PHYSICAL EVIDENCE / The Rifle|
"RECOGNIZING RIGHT AS WELL AS REALITY"
A counterargument over rifles which the authors can already hear from the more zealous conspiracy deniers concerns two monstrosities: rifles designed as a hybrid between the Mauser and the Mannlicher-Carcano. The first was the 1888 Commission Rifle (a.k.a. Mauser Gewehr 88) which temporarily replaced the original Mauser used by the German army. It had the 1875 Mauser bolt with an altered locking system, and it used the Mannlicher system of clip loading.149
The other was the rare and relatively unknown third modification of the Mannlicher-Carcano, the M91/38 Cal. 7.92 (the standard German caliber prior to the NATO 7.62). These modified Carcanos had an "S" stamped on the breech block to designate they accommodated the 7.92 caliber. And they were, in fact, clip-fed.150 In 1905 when this caliber was adopted in Germany, the breech block of the Mauser 1898 was stamped with the "S" to indicate that the new standard caliber 7.92 ammunition was required. This practice was carried forward on the modified Carcano. Apparently the origin of the "S" was that it stood for "spitzer," the German word for "pointed." These new bullets were just that, rather than round-ended.
The question could be raised, therefore, as to whether Weitzman, a small arms expert aware of the clip, mistook the 6.5 mm. Carcano for the rare 7.92 mm. Carcano. Then, through a lack of oxygen among the book boxes or something, he imagined the old clip-fed Mauser-hybrid Commission Rifle, thus calling it a "7.65 Mauser." But aside from being a worthy tribute to Rube Goldberg and Weitzman's knowledge of obscure weapons, this counterargument, like others presented here, is for a misidentification too short-lived to explain the longevity of Weitzman's "mistake."
This Carcano that uses "spitzer" bullets might be of interest to Parkland Hospital employees Darrell Tomlinson and O.P. Wright. Students of JFK's assassination are aware of the claim that the bullet Tomlinson found on a hospital stretcher and gave to Wright had a pointed end. In his book Six Seconds In Dallas, Josiah Thompson reviewed the chain of custody of this pointed bullet, which somehow became the rounded-end CE 399, the infamous "magic" bullet of the many single bullet theories.
Thompson's analysis of the evidence shows that the bullet had probably not been found on a hospital stretcher connected to the assassination. In addition, Thompson noted that "...Robert Frazier of the FBI Crime Lab received 399 on the evening of November 22 from another FBI agent, Elmer Todd (3H428, 24 412). Todd, in turn had received it a few minutes earlier from Chief Rowley of the Secret Service, who had been given it by one of his agents, Richard Johnsen (24H412)." Johnsen had attached a note to the bullet stating that he obtained it from "Mr. O.P. Wright / Personal Director of Security / Dallas County Hospital District."151 The chain of custody was thus established as Tomlinson-Wright-Johnsen-Rowley-Todd-Frazier.
Yet, in a document released by the ARRB in January, 1996, we first learned that Gerald A. Behn, the Secret Service agent in charge of the White House detail, stated that he was in the chain of custody of CE 399. Behn claimed that he received the bullet from Special Agent Richard Johnsen then turned it over to the FBI.152 With Behn's statement, we have Rowley evaporating from the scene. Behn's statement is a fatal conflict in the chain of custody of this crucial piece of evidence. Any break in that chain reasonably allows for the bullet's already evident, criminal transformation from pointed to rounded.
Directly related to the bullet's transformation is this statement from Trask's book (p. 532), which we previously quoted: "During the late afternoon and evening of November 22 Dallas station WFAA would variously describe the rifle as a `German Mauser' found on the sixth floor, a 6.5 `Argentine Mauser' with a four-power scope and a 7.65 `Mauser' found on the fifth floor stairway." (emphasis added) Argentine Mausers included the Fusil Mauser modelo Argentino 1891 modificado para Bala `S' modelo 1909. Again, the "S" probably stood for spitzer (pointed).
As noted earlier in this article, there are only three 7.65 Mausers that could have been remotely confused with the Carcano, due to their pre-1895 protruding magazine design: the Belgian carbine, the Turkish and the Argentine Mauser, which was no more than the Turkish type of 1890 with a slightly modified bolt and a stronger extractor. The Turkish type, however, is clearly marked in Arabic script. The Argentine carbine had the word "Mauser" in its tool stamp, but the rest of the text was obviously written in Spanish and the scope would have fitted directly over the position of the "Mauser" engraving, making it invisible.
Nonetheless, we cannot ignore so many coincidences involving one weapon: the 1909 modification of the 7.65 Argentine Mauser, "so stamped on the barrel," so named by WFAA, superficially similar in appearance to the Carcano, manufactured in 6.5 mm., using a pointed bullet like the one Tomlinson claimed he found on the hospital stretcher; as does the German regulation 7.92 mm. Mannlicher-Carcano Model 91/38 S T.S. Musket.
In addition to these coincidences, three men had been shot in Dealey Plaza and (1) the rifle "found" at the scene was misidentified for a prolonged period of time, and (2) there is a fatal conflict in the chain of custody of the bullet "found." These are both vital pieces of evidence needed to establish the basic, direct facts of this crime: the rifle and the bullet.
These are inconceivable mistakes in the fundamental handling of two intimately related pieces of crucial ballistics evidence. Moreover, the "mistaken" identification of the rifle matches it to the "mistaken" identification of the bullet; which leaves the reasonable impression that there was an alternative Mauser track (plan) that somehow got out of sync. If such dual tracks existed, the perpetrators had to swap both the rifle and bullet in sync. An interview of Secret Service Agent Richard Johnsen by researcher Vincent Palamara adds support to this impression:
During an interview conducted on 9/29/92, the author learned that Johnsen did not remember having possession of CE399, the "magic" bullet that tied Oswald to the murder of JFK! In addition, although the bullet was "officially" found on a stretcher in the corridor of Parkland Hospital, the FBI reported that it was found in the emergency room.(CD 7) To compound matters, the same FBI agents bypassed Agent Johnsen and spoke to Agent Behn (who wasn't in Dallas) about "the location of a bullet which had been found on a stretcher at Parkland." (Sibert & O'Neil, 11/27/63) Finally, although two FBI agents initialed the bullet they received, Johnsen did not, breaking the chain of custody. (24 H 412) When we consider further that O.P. Wright, the man who allegedly gave the bullet to Johnsen, does not even mention this very important find in his report, and that Darrell [sic] Tomlinson, the man who found the bullet in the first place, stated that the bullet in government hands is NOT the bullet he actually found, we have serious pause to wonder: is there more to Johnsen's present "amnesia" over this evidence than meets the eye? (Price exhibits, WC Volume XXI; 2 H 412; see also "High Treason, page 102) O.P. Wright told CBS' Eddie Barker: "...I got hold of a Secret Service man and they (sic) didn't seem to be interested in coming and looking at the bullet in the position it was in then. So I went back to the area where Mr. Tomlinson was and picked up the bullet and put it in my pocket, and I carried it some 30 or 40 minutes. [emphasis Graf's and Bartholomew's] And I gave it to a Secret Service man that was guarding the main door into the emergency room..." Who was the first agent Wright spoke to? ("Postmortem," page 46) [emphasis Palamara's except where indicated]153
Agents seem to distance themselves as much as possible. Agent Johnsen did not recall the matter despite that he had written a report about it. He did not initial the bullet. An unknown Secret Service agent was disinterested in the whole thing. Josiah Thompson was told the disinterested agent was FBI (Thompson 209), which tends to remove this Secret Service agent from the entire matter of the stretcher bullet.
Johnsen indicated he received the bullet about 1:55 p.m. (Thompson 208-09), and based on that, Thompson concluded the bullet was found between 1:45 and 1:50 p.m. When we add Palamara's information, that Wright carried the bullet in his pocket for 30 or 40 minutes, we can conclude that the bullet was found around the same time as the rifle - between 1:15 and 1:25 p.m. Recall our discussion above about Roger Craig's claim that the rifle was located at 1:06 p.m. Recall also that Day was photographed carrying the rifle out of the TSBD with an exposed clip at 1:57 p.m., almost the very moment the pointed bullet was given to Johnsen. And recall that within minutes after the Carcano was seen with a clip, and the "Mauser" bullet was given to Johnsen, all of the non-clip-fed rifle descriptions, including a Mauser description and excluding an Italian or clip-fed rifle description, were reported by NBC News in rapid succession.
The point here is that there was a substantial delay in the handling of ballistics evidence at Parkland, just as there was a substantial delay in the handling of ballistics evidence at the sixth floor crime scene. And almost simultaneously with the Mauser discussion at the sixth floor crime scene, a "Mauser" bullet was found. Almost simultaneously with a non-Mauser clip appearing in evidence -- 1:55 to 1:57 p.m. -- a bullet suitable to a German regulation 7.92 Carcano, but not to an Italian 6.5 Carcano, appeared in evidence. Was the delay for the purpose of matching rifle's and bullets? Was there a switch in rifle identities with a coordinated switch in bullet identities? Was it a switch that went bad?
Were the conspirators using virtually archival rifle identifications because they were alternating descriptions of the Carcano and the old look-alike 6.5 Argentine Mauser, which also exists as a 7.65 Mauser? Why was the description "German Mauser" repeatedly and increasingly used when the 7.65 Mauser is Belgian, Turkish, Spanish and Argentine, anything but German. Was it because it further blurred reality between the non-German Mauser and the German regulation 7.92 Carcano, both of which use German "spitzer" bullets? Did the opportunistic use of a Mauser description evolve into a more elaborate Mauser plan of damage control involving the planting of a pointed bullet? Or was a Mauser track -- which was already part of the preplanned coverup, which surfaced only through a mixup in matching bullets and rifles -- opportunistically prolonged to distract attention from the Carcano clip paradox?154 Or did Weitzman simply conclude "Mauser" because he saw an "S" on the breech block of a second rifle?
One thing is now certain. Three hours after the discovery of the rifle and bullets, the facts regarding them, which were known and no longer subject to change, were being inexplicably omitted, or were changing. And other versions of those facts were being kept viable at the highest level of the investigation. In a memorandum found in the National Archives in 1997, from J. Edgar Hoover to his subordinates, written at 5:15 p.m. E.S.T., November 22, 1963, Hoover wrote: "...we have the rifle and 3 empty shells found in the building...the rifle has been handled by dozens of people probably...by the time they got to the fifth floor, the rifle had been dropped and thrown over into a corner...and as soon as the body arrives in Washington, we will determine whether the bullets have been taken out because we will need that in the trial of the case to tie in with the empty shells found by the gun."155
Hoover never mentions any identifying characteristics of the rifle, nor does he mention the live shell allegedly ejected from the rifle, nor does he mention the stretcher bullet in the possession of Richard Johnsen for over two hours. Officially, the rifle had not been handled by dozens of people. The word "probably" is a qualification that let Hoover off the hook when the official story was settled. Officially, the rifle had not been dropped or thrown, nor was it on the fifth floor. Officially, the rifle had been carefully placed in an upright position between and beneath boxes on the sixth floor. However, the timing and number of reports about ballistics evidence on the fifth floor, including Hoover's own reports, indicate the likelihood of suppressed, fifth-floor ballistics evidence.
FBI Director Hoover, the one man who had access to all of the facts as they were being found, was making statements immediately after those facts were known that precluded accountability for the handling of the evidence by the crime scene investigators. In other words, while the problems with the clip, conflicting rifle descriptions and conflicting bullet descriptions were developing and evolving, J. Edgar Hoover was desperately buying time.
The facts show that the Mauser description was apparently set in stone by the time Weitzman swore to it twenty-four hours after the assassination. Weitzman was merely among the group of investigators as they "discussed" the Mauser description at the crime scene in Day's presence.156 However, the corroborated chronology of that discussion indicates that it took place during the filmed handling of a Mannlicher-Carcano.157 The answer to the remaining questions about the origin and purpose of the Mauser description lies in the nature of that "Mauser" discussion. As of this writing, former Dallas Police Lieutenant John Carl Day is a living participant in that discussion. The Assassination Records Review Board, an independent agency endowed by Congress with the power to "request the Attorney General to subpoena private persons to compel testimony, records, and other information relevant to its responsibilities under this Act" and "hold hearings, administer oaths, and subpoena witnesses and documents," has what is probably the last chance to be the first to learn the truth about that discussion from Lieutenant Day.158
Among those who know both the subjects of the JFK assassination and firearms well, there are those who stubbornly adhere to the notion that that Mauser discussion was over an innocent mistake. Those with police experience explain that there are few police officers, now or then, who know the difference between a Garand and a Mauser, a Carcano and a Berthier, or an Enfield and an Arisaka. But despite the fact that Seymour Weitzman was one of those very few who knew the difference, the general lack of knowledge among professional investigators is precisely the point. They are correct that "clip fed vs. non-clip fed" was irrelevant in the identification of the rifle. It was, however, the factor that dictated what was proclaimed to the public for a prolonged period of time. Had identification been the true objective, the "Made Italy" and "Cal. 6.5" tool stamps would have been the predominant factors.159 The sixth-floor Mauser discussion may have begun innocently enough, but by the time it ended, all semblance of straightforward, mundane, routine police work had become dishonest, secretive, devious and indirect.
Even former CIA station chief John Stockwell has told coauthor Richard Bartholomew that "Police don't know that Mauser's are non-clip fed." Stockwell said he had used many kinds of guns over the years, but had never used the Mannlicher-Carcano, and therefore never knew how it is loaded. His point was that it cannot be assumed that police know such things.160 True. Neither can it be assumed that identification of the murder weapon was being honestly pursued or reported; nor that the Mauser reports were the result of a confused atmosphere at police headquarters; nor that the reports were based on an actual found Mauser. Especially, therefore, it cannot be assumed that a deliberate, prolonged misidentification did not benefit from that very ignorance. Were it common knowledge that Carcanos use clips, and that Mausers, Enfields and Arisakas do not, Owens' news film, and Allen's and Beers' wire-service photos showing the clip in the rifle would have stopped not only the Mauser reports, but all of the earlier reports, if not prevented them. Instead, given the timing and duration of those reports on WBAP-TV, the first photographs of the clip likely necessitated the erroneous reports as a distraction. What Mr. Stockwell admitted without realizing it, however, as does anyone who argues widespread firearms ignorance, is that even if one of the conspirators was a CIA station chief, he could have found the Carcano on the sixth floor without a clip, with a round in the chamber, and assumed the clip should be there -- as with the M-1 Garand.
If such a conspirator then put a fake clip in place to "correct the error," he would have found himself in the awkward position of having to explain how a clip, with no reason for being there, magically appeared. If such a conspirator then deliberately invented the Mauser misidentification, or prolonged it opportunistically, to distract the press and the public from clips until he could plausibly comment, or, if plausibility is impossible, remain silent, on the feeding system, his actions would fit all of the known evidence of the alleged rifle discovery and alleged Mauser misidentification. The "widespread-ignorance" argument, used in defense of an innocent misidentification, does not fit.
If the arguments presented here are correct, they raise three final important questions: Why a Mannlicher-Carcano? How could conspirators allow such a blunder to happen? And, who cares anyway?
First, why, despite its too obvious paper trail leading to Oswald, would a Mannlicher-Carcano be chosen as the rifle that will live in infamy? In 1963, as head of the Senate's Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut was experimenting with ordering arms from mail order houses in an attempt to gather information allowing Congress to stem unregulated traffic. Senator Dodd instituted the program on behalf of Colt and other small firearms producers in Connecticut who complained of foreign imports.
Oswald might have participated in this program. Dodd, a former FBI agent and long-time J. Edgar Hoover loyalist,161 was also a leading member of the Cuba Lobby (which grew out of the right-wing, red-hunting, China Lobby) through which he was in touch with some of the same Cuban-exile mercenaries as Oswald. He was also investigating the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) in which Oswald may have been an infiltrator. Returning to the treatise of criminologist Charles O'Hara, we can see how Oswald, working in a legitimate undercover capacity for Dodd, could have easily been manipulated into simultaneous conspiracies involving a Mannlicher-Carcano: "In the investigation of subversive activities and systematic thefts undercover operations are almost indispensable.
"Undercover work is most successfully used when there is knowledge that certain persons are engaged in criminal activity, but proof which may be used as evidence is lacking...The effective undercover agent is, perhaps, the only means of obtaining detailed information concerning a subversive group or organization."162
Two of the gun mail-order houses Dodd's subcommittee was investigating were the ones from which Oswald allegedly ordered his Smith and Wesson .38 revolver (Seaport Traders of Los Angeles) and his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle (Klein's of Chicago). Oswald ordered his pistol two days before Dodd's subcommittee began hearings on the matter on January 29, 1963. The subcommittee's sample statistics later showed a purchase in Texas made from Seaport Traders. One of the groups being investigated for firearm purchases was one whose members Oswald had in his address book, the American Nazi Party. One of the investigators looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the Los Angeles police lieutenant who was later one of the pivotal officers investigating Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop.163 And one of the primary culprits, robbing domestic manufacturers of profits, was the Mannlicher-Carcano.164
After the assassination, Dodd, using CIA sources, helped the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee publish a story that Oswald had been trained at a KGB assassination school in Minsk. At the time, Dodd was on the payroll of the American Security Council, "the leading public group campaigning to use U.S. military force to oust Castro from Cuba, and to escalate the war in Vietnam."165
Along with those connections, Dodd's long tenure in the U.S. Government brought him into direct contact with, or within one degree of separation from, a statistically significant number of suspected conspirators and suspicious groups linked to the JFK assassination: the FPCC's Richard Gibson; Guy Banister, who, like Dodd, had been a member of the FBI's elite team pursuing John Dillinger; Ed Butler and his Information Council of the Americas; certain members of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal; certain organized crime figures and labor racketeers; the United Fruit Company; the State Department's Office of Security; the Castillo Armas junta of Guatemala; Allen Dulles and associates, including Nazi assassination plotter Hans Bernd Gisevius and Ruth Forbes Paine's close friend Mary Bancroft; Richard Helms; the Rockefeller family and associates; the Lyndon Baines Johnson family and associates; Dutch journalist Willem Oltmans and associates, eventually including George DeMohrenschildt; the Citizens' Committee for a Free Cuba, including Clare Boothe Luce and other secret warriors against Cuba; Cord Meyer and his United World Federalists, including again, Ruth Forbes Paine; Nazi War Criminals like Alfreds Berzins; William F. Buckley, Jr. and associates, including E. Howard Hunt; expert Clay Shaw-defense witness J. Appel, Jr.; and Dodd's own son, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.
On the day Kennedy was assassinated, Dodd considered the tragedy a personal victory, bragging about his friendship with the "new" administration, grieving only over "the damage he [Kennedy] did to us in three years." But, as with Edgar Tatro's evidence of who forced Roger Craig to lie about "the Mauser," we still await George Michael Evica's proof that, "Beyond speculation...I have learned that according to two unimpeachable sources, Senator Thomas Dodd indeed caused at least one Mannlicher Carcano to be ordered in the name of Lee Harvey Oswald (or in the name of `Alek Hidell') sometime in 1963."166
Conspiracy investigation is never about motive, because, by definition, conspiracies involve multiple motives. Conspiracy investigation is primarily about connections. The significance of Dodd's linkage to the conspiracy lies not in the closeness of his contact to any one of these entities, but in the closeness of his contact to all of them, and the fact that the only two significant common denominators of all of these entities is the CIA and the JFK assassination conspiracy and coverup.
As O'Hara wrote, "Motive or that which induces the criminal to act must be distinguished from intent. The motive may be the desire to obtain revenge or personal gain; the intent is the accomplishment of the act. Motive need not be shown in order to obtain a conviction, but intent must always be proved where it is an element of the offense."167
The problem with relying on motive to identify conspirators is illustrated by the vacillating opinions of John Stockwell. In a chapter on the assassination in his 1991 book, The Praetorian Guard, Stockwell wrote: "In fact, there is strong evidence that both the FBI and the CIA high commands had prior knowledge of and direct involvement in the conspiracy." He cited excellent examples of that evidence, apart from motive. Two years later, for a new "Afterword" to that book, he wrote: "However, I consider the chapter on the Kennedy assassination to be substantially in error....You see, in 1963 the CIA and John Kennedy could not have been much closer....Of all the popular suspects, only the Mafia and perhaps Lyndon Johnson emerge with truly persuasive motives and opportunity to plot Kennedy['s] murder."168 As a consequence of relying on motive, Stockwell's opinions became riddled with qualifying phrases and uncertainty.
Stockwell's vacillation seems tame, however, compared to the extremes of Evan Thomas. Addressing the subject of secrecy and oversight in a free society, during a panel discussion on the future of the CIA, Evan Thomas, "the first author or historian ever permitted to read the CIA's own secret histories," said that "eighty percent of American people believe a conspiracy killed JFK and fifty percent of the people believe the CIA was behind it." He said, "The CIA has done a lot of bad things but they did not kill JFK." He added, "I think they're nuts not to just completely open up those files." He said there will be problems with the files regarding Cuban CIA agents but the CIA will be cleared of any conspiracy to kill JFK.
The panel's moderator, ABC News Diplomatic Correspondent David Ensor, did not respond to Thomas. Neither did the other five panelists. No one at the panel discussion had mentioned the subject of JFK's assassination before Thomas, and no one addressed it after him, not even panelist Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, who had helped Thomas write a Newsweek cover story about the CIA and the JFK assassination in 1993. With a half hour left in the discussion, Thomas was the only panelist not to speak again, and the only one not asked to speak again. Silence was the least foolhardy course considering what Thomas had just said and what he has written on the subject. His Newsweek article concluded that "In the end, the story of the American government and the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a tale of human error and parochialism, not conspiracy."
Yet in his article and in his later book about the CIA, Thomas used the motives of avenging the Bay of Pigs and preserving world peace to conclude that "Slightly more plausible conspiracy theories [than those blaming Khrushchev and Castro] involve renegades and rogue agents," and that "Somewhat more plausible suspects are renegade Cuban exiles, conceivably abetted by rogue CIA agents." That is followed in his article with, "But there is no solid evidence leading to the Agency or the Cubans. There are, however, more intriguing hints of mob involvement," wrote Thomas, because "The motive was to get Bobby Kennedy off the mob's back....But, in addition to a lack of any hard evidence, there are two big problems with fingering them as the culprits."
Incredibly, Thomas' two big problems are that mobsters would be more motivated by prudence and self-preservation than by anger toward an enemy; and that they would have no motive to use an "unreliable, unlikely professional hit man" like the "paranoid loser" Oswald. Thomas cites only Gerald Posner as proof that the motiveless Oswald was the hitman, however. And he ignores the fact that "paranoid loser" perfectly describes a patsy, one who is duped or victimized -- a sucker. And he ignores the fact that patsies are essential to con-jobs perpetrated by mobsters and other swindlers.
Like the Warren Commission, Thomas thus admits to plausible evidence of conspiracy, exchanging the Warren Report's unproven qualification, "no credible evidence," for his own unproven value judgements, "no solid evidence" and "no hard evidence." In his article, Thomas wisely states that "It is impossible to prove a negative -- that someone did not plot to kill Kennedy." (Thomas' emphasis) Yet in his book, as in the panel discussion, he attempts the impossible: "The many conspiracy theories notwithstanding, there is no evidence that the CIA itself somehow became sucked into a plot to kill JFK." In other words, according to Thomas' flip-flopping, there was no conspiracy, and if we discount the CIA agents, including Cuban exiles and mobsters, who plausibly conspired to killed JFK, there is no proof that the CIA was part of the plot. This from the man who called it "an absurd leap to think the CIA would kill Kennedy."169
Applying Peter Dale Scott's methodology of analyzing consistently negative information, a pattern of disinformation can be seen in a preference for motive-based arguments on the part of biased media pundits and investigators. Because of its irrelevance, motive can be used either to support or to ridicule any particular conspiratorial relationship. Writing in the Los Angeles Times in the wake of Oliver Stone's film, JFK, former Warren Commission staff attorney Richard M. Mosk did both. He cited only the motive of going after "a fast buck" to support his theory that the publishing and entertainment industries were conspiring to "distort history for profit." Then, just before mounting a weak defense of the Commission, Mosk attempted to defend his own innocence in its coverup with the "logic and common sense" that he had no motive: "For example, why would I, a young private-sector lawyer who had just completed active military service and whose father was close to President Kennedy, participate in a cover-up?"170
When motive is not the focus, bias becomes obvious. Bias to the extent of bigotry revealed itself in both interviewer and interviewee when talk-show host Tom Snyder interviewed presidential candidate Arlen Specter. When "Charlie in New York City" called and asked the former Warren Commission counsel if his views had changed over the years regarding his single bullet theory, Specter failed to make any sense despite embarrassing effort. Snyder, declaring that he "truly" believed the theory, supplied his own embarrassment by attempting damage control through the next night's broadcast. He finally said, "...I'm not going to try and change your mind. Don't try and change mine."171
But at least Snyder figured out that the only way to be a true believer is to avoid being confused by the facts. John Stockwell's confusion only worsened. Following his epiphany about CIA innocence in JFK's death, Stockwell conducted rifle-firing tests to "debunk or verify" the ballistics claims of alleged, confessed, grassy-knoll assassin James Files.172 By giving Files' confession a moment's thought, Stockwell compounded his motive-based flip-flop. Files claims he was a military-trained, albeit mob-connected, CIA assassin who, although he hated JFK, was just following orders from a CIA-employed mobster in a U.S. government-supported operation. Moreover, the "Files video" has been shown to be a blend of truths and untruths characteristic of classic disinformation.173
When hard evidence finally becomes public connecting a multipurpose Mannlicher-Carcano and the Dodds (father and son) to the JFK assassination conspiracy, the first line of defense will most likely be based on an absence of a motive.
Second, how could an obviously well-planned conspiracy such as this not have adequate communication between the rifle's planters and their accomplice rifle discoverers?174It is perhaps the most difficult question to answer conclusively. But, like the arguments presented here, it originates from all the known facts. The question does not eliminate the otherwise complete explanation of these facts. Without a confession from the conspirators, there remain two general, rather obvious answers.
One, non-communication was part of the plan. The planters' primary concern was to plant the rifle in a proper post-firing condition, which they did. They could not have necessarily anticipated that experienced police officers, guided by the planters' accomplice(s), would get confused over the exact configuration of that post-firing condition. Nor could they have necessarily anticipated that their accomplice(s) would take unilateral action to correct it unnecessarily. However important, it is a small detail in a complex plan that could have been easily overlooked.
Two, assuming communication was part of the plan, trained and educated military officers are well aware that, in any overt or covert operation, preplanning is only of value until the operation begins. After that, everything is in flux. Circumstances change rapidly. Things go unexpectedly right while other things go unexpectedly wrong. The failure at the Bay of Pigs is one example. That a man of Jack Ruby's background and indiscretion had to be used to kill Oswald, in the manner that he did, is another. Breakdowns in communication happen.
Those breakdowns should not be confused, however, with a complete breakdown in secure communication. Some refute the existence of large conspiracies with the simplistic argument that large numbers of people cannot keep a secret. Such arguments are intended for the naive.
Even when disclosed, mistakes and leaks can only threaten a conspiracy when they are detected at the right time by the right people. Many mistakes and leaks in the JFK assassination conspiracy, though detected, have been ignored. In most cases, the few people who did not ignore them were either silenced or rendered unworthy of serious attention through ridicule.
With the aide of coincidental timing, Tom Snyder again illustrated the folly of bigotry by using ridicule to silence debate about conspiracy. During a televised interview with writer Harlan Ellison in early February, 1997, Snyder mentioned the subject of a retrial for James Earl Ray, the accused assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ellison, a Caucasian, talked of having marched with King and of having participated in the freedom rides during the 1960s. Ellison was disparaging African-American solidarity with the conspiracy theory in the O.J. Simpson civil trial by calling those who believed it "stupid" and arguing that he was "more black than O.J." Snyder expressed doubt that Ray could reveal anything that had not managed to surface in thirty years, adding his opinion that "the government can't keep a secret for fifteen minutes." Ellison agreed, saying he found conspiracy theorists entertaining. With a broad brush, he then ridiculed them (and, subtly, the espionage technique of faking one's death) by pointing out that there are those who believe actor James Dean is still alive.175
The next morning, The San Francisco Examiner, ran a story by Christopher Matthews revealing that newly released Nixon White House tapes confirm that Nixon himself had ordered the illegal spying that led to the Watergate scandal. Nixon's role as mastermind of those conspiracies had been kept secret for nearly twenty-five years.176
Less than a week later, the King family broke a thirty-year silence in support of a new trial for Ray. On that day, in stark contrast to Snyder, Dexter King stated that questions surrounding his father's assassination lack satisfactory answers, and that every effort to determine the truth can only be accomplished in a court of law. A week later, a judge ruled that new ballistics tests could and should be applied to Ray's rifle to determine whether it was the murder weapon or a "throwdown" gun.177
One month after that, the Liggett Tobacco Company was forced to admit that cigarette smoking causes health problems including cancer, that nicotine is addictive, and that the tobacco industry specifically markets to minors. They agreed to turn over thousands of incriminating documents about thirty years of meetings with attorneys from other tobacco companies detailing industry-wide discussions on nicotine and other subjects, including conversations among tobacco industry lawyers, and Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Brown & Williamson. Attorney General Scott Harshbarger of Massachusetts, head of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the documents show "what big tobacco knew and when they knew it." Thus ending a conspiracy that addicts forty-six million Americans and kills 400,000 a year.178
Exactly three weeks after the tobacco conspiracy was confessed, after weeks of speculation in the media about a decades-long government conspiracy by Switzerland, author Tom Bower documented in his book, Nazi Gold, that the Swiss government had knowingly conspired to steal the assets of Jewish Holocaust victims and to cover up those antisemitic crimes. The Swiss had returned Nazi loot to gentiles after the war, but not to Jews. Bower emphasized that it has taken fifty years for the Swiss government to reluctantly admit to its evil. A U.S. government report by Commerce Undersecretary Stuart Eizenstat, released a few weeks later, "faulted the United States for not forcing the Swiss to come clean during and after World War II." Compounding that evil, the Swiss conspiracy was maintained for five years after Argentine authorities admitted and documented that Argentina conspired to give many Nazi war criminals, including Joseph Mengele and Walter Kutschman, safe haven in their country for forty-seven years following World War II.179
Three months after Snyder's conspiracy scoff, President Clinton gave a national apology to survivors of the forty-year conspiracy known as the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, in which poor black men were unwittingly denied treatment, starting in 1932, for the disease they were told was "bad blood." One editorial said, "Thousands of Americans and millions of Europeans died in the war to stop Hitler. And still the Tuskegee experiment went on. No, we cannot afford to `close' this chapter, ever." In February, 1997, the very same month of Snyder's self-professed belief in a fifteen-minute-maximum time limit on government conspiracies, on CBS, the very same network as Snyder's talk show, 60 Minutes first aired a report by Mike Wallace about hundreds of Nazis and Nazi collaborators hiding in Canada. Wallace noted that Canada did virtually nothing to pursue war criminals after the Nuremberg Trials. By 1997, the U.S. had deported fifty Nazis, Wallace reported, while Canada had deported only one. One of Canada's accused war criminals was even found living in the same building as an Auschwitz survivor.180 As a veteran journalist, Tom Snyder was neither naive about, nor uninformed about such enormous, evil and long-lived government conspiracies when he spouted his conspiracy-denial nonsense.
Some 650-750,000 pages are still kept secret by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the HSCA's investigation of King's murder in the 1970s, although tens of thousands of citizens have already signed a national petition for their release. Under House Rule thirty-six, HSCA Chairman Louis Stokes sealed those files for a period of fifty years, until 2028. Yet none of those facts prevented Ray's prosecutor, Shelby County Assistant District Attorney John Campbell, from saying, "The government can't keep anything secret." When news first broke that bullets test fired from Ray's rifle did not match the bullet that killed King, Cable News Network anchor Donna Kelley asked CNN legal correspondent, Roger Cossack, about the legality of the HSCA sealing their rifle test results for fifty years. Cossack stumbled over his answer, saying it is "just done" in "high profile cases." He concluded his answer by reminding viewers that Ray pled guilty, so there was "no reason" to release the earlier test results. Cossack failed, therefore, to report two good reasons for full disclosure: Ray quickly recanted his guilty plea and requested a trial; and Chairman Stokes stated in a Congressionally mandated report that the HSCA "intends to conclude a thorough, professional investigation of the assassinations by establishing the facts to prove or disprove, once and for all, the disparate theories that have arisen since the murders took place in Dallas and Memphis."181
If crucial evidence of Nixon's guilt could be kept secret for twenty-five years, so can evidence of other executive-branch conspiracies. If the King family could keep their assassination conspiracy questions secret for twenty-eight years, so can the families of other assassination victims. If crucial ballistics evidence in the King murder could be obscured, neglected and kept secret for decades, so can crucial ballistics evidence in the Kennedy murder. If the tobacco industry, the Argentine government, the Swiss government, the Canadian government and the U.S. government could keep their enormous genocidal conspiracies secret for thirty, forty and fifty years, the U.S. government and its military-industrial complex can, and does, do far more than "keep a secret for fifteen minutes."
Tom Snyder's faux erudition was directly exposed during three later broadcasts, the first of which aired just two months and eleven days after he declared long-term government secrecy impossible. Snyder listened uncritically, and seemingly in sincere sympathy, as his guest Patrick Eddington discussed his new book, Gassed In the Gulf. Eddington's investigation expanded and supported recent news reports of a CIA coverup of U.S. military errors during Operation Desert Storm that resulted in Gulf War Syndrome. Eddington claimed that former President George Bush, and Generals Norman Schwartzkopf and Colin Powell were continuing to deny the errors although they were knowledgeable of the coverup. Yet Snyder did not object to, nor did he ridicule, Eddington's charges.
A week after his interview of Eddington, Snyder's guest was James Sanders, who had just released his book, The Downing of Flight 800. Sanders told of how an unsolicited U.S. Navy source told reporter Dave Hendricks, within seventy-two hours of the crash, that TWA flight 800 had been destroyed by a direct hit from a "friendly-fire" missile. That source was corroborated by Captain Bower, an Air National Guard helicopter pilot who saw the missile travel from east to west and hit the plane. Sanders reported that the White House got radar summaries at a 2 a.m. briefing, during which the missile was discussed. He further told Snyder that the day after Hendricks' report about the missile and the radar summaries appeared in the March 10th edition of The Riverside Enterprise, the FBI seized the radar data.
Sanders' investigation had already made headlines before his book was released. He had secretly obtained samples of a residue found on some of the plane's seats. That residue, according to independent analyses, was found to be a chemical component of solid rocket fuel. The same residue was identified as glue by the official investigators. However, Sanders pointed out that modern airliner seats are glueless.
After listening to Sanders, Snyder attempted the kind of denial he had expressed over assassination conspiracies. If Sanders' reports were true, Snyder reasoned, "Someone must have talked." But this time Snyder's guest was not so accommodating. Sanders replied, "A lot of somebodys have talked." That simple, sensible answer applies equally to the conspiracies behind Kennedy's and King's unsolved murders, and many others. Snyder revealed a psychological motive behind his bigotry and denial -- a motive shared by most people, no doubt -- when he ended the interview by saying, "I hope you're wrong."
FBI Director Louis Freeh fueled Snyder's hope on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," ten days after Sanders' television appearance. But despite headlines and sound bites trumpeting "mechanical failure," Freeh's statement was convoluted: "I think that the evidence as we have developed it to date and particularly the evidence we have not found, would lead toward the conclusion that this was a catastrophic mechanical failure." Freeh stressed that none of the investigators can state definitively that the cause of the crash was due to a mechanical problem. The headline and soundbite writers had what they needed for their preferred spin, however.
Bringing his bigotry full circle on the first day of ballistics tests on James Earl Ray's gun, and the night before Clinton's apology to the Tuskegee victims, Snyder had as his guest, Christopher Matthews, the reporter who exposed Nixon's role as Watergate mastermind. But Snyder did not ask about Nixon, even after Matthews compared the Whitewater scandal to Watergate. During the seven topics discussed, he did find time, however, to predict the end of the Kennedy political dynasty based on the latest sexual and marital problems of the Kennedys. And, in a derisive tone of voice, Snyder found time to call people who, like Dexter King, think James Earl Ray might be innocent, "Those conspiracy theory buffs...." Finally, as if to perfectly summarize his three-month folly, Snyder ended that broadcast by gushing over Christopher Anderson and his book, An Affair to Remember, about the long adultery between Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, which was kept totally secret by movie studios, Hollywood colleagues and the press.182
Media bigotry like Snyder's is not confined to his late-night broadcast, talk-show hosts or to the medium of talk shows. His behavior is symptomatic of the mainstream news media. ABC News boasts that more Americans get their news from it than from any other source. Yet one of its most visible news programs, "This Week With David Brinkley," exemplified national coverage of the August, 1996, San Jose Mercury News series called "Dark Alliance," a story by investigative reporter Gary Webb which suggested a direct connection between the start of the nation's crack epidemic and efforts to raise money in the 1980s for the CIA-organized Contra rebel force in Nicaragua.
A month after the series ran, William Bennett, former Drug Czar under President Bush, and Secretary of Education under President Reagan, appeared on "This Week With David Brinkley" and said, "I don't believe it...Investigate it and then nip it in the bud...Having people going around saying the government is killing people is a very bad thing." Nearly nine months after Webb's series ran, the show's panel of pundits was quick to declare the investigation nipped. During its May 18, 1997 broadcast, Cokie Roberts echoed many national headlines in her sound-bite announcement that the story had been "recanted" by Mercury News Executive Editor Jerry Ceppos, in an "Epilogue" he published on May 11, 1997. Roberts hammered home her sound-bite spin by lamenting that the country's state of mind was so "fraught with conspiracy." Sam Donaldson merely voiced the lame argument that the CIA was vulnerable to such accusations because of its inability to "prove a negative."
None of them quoted Ceppos, who wrote: "Our series solidly documented disturbing information: A drug ring associated with the Contras sold large quantities of cocaine in inner-city Los Angeles in the 1980s at the time of the crack explosion there. Some of the drug profits from those sales went to the Contras. Given our government's involvement with the Contras, I believe this is a major public policy issue worthy of further investigation."
His so-called recantation consisted of admitting to giving one interpretation of evidence, not labeling a best estimate as an estimate, oversimplifying, and "Through imprecise language and graphics," creating "impressions that were open to misinterpretation" -- all of which have long happened daily in the government and major news media, especially regarding the JFK assassination. Bennett's statement, therefore, proved not only prophetic in terms of what would happen with the "Dark Alliance" story, but why it happened.183
As a perfect example of these broadcasters' bigotry and hypocrisy, no one associated with ABC News or "This Week With David Brinkley" recanted, or again mentioned, an incident of questionable journalism on their own program: the Sunday following John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s wedding, Brinkley and his fellow pundits ended the broadcast by laughing off tabloid reports of the marriage, arrogantly scoffing at the notion that such a thing could happen without the major media learning of it in advance. It is poetic justice, perhaps, that the son of the murdered president proved to the media that major national events can be plotted and executed in total secrecy by a large number of people.
Nonetheless, when the news reports, mentioned above, first revealed that bullets test fired from Ray's rifle did not match the bullet that killed King, CNN anchor Bill Hendricks asked news correspondent Russ Jamieson, who was at the court hearing in Memphis where the test results were announced, the following question preceded by the following editorial comment: "A lot of people in this country are conspiracy happy. Does this hearing play into that? Or will we, by the end of the day, have information that will move this case forward?" Jamieson, to his credit, simply reviewed the plating and bubbling characteristics on twelve of the test bullets which were not present on the death slug.
In another example of media bias, The Dallas Morning News, seldom outdone in its conspiracy-denial bigotry or ridicule of conspiracy realists, seized yet another opportunity for both when "shock jock" radio personality Howard Stern staged a publicity stunt in Dealey Plaza in late July, 1997, to protest his syndicated radio talk show's cancellation by Dallas station KEGL-FM. In what appeared to be an objective reporting of news, after an opening sentence describing a rare circus atmosphere at the usually solemn site of the brutal murder of the President, the News editorialized: "As if that weren't enough, a conspiracy theorist showed up." The man's conspiracy "theory," worthy of topping Howard Stern's hoopla and humbuggery, according to the News, was actually one of the most basic, solid facts disproving the many single-bullet theories: "`...you can't get a bullet to do that [which is alleged of CE 399] and stay [as] pristine,' said Greg Boatright, 28, a dental technician from Dallas." The Dallas Morning News, in its single-minded attempt to discredit Mr. Boatright's rational position, failed to do its journalistic duty and justify its ridicule by presenting history's first tenable single-bullet theory.184
In another example, bias against conspiracy was used by attorneys to sway a jury and repeated by the media to mislead the public about the jury's verdict. Stephen Bright, a former Texas State Treasury employee sued the former state treasurer and current state comptroller in federal district court alleging that they had him fired for writing a letter to the editor opposing their political agenda to abolish the treasury. Jury members who were interviewed by Bright's attorneys after the trial said they believed Bright was fired because he wrote the letter, but they felt they could not adequately make the causal link based solely on the evidence they were given. Jurors can vote their conscience in spite of their perceptions about the evidence they are given. But they seldom do because attorneys know how to prevent such bold actions. In closing arguments, James Todd, an assistant attorney general representing the state officials, called Bright's allegations speculation, despite the fact that Todd and his legal team failed to have the case dismissed on such grounds during the trial. He then told the jury, "Reality is not as entertaining as fantasy. We're conditioned to look for conspiracy and diabolical plots." The reporter for the local newspaper used that quote to conclude her reporting of the case without any mention of the jurors' statements or thoughts. Neither the lawyers nor the reporter pointed out that such conditioning is abundantly justified by the existence and public exposure of many high-level conspiracies over the lifetime of the jurors. Nor did they point out that being conditioned to look for such conspiracies is far less dangerous than being conditioned to ignore them.
In a final, but hardly minimal, example of media ridicule of conspiracy realists, columnist, humorist and commentator Andy Rooney reached a new low. On the subject of men's hats, during his spot at the end of CBS's 60 Minutes, Rooney noted that the most popular men's hat was the fedora, until Kennedy became president and never wore one. Rooney then joked that Oliver Stone was planning to make a movie based on the theory that hat makers killed Kennedy.186
The media's desperate tale that its pundits are more sane than most of its consumers, is the opposite of reality: one symptom of the public's actual fear, ignorance and gullibility, is that we believe no one has come forward with evidence of conspiracy, and that "a lot" of us are "conspiracy happy," simply because our government and media tell us so. Moreover, if the statement, "The government can't keep anything secret," is the best argument a government prosecutor can make against overwhelming evidence of conspiracy, it is proof of extreme desperation within the government to keep conspiracies secret.
149. Ian Hogg and John Weeks, "Mauser," Military Small Arms of the Twentieth Century (Northfield, Illinois: Digest Books, 1973).
150. Letter from J.W. Hughes to Walter Graf, June 6, 1994.
151. Thompson 207-08, 218, 228-29 n.17.
152. Document # 180-10104-10481 (HSCA seven page summary of an interview with Gerald Behn), cited in Joseph Backes, "An ARRB Update," Assassination Chronicles, Winter 1996-97, p. 29.
153. Vincent Palamara, The Third Alternative -- Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service and the JFK Murder (self published, 1993), p. 43.
154. Letter from Walter Graf to Jerry Rose, Jun. 6, 1997 with attachments. Letters from Walter Graf to Richard Bartholomew, Jul. 16, 23, 1997, Aug. 16, 1997.
155. Memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, Conrad, De Loach, Evans, Rosen, and Sullivan, 5:15 p.m., Nov. 22, 1963, FBI document 62-109060-57, National Archives RIF 124-10012-10168, reproduced in The Fourth Decade, Jul., 1997, p. 32.
156. Mark Lane, Rush to Judgment (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966) pp. 119-20.
157. Commercially available sources for edited versions of the Tom Alyea film include: Four Days in November, film documentary (David Wolper production, 1964) 2 hrs. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, 6-part film documentary (Nigel Turner production, 1988; part 6: 1996) 6 hrs. PBS, Frontline, "Oswald," film documentary (PBS, 1993) 3 hrs. JFK: The Case for Conspiracy, videotape (Robert Groden production, Boothwyn, PA: New Frontier Video, 1993) 1 hr., 43 min.
158. Sanders and Zaid 418, 432. ARCA, Public Law No. 102-526, 1992 U.S.C.A.N. (106 Stat.) 3443 (to be codified at 44 U.S.C. [[section]] 2107) at [[section]] 7 (j)(1)(C)(iii) and [[section]] 7 (j)(1)(F).
159. Letter from Walter Graf to Richard Bartholomew, Feb. 5, 1996 (clip fed vs. non-clip fed).
160. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes of telephone discussion with John Stockwell, 9:51 p.m. to 10:11 p.m., Feb. 9, 1995. Mr. Stockwell later wrote that "There may be some risk in y[ou]r trying to codify points I was making in our oral discussion as though they were my conclusions." (Emphasis in original: Letter from John Stockwell to Richard Bartholomew, Feb. 17, 1995.) To avoid any potential risk, we make no such codification, especially with respect to Mr. Stockwell's point of contention that he "thinks there was a conspiracy but doesn't think the issues used to support it in this paper are conclusive."
161. Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (New York: Penguin, 1991) p. 407; cited in Scott 249.
162. O'Hara 197, 199.
163. 22H 528.
164. Evica 252-53. Scott 249, 250, 307, 370.
165. Scott 215, 216.
166. George Michael Evica, "And We Are All Still Mortal: Thomas Dodd and Lee Harvey Oswald," Assassination Chronicles, Mar. 1996, pp. 20-24. Lisa Pease, "Thomas J. Dodd & Son: Corruption of Blood?," Probe, Jul.-Aug. 1996, pp. 18-23. Anthony Summers, Conspiracy (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980) pp. 290-98, 384, 444, 489. Richard Bartholomew, "Possible Discovery of an Automobile Used In the JFK Conspiracy," Fair Play online magazine (http://rmii.com/~jkelin/fp.html, issue 17, Jul.-Aug., 1997 (and self-published manuscript, 1993, pp. 8, 31, 35-48, 50, 51, 56, 57, 59, 62, 63, 66, 68, 78, 87-89, 91, 92, 94, 96, 97, 98, 101, 102, 115, 113, 120, 124, 135, 152); hereafter cited as "Possible Discovery" with page number(s). William E. Kelly, Lines of Inquiry and The Divine Scheme (unpublished manuscript).
167. O'Hara 19.
168. John Stockwell, The Praetorian Guard (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1991) p. 125. John R. Stockwell, "Afterword," (written on his personal letterhead and inserted into later editions by his distributor, Prevailing Winds Research) Aug. 24, 1993.
169. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from CIA Symposium: "Spying Under Siege: The Future of Covert Action," National Press Club Ball Room, Washington D.C., Mar. 25, 1997 (broadcast live by C-SPAN2; sponsored by the Discovery Channel and held in conjunction with the CIA's 50th Anniversary and the world premiere of the mini-series, "CIA: America's Secret Warriors," Mar. 31-Apr. 2, 1997). Evan Thomas, "The Real Cover-up," Newsweek, Nov. 22, 1993, pp. 68, 92, 94, 95; and The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), pp. 308, 331, liner notes. R 374 ("no credible evidence").
170. Richard M. Mosk, "The Plot to Assassinate the Warren Commission," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 30, 1991; reprinted in Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar, JFK: The Book of the Film (New York: Applause Books, 1992) pp. 333-34; hereafter cited as Stone and Sklar 333-34.
171. Richard Bartholomew, "True Believers: Tom Snyder talks to Arlen Specter," The Fourth Decade, Jul. 1995, pp. 29-32.
172. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes of phone call from John Stockwell, Feb. 7, 1995 10:48 a.m.-11:42 a.m. CST.
173. Martin Shackelford, " 'Confession of an Assassin' James E. Files, Joliet State Penitentiary, March 22, 1994: Notes on the Videotape (1996, Bob Vernon, UTL Productions/MPI Video)" JFK-Share Internet discussion group, Sept. 20, 1996 00:53:33 EDT. "Another Lone Nut? Confession of an assassin: The murder of JFK," Assassination Chronicles, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Summer 1996, p. 48.
174. As discussed earlier in this article, the fact that the alleged murder weapon was neither tested for recent firing, nor tested for recent non-firing, reveals the rifle discoverers' roles as accomplices in the conspiracy. In that discussion, the authors cited the late New Orleans District Attorney and Federal Judge, Jim Garrison, from his 1970 book, A Heritage of Stone (p. 49, Berkley Medallion edition, 1975): "Although it is possible to determine by tests whether or not a rifle has been fired recently, there is no evidence that such a test was given to the rifle which was supposed to have killed the President." The authors also briefly mentioned that there is "reportedly" no test for recent firing. Coauthor Walter Graf adds: "The qualifying term is the word 'reported'...In other words 'no test' is a claim, not a fact...I have not been around small arms in recent years, but was up to my ears in weapons from 1938-1950 and never had any trouble in 'check for recent firing' (Maybe check is a better term than test). If fired after cleaning, the barrel and chamber has that bluish-grey look. The key word is 'recent.' How many minutes is recent? I don't know if there would be that smell after three quarters of an hour or so, but the barrel and chamber would have that appearance of being fired after cleaning." (Letter from Walter F. Graf to Richard Bartholomew, Jul. 9, 1997.) See the authors' earlier discussion in this article on how their failure to conduct such tests reveals the rifle discoverers' roles as accomplices.
175. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from "Late Late Show with Tom Snyder," CBS-TV, Feb. 6, 1997.
176. Christopher Matthews, "Tricky Dick: Tapes show Nixon ordered huge spy effort," The San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 7, 1997. The specter of Nixon's possible involvement in assassination conspiracies, including the JFK assassination, continued to haunt his own statements three years before his death. In a 1991 interview on 60 Minutes, Nixon said that if he were still in charge he would have ordered the assassination of Saddam Hussein: "If I could find a way to get him out of there, even putting a contract out on him, if the CIA still did that sort of thing, assuming it ever did, I would be for it." ("Dubious Achievement Awards of 1991," Esquire, January, 1992, p. 98.)
177. King Family to Support Ray's Trial Request," Reuters New Media, 2:11 p.m. EST, Feb. 13, 1997 (text from Examiner and Reuters Internet World Wide Web sites). Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from Tennessee v. James Earl Ray (hearing before Judge Joseph Brown, Jr., Shelby County Criminal Court, broadcast live by Court-TV cable network, Feb. 20, 1997). On Mar. 27th, after a face-to-face meeting with Ray, Dexter King publicly stated his belief that Ray is innocent. The new ballistics tests were soon ordered and conducted. ("New tests OK'd for rifle, bullet in King's slaying," Austin American-Statesman, Apr. 10, 1997, p. A8. "Ray's rifle gets ballistics tests" Austin American-Statesman, May 15, 1997, p. A5 (from news services). According to a confidential source developed by HSCA investigator Morris Davis, on the day of the shooting, the rifle Ray had purchased "was fired once and the cartridge left in the gun. Its sole purpose was to be a throwdown gun for the coverup of the killing" (Dr. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, [New York: Carrol & Graf, 1995] pp. 128, 131). If true, Ray was framed in a manner almost identical to the framing of Oswald five years earlier. The first report on the ballistics test results, broadcast by Cable News Network (CNN, 4:41 p.m., EDT, Jul. 10, 1997), stated "Sources tell CNN that the tests will not exclude Ray." Eighteen hours later, however, Judge Brown announced that the tests revealed identifying characteristics consistent with the alleged murder weapon on each of twelve test bullets, which were not present on the death slug, indicating the tests do exclude Ray. CNN reported that the prosecution had been told before the hearing that the tests were inconclusive, and that the prosecution claimed it was shocked to hear in court that there was no match (Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from Tennessee v. James Earl Ray (hearing before Judge Joseph Brown, Jr., Shelby County Criminal Court, partially broadcast live by CNN, 10:24 a.m. to 10:58 a.m., followed by review and commentary until 11:25 a.m. EDT, Jul. 11, 1997).
178. "Liggett Tobacco Co. Admits Danger," Associated Press, 3:36 p.m. EST, Mar. 20, 1997. Five years earlier, U.S. District Judge Lee Sarokin ordered the Council for Tobacco Research to open its files to a woman suing several tobacco companies for fraud. The Council, funded by tobacco companies, was founded in 1954 as an "independent" group formed to investigate possible tobacco hazards and report their findings. Sarokin said that "All too often in the choice between the physical health of consumers and the financial well-being of business, concealment is chosen over disclosure, sales over safety, and money over morality." Citing memos from the council's files, Sarokin wrote that a jury could conclude it "was nothing but a public relations ploy -- a fraud." Tobacco company attorney William Allinder said a jury would disagree with Sarokin's conclusions. (Associated Press, "Judge: Tobacco firms lied about dangers," Austin American-Statesman, Feb. 8, 1992, p. A11.)
179. NBC News interview of Tom Bower, "Today," NBC-TV, Apr. 10, 1997. Carol Rosenberg (The Miami Herald), "U.S. report flails Swiss for profits from Nazis," Austin American-Statesman, May 8, 1997, p. A3. "Nazi war criminals lived safely in Argentina, documents reveal," (New York Times News Service) Austin American Statesman, Feb. 11, 1992, p. A5. On May 1st, the Swiss government appointed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel as honorary chairman of a seven-member board that will administer a multi-million-dollar fund for Holocaust victims. (Wire service reports, "Nobel winner to head panel over Holocaust funds," Austin American-Statesman, May 2, 1997, p. A18.) For a film documentary overview of the extent of Switzerland's crimes, see "Blood Money: Switzerland's Nazi Gold," Investigative Reports (Arts & Entertainment Cable Network, Jul 26, 1997, 2 hrs.).
180. "Apologize but don't forget" (editorial); Eddie Pells (Associated Press), "Tuskegee victim tenders forgiveness in advance;" Julia Malone, "Tuskegee survivors receive apology," Austin American-Statesman, May 16, 1997, pp. A14, A17; May 17, 1997, p. A1. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from "Canada's Dark Secret," 60 Minutes (CBS-News, reported by Mike Wallace, produced by Robert G. Anderson, Feb. 1997, rebroadcast Jul. 20, 1997, 7:37 p.m. EDT).
181. John Judge, "National Coalition Demands Release of King Assassination Files, Public Review of Evidence: Researchers Suggest Several Ways to Determine the Truth," Coalition on Political Assassinations Press Release, Mar. 30, 1997. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from ABC News interview of John Campbell by Sam Donaldson, "Prime Time Live," ABC-TV, Apr. 2, 1997. Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations [pursuant to mandate of H. Resolution 222]. H. Report 95-119, 95th Cong., 1st sess., Mar. 28, 1977. Committee Print. v, 14 pp. The Stokes Mandate Report; cited in Guth and Wrone, p. 23, item no. 71.
182. Richard Bartholomew's contemporaneous notes from "Late Late Show with Tom Snyder," CBS-TV, Apr. 17, 1997 (Patrick Eddington); Apr. 25, 1997 (James Sanders); May 15, 1997 (Christopher Matthews & Christopher Anderson). John J. Goldman and Eric Malnic (Los Angeles Times), "FBI points to mechanical failure in TWA crash," Austin American-Statesman, May 5, 1997, p. A3. On the first anniversary of the downing of TWA flight 800, the "mechanical failure" media spin continued. Introducing a story on the first anniversary of the crash, and a follow-up story on terrorist profiling by U.S. airlines, National Public Radio's Robert Segal said, "Investigators have turned their attention to mechanical failure," and added that investigators are "close to abandoning" a terrorist act as the cause. Note the inconclusive rhetoric indicative of editorial bias. NPR failed in attempts to bolster its bias, however. The main element of the anniversary story was an interview with crash-victim relative Joseph Lychner. Lychner said he had accepted a supposed "spark of static electricity" as the cause of the crash, despite finding it hard to believe that it could cause such great loss of life. Lychner's reason for rejecting a terrorist cause was equally inadequate: "I believe in the goodness of people," he said. (Robert Segal, National Public Radio, Jul. 17, 1997, broadcast 5:38 to 5:51 p.m., CDT, on KUT, 90.5 FM, Austin, Texas.) On the subject of Gulf War illness, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses reported: "In the face of substantial, credible evidence to the contrary, DOD's consistent denials to June 1996 of the possibility of exposure of U.S. troops to chemical warfare agents cannot be justified." (Associated Press, "War illness panel blasts CIA, Pentagon," Austin American-Statesman, May 2, 1997, p. A2.) A later report by the General Accounting Office criticized that presidential committee for not going further. "It said Pentagon officials and the White House panel also were wrong to rule out the nerve gas sarin and other chemical weapons as a cause of the health problems because "there is substantial evidence that such compounds are associated with delayed or long-term health effects similar to those experienced by Gulf War veterans.'" (Philip Shenon [The New York Times], "Study links chemicals to Gulf War illnesses," Austin American-Statesman, Jun. 15, 1997, p. A6.)
183. Jerry Ceppos, "Epilogue: To readers of our `Dark Alliance' series" ("Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion," San Jose Mercury News Internet Web site, http://www.sjmercury.com/drugs/postscriptstart.htm, May 18, 1997). "This Week With David Brinkley," ABC News, Sept. 22, 1996, May 18, 1997.
184. l Brumley, "Mourning men / Stern's buddies lament his final days in Dallas," The Dallas Morning News (online edition, dallasnews.com/arts-nf/over1-073.htm, Jul. 24, 1997).
185. Michele Kay, "Dismissed employee loses suit against Sharp, Whitehead," Austin American-Statesman, Oct. 17, 1997, pp. B1, B7. Coauthor Richard Bartholomew, a 20-year friend of Bright, personally observed the Oct. 14-16, 1997 trial and its background, and noted his observations in this text the day after the trial ended. "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney," 60 Minutes, CBS-News, August 3, 1997.