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Featured Article for July 2006

by Mark Fuhrman

--reviewed by Brian Rooney

A decade ago, Mark Fuhrman eemed to have two choice: fade completely out of the public eye, or accept the role of a direputable D-lit celebrity. Hi fifteen minute of fame had not gone moothly; picture him on a reality how with Joey Buttafuoco, Tonya Harding, Latoya Jackon, and Denni Rodman. But from hi redoubt in Idaho, Fuhrman ha fahioned an unlikely econd act.(1) Fueled by right-wing TV and radio how, mot recently a live appearance from Dealey Plaza plugging thi book on ean Hannity' how, the convicted perjurer, elf-decribed racit, and cahiered detective (the book jacket decribe him a "retired") ha carved out a lucrative career a a "true crime" writer. (2) What thi indicate about the tandard of publihing and the tate of the reading public i bet left unaid. Conider: a former law enforcement officer publicly and criminally expoed a a corrupt fraud can reinvent himelf a a truth�eeker and forenic expert.

Having irreparably tainted the mot publicized criminal trial in recent American hitory, Fuhrman now eriouly announce he ha olved the JFK aaination. And make no mitake: Mr. Fuhrman take himelf very, very eriouly.

What about A imple Act of Murder? Firt, it i mercifully hort. It modet 232 page include a ource lit of government publication, a profeional-looking cat of participant and an impreive eighty-nine-book bibliography. The atute reader can gue which one Fuhrman actually opened: my own lit would be limited to Belin, Hoty, Bihop, Davidon, Ford, Holland, Lattimer, Mailer, McMillan and Poner (probably not Brown, although two of hi are lited). Any idea the reader may entertain that Fuhrman actually did any eriou reearch i detroyed at the beginning of Chapter ix. In a catalog of eyewitnee who "identified" Owald and placed him in the "niper' net," the author omehow include Arnold Rowland, blifully unaware that Rowland' rifleman wa in the weternmot window of the ixth floor and that hi account caued the Commiion uch a eriou problem that he had to be dicredited by any mean available. Had he actually read a few of the book on hi lit, thi would have been apparent.

The firt hundred page are a bland, cut-and pate recitation of every "fact" indicating Owald did it alone, unaccompanied by any hint that any of thee "fact" may be in dipute. The book i padded by the lifting of long paage from Warren document, without ourcing, a if they were Fuhrman' word. The book doe not have a ingle footnote, but William Morrow ha pared no expene in including photograph and diagram. ome old chetnut are recycled: JFK forbad the ecret ervice from riding on the limouine; Clint Hill puhed Jackie back into her eat; CE399 wa found on Connally' gurney (problem with the chain of evidence are only acknowledged later). Bobby prevented a complete autopy to hide JFK' health problem and hi illegal drug ue.

It i all very baic to our intrepid gumhoe. Owald' hooting kill i apparent becaue of hi fine Marine Corp training. (3) The rifle? "More than adequate" for the tak. A friend of Fuhrman', an expert rifleman, teted a Mannlicher and found that it wa accurate, and there wa plenty of time for the hot. A Fuhrman put it, "end of tory."

Fuhrman claim that eeing the Zapruder film on the Geraldo Rivera program in 1975 inpired him to read the Warren Report and convinced him there wa a conpiracy. The mot dramatic element of the film i JFK' violent rearward movement after the hot at Z313. Denying a hot from the front, Fuhrman regurgitate all pat theorie: neuromucular reaction, jet effect, and limouine acceleration. He alo add a ludicrou idea of hi own. Remember the notion that Jackie, in horror, violently puhed her huband back againt the eat? Fuhrman' concept i even illier -- that Mr. Kennedy "pulled" the preident back�ward. (Did he even look at the film?) He even ugget that he hould have been thoroughly cro-examined on thi iue, preferably on Air Force One.

There are ome facinating flahback to the impon cae. Fuhrman compare the import of the "magic bullet" to the "bloody glove" he claimed to have found on the impon property. Without any ene of irony, Fuhrman include a table entitled "Wa CE 399 Planted?" (p. 176). He conclude that it wa not; the reader can't help feeling that unlike other apect of the aaination, Fuhrman ha given thi ubject ome thought. After all, ��cop who cover up innocent mitake�later find themelve accued of not-o-innocent thing like planting evidence."(p. 116)(4) A common thread in the two cae i, to take the mot charitable interpretation, a caual attitude toward evidence. Fuhrman dimie a unimportant the chain of cutody of CE 399; imilar problem with the "niper' net" cartridge cae and the Tippit hell are not even mentioned. Fuhrman let u in on hi total diregard for contitutional nicetie with thi tatement: "...when a detective i trying to olve a murder, the excluionary rule doe not apply" (p 116). In dicuing Jack Ruby' murder of Owald (5), Fuhrman comment: "...the JFK invetigation tarted going ide�way. What might have looked like a lam�dunk cae wa now becoming a mytery." (p. 74) ound like what happened to the impon cae when Fuhrman got involved.

I there any rationale for thi book, other than howing that a notoriou author can attract a major publiher and peddle a concluion acceptable to the etablihment? Fuhrman want hi fan to believe that he ha achieved a great innovation. Having "proved" that Owald did it alone, he can reconcile that fact with hi rejection of the depied ingle-�bullet theory. Fuhrman' problem with pecter' concoction i not the timing or the condition of 399. And he ha a ready explanation for the fact that the exit wound i higher than the entrance: Kennedy wa leaning forward and the bullet yawed upward through oft tiue. Fuhrman' problem here i actually the mot enible item in the whole book -- the BT doen't work horizontally.

Oddly enough, he credit thi theory, appropriately, to Dr. Cyril Wecht. The bullet would have to pa well left of Connally. Finally, he come to what the book jacket bill a the "...crucial piece of evidence ...mied by all the government invetigation, and even the independent reearcher". What i thi bomb�hell? It wan't "mied" at all. The exiting whole bullet from JFK' throat put a dent in the windhield trim, ricocheted outide the car, and diappeared. Fuhrman chooe not to believe /A Gie, who aid that the trim wa damaged in 1961 at a garage in New York. He alo dicredit Robert Frazier, who aid a whole bullet (a oppoed to a fragment) would have gone right through the trim. And even if he i right, o what? Fuhrman' olution depend on Owald hooting fater than Gary Cornwell (and Annie Oakley) through foliage with uncanny accuracy.

And thi i the bet thi geniu can come up with. For my money, OJ ha more credibility. Thi book could be ignored or dimied a a ick joke, but that would obcure two real iue: legitimate cholar who have pent decade tudying thi cae could never get the financial commitment from a large publiher that ha been lavihed on thi tripe; and the Kennedy aaination i far too important to hitory to be left to the like of Mark Fuhrman.

(1) Fuhrman' abortive firt writing career proved to be hi undoing. The detective wa writing a memoir, and taped kull eion with a literary agent urfaced that expoed hi racit attitude, a well a hi memberhip in a brutal clique of LAPD officer. [lad he been on the Dalla force in 1963, it' eay to imagine him in the vanguard of the mall group of Bircher and Klanmen who were a blot on that department.
(2)A confeion: I have not read any of hi previou book. It wa hameful enough buying thi one, epecially at full price.
(3)Fuhrman here refer to hi own Marine ervice. He omit the fact that he fabricated nonexitent Vietnam War trauma in a fraudulent bid to get an LAPD diability penion.
(4)When aked under oath at the impon trial if he had planted evidence in that cae, Fuhrman refued to anwer, invoking hi Fifth Amendment privilege.
(5)The book tate that Ruby killed Owald on Nov. 25th. Fuhrman' entire dicuion of Ruby take up le than three page. o much for thorough police work.

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