's capture, the Associated Press ran a first- person account telling how he [McDonald] had sneaked into the darkened theater's rear door, gun drawn, and crept stealthily up an aisle until he spotted his man. At his capture, Oswald was shouting "police brutality" and "I am not resisting arrest."
Penn Jones, a retired Texas newspaperman, asserts Oswald worked at the theater part-time as a janitor and could have entered without arousing any suspicion. Jim Garrison, who prosecuted Clay Shaw as being part of a CIA plot to kill J17., noted that theaters are often used by intellthgence agents as meeting places. Garrison suggests Tippit was slain in order to have a reason to search the Oak Cliff area for Oswald, who then was to be shot resisting arrest. But Oswald managed to stay alive. If Oswald was indeed the "patsy," as he claimed. why he wasn't killed at the depository remains a mystery.
In another timing problem, JFK's limousine is shown just as it passed a sign pointing out the Stemmons Freeway, in a photo by Phil Willis. A movie by Abraham Zapruder, who was standing on the far side of the sign, indicates that the President reacted to the first shot just as he emerged from behind the sign. The Willis photo shows JFK looking sharply to the right at that point.
However, the Warren Commission and the House panel decided that a gunman had fired from the Texas School Book Depository at JFK's rear and that that sniper must have fired the first round just as JFK passed the sign, there being no clear line of fire sooner. That bullet allegedly entered the back of JFK's neck and exited his throat at the necktie, where a wound was recorded, However, if the first round had hit as described„ it would not have exited at the necktie.
The movie filmed by Zapruder, who was standing on a raised bit of [an adjacent] pergola, shows the motorcade rounding Houston Street onto Elm, driving past the Stemmons sign -- where the first shot hit -- and continuing down Elm while at least one more shot explodes part of JFK's head.
Zapruder's film was bought by Life magazine but, a declassified document shows, the film passed through the CIA's National Photo Interpretation Center within days of the assassination, according to writer David S. Lifton.
Photo analyst Robert Groden told this reporter that he helped himself to a copy of the film sometime in 1963 or 64 when it passed through his employer's laboratory in New York. Groden's "enhanced" film is spliced in two places: When the limo rounds the corner and when it passes the sign as the first shot hit. The effect of these splices is to make the car appear to be going faster than it was. The Warren panel, using Zapruder's camera as a "clock," had fixed the limo's average speed at 11.2 mph. Groden, however, said the House panel used the version of the film with all frames supplied.
[This] reporter, using photographs, estimated the position of the sign in Dealey Plaza and judged its width at six feet. Using Zapruder's spot as a reference point, he calculated the distance -- no more than 15 feet -- from when JFK's head vanishes behind the sign to when it emerges.
By matching the number of frames at 18.3 per second against the distance, rate of speed is obtained. If all frames are accounted for, the car was going at 3.5 mph when the first shot hit. If six frames are missing, about 6 mph.
Groden pointed out that some witnesses said the limo stopped about the time the first shot hit. Actually, he said, another film by Orville Nix shows the car slowing to about 5 mph by the sign. The following car almost rammed JFK's car, he says. The Zapruder film shows [driver] Greer slouching down, glancing over his shoulder as the shots are fired, without stepping on the gas. Meanwhile, two men are standing next to JFK's car, apparently making signals with an arm and an umbrella.
No motorcycles were in front of Greer slowing him down and the lead car was four or five car lengths ahead, the commission said. The Stemmons sign was removed that afternoon. No explanations were given.
Oswald joined the Marines and went to radar school, ending up at an Air Force base at Atsugi, Japan. This was no ordinary air base. It was a U2 base, which was under the operational control of the CIA. The CIA's U2 program was under the iron-fisted control of Richard M. Bissell, an upper cruster known as a genius at clandestine operations. Though his titular boss was Allen M. Dulles, Bissell appears to have [had] great power. Dulles and Bissell both reported to Nelson Rockefeller in Eisenhower's White House and later to Richard Nixon. Bissell and Dulles were strongly aligned with the Rockefeller family interests.
No radar operator worked at a CIA base who wasn't under close supervision by the CIA. Maverick CIA agent Phillip Agee has revealed that CIA agents are often given military cover.
Another maverick, former Pentagon intelligence liaison Fletcher Prouty, insists there exists a national security establishment, or "secret team," which is adept at controlling the government through deception, secrecy and control of clandestine communications. He believes this "team" had JFK rubbed out.
In 1959 Oswald obtained a hardship discharge and then flew to Europe, where his visa was processed marvelously quickly. The ex-corporal either had plenty of money to pay for the flights or he caught a military hop. Or an imposter was sent.
In Moscow his defection was greeted with some skepticism by the Soviets, but after allegedly slashing his wrists, they kept him. He passed on secret information to the Soviets but in general his activities are murky. While he was in Russia, U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down.
The Soviets, no fools, would have suspected Oswald of being an agent, but treated him very kindly, giving him a good apartment, a healthy stipend and permitting him to marry a KGB official's niece, Marina Prusakova.
When he asked to- be repatriated, the way was smoothed for him by both the Russians and the Americans.
While in Russia, a "journalist" interviewed him. Priscilla Johnson, daughter of a well-heeled New York family who translated a manuscript by Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, was affiliated with the U.S. embassy in Moscow and has been affiliated with a CIA-backed think tank, Harvard's Russian Research Center. She eventually wrote a book, "Marina and Lee," which toes the Warren Report line.
Johnson started her career as a functionary of the World Federalists, a group listing many establishment figures that is primarily backed by the Rockefeller family. The Rockefellers have for years been behind the "one word" movement, according to a sheaf of documonts obtained by this reporter.
The Rockefellers have also been very strong influences on the CIA, Dulles having been associated with one of their law firms for example. Cord Mayer, a CIA majordomo, is a past president of the World Federalists.
When Oswald returned to the U.S. he wasn't arrested as a traitor, but went to live in New Orleans. The FBI failed to place him on its Security Index and, while maintaining contacts with him, left him alone. When he applied for a new passport to go to Mexico in a vain attempt to got a visa for Cuba, no alarms went off in the State Department. He obtained his passport within 24 hours.
Oswald's acquaintances in New Orleans included David Ferrie, who commanded the Civil Air Patrol unit of which Oswald was a member while a teenager. Perhaps this is when Oswald was recruited for the CIA.
Ferrie, a brilliant misfit, at times worked for Louisiana-East Texas mob boss Carlos Marcello as an "investigator" and at times for the CIA as a contract pilot, running guns and agents into Castro's Cuba. (The CIA, and its predecessor the OSS, had worked closely together [with gangland] ever since Meyer Lansky struck a deal with the government during WWII. The CIA. ran a number of unsuccessful assassination plots against Castro with the connivance of Chicago boss Sam Giancana, Miami boss Santos Trafficante Jr. and Giancana's henchman. Johnny Rosselli.
Another of Oswald's likely associates was Guy Banister, ex-FBI agent and New Orleasn police official. He was associated with CIA Latin American operations, including gun-running by CIA-acked Cuban exiles. Oswald hung around -- supposedly as a Marxist Castroite -- Banister's building and passed out on one occasion pro-Cuba leaflets, which Garrison noticed had 544 Camp St. printed on them. This address is for a side door of Banister's building. Ferrie worked with Banister.
Oswald's friend in Dallas, a White Russian count named George de Mohrenshildt was a spy in World War II and [had been] monitored by the FBI as a possible Nazi agent. He was well-connected with the Texas oil community, including Rockefeller interests. He once showed up at a CIA guerrilla training base in Guatemala on a "walking tour."
The woman who put up Oswald's family in her Irving, Texas, home, came from an exclusive, rich family, as did her husband Robert. Ferrie, Giancano, Rosselli, de Mohrenshildt -- as with many tied to the affair -- have met violent death.
Groden's photo enhancements were shown to the House probers to point out that a figure is seemingly crouched over a bit of concrete wall next to where Zapruder was standing but in a subsequent photo the figure is not there. This spot provides a clear line of fire to JFK's head, just as he approached the Stemmons sign, photos show.
A reporter's inspection of Dealey Plaza reveals that the area behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll, where witnesses saw smoke and heard bangs, provides poor lines of fire to the kill zone, because of the road's curve and the roll of the hill. However, neusman Jones pointed out a square manhole where the fence meets the railroad overpass that provides an excellent field of fire. Jones said the fence had recently been sawn prior to the murder, permitting a rifle barrel to poke through.
Because assassins use smokeless powder, the commotion that attracted witnesses by the fence was likely a diversion, perhaps with a smoke grenade.
Though policemen and railroad workers were standing on the bridge near this manhole, it could easily have been camouflaged with foliage. Other vantage points from high windows or rooftops would have provided fairly good lines of fire, but the best -- and closest spots - -appeared to be next to Zapruder and the square manhole. A vexing question raised by reporters in the ambush aftermath was why Oswald didn't pick off JFK as he drove toward him on Houston Street rather than waiting for the much more difficult shots after the car had turned the corner onto Elm. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover immediately suggested that trees were in the way on Houston Street. None:were -- though a tree did severely limit shooting opportunities on Elm.
In the seconds [bracketing the period when] JFK was being shot a train composed of several boxcars rolled across the bridge. One Willis slide, which reportedly did show the train, was returned to him by the FBI with no train visible. But a photo by Wilma Bonds moments after the gunfire reveals a boxcar showing through pergola latticework on the plaza's north side, adjacent to the kill zone. A previous photo shows no boxcar there. One track curves away from the bridge, bending behind the pergola and the depository.
Some 30 minutes to an hour later, news photographers. snapped pictures of three tramps being led from a boxcar that was reportedly on the plaza's south side, behind the postal annex, on the same stretch of track as the car seen in the Bonds photo.
Immediately after the assassination, cops and federal firearms agents swarmed the rail yards, but somehow failed to turn up these men. Perhaps someone in the annex had alerted authorities or perhaps some subterfuge was used.
These tramps -- one of whom had a distinctly military bearing -- were later released with no record kept of their names. Homicide chief William Fritz years later told writer Michael Canfield that only the FBI could explain why no records were kept.
About 10 other men, including an Army intelligence agent seized inside the depository -- were arrested in or near Dealey Plaza with no action taken against them, despite their suspicious behavior.
Two of the three seized on the train were described by writers A.J. Weberman and Canfield as looking very much like Watergate burglars Frank Sturgis and [E.] Howard Hunt. Sturgis was part of Hunt's CIA crew during the Bay of Pigs buildup, and probably earlier.
House panel photo analysts said the tramps were probably not Sturgis or Hunt, but the authors provided photo overlays which quite closely match features of the Watergaters aad the tramps. However, a photo apparently provided by Weberman and identified as CIA agent Daniel Carswell was examined by House experts and determined not to be Carswell.
The "Carswell' photo upon close inspection b [this] reporter appeared to be a clever montage -- a fake.
This reporter .discovered a photo, apparently uncovered by Jim Garrison's investigators, of a man dressed in guerrilla fatigues and holding a sten gun. He was identified as a Sturgis associate, Jerry Hemming. A comparison of certain characteristics of the mouth and the eye ridge, along with the facial expression, seems to bear a remarkable likeness to the tramp sometimes dubbed Frenchy. However, the photo of Hemming pictures a young man, whereas Frenchy appears middle-aged.
Hemming and Sturgis, according to what they supposedly told Weberman, were members of a CIA-affiliated guerrilla outfit they called tiro International Penetration Force/International Anticommunist Brigade. This group was one of a number that conducted guerrilla warfare against Cuba on behalf of the CIA. Hunt was one of the CIA's top operatives in Cuban exile affairs. Hemming is now imprisoned on a Florida narcotics charge, Weberman says.
Hunt sued Weberman and his publisher but later dropped the suit and paid court costs. Weberman claims Hunt, during suit proceedings, changed his alibi as to his whereabouts on Nov. 22, 1963.
The Church panel, which did not probe the JFK killing very deeply, issued a report blasting the CIA and the FBI for foot-dragging in the investigation and for not checking up on possible Cuban involvement.
Some of those on the Warren Commission did nicely for themselves. Gerald Ford became Nixon's choice for vice president. Counsel Arlen Specter is now a Republican senator from Pennsylvania. William T. Coleman was appointed Nixon's transportation secretary and moves in the stratosphere of Rockefeller business circles. Dallas attorney Leon Jaworski, a Warren staffer, vent on to prosecute Nixon's top aides for Watergate offenses. Other commissioners, John McCloy and ex-spymaster Dulles, were known as Rockefeller men.
However, Rep. Hale Boggs (D-La.), who came to voice doubts abort the commission's work died in an Alaska plane crash.
CBS TV ran a documentary, featuring Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite, defending the Warren report. Rather tells the audience that Zapruder's film shows JFK's head lurching forward, indicating a shot from the rear, when in fact JFK's head jolts backward. Life [magazine] was still suppressing its film. it
Rather was standing near the [Triple] Underpass when JFK was slain.
A major stockholder in CBS is the Rockefeller bank, Chase Manhattan.
On Dec. 1, 1970, a New York Times review of Garrison's book on the slaying was in the first edition headlined "Who Killed Kennedy?" The head read "The Shaw-Garrison Affair" in later editions and a whole section of the review agreeing with Garrison and debunking the Warren report was edited out. The Rockefellers have at least three directors on the Times.
Life magazine in the fall of 1964 stopped the presses and changed the sequence of Zapruder frames it was publishing. The correct sequence would have indicated the head jolted to the rear, implying a second gunman.
Most reporters for the Hearst Corp., such as Marianne Means who was in Dallas that day, have upheld the Warren report. Dorothy Kilgallen, a Hearst columnist and old-line reporter wasn't cowed and blasted away at the Warren report in her columns. She was found dead in bed, reportedly of a drug overdose.
UPI's Merriman Smith, now dead, was the first person in the motorcade press corps to report JFK's shooting. Somehow he managed to do this two minutes after the gunfire. He later wrote in the N.Y. Times that there hadn't been the "slightest doubt" that the shots came from his rear, even though he said he was at the Triple Underpass when the shots rang out, putting him ahead of the motorcade. Smith was the only reporter invited to fly back to Washington on Air Force One.
Another reporter on the scene, Tom Wicker, has consistently backed the lone gunman theory. The [N.Y.] Times gave him a column and made him associate editor.
The AP issued a book, "The Torch is Passed," which is a glib version of the official line shortly after the murder. The news organization fails to raise a single question posed by many a good reporter in the assassination aftermath. AP, then under General Manager Wes Gallagher, is supposedly a cooperative. But, at the time, the Rockefeller-dominated AT&T gave special rates to the news services.