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We hope that you will enjoy, and find useful, this sampling of articles from the pages of DPQ.

That Was the Weekend That Was by Walt Brown

Enduring Controversies in the Medical Evidence by Gary Aguilar

JFK Murder "Confession" Video by Edward Bell

Did Clay Shaw Own a 1962 Rambler? by Walt Brown

An Interview with Jerrol Custer by Walt Brown

More on the Late-Arriving Fragment by Vince Palamara

Faulty Evidence: Problems with the Case Against Oswald by Michael T. Griffith

Anatomy of the 'Harper Fragment' by Joseph N. Riley

Marina Oswald Porter's Letter to the ARRB -- April 1996

A Flight of Fancy by Chris Mills

Deep Politics: Some Further Thoughts by Peter Dale Scott

Dial "P" For Perjury by Richard Bartholomew

Possible Secret Service Propaganda by Vince Palamara

Reflections: November 22, 1963 by Walt Brown

JFK Shot From Two Directions by Walt Brown with Randy Robertson

The Similas Affair by Rick Nelson

The Man in the Dark Sports Coat by William Weston

The "Unifilmer" Hoax by Rick Nelson with Randy Owen

"For History's Sake: A Guest Editorial by Vince Palamara

Why Another Journal? by Jan Stevens

A Commission Without Commissioners: An excerpt from The Warren Ommission" by Walt Brown

The Mary Woodward Turnaround by Jan Stevens

The Lee Bowers Letter: The One That Got Away by Walt Brown

A Conversation with Aubrey Rike by Walt Brown

People v. Lee Oswald... but... for Which Victim? by Walt Brown

Cuba: the Line in the Sand by Walt Brown

The Confessions of Ruth Paine by Steve Jones

Parkland Emergency-Room Doctor Found by Vince Palamara

Why the Zapruder Film is Authentic by Josiah Thompson

The Untimely Death of William B. Pitzer: The Physical Evidence by Allan Eaglesham and Robin Palmer

Interpretations of New Evidence in the Pitzer Case by Allan Eaglesham

Pitzer: An Update by Allan Eaglesham

The Pitzer Case: Autopsy Photographs Released by Allan Eaglesham and Kenneth F. Hersh

Pitzer: A Reappraisal Part I by Allan Eaglesham

Pitzer: A Reappraisal Part II by Allan Eaglesham

Where Were the JFK Autopsy Photographs Taken? by Allan Eaglesham

Familiar Faces in Dealey Plaza by Allan Eaglesham and Martha Schallhorn

The "Sniper's Nest": Incarnations and Implications by Allan Eaglesham

"Magic"??? by Walt Brown

Review of Dallas Newspapers, Nov. 1963 by Walt Brown

The Untimely Death of LCDR William B. Pitzer: Forensic Experts Examine the Evidence by Allan Eaglesham

JFK-11/22/63 The Throat Wound: Where Was It Altered? by James V. Rinnovatore


by Walt Brown

Lee Bowers
At the Assassination Symposium on Kennedy in November, 1994, Canadian researcher and bookseller Al Navis appeared on an international outreach panel that was convened on Sunday, November 20. While various speakers gave personal memoirs of the assassination, subsequent press distortions, and activist groups in their respective countries, Al Navis told of a correspondence he had begun as a teenager with Lee Bowers, the key witness in the railroad signal tower behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll. In essence, Bowers was behind the parking lot, Zapruder and the pergola, and the Texas School Book Depository. In one of the most stunning revelations of what may well have been the final ASK conference, Navis indicated that Bowers had written him a letter saying that he had seen two Dallas police officers fire weapons from behind the picket fence.

He added that he had kept this information quiet for all these years because of the knowledge that Bowers met a sudden, unfortunate end not too long after his letter had been posted to Navis.

Inasmuch as the work Treachery in Dallas, which was then titled Blue Death, Red Patsy, White Lies was done and awaiting publication by Carroll and Graf, I realized that Navis's revelation could well be the set piece to the work. However, when his presentation ended, he was mobbed by attendees with questions and I let him deal with that, assuming I'd touch base on that matter later.

A few hours later, when a good number of folks took a brief break from the Adolphus Hotel and strolled down the eight or so blocks to Dealey Plaza to take advantage of the free admission being offered at the Sixth Floor Museum, I found Al Navis already there, along with DPD Archives researcher Russ McLean. I got right to the point with Al, telling him that I would like to get a statement from him about the contents of the letter from Bowers as well as he could reconstruct it. "I can do better than that," Al told me. "I'll get you a copy of the letter."

A copy of the letter itself? I hadn't considered that it still existed, although Al may well have said that in his presentation while I was busy considering the impact the mere contents would have had. I told Al I would try to have the publisher consider an art project for the cover that could feature the copy of the letter. He agreed that he would set to finding it as soon as he got back to Canada.

That's where the story takes a sad turn. My unstated reaction to that statement was to think, "He doesn't know where something that valuable is, but he's going to try to locate it... Hmmm. Let's see. I know I had that letter from a key eyewitness in the Kennedy assassination, and it said the eyewitness saw two men firing at the President from the grassy knoll. Now where did I put that thing?" Somehow, despite my very deep respect for Al as a researcher, for someone who always gave freely of his time, and for just a wonderful human being, I began to hear doubts forming.

Time passed. When 1994 turned to 1995, I called Al in Canada, as I was getting frantic for the copy of the letter. Al told me he had started going through an assortment of boxes that he had that contained a soup to nuts variety of materials, and he had narrowed his search to a remaining dozen or so boxes, but the search would go no further, as he had been injured seriously -- a severed Achilles tendon -- in a hockey game. He hoped to be able to get out of the wheelchair in a few weeks, and promised to resume the hunt.

"Wheelchair" is by definition an unpleasant word, but equally unpleasant is the phrase "publishing deadline," and mine was fast approaching. I continued to call him, and he always had a joke or two (hundred), but no Lee Bowers letter. Finally, as the renamed Treachery was going to press, I made one more attempt to get the letter for the cover, and I guess Al was tired of telling people he was incapacitated, so we basically passed the time of day.

The bottom line is, to date I've never seen the letter, although its contents were hinted at ASK '94. On a personal level, a lot of people have asked me if I have any opinions about this strange story, because word did spread about Bowers's letter saying that Dallas cops fired the shots, and it was no secret that Treachery in Dallas was about, among other things, Dallas cops. I don't have an opinion, other than to say that if Al Navis told me I had been accused in the letter, I would make a point of checking with high school officials in New Jersey to prove where in fact I had been that day. Al Navis has always had an excellent command of the facts in the case, he's always given people all imaginable courtesies, he's always worked hard within the research community, and I couldn't imagine him inventing such a thing. Yet at the same time, it is equally hard to imagine a scenario in which a JFK researcher has such a "smoking gun" document and literally allows it to be ignored. It's not something most researchers would do, and it's not like Al.

Regrettably, there was no hint of the letter, or of what it was purported to state, in Treachery in Dallas. As of this writing, it is hearsay until Al is either able to produce the document or enough time passes that causes people to believe that in fact there never was any such letter,a contingency I consider unlikely. At least this is one that we can't hang on the review board, the HSCA, or, God help us, the Warren Commission. Al is receiving a copy of this. I hope you are well--and looking for the Lee Bowers letter, Al.



by Walt Brown

Aubrey Rike
Aubrey Rike was an ambulance/hearse driver for O'Neal Ambulance Service on November 22, 1963. I had a chance to speak with him (we had met before at ASK, at which he graciously appeared regularly) at the Plano East Symposium, and he comes across as an easygoing man who was caught up in the event of a lifetime--yet an event that is still very clear, strong, and troubling to him, although he adds that he has a number of assassination books but hasn't read them.

He told me how he had gotten the call to collect an individual having a seizure in Dealey Plaza (J. Belknap--not called by the Warren Commission), and how he and his co-attendant, Dennis McGuire, had delivered Belknap to Parkland Hospital. They were still there when the sirens indicated a sizable number of vehicles were about to enter the hospital.

The President, it seemed, had also run into medical difficulty in Dealey Plaza. While the immediate areas of concern at Parkland were bristling with security, and Rike was unable to see JFK because his upper extremities were covered by Clint Hill's sports coat, Rike remained at the hospital. One of the first things he learned was that he--or his ambulance--might be needed to transfer the president to St. Paul's, a Roman Catholic hospital. Before long, however, the affiliation of the hospital became a moot point, as the president had been pronounced dead. At that point, Rike's company delivered a casket to the hospital, and Rike became more closely involved with his observations of the president.

Upon entering the emergency room, he observed large amounts of blood, plus JFK's clothes, on the floor. [ed. note: Dr. Malcolm Perry has indicated that he tossed his sport coat aside upon seeing the president on the emergency gurney.] At the same time, the president's head had already been wrapped in a sheet, although Rike was able to observe the front of JFK's neck and took note of what he perceived to be a "sloppy trach." He was told at the time that there had been a bullet hole there.

He observed Mrs. Kennedy endeavoring to put her ring on the late president, and was able to do so only with some help from Rike, who lubricated JFK's finger to make the passage of the smaller ring easier.

Rike was present for the last rites, although this raises a question in retrospect, as the priests claimed they were able to put the sacramental oil directly on the president's forehead, not on a shroud.

Soon thereafter, Rike helped put JFK in the expensive coffin [which would later be returned to Texas and serve as the burial place for someone else...], and in the process noted a great deal of blood, a jagged hole, and the ability to feel brain material--all when holding the back of the president's head.

JFK was then placed upon a rubber sheet so the blood would not damage the white satin lining of the expensive coffin. To clear up a confusion, I asked Rike the "color" of that rubber sheet. He didn't fully grasp my question, so I amplified it to say that people at Bethesda, hours later, saw the president in what they perceived to be a "body bag," a dark, rubber bag used to transport victims of tragedy. I then asked if the "sheet" in Dallas could have been a source of confusion for the "body bag."

"Oh, no," Rike said. "The sheet was white plastic, with plastic on one side and a white, rubber material that would grip and stay in place on the other side." That cleared up a major concern.

Rike then spoke of a "fifteen-minute" custody fight between local officials, eager to perform the legally mandated autopsy, and federal officials, secret service among them, eager to get the president back to Washington. He indicated that the event got so heated that the crucifix that had been attached to the top of the coffin was shaking around and he, Rike, held on to it so that it would not be shaken loose.

I asked him if he saw any guns drawn during this encounter. He said he did not, but he did say that he saw one agent (one presumes it was an agent, and not a JFK aide...) reach into his coat as if to suggest the presence of a weapon there. To me, this recollection gave credence to Rike's story, as it would have been easy for him to spin out some fascinating tale involving more guns than the Frito Bandito or the Russian front in WW II. But he didn't.

He told the audience, at one point, that all of his recollections--expensive coffin, plastic sheet, damage to rear of JFK's head, were countered by opposite claims stemming from personnel--either naval technicians or autopsy doctors--at Bethesda, to the point where JFK arrived in a cheap shipping coffin in a body bag and the back of his head was intact. Rike indicated he could not swear any of that happened, but he told his listeners that if it did, there was something very wrong with the event.

He was asked why he never came forward, and he gave three interesting answers to what seemed like a simple question. First, he was called up, from the Marine Reserves, to be sent to Vietnam, where he was shot down in a helicopter and wounded in action. It's odd, in 1964, as reserves were not being called up either that early or very often. Second, he said he had received a call during that weekend from federal officers whose duty station was Dallas, inviting him to come to their offices. He told them he was a busy man, and if they wanted to talk to him, they could come to his office. Nevertheless, they repeated their offer/demand, and Rike recalls being told by the FBI, that he, and his co-workers, should "keep our mouth shut or they would keep it shut for us." Your tax dollars at work...

Lastly, Rike had a final concern that made a posture of silence seem sensible to him. He told of receiving several "bogus" ambulance calls during the days preceding the president's motorcade, and the location was usually the corner of Houston and Elm Streets. In thinking about those "bogus" calls in the days after the assassination, and combining that with his recollection of picking up "the epileptic" there on November 22, he saw the possibility that perhaps the seizure was part of something much bigger, and that his ambulance, cruising nearby, was supposed to have arrived a few minutes later, and that the sound of its siren would have drowned out the sounds of the shots. Food for thought...

Aubrey Rike was exhausted by Sunday morning, and had someone else do his shift for him. Had he gone to work, his ambulance would have taken Oswald from the DPD to Parkland.

He's an interesting man to talk with, and I plan to speak to him again. Maybe that memory can be jogged just a tad with a question or two... maybe even with the questions the Warren Commission never asked him.

Postscript: I recontacted Rike to clear up the last rites question, and he insisted that he was present, along with only one priest, when the sacraments were given, and that the shroud on the president's head was not removed. In our Dallas talk, he had seemed to place a great deal of faith in the theories advanced in 1980 by David Lifton, and I asked him in this postscript if he gave any consideration to the possibility that the photos, not JFK, had been altered. "I sat with the fella that took the photos," he told me. "He said the tiles on the floor don't work, as Bethesda had a concrete floor, and he also had a problem with the metal apparatus that was holding the president's head, as the one at Bethesda was made of rubber."



by Walt Brown

I wrote this because I felt at that time, and still do, that Oswald would have gone to trial for the Tippit murder, because the JFK case against him was so totally circumstantial, and also because a Tippit conviction would allow local courts to defer prosecution for the assassination on the basis of cost, and still maintain the illusion that if Oswald killed the cop, it was as part of his escape after killing the president.

Had Lee Oswald survived his captivity, an admittedly unlikely scenario in hindsight, eventually he would have had his day or days in court, and despite the persistent, nagging doubts we all have, even to the point of "conviction" among some that Oswald was not guilty, period, of shooting the President and only inferentially suspect in the slaying of Officer J.D. Tippit, the State of Texas would have eventually strapped him into the electric chair and passed serious voltage through him until he was pronounced dead.

The question then becomes, "For which victim?" Texas had, after all, three options. Put Oswald on trial for the murder of the President, a state crime then, or for the murder of the officer, or for attempted murder of the governor of the state. It seems unlikely, on the other hand, that there would have been three trials, or even two, as we can easily see how the judicial wheels would have liked to have seen Oswald strapped to the electrodes and silenced at the first opportunity. This being the case, the question is again posed: "Which victim?"

Logic suggests the obvious: Oswald would have had to be convicted for the killing of the President. But how much of the events of the case as we know them are logical? Very few indeed. We also know that the case against Oswald was exceedingly thin with respect to JFK (WC and its apologists to the contrary notwithstanding...).

What if the case had been "People v. Lee Harvey Oswald, in and for Dallas County, on the charge that Oswald did kill J.D. Tippit by shooting him with a gun"? This may sound far-fetched, but think it through.

Oswald was initially a suspect in the Tippit case, and his suddenly discovered absence from the TSBD made him suspect in the President's assassination at just about the time he was being sought for the Tippit slaying. Although we do not have anything even approaching verbatim records of Oswald's interrogation, it is reasonable to think that some questions were asked about the Tippit event, since we know Oswald was asked why he had a pistol, and that he answered, in effect, "You know, it's a guy thing."

Oswald was initially charged, and initially arraigned for the killing of Tippit, early in the evening of November 22. Over four hours later, he was charged in the death of the President, and thereafter arraigned another two hours later.

How would the two cases compare, using the legal scales as a balance? In the Tippit case, a motive of sorts could be inferred. Oswald was on the lam from earlier evil-doings, and killed the officer to stay on the loose, just as he would assault Officer McDonald in the Texas Theatre, with the suggestion that he hoped to use his pistol on him. By comparison, Oswald was relatively calm when "confronted" by Officer Baker in the TSBD lunchroom, within seconds of the assassination. In the JFK case, not even the WC could really give Oswald a motive, since all their character witnesses painted a picture of an Oswald who respected JFK and the things he stood for, and the best the Commission could conclude was that a born loser was looking for his page in history.

With respect to putting the accused at the scene, there was a host of witnesses at the Tippit site, albeit with some confusion that an attorney could have played upon, but when all was said and done, a lot of people identified Oswald in police lineups and gave statements that it was he they had seen at Tenth and Patton, circumstantially, at the time of the death of the officer. Helen Markham, hardly a type to make a case with, saw it all. In Dealey Plaza, you have a decent number of people who saw a gun in an upper floor window of the TSBD, but nobody identified Oswald in a lineup for that crime, and Howard Brennan's picture belongs in the dictionary next to the entries for "prevarication." [see also "lying," and, especially, "perjury"]

The comparison is analogous with respect to the two weapons in question. Oswald was relieved of a pistol in the Texas Theatre, and although ballistics checks were impossible because the gun had been re-barreled, the cartridges found at the scene matched, through the medium of ballistic science, with cartridges subsequently fired. And the key, of course, is that the pistol was on Oswald's person. The rifle found at the TSBD was laid at Oswald's door (or the Paines' garage) circumstantially, and a prosecutor would have been hard put to be convincing that the President was killed by that gun, CE 139, to the exclusion of all others. About the best you could say for the Mannlicher is that Oswald's alter ego, Hidell, purchased it, and it was found, after a "Mauser" confusion, in the vicinity from which one or more shots had been fired. Long after the Commission ceased its labors, no less than Jesse Curry (in his memoirs), and Wesley Liebeler, on a radio talk show, indicated they would have been hard put to place Oswald physically at the scene of the assassination.

Oswald's whereabouts, again with some confusion among witnesses, was known at the time of the Tippit shooting, but can only be circumstantially -- and then under tortured circumstances -- be suggested for the JFK shooting. "Oswald" left a trail of witnesses from Tenth and Patton, past Ted Calloway and others (although Oswald answered Calloway when asked what was going on -- strange behavior for a killer), all the way to Johnny Brewer and Julia Postal. On the other hand, Oswald was inside the TSBD when the President was shot; where exactly, we may never know.

To inject a fine point of law, J.D. Tippit received the legally mandated Texas autopsy, whereas we know JFK did not receive a Texas or any other kind of autopsy, as his remains were treated to a government look-see at Bethesda which mocked both the man and the majesty of his office. And therein may have been Texas's way out. Try Oswald for Tippit, because let's face it folks, we know he killed the President, yet there's this technicality of an autopsy, and dagnabit, we didn't do one on the President, so we'll fry the little commie for shooting a Texas officer either way.

And that may have been how Texans wanted it. In 1963, with the "commie killed the police officer" scenario, set in a southern courtroom with a judge and jury of good ol' boys (not unlike the WC), "The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald" (for Tippit) would have made the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird look like a cliffhanger.



by Walt Brown

The calendar reads 'Sunday, November 22, 1998.' I'm at home, in New Jersey, dealing with three personal emergencies and trying to forget some COPA indignities* (see elsewhere), on this 'day of memories.' There has not been a November 22 since 1963 in which I did not devote much time to reflect on the life as well as the death of President John F. Kennedy, and recall the suddenness of the news that told me of the finality of the tragedy. As you've read hundreds of times before, we all remember where we were at that moment, if we are old enough. Yet there are other, more recent memories of JFK on November 22 as well.

In 1969, while I was employed at the Justice Department in Washington, I visited the Kennedy graves in Arlington National Cemetery. It was, not surprisingly, a cold, raw, gray day, but I spent a lot of time there -- because it was a Saturday -- somehow hoping that somebody else would visit and be as caring about JFK's life and about getting to the truth of his death, as I was. I also allowed for the possibility that someone, somehow researching the case, or a family member, would come by while I was there. Didn't happen. The big news item that day was the Michigan-Ohio State game, the winner of which would go to the Rose Bowl. John Kennedy, after all, had been dead for six years and the Warren Commission had told us everything we needed to know.

Since then, there have been other November 22s, perhaps the most poignant -- if understated, was the 30th anniversary of the event, with pomp and circumstance, not to mention a mob of people, including Mike Robinson, in Dealey Plaza. Nellie Connally was the guest of honor who had been invited to help dedicate the site, and she did, although it was never really articulated why the site was so important or what had happened there. All of which was not surprising, since this was the same Mrs. Connally who had issued a vehement "no" to those who requested, politely it is hoped, that her husband's passing in June of that year be the opportunity for remaining metal in his body to be removed, weighed, analyzed -- all with the intent of proving or disproving the legitimacy of CE 399, the magic bullet [and, by extension, conspiracy or no conspiracy]. She refused, and the key truth was buried with John Bowden Connally.

Time (not the magazine, please) and the hard work of a lot of people convinced many others that the Warren Commission had not exactly amounted to full disclosure. Well, maybe not even partial disclosure. Well, maybe just garbage in a fancy wrapper. Either way, we learned as we went along.

The intervening years -- you know what happened: the various committees, including the HSCA, new documents which eventually become old documents as newer ones found their way out of wherever federal hostage papers are kept, and one (of many) movies that awakened not only a generation, but a national consciousness. By the time of Stone's December 20, 1991 release of JFK, the public was ready for a dose of reality, and they got it. I was ready to start a full-time second career digging more deeply into the arcane mysteries of November 22, 1963, and I got that as well; moral to that story... be careful what you wish for.

I learned much from 1991 through the beginning of 1998: the contradictions in the evidence, the plethora of theories and shooters, the variety of 'sponsors' and the various and sundry -- and often abysmal -- ways in which the most recent batch of research, or the 'conspiracy du jour' reached the public. I also began to form the very serious impression, subconsciously at first, and through introspection and with a lot of help, that Cuba was the line in the sand. The assassination was about real estate, not about agencies with initials, or groups with acronym names, or either oil taxes or the price of pretzels in Pakistan. It wasn't done by Mossad or by Chinese or Bulgarian intelligence, as some would have us believe, but by people within our own house -- people who viewed events in Cuba, shook their head sadly, and pronounced one quintessential word: "enough."

And in their own minds, they were not pronouncing a death penalty against John F. Kennedy for his failure(s) there; they were going to turn him into the ultimate martyr for Cuban freedom. They succeeded, in part: JFK did become the ultimate martyr, although 35 years later, that little island 90 miles off our shores is still a festering boil on American pride.

The year 1998 put me in touch with a loosely-grouped, inchoate group of individuals that I have chosen to call The Texas Research Group, one of whose members, Mike Blackwell, sadly passed away on Friday, November 13. What they call themselves is immaterial. The work they have done should serve as a beacon to all of us.

One of them shared with me a fascinating analogy about the case, and it has helped me refocus my thinking, so I'd like to share it with you. Imagine four people, let's call them Abraham Zapruder, James Tague, S.M. Holland, and Orville Nix. They all saw the assassination from different vantage points, and different perspectives. Let's assume for the sake of this analogy that those four men, two of whom took films and two of whom recorded amazingly accurate perceptions, all took only one photo each, and by some galactic coincidence, each photo was snapped at the exact fraction of a second in time that is depicted in what we call 'Z-313.' The head shot; when what later became known as 'Camelot' passed sadly and silently from reality to eternity.

"Oh, Jack, I love you."

That portion of a second, which has forever defined the passing American landscape. Let's then get those four photos developed, and blown up to eighteen inches by twenty-four inches, and take the four blowups to a jigsaw puzzle company and have four puzzles created. But each puzzle has to be cut on a different machine, so the pieces are not interchangeable. At the end of this exercise, we have 4,000 jigsaw pieces which would generate four similar yet not identical puzzles. The key is that there is not one puzzle, but several. Okay. Solve the puzzle. You'll probably start by looking for common 'border' pieces, but soon enough you'll find 'border' that doesn't fit the puzzle you have started. DON'T THROW THAT PIECE AWAY. Find out where it fits in its own puzzle.

That, methodologically speaking, is the essence of our failures, to date. When we find a puzzle piece that does not match our conception of what the [one, singular] puzzle should look like, we discard it. That's our error. Find the puzzle that holds that piece, and put it in place. When you have completed all the puzzles, then you have the answer.

This analogy was not meant to create the impression that every bit of data fits. If, in fact, a green car was seen speeding away from the triple underpass at 12:31 on November 22, 1963, was that a killer? A shoe salesman with a nasty toothache? A jealous lover suspecting a tryst during a time when everyone else's attention was diverted? Not all 'pieces' are real, but until all can be separated, all must be kept. Some pieces will fit the planning puzzle, some the Dealey Plaza puzzle, some the Oswald-double/patsy puzzle, some the cover-up puzzle. Others will fit into schemes that were, sadly, successful distractions, and others are parts of schemes that were diversions prior or plans subsequent, that were no longer needed once the bugler played 'taps' at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

But they are all answers -- the trick is to find out what question your puzzle piece 'answers.' Thousands of people still read the new books (except Warren Omission, sadly), and they continue to dig, and they find things that are in their way, answers. But they can't match their find to the appropriate question, and valuable data are, and have been, lost. Maybe short range, perhaps forever.

One puzzle is certainly shaped like the island of Cuba. A land of mystique to Christopher Columbus on at least one of his voyages, it somehow captured and fired the American imagination for triple the lifespan of anyone reading these words. It was once seen as the expansionists' dream in the days when slavery seemed doomed on the North American continent, and 'filibusters,' wide-eyed shoot 'em ups, were organized by handfuls of misguided thrill seekers who, in turn, became target practice for Spanish firing squads. It got so out of hand that Congress passed legislation to prevent such extra-national shenanigans. In 1848, the Ostend Manifesto, a document issuing out of Belgium at a time when a number of Americans had happened to gather there, told of America's need to own Cuba. The dream just never died, and it was instantly revived as a US warship known as The Maine sank to the bottom of Havana harbor. "Remember the Maine," Americans shouted as they marched off to a war against Spain, which would gain us territory in both the Caribbean and the Asian littoral, the latter becoming the heart of our overseas Pacific might when such was needed in the Cold War. What was not known in 1898 was that engineers who studied the wreckage of The Maine realized the ship was not sunk from a mine planted from without, but rather from an explosion from within the ship, which pushed the waterline plates outward. The fine points of explosives did not matter; we got our quick little war, a future President led the charge up Kettle Hill adjoining San Juan Hill, and the dream of owning a jewel in the Caribbean came that much closer to reality.

By mid-century, Cuba had become everything its protagonists could have asked for. It was an offshore Tijuana in its soft underbelly, but it also had massive agricultural and chemical resources that greedy imperialism could exploit to the fullest while propping up the pathetic dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, who was Mossadegh or Jacobo Arbenz in disguise --but he was our friend and would look the other way, where Arbenz and Mossadegh cared enough about their people that the CIA had to run them out. And good riddance.

But then the unthinkable -- the truly unthinkable -- event happened. A Cuban revolutionary named Fidel Castro Paz, having had his athletic talents as a southpaw pitcher spurned ironically by a baseball franchise then known as the Washington Senators [today's Minnesota Twins], and having had his political consciousness raised by intensive training in Moscow, led a revolution that threw out Batista and his bloated, corrupt, fellow travelers, and ushered in an era of...

An era of what? All that was known of Castro was that he opposed the excesses of the Batista regime and the suffering that it transferred to the poor while fattening the rich -- many of whom had 'Anglo' names and corporate addresses. When the cordite aroma faded, and the revolution came to rest, Castro pushed it where it had always been unspokenly headed -- to Communism. To be the awful little satellite on the map that Sputnik had so recently been in the firmament. To sit in the Caribbean, "America's lake" and make the hammer and sickle the prerequisite flag on all ships coming and going, while nationalizing, for Havana and ultimately Moscow, all US assets there, and destroying its Tijuana-like appeal for drugs, prostitution, weapons, and anything else not easily purchased in front of the White House in Washington, DC.

Castro got everyone's attention. In his revolutionary days, Oswald rooted for him; years later, when the Warren Commission asked his U.S. Marine commander about that, the commander told them, essentially, so what? Time magazine -- and everybody else for that matter, was rooting for Castro also [except of course, the mobsters, the intelligence community, and the oil profiteers]. But John Q. Citizen could see Batista for what he was, and Castro... he might just as well have been another Patrick Henry. He turned out, of course, to be a latter-day Leon Trotsky, but we didn't know that... although we damn sure should have.

Cuba festered. Washington boiled, but what, really, could they do? It was not as if we were really angry at an independent nation, like Mexico. We were furious at the prize new possession of Nikita Khrushchev, the Politburo, the Supreme Soviet, the Red Air Force and the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Soviet Union. And just as we would later hear John Kennedy say, during his Missile Crisis address, that any attack launched from Cuba would be treated [correctly so...] as an attack by the Soviet Union, so we knew that for us to attack Cuba was to launch a war against Russia.

Remember what Sean Connery, in Hunt for Red October said about that time period -- "Not since the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin..." in referring to the weapons dominance the Soviets would have had because of ballistic missile submarine Red October. As Castro took Cuba dramatically into the Soviet bloc, it was a time when our headlines screamed "missile gap," and we were on the short end. It was a time when Khrushchev threatened, and followed through, with new rounds of above-ground nuclear testing, promising a 50-megaton bomb which, when detonated, yielded over 90 megatons. Khrushchev joked to the Politburo that the Soviet scientists responsible for the error would not be punished.

Nobody laughed in Washington. They didn't laugh either, when Khrushchev presented our President with a puppy whose parent had been a Russian dog that had orbited the earth and been brought back alive, when all our rockets came down a whole lot faster than they were going up. It was not 'Dessert Storm,' then... it was the Cold War, and to do anything about it meant massive annihilation of huge segments of the population.

There are still bomb shelters in back yards from those very days, and because of those very fears. Yet bomb shelters meant little to those in the 'corridors of power,' because they possessed the ultimate bomb shelters and could and would create policy oblivious to the needs of those who lived under the constant nightmare of Soviet rockets.

Cuba screamed at them. They saw Cuba in their waking hours, and the same nightmare came to haunt them each and every night. Cuba became the line in the sand. We had anguished, and even fought -- but against the Chinese, not the rocket-laden Russians, over two tiny islands, Quemoy and Matsu, in the late 1950s. We would have fought anyone, anywhere, to prevent the proliferation of (or for the arms traders, the ridicule of the folly of) 'the domino theory.' Let one Asian nation fall, and we would need a red paint brush to create a map covering the lives of millions of souls. Cuba had the power to be the cancer at the heart of the domino theory in our own backyard.

Cuba emerged as a problem in the final days of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration, when an infirm and aging President who had seen enough of war, passed the proverbial buck to his chosen successor, Richard Nixon. Nixon, as we know, became the 'point man' for American efforts aimed at ridding Cuba of Communism and Castro, and all that was really required was the ratification of the not-widely-known plans by the American people on Tuesday, November 8, 1960.

That, too, didn't happen. By a thin (but not, as often noted, "the thinnest") margin of victory, John Kennedy, who had been briefed by the CIA about upcoming events in Cuba, had used his knowledge to force Nixon's hand in one televised debate, and Nixon had not needed a makeup man to look bad on that occasion. Kennedy won the debates and the election, and the Cuban plan then became his -- by inheritance and not by choice, and that's a key distinction.

The plan proceeded. A sizable group of Cuban 'patriots' would be provided with weapons, put ashore in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, and if proper air-cover allowed the invaders to be resupplied, they would succeed. At the same time, the CIA promised that the first hint of a chink in Castro's control would lead the masses, now more down-trodden than during the Batista era, to rise up and rid themselves of Castro.

JFK agreed to the landing, but never to the kind of air cover that was needed to destroy a measly three T-33 jets, which would eventually rake the beaches and the supply ships, causing the invaders to come up short in supplies but never in heart. The intell community sadly came up short in their assessment of the Cuban populace's desire to oust Castro. Whatever they may have felt, the Cuban people did nothing at the time of the Bay of Pigs.

We had been humiliated again. The US could not dislodge a dictatorship closer to our shores than many JFK/DPQ readers are to the nearest baseball or football franchise. Castro's power, which had been assessed as tenuous, now was iron clad. Castro's forces, which had seemed an easy target for conquest, now had to be reconsidered, and would be beefed up by Moscow to prevent further Washington-based efforts.

And the CIA looked like idiots or worse, and, in-house, they knew it. (see Peter Kornbluh in Book Notes). John Kennedy took the blame for the abortive Bay of Pigs, although recent documents reveal that his supposedly "promised" air support was never more than "considered" air support, and that the CIA knew the mistake was theirs.

JFK seethed, as did the CIA. Kennedy, who had had magnificent political intelligence in the year before the Bay of Pigs, to the point where both JFK and RFK knew the name, family history, and pedigree of every delegate to the Democratic nominating convention, was now handed shabby, incorrect, and faulty intelligence by the agency charged to provide it, and he let it be known privately that changes were coming in the agency. Obvious changes involved the sacking of Dulles, Bissell, and Cabell, two of whom figure very largely in the events of and after November 22, 1963. More subtle changes were planned for the period after November 22, 1963, but were never implemented by President Lyndon Johnson.

Kennedy and the CIA then created parallel tracks to do something about Cuba, the line in the sand. JFK, through brother Bobby, was a part of plans to eliminate Castro. The agency created a number of scenarios, almost all moronic, to kill Castro, using poison, bullets, exotic pens and creams, or exploding conch shells, or failing that, to pull a stunt to have his beard fall out. Kennedy saw the failures for what they were.

The crisis came in 1962 and taught the world that Cuba was the line in the sand. Following warnings by then New York Senator Kenneth Keating, the US began to see that Russian missiles -- with nuclear warheads that could reach half of America -- were being installed in Cuba. A crisis like no other before or since ensued. Ultimately, Kennedy got what he wanted; the missiles were removed, as our TVs featured images of covered crates on Soviet freighters. But the price was high, as Khrushchev also got what he wanted -- a guarantee from the US that Cuba would not be invaded, and the removal of US sitting duck missiles sitting in Turkey (which JFK had ordered removed earlier). A third of a century later, the Cuban Missile Crisis appears as a statesmanlike win-win confrontation. To the American public at the time, who knew little of missiles in Turkey, it was a victory for the stylish Kennedy over the boorish Khrushchev. Either way, it ended a crisis that brought us as close to Armageddon as any event our government has told us about. The public breathed a sigh of relief and moved on, to a Thanksgiving they were not sure they would celebrate. The people who traveled the corridors of power, however, knew the deeper truth of the Missile Crisis, and all those who had been upset previously, now became enraged and sought validation for their righteous indignation.

They would take care of Cuba if John Kennedy would not. They would use John Kennedy to get to Cuba, to solve their own problems, and most of all, to erase the line in the sand.

And who were they?

Primarily, the were the CIA (to atone for past errors and to validate their capacity to provide intelligence in the emerging Southeast Asian areas of concern); the military industrial complex (who needed to prove that S.E. Asia was winnable by winning one closer to home); organized crime (linked to the CIA and willing to reclaim their casinos and bimbos in Cuba), the right wing (furious that JFK had not destroyed Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and if not then, certainly during the Missile Crisis; Quarantine? hell, no....Nuke 'em.); anti-Castro exiles (viva la homeland, and keep those CIA bucks coming); and the Lyndon Johnson/J.Edgar Hoover/FBI axis, which delighted in tweaking Kennedy's nose where possible, but whose survival, looking ahead to January 20, 1965, the day of JFK's second inaugural, was uncertain if not very doubtful.

In short, the people to whom Cuba was the line in the sand were the very same people who are always seen as the prime movers in President Kennedy's assassination, having only left out the Secret Service, Castro, and Khrushchev. The last two are always mentioned, but we know better.

The stakes were as high as they would ever be. Many scenarios were created. One was in Chicago, another in Miami. There may have been others, as well, but the trap was sprung in Dallas, Texas. With blitzkrieg suddenness, a burst of gunfire cut down the President of the United States in broad daylight.

Phase One of the operation had been a success.

Phase two failed at the very moment when the groundwork was afoot for phases three and four. The sole objective of the second phase was to have Lee Oswald, or possibly 'Alek J. Hidell' killed immediately, 'red'-handed, at the scene of the crime. Broadcasts emanating immediately would have said, "We interrupt this program with this news flash from Texas. President Kennedy, riding through the streets of Dallas, was cut down by gunfire from a lone assassin identified as Alek J. Hidell, a known defector to the Soviet Union, and more recently, an activist on behalf of Fidel Castro-related causes." At the moment those words were being said, Lyndon Johnson read his lines on cue, telling aides at Parkland Memorial Hospital that he feared the shooting was the beginning of a move against America by an international conspiracy. We must credit Johnson with the foresight to see conspiracy. That he was so able to identify it as an "international" one, as opposed to a "domestic" one simply by hearing the shots, is astounding. It helped of course, that he had prior knowledge and was only reciting his lines for the audience, to move to phases three and four. Recall in later times, however, that LBJ had to stick to that original "international conspiracy" line, both in creating the Warren Commission to prevent World War III against Castro and "Krewchef" but also in interviews near the end of his life. Once the lie issued from his mouth at Parkland, Lyndon Johnson could either do something with it, or he was stuck with it. As it happened, he was stuck with it, just as we were stuck with his simplistic Presidential Commission.

The failure of phase two, the immediate execution of Oswald/Hidell, doomed the remainder of the plan. Phase three was simply, 'America gets mad,' and they would have gotten mad -- fighting mad -- over a conspiracy stemming from Cuba, as personified by Hidell and his one-man Fair Play for Cuba fiasco, and in our anger, we would have crossed -- eradicated-- the line in the sand. What we did see of phase three was the time between the shooting, and the time, two hours and seventeen minutes later, when Air Force One left Dallas. It was in that time that news of JFK's death at the hands of a Cuban patriot was supposed to stun America, not sadden them as it did; the people shown weeping outside of Parkland Hospital were supposed to be shaking their fist at an island which had destroyed America's best and brightest. LBJ and company were waiting for that anger to manifest itself. If it had, they might have gone to the LBJ Ranch, gotten on the hot line to the Kremlin and said simply, "Look: the American people cannot tolerate what has been done by a Cuban sympathizer to our national dignity. We're going to hit Cuba and you are going to have to cut your losses." And that was possible in 1963, because the Missile Crisis, thirteen months earlier, had taught us that we had a decent nuclear superiority over the Russians, and we had increased it proportionately in those thirteen months. Khrushchev would have had only two choices: acquiesce, or threaten mass retaliation. What would have happened then could not be known, as Phase IV, the invasion of Cuba, never got off the ground.

And that is where we account for the mob, the CIA, the exiles, the right wing, the oil people -- they were all ready to sign on to use JFK as a martyr to further their own interests; and if historians were inclined to write the history of the 1960s as a time when American anger over the killing of their beloved president led to the reawakening of America, the dusting off of the Monroe Doctrine, and the end of Communism in this hemisphere, then let the sun shine on JFK. Because in the meantime, the CIA would have been saved, the mob would have been back in business, right-wing political agendas would have been validated, the exiles would have returned to their homeland, and President Lyndon B. Johnson and FBI Director for life J. Edgar Hoover would have continued in positions of power, not disgrace or prison.

Much of that DID happen because of events of 1963. What did not happen was the removal of Cuba as the line in the sand, because Oswald/Hidell did not get executed, and the planners of the four phases were shocked at America's grief because they could only view JFK through their own eyes.

Which puzzle does your data fit? Whatever the answer is, save the piece, because there is a question to match it. When you have an answer, you are in business. Go find the question.



by Steve Jones

As some readers of the JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly may be aware, Carol Hewett, Barbara Lamonica, and I have been conducting research on Ruth and Michael Paine, arguably two of the most significant yet overlooked individuals in the tapestry of people, places, and events that continue to swirl around the vortex that we know as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I would like to share with the Quarterly's readers some thoughts that Ruth Paine revealed to a close personal friend of hers. This friend subsequently discussed these thoughts with me, but sought from me a promise [being kept] never to reveal her identity in order to protect her privacy.

In the spring of 1997 Jim Douglass, a researcher and Christian peace worker, put me in contact with Ruth's friend in the hope that she might be willing to give me some valuable insights into the life of Ruth Paine, once a central figure in the lives of Lee and Marina Oswald, and, by extension, their children. When I traveled to the friend's home and knocked on her door, she greeted me by saying that we should go somewhere else to talk because she feared that her home might be subject to electronic surveillance. When we did finally sit down to talk, she apologized for seeming paranoid, but quickly gave me reason to believe that her fears were not unfounded. She explained that she had been a Christian peace worker during the turbulent Reagan-Bush years when the United States government was heavily funding the Contras in their efforts to overthrow the populist Sandanista government. Since the peace workers helped the poor and the oppressed natives who generally sided with the Sandanistas, United States intelligence agencies made life very difficult for them.

Ruth's friend explained to me that she had recently returned from her fourth (that is my best recollection of the number...) tour of duty in Nicaragua. Since she had returned to the States, she had been openly followed in the streets by federal law enforcement agents in a manner that was obviously meant to intimidate her. FBI agents had visited her home on several occasions. Her mail had been opened and her phone had been tapped. If anyone doubts that the United States government really does this sort of thing to people who openly oppose the agenda of the national security state, I highly recommend the book Resisting Reagan by Christian Smith. [ed. note: Steve's point is well taken here].

This friend got to know Ruth in 1990 when they were both working for pro-Nica, one of the various peace organizations that was involved in that beleaguered Central American country. She went on to explain to me that when Ruth first showed up at the camp, everyone began to distrust her because of her behavior, which overlapped every characteristic of a CIA infiltrator. Ruth was taking notes off of bulletin boards, asking people many personal questions, and taking photographs for supposed purposes that turned out to be false. In fact, Ruth never went anywhere without a notebook handy, ready to jot down anything and everything she saw or heard. The rest of the group had gotten very good at spotting infiltrators, because the CIA was always sending people down there either to gather information or to act as agents provocateur to disrupt their efforts.

One evening when volunteer Sue Wheaton told the group about Ruth's connection to the Kennedy assassination, the suspicion intensified to the point of paranoia. Based on what the volunteers had seen the CIA do in Nicaragua, none of these people would hesitate to question whether or not it was possible for the agency to assassinate an American president. Because of the volunteers' conviction in that regard, Ruth became ostracized except for one woman who, though she maintained a distrust for Ruth, took a personal liking toward her and began to develop a friendship with her.

The group openly confronted Mrs. Paine with their suspicions, but she would adamantly deny any connection to the CIA (or, one presumes, other 'initial' agencies), and steadfastly stuck to her Warren Commission testimony of being an innocently maligned do-gooder regarding the assassination. When confronted so openly. it was common 'agent' behavior to quietly depart, based on the assumption that the 'cover' had been blown. But because of Ruth's persistent denials and the group's unwillingness to kick someone out who had been wrongfully accused, Ruth was asked to take a leave of absence from the group instead of being summarily dismissed.

Her friend was given the assignment of driving her across the border into Costa Rica to a retreat center where peace workers sometimes went for badly needed R & R. When they approached the camp and were getting out of their car, several others came up to greet them and help them with their luggage. As those people approached the car and saw who it was, they started screaming, "Oh my God, it's Ruth Paine, she's CIA -- get her away from us!!" Ruth Paine's reputation had somehow preceded her and they were forced to return to the volunteer camp where Ruth bravely, and without complaint, finished out her year before returning to the United States.

Upon returning to America, Ruth and the woman-source of this story continued the friendship that they had begun in the jungles of Nicaragua. The friend explained to me what a strange feeling it is to care about someone, to find someone likable and personable yet to not completely trust them. The friend always had the feeling that Ruth Paine was hiding something, that she was holding something back and that she wasn't being totally honest about her connections to the CIA or her involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald. The two of them could sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee and discussing any topic under the sun, except for two: the CIA and the Kennedy assassination.

Yet the friend continued to gently press Ruth, reminding her that confession is good for the soul. At one point, Ruth became irritated about the constant inquiries into the assassination and told her friend, "If you want to know about the Kennedy assassination, I have old issues of Life magazine that I can give you. That will tell you everything you need to know." However, that disclaimer not withstanding, the friend did tell me that over the years there were a few times that Ruth did open up ever so slightly about both the CIA and the assassination. These comments, along with some other general information that the friend shared with me helped to both confirm and to dismiss some of the previous thoughts that we 'Paine researchers' had developed.

One hypothesis that can now be dismissed is that Ruth Paine's long vacation in the summer of 1963 had any sinister or clandestine purpose. In July, 1963, she drove her 1955 Chevy station wagon on a whirlwind tour of the eastern United States, culminating in her picking up Marina Oswald in New Orleans and bringing her and one child (Marina was expecting their second child in October) back to Texas in late September, as Lee was about to embark (unknown to them) on his adventures in Mexico. At the 1995 COPA conference, I gave a presentation in which I hypothesized that Ruth may have been involved in helping to impersonate Oswald on this trip, or even that Lee may have joined her in order to be seen at several demonstrations that Ruth attended during the trip, such as Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech/protest march in Washington in late August, 1963. But her friend informed me that Ruth takes those long cross-country journeys every summer, that she loves to drive, and that on those trips she has been visiting the same people for years, including her ex-husband Michael, whom she divorced in 1971.

What has been corroborated beyond any doubt is that Ruth has immediate family members who were employed by the CIA. Documents have been located at the Archives showing that her sister was a staff psychologist for the CIA as of 1961 and that her father had been approached by the Agency to run an educational co-operative alliance in Vietnam in 1957. Though refusing to admit that she herself ever had anything to do with the CIA, she admitted to her friend that her father had been in their employment. She said that while working as an insurance executive for Nationwide Insurance, and later for the Agency for International Development, her father had often gathered intelligence for the CIA. But she was quick to add that he would never have done so if "he had known what the CIA was really all about." By this she meant that her father was serving in the capacity of a genuine patriotic, anti-Communist fervor and did not really understand how the CIA used such intelligence gathering to undermine local economies and suppress indigenous people so that American corporations could move in and exploit local cheap labor. The fact that Ruth understands this showed that she was quite attuned to the motivations, methods, and purposes of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The one and only time Ruth showed any cracks at all regarding the assassination itself was when she was having a difficulties with her now 40-year-old daughter. With tears in her eyes, Ruth stated that her daughter did not want to speak to her any more until she came to grips with "the evil that I have been associated with in my life." When the friend gently pushed further and asked, "What evil?" Ruth clammed up. But the friend assured me that she was convinced this was a veiled reference to the Kennedy assassination and that Ruth was not talking strictly about Lee Oswald. The friend firmly believes this because the comment was made in the context of a brief discussion about the assassination. I learned this after several lengthy visits with the friend and decided that it was time to take things one step further. I asked the friend if she would be willing to act as an intermediary between interested researchers and Ruth Paine, and the friend accepted the challenge.

Ruth was going to be making one of her yearly summer trips and would stop to visit the friend. The arrangement was that I would give her articles that Barbara, Carol, and I had written for PROBE along with some documentation. The friend was to 'confront' Ruth with the information and ask her to explain it. Depending how this went, the friend would consider arranging a meeting between the researchers cited and Mrs. Paine.

Predictably, things fell apart at this point. A week before the scheduled arrival, the friend called me and told me that Ruth had canceled out, calling and saying that she was very busy and would have to cut her trip short and thus wouldn't have time for the visit. The friend noted that this was out of character because Ruth had been especially looking forward to the visit for a reason that cannot be divulged here. I could not help but think that someone had been listening to our phone conversations and that Mrs. Paine had been tipped off.

The friend then began to distance herself from me. Phone messages were not returned and letters went unanswered. After several months, I decided to leave her alone. I determined that for her own reasons, she desired no more contact with me. But I cannot help but surmise that her abrupt dismissal of me, and the work I was seeking to enlarge or corroborate, was out of a genuine sense of fear.

This episode only served to convince me even more that Ruth Paine was, and still is, working in some type of intelligence capacity. It also showed me what a determined, poised, and tough lady she truly is. Though she was under the most intense pressure in Nicaragua and was surrounded by people who distrusted her, she kept her cool. And later, when in the relaxed company of a genuine friend who truly cared about her, Ruth still refused to let down her guard for a brief moment.

If Ruth Pain is an agent, and I still firmly believe she is, she is a damn good one.

Vincent Salandria once told me that the Paines, whether unwitting or not, played a key role in the assassination conspiracy by getting Oswald into the Texas School Book Depository. The conspirators knew that the people they chose for such a vital role had to be rock solid individuals who would never crack.

After my experience with Ruth Paine's friend, I would have to say that Salandria was absolutely right.




by Vincent M. Palamara

Dr. William Zedlitz's presence at Parkland Hospital on November 22, 1963, was verified by Dr. Martin G. White (Warren Commission, 6H 83):

Arlen Specter "And what doctors were present at the time you left the room?"

Dr. White "Well, it would be impossible for me to tell you all the people that were there, but I knew Dr. Carrico, Dr. Baxter, Dr. Perry, and Dr. Zedelitz, Z-e-d-e-l-i-t-z (spelling,) -- I know they were there."

Specter "Doctor who -- what is his first name?"

White "William Zedelitz."

Specter "To what extent did he participate?"

White "I don't blieve that he did any -- I don't know what he did other than the fact that when I was doing the cutdown he assisted me by just placing some tape over the catheters we used to do this with."

Specter "Is he an intern as you are?"

White "He is a surgical resident here at this hospital."

The reason why no one has ever contacted this witness before, is because Dr. White misspelled his last name! Having just completed a 339-page massively-documented book pertaining to the medical evidence in President Kennedy's assassination (JFK: The Medical Evidence Reference), imagine my surprise when I received in the mail a much-belated letter from one of the Parkland Hospital doctors who was never interviewed before: Dr. William H. Zedlitz. Totally by accident, I discovered the true spelling of his last name, and, through an Internet search of physicians, I was able to locate the good doctor.

Having not heard from him, I dismissed my search for him from my mind, until I received his detailed reply to my two questions: 1) Exactly where was JFK's head wound located? 2) How did JFK's throat wound appear before the tracheostomy?

Without further ado, here is Dr. Zedlitz's verbatim response, from his letter to me dated 11/4/98:

"Dear Mr. Palamara, I received your letter concerning my participation in the emergency treatment of President John F. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital on Nov. 22, 1963. At the time, I was a 2nd year general surgery resident at Parkland Hospital and had just finished an operation and was starting to dictate the operative report when I heard the page operator page Dr. Tom Shires (chairman of the Department of General Surgery) to the emergency room. Since Dr. Shires was not in town at that time, I proceeded to the ER to see what the problem was. As I stepped off the elevator, a man in a suit with a gun asked me if I was a doctor. I replied that I was, and he directed me to trauma room #1. I noticed at this point that the ER was entirely empty of patients (they had been transported to another area by the Secret Service). When I entered the trauma room I was surprised to see to of our staff physicians (Dr. Charles Baxter and Dr. Malcolm Perry) and one of the third year surgery residents (Dr. James Carrico) already there. Dr. Carrico had inserted an endotracheal tube into the President and was trying to ventilate him with oxygen. At first glance the president seemed to be in extremely serious condition as he was not responding to any of the stimuli around him, and obviously had a massive head injury to the right occipitoparietal area (right posterior lateral) of the cranium. This area was a mass of bloody tissue with multiple skin, hair, and bony fragments matted together with blood and brain tissue and covered an area approximately ten by twelve centimeters in diameter. His left eye also seemed to be bulging from his eyesocket. At this point, Dr. Carrico indicated that he was unable to effectively ventilate the patient via the endotracheal tube. Dr. Baxter and Perry immediately began to perform a tracheostomy. Prior to making the incision, it was noted that a small (5mm to 7mm) hole in the front of the neck below the thyroid cartilage was present. This was in the exact location where the tracheostomy was to be performed. Dr. Baxter and Perry decided to do the procedure by extending the transverse incision on either side of this hole so that the tracheostomy tube ended up being inserted in the site of the former hole. I trust this answers your questions regarding the location of the head injury and the appearance of the neck prior to the tracheostomy. Sincerely, William H. Zedlitz, M.D., FACS."

Thus, we can add Dr. Zedlitz to the long list of those medical witnesses who noted an occipitoparietal head wound as well as a small throat wound. Too bad it took 35 years to get some of the answers!!

[Note from Walt Brown: Having read the Specter-White testimony and indexed it (page 172 of the Referenced Index Guide to the Warren Commission, I took an interest in 'Dr. Zedelitz' as long ago as 1994-1995. I contacted Gary Shaw in Texas, who put me in touch with the doctor, who said basically what he told Vince, and I was not surprised, as Gary Shaw had told me of Dr. Zedlitz's views of the event; from his comments that day, I surmised that he, also, had spoken with the doctor, since he was able to put me in touch with him with such ease. I'm curious if Dr. Zedlitz is pictured with Perry, Carrico, Crenshaw, et al., in the photo section of Crenshaw's book...more to follow if that can be determined.]



by Josiah Thompson

[Note from Walt Brown: A brief commentary is necessary to understand the genesis and background of both this article and the nature of the debate. In the previous issue of the JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly, a commentary by Greg Jaynes was published which reflected the Thompson-Fetzer "debate" held in November, 1998, in Dallas; in his Internet post, titled something like Thompson kicks Fetzer's a**, Greg Jaynes vented his spleen on the Zapruder alteration debate. I then heard immediately from Dr. Fetzer, who demanded I print his commentary, and told me, among other things, that I was under a "moral obligation" to do so, particularly since I had refused to print his rebuttal to a review of his book which appeared in the JFK/DPQ. I responded that I had published not one, but two letters of his which addressed points in the review (July, 1998 issue), so he ought to get his story straight, and that I felt no "moral obligation" to clean his laundry, particularly since the promoters of the Thompson-Fetzer debate had turned off the microphone during Fetzer's angry rebuttal. If they felt themselves under no moral obligation, I asked, why should I? He wrote back, in a tone which Josiah Thompson mentions toward the end of the article, to say that since I was hesitant to deal with "the truth," I was really the enemy in disguise. Frankly, I have worked too long and too hard to hear that kind of drivel. From there, Dr. Fetzer went all over the Net in a campaign to force me to publish his rebuttal, even contacting Greg Jaynes. Greg indicated he had not given me the piece, [Internet posting makes it 'public'], but went on to say that he stood by the content of it and that he perceived Thompson to be the clear winner. That event, too, has a genesis. At COPA 1996, a regional meeting in Dallas, Robert Groden began to introduce a video presentation. Two rows in front of me, Dr. James Fetzer stood and excoriated Groden in front of a sizable crowd, as Groden's video presentation included the Zapruder film, which, according to Fetzer, had been proven to be false during the course of that weekend. "What is your proof?" many yelled, although Dr. Fetzer offered none. I remember turning to watch the crowd and the person yelling to/at Dr. Fetzer the loudest, for proof, was Greg Jaynes. He got no answer from Fetzer, although David Mantik took the microphone [while Fetzer and Groden retreated to the rear of the hall to settle their differences] to explain that the Moorman Polaroid photo shows the background -- the knoll -- and the foreground--the car--in the same perspective, so they must be traveling at the identical speed. Since the knoll is not moving, then the car cannot be moving, and since the Z film does not show the car to stop, it is proof of alteration. The rest would wind up in Dr. Fetzer's book. As a subscriber, he will receive this, and he is more than welcome to rebut, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, what Josiah Thompson has to say. I would ask him to please leave my lineage out of it.]

Before considering the Zapruder film in particular, I want to situate it under a more general horizon. If altered, the Zapruder film would be an example of a more general phenomenon: the alteration of physical evidence by the authorities in a criminal case. Yes, it does happen. Not often. In fact, it's almost unique. In over twenty years of experience as a criminal investigator, I've seen it happen only once or twice. But it does happen. In fact, right now I have a death penalty case where I think it happened. Let me tell you about it.


Whether or not a substitution was made in this case is not the point. What is the point is the considerations that would make such a substitution plausible, that would make someone even try it: Note first that the crime scene cartridge case was in the custody of the person carrying out the substitution. Note second that, since the cartridge case was linked to no other evidence in the case, once the substitution was made there was no way for it to be discovered. Note third that the person who substituted the cartridge case knew exactly what he had to prove by the substitution.

Now let's try on another hypothetical example for size. Let's say that a particular letter is found at a crime scene. Let's say that that letter was the output of a computer at a remote location. Let's also say that the investigating officer had some incentive to change the wording in the letter.

If you were that investigating officer, what questions would you ask yourself? Wouldn't you first ask whether there were other copies of the letter? Had the writer kept a copy in a safe place or given it to someone else? Was the text of the letter kept on the computer? Even if it had been deleted from the hard drive of the computer, was there a backup somewhere? The alteration of evidence in a criminal case is a desperate act. Would you take that chance if you knew that irrefutable evidence of the alteration might turn up somewhere else? And how could you ever be sure?

Now let's take a photograph of a crime. First, you'd have to know exactly how you wanted to alter it. Secondly, you'd have to be sure no other copies no negative hidden away, no second copy residing in someone else's possession existed. Thirdly, you'd have to be sure that no other photographs taken by anyone else later would surface to expose the alteration.

With these considerations in mind, consider whether you would undertake to alter the Zapruder film. First, you'd have to know exactly what you wanted to show in your alteration. Second, since the film in question was a movie, you might very well have to alter not just one frame, not just one sequence of frames, but many. Thirdly, what about the other films? At least thirty-eight people were taking pictures that day in Dealey Plaza. At the very least, the Muchmore and Nix films also would have to be altered.

The Muchmore film was purchased by UPI on Monday, November 25th, and shown the following day on WNEW TV in New York City. On Friday, November 29th, the Nix film was also purchased by UPI and shown the next week in theater newsreels.

But the critical problem for anyone thinking of altering the Zapruder film is not the Muchmore and Nix films. It is all the other films you don't know about -- films developed outside Dallas by people from out of state who just happened by...or by foreign tourists who would get their films developed in their home countries. Any one of these unknown films could expose your alteration.

If one sat down for a long, long time it would be difficult to come up with a situation where alteration was more unlikely than in a film of the assassination of President Kennedy, a murder occurring at noon in a public square in front of hundreds of witnesses, an unknown number of whom were taking photographs of it.

Unlikely? Yes. Foolhardy? Yes. Impossible? No.

What makes it impossible is the actual provenance of the film itself. Recall above the example which showed the foolhardiness of faking a letter if youwere not in possession of all the copies. This situation is repeated with respect to the Zapruder film. For a minute, come along with me as we plot Zapruder and his film's movements over that crucial weekend thirty-five years ago...

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

8:00 am Abraham Zapruder arrives at the offices of Jennifer Juniors. Marilyn Sitzman and Lillian Rogers persuade him to retrieve his 8 mm. movie camera from his home.

11:30 am Zapruder returns to his office after retrieving his camera.

12:30 pm Zapruder films the assassination from a pedestal in Dealey Plaza.

12:45 pm Zapruder returns to his office and locks the camera in his safe.

1:30 pm Reporter Harry McCormick takes Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels to Zapruder's office. Emotionally upset, Zapruder agrees to furnish Sorrels with a copy of his film if Sorrels will agree that the copy is only for use by the Secret Service and that it would not be shown or given to any media. Sorrels agrees.

1:45 pm Together with Zapruder's partner, Irwin Schwartz, Sorrels, McCormick and Zapruder drive to Dallas Morning News. Since they can't process the film, they walk to WFAA TV. Zapruder is interviewed live; Schwartz is photographed with the camera.

2:15 pm A police car takes Sorrels, Schwartz, Zapruder and McCormick to the Kodak plant. Zapruder makes arrangements for the processing of the film. Phil Willis meets Sorrels at the Kodak plant and also agrees to furnish the Secret Service with copies of his 35 mm. slides. Sorrels gets a phone call and leaves for Dallas Police Headquarters.

3:15 pm (est.) The processed film is shown to fifteen to eighteen people. To have copies made, Zapruder must take camera original to Jamieson Company.

4:00 pm (est.) Zapruder has three (3) copies made by the Jamieson Company. He requests affidavit that no more copies were made.

4:30 pm (est.) Zapruder returns to Kodak plant with the original and three (3) copies. He has the three (3) copies processed and requests affidavits from Kodak personnel that only three (3) copies were processed.

Afternoon: Richard Stolley and Tommy Thompson of LIFE fly in from Los Angeles. LIFE stringers Patsy Swank and Holland McCombs learn that Zapruder has film of the assassination. Forrest Sorrels receives two of the three first generation copies and assures Zapruder they will be used only for official purposes by the Secret Service.

Evening: Stolley sets up offices in the Adolphus Hotel and begins calling Zapruder's home at fifteen minute intervals. Zapruder, shaken by the day's events, drives aimlessly around Dallas.

9:55 pm Secret Service Agent Max Phillips sends one of the two copies to Secret Service Chief Rowley in Washington, D.C. In an accompanying note, Phillips says that "Mr. Zapruder is in custody of the 'master' film."

11:00 pm Stolley reaches Zapruder at home and asks to come out and view the film. Zapruder declines. They agree to meet the next morning at 9:00am at Zapruder's office.


8:00 am Stolley is waiting at Zapruder's office when Zapruder arrives. The film is screened for Stolley. Stolley agrees that LIFE will pay Zapruder $50,000 in two installments for print rights to the film. Stolley leaves with the original and perhaps the remaining copy. The original is sent to Chicago where the LIFE editorial staff has assembled to prepare the new issue to be on the newsstands the following Tuesday, November 26th. During the preparation of black and white copies, the original is broken in several places by photo technicians. Splices are made.

At some time this weekend, a copy of the film is sent to New York where it is viewed by C.D. Jackson, publisher of LIFE. Jackson decides to acquire all rights to the film and so instructs Stolley.

Evening:Since copies cannot be made in Dallas, Gordon Shanklin, FBI SAIC in Dallas, is instructed to send the copy the FBI obtained from Sorrels by commercial flight to Washington, D.C. Shanklin does so, at the same time requesting that the FBI Lab make three, second generation copies, one for Washington and two for the Dallas Field Office.


Zapruder may have screened the film for Forrest Sorrels and other law enforcement agents.


Morning:Stolley meets with Zapruder in the offices of Zapruder's lawyer. The negotiations end with LIFE purchasing worldwide rights to the film for $150,000. During these negotiations, Dan Rather is shown the film. He neglects to make an immediate bid but elects to check with New York first. During a radio broadcast with Richard C. Hottelet and Hughes Rudd, Rather describes the film which he has "just returned from seeing." Later that day, Rather describes his viewing of the film on the CBS Evening News. Rather could only have seen this film at this time if Zapruder had retained one copy and provided Stolley with only the original the previous Saturday.


Morning: LIFE begins newsstand distribution of the November 29th issue. At the same time, various LIFE editors order up prints of the film for viewing in their offices. I was shown one of these in October 1966. Since control was lax, bootleg copies began to circulate.

What emerges from this chronology is a single important fact: At no time during the hectic weekend did the original of the film ever leave the custody and control of Abraham Zapruder and LIFE magazine.

Two first generation copies were provided to Forrest Sorrels of the Secret Service in the late afternoon of November 22nd . One of these copies was shipped to Washington that night. The other was turned over to the FBI and sent by commercial air to Washington the next day. But the original stayed with Zapruder until the morning of November 23rd when Dick Stolley walked out of Zapruder's office with it under his arm.

That original remained under LIFE's custody and control until it was given back to Zapruder's family in the 1970s.

But how do we know that LIFE did not conspire in the alteration of the film? As it is impossible to prove any negative, so it is impossible to prove this negative. But there is no shred of evidence that it happened.

On Monday, November 25th, many millions of LIFE magazine copies went into the mails to subscribers with black and white frames from the film, and, about the same time, copies of the film began appearing in editors' offices. Had the conspiratorial alteration of the film by LIFE and the government already taken place? If not, it would have been too late. With unknown copies floating around, the toothpaste could no longer have been put back in the tube.

Recently, another thread in the fabric has become visible. On Saturday morning, November 23rd, 1963, Zapruder sold just print rights to LIFE for $50,000. Other media were clamoring at Zapruder's heels, and two days later he sold additional rights to LIFE for $100,000 more. Are we to believe that Zapruder, always a shrewd businessman, had let Stolley walk out of his office with both the original and the last first generation copy? How would Zapruder be able to negotiate with the media for the remaining rights to his film? Had he given up his last copy of the film, then Dan Rather could not have viewed the film in the offices of Zapruder's lawyer on the morning of November 25th. Had he given up the last copy of his film, he could not have shown the film numerous times to Forrest Sorrels and others over that weekend. Recently, a new fact has come to light via the inquiries of the AARB. Their report disclosed that "...the Zapruder family's company possessed a third, first generation copy of the Zapruder film."

If Zapruder retained a first generation copy of the film, then there was no time ever when the toothpaste could have been put back in the tube. You say that Zapruder and LIFE could both have cooperated with the government in the alteration of the film? You can say this if you will. You can believe it, I suppose... But I can't. I think it's silly.

At this conference two years ago, Professor James Fetzer declared that a "historical turning point" had been reached: The alteration of the Zapruder film had been proven! When my colleague here, Hal Verb, had the temerity to disagree, the Professor told him he was "irrational." When earlier this year, I had the temerity to disagree, I was told by the Professor that " have thereby discredited yourself as a commentator on these matters."

Well, Professor Fetzer is a commentator here today and you will be able to judge his commentary. But since he is here, I want to close by taking up two of his contentions.

First, that the original of the Zapruder film was sent to the National Photographic Interpretation Center on the evening of November 22nd. Second, that famed eyewitness identification expert Elizabeth Loftus has produced findings showing that salient details of events are remembered with 98% accuracy and completeness.

In a recent email to me, Professor Fetzer wrote: "A study that appears in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE [states that] the film appears to have been in the hands of the National Photographic Interpretation Center run by the CIA already Friday night, where an original and three copies were struck and then returned to Dallas in time for a small group of reporters, including Dan Rather, to view the film in a preliminarily edited version." The study referred to is by Mike Pincher and Roy L. Schaeffer. These writers manufacture out of whole cloth a flight of "at least the original and one copy" from Dallas to Andrews Air Force Base on the night of the 22nd and a return flight of the altered film to Dallas in the early morning hours of November 23rd. They do this without a single fact to support their fancy. They even cite the Max Phillips note (quoted above), but never tell the reader that Phillips also pointed out that "Mr. Zapruder is in custody of the 'master' [read 'original'] film." They, and apparently Professor Fetzer, have simply misinterpreted the so-called "CIA 450 Documents" discovered by Paul Hoch in the early 1980s. These documents recount the preparation of four photo briefing boards for government officials based upon NPIC's analysis of the film. The question at issue is the timing of the shots. The selection of frames for the briefing boards makes clear that NPIC is looking at the same film we see today. Telltale information is found on page six of the documents which refer to the December 6, 1963 issue of LIFE. Hence, the examination was carried out not on November 22nd but sometime in December 1963. The copy of the film analyzed was the Secret Service copy, whose agents stayed with the film while the briefing boards were prepared. AARB located and interviewed two former employees of NPIC who stated that internegatives were made of only single frames to be mounted on briefing boards and that they never "reproduced the film as a motion picture."

Professor Fetzer makes his second claim in his own recognizable style. He wrote to me: "On Table 3.1 of Elizabeth Loftus, EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY, appears a summary of research with 151 subjects which reports that, when a group of subjects considered what they were observing to be salient or significant, they were 98% accurate and 98% complete with respect to their observations, which reinforces their importance as evidence. Even though you appear to accept the widely-held belief that eyewitness testimony is unreliable, Loftus' findings provide one more striking indication that opinions that are popular are not always true. "Indeed, to think that a view must be true because it is widespread is to commit the FALLACY OF POPULAR SENTIMENTS... While you have cited an appropriate expert in Elizabeth Loftus, you have misrepresented her findings concerning eyewitness testimony in relation to the assassination of JFK...

Indeed, David [Mantik] offers a calculation that, whenever dozens of witnesses all recall an the same way then they are almost certainly correct. If a single witness has a 2% chance of being wrong, then if all ten witnesses report the same event, the probability they are all wrong is 02 to the 10th power or 10 to the minus 17th, which equals .00000000000000001!"

There are so many errors in these few lines that it is difficult to know where to begin. First of all, these are not Elizabeth Loftus' findings, but the account of an experiment published in the Harvard Law Review by Marshall, et al., "Effects of Kind of Question and Atmosphere of Interrogation on Accuracy and Completeness of Testimony." The focus of the study is not "salience" or "accuracy" or "completeness" but, rather, methods of interrogation.

Elizabeth Loftus cited the study in her book but these are not "her findings." Had Professor Fetzer taken the trouble to look at the article he cites, he would have recognized that the "salient items" were not picked out by the people tested in the experiment, but by staff members and high school students. Hence, he misspeaks in saying, "...when a group of subjects considered what they were observing to be salient or significant, they were 98% accurate and 98% complete with respect to their observations."

It is Professor Fetzer's practice to ascribe nonsensical views to people and then criticize them for holding them. Likewise here. The Professor ascribes to me the silly idea that "...a view must be true because it is widespread." Then he exposes me as having committed "the fallacy of popular sentiments" for holding such a silly idea. This isn't argument. It's just silliness!

Then there is Professor Fetzer's claim that I have "misrepresented" Elizabeth Loftus' findings with respect to the Kennedy assassination. It is not only I who "accepts the widely-held belief that eyewitness testimony is unreliable," it is also Elizabeth Loftus. In fact, it is precisely her work which brought about this "widely-held belief." The cover of Eyewitness Testimony states that the book "...makes the psychological case against the reliability of the eyewitness." This is the book's single, unifying theme. Eyewitness testimony is both unreliable at its inception and subject to corruption by later acquired information and questioning.

Since I'd worked with Elizabeth Loftus on two cases (most recently the Oklahoma City bombing case), I asked her what she thought of the use the Harvard Law article had been put to by David Mantik and Professor Fetzer. She wrote back:
"It is fair to say that salient details are remembered better than peripheral ones. Also, it is easier to mislead people about peripheral details. "It is WRONG [her emphasis], however, to say anything like 98% of salient details are accurately remembered. If that was shown in the Marshall case, it is only with those subjects, with that stimulus material, in that study. We virtually never make claims about absolute percentages because the real percent-ages in any situation depend on so many other factors." So much for my "alleged" misinterpretation of her views.

Next is Professor Fetzer's quotation of a statistical error by David Mantik. Here, as in so many other things, he wraps himself in David Mantik's skirts. But David Mantik is mistaken when he writes: "If a single witness has a 2% chance of being wrong, then if all ten witnesses report the same event, the probability they are all wrong is .02 to the 10th power or 10 to the minus 17th, which equals .00000000000000001!"

They both got it wrong. As Art Snyder will be able to explain to you, they confused a Type I Probability (false negative) with a Type II Probability (false positive). I am sure Professor Fetzer will go on for hours in argument with Art Snyder about this. As for me, I know zip about probability theory and find the important point to be Elizabeth Loftus' "'s wrong to say anything like 98% of salient details are accurately remembered."

You may wonder why I've taken the time to attack Professor Fetzer here. It is because he expresses a trend in assassination research which I find odious. His emphasis on credentials and the cult of expertise (or alleged expertise) is demeaning to the tradition of inquiry we all share as a community. When the final history of this case is written it will be based on the canons of acute historical research. These canons have nothing to do with how many initials you can hang after your name or how often you're called "distinguished."

They have to do with the evidence you put forward for your view and the reasonableness of the interpretations you hang on that evidence. That's what Sylvia Meagher and I believed when we started working together in the 60s. It was a long time ago in virtually another country. It was 1965... 66... 67, and here and there people were beginning to distrust what they'd been told.

There was Mary Ferrell in Dallas, Penn Jones just outside Dallas, Sylvia Meagher in New York City, Paul Hoch in Berkeley, Cyril Wecht in Pittsburgh, Vince Salandria in Philadelphia, Harold Weisberg in Maryland, Ray Marcus and David Lifton in Los Angeles... and many, many more. A housewife, a lawyer for the school board, the editor of a small paper, a graduate student, a young professor, a WHO official. We were little people. People who had only a few things in common: inquiring minds, an unwillingness to be intimidated by public attitudes, more than a little tenacity, a bit of modesty and a willingness to laugh at oneself. None of us had any money or hoped to make any money out of this. We were doing it for its own sake. We formed a community... the closest thing to a true community of inquiry that I've ever known.

We shared information on a trans-continental basis. I still remember the excitement with which Vince Salandria and I received our copy of the Sibert/ O'Neill Report from Paul Hoch! None of us gave a damn for credentials because, as we put it, "There are no Ph.D.s in assassination research."

Back then, with the might and majesty of the federal government aligned with the news media in defense of the Warren Report, performing assassination research was somewhat like doing research on UFOs. It was not respectable. And so we formed our own community and helped with each others' research and critiqued each others' drafts. It's that community which still stands in my mind's eye as the ideal and it's that community to which I owe my loyalty. That community lies at the farthest remove from "Assassination Science" and its promoter.

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