SOME COMMENTS ON JOHN MCADAMS'
KENNEDY ASSASSINATION HOME PAGE
Michael T. Griffith
@All Rights Reserved
From time to time visitors to my JFK website ask me about John McAdams' Kennedy Assassination Home Page. In this article I will respond to some of the claims that are presented on McAdams' site. It is my contention that most of McAdams' claims are wrong and that in some cases McAdams presents information that is badly outdated.
John McAdams is a university professor who believes strongly that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot President Kennedy. McAdams doesn't believe a conspiracy of any kind was involved. McAdams believes the Warren Commission (WC) was correct in all its essential conclusions.
In McAdams' opinion, anyone who defends the conspiracy position is a "conspiracy buff." McAdams frequently refers to those who reject the lone-gunman theory as "buffs." McAdams even applies this label to experts who speak about aspects of the assassination that involve their field of expertise. For example, when McAdams learned that a professor of neuroscience at a Canadian university rejected the lone-gunman view that Kennedy's backward head snap was the result of a neuromuscular reaction, he opined that the professor was either a "buff" or had been spoon fed erroneous information by a critic of the lone-gunman theory.
McAdams' attitude toward virtually anyone who disagrees with him about the assassination is somewhat surprising, given the fact that for the last three decades surveys have consistently shown that anywhere from 65-90 percent of the American people believe Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy (with about 5 percent undecided).
McAdams acknowledges that most Americans believe there was a conspiracy, but he suggests this is because most people have been misled by disinformation put out by conspiracy theorists:
If you are like most Americans, you believe that a conspiracy killed Kennedy. And if you are like most Americans, you have heard a vast number of bogus factoids about the case.
This web site is dedicated to debunking the mass of misinformation and disinformation surrounding the murder of JFK. If you are believer in Oswald as a lone gunman, you are likely to enjoy this web site, since most of that misinformation and disinformation has come from conspiracists. But if you are a sophisticated conspiracist, you likely understand that the mass of silly nonsense in conspiracy books and documentaries does no service to the cause of truth in the assassination, and simply buries the "case for conspiracy" under layers of bunk.
It might be worthwhile at this point to mention some of the experts and public figures who have said they believe a conspiracy killed President Kennedy or who have said they reject the single-bullet theory, which is the foundation of the lone-gunman theory:
* Dr. Joseph Dolce, an Army wound ballistics expert who played a leading role in the WC's wound ballistics tests.
* G. Robert Blakey, a professor of law at Notre Dame University and the former chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).
* The late Senator Richard Schweiker.
* Senator Christopher Dodd, who served on the HSCA when he was a member of the House of Representatives.
* The late Senator Richard Russell, who served on the WC.
* Dr. Roger McCarthy, a ballistics expert with Failure Analysis, which assisted with the American Bar Association's mock Oswald trials in the 1990s.
* Robert MacNeil, formerly of the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS.
* Ambassador William Atwood, former Special Assistant to
* Vice President Al Gore.
* President Lyndon Johnson. (We now know from the Johnson White House tapes that Johnson rejected the single-bullet theory. We also know from former Johnson aides and associates that privately Johnson said he believed Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.)
* The late Dr. Milton Helpern, a renowned forensic pathologist and formerly
the medical examiner for
* The late Dr. John Nichols, a forensic pathologist and formerly a professor
of pathology at the
* The late Carlos Hathcock, a Marine sniper who was widely regarded as the greatest sniper of the 20th century.
* The late Evelyn Lincoln, who was Kennedy's White House secretary.
* The late Dr. George Burkley, Kennedy's personal physician.
Literally, this list could continue for several pages. We also know that many members of the Kennedy family, along with Jackie Kennedy's own mother, came to believe JFK was killed by a conspiracy. I quote from Chris Anderson's discussion on this point in his book Jackie After Jack:
Even those not privy to the facts found it hard to
believe that Oswald acted alone. Jackie's own mother believed it was no
coincidence that the assassination took place in
By the late 1970s, Ted Kennedy would privately lean toward the conspiracy view, as would Bobby's oldest son, Joe, and several other Kennedy cousins. (Jackie After Jack, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1998, p. 80)
I will now examine some of McAdams' claims regarding Jack Ruby, the single-bullet theory, Oswald, and the medical evidence.
McAdams denies that Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby, had any substantive ties to
the Mafia. Incredibly, McAdams bases this view mostly on the information about
Ruby provided by the WC. In fact, McAdams' sections on Ruby's early days, on
Ruby's dealings with the police, and on Ruby's activities in
Conspiracy books that portray Ruby as a mobster of some kind all have one thing in common: they ignore the testimony of people who actually knew Jack Ruby.
McAdams' source for this claim is Dave Reitzes' article on Jack Ruby, "In Defense of Jack Ruby." But Reitzes doesn't even attempt to deal with the known evidence that Ruby had extensive Mafia ties. Instead, Reitzes relies on negative statements about Ruby that were made by Ruby's friends and family members in an effort to show that Ruby was too unstable to have been trusted by the Mafia or to have worked for the Mafia.
Many of these same friends and family members denied Ruby had any Mafia ties. The WC relied on these denials. But it has long been known that the WC's denial of Rubyís Mafia ties is seriously flawed. Former HSCA chief counsel G. Robert Blakey relates what the HSCA discovered when it investigated the claim of Ruby's friends and family members that Ruby wasn't involved in organized crime in his early days in Chicago:
During the 1964 investigation [i.e., the WC's
investigation] Ruby's relatives and friends attempted to minimize his criminal
associations and acts of violence during the early
Ruby made several trips to
Although the Warren Commission conceded there was
"some uncertainty" about a trip that Ruby took to
The evidence--even that available to the Warren Commission--hardly supported the Commission's conclusions. In fact, the carefully worded final report did not reflect the attitude of the staff lawyers responsible for the Ruby aspect of the investigation. . . .
In our investigation, we established beyond
reasonable doubt that Ruby lied repeatedly and willfully to the FBI and the
Warren Commission about the number of trips he made to
The evidence is overwhelming that Ruby was deeply involved in the Mafia. John Davis, an expert on organized crime, documents Ruby's extensive links with the Mafia in his book Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello And The Assassination Of John F. Kennedy (New York: Signet, 1989). Dr. David Scheim, a graduate of MIT, likewise details the strong evidence that Ruby had considerable ties to organized crime, in his book The Mafia Killed President Kennedy (London: Virgin, 1989). The HSCA concluded Ruby had a significant number of Mafia ties:
The evidence available to the committee . . .
showed that he [Ruby] had a significant number of associations and direct and
indirect contacts with underworld figures, a number of whom were connected to
the most powerful La Cosa Nostra leaders. Additionally, Ruby had numerous
associations with the
In 1999 former Mafia leader Bill Bonanno revealed he was aware of Ruby's links to organized crime. Bonanno was the son of the legendary Mafia figure Joe Bonanno. Bill Bonanno was reportedly the model for the character of Michael Corleone in the famous movie "The Godfather" and was the subject of Gay Talese's best-selling book Honor Thy Father. Here is some of what Bonanno says about Ruby in his book Bound By Honor: A Mafioso's Story:
We were told to turn on the TV. Jack Ruby, right there on network television, had just shot Oswald in the basement of the Dallas County Jail.
As I watched replay after replay of what had just
happened, I could not believe what I was seeing. Not because the prime suspect
in the assassination had just been killed, but because of who had done the
shooting. I knew that face, that body, that swift, squat, compact move. Jack
Ruby was known to everyone in our world. He was not a made member (he was
Jewish), but he was a gofer, a fixer, the kind of non-Family person who was
always available for favors, to do some rough stuff, make a payoff, do a job. I
didn't know him, but I had seen him around in
McAdams opines that Ruby's killing of Oswald was a spontaneous act motivated by Ruby's alleged desire to spare Jackie Kennedy the pain of having to testify at Oswald's trial. Award-winning investigative journalist Jack Anderson disagrees:
The man who eliminated Oswald, sleazy
Ruby hardly fit the model of a
patriot-turned-vigilante. By his own admission, he hadn't voted for Kennedy,
nor had he bothered to watch the president's motorcade in
Ruby's motive for killing Oswald is why the issue of how Ruby got into the
police station's basement is such a controversial and important issue. If he
just casually walked down the
With regard to Jack Ruby's polygraph, McAdams says it proves nothing and that it was unreliable anyway:
Conspiracists have claimed that the polygraph test shows Ruby lying about knowing Oswald and being part of a conspiracy. Unfortunately, as Dave Reitzes shows . . ."lie detector" tests have little value, and Ruby's test provides no evidence that he was lying.
If Ruby's polygraph was less than wholly reliable, it was because the FBI polygraph technician ignored standard procedure. Instead of turning up the polygraph's sensitivity as the test progressed, as he surely knew he was supposed to do, the technician inexplicably turned it down, making it harder to determine falsehood. Yet, even with the polygraph's sensitivity turned down (instead of up, as it should have been), the responses that the machine recorded indicated Ruby was lying when he denied he had no role in the assassination. The HSCA polygraph experts stated the following in their report regarding the reaction to the question, "Did you assist Oswald in the assassination?":
In fact, the reactions to the preceding question--(Did you assist Oswald in the assassination?)--showed the largest valid GSR reaction in test series No. 1. In addition, there is a constant suppression of breathing and a rise in blood pressure at the time of this crucial relevant question. From this test, it appeared to the panel that Ruby was possibly lying when answering "no" to the question, "Did you assist Oswald in the assassination?" This is contrary to Herndon's opinion that Ruby was truthful when answering that question. (8 HSCA 217-218)
In the months leading up to the assassination, Ruby made numerous long-distance phone calls to Mafia contacts all over the country. The WC claimed these calls were all related to Ruby's labor problems. The HSCA investigated the matter and came away skeptical of this claim. Dr. Scheim examines Ruby's phone activity in detail and makes a persuasive case that they were not related to his reported labor problems (The Mafia Killed President Kennedy, pp. 275-305). Former Reader's Digest editor and Rockefeller Foundation fellow Henry Hurt likewise views with suspicion Ruby's long-distance phone activity in the months leading up to the assassination:
It is interesting to look at the volume of Ruby's long-distance telephone calls during the seven months preceding the assassination of President Kennedy. In March, Ruby made fewer than ten toll calls. From May until September, Ruby averaged twenty-five to thirty-five calls per month. But for October and November, the volume of calls escalated tremendously. In October, Ruby placed more than seventy toll calls. The number reached nearly one hundred during the first three weeks of November, before he was jailed for murdering Oswald.
Among the calls never explained were three recorded
on November 7 and November 8 to two of [Mafia boss and Kennedy hater] Jimmy
Hoffa's top henchmen in Chicago and
Two weeks earlier, Ruby telephoned Irwin S. Weiner,
a prominent bail bondsman associated with organized crime in
Also of particular interest was a call Ruby made on
October 30 [less than a month before the assassination] to Nofio Pecora in
HSCA chief counsel Blakey reported to the select committee that not all of Ruby's long-distance calls could be explained by Ruby's AGVA-labor-dispute alibi. Said Blakey,
But in going one step further, it became apparent that to attribute all of Ruby's increased telephone activity in October and November to his AGVA dispute might be an inaccurate oversimplification, for a closer look at the specific calls he made in 1963, raised questions that could not be readily or easily dismissed: Ruby had, in fact, placed calls to a number of individuals who have been identified as being in some way associated with organized crime. Exhibit F-546 is a printout of these calls.
Although it may again be noted that these particular calls also correspond somewhat to the upsurge in the main body of Ruby calls in the weeks prior to the assassination, and even though some of the individuals in question have said that Ruby was in contact with them to seek help in his labor difficulties, the committee felt that more detail on the backgrounds of these persons was essential. Extensive file reviews were therefore conducted, and the following picture emerged.
Between June and August of 1963, Jack Ruby placed
seven long distance calls to one Lewis J. McWillie. McWillie was a close Ruby
associate, as Ruby told the Warren Commission. In 1959 Ruby had visited Lewis
Jack Ruby's phone calls to McWillie occurred on
June 27, September 2 (two calls), September 4, September 19, September 20, and
September 22, The first two calls were placed to McWillie's home number, the
remaining five calls were to McWillie's place of business, the Thunderbird
On the afternoon of October 26, 1963, Jack Ruby
placed a long distance phone call to Irwin S. Weiner in Chicago, with whom he
spoke for 12 minutes. Weiner was and is a prominent bondsman in
Additionally, Weiner has been involved in a business relationship with two men long identified as executioners for the Chicago Mafia--Felix "Phil" Alderisio and Albert "Obie" Frabotta.
In the immediate days following President Kennedy's
murder, the FBI sought to question Weiner about the call he had received from
Ruby on October 26. According to an FBI teletype of November 28, 1963, Weiner
refused to respond to questioning by FBI Agents in
In executive session testimony before this committee, Weiner was questioned about his contact with Ruby. He testified that he had gone to high school with Ruby's brother, Earl, and had been distantly acquainted with Jack. Weiner said he had little or no contact with Ruby in later years, and had not heard from him in at least 10 years at the time Ruby called him in late October 1963.
Weiner declared the purpose of Ruby's call was to
seek assistance in the labor dispute he was having with his
The committee has examined testimony and documentation relating to Ruby's labor difficulties, in particular his dispute with AGVA. Nevertheless, the committee has not found another reference to an effort by Ruby to put up a bond in connection with seeking an injunction against his competitors. [In other words, the committee found no evidence to support the story that Ruby had tried to put up a bond.]
In his appearance before the committee, Weiner further testified that he had lied to a reporter when he said in a taped interview that Ruby's phone call to him on October 26, 1963, had had nothing to do with labor problems.
Weiner testified he had refused to submit to FBI
questioning about Ruby in the weeks following the assassination because he
believed Bureau agents had harassed his daughter by implying he might be
connected to the assassination. Weiner stated he could not specifically recall
where he was on the day of the assassination, or on the day Ruby shot Oswald,
though he believed he was on a visit to
At 9:13 p.m., October 30, 1963, four days after his
call to Irwin Weiner, Jack Ruby placed a call to the
Nofio J. Pecora, alias Joseph O. Pecoraro, was the
owner of the
Earlier this year, when committee investigators sought to question Pecora about the October 30, 1963 telephone call from Ruby's office to his own, Pecora declined to respond. Earlier this month, however, Pecora did agree to respond to questions put him by committee investigators.
Pecora stated that he does not recall receiving any
telephone call from Ruby. He said he did not know Ruby or have any knowledge of
him. Pecora stated that he believes that he was probably the only person who
had access to his
Harold Tannenbaum met Ruby in the summer of 1963 and discussed going into business with him. The computer telephone project has established that Ruby and Tannenbaum were in frequent contact from June to October 1963.
The project has also established that an hour after the October 30 call was placed from Ruby's office to Pecora's office, Tannenbaum placed a call to Ruby.
On November 7, 1963, Ruby received a collect call from Robert G. (Barney) Baker of Chicago. The call lasted 17 minutes.
Baker is said to have been a top Lieutenant and reputed "enforcer" for Teamster President James Hoffa. A former boxer and ex-convict, Baker was perhaps Hoffa's best known assistant during the McClellan committee investigation of labor racketeering in the late 1950's. The Senate investigation, coordinated by then chief counsel Robert F. Kennedy, had detailed Baker's role as Hoffa's personal liaison to various leading Mafia figures. In his McClellan testimony, Baker recited a long list of Mafia hit men with whom he had been associated. In 1960, Robert F. Kennedy wrote of Baker, "Sometimes the mere threat of his presence in a room was enough to silence the men who would otherwise have opposed Hoffa's reign."
Barney Baker was questioned by the FBI in
There is also evidence that suggests a link between Ruby and radical
Marcello operative David Ferrie. On the evening of the assassination David
Ferrie made a very unusual and highly suspicious trip to
Ruby's phone calls and meetings in the months leading up to the assassination provide evidence of other links to organized crime and of a link to a Mafia man who was arrested in Dealey Plaza right after the shooting. Kirk Wilson explains:
During this same period [the months prior to the assassination], Ruby dashed through an intense series of meetings--by phone and in person--with his old mob acquaintances. The Warren Commission explained this activity in terms of a labor dispute Ruby had with the union that represented his strippers. The dispute was real, but given what was to come, it could hardly explain all of Ruby's actions. From May through September 1963, Ruby placed twenty-five to thirty-five long-distance phone calls each month. In October, he placed seventy-five of these calls. During the first three weeks of November, the number of calls shot up to ninety-six.
The recipients of these calls included Nofio Pecora, a highly placed member of the Marcello organization in New Orleans, Irwin Weiner, a bondsman and insurance man in Chicago with ties to Jimmy Hoffa and to mob figures throughout the country, "Barney" Baker, a 370-pound monster who enforced business arrangements for Hoffa and the Chicago mob, and Lenny Patrick, a Chicago-based bank robber and suspected mob triggerman.
On November 12, Ruby was visited by his old pal [
The most suspicious meetings of all came the night before the assassination. . . .
Ruby dined that night with his longtime friend and "financial backer" Ralph Paul. The chosen restaurant was the Egyptian Lounge, owned by Joseph and Sam Campisi. Joseph Campisi, according to an FBI report, was said to be the heir apparent to the top man in the Dallas Cosa Nostra family, Joseph Civello. Campisi and Civello both acknowledged knowing Ruby, and Ruby was said to be a frequent visit to Campisi's restaurant and to a store owned by Civello.
Campisi also acknowledged his close friendship with
Carlos Marcello. His phone records, examined by the HSCA, showed up to twenty
calls a day to
Overlooking Stemmons Freeway, and less than two
Just before midnight on November 21, Ruby arrived
at the Cabana to meet a
Meyers and Ms West had arrived in
Two of these people were Eugene Hale Brading, aka
Jim Braden, high-flying West Coast con man with longstanding ties to the
Chicago Mafia, and Morgan Brown, another con artist who had been involved in at
least one shootout with
Brading, traveling as "Braden," had
checked into the Cabana with Brown on November 21, telling the clerk they would
stay until November 24. Moments after the assassination, "Braden" was
one of about a dozen people picked up by the
Brading and Ruby crossed paths on at least two
other occasions during Brading's brief stay in
According to the Warren Commission account, Ruby's midnight get-together with Lawrence Meyers at the Cabana Hotel lasted only a few minutes. But Ruby telephoned an employee at 2:30 A.M. and mentioned that he was still at the Cabana. Was he with Meyers, or with Brading, or with someone else who may have been at the Cabana on deadly business? The question has never been answered. (Unsolved: Great Mysteries Of The 20th Century, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1990, pp. 67-69)
Blakey and former Life magazine editor Richard Billings discuss the apparent Ferrie phone call to Jean Aase West:
In our inspection of telephone records, we [the
HSCA] had discovered that on September 24, 1963, a 15-minute call was made to
the number listed for the hotel [where Jean Aase was staying] by David Ferrie
During the HSCA investigation, Chief Counsel Blakey reported the following:
A call made on September 24, 1963 by an
investigator for New Orleans Mafia leader Carlos Marcello to a woman in
Chicago, who was present with Ruby on the night before the assassination. The
committee found that David W. Ferrie had called the number of Jean Aase West
and had spoken for at least 15 minutes. On November 21, 1963, Miss West visited
McAdams' answer to the phone call that seems to indicate a Ferrie-Ruby link is another curious article on his website by lone-gunman theorist Dave Reitzes, entitled "Phone Factoid: Tortured Connection." Essentially, Reitzes argues, (1) that we really don't know with any confidence that it was Ferrie who placed the call to the building in which Jean West had a room, (2) that it's a coincidence that the call came from the office phone number from which Ferrie made other calls, and (3) that it's a coincidence that the call was made to the building where West was staying at the time. Reitzes notes that the number that was called was not the number to Jean West's room but rather to the building's main desk. And, Reitzes points out that Jean West reportedly denied receiving the call.
Concerning the supposed uncertainty about who made the call, Reitzes says,
Researcher David Blackburst, however, has noted
reason to be cautious about attributing any particular calls to Ferrie. First
of all, Blackburst points out that over three years had passed before secretary
Alice Guidroz was asked to decide which calls had been made "by the
office," and which were Ferrie's personal calls. More importantly, though,
Blackburst spoke with a number of Ferrie associates, and found that at least
eleven people worked out of Gill's office in September 1963. If David Ferrie
was making personal calls from Gill's office, what was stopping any other Gill
partner, investigator or secretary from placing that call to
In other words, by sheer coincidence, someone used the phone of Mafia kingfish Carlos Marcello's attorney in New Orleans to make a 15-minute call to the one building in all of Chicago where Jean West just happened to be staying, and by sheer coincidence this same Jean West just happened to be in Dallas to meet with Jack Ruby the night before the assassination. What an astonishing chain of coincidences!† Furthermore, if Jean West didn't take the call, who spoke on the phone for 15 minutes, and why?
And is there really so much uncertainty about who made that phone call? Reitzes ignores the fact that Jim Garrison said Gill's secretary had no trouble identifying which calls were made by Ferrie, and that the call to Jean West's building was one of those calls (see Garrison, On The Trail Of The Assassins, New York: Warner Books Edition, 1988, p. 127). Reitzes cites this same page from Garrison's book but omits this important information.
What about the fact that Mafia man Eugene Hale Brading (aka Jim Braden), like Ruby, was also at the Cabana hotel on the night before the assassination, and that Brading was arrested for acting suspiciously as he emerged from the Dal-Tex Building in Dealey Plaza minutes after the shots were fired? Reitzes opines that these, too, are simply coincidences.† More amazing coincidences.
What about the fact that on the day before the assassination Brading told a Dallas parole officer he planned on visiting Lamar Hunt, who was a right-wing extremist and an avowed Kennedy hater, and that on that same day Jack Ruby was admittedly in Hunt's office building? Says Reitzes,
Though Peter Noyes unaccountably misses the "Cabana connection" between Ruby and Braden, Noyes does note that Braden is alleged to have paid a visit to the offices of the Hunt Oil Company the day before the assassination -- the same day Jack Ruby drove a young woman named Connie Trammell to those same offices for a job interview with Lamar Hunt. Hunt security chief Paul Rothermel would later state that Ruby himself did not enter Hunt's office that day, but Rothermel was certain that at some point, Braden did. Braden, however, has always maintained that only his associates visited with the Hunts.
Reitzes should know better. He cites books that paint a much more accurate picture than the selective portrait he provides here. In his effort to leave some room for doubt that Brading visited with Lamar Hunt that day, Reitzes never mentions that Brading told a parole officer he planned on visiting Hunt and that Brading's meeting with the parole officer is documented in federal parole records, yet this is pointed out in David Scheim's book The Mafia Killed President Kennedy, which Reitzes cites. Similarly, in arguing that Ruby didn't meet with Hunt, Reitzes omits the fact that Warren Commission staffers Leon Hubert and Burt Griffin determined that Ruby did meet with Hunt and that Ruby gave an "innocent explanation" for the meeting, yet this information is also discussed in Scheim's book. Nor does Reitzes bother to tell the reader that the name "Lamar Hunt" was found in one of Ruby's notebooks. If Reitzes had dealt with all the available facts on the matter, he would have had to concede there is evidence that both Brading and Ruby met with Lamar Hunt.
Reitzes devotes considerable print to relating what Brading said about his
Reitzes, apparently taking Brading's word about the episode, sees nothing
suspicious about the fact that Brading was in the
The transcript of an FBI wiretap tape of a Mafia leader that was recorded a few days after the assassination suggests elements in organized crime hired or ordered Ruby to kill Oswald. On November 26, 1963, just two days after Ruby shot Oswald, mob boss Stefano Magaddino was recorded saying the killing of Oswald had been "arranged in order to cover up things" (Wilson, Unsolved: Great Mysteries Of The 20th Century, pp. 75-76).
For more on Ruby's Mafia ties, I would refer the reader to The HSCA on Jack Ruby's Mafia Links.
The Single-Bullet Theory
What is the single-bullet theory? It is that the same 6.5 mm metal-jacketed Carcano bullet which supposedly hit Kennedy in the back of the neck exited his throat, struck Governor John Connally in the back, tore through his chest, transited his wrist, and ended up in his thigh, causing all of Connally's extensive wounds, to include the smashing of a rib bone and the shattering of the radius bone in the governor's right wrist, and yet emerged in nearly pristine condition to be found at Parkland Hospital shortly after the President was pronounced dead. This bullet, known to many as the "magic bullet," is officially listed as Commission Exhibit (CE) 399. Even two of the autopsy doctors told the WC they regarded the theory as doubtful, and we now know that WC member Senator Russell strongly rejected the theory. If the single-bullet theory is wrong, then there must have been more than one gunman firing at Kennedy.
McAdams argues that trajectory studies have proven a trajectory through Kennedy and Connally that establishes the plausibility of the single-bullet theory:
Thomas Canning was a NASA scientist who studied the Single Bullet trajectory for the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He used the Betzner photograph to establish a line to the right of which Connally could not have been. He also estimated the rotation of Connally's torso from the Zapruder film. The result was an alignment that showed the bullet leaving Kennedy's throat to strike Connally in the back of the shoulder--which is where Connally was actually struck. Of course, you don't really have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.
But Canning's analysis has come under heavy attack, and for good reason. Dr. Michael Kurtz says the following about Canning's trajectory study:
Further divorcing the committee's investigation from reliability was its dependence upon the analysis of NASA expert Thomas Canning for determining the trajectory of the bullets that struck President Kennedy and Governor Connally. . . .
In permitting Canning to perform his trajectory analysis, the committee ignored the advice of the Pathology Panel. The panel cautioned that there is no reliable method of "determining the missile trajectory . . . particularly if precision within the range of a few degrees is required." This was illustrated by Canning's rejection of the objective medical evidence. Instead of using the true location of the entrance wound in Kennedy's back (approximately four inches below the shoulder), Canning arbitrarily raised it three inches in order to arrive at a trajectory consistent with the sixth-floor window [i.e., the window from which Oswald supposedly fired]. He also computed the angle of the wound as twenty-one degrees downward. This was nothing less than a blatant distortion of the medical evidence, which proved that the bullet entered the president's back at a "slightly upward" angle. Despite similar distortions of other parts of the objective medical data, Canning's trajectory analysis resulted in margins of error, by his own admission, that would have permitted the assassins to have fired from such diverse locations as the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh floors, and the roof of the Depository, as well as from the two upper floors of the neighboring Dal-Tex building. (Crime Of The Century: The Kennedy Assassination From A Historian's Perspective, Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1982, pp. 179-180)
McAdams cites Canning's study, even though Canning assumed Kennedy was first hit at about Zapruder frame 190 (or Z190). Yet, McAdams doesn't believe Kennedy was first hit until Z223:
Canning used the House Select Committee scenario that had Kennedy and Connally being struck by the Single Bullet at Zapruder frame 190. More recent work has pinpointed the time of the hit to Zapruder frame 223. Various researchers have modeled the Single Bullet Theory at that frame. Failure Analysis Associates, in work done for a 1992 "mock trial" of Lee Harvey Oswald for the American Bar Association, used 3-D computer animation and modeling techniques to research the bullet trajectory, and concluded that the Single Bullet Trajectory works.
McAdams cites the trajectory study done by Dale Myers:
Dale Myers, a specialist in computer animation,
built a 3-D model of
But, for one thing, Myers leans his Kennedy figure far forward to make his trajectory work, so far, in fact, that the model's back is completely off the seat. And, Myers has his Connally figure rotated 15 degrees to the right, whereas fellow lone-gunman theorist Todd Wayne Vaughan measures the degree of rotation as being only 10 degrees. In the Zapruder film we see Connally's shoulders are facing nearly parallel to the roll bar in Z223-224. The roll bar is a fixed horizontal point inside the limousine, and thus provides us with an excellent measuring rod. One can look at Z223-224 and plainly see that Connally's shoulders are nearly parallel to the roll bar. FBI photographic expert Lyndal Shaneyfelt noted to the WC that in Z222 Connally is turned only slightly to the right and that in the few frames thereafter he is "almost square, straight on with the car momentarily":
Mr. SHANEYFELT. I might say that as--in the motion picture as the car comes out from behind the signboard, the Governor is turned slightly to his right in this manner. This would be in the first frame, in frame 222, he is turned just slightly to his right, and from there on he turns almost square, straight on with the car momentarily, and there is a jerking motion there at one point in the film about there, at which time he starts to turn this way and continues to turn. (5 H 155)
There are other problems with Myers' trajectory model. He assumes a location for the back wound that is clearly above the location of the wound as it appears in the autopsy photo of the back. In Myers' model, the back wound is above the throat wound, noticeably above it. But the HSCA established that the back wound is actually slightly below the throat wound, or at least level with it. Key frames from Myers' model can be found in Appendix A of Gus Russo's book Live By The Sword (Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1998).
The various trajectory analyses that have supposedly established a plausible single-bullet theory trajectory have several flaws in common. One, they all either ignore the HSCA's information about the upward trajectory of Kennedy's back wound or they try to account for this information by assuming Kennedy was leaning far forward when the bullet struck his back, even though we know from footage of the shooting that Kennedy was not leaning very far forward during the time frame when he was first hit. Two, they don't explain the fact that the nick on the knot of Kennedy's tie was not on either edge of the knot and that no hole was made through the tie. Three, they must assume Connally was rotated rather markedly to the right when he was struck in the back, when in fact the Zapruder film shows his shoulders were nearly square to the limousine's roll bar. Four, they usually position Connally 10-12 inches to Kennedy's left, while the photographic evidence seems to show he was no more than 8 inches to Kennedy's left. And, five, they ignore the fact that a missile going from Kennedy's back wound to his throat wound would have had to smash through Kennedy's spine, causing massive damage.
Document 45 in Stewart Galanor's book Cover-Up shows a CAT scan made by Dr. David Mantik, a radiation oncologist and physicist. The scan was taken of a person with the same upper chest and neck dimensions as President Kennedy. Dr. Mantik took the scan at the level of the seventh cervical vertebra, which is where lone-gunman theorists argue the back wound was located. Dr. Mantik then drew a straight line from the location of the back wound to the location of the throat wound, proving that any bullet that traveled that path would smash into the spine.
McAdams argues that the back wound was not as low as many researchers believe it was. This is a key issue, because if the back wound was as low as the wound dot on the autopsy face sheet, then the single-bullet theory is rendered impossible from the outset. McAdams argues that the evidence for a low location is erroneous, starting with the autopsy face sheet:
What is the evidence for the "low" back wound location? The piece of evidence that conspiracy books will most often show you is the face sheet from the autopsy. It seems to place the wound too low to be consistent with the exit wound in the front of the neck.
What will the conspiracy books not tell you about this? They won't tell you that the face sheet also has a measurement placing the wound. It places the wound 14 cm. below the tip of the right mastoid process. That's not consistent with the lower dot location, but it is consistent with other statements in the autopsy.
For some reason, McAdams doesn't mention the well-known fact that the 14-cm measurement appears to be in pen, whereas all the other markings on the face sheet seem to be in pencil--the 14-cm measurement is clearly darker than all other markings on the sheet. This would suggest the measurement may have been added to the sheet after the autopsy.
McAdams also says nothing about the other evidence that supports the low location indicated by the wound dot on the face sheet. What is that evidence? Here's a summary of it:
* The holes in JFK's shirt and coat place the wound five to six inches below the collar line. The claim that his coat and shirt were hunched up on his back when the bullet struck in such a way as to make the proposed higher back wound line up with the clothing holes is not only far-fetched, but, in my opinion, refuted by the photographic evidence, as even lone-gunman theorist Jim Moore concedes. Even if Kennedy's coat was somewhat bunched, his tailor-made shirt certainly wasn't bunched to any significant degree.
* The President's death certificate places the wound at the third thoracic vertebra, which corresponds to the holes in the coat and shirt. This document was also marked "verified."
* Dr. John Ebersole, who got a look at the back wound during the autopsy, said the wound was near the fourth thoracic vertebra. This is even slightly lower than where the death certificate places the wound.
* Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who was called to the morgue for the specific purpose of viewing Kennedy's wounds, said the entrance point was "about six inches below the neckline to the right-hand side of the spinal column." Hill's placement of the wound corresponds closely to the location of the holes in the President's shirt and coat.
* The FBI's 9 December 1963 report on the autopsy, which was based on the report of two FBI agents who attended the autopsy (James Sibert and Francis O'Neill), located the wound below the shoulder (i.e., below the top of the shoulder blade).
* Three Navy medical technicians who assisted with the autopsy, James Jenkins, Paul O'Connor, and Edward Reed, have stated that the wound was well below the neck. Jenkins and O'Connor have also reported that it was probed repeatedly and that the autopsy doctors determined that it had no point of exit.
* Floyd Riebe, one of the photographers who took pictures at the autopsy, recalls that the back wound was probed and that it was well below the neck.
* Former Parkland nurse Diana Bowron, who washed the President's body before it was placed in the casket, has indicated the back wound was two to three inches below the hole shown in the alleged autopsy photo of JFK's back, and this hole, by the HSCA's own admission, is about two inches lower than where the WC placed the wound. In other words, Nurse Bowron located the wound five to six inches below the neck, and at the same time challenged the authenticity of the alleged autopsy picture of the President's back. (Some WC defenders argue that Bowron told the WC she didn't see any wound other than the large head wound. But if one reads her testimony carefully, it is clear she was speaking of the condition of Kennedy's body when she first saw it in the limousine. What she said in effect was that she didn't notice any wounds other than the head wound when she first saw his body lying in the limousine. See 6 H 136.)
* In the transcript of the 27 January 1964 executive session of the Warren Commission, we read that chief counsel J. Lee Rankin said the bullet entered Kennedy's back below the shoulder blade. Rankin even referred to a picture which he said showed that "the bullet entered below the shoulder blade." (When I asked McAdams about this fact, he opined that Rankin was referring to the face sheet, which is a drawing. But nowhere else in the WC volumes do we ever see a drawing referred to as a picture. Furthermore, the face sheet doesn't even show features like the shoulder blades.)
* Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, who got a very good look at the President's body, said the wound was "in the shoulder."
McAdams doesn't mention any of this evidence that the back wound was too low for the single-bullet theory.
McAdams claims the autopsy doctors documented a bullet path from the back wound to the throat wound, and that conspiracy authors attempt to hide this:
They also won't tell you what the autopsy report says about the track of the bullet through the body.
He then quotes from the WC's report:
The other missile entered the right superior posterior thorax above the scapula and traversed the soft tissues of the supra-scapular and the supra-clavicular portions of the base of the right side of the neck. This missile produced contusions of the right apical parietal pleura and of the apical portion of the right upper lobe of the lung. The missile contused the strap muscles of the right side of the neck, damaged the trachea and made its exit through the anterior surface of the neck. (Warren Commission Report, p. 543)
But researchers have known for years that this description is sheer speculation. We know from released documents about the autopsy that on the night of the autopsy the pathologists were absolutely positive the back wound did not have an exit point. We also know that they probed the wound repeatedly, that they removed the chest organs and probed the wound again and still saw no exit point, and that one of the medical technicians at the autopsy could see the end of the surgical probe pushing against the lining of the chest cavity. "There was," he said, "no entry into the chest cavity."
Additionally, as mentioned, two of the autopsy doctors, Dr. James Humes and Dr. Pierre Finck, viewed the single-bullet theory as implausible. For example, here's what Dr. Humes said when asked about the matter by WC counsel Arlen Specter:
Mr. SPECTER. Doctor Humes, I show you a bullet which we have marked as Commission Exhibit No. 399, and may I say now that, subject to later proof, this is the missile which has been taken from the stretcher which the evidence now indicates was the stretcher occupied by Governor Connally. I move for its admission into evidence at this time.
The CHAIRMAN. It may be admitted. (The article, previously marked Commission Exhibit No. 399 for identification, was received in evidence.)
Mr. SPECTER. We have been asked by the FBI that the missile not be handled by anybody because it is undergoing further ballistic tests, and it now appears, may the record show, in a plastic case in a cotton background.
Now looking at that bullet, Exhibit 399, Doctor Humes, could that bullet have gone through or been any part of the fragment passing through President Kennedy's head in Exhibit No. 388?
Commander HUMES. I do not believe so, sir.
Mr. SPECTER. And could that missile have made the wound on Governor Connally's right wrist?
Commander HUMES. I think that that is most unlikely. May I expand on those two answers?
Mr. SPECTER. Yes, please do.
Commander HUMES. The X-rays made of the wound in the head of the late President showed fragmentations of the missile. Some fragments we recovered and turned over, as has been previously noted. Also we have X-rays of the fragment of skull which was in the region of our opinion exit wound showing metallic fragments. Also going to Exhibit 392, the report from Parkland Hospital, the following sentence referring to the examination of the wound of the wrist is found: "Small bits of metal were encountered at various levels throughout the wound, and these were, wherever they were identified and could be picked up, picked up and submitted to the pathology department for identification and examination." The reason I believe it most unlikely that this missile could have inflicted either of these wounds is that this missile is basically intact; its jacket appears to me to be intact, and I do not understand how it could possibly have left fragments in either of these locations. (2 H 374-375)
WC defenders claim all the fragments in Kennedy and Connally were really only flakes, and that therefore they could have come from CE 399. They cite Dr. Charles Gregory's belated claim that he only removed flakes of metal from Connally's wrist. But Dr. Gregory's claim is at odds with his own 11-22-63 operative record. As we've seen above, even Dr. Humes understood Dr. Gregory's wording to mean metal fragments were removed from the wrist, not just flakes. Also, the nurse who assisted with the wrist surgery insists the wrist fragments were sizable bits of metal, not just flakes. We now know that the nurse drew a diagram of the fragments for the HSCA, and this diagram depicts sizable fragments, not flakes.
When it comes to JFK's throat wound, McAdams says WC critics omit crucial information:
Thus conspiracy books describe the
McAdams ignores the fact that Dr. Malcolm Perry, who performed the tracheostomy over the throat wound, repeatedly described the throat wound as "an entrance wound" on the day of the assassination. In fact, Dr. Perry was so certain it was an entrance wound, that when he was asked how a bullet fired from behind could have struck Kennedy in the throat, he opined that Kennedy had turned around shortly before the missile struck.
McAdams also ignores the fact that Dr. Charles Carrico, who also saw the throat wound, even told the HSCA that the damage he saw beneath the surface of the wound proved that the bullet must have been traveling from front to back:
. . . there was some damage to the trachea behind it [the wound], so the thing must have been going from front to back. (7 HSCA 270)
The throat wound gave every appearance of being an entry wound--it was small
(3-6 mm in diameter, and several of the doctors said it was 3-5 mm in
diameter), fairly clean-cut, circular, and not punched out. Dr. Perry told one
of the autopsy doctors that the wound was 3-5 mm in diameter (17 H 29). In
fact, it was smaller than the caliber
of the type of missile that was allegedly used by the supposed lone assassin.
It was also smaller than the bullet
hole in the President's back, indicating that it was a different caliber than
that of the missile that struck the back. Dr. Charles Baxter, one of the
It is true that some of the
When we consider the testimony of the
The idea that the throat wound was caused by a fragment from the head shot remains a possibility. So does the original diagnosis that it was an entrance wound. These scenarios are much more plausible than the idea that the throat wound was an exit wound for a 6.5 mm bullet.
McAdams does not deal with the wound ballistics tests that have contradicted the single-bullet theory. For example, in the WC's own wound ballistics tests, bullets that were fired through the chests of goats emerged with more damage than CE 399. One bullet that was merely fired into cotton wadding emerged more deformed than CE 399. When bullets were fired through simulated human necks, they caused wounds that were much larger than Kennedy's throat wound. In the 1992 All American Television wound ballistics test, in which a Carcano bullet was fired through two gelatin blocks that contained chicken bones (which approximate human bones), the bullet emerged badly deformed.
McAdams cites Dr. John Lattimer's wound ballistics test as evidence of the single-bullet theory. Lattimer used animal tissue to simulate Kennedy's neck, a rib cage to simulate Connally's torso, and radius bones wrapped in simulated forearms to simulate Connally's forearm. But nothing was used to simulate Connally's back or chest muscles. Lattimer said four bullets out of twenty struck all three objects. A picture of one of the test bullets shows it was split at the nose in several places and was markedly deformed, much more deformed than CE 399. When Stewart Galanor asked Lattimer, in a filmed interview, if he could examine the bullets that struck all three simulation objects, Lattimer said he had thrown them away (Cover-Up, New York: Kestrel Books, 1998, p. 42).
A few other facts should be mentioned about the single-bullet theory. Lone-gunman theorists argue that the alleged magic bullet made the slits in the front of JFK's shirt and the nick on his tie knot as it supposedly exited the president's throat. But Dr. Carrico told former Senate investigator Harold Weisberg he did not see any nick in the knot of Kennedy's tie before the nurses cut away the president's clothing (Post Mortem, 1975, p. 375). He added that he didn't see the slits in the front of JFK's shirt, either. Furthermore, photos of the tie knot clearly show the nick is not on the left edge of the knot but rather visibly inward from the edge. Critics of the single-bullet theory suggest the nick and the shirt slits were most likely made by the emergency room nurses as they cut away Kennedy's clothing. Weisberg was allowed to study high-quality photos of the front of Kennedy's shirt and discovered evidence that supports this suggestion:
Examination of the pictures of the inside of the collar, made to my request with thorough professional competence, did disclose a few new facts of evidentiary value.
It is even more clear that the slits could not have been made by a bullet. The fraying of the fabric is regular, on the edge of the cut. These loose threads flopped over the other edge while the picture was being made. It is not a regular fraying as one would expect from the rupturing by a 2,000-feet-per-second violence. In this picture the "slit" is clearly a cut, not a hole. When the cloth lies flat, there is no width to the damage, no material missing, nothing punched out by the bullet. The edges lie against each other.
Dr. Mantik also noticed that there is no fabric missing from the shirt slits when he was allowed to examine Kennedy's shirt at the National Archives. The fact that no fiber is missing from the slits is important because bullets normally tear out fabric from defects that they create in clothing as they rip through the clothing. Weisberg continues:
There is less blood inside the collar band than on the outside of the fabric, not consistent with the bloodstains coming from the body side. Where the sides of the shirt overlapped in wearing, no blood.
The dead giveaway of the fabrication that this is where the magical bullet must have exited, according to the official story, is the nonmagical, mute evidence of the slit on the left side. The irregular, zigzag mark of a cutting blade is visible with an engraver's lens no more powerful than the 10-power miniature I carry. (Post Mortem, p. 347, emphasis added)
It would take several more pages to deal with all of McAdams' claims relating to the single-bullet theory. For more information on the problems associated with this theory, I would refer the reader to my article Ten Reasons I Reject the Single-Bullet Theory.
Lee Harvey Oswald
McAdams paints Oswald as a sick, disturbed person who was prone to violence. Buell Wesley Frazier, who regularly drove Oswald to work at the Book Depository, had this to say about Oswald when interviewed for the Nigel Turner documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy:
The individual that I know as Lee Harvey Oswald I
don't think had it in him to be a person capable of committing such a crime as
murdering the President of the
In her highly acclaimed book Accessories
After The Fact: The
There is . . . no basis in any of the available medical or psychiatric histories for allegations that Oswald was psychotic, aberrant, or mentally unsound in any degree. His life history is consistent with the conclusion that he was a rational and stable personality (which is not to say that he was appealing, admirable, or untroubled). He was capable of marriage and fatherhood, with responsibility and devotion, particularly to his two children. He was conscientious in his punctuality and work, completed military service satisfactorily, paid his bills and repaid his debts promptly, and managed his practical affairs capably.
Since there has been unrestrained "psychoanalysis of Oswald by amateurs who never heard of Oswald before November 22, it is apropos to examine the judgments of those who knew him, on the two key questions of (1) motivation and (b) capacity for violence.
His wife, star witness for the prosecution, considered Oswald "mentally sound, smart and capable, not deprived of reason." (1 H 123)
Most members of the Russian-speaking community in
George Bouhe was not an admirer of Oswald's. He regarded Oswald as "crazy," a mental case. But it had never entered Bouhe's mind, he testified, that Oswald was capable of such an act. (8 H 370) Everett Glover said that he had never questioned Oswald's mental stability and did not consider him capable of violence. (10 H 20)
Anna Meller was "completely shocked" at the news of Oswald's arrest and could not believe that he had done such a thing. (8 H 386-390) Elena Hall had never regarded Oswald as dangerous or mentally unstable; she was incredulous when he was arrested. (8 H 405) Michael Paine (2 H 399), Paul Gregory (9 H 148) and George De Mohrenschildt (9 H 255) testified that Oswald was an admirer of President Kennedy and had praised him. Lillian Murret, Oswald's aunt, said that he had liked the President and admired his wife. (8 H 153) Marilyn Murret, her daughter, confirmed that Oswald had spoken favorably of the President. She felt strongly that Oswald was not capable of having committed the assassination and that he had no motive for such an act; and she disagreed completely with theories that Oswald resented authority or craved a place in history. (8 H 176-177)
None of Oswald's fellow Marines suggested that he was psychotic, violent, or homicidal. Lt. Donovan saw no signs of any mental instability (although he found it unusual for anyone to be so interested in foreign affairs). (8 H 299). . . .
Adrian Alba, who knew Oswald in
FBI Agent Quigley, who had interviewed Oswald after
his arrest in
And the comments of Lt. Francis Martello, intelligence division (anti-subversion) of the New Orleans Police Department, are especially memorable. He had interviewed Oswald at length in August 1963 and had formed the impression that he liked President Kennedy. He considered Oswald not to be potentially violent. ". . . not at all. Not in any way, shape, or form violent . . . as far as ever dreaming or thinking that Oswald would do what it is alleged that he has done, I would bet my head on a chopping block that he wouldn't do it." (10 H 60-61) (Accessories After The Fact, New York: Vintage Press edition, 1976, pp. 245-246)
McAdams denies Oswald had ties to any intelligence agency. This isn't what Senator Richard Schweiker found when he investigated the matter while serving on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Said Schweiker,
I personally believe that he [Oswald] had a special relationship with one of the intelligence agencies, which one, I'm not certain. But all the fingerprints I found during my eighteen months on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence point to Oswald as being a product of, and interacting with, the intelligence community. (Anthony Summers, Not In Your Lifetime: The Definitive Book On The Jfk Assassination, New York: Marlowe and Company, 1998, p. 206)
Historian and former military intelligence officer John Newman examines this issue in detail in his book OSWALD AND THE CIA (New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1995).
McAdams is confident that the package that Oswald carried to work on the day of the assassination contained a disassembled Carcano rifle:
Wes Frazier said he saw Lee Oswald carry a package into the School Book Depository on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, tucked beneath his arm. This point is of vast significance, since the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle later discovered in the Depository could not have been carried this way. Could Frazier have been mistaken? Read his Warren Commission testimony, and see whether he seemed sure of his observation.
Yes, let's do that:
BALL. It has been suggested that you take this bag, which is the colored bag . . . and put it under your arm just as a sample, or just to show about how he [Oswald] carried the bag. . . . Put it under your armpit. . . . Are you sure that his [Oswald's] hand was at the end of the package or at the side of the package?
FRAZIER. Like I said, I remember I didn't look at the package very much, paying much attention, but when i did look at it he did have his hands on the package like that. (2 H 241, emphasis added)
If we read Frazier's testimony, we see he was basically saying this: He didn't pay much attention to how Oswald carried the bag, but his recollection was that when he did notice how the bag was carried he saw the bag cupped in Oswald's hand and tucked under his armpit.
Two people saw Oswald enter the TSBD that morning, Jack Dougherty and Buell Wesley Frazier. Dougherty said Oswald's hands were empty when he saw Oswald enter the building. Frazier, who gave Oswald a ride to work that morning, said Oswald came into the TSBD carrying a brown paper bag under his arm. The apparent conflict can be explained if we assume Oswald was carrying the package with one cupped in his palm and the other end tucked into his armpit, as Frazier described. Thus, when Dougherty saw Oswald enter the building, he simply couldn't see the package because it was not visible to him.
Also, McAdams ignores the fact that both Frazier and his sister said they were certain that the bag that was supposedly found near the sixth-floor window was much longer than the one they saw Oswald carry to work on the day of the shooting. Frazier told the WC that the bag he saw Oswald carrying was about two feet long, and that it was the kind "you get out of the grocery store." On December 1, 1963, FBI agents asked Frazier to mark the spot on the back seat of his car where the bag reached when it was placed there with one end up against the door. The agents maintained that the distance between that spot and the door was 27 inches. Frazier's sister, Linnie Randle, who saw the bag, also said it was 27 inches long. But Oswald's measurements indicate the bag would have needed to be less than 24 inches long in order for him to have carried it in the manner described by Frazier.
Furthermore, when disassembled the Mannlicher-Carcano allegedly owned by Oswald is 35 inches long. Thus, according to both Frazier and his sister, not only was the bag too long for Oswald to have carried it in the manner Frazier himself described, but the bag was at least eight inches shorter than a disassembled Carcano rifle. In response to this dilemma, the WC said that both Frazier and his sister were mistaken about the length of the bag. Dr. Kurtz says the following on the matter:
The bag found on the sixth floor was 38 inches long, and the disassembled rifle was 34.8 inches long. Both Frazier and Mrs. Randle swore that the bag Oswald carried was 27 or 28 inches long. Their accuracy in estimating lengths was tested by both the FBI and by the commission. Both times they accurately estimated a measured length of 27 to 27.5 inches. (Crime Of The Century, p. 113)
The Medical Evidence
McAdams says there's no indication in the medical evidence that Kennedy was shot from the front. Dr. Randy Robertson, a board-certified radiologist who studied the autopsy x-rays at the National Archives, has concluded they show a shot struck the skull from the front. McAdams rejects Dr. Robertson's finding:
Randy Robertson claims to have found, in the x-rays of Kennedy's skull, evidence of two bullet hits to Kennedy's head. This is his statement to Rep. Conyers' subcommittee of the U.S. Congress [McAdams provides a link to the statement] in November 1993. Also included is one of the reviews of his article that caused the journal Radiology to reject it, as well as a brief critique from me.
Yes, Radiology did decline to publish Dr. Robertson's study. But McAdams fails to inform the reader that Dr. Robertson answered the reviewer's criticisms and that the reviewer was a former HSCA consultant who had concluded no shots struck the skull from the front. I quote from Dr. Robertson's letter to Rep. Conyers:
As you already know, my article was denied publication in Radiology. I am enclosing a copy of the critique of my article by Radiology's reviewer. In his review he reveals that he was a radiological consultant for the HSCA. It is highly unlikely that a reviewer with such a conflict of interest would admit an error in his previous interpretation of these radiographs. A proper interpretation on his part in the first place would have allowed the HSCA to come to a more correct conclusion in regards to the shot that was fired from the right front of the motorcade.
McAdams rejects the numerous eyewitness accounts that there was a large wound in the back of Kennedy's head. Why? Because a large wound in the rear of the head would obviously indicate a shot from the front. In part, McAdams rejects the accounts of a large back-of-head wound on the basis of his contention that such a wound is not visible in the Zapruder film. This is not a very good argument, since, oddly, in the frames following the head shot the back of Kennedy's head is obscured by a large black spot. Moreover, some researchers who have analyzed the film argue that in certain frames there are visual indications of a large wound in the rear of the skull.
One would never know it to read McAdams' comments on the subject, but there are dozens of eyewitness accounts that there was a large wound in the right-rear part of Kennedy's head. McAdams dismisses all these accounts, in large part because no such wound is seen in the autopsy photographs of the back of the head. WC critics argue those photos have either been altered or were taken after the back of Kennedy's head had been repaired. Many researchers find it very hard to believe that dozens of witnesses, to include trained medical personnel and federal agents, could have erred so terribly in describing the location of the large head wound. McAdams opines, based on the autopsy materials, that the large wound was on the side of the head, above the right ear, nowhere near the back of the head. Yet, the autopsy photos of the back of the head don't even agree with the autopsy report, which states that part of the large defect extended into the occipital region, which is on the very back of the skull--in the autopsy photos the occipital region is undamaged.
Let's briefly consider some of the eyewitness evidence of a large wound in
the back of the head. The witnesses who reported seeing a right-rear exit wound
included, for example, one of the
It's not true. . . . There wasn't even hair back there. It was blown away. All that area (on the back of the head) was blown out. (Boston Globe, June 21, 1981)
Another witness who saw the right-rear exit wound was Special Agent Clint
Hill of the Secret Service. What is important about Special Agent Hill's
account is that he saw the large head wound three
different times. Hill said that as he lay on the rear hood of the limousine
en route to the hospital and when he saw the body at
The right rear portion of his head was missing. It was lying in the rear seat of the car. His brain was exposed. There was blood and bits of brain all over the entire rear portion of the car. (2 H 141)
Later, when Special Agent Hill was taken to the Bethesda Naval Hospital's morgue for the express purpose of viewing the president's wounds, he reported that he again saw a large wound in the right rear part of the skull (18 H 745).
Not only did doctors, nurses, and federal agents see a large right-rear
McAdams attacks renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who posits a conspiracy in the assassination:
The author the conspiracy books are always quoting is Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist and long-time advocate of a conspiracy. Wecht is a competent forensic pathologist where the Kennedy assassination is not involved. Unfortunately the part of his book Cause Of Death dealing with the assassination is awash in mistakes and inaccuracies. When Wecht appeared online on the Prodigy service in 1994, Dr. Robert Artwohl challenged him on several errors and misrepresentations in the book. Wecht failed to respond to any of Artwohl's messages.
Dr. Wecht participated in a recent TV special where film was shown of a supposed "alien autopsy". . . . Was it really an alien?
I have read Dr. Artwohl's attacks on Dr. Wecht's chapter on the Kennedy
case. Frankly, I'm not surprised Dr. Wecht didn't bother answering Dr.
Artwohl's criticisms, since they contain numerous doubtful assumptions and
problematic assertions. Dr. Artwohl is not one to be correcting mistakes in the
work of others on the medical evidence in the Kennedy assassination. In a
published article a few years ago, Dr. Artwohl assumed the head wounds were
caused by a high-velocity bullet. But the alleged murder weapon was a
medium-velocity weapon, not a high-velocity one. For a long time Dr. Artwohl
misread a key measurement on the autopsy face sheet. He was corrected by Dr.
Gary Aguilar. In his abovementioned article, Dr. Artwohl also claimed that Dr. Boswell's
wound diagram, i.e., the autopsy face sheet, proved a higher location for the
rear head entry wound than that described in the autopsy report. At a
Such precisely measured correspondence from two directions that confirmed Humes, Boswell, and Finck's placement of a rear skull defect as low as the EOP, and which refuted Dr. Artwohl's unresearched claim that the diagram proved a higher location for the wound must have been difficult for Artwohl. Artwohl was, well, incapable of response other than to graciously admit that he had erred. (Letter from Gary Aguilar to Harrison Livingstone, printed in Livingstone, Killing The Truth, New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1993, p. 131)
As for Dr. Wecht's appearance on the alien autopsy video, I have not seen
the video, but I'm told by those who have viewed it that Dr. Wecht does not
comment on the authenticity of the objects in the video but only on the medical
procedures. It should be mentioned that Dr. Wecht is the former president of
McAdams and other lone-gunman theorists reject the location that the autopsy doctors gave for the rear head entry wound, partly because that wound could not have been made by a bullet fired from the sixth-floor window. Yet, the autopsy doctors were adamant that the rear head entry wound was slightly above the EOP, not four inches higher in the cowlick. When an HSCA staffer showed Dr. Finck an autopsy photo of the back of the head that seems to show the entry wound four inches above where he and the other autopsy doctors located it, Dr. Finck went so far as to question how the picture had been authenticated as having been taken at the autopsy.
Dr. Humes didn't even believe the spot identified in the autopsy photos as the entry wound in the cowlick was even a wound at all. We know from released files that the autopsy doctors bitterly rejected the revised location for the rear head entry wound. As mentioned, Dr. Aguilar has shown that Dr. Boswell in effect triangulated the rear head entry wound to the EOP (see Livingstone, Killing The Truth, pp. 129-131).
To accept the revised location for the rear head entry wound, one would have to believe that the autopsy doctors, along with several medical technicians, mislocated the wound by a whopping four inches, even though they used the EOP and the hairline as reference points. Contrary to McAdams' claim, the autopsy x-rays do not clearly show the revised location, as even one of the HSCA radiologic consultants observed. Dr. Mantik studied the x-rays and found that the higher wound that's supposed to be the rear head entry wound is only a small, transverse defect that is clearly smaller than the 6.5 mm fragment beneath it. Dr. Robertson argues that the x-rays show evidence that supports the low location described by the autopsy doctors.
McAdams attempts to discredit any doctor or other expert who rejects the lone-gunman theory to any degree. What about the medical experts whom McAdams cites? Let's take a brief look at two of them, Dr. Martin Fackler and Dr. Michael Baden.
I think it's fair to say that Dr. Fackler was discredited at the Ruby Ridge trial. He reached inaccurate, sometimes wild, conclusions, and failed to adequately research the issues involved in the case before he testified. He proposed one scenario that was patently absurd. I would refer the reader to Jess Walter's comments on Dr. Fackler's performance at the Ruby Ridge trial in his book Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth And Tragedy Of Ruby Ridge And The Randy Weaver Family (New York: Regan Books, 1995), pp. 335-336. Walter is no friend to conspiracy theorists, but he's highly critical of Dr. Fackler's performance at the Ruby Ridge trial.
But the Ruby Ridge trial was not the first time Dr. Fackler offered dubious conclusions. At the 1992 mock Oswald trial held by the American Bar Association, Dr. Fackler, apparently in all seriousness, made the astonishing claim that CE 399's alleged journey in the single-bullet theory was "absolutely typical" for that kind of bullet. Apparently astonished, and wondering if he'd heard Dr. Fackler correctly, defense attorney Evan Chesler asked Dr. Fackler to confirm that he had in fact just said CE 399's alleged journey was a typical trajectory for that type of missile:
EC: Dr. Fackler, I want to be sure that I heard you correctly. The bullet that you say went through the President's back, out his throat--you say began to tumble, hit the governor in his back, went through his chest, fractured his rib, came out below the right nipple, then went into his wrist, fractured his wrist, and then landed in his left thigh, that, in your words, is an absolutely typical trajectory for that bullet--is that your testimony, Sir?
MF: It certainly is. (Livingstone, Killing The Truth, p. 210)
One is left to wonder about the basis of Dr. Fackler's statement, given the fact that no other metal-jacketed bullet in the history of forensic science is known to have done the damage that CE 399 supposedly did and yet to have emerged in the same virtually undamaged condition as CE 399, with its lands and grooves intact, with no damage to its nose, with no bulge whatsoever in its body, with no more than three to four grains of its substance lost (if that), and with only deformation at its base that isn't even visible unless viewed from certain angles.
As for Dr. Michael Baden, the reader might be interested to know that he testified at both of O.J. Simpson's trials, for the defense. Many observers feel the prosecution destroyed Dr. Baden's credibility in cross-examination in the criminal trial. At the civil trial, Dr. Baden markedly changed his arguments. Dr. Baden also testified at the Louise Woodward trial, i.e., the famous Nanny Trial of a few years back. After watching Dr. Baden testify, one former U.S. Attorney, Joseph DiGenova, said in a television interview, "I don't know how any jury can still take this guy seriously." Dr. Baden supported the bizarre medical arguments put forth by Barry Scheck (yes, the same Barry Scheck who defended O.J. Simpson in his criminal trial).
Concerning McAdams' arguments about the authenticity of the autopsy x-rays and photos, I would refer the reader to my article Problems with the Alleged JFK Autopsy X-Rays and Photos: Have the JFK Autopsy Materials Been Faked or Altered?. For more information on the evidence that a bullet struck Kennedy from the front, the reader is referred to my article The Head Shot from the Front.
In the future I might expand this article to deal with some of McAdams'
claims concerning conspiracy evidence (which he attacks in his section titled
All of this is not to say McAdams never makes a valid point. Some of his arguments are valid. I am in substantial agreement with him on matters like the claims of L. Fletcher Prouty, the alleged D.C. phone blackout, the Roscoe White affair, James Files and his "confession," Robert Morrow's claims, and the forged police report on an alleged fight between Oswald and Ruby.
Also, to his credit, McAdams frequently offers the reader links to quality conspiracy web sites (which, ironically enough, refute many of the claims he presents!). McAdams also offers a good selection of assassination-related photos. McAdams does a good job of presenting the lone-gunman case, such as it is, on just about every issue involved in the JFK assassination.† However, as I think I have shown, McAdams presents many erroneous arguments and some badly outdated information.
For those who would like to visit McAdams' site, here's a link to it:
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