PHYSICAL EVIDENCE / The Rifle|
"CONFUSION OVER THE RIFLE"
In the main body of the Warren Report, the rifle, cartridges, cartridge cases, bullets, etc., are described under the heading, "Expert Examination," but there is not a word about the clip on the Mannlicher-Carcano despite that it would be of particular interest, since the Carcano and M-1 Garand were the only clip-fed (directly chambered from a clip) WWII military-use rifles in the world.
Turning to the Warren Report's Appendix X, we have coverage of the description and operation of the Carcano and everything associated with it in the minutest detail, but on the ejection of the clip, silence. This is the key to the operation of this weapon, because it tells the user when to reload. It is important enough to repeat that, on the M-1 Garand, the clip is ejected when the last round is fired, while on the Mannlicher system, the clip is ejected when the last round is chambered.
That was the state of the weapon left at the TSBD. Yet it is not until the Warren Report's Appendix X that, at long last, the silence is broken on the location of the clip. We read that when the rifle was found in the TSBD, it contained a clip. That was the only place in the world where the clip could not be found. It would have fallen out the bottom when the last round was chambered. The word "contained" precludes the slight possibility that the clip was stuck in the magazine.
Events at the crime scene seem to be predicated on 1) somehow a clip was involved, but 2) somehow these events were based on the misconception that the clip, as in the M-1 Garand, was ejected when the last round was fired, not chambered. See the Warren Report's Appendix X.
This latter misconception could have been the reason why Jack Ruby referred to "the confusion over the rifle." For at least twenty-four hours the public was informed the weapon was a Mauser, while it was known internally at the Dallas Police Department to be a Mannlicher-Carcano. The delay could have been to allow time to locate a clip, and synchronize stories, when actually it was unnecessary. The clip would have been ejected, and the shooter could have easily pocketed it to avoid identification of fingerprints.
The most plausible explanation is that the only confusion was over when the clip ejected during the load-fire-reload cycle. Trained soldiers throughout the world have filled hundreds of thousands of graves because of failure to understand this cycle on various weapons. So it is understood that people are slow to understand the cycle of this feeding system.64 It seems too ironic, when considering these events, that the Carcano is one of only two clip-fed WWII military-use rifles in the world, and that the misconception was based on the timing of the ejection of this only other clip-fed system, the M-1 Garand.
The facts surrounding these events cry out for explanation because of repeated indications that during the first twenty-four hours the Depository rifle was known internally to be a Mannlicher-Carcano by the Dallas Police Department. And the cry becomes deafening when we add the fact that three days after the assassination, a CIA report identified the gun as a Mauser. Dated November 25, 1963, it reads:
The rifle he [Oswald] used was a Mauser which OSWALD had ordered (this is now known by handwriting examination) from Klein's Mail Order House, Chicago, Illinois. He had the rifle sent to a Post Office Box which Lee OSWALD had rented. In the order for the rifle, Oswald used the name Alex HIDELL.
This seemingly authoritative report was apparently written by an analyst who had not seen the Klein's mail order form he is writing about, since it is an order form for a Mannlicher-Carcano, not a Mauser. The CIA declined to comment on the report. And a CIA-translated, Italian military report, dated six days after the assassination reads, "The weapon which appears to have been employed in this criminal attack is a Model 91 rifle, 7.35 caliber, 1938 modification...The description of a [6.5 caliber] `Mannlicher-Carcano' rifle in the Italian and foreign press is in error."66 And then after weeks to think it over, Wade asked the Commission if a Mauser was German. This is an official who had prosecuted scores of gun shot cases.67 The cry for answers is still deafening. The silence is still equally deafening.
During his testimony, Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade mentioned something about a "situation" and of course no one was interested in what "situation." He implied the situation was the cause of unnatural statements and events at his post-midnight press conference.
Mr. Rankin. What did you say about it?
All Wade had to say was, "I called it a Mauser. I was wrong." Instead, he seems to refer to "a situation" in the sense that it was a critical, trying, or unusual state of affairs -- a problem. He even passes the buck to the police. What was the problem? This "situation" was most likely the failure to understand the load-fire-reload cycle when the evidential line was being set up. There is nothing inherently sinister about an evidential line, a starting point has to be established to keep things under control. Why is he so defensive? Even if he was wrong, it should not have been a problem.
Forget where the rifle came from, forget whether Oswald ever had the rifle, rate of fire or accuracy or whether the rifle was fired that day (there appears to be no evidence it was checked for recent firing). Forget everything about the rifle except two things: 1) the Carcano was the evidence on the scene and 2) its load-fire-reload cycle in relation to the state in which the rifle was found was that the last round was chambered.
The first factor was understood on the afternoon of November 22nd. The second factor was misunderstood and may have resulted in what Ruby referred to as the "confusion over the rifle." This confusion governed that afternoon, evening, night and the next day. It resulted in the Warren Commission drawing a conclusion that is completely impossible. It resulted in Henry Wade being forced to make ridiculous statements.
Since there is no physical or photographic (and, as discussed below, truthful anecdotal) evidence of a Mauser or a clip at the sixth floor crime scene, the Mannlicher-Carcano was the only weapon in evidence on the sixth floor of the TSBD at 1:22 p.m., November 22nd, 1963. The evidential line therefore had to be set up. Through failure to understand the second factor above, it was mistakenly thought a clip had to be found. A clip was obtained. A period of uncertainty followed. The public had to be informed it was a Mauser (the Carcano's non-clip-fed superficial-twin). As a result, no one asked, "Where's the clip?" When the conspirators realized they must remain committed to the clip (because Day had been photographed leaving the TSBD with the rifle and the clip is shown sticking noticeably out of the bottom of the trigger guard), the cover story was explained away as Weitzman's imagination having only "glimpsed" the murder weapon of the century. This, in all likelihood, is the "situation" Wade was talking about. Neither this nor anything else, however, suggests that Wade had knowledge of what was transpiring. It suggests only that he was being given a "bum steer."69
Why the misunderstanding? The familiar M-1 Garand, the other WWII, military-use, clip-fed rifle, during its load-fire-reload cycle, ejects the clip with a clatter when the last round is fired -- not chambered. And that, of course, is the signal to reload. Being so familiar to everyone, it was not realized the same did not apply to the Mannlicher feeding system.
This "misunderstanding" ruled the afternoon of November 22nd, through the next day, and when the Warren Report was issued. This "misunderstanding" was the "confusion over the rifle" Ruby talked about, the "situation" Henry Wade talked about.70
And because the weapon was apparently never tested for recent firing, a probably unfired rifle was planted supposedly in a state to suggest an actual fire. For rifle experts, the first thing they focus on in picking up the Mannlicher-Carcano is the unusual clip ejection system and the characteristic of the clip getting stuck on occasion. The silence on this subject was deafening at Dallas, and this silence continued through most of the Warren Report. Finally, in the Report's Appendix X, it was dismissed in a terse, tortured manner, dismissed with a sentence that sounds like a thunder clap: "When the rifle was found at the [TSBD] it contained a clip." "Contained" does not mean "stuck in the bottom." Had that been what was observed, it would have been among the very first observations made at the crime scene.
John K. Lattimer, author of Kennedy and Lincoln, and the man who, in 1968, asked for but reported no answer from Day about where the clip was found, dealt with this problem in his own twisted way. He explained his initial concern: "I had thought I had discovered a discrepancy in the Warren Commission report when I read that Oswald's clip was retained...." He reported that in experiments with his four Carcanos, the clip stuck on two. Instead of using the Commission's "rifle contained a clip," he used the phrases "rifles would retain the clip" and "that all these old Carcano rifles would eject the clip when it was empty...was not always so," both quite different from "contained."71 While poetic in rhyme and synonymy, and while adequately describing the partial ejection seen rarely with Carcanos, "retain"-- to hold back -- does not describe the invisible containment of a clip necessitated by the film and testimony documenting what was actually seen and allegedly done with the Carcano in question.
But in debating details about what was or was not reported and what the rifle will or will not do, we could find it easy to lose sight of the basic problem. Either way, it is devastating to the Warren Commission's minority opinion; to those who initially conducted this investigation; and to conspiracy deniers in general.
If the clip was on the sixth floor for everyone to see, the tool mark notwithstanding, how could these men mistake a clip-fed rifle for a non-clip-fed Mauser? If the clip was there, the long-lived Mauser identification does not make sense: unless it was a deliberate lie. And since there was no reason to lie about a Mannlicher-Carcano with a clip, it either was a Mauser, quickly replaced by a Mannlicher-Carcano, or there was no clip. Those are two very good reasons to lie; but in the latter case, only if you think a clip is needed. And until there is evidence of a Mauser or a clip on the sixth floor, the latter explanation must predominate.
Therefore, if there was no clip on the sixth floor, why did the authorities say there was? If the clip was not there -- a perfectly normal situation -- the fact that they said it was does not make sense; unless they knew the rifle was planted, inserted a clip which they erroneously thought it needed, and lied to cover it up. Either way, Oswald was framed. If not for the serious implications, it would be laughable, because they did not need the clip.
As the Warren Report says, "The rifle probably was sold without a clip; however, the clip is commonly available." Given the known chain of custody of the clip, that statement incriminates Lieutenant Day as much as it does anybody. There is no evidence of clip ownership by Lee Harvey Oswald or even by his alleged paper alter ego, Alek James Hidell. In the conflicting evidence of mail-order paperwork used to purchase the alleged murder weapon, one fact is clear: no clip was ordered or purchased. The clip was offered free with the purchase of 108 rounds of ammunition which cost $7.50. The carbine with scope was $19.95, plus $1.50 for postage and handling. The money order was in the amount of $21.45. The order form sent to Klein's Sporting Goods was for only item C20-T750 ("Carbine with brand new good quality 4X scope"). The Klein's shipping order itemized only "1 ITALIAN CARBINE 6.5 W/4X SCOPE...19.95...PP-1.50." No ammunition was ordered or purchased, and no clip was ordered or purchased.72
After showing the clip inside the rifle in a photograph (CE 541) on page 83, the Warren Report first mentions it on page 555 at the end of the section called "The Rifle." Here the reader learns that "As long as there is ammunition in the clip, one need only work the bolt and pull the trigger to fire the rifle." The next, and last, paragraph of this section is entirely about the clip. While this section tells how it is inserted into the rifle, no mention is made of the unique way it is ejected. Of course, if they did that they would have to open a can of threatening worms and explain why the rifle "contained a clip." FBI weapons expert Robert Frazier did testify about the ejection mechanism but said nothing about the clip remaining stuck in the weapon.73
The clip is not mentioned again. Even on pages 565-566, it is not mentioned as one of the "Objects in the Texas School Book Depository Building" dusted for prints. This section comes close when discussing "faint ridge formations" on the metal magazine housing in front of the trigger. (An identifiable fingerprint of Oswald's, according to the PBS Frontline television broadcast, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald," first aired on Nov. 16, 1993.) It comes close again when saying "No prints were developed on the cartridge found in the rifle or on the three expended cartridge cases." This statement's sources74 are FBI fingerprint expert Sebastian Latona,75 Lt. Carl Day,76 and CE 2011, pp. 1, 5.
Latona testified that he dusted all parts of the weapon, and he specifically said he found no prints on the ammunition clip. His findings were even reported in an FBI report.77 Since the Warren Report states that "There is no evidence that Oswald wore gloves or that he wiped prints off the rifle,"78 it appears that the FBI would have been forced to explain the absence of prints on the clip had they mentioned Latona's findings.
If the clip was actually there, it is highly unusual (and therefore suspicious) for Day not to have dusted it or mentioned dusting it on the sixth floor. Unlike the cartridges, it had to be handled when it was inserted into the magazine. The absence of prints on the cartridges means that any prints made in the act of loading would most likely be found on the clip. To say there were no prints on the clip but several on the rifle is to say that Oswald was careful not to handle the clip with bare hands yet after loading, handled the rifle with bare hands. Not likely. It is more likely that no clip was found.
Austin, Texas, gunsmith Jim Westbrook, formerly of the Austin Police Department, was asked if the clip could be in the weapon during its disassembled state, thus avoiding fingerprints upon assembly. He said the clip might be loaded disassembled, but not safely. While he would not say it could not be done, he pointed out that handling the rifle would endanger the user and others. He said one could even argue that Oswald left the gun loaded after the Walker shooting, but while loaded, the weapon could not be disassembled and reassembled safely. J.W. Hughes, however, is certain that it cannot be done at all. He said a loaded clip will not stay in the ammunition "well" when the trigger guard is removed from the rifle.
Westbrook brought up another point concerning claims of Oswald assembling the rifle after he reached the TSBD. He said the rifle would need significant adjustment to align all of the parts for accurate shooting, including the seating of the action and the tension of the screws, requiring a torque wrench. Without such adjusting, even the iron sights could be misaligned. Even if it were possible, taking this kind of care during assembly would not jibe with the extremely unsafe practice of doing it while the gun was loaded.79
It has also been argued that the rifle was found with a clip still "attached" inside of which was that "last" round. Someone then operated the bolt so that the "last" round was chambered, followed by the clip falling out. And, afterward, it is possible that, in order to re-establish the original condition of the rifle found, the finder(s) replaced the round in the clip, or misplaced it in the chamber, and replaced the clip in the rifle.
Researcher Anthony Marsh has given this theory some thought: "The clip does not eject after the last round fired if there is still a live round in the magazine...a live round in the magazine, not chamber...if the last round was still in the magazine, then the clip would not have ejected. After someone ejected the last round to dust it, then the clip could have started falling out. The fact that it is [apparently] only partially ejected when the rifle is being carried out of the TSBD supports the idea that the clip did not fully eject as happens on most M-Cs."80
The clip would have "started falling out" after the last round was chambered, not ejected. And the idea that a clip does not fully eject on most Carcanos is mistaken. A normal empty clip rarely catches during operational ejection on most Carcanos. As discussed above, a clip-jamming effect can be regularly produced with most Carcanos only when an empty clip is inserted and manipulated into the relevant jammed position. Moreover, given the ejection of a last round as described by Fritz and Day, the presence of a "last" round in the clip and not in the chamber sounds impossible. Officially, Oswald had ejected three cartridge cases. Pulling the bolt back ejects the case in the chamber, and positions the next cartridge. When Oswald allegedly ejected the third cartridge, the fourth and last one remaining in the clip would have become chambered, ejecting the clip. The `03 Springfield has a cut off that enables one to work the bolt on an empty chamber and still retain rounds in the magazine. But even if the alleged JFK murder weapon has such an unreported feature, it is hard to imagine using the cut off while shooting at someone.81 Another, more plausible, version of this un-chambered round theory will be discussed in this article. Such arguments can distract from the primary issue, however.
If the clip was found "contained" in the rifle, the argument over whether it took a blow torch to remove it or it ejected at launch velocity is irrelevant to the issue of conspiracy. Such arguments are diversions. Resolving them will not acquit the guilty parties. Their resolution will only help reveal which crime: Mauser switch; or clip replacement and Mauser lie. They claimed to have both.
By considering suppositions covering both options (clip and no clip), the truth begins to emerge: the authorities fabricated an explanation that conflicts with opposing conclusions (i.e., clip equals Mauser or Mauser fabrication, and no clip equals both clip fabrication and Mauser fabrication). Did they have a clip or did they have a Mauser? They cannot innocently have both, neither, or either, coexisting with their claims about the clip and the longevity of the Mauser identification. All options for innocence are exhausted. If the crime-scene investigators had left bad enough alone, they could have gotten away with it. Disputing the suppositions will help discover which crime took place. But the fact that these untruths concern a planted rifle, and therefore the framing of Oswald, is indisputable.
There is also the question of whether the rifle removed from the TSBD was tested for recent firing.82 Every conceivable test of this rifle was performed repeatedly, documented, and written about exhaustively over the last thirty years -- except the most obvious one. Why was a test for recent firing not the cornerstone of the Warren Report and the FBI reports? Why was it not at least mentioned by Gerald Posner, a man who claims to have re-indexed the Warren Commission's twenty-six volumes? If Mr. Posner wishes to prove his case with finality and portray the "conspiracy buffs" as frauds, why is he not shouting such test results from the rooftops and selling poster-sized reproductions of them?
The answer, reportedly, is that there is no test for recent firing. But there is a test for whether a gun has been fired since it was last cleaned. On Tuesday, March 31, 1964, John J. McCloy fully expected such a test and asked for the result:
Mr. McCloy. Was there metal fouling in the barrel?
A metal fouling test, then, is more accurately a test for recent non-firing. If such a test on the Carcano had been positive, i.e., showing metal fouling in the barrel, the test would be inconclusive regarding when it was last fired. The FBI could have just gone on assuming it was the murder weapon. But if such a test on the Carcano had produced a negative result, i.e., no metal fouling in the barrel, it would have meant the rifle had not been fired since it was last cleaned. Since it had not been cleaned between the time it was allegedly used to kill President Kennedy, and the time it came into the possession of the FBI, a negative metal-fouling test result would have proven the rifle was not the murder weapon. FBI firearms expert Robert Frazier evidently was not as curious as Commissioner McCloy about the condition of this particular barrel.
Moreover, McCloy did not ask whether such a test had been performed. He asked for the result of a metal fouling test. In other words, he expected that one had been done routinely. Upon learning that the test had not been done, McCloy asked Frazier: "Could you say roughly how many rounds you think had been fired since it left the factory, with the condition of the barrel as you found it?" Frazier answered, "No, sir; I could not, because the number of rounds is not an indication of the condition of the barrel, since if a barrel is allowed to rust, one round will remove that rust and wear the barrel to the same extent as 10 or 15 or 50 rounds just fired through a clean barrel." McCloy and the other Commissioners and staff present, apparently getting the hint, abandoned that line of questioning without asking the simple question: What would it mean if this "murder weapon" had been found to have no "metal fouling in the barrel?"
As a whole then, the rifle evidence tells the following story of confusion at the crime scene. Fritz and Day, and company found the Mannlicher-Carcano on the sixth floor. It had not recently been fired but was properly set up to look as if it had (last round chambered, no clip). No other WWII military-use rifle ejects a clip upon chambering the last round.
The rifle's discoverers were not as familiar with its ammunition feeding peculiarity as the rifle's planters. Their ignorance created a "situation" (according to Wade) based on "confusion over the rifle" (according to Ruby). The discoverers thought the clip normally ejected after the last round was fired (like the only other clip-fed WWII military-use rifle, the M-1 Garand).
The way they dealt with their confusion -- their first mistake -- reveals the discoverers' roles as accomplices. Innocent, confused discoverers would have reported finding a rifle in an impossible post-firing condition, suspected it was planted, and tested it for recent firing. If it had been fired, they would have eventually realized their mistake and concluded the suspect took the clip with him (a reasonable explanation because of fingerprints). If it had not been fired they would have concluded it was planted despite their mistake. The actual discoverers did none of these things.
When we look through the eyes of persons instinctively reacting to their M-1 operation instincts, we have the reaction of 1) a person not knowing it was a plant contrasted with 2) a person knowing it was a plant. Assuming in both cases that there was no clip, based on the direct evidence and testimony about the crime scene, the first person's reaction would be that the post-firing condition was impossible and he would go from there. He would look for another weapon and check for recent firing, which is the normal, instinctive reaction in any shooting. The second person, knowing it was a plant, would say something like, "Holy S___, there has to be a clip in there!"
Therefore, the amazing fact that the rifle was never tested for recent firing reveals their knowledge that it had not been fired and was therefore planted. Since the last round was in the chamber, they thought the planters had made a mistake by not including the clip in the gun. They did two things to remedy this assumed error. They sought out an appropriate replacement clip and stalled for time until they were successful.
They purposely misidentified the rifle -- probably first as an Enfield and/or other non-clip-fed rifles -- their second mistake -- to avoid questions about clips. Then they realized there was a rifle closer in appearance to the Carcano. In an attempt to make the fake misidentification more plausible, they quickly changed it to the Carcano's superficial twin, but non-clip-fed, Mauser.
Their third mistake reveals the apparent method by which they chose the Mauser. Paul Mauser's first accepted box-magazine rifle was the 7.65 mm. Belgium 1890 Mauser. By 1963, who would be thinking any rifle was a 7.65 mm. caliber?
Gunsmith and former police officer Jim Westbrook said it was his recollection that the 7.65s were not all that plentiful even when they were the standard. He said he did not think they were much used outside of Germany and Italy. Westbrook speculated that such a number could have come from someone using the metric equivalent of the standard rifle caliber, .3006. He said it is like looking at a Chevy and knowing it is a six-cylinder because that was standard for that model year.84 George Michael Evica, on the other hand, quoted a UPI story with a Dallas dateline, dated November 24th, 1963, which said, "...the 7.65 German-made Mauser was in big demand about two years ago....The rifle takes a 32-caliber shell and is comparable to the American 30.06."85
But regardless of whether 7.65s were common or rare by 1963, if a gun enthusiast had Mausers in mind when looking at the 6.5 mm. (0.26 inch) barrel, or, in this case, a rebarrelled 7.35, and thought of a .3006 inch (7.5 mm.) barrel, why would he not use the newer 7.62 mm. caliber? In 1898 Germany established the 7.92 mm. standard which lasted until the NATO standard of 7.62 mm. went into effect after 1949. The metric equivalent to .3006 inch which should have been foremost in anyone's mind by 1963 would most reasonably have been the current standard of 7.62 millimeters; or at least the previous standard for a half-century of 7.92 millimeters. Even if someone was influenced by the numbers "6.5" stamped on the Mannlicher-Carcano barrel, the moment he said "7.65" the others should have thought he was nuts. Instead, "...the police reported....a Mauser 7.65 rather than a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5...."86
A surplus of 7.65 German-Mauser rifles sold recently in the Dallas firearms market would certainly explain how that caliber could be foremost in the mind of local conspirators in need of a quick distraction. Otherwise, the only way, apparently, a gun user could have reported (even by mistake) the old 7.65 caliber would be by hurriedly looking Mausers up in a reference book.87 Mausers had been two different calibers for over a half-century -- the lifetime of those at the crime scene. Gerald Posner, inasmuch as he does not mention it in his book Case Closed, also seems to be ignorant of the oddity of the 7.65 caliber designation. Committing to a cover story involving such an old and odd caliber was obviously a horrendous mistake.
To cover that mistake, among other reasons, Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig was apparently forced by the conspirators to lie about seeing a non-existent "7.65 Mauser" tool mark stamped on the barrel, a classic misdirection strategy. Although the story meant conspiracy, it led nowhere and, because it could not be proved, weakened Craig's credibility on other events he witnessed, further protecting the actual conspirators. (See below.)
The bizarre twists in this story bring to mind a fable about an ancient land where confusion reigned. Living there was a devilish imp doing devilish things. To be effective he had to remain behind a fence so as not to be seen by the people. One day he threw a golden apple over the fence for the confused attention of the people. Attention thus diverted, he could continue his devilish ways on his side of the fence. He had an accomplice on the people's side of the fence to guide them in their confusion. He was the "confuser." In modern times, some devil threw a Mannlicher-Carcano over the fence for the world to ponder. The only flaw was that the "confuser," whose duty was to confuse the people, got confused himself over the Mannlicher feeding system. How else can it be explained that the weapon was proclaimed to the people to be a Mauser all that afternoon, after midnight and the next day? How else?
"7.65 MAUSER SO STAMPED ON THE BARREL"
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Powers made two observations which students of John F. Kennedy's assassination have been slow to learn: 1) "...espionage, properly conducted, never announces itself. `Stolen' information remains in its accustomed place; the `spy' is a trusted civil servant; the spymaster betrays no sign of special knowledge; even the consumer of the purloined fact may not know whence it came." 2) "...worst of all is when an enemy gains control of your secret apparatus and begins to feed you information of his own choice. Outsiders do not quite believe in such things, but they happen." Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the conspiracy for investigators of JFK's assassination to accept is the fact that some of our most trusted sources have been used to keep us confused about the actual conspiracy.
Philadelphia attorney Vincent J. Salandria, one of the earliest critics of the Warren Commission, wrote in 1971: "I have long believed that the killers actually preempted the assassination criticism by supplying the information they wanted revealed and also by supplying the critics whom they wanted to disclose the data. Does it not make sense that if they could perpetrate a coup and could control the press, they would have endeavored to dominate likewise the assassination criticism?" The facts reveal that one of those compromised sources of information was Roger Craig.88
In his 1971 unpublished manuscript, When they Kill a President, former deputy sheriff Roger Craig revealed new details about the discovery of the rifle. On page ten of his original manuscript he wrote:
Lt. Day inspected the rifle briefly then handed it to Capt. Fritz, who had a puzzled look on his face. Seymour Weitzman a deputy constable was standing beside me at the time. Weitzman was an expert on weapons, being in the sporting goods business for many years he was familiar with all domestic and foreign weapons. Capt. Fritz asked if anyone knew what kind of rifle it was. Weitzman asked to see it. After a close examination (much longer than Fritz or Day's examination) Weitzman declared that it was a 7.65 German Mauser, Fritz agreed with him....At that exact moment an unknown Dallas police officer came running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. I instictively [sic] looked at my watch and the time was 1:06 P.M. [emphasis in original]
In a 1974 videotaped interview, Craig described Weitzman as a "gun buff." Craig added that Weitzman "had a sporting goods store at one time. He was very good at -- with weapons. And he said, 'It looks like a Mauser.' And he walked over to Fritz. And Captain Fritz was holding the rifle up in the air. And I was standing next to Weitzman -- who was standing next to Fritz. And we weren't more than six to eight inches from the rifle. And stamped right on the barrel -- of the rifle -- was 7.65 Mauser. And that's when Weitzman said, 'It is a Mauser,' and pointed to the 7.65 Mauser stamp on the barrel." That interview was conducted in April 1974 by Lincoln Karle and can be seen in a videotape called Two Men in Dallas: John Kennedy and Roger Craig (Alpa Productions, 1977). In that interview, Craig speaks very slowly and deliberately when he says the words "seven-point-six-five Mauser." In the space of a few sentences the word Mauser is used four times and the caliber is given twice.
On February 8, 1975, thirteen weeks before Craig's untimely death, Massachusetts high school teacher Edgar F. Tatro wrote his first of several letters to Craig. In an article Tatro later wrote detailing that correspondence, he said, "Roger Craig's second letter to me contained a shocker, something I had never seen attributed to him in print before. He had written that the rifle was `a 7.65 Mauser so stamped on the barrel'. If this was accurate, it was new information, to my knowledge, and crucial to a new investigation."89
In a letter to coauthor Richard Bartholomew, Mr. Tatro updated his Craig research. He said, "...After I wrote `Roger Craig and 1984', his best friend and I corresponded for years. She was amazing! From her I learned what was true and false, who forced Roger to embellish his original story, who were disinformation agents among us....I'm afraid his Mauser identification is a lie....It's a complex and tragic story and someday I'll tell it, but several dangerous individuals are still alive and I'd rather not tangle with them."90 While Tatro does not say it specifically, there is reason to believe Craig was forced to lie about the Mauser.
The way Craig wrote about Weitzman and the tool mark (authoritatively), and the way he spoke about it on film (slowly and deliberately) indicates that Craig's revelation -- that the stamp said "7.65 Mauser" -- could have had a sinister purpose. The tool stamp did not read "7.65 Mauser." This falsehood, therefore, smacks of setting up a straw man that can be knocked down. On these guns, the mark, if present at all, shows the caliber without the name.91
Coauthor Walter Graf discovered that "Mauser" existed in the tool stamp on the Chilean Mauser. He also discovered a 6.5 mm. Argentine Mauser, mentioned by Trask as one of the descriptions broadcast the day of the assassination. British researcher Chris Mills learned that the Argentine carbine has "Mauser" in its tool stamp. But these two rare tool marks are even more problematic to Craig's honesty:
M1895 rifles, short rifles and carbines known as "Boer Models" made by Loewe Co. and DWM were distributed to China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Orange Free State, Persia, Paraguay, the South African Republic (Transvaal), Serbia, Sweden, Venezuela and Uruguay, as well as to Chile. Those ordered by the Orange Free State were marked "O.V.S." Those ordered by the Transvaal had no "special markings." Those ordered by Chile from the Loewe Co. had a tool stamp on the barrel which read, "MAUSER CHILENO MODELO 1895 MANUFACTURA LOEWE BERLIN."92 This Chilean Mauser can be categorized in a Mauser group -- the M1893 and M1895, Boer, or Spanish Mauser, which was mostly 7 mm. but also 6.5 mm. and 7.65 mm. -- that definitely does not include a Carcano look alike.93
Chris Mills confirmed this during a visit to the "Pattern Room" at the British Royal Ordnance Factory. He examined an example of every 7.65 Mauser that has been made. He learned that there were only three that could have been remotely confused with the Carcano: the Belgian 7.65 carbine and the Argentine 7.65. Supposedly one could include the Turkish version, which is visually similar to the Argentine, but it is clearly marked in Arabic script. According to the "Pattern Room" Curator, none of the Mausers had the caliber stamped on the barrel at the point of manufacture, and none of the examples Chris saw had such. The Curator explained that it may have been possible, but rather unlikely, that the caliber was stamped on later if the guns were resold on the U.S. market. This could have been done so that 7.62 ammunition was not used by mistake. One model had the word "Mauser" in its tool stamp: the Argentine carbine. The accompanying text on the engraving, however, was obviously Spanish. Also, the sitting of the word "Mauser" on the weapon is most problematic to Craig's assertions. The weapon reportedly seen by Craig had a scope mounted. The mounting bracket of the scope would have fitted directly over the position of the "Mauser" engraving and none of the wording would have been visible until the scope was removed.94
Craig added "Mauser" for a reason. It could be that Craig purposely misspoke about the stamp as a subtle message to gun experts that he was lying. It may be a variation of the old trick whereby a person in danger cryptically lets someone know something is wrong.
Craig died May 15, 1975 of a rifle wound to the chest. It was ruled a suicide despite the fact that Craig did not own a rifle. A couple of weeks earlier, in an interview with author Michael Canfield, Seymour Weitzman had identified a man from a photograph as the one he saw impersonating a Secret Service agent in the parking lot north of Dealey Plaza just after the assassination.95 On page eight of his 1971 manuscript, Craig told of a similar encounter between himself and a Secret Service impersonator. With Craig's death, these two eyewitnesses to the same and similar events that Friday afternoon never got a chance to compare their stories for the benefit of researchers.
Craig's carefully chosen words, the oddity of that particular caliber number, and his experience with guns support the idea that it was not a slip of the tongue. And if it was not a slip of the tongue, what else could it be but a lie obvious enough to be easily discredited or draw suspicion to his motive for saying it?
Given that, what then do we make of the Mauser identifications made by several others? Deputy Sheriff Boone said it appeared to be a 7.65 Mauser in two different assassination-day reports96 because, according to his testimony, Fritz identified it to him as such just after its discovery. He said they discussed this while Day prepared to photograph it.97 Twelve hours into the investigation, District Attorney Henry Wade told a reporter it was a Mauser because, Wade swore, the police identified it to him as such. Weitzman's sworn affidavit -- given the next day -- corroborates both Boone and Wade's police sources.
The Warren Report said Weitzman was the source of the error. They based that conclusion on absolutely nothing. Weitzman never testified before the Commission itself. Mark Lane first brought Weitzman's November 23, 1963 affidavit to the Commission's attention on March 4, 1964.98 Nowhere in that affidavit does Weitzman say that he was Boone's source.99 Perhaps that is why it is unmentioned in the Report.100 The Commission called Boone twenty days later. Boone never said Weitzman was his source. After hearing Boone, all they knew was that it started with Fritz, was officially reported twice by Boone, then by the press, then by Weitzman the next day. Weitzman then gave a deposition to Staff Counsel Joseph Ball on April 1, 1964, during which he seemed to perjure himself by saying no one but him said it was a Mauser.
Mr. Ball. In the statement you made to the Dallas Police Department that afternoon, you referred to the rifle as a 7.65 Mauser bolt action?
Weitzman was not asked nor did he volunteer whether he was the source of Boone's reports dated the day before Weitzman's police affidavit. The vagueness of this exchange, as well as the question of perjury made it more important than ever for the Commission to question Weitzman -- especially if they suspected he was the original source of the Mauser identification; but they never called him to testify.
On April 22, 1964, the Commission instead questioned Curry, Fritz and Day. Strangely, Police Chief Jesse Curry and Commissioner McCloy, who with Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin was questioning Curry, both stated they knew of no police reports or records identifying the weapon as a Mauser -- again raising the question of perjury.102 In 1976, Curry told the Detroit News that "it's more than possible" the rifle could have been switched and that due to lack of security anyone wanting to do so "could have gotten away with it at the time."103 Fritz denied he called it a 7.65 caliber but did not deny he called it a Mauser.104 The November 23, 1963, New York Times, however, quoted him saying it was "of unusual, undetermined caliber."105 That certainly applies to the ancient 7.65, Paul Mauser's original 1890s design, long replaced by the 7.92 Mauser.
Day said, "I didn't describe the rifle to anyone other than police officers." Commission Counsel David Belin's question to Day had been, "Did you ever describe the rifle as anything but a 6.5-caliber with regard to the rifle itself?" Day therefore did not answer the question. Belin pressed him: "Is the description that you used with the police officers the same that you dictated here into the record from your notes?" Day answered, "Yes, sir."106 No such dictation was made,107 or made public, however.
On June 8, 1964, Wade testified that, "...all my information came from the police and actually somebody said originally it was a Mauser but it turned out it was not."108 So on June 8th the Commission knew Fritz was first with the Mauser identification; then it appeared in Boone's sheriff department reports; followed by radio and TV reports; then twelve hours after the assassination -- after Wade saw "some officer wave that gun around" and "saw somebody take it through homicide and give it to the FBI"-- Wade's police sources, who got their information from Day, told Wade it was a Mauser. Only after all this did Weitzman, knowing the penalty for perjury, make his identification in a sworn affidavit the day after the assassination; bringing the minimum time of this ludicrous misidentification to twenty-four hours.
The next and most important parts of this chronology make it impossible to deny there was a deliberate attempt to pass this rifle off as a Mauser. Three full days after the assassination, a CIA report identified the gun as a Mauser. This report did not surface until 1976.109
And a CIA translation of an Italian military intelligence document dated six days after the assassination, also suppressed until 1976, reads, "2. The weapon which appears to have been employed in this criminal attack is a Model 91 rifle, 7.35 caliber, 1938 modification... 3. The description of a `Mannlicher-Carcano' rifle in the Italian and foreign press is in error."110
This later CIA description came from the Italian Armed Forces Intelligence Service (S.I.F.A.R.). As Evica says, "...the 91 series was made up of 6.5 mm. rifles, but the original 38 model was a 7.35 mm. Encountering difficulties, the Italians `began producing many of these rifles as 6.5-millimeter caliber rifles, known as the 6.5-millimeter Model 91/38.' Warren Commission Exhibit 139 (CE 139) is one of those 91/38s, originally a 7.35 mm. rebarreled to 6.5 mm." It was the description of an originally-barreled 6.5-millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle in the Italian and foreign press (and everywhere else) that was in error. The November 28, 1963, Italian S.I.F.A.R. document, shared with the FBI in Rome, ending up at CIA headquarters in the U.S. within hours, raised these important questions, posed by Evica: "If the rifle allegedly discovered by Weitzman and Boone had a Mauser-type bolt action, and if it looked like an American caliber 30.06 or foreign 7.65 mm., why not simply say so? Why not tell the truth before the truth no longer would be believed?...a one millimeter mistake is not so bad...For almost a week, local and national papers remained confused about the precise identity of the rifle. What could have motivated the Dallas Police, the F.B.I., the Secret Service, and even the C.I.A....to keep silent through the thunder of misinformation?"111 A one millimeter mistake is not so bad. But the original, too-prolonged mistake of a clip-fed rifle for a non-clip-fed rifle, which is unavoidable in this "7.65 Mauser" debate, is incredibly bad. To maintain the conspiracy, the clip debate must, even today, be desperately avoided, or confused.
The point of this analysis of Roger Craig's statements is that by the time Craig came around to talking about the rifle, the name Mauser and the 7.65 caliber were old news. Craig added only two new facts. First was his belated eyewitness account of Weitzman as the first person to identify the rifle. And how did Weitzman make this identification? From Craig's second new fact: the "7.65 Mauser" tool mark on the barrel. Craig's statements then became the first and only evidence supporting the Warren Report's claim that Weitzman was the original source of the Mauser misidentification. Those who forced Craig to say this probably knew that the "Mauser" tool mark never existed. Thus, since the "Commission could not accept important elements of Craig's testimony" on other matters,112 it was again possible to prove him wrong where it counted most, and stick to their story that Weitzman was mistaken, having only glanced at the gun before it was removed from its hiding place. Craig's cryptic call for help, if that is what it was, therefore failed.
It should be reemphasized here that before Craig made his claims about the discovery of the rifle, the Commission revealed absolutely nothing to support its claim that Weitzman was the original source for the Mauser identification. The evidence showed (and still shows) that everyone took their cues first from Fritz and then from Day. (Boone did not handle the rifle and his two "Mauser" reports followed both Fritz's and Day's examination at the scene.)
J.W. Hughes did inform the authors of the eyewitness account of WFAA-TV cameraman Tom Alyea which, if true, partially corroborates Craig's and the Commission's claim that the word Mauser was first uttered by Weitzman. That is a long way, however, from a Mauser identification. And if this was the Commission's "source" evidence, they did not reveal it publicly. Perhaps that was because it did not tell exactly the story they wanted told.
According to Hughes, "The type of action `mauser' was the comment that Weitzman said he thought it was and Fritz concurred.
"Tom Alyea and I have talked about this several times. Tom was standing there next to Fritz when Weitzman stated that it was a Mauser rifle and that they saw 7.65 stamped on the action.
"Mannlicher-Carcano does have a 7.35 mm. In the heat of the `find' Weitzman stated `Mauser' and everyone simply agreed. It wasn't until Day was showing the rifle off at the Police Station that it was properly identified as a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano."113
Although properly identified, it was officially reported to be a Mauser for the next twenty-four hours without an official correction. The point here is that this eyewitness account seems to confirm that there was no Mauser, and that Weitzman, imagining a "7" and a decimal point where there was none, somehow inspired the others present, including Fritz, the ranking officer in charge of the crime scene, to call it something it was not; and as discussed above, even something bizarre.
Given Alyea's film of this event, it seems that is probably what happened. The unnecessary complications involved in reenacting this scene make Alyea's claim even more plausible. There is no such thing as a 7.65 Mannlicher-Carcano. If "they saw 7.65 stamped on the action" it was some strange rifle. And if Weitzman misread the caliber on a 7.35 Mannlicher-Carcano, it was also another rifle. The question this raises is the same one we began with: Why in the world would the crime scene investigators enter into a criminal conspiracy to call a weapon easily linked to their suspect something else? Of course, it seems the other confirmation from Alyea's film is that there was no clip seen or handled on the sixth floor.
There is some justification that the word "Mauser," in its earliest use in Dallas, was a redundant generic term for what in effect were nearly all bolt-action rifles. Since "bolt action" would exclude just about all semi-automatic and automatic weapons, there is some justification that the redundancy was used to emphasize that very exclusion. It could even be argued that the redundant use of the word "Mauser," in addition to deflecting attention from clip-fed weapons, served the purpose of deflecting attention from early reports of automatic gunfire in Dealey Plaza. Later, Commission attorney Joseph Ball was particularly careful to refer only to "Mauser bolt action" rather than an actual Mauser rifle in his questioning of Weitzman on April 1, 1964.114
But within hours of the assassination, and certainly within months, the trend seemed to focus attention on an actual Mauser, a second rifle.115 This trend was the reverse of what one would expect. One would think, at the later stage, investigators would endeavor to establish that the initial use of the word "Mauser" was one of those inadvertent, honest mistakes: that the word was used loosely. But no. The Warren Commission was, and especially Gerald Ford and staff attorneys Ball and Liebeler were, apparently trying to lend weight to the initial use of the word, even adding the word "German." Even the Commission's earliest and most vocal critic, Mark Lane, helped his professed adversary strengthen the link between "German" and "Mauser," further undermining any chance for a more correct generic interpretation of Weitzman's description.116 Gun experts, of course, know the Mauser 7.65 was anything but solely German. One wonders if those who initiated use of that term for the rifle realized how wrong the usage was.
Two primary sources for the later references to an actual Mauser were Mark Lane and Roger Craig. It is reasonably suspected that Craig was forced to lie. Similar, and earlier, influence over Lane cannot be ruled out. It was Lane who first embellished this trend with the liberal use of the word "German."117 An influential stockholder in Holt, Rinehart and Winston, the publisher of Lane's 1966 book, Rush To Judgment, was Dallas oilman Clint Murchison, suspected by several sober JFK researchers of being a conspirator in the assassination and coverup. Two years before Lane's book was published, Murchison helped arrange a large monetary advance and travel expenses for another author whose book on the assassination was never published. The would-be author was Dallas Judge Joe Brown, dismissed from presiding over Jack Ruby's trial because of that book deal.118 It was not just Lane and Craig, however. Concerted effort was made in the direction of establishing an actual gun of Mauser make. But the possibly unintended result of this direction was the creation of the specter of a second rifle.
Why was attention directed down this avenue? Were they so concerned with the prolonged Mauser misidentification in connection with the clip? Were they so concerned that they were willing to sacrifice the one-assassin/one-rifle scenario by offering a second rifle as a rationalization? After all, the too-prolonged Mauser misidentification was crying for an explanation that eventually had to be met. The idea of a second rifle was therefore the apparent lesser of two evils. Conversely, feeling it necessary to go to such lengths as to entertain the idea of a second rifle, shows the seriousness they attached to the initial problem of explaining the prolonged misidentification. From the conspirators' point of view, a conspiracy that can never be proved (i.e., Mauser switch) was far safer than one that could (i.e., fake clip). The benefit to the conspirators in choosing the lesser evil can be judged by the result: a thirty-year debate over a non-existent second rifle, and no debate whatsoever over an all too real, grossly out of place clip.
With regard to another claim made by Craig, a 1:06 p.m. time for the rifle discovery, we draw the reader's attention to the diagram (fig. 3) showing the results of a photogrammetric study by Richard Bartholomew of photos of the outside of the "sniper's window" taken from the front of the TSBD just after the assassination. Reasonably, if there was no clip found with the rifle, it would take time to reach the decision to replace it, and to obtain the fake clip. The ensuing coverup would best be served by making that extra time disappear from the chronology. One way to do that is by falsely claiming the sixth-floor investigation started at a later moment. By all accounts, the rifle was found shortly after the discovery of the three shell casings on the sixth-floor. We can substantially argue that both the shells and the rifle were found earlier than the times "established" by the Warren Commission.
The diagram shows three positions of the sun (A, B, and C) and the length of the shadow each of the positions cast on the bricks to the west of the southeast windows. The solar positions for November 22, 1963, are accurate to within a minute of the given times. They are based on astronomical tables.
The shadow corresponding to position B is seen in a photo taken by Jim Murray showing Sergeant Gerald L. Hill leaning out the arched sixth floor window, pointing to the corner window where shell casings were just found.119 As Trask describes it, Hill responded to Luke Mooney who had just hollered his discovery of the expended shells. Seeing Sheriff Decker and others down on the street, Hill opened the sash of the east side of the arch shaped window pair and requested them to send up the crime lab people. Murray snapped his photo of Hill talking to them. The time, according to the shadow, was 1:03 p.m.
The Warren Report, citing Mooney's testimony as proof, says Mooney found the shells at approximately 1:12. But Mooney put the latest time at "1 o'clock." The Warren Report also cited "transcripts of all radio transmissions from Channel 1 and Channel 2 of the Dallas Police Department...." Between Dispatcher Henslee's announcement of the times 1:11 and 1:12 p.m., Inspector J.H. Sawyer radioed the message: "On the 3rd floor of this book company down here, we found empty rifle hulls and it looked like the man had been here for some time. We are checking it out now."120 (emphasis added)
Sawyer may indeed have found additional shells on the third floor at 1:12 because the alleged sixth-floor shells were found ten to fifteen minutes earlier. Fritz testified that he arrived at the TSBD at 12:58, and the Warren Report agreed that he got there "Shortly before 1 p.m." Fritz said, "...it wasn't very long until someone called me and told me...they had found some empty cartridges." Those cartridges were found before 1:03. It is inconceivable that no one would have told Fritz about the shells until nearly ten minutes after Gerald Hill shouted the discovery out the window. Moreover, by the time Hill got to Mooney's location, Mooney had reportedly shouted the discovery out the window himself. Mooney said that after he squeezed behind the boxes where the shells were, he leaned out the window, "saw Sheriff Bill Decker and Captain Will Fritz standing right on the ground...And I told him to get the crime lab officers en route, that I had the location spotted." Mooney then "stood guard to see that no one disturbed anything until Captain Will Fritz approached with his group of officers, city officers." It would appear that Hill was among those city officers. When asked if he was the only officer at that corner, Mooney answered: "At that very moment I was." Although he did not check his watch, Mooney's recollection that he found the shells no later than 1 p.m. is sufficiently supported by the fact that much had happened between that moment and 1:03.121
Mooney testified that he left "that particular area" and joined the search for the rifle when Fritz arrived and picked up the shells. Mooney also said he stayed on the sixth floor "not over 15 or 20 minutes" after he found the location of the three cartridges.122
Photojournalist Tom Alyea was filming the location of the shells when Fritz arrived. Corroborating Alyea's early presence, Mooney testified that "some news reporter...was coming up with a camera" just before he found the shells. Shown in a published frame from Alyea's film are seven or eight men who initially arrived at the location. Gerald Hill appears to be among them. Most of them stayed for about one minute before continuing their search. As discussed below, Alyea said someone yelled out the discovery of the rifle just after Fritz picked up the shells. By then, according to his testimony, Mooney was "about 10 or 15 steps from Officer Boone when he [Boone] hollered, `Here is the gun.'" Strong evidence that the rifle was found much earlier is the time of its first unconfirmed report by WBAP-TV. That report was announced at 1:23, which, if the rifle was found a minute earlier, makes it the fastest report of any event that day, including the next fastest reports by NBC-correspondent Robert McNeil broadcasting live by telephone hook-up. The cartridges were not reported until 2:14. The arrest of Oswald was not reported for over an hour.123 It is therefore likely that Craig was correct about the time the rifle was found. But whether it was found at 1:06 or 1:22, ten to fifteen minutes are unaccounted for during the sixth-floor crime scene investigation.
Trask continues the chronology beginning with Day's arrival at about 1:12 p.m. Day and Detective Robert Lee Studebaker took the elevator to the sixth floor and immediately took photographs of the shell casings. Trask is not clear on how many photos they took. But they only had one camera and Day and Studebaker took turns taking two exposures each of each scene photographed. At least six exposures are shot before Day dusted the shells for fingerprints. Four of these six exposures were taken inside the cramped "snipers lair" which took time to position the camera.
Trask continues: "The photos shot, Homicide Detective Richard M. Sims picked up the shells by their ends and gave them to Day, who then processed each one by applying black powder....124
"The three shells were 6.5mm and after they were dusted for prints, Day gave them to Detective Sims. Sims placed the shells in an evidence envelope and marked the envelope with his initials, the date and the time, which was now 1:23 p.m....125
"At just about the time Sims and Day were putting the spent rifle casings in the evidence envelope, they and Studebaker were summoned to the northwest corner of the building where a rifle had been spotted hidden among boxes. Though Studebaker would soon be released to return to the southeast corner to process the pop bottle and the stacked boxes for prints, the senior, more experienced Day would remain with the rifle -- the most important piece of evidence."126
The photo used to determine sun position C shows Studebaker working among the boxes in the southeast corner.127 Since that photo was taken at 2:14 p.m., according to the shadow, it does not disprove this chronology. It also means Studebaker had begun working there well over half an hour before the photo was taken.
Trask continues his narrative describing the search for the rifle. When found, Trask writes, "Boone noted the time by his watch as being 1:22 p.m., while Weitzman, glancing at the weapon, though not able to clearly examine it, thought it to be a 7.65 Mauser bolt-action rifle."128
We will return to the subject of the rifle discovery. First, however, there are a couple of observations to be made. Throughout this narrative, Trask describes the movements of WFAA cameraman Tom Alyea, who was driving back to his Dallas TV station from an assignment in Fort Worth. At 12:30 p.m. he found himself in Dealey Plaza. Hearing the commotion on the police radio in his car, Alyea grabbed his camera and some film and arrived at the Depository at about 12:35. He witnessed the chaotic beginning of the search for suspects and joined in because he "wanted to record the gunfight." As things calmed down, Alyea continued filming.129
In describing the discovery of the shells Trask writes, "In recent years Tom Alyea recounts that `The local police were very helpful in assisting me in recording these historical events. Capt. Fritz even picked up the scattered shell casing from behind the barricade and held them in his hand for me to get a close up.' If correct, this may have been at a point following their being photographed and dusted. If not, it violated all concept of police scene documentation. This particular film scene is unfamiliar to the author."130
Obviously, it does much more than violate police procedures. What is of equal interest, however, is that it puts a crack in the chronology. Trask told readers that after the photos were taken, Sims picked up the shells by their ends and gave them to Day, who began dusting them. What did they do? Did they throw them back on the floor for Fritz to pick up before putting them in the evidence envelope? And if Fritz handled them, why did the FBI not report finding his fingerprints? Latona testified that he dusted the cartridge cases, "from which I got no prints."131 This is one of several incidents where Alyea's memory, apparently supported by his film, is at odds with the sworn testimony.
Another discrepancy deserves attention: Latona reported finding no prints on the reportedly recovered clip. Recall the point made above that if the cartridges did not have prints, then the clip should have been dusted by Day, because logically it was the only thing handled by a shooter during loading. But for the clip to be apparently in the position seen in photos of Day carrying it out of the TSBD (noticeably sticking out of the bottom of the rifle), someone had to touch it.
Published frames of film and still photos of Day handling and dusting the rifle show no clip.132 If, as the Warren Report says, "the rifle contained a clip," then someone either pulled it out enough to be seen, or took it completely out and stuck it back in partially, still noticeably exposed. None of these men were wearing gloves. If the clip was handled, it should have had prints. Fritz is seen in Alyea's film handling the rifle with a white handkerchief. He could have done the same with the clip. But why would they be handling it without dusting it? Everything from the shells to the rifle stock, and the way it was all handled, was described in detail (except for the handkerchief).133 If there was all this handling of the clip, why did none of them mention it? Is this more proof that no clip was found?
Describing the moments right after the rifle's discovery, Trask writes, "By now most everyone on the sixth floor had congregated in the area around the discovered rifle....
"Alyea was right on the spot with the camera poised....As [Day] crouched down to pluck the rifle from its hiding place, Alyea pressed his shutter release button."134 Trask reproduced a frame of Alyea's film in his book next to these statements. It shows Day holding the rifle for Alyea to film. There is no clip visible.
It could be argued that the clip ejected normally, and Oswald put it back in before fleeing. But the absence of fingerprints makes this scenario impossible. As much as it would have helped its case against Oswald, even the Warren Commission admitted there was no evidence Oswald wore gloves or wiped the gun clean.135 No prints means that if Oswald did everything else the Commission claimed, he did not handle the emptied clip. The absence of prints on the clip could therefore support the argument that the clip remained stuck completely inside the magazine. If it were hidden inside the magazine, unfamiliarity with the gun would then innocently explain a failure to realize a clip existed. This argument is too short lived, however, to explain the length of time the Mauser description remained intact. And the discoverers could not have missed the clip when they checked the magazine for additional rounds.
Another innocent explanation is that the rifle's discoverers simply thought the clip had ejected and had not yet been found. Since photographs of Day leaving the building with the rifle apparently show the clip protruding from the magazine, it is reasonable to assume the clip was there but lodged firmly enough not to slip out during the operation of the bolt and subsequent handling at the scene. But as mentioned repeatedly above, when Day and Fritz determined no more rounds were in the magazine, neither man could have avoided seeing the empty clip supposedly stuck inside the magazine.136
If by some miniscule chance they missed seeing the clip at that moment, it could be argued that it was loosened by unreported, clumsy jarring or even dropping of the rifle on the way out of the building. The pride of a veteran evidence handler, along with the significance of this particular evidence, would reasonably explain why Day did not report such clumsiness. But even if no one saw the tool mark -- and Day and Fritz swore they did -- at the moment the clip protruded, it would have become obvious this rifle was not a Mauser. And even given some ludicrous claim he did not notice it then, the HSCA stated, "Later that day, the rifle's six-round cartridge clip was removed by Lieutenant Day in the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory."137 Day knew the rifle was being misidentified and did nothing to correct it. This lack of action helped avoid questions about the clip. Day had an exchange with Belin about this during his testimony:
Mr. Belin. Did you ever hear this rifle referred to as a 7.65 Mauser or as any type of a Mauser?
Alyea's film viewed unedited (along with the Murray photo of Hill), settles many questions about the chronology of events and confirms the fact that no Mauser was found -- only a Mannlicher-Carcano with no clip, meaning that Craig was lying about the Mauser for the reasons stated above, but not necessarily about his other sixth-floor crime scene claims: the time of the rifle discovery, and the initial closeness of the shells to each other.
Those aspects of Craig's story are corroborated by what Alyea says his film showed just prior to the rifle's discovery. Unfortunately, Alyea never saw that part of the film after the film editors finished with it at WFAA-TV.
Alyea claims he was filming the discovery of the spent shells when Fritz arrived and forbade him from squeezing behind the stack of boxes. Instead, says Alyea, Fritz picked up the shells and held them for him to film.
Alyea describes the shells' position before being picked up as being so close together, "they could be covered with a bushel basket." Just after Fritz picked them up, Alyea says, someone yelled out the discovery of the rifle and Fritz threw them onto the floor. The official Dallas police photographs, Alyea claims, show them where they landed.139
Had these film frames survived the editors "careless" handling, they would be proof of destruction of the crime scene by the head of Homicide Division. It would be easy to discount claims about such incriminating events were it not for the fact that Luke Mooney's testimony indicates that is just what Alyea's film showed:
Mr. Ball. Those were empty shells?
According to J.W. Hughes, who has studied Alyea's film in detail, it begins with scenes of police officers searching the sixth floor, followed by footage of the sniper's nest. It then cuts to the moments after Fritz threw the shells on the floor. Fritz, at that point, is handling an unidentified rifle. The film then cuts to Fritz standing, along with some plain clothes officers, near the boxes where the Mannlicher-Carcano was found. It then cuts to Day removing the rifle from its hiding place.141
Another major discrepancy, however, between the crime scene testimony and Alyea's account of these events, is Alyea's claim that Lieutenant Day did not arrive until forty-five minutes after the shells were found. Day was not present, according to Alyea, when the rifle was found. He does say, however, that no one touched the rifle until Day arrived. Alyea also insists that his footage is not a reenactment. After photographing Day dusting the rifle, Alyea was ordered to leave. He left his camera with some police officers, but they did not continue filming. J.W. Hughes said the film also shows that when Day first retrieved the rifle, the bolt was open and no shells were in the ammunition well. Hughes says he cannot determine whether or not the clip was present. But the film does not show Fritz or Day operating the bolt or ejecting a live round.142
Was the round in the found rifle chambered? Officially, yes. Fritz said, "After the [Day-Studebaker] pictures had been made then I ejected a live shell, a live cartridge from the rifle."143 Day said, "I picked the gun up by the wooden stock. I noted that the stock was too rough apparently to take fingerprints, so I picked it up, and Captain Fritz opened the bolt as I held the gun. A live round fell out."144 Day also said that he was holding the rifle and examining it with his magnifying glass before Fritz touched it. Day was wrong. When asked about taking precautions against leaving his own prints on the gun, Fritz testified: "He [Day] could have taken mine [fingerprints] but I let him dust first before I ejected a shell." But Day testified that he did not dust any part of the rifle before Fritz ejected the live cartridge. Was Fritz, reportedly renowned for his photographic memory, right? The Tom Alyea film clearly shows that Fritz's hands are all over the rifle while he holds it for Day to look at. The same film shows neither Fritz nor Day operating the bolt, or ejecting a live round. In his book, Trask fudges this chronology to say that the live round was ejected after Alyea filmed Fritz and Day handling the gun and before Day dusted the rifle. Trask says the bolt-opening episode was testified to by Day as "what next transpired," after Alyea filmed "some 40-plus seconds worth of this sequence" showing Fritz holding the gun for Day to examine. Trask is wrong. Day testified, falsely, that he was the only one who had held the rifle before and during the bolt-opening episode.145
To believe Trask, and commercially available versions of the film, is to believe that Tom Alyea, with camera ready, inexplicably stopped filming while Fritz handed the gun to Day to examine closely, and while Day held it for Fritz to operate the bolt producing a live bullet. Only after this dramatic scene, according to Trask, did Alyea start filming again to capture Day's routine dusting for fingerprints. Given Alyea's film, neither Day nor Fritz can be believed as to what they did with the gun on the sixth floor. And given Trask's rationalized attempts to reconcile the film with Day's and Fritz's contradictory testimony, he cannot be believed.
According to Alyea himself, "Still pictures were taken of the positioning of the rifle, then Lt. Day slid it out from its hiding place and held it up for all of us to see. The world has seen my shot of this many times. Lt. Day immediately turned toward the window behind him and started dusting the weapon for fingerprints. Day was still within the enclosure formed by the surrounding boxes. I filmed him lifting prints from the rifle. He lifted them off with scotch tape and placed them on little white cards. When he had finished, he handed the rifle to Captain Fritz. Fritz pulled the bolt back and a live round ejected and landed on the boxes below. Fritz put the cartridge in his pocket. I did not see Fritz pick up anything other than the live round. If a clip ejected, I didn't notice it, nor did I see Fritz pick up a second object. I have learned that the six round clip for this rifle ejects when the last round is injected into the chamber. If this is the case, there must have been three rounds in the rifle when it was found. Fritz ejected one... another went into the chamber when the bolt was closed and one still remained in the clip. I have no idea whether the police made a notation of this, or if the rounds were dusted for fingerprints."146 (emphasis added) So it seems that Fritz was more correct about the sequence of events. Alyea is also convincing in saying that a live round was ejected. And his account that no clip was seen, mentioned or handled, even during Fritz's rough-and-tumble working of the loading mechanism, is especially convincing given his attempt to rationalize it with a far more mundane explanation than the HSCA firearms panel's. And the reason Alyea did not film that dramatic opening of the bolt was because it followed Day dusting the rifle, which, as Alyea said, was when he was ordered to stop filming and leave.147 However, one question remains: was the live round chambered?
As discussed above, others also claim that the last round was still in the clip, not chambered. Alyea's version of that theory ("three rounds in the rifle") is the most plausible, explaining why the clip was completely inside the magazine. Alyea's theory accounts for two additional live rounds, and, therefore, a clip originally fully loaded with six rounds. But if correct, Alyea's theory means yet another official lie about the state of the rifle when found.148 And it does not explain why Fritz and Day lied about it. Nor does it explain why they were totally silent about the clip. Nor does it explain why the HSCA said the clip's edges were sprung against the magazine walls -- their explanation for why it remained totally stuck inside the rifle during all this handling. It is still more likely that no clip was found.
Nonetheless, since the Alyea film does not prove that the clip was present or absent, there remains the slight possibility that a bent clip was stuck in the magazine. If so, it is possible that it was put there by the rifle's planters. The clip's presence would then be the result of a mistake on the part of the planters, not the discoverers, a mistake that is only possible if the planters misunderstood the ejection mechanism, or simply did not think the clip's presence or absence was important. The Mauser cover story, though, would still have been for the purpose of hiding that mistake until it was determined how to deal with it. Obviously, the decision was to say nothing about why the clip was there.
64. Employees of the main distributor of Carcanos in the U.S. in 1960, Folsom Arms, were so confused about how to load them, the company had to seek foreign help: "[Master Italian gunsmith Luciano Riva] went to New York in December, 1960, and found that at the Yonkers warehouse of Folsom Arms, the Folsom people had attempted to hand-load the Carcanos without success. But the rifles 'loaded with a clip,' Riva remonstrated....Riva showed the Folsom employees how it was done..." (Evica 29).
65. CIA Document No. 1367, declassified spring 1976; cited in Fensterwald 443-44. Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt (New York: Henry Holt, 1985) pp. 102-03. Evica 23.
66. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy (New York Carroll & Graf, 1989) p. 440; hereafter cited as Marrs 440. Evica 53-55.
67. Evica 23; citing 24H (CE 2169) 829.
68. 5H 250.
69. 24H (CE 2169, p. 4) 829. 5H 250.
70. Letter from Walter F. Graf to Richard Bartholomew, Dec. 17, 1996. Evica 23-24. Evica mentions Wade's amazement and disapproval over Chief Curry's Nov. 23rd TV appearance at about 2:30 p.m., during which Curry revealed details of the FBI report identifying the gun as a Mannlicher-Carcano. (5H 228) Wade testified that the report was the first evidence that Curry got directly, rather than through Captain Fritz. Wade implied that Fritz would not have revealed it to the press. Yet, Wade himself gave the false Mauser description to the press in the early hours of that same day, a description that originated with Fritz, according to the known evidence. Therefore, Wade and Fritz apparently preferred the prolonged public falsehood. J. Edgar Hoover twice singled out the FBI's "identification of the gun," to emphasize that "If the case had been in the hands of the FBI none of that information would have been given out." He even expressed regret that the gun's identity had become known before Curry "refrained from further comment" at Hoover's personal insistence. (R 235-36, 5H 115-16.)
71. Lattimer 298-99.
72. R 555 ("commonly available"). R 120 ("paperwork"). Martha Moyer, "Ordering the Rifle," Assassination Chronicles, March 1996, pp. 25-35 ("conflicting evidence"). 17H (CE 773) 635. 21H (Waldman Exhibit Nos. 7 and 8) 703, 704 ("purchase order" and "shipping order"). 17H (CE 788) 677 ("money order").
73. 3H 397-98.
74. R 855 n.132.
75. 4H 23.
76. 4H 253-258.
77. 4H 23. 24H (CE 2003 pp. 131-35) 262-64.
78. R 647.
79. Interview of Jim Westbrook by Richard Bartholomew, Sept. 1, 1994. Interview of J.W. Hughes by Richard Bartholomew, Sept. 26, 1994. Ian Griggs, "The Mannlicher-Carcano -- A Practical Experiment in its Reassembly," Dallas `63: The British Forum for Views and Research into the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, v. 1, no. 3, August 1994, pp. 19-24.
80. E-mail from Anthony Marsh to Richard Bartholomew, "JFK_ASSN" Fidonet discussion group, posted Jul. 16, 1995.
81. Letter from Walter F. Graf to Richard Bartholomew, Feb. 5, 1996.
82. Jim Garrison, A Heritage of Stone (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1970, Berkley Medallion, 1975) p. 49.
84. Interview: Jim Westbrook by Richard Bartholomew, Sept. 12, 1994.
85. Evica 349 n.5.
86. R 235.
87. When asked how he identified the Mannlicher-Carcano sent to him from Dallas, FBI weapons expert Robert Frazier testified: "I identified it pictorially by comparing it with pictures in reference books" (3H 392).
88. Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (New York: Knopf/Washington Square Press, 1979) pp. 26-27; hereafter cited as Powers 26-27. Vincent Salandria, "The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: A Model of Explanation," Computers and Automation magazine, issue 20 (Dec. 1971, pp. 32-40); re-published by the Internet-based publication, Fair Play (http://rmii.com/~jkelin/fp.html, issue 16, May-June, 1997).
89. Edgar F. Tatro, "Roger Craig and 1984," The Continuing Inquiry May 1985, pp. 2-16.
90. Letter from Edgar F. Tatro to Richard Bartholomew, October 25, 1993.
91. Letter from J.W. Hughes to Walter Graf, August 22, 1994.
92. Paul Scarlata, "Classic Commando Weapon," Fighting Firearms Winter `95, pp. 56-61, p. 58: photos, p. 60 (cols. 1, 3), p. 61 (photo).
93. Letter from Walter F. Graf to Richard Bartholomew, March 1996.
94. E-mail from Chris Mills to Richard Bartholomew, 8:59 p.m., Oct. 2, 1996.
95. Michael Canfield and Alan J. Weberman, Coup d'Etat in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (New York: The Third Press, 1975) pp. 56-57; hereafter cited as Canfield and Weberman 56-57.
96. Decker Exhibit 5323, pp. 507-09. Meagher, Accessories 96-98.
97. 3H 295
98. Meagher, Accessories 96; citing 2H 46.
99. 24H (CE 2003, p. 63).
100. Weisberg, Whitewash 190.
101. 7H 108.
102. 4H 181; cited in Evica 18. Meagher, Accessories 97.
103. Marrs 440.
104. 4H 206.
105. Evica 22.
106. 4H 263.
107. Michael Wiseberg, "The Rifle: Was it a Mauser or Mannlicher-Carcano?" The Third Decade Jan. 1990, p. 10.
108. 5H 250.
109. Hurt 102-03. Evica 23. Fensterwald 443-44.
110. Marrs 440. Evica 53. "Information on The Weapon Presumably Used in the Assassination of President Kennedy," CIA document, Nov. 28, 1963 (author's copy showing numbered comments 1-4, 8 and 9, from Jack White collection (created from full document acquired from Mary Ferrell collection). Letter from Jack White to Richard Bartholomew, Oct. 14, 1994.
111. Evica 4, 53-54, 55.
112. R 160.
113. Letter from J.W. Hughes to Walter Graf, August 22, 1994.
114. "Despite extensive experience with weapons he [UPI reporter Merriman Smith] had thought the sounds in the plaza were three shots from an automatic weapon, and in a subsequent [Nov. 22nd] message he identified them as 'bursts'" (William Manchester, The Death of a President [New York: Harper & Row, 1967] pp. 167-68). "Suddenly we heard three loud, almost painfully loud cracks....the second and third blasts were unmistakable. Gunfire" (Merriman Smith, UPI report, Nov. 23, 1963; Four Days 32). 7H 108, 109 (Weitzman).
115. 26H (CE 3048) 599. R 81, 235, 645-46.
116. Evica 22. Gerald R. Ford, "Piecing Together the Evidence," Life, Oct. 2, 1964, pp. 40-51; cited in Evica 48, 49. Joseph A. Ball, Statement made at Associated Press Managing Editors convention in San Diego, California, Nov. 17, 1966 (see transcript in Richmond, Virginia Times Dispatch, Nov. 27, 1966), cited in Lane, Dissent 126. See also earlier discussion of Liebeler in this article. For evidence of Ford's obfuscation of crucial aspects of the ballistics evidence, see handwritten changes to the draft chapters of the final report that were recommended by Commission member Representative Gerald Ford, Personal Files of J. Lee Rankin, General Counsel of the Warren Commission, President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection housed at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland; cited in George Lardner, Jr. (The Washington Post), "Ford sought changes in JFK assassination report," Austin American-Statesman, July 3, 1997, p. A8.
117. 2H 46. 5H 560.
118. Wills and Demaris 79-80. Seth Kantor, Who Was Jack Ruby? (New York: Everest House, 1978); originally titled The Ruby Detail, promised by Zebra Books; later published as The Ruby Cover-up (New York: Zebra Books, 1992) p. 236. Murchison and family: Scott 73, 108, 135, 202, 205-08, 211-14, 217-22, 227, 234, 285, 286, 293, 300, 326, 345, 362, 367, 376
119. Trask 523.
120. R 79; citing 3H (CE 1974, p. 176) 285.
121. 4H 204, 205. R 8. 3H 284-85. On the flawed investigation of the shells see: Michael Wiseberg, "Three Cartridge Cases: Chain of Possession," The Third Decade, May 1990, pp. 11-17.
122. 3H 289
123. 3H 284, 289. Tom Alyea, `JFK Facts' Update, Preview Edition, 1993, p. 4; hereafter cited as Alyea 4. Planned as a monthly periodical, subsequent issues of Alyea's `JFK Facts' newsletter have not been published. This rare edition includes four never-before-published frames from his TSBD-search film. WBAP: As It Happened 0:23, 1:14, 1:41, and throughout. "Arrest Report No. 63-98115," Curry 79 (Oswald arrest at 1:40 p.m.).
124. Trask 526.
125. Trask 527. 7H 162-63, 183-86.
126. Trask 529.
127. Trask 536.
128. Trask 529.
129. Trask 520-21.
130. Trask 524. Alyea 5.
131. 4H 23. The authors are aware of the fact that fingerprints are not always left behind, as noted in the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh: "Under redirect testimony by the prosecution, however, [FBI fingerprint technician Louis] Hupp said that a person could touch something and still not leave prints. 'It's very common,' he said." But it must be noted that Hupp was a witness testifying for McVeigh's defense, and that his testimony about the absence of McVeigh's prints on key evidence "provided some of the only beneficial evidence for McVeigh," thus far in the trial. ("Expert: McVeigh's prints aren't on key evidence," Associated Press, Austin American-Statesman, May 16, 1997, p. A7.) Such testimony is only beneficial if the circumstances are such that prints can be reasonably expected on the objects in question. If the prints of Kennedy's assassin could be expected by Lt. Day on the shells, and did reportedly exist on the gun itself, the same prints and those of others could reasonably be expected on both the shells and the clip.
132. Trask 533. Alyea 5.
133. Unpublished photos of frames enclosed with letter from J.W. Hughes to Walter Graf, August 22, 1994.
134. Trask 531.
135. R 647.
136. R (17H (CE 541 ) 239) 83.
137. 7 HH 355.
138. 4H 263.
139. Interview of J.W. Hughes by Richard Bartholomew, Sept. 26, 1994.
140. 3H 286.
141. Interview of J.W. Hughes by Richard Bartholomew, Sept. 26, 1994.
142. Interview of J.W. Hughes by Richard Bartholomew, Sept. 26, 1994.
143. 4H 205.
144. 4H 258.
145. 4H 206, 258-59. Trask 532.
146. Connie Kritzberg, Secrets From the Sixth Floor Window (Oklahoma: Undercover Press, 1994) p. 45.
147. Alyea 5.
148. Another official lie: Letter from Jack White to Walter Graf, Aug. 3, 1995.