Featured Article
for January 2005


by Walt Brown

The "magic bullet" lives -- or so it seems. In Pittsburgh last November, Senator Arlen Specter noted that the "magic bullet theory has now become the magic bullet fact."

Says who? Oh, yeah, the media -- those absolute guardians of truth, justice, and the American way (overlooking the fact that truth and justice are supposed TO BE the American way).

There are one or more serious flaws in all the arguments, and that overlooks the myriad "twists and turns" required of CE 399.

First of all, think back to the last time you saw a magician. Great tricks. Turned the ace of spaces into the three of diamonds; you gave him a dollar bill, he set it on fire and gave you back a five with the same serial numbers.


But NOT magic, alas. What the viewer sees are illusions, and while the viewer is very preoccupied with the playing card or the coin in the obvious left hand, the pigeons are crawling down the right sleeve. Even some "magicians" now honestly refer to themselves as "illusionists."

Since we know those facts to be the case, CE 399 is transformed from "the magic bullet" into an illusion, which is just what we have always maintained it was. It took the magic of Specter et al., the silence of the Warren Commission lambs, and a cadre of put-up stooges to market the concept, and it took our relative silence after last year's Pittsburgh event for the media to now declaim that the magic bullet theory is a magic bullet fact.

Either way, it's not magic: it's an illusion.

The second problem that arose in Pittsburgh was the entry wound that penetrated JFK's coat and shirt. I did not anatomically orient it, even though every one but Arlen Specter and Gerald Ford call it "the back wound." (To them, it's the neck wound.)

The HSCA panel agreed that the bullet track from back to front (their assumption of the trajectory -- back TO front) was upward at an angle of eleven degrees. That would, finally, allow the bullet to have entered THE BACK and exited in the front of the throat, but, alas, traveling upward.

No problem. If you can't raise the bridge, lower the water. Apologist after apologist noted that the shot struck the President while he was leaning forward, and it became so much of a necessity of leaning forward that JFK must have been tying his shoes for that theory to work.

The second factor suggesting an "upward" trajectory of the proposed back-to-front "back wound" is that the abrasion collar on the wound -- the darkest area visible -- is on the bottom, and a wound's abrasion collar is a signature of the entry angle. Abrasion collar low, shot entry low.

This has led to speculation that a shot came in from some extremely low point behind the motorcade, but the reality is, there is no such low point.

No gunmen were in the trunk of the limousine.

And since JFK was not tying his shoes, the "official" HSCA findings create more significant, but unanswered, questions.

I gathered up my drafting tools and set to work, creating a "level" base, and then elevating it 3 degrees to create the downhill Elm Street path. I added in a wheel to wheel carriage of the limousine, with a parallel upper carriage, with the same 3-degree angle. I seated "JFK" in the seat as he is visible in the Zapruder film, leaning back, so that he is not 90 degrees perpendicular to the street. He's actually leaning backward about five degrees. Not much, but he's not tying his shoes, either.

The angle from TSBD-6 to the limousine was determined to be 17 degrees. We are thus asked to believe that a bullet came down at 17 degrees, entered a person sitting in a backward slope of about 5 degrees, but the bullet left an abrasion collar at the bottom of the wound and created an 11-degree upward/forward track.

That accounts (17 + 5 + 11) to a change in angle of 33 degrees -- the shot veered 33 degrees, and the math is born out by protractor measurements.

These data raise only two hypotheses within the "shot from TSBD-6" constraint: either JFK WAS tying his shoes, with his head leaning on Connally's back shoulder, or else the bullet hit something in immediate proximity to the president -- the rear deck of the limousine, but very close in, as any "distant" ricochet would never have put a hole so close to the top of the seat, or else the bullet hit either the top of the seat or the convertible's boot. Either ricochet scenery, of course, vastly decreases both CE 399's speed and the odds of CE 399 emerging pristine.

The hypotheses are just that -- talking points; I'll admit to excluding JFK leaning forward, as we know better; I offer the latter as a possible explanation -- but it's a possible explanation of a shot -- TSBD-6 -- that I have never fully accepted in the first place.

Maybe I could if this were magic. But remember, and never forget: it's ILLUSION. CE 399 to me is what it always was: the "illusion" bullet.