WESLEY LIEBELER VS. THE WARREN COMMISSION

Michael T. Griffith

1996

@All Rights Reserved

What follows are excerpts from Wesley Liebeler's internal Warren Commission (WC) memos (one brief excerpt from his testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations is also included). In his memoranda, Liebeler, who was one of the Commission's most influential staff attorneys, commented on drafts of the Warren Commission Report. The memoranda can be found in volume 11 of the appendices to the House Select Committee's report (cited herein as 11 HSCA).

Oswald, Odio, and Other Contacts

2. In connection with the above Marina Oswald should be asked questions, designed to elicit any information or suspicions that she might have concerning the possibility that Oswald was in Dallas in late September, 1963 after he left New Orleans and before he went to Mexico. This subject, of course, involves the possibility that he may have made the acquaintance of some Mexicans or Cubans in New Orleans prior to the time Marina Oswald left that city. In that connection it should be noted that Sylvia Odio testified that the men that came to her apartment said they had just come from New Orleans and that they were on a trip.

3. Odio's testimony relates to some extent to that of Evaristo Rodriguez in that both persons described the unidentified person accompanying the person thought to be Oswald as having a bald spot on the forepart of his hairline. Rodriguez testified that Oswald [was] in the Habana Bar in New Orleans sometime during August 1963, near the time Oswald was involved with his fracas with Bringuier, i.e., August 9, 1963. Marina Oswald should be questioned closely as to how her husband used his time during that period. For example, he was kept in jail for the night of August 9-10, 1963. Was Marina surprised when he did not come home or did she know where he was? Did he stay out late on other occasions? Did she see any indications that he was associating with other people? Did she see any evidence that he was drinking at all during this period?

I think Marina Oswald should be told upon her deposition that we have evidence that Oswald was associating with Cubans and Mexican type individuals and that she should be pressed vigorously on these points.

4. Marina Oswald should be questioned concerning the unidentified individual who helped Oswald distribute FPCC literature on August 16, 1963. Oswald may have told her, for example, that he had paid one or more individuals to help him. distribute that literature. Marina may also have seen pictures of these other people helping him.

5. In connection with the testimony given by Dean Andrews. Marina should be questioned closely as to whether or not Oswald even consulted an attorney in New Orleans. She should be questioned what he told her about what he was doing to obtain a reconsideration of his undesirable discharge. She should be questioned what, if any, conversations they had about her becoming an American citizen. She should also be asked whether Oswald ever expressed any concerns over his own citizenship status. You might even ask her if she has ever heard of Clay Bertrand.

6. In short, I would like to have you question Marina Oswald, in detail, concerning any knowledge that she might have of any Cuban or Mexican contacts. that Oswald may have had in the United States prior to the time he left for Mexico City. In that connection Marina should be asked what she knows about Oswald's apparent attempt to infiltrate Bringuier's organization in New Orleans. She has already testified that a Cuban came to their apartment in August of 1963 seeking information about Oswald's FPCC activities. My recollection is that Oswald was suspicious of that person and thought him to be either an anti-Castro individual or a representative of some intelligence agency. Oswald may have told Marina about his contacts with Bringuier in connection with the visit of the above mentioned Cuban.

She should also be questioned about any contacts of that sort that Oswald may have had after his return from Mexico City as well as any conversations she might have had with Oswald concerning a possible renewal of his FPCC activities.

In connection with the possibility that Marina may be familiar with the person who helped Oswald distribute FPCC literature on August 1963. I attach Pizzo Exhibits 453A and 453B. The unidentified individual is marked with an inked arrow in Pizzo Exhibit 453A. He is located in the center of the picture and appears to have some leaflets in his hand. That individual is marked with an inked numeral 3 in Pizzo Exhibit 453B in which he appears in the far left hand corner of the picture. These photographs should be shown to Marina Oswald to see if she can identify any of the individuals depicted therein. (11 HSCA 216; 9/4/64 memo)

Problems with the Latent Palm Print

We suggest that additional investigation be conducted to determine with greater certainty that the palmprint was actually lifted from the rifle as Lt. Day has testified. The only evidence we presently have on that print is the testimony of Lt. Day himself. He has stated that although he lifted the palmprint on November 22, 1963, he did not provide a copy of the lift to the FBI until November 26, 1963 (9 R 260-61). He also testified that after the lift he "could still see traces of the print under the barrel and was going to try to use photography to bring off or bring out a better print." Mr. Latona of the FBI testified with respect to the lift of the palmprint, that "evidently the lifting had been so complete that there was nothing left to show any marking on the gun itself as to the existence of such--even an attempt on the part of anyone else to process the rifle" (Id. at 24).

Additional problems are raised by the fact that:

(1) Mr. Latona testified that the poor finish of the K-1 rifle made it absorbent and not conducive to getting a good print;

(2) None of the other prints on the rifle could be identified because they were of such poor quality;

(3) The other prints on the rifle were protected by cellophane while the area where the palmprint had been lifted was not, even through Lt. Day testified that after the lift the "[palm] print on gun was their best bet, still remained on there," when he was asked why he had not released the lift to the FBI on November 22, 1963. (11 HSCA 219-220; 8/28/64 memo)

Mr. DODD. I have just two questions really. You stated in regard to the rifle, the palm print, and I think on the boxes as well you had a bit of disagreement over whether or not those prints ought to be--was it verified or checked out? I wasn't sure what you meant. They had actually been run already once. There was some question of the absorption because of the wood. Had there already been a test on them?

Mr. LIEBELER. If I may, I will explain exactly what happened in both of those cases, it won't take very long. I think particularly the point on the rifle barrel may be worthwhile. The Dallas Police Department had gotten to the rifle. Very shortly thereafter they sent it to the FBI for fingerprint analysis. The FBI reported there were no prints on the rifle. Four days later the Dallas Police Department forwarded to the FBI a lift of a palm print that they said had been taken from the underside of the rifle barrel. When they were asked, as they were, why they had waited 4 days to send this lift to the FBI or had not told the FBI that they had made this lift from the rifle, their reply was that even though the print had been lifted, that that lift had not removed the latent print from the underside of the rifle barrel and it was still there.

Well, the problem was that the FBI never found it there. It occurred to us that it was possible that in fact the palm print never came from the rifle. We only had the say-so of the Dallas Police Department to that effect and we weren't satisfied with that. We wanted the FBI to establish, if they could, whether that palm print in fact came from that rifle or not. At the time this question was raised no attempt whatever had been made to deal with that problem. Now after the discussion that Mr. Willens and Redlich and I had that was referred to in the testimony Mr. Rankin invited to his office the chief FBI fingerprint expert, Inspector Mally of the FBI, who was liaison with the Commission and I think Mr. Slawson and Mr. Griffin and Mr. Willens and Mr. Redlich and Mr. Rankin met with them. I suggested to Mr. Latona, their fingerprint expert, that there might be some distortion in the lift because it had been taken from a cylindrical surface, sort of a Mercator projection is here, put your hand on a light bulb and take the lift and lay it flat, it might distort the lift from what it might have been on the surface.

Latona went back and looked at the lift. He found that there were indications in the lift itself of pits and scores and marks and rust spots that had been on the surface from which the print had been lifted, and happily they conformed precisely to a portion of the underside of the rifle barrel and the FBI so reported to us. As far as I was concerned that conclusively established the proposition that, that that had come from that rifle.

Mr. DODD. To your knowledge why would not the FBI have been able to detect it?

Mr. LIEBELER. I have no explanation of that. (11 HSCA 254)

[COMMENT: The problem with Liebeler's belief that the palm print was established as valid evidence when the print's irregularities were reportedly found to match irregularities on the barrel is that this still does not prove Oswald handled the rifle BEFORE or DURING the shooting. Why? Because Oswald's palm print could have been placed on the barrel when Oswald was asleep in jail or when his body was being kept at the morgue and later at the funeral home shortly after he was murdered. The numerous contradictions and improbabilities in Lt. Day's story, many of which Liebeler mentioned, were never resolved, nor was Day ever genuinely questioned about them.]

Oswald and the Carcano, and "Sighting" the Rifle

1. I do not believe there is any real authority for the proposition that Oswald sighted through the telescopic sight on the porch in New Orleans. Marina Oswald first said she did not know what he did with the rifle out on the porch, and then was led into a statement which might be thought to support the instant proposition. It is not very convincing.

2. On the top of page 32. it is stated that Ruth and Michael Paine "both noticed the rolled-up blanket in the garage throughout the time that Marina Oswald was living in their home. I am sure the record will not support that statement, a rather important one, too. I recall that there was a period of time before the assassination that neither of them saw the blanket. I have always had the opinion that there was a gap in the proof as to the rifle being continuously in the garage, one that probably could not be filled. It cannot be filled by ignoring it. The conclusion is even worse when it states that "the rifle was kept among Oswald's possessions from the time of its purchase until the day of the assassination." I do not think the record provides any real evidence to support that broad statement. The fact is that not one person alive today ever saw that rifle in the paine garage in such a way that it could be identified as that rifle. (11 HSCA 224-225; 9/6/64 memo)

The Curtain Rod Story

1. The report states that Frazier was surprised when Oswald asked for a ride on November 21, 1963. I am not able to find anything in the record to support that statement.

2. The last paragraph of this section is misleading when it attempts to show the falsity of the curtain rod story by stating that Oswald's room at 1026 North Beckley had curtains, and does not take account of the fact that Frazier specifically testified that Oswald said he wanted the curtain rods to put in an apartment. This takes on added significance when we remember that Oswald was talking about renting an apartment so that his family could live in Dallas with him. That aspect of the problem should be specifically treated if we are going to mention the fact that his roominghouse had curtains. (11 HSCA 225; 9/6/64 memo)

The Long and Bulky Package

1. The last sentence states: "Frazier could easily have been mistaken when he stated that Oswald held the bottom of the bag cupped in his hand, or when he said that the upper end was tucked under the armpit." On the very next page of the galleys, in the discussion of the prints that appeared on the paper bag, it is stated that the palmprint was "found on the closed end of the bag. It was from Oswald's right hand in which he carried the long package as he walked from Frazier's car to the building."

I am advised that the palmprint is right on the end of the bag, just where it would be if Oswald had carried it cupped in his hand. If we say in the discussion of prints that that print was put on the bag when he carried it to the TSBD [the Book Depository Building] (which we don't quite do) and if the print is where it would be if he carried it cupped in his hand, then we must face up on the preceding page and admit that Frazier was right when he said that that is the way Oswald carried it. If the print story is right and the implication left there as to when the print was put on the bag is valid, Frazier could not have been mistaken when he said Oswald carried the bottom of the bag cupped in his hand. (11 HSCA 225; 9/6/64 memo)

Linking Rifle and Oswald to Paper Bag

1. The section on fibers in the bag is very thin. The most that can be said is that there was a possibility that the fibers came from the blanket. The FBI expert would not even state that such was probable. (11 HSCA 225; 9/6/64 memo)

Palm Prints and Fingerprints on Cartons and Paper

1. The problem of all the unidentified prints has already been discussed [the FBI later claimed that all but one of the prints was identified as belonging to FBI agents who took part in the investigation]. The FBI has been requested to conduct additional investigation to attempt to identify those prints. The results of that investigation must be incorporated in the report.

2. This section emphasized the freshness of one palmprint on one carton. That palmprint was the only one of 28 prints that could be developed by powder as opposed to a chemical process. As a result it was held to have been placed on the carton recently, within from 1 to 3 days prior to the time it was developed. "The

inference may be drawn from the present language of this section that all of the other prints, which could be developed only through a chemical process because the cartons had already absorbed them, must have been older than the palmprint. Thus, it could be argued that Oswald's other prints had to have been placed on the cartons at least a day before they were developed and perhaps as much as 3 days before. While there may be some reason within the realm of fingerprint technology why that is not so, it does not appear in the report.

Under those circumstances, the presence of Oswald's other prints, which must be treated pari passu with the prints of others on the cartons, seems to have very little significance indeed. This relates to the prints on one of the Rolling Readers cartons near the window, the existence of which is emphasized by stating that they "take on added significance" because of the work being done on the sixth floor. The report also states that the Commission placed "great weight on the fingerprint and palmprint identifications." I don't think we should say that in any event. We certainly should not until we deal with the problem of the apparent age of Oswald's other prints and the presence of all those unidentified prints.

3. The report states that it is "significant that none of the prints on the cartons could be identified as the prints of a warehouse employee." It also states that those employees "like Oswald, might have handled the cartons"--presumably in the ordinary course of business. It is significant. But not necessarily to the point that the report tries to make. The fact that only Oswald's prints appeared on the cartons could show that he was the sole warehouse employee that handled them--in the ordinary course of business. The fact that Oswald was the only employee whose prints appeared on the cartons does not help to convince me that he moved them in connection with the assassination. It shows the opposite just as well.

4. It is also difficult to tell just what happened to all of the cartons or who developed what prints. While it appears that all four cartons were forwarded to the FBI, some confusion is created by the later statement that the right palmprint on the box on the floor next to the three near the window was also sent to the FBI. Why was that necessary if the carton had already been sent? The use of the passive voice in the second sentence of the second full paragraph on page 35 of the galleys leaves open the question of who developed the prints. (11 HSCA 225-226; 9/6/64 memo)

The Source of the First Description of the Assassin

2. Following that quote it says that Brennan's description "most probably" led to the radio alert sent out to police in which the assassin was described. Can't this be more definite? One of the questions that has been raised is the speed with which the assassin was described, the implication being that Oswald had been picked out as a patsy before the event. The Dallas police must know what led to the radio alert and the description. If they do we should be able to find out. If they do not know, the circumstances of their not knowing should be discussed briefly. (11 HSCA 226; 9/6/64 memo)

The Baker-Oswald Encounter

1. I do not think the description of the Baker-Oswald sequence is sufficiently clear. I am confused as to how many entrance doors there are to the vestibule, even though after a close reading there appear to be only two, the one connecting to the second floor landing and the one connecting to the lunch room. It is also not clear whether Baker saw Oswald through the window in the vestibule/landing door, or whether that door was still open as is implied by Baker's testimony. Mention of the window previously, however, implies Baker saw Oswald through the window. It does not seem likely that Oswald would still have been visible through the window if the door had already closed, although that depends on how fast the door closes, which is something I would like to know. What kind of a stairway is it that someone coming up can see nothing at the top of the landing? Truly may in fact have seen Oswald if the latter had just come down the stairs from the third floor as Truly was coming up from the second. (11 HSCA 227; 9/6/64 memo)

[COMMENT: Indeed, how could Oswald have come down the stairs without being seen by Roy Truly? WC supporters have never been able to provide a plausible answer to this crucial question. If, as the WC claimed, Oswald went through the foyer door a second or two before Baker reached the landing, then (1) Truly should and would have seen him, and (2) the door would not have had time to shut or nearly shut behind Oswald by the time Baker looked at it. The simple fact of the matter is that Oswald could not possibly have come down the stairs without being seen by Truly. This fact alone proves that Oswald did not shoot JFK.

It should be noted that Truly and Baker were looking for someone, a gunman. One can perhaps debate the exact degree to which Truly was "searching," but there is no doubt that he looked at the second-floor landing as he was moving and that he would have seen anyone who might have been near or at the foyer door. Truly was asked by WC counsel if he was looking straight ahead to see anyone on his way up the stairs, or if he was just intent on ascending the stairs (3 H 223). Truly replied,

If there had been anybody in that area, I would have seen him on the outside. But I was content--I was trying to show the officer the pathway up, where the elevators--I mean where the stairways continued. (3 H 223)

So although Truly didn't go over and look through the door, since he was trying to get Baker up the stairs, he did see the landing area and would have seen anyone in that area, i.e., on the landing, had someone been there. Coming up the stairs and onto the landing, the foyer door would have been virtually in the middle of Truly's view of the landing area. If Oswald had been in Bakerís view in the door's window, and if the door had been nearly shut when Baker spotted him, then, at the very least, the door would have been halfway open when Truly saw it, and at least half of Oswald's body in profile would have been in plain view of Truly.

When Truly said he would have seen anyone in the landing area "on the outside," he probably meant he would have spotted anyone on the outside of the door. One leading WC supporter acknowledged this point to me in e-mail. This is important because it suggests the door was closed when Truly saw it. If the door was closed when Truly saw it, and if Oswald had gone through it after allegedly coming down the stairs, then Oswald would have been well out of Baker's view by the time Baker reached the second-floor landing. If the door had been even partially open when Truly saw it, one would expect that he would have mentioned this in his testimony. But he never once suggested that the door was anything but closed when he saw it, and his testimony suggests that the door was in fact shut when he reached the landing.]

Mrs. Markham and Her "Identification" of Oswald

2. As to any attempt to explain Mrs. Markham's description (so-called) of Oswald as having bushy hair by showing the world a picture of Oswald "taken at the time of his arrest." I suggest that even the slowest of readers would imagine that their hair might be in an uncombed state--which is the suggested explanation of the bushy condition--after they had fought with a dozen policemen in an attempt to resist arrest. In fact Pizzo exhibit 453-C, the evidence for this proposition, shows Oswald with cuts and bruises on his face. I don't think Mrs. Markham's testimony needs much comment and neither does her statement to Lane. Any attempt such as is presently in the report will merely play into Lane's hands and make the Commission look naive.

3. Query statement that Markham's identification was mostly from his face. I think she was all over the lot on that one. (11 HSCA 228; 9/6/64 memo)

[COMMENT: Mrs. Markham would have been utterly destroyed upon cross-examination. Gave conflicting descriptions of the killer. Her account of her "identification" of Oswald in the Dallas Police Department lineup would have been torn to shreds in court. She repeatedly stated that she did not recognize, nor had she previously seen, anyone in the lineup. Only after prompting from counsel did she finally admit to having selected Oswald from the lineup--again, after having stated that she neither recognized nor had previously seen any of the men in the lineup.

Former Rockefeller Foundation fellow Henry Hurt's comments on the Tippit witnesses warrant review:

. . . Mrs. Markham gave . . . testimony . . . that seems fragile at best. . . . Later in her testimony Helen Markham confirmed her earlier impression that the man she saw shooting Tippit had black hair--which could hardly be used to describe Oswald's brownish hair.

Despite Mr. Markham's obvious difficulties in describing the police lineup and her identification of Oswald, she emerged as the Commission's star witness on the Tippit murder. . . .

To grasp the true flimsiness of the eyewitness evidence against Oswald in Tippit's murder, one must consider it the way it might look to a defense attorney. By almost any standards,

Helen Markham, the Commission's star witness, would have been an unmitigated calamity under the gentlest of cross-examination. Even the friendly Commission examiner could hardly stuff the right answers in her mouth.

No better example of her incompetence as a witness is seen than in her insistence that she spent twenty minutes talking to the dying Tippit before he was placed in the ambulance. Unchallenged records show that the ambulance reached Tippit within no more than five minutes of the shooting, and every indication is that he had died instantly from a head wound. (Reasonable Doubt, pp. 145-148)

To detail the numerous contradictions in Mrs. Markham's accounts would take several pages. In a taped conversation with attorney Mark Lane, Mrs. Markham described Tippit's killer as "a little heavy."

Markham: He was, uh, well not too heavy. Uh, say around 100, maybe 150.

Lane: Well, did you say he wasn't too heavy, but he was a little heavy?

Markham: Uh-huh.

How could anyone identify Oswald as even "a little heavy"? At 5'9" Oswald definitely was not really short either. And then there are the other divergent descriptions she gave of Oswald's killer. Meagher provides a good overview on this subject in Accessories After the Fact.

At one point Mrs. Markham said Tippit's killer had hair that was "a little bit bushy." But Oswald's hair was not "bushy" in any way. The Commission sought to deal with this problem by claiming that Mrs. Markham was "referring to the uncombed state of his hair." In conjunction with this assertion, the Commission cited a photo taken of Oswald at the time of his arrest which it said showed Oswald's hair in an uncombed state (Frank Pizzo Exhibit 453-C, in WCR, p. 177). But this photo, at the most, shows Oswald's hair only very slightly "uncombed," and this picture, bear in mind, was taken after his scuffle with the police. As Harold Weisberg has observed,

"Pizzo Exhibit C" as reproduced in the Report, less than two inches wide, or as reproduced in Volume 21, where it takes up most of a page, does not show Oswald's hair as either "uncombed" or "a little bit bushy." Throughout the 26 volumes are a number of photographs of Oswald being arrested, in the struggle that led to his arrest, and after the arrest. His hair remained remarkably neat. (Whitewash, 1966, p. 117)

And, can we believe Mrs. Markham's fantastic claim that spoke with Tippit before the police arrived? Was this the same Tippit who had just been pumped with four shells and who was lying lifelessly in a pool of blood when Benavides and Bowley saw him?]

Oswald, Tippit, and the Missing 30 Minutes

At first I was surprised to learn that Johnny Calvin Brewer knew that a patrolman had been shot when Oswald walked by his place of business, less than eight blocks from the point of the Tippit killing which Oswald apparently left as fast as he could.

2. Then I was surprised to learn that the police radio did not send out information about the suspect being in the Texas Theater until 1:45, about 30 minutes after the police first learned of the Tippit killing from Benavides over Tippit's radio. What were Oswald and Brewer doing during this 30 minutes? Oswald was strangely inactive during this period, considering all that he had done the 45 minutes following the assassination. (11 HSCA 229; 9/6/64 memo)

The Assassination and Oswald's Marksmanship Ability

1. The purpose of this section is to determine Oswald's ability to fire a rifle. The third word at the top of page 50 of the galleys, which is apparently meant to describe Oswald, is "marksman." A marksman is one skilled at shooting at mark; one who shoots well. Not only do we beg the question a little, but the sentence is inexact in that the shot, which it describes, would be the same for marksman as it would for one who was not a marksman. How about: the assassin's shots from the easternmost window of the south side of the Texas School Book Depository were at a slow-moving target proceeding on a downgrade virtually straight away from the assassin, at a range of 177 to 266 feet."

2. The last sentence in the first paragraph on galley page 50 should indicate that the slope of Elm Street is downward.

3. The section on the nature of the shots deals basically with the range and the effect of a telescopic sight. Several experts conclude that the shots were easy. There is, however, no consideration given here to the time allowed for the shots. I do not see how someone can conclude that a shot is easy or hard unless he knows something about how long the firer has to shoot, that is, how much time allotted for the shots.

4. On the nature of the shots--Frazier testified that one would have no difficulty in hitting a target with a telescopic sight, since all you have to do is put the crosshairs on the target. On page 51 of the galleys, however, he testified that shots fired by FBI agents with the assassination weapon were "a few inches high and to the right of the target * * * because of a defect in the scope." Apparently no one knows when that defect appeared, or if it was in the scope at the time of the assassination. If it was, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary one may assume that it was, putting the crosshairs on the target would clearly have resulted in a miss, or it very likely would, in any event. I have raised this question before. There is a great deal of testimony in the record that a telescopic sight is a sensitive proposition. You can't leave a rifle and scope laying around in a garage underfoot for almost 3 months, just having brought it back from New Orleans in the back of a station wagon, and expect to hit anything with it, unless you take the trouble to fire it and sight the scope in. This would have been a problem that should have been dealt with in any event, and now that it turns out that there actually was a defect in the scope, it is perfectly clear that the question must be considered. The present draft leaves the Commission open to severe criticism. Furthermore, to the extent that it leaves testimony suggesting that the shots might not have been so easy out of the discussion, thereby giving only a part of the story, it is simply dishonest.

5. Why do we have a statement concerning the fact that Oswald's Marine records show that he was familiar with the Browning automatic rifle, .45-caliber pistol and 12-gage riot gun? That is completely irrelevant to the question of his ability to fire a rifle, unless there is evidence that the same skills are involved. It is, furthermore, prejudicial to some extent.

6. Under the heading "Oswald's Rifle Practice Outside the Marines" we have a statement concerning his hunting activities in Russia. It says that he joined a hunting club, obtained a license and went hunting about six times. It does not say what kind of a weapon he used. While I am not completely familiar with the record on this point, I do know for a fact that there is some indication that he used a shotgun. Under what theory do we include activities concerning a shotgun under a heading relating to rifle practice, and then presume not to advise the reader of the fact?

7. The statements concerning Oswald's practice with the assassination weapon are misleading. They tend to give the impression that he did more practicing than the record suggests that he did. My recollection is that there is only one specific time when he might have practiced. We should be more precise in this area, because the Commission is going to have its work in this area examined very closely.

8. On the top of galley page 51 we have that statement about Oswald sighting the telescopic sight at night on the porch in New Orleans. I think the support for that proposition is thin indeed. Marina Oswald first testified that she did not know what he was doing out there and then she was clearly led into the only answer that gives any support to this proposition.

9. I think the level of reaching that is going on in this whole discussion of rifle capability is merely shown by the fact that under the heading of rifle practice outside the Marine Corps appears the damning statement that "Oswald showed an interest in rifles by discussing that subject with others (in fact only one person as I remember it) and reading gun magazines."

10. I do not think the record will support the statement that Oswald did not leave his Beckley Avenue roominghouse on one of the weekends that he was supposedly seen at the Sports Drome Rifle Range.

11. There is a misstatement in the third paragraph under rapid fire tests when it says "Four of the firers missed the second shot." The preceding paragraph states that there were only three firers.

12. There are no footnotes whatsoever in the fifth paragraph under rapid fire tests and some rather important statements are made which require some support from someplace.

13. A minor point as to the next paragraph--bullets are better said to strike rather than land.

14. As I read through the section on rifle capability it appears that 15 different sets of three shots were fired by supposedly expert riflemen of the FBI and other places. According to my calculations those 15 sets of shots took a total of 93.8 seconds to be fired. The average of all 15 is a little over 6.2 seconds. Assuming that time is calculated commencing with the firing of the first shot, that means the average time it took to fire the two remaining shots was about 6.2 seconds. That comes to about 3.1 seconds for each shot, not counting the time consumed by the actual firing, which would not be very much. I recall that chapter 3 said that the minimum time that had to elapse between shots was 2.25 seconds, which is pretty close to the one set of fast shots fired by Frazier of the FBI.

The conclusion indicates that Oswald had the capability to fire three shots with two hits in from 4.8 to 5.6 seconds. Of the 15 sets of 3 shots described above. only 3 were fired within 4.8 seconds. A total of five sets, including the three just mentioned were fired within a total of 5.6 seconds. The conclusion at its most extreme states that Oswald could fire faster than the Commission experts fired in 12 of their 15 tries and that in any event he could fire faster than the experts did in 10 of their 15 tries. If we are going to set forth material such as this, I think we should set forth some information on how much training and how much shooting the experts had and did as a whole. The readers could then have something on which to base their judgments concerning the relative abilities of the apparently slow firing experts used by the Commission and the ability of Lee Harvey Oswald.

15. The problems raised by the above analyses should be met at some point in the text of the report. The figure of 2.25 as a minimum firing time for each shot used throughout chapter 3. The present discussion of rifle capability shows that expert riflemen could not fire the assassination weapon that fast. Only one of the experts managed to do so, and his shots, like those of the other FBI experts, were high and to the right of the target. The fact is that most of the experts were much more proficient with a rifle than Oswald could ever be expected to be, and the record indicates that fact, according to my recollection of the response of one of the experts to a question by Mr. McCloy asking for a comparison of an NRA master marksman to a Marine Corps sharpshooter.

16. The present section on rifle capability fails to set forth material in the record tending to indicate that Oswald was not a good shot and that he was not interested in his rifle while in the Marine Corps. It does not set forth material indicating that a telescopic sight must be tested and sighted in after a period of nonuse before it can be expected to be accurate. That problem is emphasized by the fact that the FBI actually found that there was a defect in the scene which caused the rifle to fire high and to the right. In spite of the above the present section takes only part of the material in the record to show that Oswald was a good shot and that he was interested in rifles. I submit that the testimony Delgado that Oswald was not interested in his rifle while in the Marines is at least as probative as Alba's testimony that Oswald came into his garage to read rifle--and hunting--magazines.

To put it bluntly that sort of selection from the record could seriously affect the integrity and credibility of the entire report.

17. It seems to me that the most honest and the most sensible thing to do the present state of the record on Oswald's rifle capability would be to write a very short section indicating that there is testimony on both sides of several issues. The Commission could then conclude that the best evidence that Oswald could fire his rifle as fast as he did and hit the target is the fact that he did so. It may have been pure luck. It probably was to a very great extent. But it happened. He would have had to have been lucky to hit as he did if he had only 4.8 seconds to fire the shots. Why don't we admit instead of reaching and using only part of the record to support the propositions presently set forth in the galleys. Those conclusions will never be accepted by critical persons anyway. (11 HSCA 230-232; 9/6/64 memo)

[COMMENT: It is revealing that the best argument Liebeler could muster to defend the idea that Oswald could have done the shooting was to employ circular reasoning, i.e., that Oswald could have fired as quickly and accurately as claimed because "he did so," yet there is not a single piece of evidence that indisputably puts Oswald in the sixth-floor window during the shooting. It is also revealing that Liebeler suggests Oswald was merely "lucky," that his alleged, and still-unduplicated, shooting feat was a matter of "pure luck," in spite of the fact that not one of the Commission's Master-rated shooters actually duplicated Oswald's alleged performance. No marksman has ever scored at least two hits out of three shots in less than six seconds while firing at a moving target from the required height and distance with a bolt-action rifle on his first and only attempt and with little or no practice for at least a month beforehand.

But isn't it possible that the sixth-floor gunman actually could have had 8.2-8.4 seconds to fire? Only if one makes the far-fetched assumption that the gunman completely missed, not only Kennedy, but the entire limousine, with his first and closest shot. Even the WC viewed this idea as improbable. How could the same shooter who supposedly whipped off two hits out of two shots in only 5.6 seconds have completely missed the entire limousine from less than 140 feet away?

Even if we assume that the alleged lone gunman fired at Z145-160 and somehow missed the entire limousine, this does not mean his remaining two shots would have been "easy." Both of those shots would have had to be hits, and he would have had no more than 5.6 seconds to score them. Bear in mind that only one of the WC's Master-rated shooters managed to fire the alleged murder weapon at its maximum firing rate of 2.25 seconds per shot, and that was only because he discarded the scope and used the iron sights. The two other Master-rated shooters took 3.2 and 3.5 seconds per shot for their fastest series. For their first series, those two marksmen took 3.35 and 4.1 seconds per shot. Furthermore, these experts were firing at stationary targets.

If two of the WC's three Master-rated marksmen could not fire the rifle faster than 3.2 and 3.5 seconds per shot with a reasonable degree of accuracy while shooting at stationary targets, what are the odds that Oswald, who was a rather poor shot, could have fired the weapon almost as quickly and scored two hits out of two shots on a MOVING target? Oswald, assuming he was even in the sixth- floor window during the shooting, would have had to take a second or two to reacquire his target after the limousine emerged from beneath the oak tree. If he had reacquired the target after only 1 second, that would have left him only 4.6 seconds to (1) squeeze the trigger, (2) work the rifle's difficult bolt, (3) reacquire the target, and (4) squeeze the trigger again. What if it had taken him 2 seconds to reacquire the target? Then he would have only had 3.6 seconds to perform these four actions.]

The Repair Tag

b. I think the degree of doubt about the authenticity of the repair tag is overstated. (11 HSCA 235; 9/14/64 memo)

To go back for a moment to the second rifle section: In the third full paragraph it states, "On November 24, Ryder and Greener discussed at length the possibility" that Oswald had been there, but "Ryder did not mention the tag to his employer." I know of no evidence that Ryder and Greener talked on the 24th.

If they did not, the next sentence must be changed or cut.

The next sentence is a good example of what happens in the "rewrite" process. It says incorrectly, that on November 25 Ryder told the FBI that Greener did not remember the tag, although he had not called the tag to Greener's attention. The original sentence said, correctly, that Greener "did not remember the transaction represented by the repair tag..."

The next sentence says the FBI was directed to Ryder by anonymous phone calls. Not so. They were directed to the Irving Sports Shop and would very likely have talked to Greener, but he could not be found by the agent on November 25, 1963, when he went to the shop. (11 HSCA 236; 9/14/64 memo)

Oswald, Buses, and the Odio Incident

e. The paragraph on bus transportation starting "There is no firm evidence" should be completely rewritten. I do not think there is "convincing evidence" that Oswald was on the buses as stated. One sentence says he was apparently one of four passengers bound for a point beyond Texas. The next suggests that he bought a ticket in Houston for Laredo, which is in Texas. The McFarland testimony is given too much weight. I don't think Mexican immigration records show the time of day he crossed the border. Slawson told me he got the time of crossing from the scheduled arrival of the bus. Now we are using it to show that since he crossed at that time he had to be on the bus.

f. Since we have no direct evidence that Oswald boarded bus 5133 in Houston, the first sentence of the next paragraph ("Hence, the only time...,) should be changed. That also obviates the necessity that he had to go from New Orleans to Dallas and thence too Houston.

There really is almost no evidence at all that he left Houston on that bus-- and there is really no reason why we should suggest there is. The point can be made without saying that and to seem to rely on really weak evidence is to invite trouble.

g. Again--later in the same paragraph--more reliance on the McFarlands. Their affidavit is very weak--we should not fight it.

h. Then the single ticket from Houston to Laredo again--which probably could not have been Oswald if he were one of the four heading for points Laredo.

i. Also the assumption that the Twiford call was a local call. Why speculate--make the arguments--he probably would not have called at all if he were not in Houston or going to be in Houston.

j. The conclusion that the evidence is persuasive that Oswald was not Dallas on September 25 is too strong. (11 HSCA 236; 9/14/64 memo)

Sylvia Odio's Story Credible

j. The conclusion that the evidence is persuasive that Oswald was not Dallas on September 25 is too strong.

k. The story of Father McGhann (sp.?) is overemphasized. We should state that Odio never told anyone else that Eugenio had been one of the men with Oswald. How can we conclude that McGhann would not have become confused when he was apparently in a rest home of some sort and we have never seen or spoken to him?

1. Since we have never taken testimony from Odio's other two friends on which people could base judgement as to their veracity, we should not rely too heavily on their statements, about which they have never been cross-examined.

m. The first two full paragraphs on galley 242 should come out. The "inconsistencies", if any, are minor. Furthermore, Sylvia's testimony is actually misrepresented when it is stated that she and her sister felt Oswald "looked familiar" when they saw his picture after the assassination. Sylvia testified that she was sure it was Oswald.

The paragraph about the psychiatrist is quite unfair. It states that Odio "came forward" with her story, whereas she did not come forward at all and was quite reluctant to get involved at all. Her story came to the attention of the FBI through a third person. The hearsay statements of "friends," concerning their personal opinion of a witness are thin stuff indeed. The whole paragraph is poor and should come out.

The Odio analyses should be based primarily on the apparent likelihood that LHO [Lee Harvey Oswald] was elsewhere. These are problems. Odio may well be right. The Commission will look bad if it turns out that she is. There is no need to look foolish by grasping at straws to avoid admitting that there is a problem. (11 HSCA 236-237; 9/14/64 memo)

The Western Union Incident

k. Why do we fail to mention the Cuban or Mexican that one of the Western Union employees said was with the man Hambian thought was Oswald? (11 HSCA 237; 9/14/64 memo)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Michael T. Griffith holds a Masterís degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from American Military University, a Bachelorís degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.He also holds an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College.He is a graduate in Arabic and Hebrew of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas.In addition, he has completed Advanced Hebrew programs at Haifa University in Israel and at the Spiro Institute in London, England.He is the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts, including How Firm A Foundation, A Ready Reply, and One Lord, One Faith.He is also the author of a book on the JFK assassination titled Compelling Evidence (JFK Lancer, 1996).