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JFK: Bugliosi on the Zapruder film and the Autopsy
Sat Nov 30, 2013 08:12

JFK: Bugliosi on the Zapruder film and the Autopsy

Here, the author discusses Bugliosi's opinions on both the famous Abraham Zapruder film, and Kennedy's utterly horrendous autopsy. As the author writes, in defiance of common sense and logic, Bugliosi actually believes the Zapruder film is not really all that important in understanding the assassination. Why? Because according to him, physical evidence such as the three spent shell casings discovered on sixth floor of the TSBD provide conclusive evidence that only three shots were fired at the President (DiEugenio, Chapter 6). The author scores Bugliosi by pointing out that one of the shell casings discovered on the sixth floor (CE 543) had a dented lip, and could not have been fired at the time of the assassination (ibid).

Just like the overwhelming majority of Warren Commission defenders, Bugliosi believes in the single bullet theory, and actually writes in his book that President Kennedy and Governor Connally were aligned in tandem when the same bullet allegedly went through both men (ibid) However, he then doubles back on himself in a subsequent page in his book when he writes that they were not actually aligned in a straight line. DiEugenio argues that Bugliosi was actually misinformed on this matter by his ghost writer, Dale Myers (ibid). Myers says Connally was six inches inboard of JFK. Yet, as Pat Speer has pointed out, the HSCA said the distance was less than half of that. Bugliosi actually included in his book Senator Richard Russell's objection to the single bullet theory in the Warren Commission's executive session hearing on September 18, 1964, in which he wanted his objection to the single bullet theory described in a footnote (ibid). However, Bugliosi discounts the fact that Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin fooled Russell into believing there would be a stenographic record made of his objection, when in actual fact, there wasn't (ibid).

As far as the autopsy is concerned, Bugliosi doesn't believe it was botched; even though he actually acknowledged on the same page of his book that his own primary expert, Dr Michael Baden, claimed that it was (ibid). As the author writes, Baden claimed: "Where bungled autopsies are concerned, President Kennedy's is the exemplar." (ibid) This reviewer finds this to be incredibly ironic. Adding further to the irony, Bugliosi tries to defend the autopsy doctors by stating that the HSCA medical panel's critique of the autopsy was "considerably overstated". But at the same time, he agrees with the HSCA medical panel that the autopsy doctors had mislocated the bullet entry hole in the back of President Kennedy's skull! (ibid) As the author writes, "What he [Bugliosi] seems to be trying to do is to soften the critique of the autopsy and actually vouch for the competence and skill of the pathologists." (ibid) This reviewer couldn't agree more.

What's worse, in this reviewer's opinion, is that Bugliosi actually tries to pin the blame about the limited autopsy on the President's own family. The author scores Bugliosi on this assertion by informing the reader that both Drs. Humes and Boswell told the Assassination Records Review Board that this was not true (ibid). In fact, Dr Humes actually told a friend that he was given orders not to perform a complete autopsy, but this order did not come from Robert Kennedy (ibid). But perhaps the final blow to Bugliosi's absurd assertion comes from Admiral Galloway, who was the commanding Officer of the Bethesda Naval Center. Galloway claimed that; " orders were being sent in from outside the autopsy room either by phone or by person." (ibid). Bugliosi can blame the Kennedy family all he wants for the botched autopsy, but Reclaiming Parkland proves that they were not responsible.
VII: Bugliosi vs. Garrison and Stone

Former New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison is, without a doubt, one of the most – if not the most – vilified Kennedy assassination investigator ever. Garrison has been berated by Warren Commission defenders for prosecuting prominent New Orleans businessman, and CIA agent, Clay Shaw, for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. By the same token, Oliver Stone, the director of the controversial film JFK, has been berated by Warren Commission defenders for what they conceive to be a distortion of facts in his film about the assassination JFK. Being the zealous Warren Commission defender that he is, Bugliosi pummels both Garrison and Stone (DiEugenio, Chapter 7).

As the author reveals, Bugliosi uses Harry Connick, who was Garrison's successor as district attorney, as a witness against Garrison in Reclaiming History. (ibid) But what Bugliosi omits is that Connick had destroyed many of the court records and investigative files pertaining to Garrison's investigation and the prosecution of Clay Shaw (ibid). Connick also fought the Justice Department for over one year before he was finally ordered by a federal court to turn over Garrison's file cabinets to the Assassination Records Review Board (ibid). As any objective minded person can understand, using such a man as a witness to berate his predecessor does not make for a convincing argument. Incredibly, in spite of all the evidence which surfaced prior to his writing Reclaiming History, Bugliosi also does his best to deny that David Ferrie and Oswald knew each other. The author scores Bugliosi with the famous photo of Oswald and Ferrie in the Civil Air Patrol, which surfaced in the nineties. Bugliosi also tried to discount the fact that six witnesses claimed that Ferrie and Oswald knew each other (ibid). Even worse in this reviewer's opinion, Bugliosi tried to deny that Oswald was ever associated with the notorious Guy Banister at Banister's office at 544 Camp Street in New Orleans. Bugliosi does so in spite of the fact that Oswald had 544 Camp Street stamped on the flyers he was passing out in August, 1963; and despite the fact that no less than thirteen witnesses indicated that Oswald was either at 544 Camp Street or seen with Banister. Amongst the witnesses who saw Oswald there were Banister's secretary, Delphine Roberts, and two INS agents named Wendell Roache and Ron Smith (ibid). This reviewer could also go on about, for example, Bugliosi's denial that Clay Bertrand was in reality Clay Shaw, but to do so would take a very long essay. Suffice it to say, by going through the declassified files of the ARRB, DiEugenio has supplied a surfeit of witnesses for that fact also.

Bugliosi refers to Oliver Stone's film JFK, as being a "Tapestry of Lies" (ibid). Reclaiming Parkland provides a detailed discussion of the film. There are certain scenes that are not entirely accurate as far as the historical record is concerned. However, the author argues that in any movie a certain amount of dramatic license is allowed, and that a film has to allow for "...the ebb and flow of interest and emotion in order to capture and sustain audience interest." (ibid). One issue for which Bugliosi pummels both Stone and his screenwriter, Zachary Sklar, is whether President Kennedy was withdrawing from the Vietnam War. Bugliosi actually writes that the evidence President Kennedy was withdrawing from the Vietnam War is at best conflicting and ambiguous (ibid). Yet, as the author explains, books such as Jim Blight's Virtual JFK and Gordon Goldstein's Lessons in Disaster, which were based on the many declassified documents pertaining to this issue, show beyond a doubt that President Kennedy was in fact withdrawing from Vietnam (ibid). Bugliosi also writes that President Johnson's intentions in Vietnam were not really certain. The author scores Bugliosi by noting that in Reclaiming History, there is no mention of Fredrick Logevall's book Choosing War, which proves that from the moment he became President, Johnson's intention was to escalate the war in Vietnam. (ibid). Furthermore, Bugliosi leaves out the fact that back in 1961, Johnson urged Ngo Dinh Diem to ask Kennedy to send combat troops to Vietnam! (ibid). The author proves that Bugliosi was clearly being less than comprehensive about the Vietnam War.
VIII: Bugliosi on the first 48 hours

The first Official investigation of the President's assassination was by the Dallas Police department. As the author puts it, Bugliosi has nothing but fulsome praise for the DPD's investigation of the assassination (DiEugenio, Chapter 8). Throughout this entire chapter, the author chronicles what he terms " ... some of the unbelievable things done by the first official investigators of the John F. Kennedy assassination." (ibid). Whilst Bugliosi happily praised the DPD and former Dallas district attorney, Henry Wade, it was later revealed that Wade and the DPD had been responsible for framing African Americans, e.g. James Lee Woodard, for crimes which they didn't commit (ibid). The investigation into wrongful convictions was undertaken by Craig Watkins, who was elected the district attorney of Dallas in 2006. As the author writes, Watkins claimed that most of the convictions by Wade, "were riddled with shoddy investigations, evidence was ignored and defense lawyers were kept in the dark." (ibid).

The author also spends several pages discussing the brown paper sack which Oswald allegedly used to carry the rifle into the TSBD, on the morning of the assassination. The only two witnesses who allegedly saw Oswald carrying a package on the morning of the assassination were Buell Wesley Frazier (Oswald's co-worker who drove him to work on that very morning) and his sister, Linnie Mae Randle. Not only do both witnesses have serious credibility problems, but Jack Dougherty, the only TSBD employee who saw Oswald enter the building, claimed he didn't see Oswald carrying any package. Nor did any other TSBD employee, besides Frazier (ibid). When the FBI tested the paper bag, they found no abrasions or gun oil on its interior surface. (ibid) Oswald allegedly made the bag using paper and tape from the TSBD shipping department. However, no TSBD employee, including Troy Eugene West, who worked as a mail wrapper using the tape and paper the bag was made from, ever recalled seeing Oswald with any paper or tape (ibid). Furthermore, no photographs of the bag were taken by the DPD where it was allegedly discovered (ibid). The reader is encouraged to read through Pat Speer's work on the paper bag.

According to the Warren Commission and Bugliosi, Jack Ruby entered the basement of the DPD where he shot Oswald, by coming down the ramp from Main Street. This ramp was guarded by Dallas Policeman, Roy Vaughn (ibid). But what Bugliosi discounts is that Vaughn, reporter Terrance McGarry, cab driver Harry Tasker, and DPD Sgt Don Flusche (among others) all denied that Ruby came down the ramp (ibid). As the author explains, although former DPD Officer Napoleon Daniels said he saw Ruby come down the ramp, he claimed this was when no car was going up the ramp (ibid). Yet, Ruby allegedly came down the ramp when the car driven by Lt Rio Pierce and Sgt James Putnam was exiting the ramp, and neither one of them saw him (ibid). Bugliosi also claims that if Ruby had planned to kill Oswald in advance, he would have been in the basement well ahead of the transfer (ibid). However, the author scores Bugliosi by pointing out that a church minister claimed he was on an elevator with Ruby at Police headquarters at 9:30 am, with the transfer occurring at about 11:20 am (ibid). The author also points out that three TV technicians named Warren Richey, Ira Walker, and John Smith all claimed they saw Ruby outside the Police station before 10:00 am, standing near their broadcast van (ibid). Like Ruby, Bugliosi claims that Ruby's motive for killing Oswald was to spare Jacqueline Kennedy the ordeal of a trial, but he also writes that Ruby liked to be in the middle of things no matter what it was (ibid). However, Bugliosi again minimizes the instances where Ruby placed himself as part of a larger apparatus. For example, the fact that Ruby had given former Dallas deputy Sheriff Al Maddox a note in which Ruby claimed he was part of a conspiracy, and that his role was to silence Oswald (ibid).
IX: Bugliosi and the FBI

Just as he defends the Dallas Police department's investigation of the assassination, Bugliosi also defends the utterly shoddy investigation of the assassination by the FBI. At the time of the assassination, the man who was at the helm of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover, who's sordid past the author spends page after page exposing, and to whom he refers to as an "ogre" (DiEugenio, Chapter 9). In his book, Bugliosi wrote; "J. Edgar Hoover, since his appointment as FBI director in 1924, at once formed and effectively ran perhaps the finest, most incorruptible law enforcement agency in the world." (ibid). In this reviewer's opinion, for anyone to claim that Hoover ran the finest and most incorruptible law enforcement agency in the world, is a rather startling comment to make. In upholding Hoover's professional integrity and character, Bugliosi ignores or heavily discounts, for example, the Palmer raids of 1919/1920, the deportation of Emma Goldman, the FBI's campaign against Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers, and the framing of Bruno Hauptmann. The important thing to keep in mind is that Hoover was directly involved in all these heinous acts (ibid).

In upholding the FBI's investigation, Bugliosi also ignores the fact that Warren Commissioner Hale Boggs once famously said; "Hoover lied his eyes out to the Commission - on Oswald, on Ruby, on their friends, the bullets, the gun, you name it." (DiEugenio, Chapter 9). Bugliosi also ignores what the Warren Commission's own chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, said of the FBI's investigation. Namely that; "They [the FBI] are concluding that Oswald was the assassin ... that there can't be a conspiracy. Now that is not normal ... Why are they so eager to make both of these conclusions." (DiEugenio, Chapter 9). Several former FBI agents and employees, such as Laurence Keenan, Harry Whidbee, and William Walter, provided information that Hoover had determined from the beginning that Oswald was the lone assassin (ibid). Finally, on the very next day following the assassination, instead of investigating the assassination from his office, Hoover was at the racetrack running the inquiry between races . (ibid). Yet, this is the man Bugliosi, and Warren Commission supporters alike, defend as an investigator into the Kennedy murder.
X: Bugliosi hearts the Warren Commission

Of course, no defence of the Oswald acted alone theory would be complete without defending the Warren Commission itself. Here, the author explains why the Warren Commission's investigation was spurious from the start. For one thing, there was no defense team representing Oswald (DiEugenio, Chapter 10). The author also argues that since Oswald had been essentially convicted by the national media, the pressure was on the Warren Commission to find Oswald guilty. As a matter of fact, in a document dated January 11, 1964, and titled "Progress report", J. Lee Rankin prepared a work outline, with subheadings titled "Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy", and "Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives" (ibid). Therefore, before the first witness was called to testify, the Warren Commission decided that Oswald was the assassin. In fact, Earl Warren didn't even want to call any witnesses to testify before the commission, or have the power to subpoena them. (ibid). One must ask how the Commission was to investigate the assassination, if they weren't going to subpoena any witnesses? The author also spends much time discussing Senator Richard Russell's internal criticisms of the Commission. He then does something that very few, if any, writers in the field have done. He fills in, at length, the sordid backgrounds of the commission's three most active members: Allen Dulles, John McCloy, and Gerald Ford. Besides being interesting and revelatory on its own, this helps us understand why the Commission proceeded as it did. For the author collectively refers to these three men as the Troika , as Reclaiming Parkland. shows, i

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