Forty-four years ago, it was relatively easy to get an open shot at the President of the United States, as long as you didn't mind getting caught. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President, used to wander into crowds to shake hands, and there were no metal detectors at the gates. Quite often there were no gates.
But if you wanted to shoot the President and get away with it, your task was more difficult. And the men behind the coup that shook the world forty-four years ago were not about to risk getting caught.
The phrase "better than Doyle" comes from Allen Dulles, the former director of the CIA, who was fired by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs fiasco yet somehow wound up on the Warren Commission, allegedly investigating the President's death.
The Warren Commission, by the way, wasn't investigating anything, nor was it ever intended to. Its mandate was to convince the country (if not the world) that Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist, was the lone assassin.
Dulles' reference, of course, was to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the world's best-known (if fictional) "consulting detective".
I've taken the quote out of context, but Dulles was saying, in effect, "If this was the plot, the plotter was a genius, and nobody would ever solve the mystery".
Well, the plotter was a genius, even though the mystery was eventually solved. And this really was the plot, though Dulles was hiding it. More on that in a moment.
I've said the mystery was solved, but the solution took so long that it didn't really matter; by the time the breakthrough came, the coverup had already taken hold and had a life of its own. The field of assassination research had already been littered with disinformation and heavily slandered; it was also badly fragmented. And no researcher was going to penetrate the fog, no matter how convincing his evidence, no matter how compelling his explanation.
This is the story of how they got away with it. It is indeed better than Doyle.
The basic idea behind the plot was to frame a patsy -- Lee Harvey Oswald -- who would then take the fall (literally, as it turned out; Oswald was gunned down by Jack Ruby two days after Kennedy was killed).
The plot to frame Oswald was comprehensive and very detailed, and involved having people trying to attract attention while impersonating him. That was easy; much more difficult was creating the appearance that he had fired the fatal shots.
The technical problem facing the plotters was one of logistics. Their chosen crime scene -- Dealey Plaza -- offered excellent hiding spots for the gunmen, who would have unimpeded shots at the Presidential motorcade, which would be going very slowly after turning a sharp corner.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who was about to be framed with the crime, worked in a building which overlooked Dealey Plaza. He could easily be made out to be the gunman. But there was one slight problem: As the motorcade rolled into the field of fire, Oswald would be behind the President, while the real gunmen would be in front of him.
The President would therefore be shot from the front, but the coverup would demand an official story in which he was shot from behind.
The main problem for the plotters was to devise a scenario which could support this massive revision of history. And they did it. Doyle would have been amazed.
Legally speaking, some evidence is better than other evidence. In the JFK case, there was all sorts of evidence, including the "sniper's nest" in the Texas School Book Depository from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot, eyewitness testimony, still and moving pictures of the event, ballistics, and the President's body.
The "best" available evidence would be the President's body. Forensically, the body would bear the record of the assassination. For example, if Kennedy had been killed by knife wounds, "Oswald's" "sniper's nest" would have been irrelevant. For a better example, if Kennedy's body showed that his wounds had come from the front, Oswald could not have been the killer, "sniper's nest" or no, because Oswald was behind the President when he was killed. Similarly, if the President's body showed that he had been shot from behind, it wouldn't matter how many witnesses said they saw or heard gunfire from elsewhere -- because the body was the best evidence. The witnesses could have been wrong, confused, or lying. The wounds on the body would tell the tale.
Therefore the main technical problem for the plotters was how to make the autopsy surgeons believe that the President had been shot from the rear when he had been shot from the front. The solution they apparently employed was one Arthur Conan Doyle probably never considered.
A gunshot normally leaves a small entry wound and a larger exit wound (if it leaves an exit wound at all). Doctors are accustomed to determining the direction of a shot by comparing the two wounds: the entry is always smaller than the exit (because the impact causes the bullet to "tumble").
Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally, who was wounded in the ambush that killed the President, were taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where the JFK was later declared dead. JFK's Parkland doctors described two wounds: one bullet which entered at the front of the throat and did not exit, and a second shot which entered at the temple and blew out an egg-sized hole at the back of the President's head. These were not the sorts of stories the plotters wanted to hear.
According to Texas law, JFK's autopsy should have been performed in Texas. And the coroner was adamant about wanting to do the autopsy then and there, but he was overruled at gunpoint [!] by the Secret Service, and the President's body was taken away in an ornate bronze casket, by local ambulance [hearse] to Love Field and thence aboard Air Force One, where Lyndon Johnson and his entourage were waiting.
Instead of a Dallas autopsy, Kennedy's body was autopsied at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, with Commander James J. Humes [photo] officiating.
Dr. Humes was not an autopsy specialist; he had never done an autopsy on a gunshot victim. And although he was nominally doing the autopsy, he was outranked by quite a number of "observers" (whose names he dared not mention later).
Photographs taken of the autopsy "audience" were immediately destroyed.
More curiously, the President's wounds as described by Dr. Humes are very different from the wounds described by the Dallas doctors.
The Dallas doctors had described one entrance wound at the front of the President's throat and one at the temple.
The autopsy doctors described the President as having been shot once in the back (or the back of the neck) with the bullet exiting the front of the throat, and once in the back of the head, shattering the skull.
Traditionally, researchers had "reconciled" this contradiction by declaring that one group of doctors or the other group was lying.
Defenders of the official story -- Lee Harvey Oswald, lone nut killer -- said the Dallas doctors were overly stressed, thrust into a national emergency, and didn't have all the details.
So-called conspiracy theorists trusted the Dallas doctors but accused Humes and his assistant of lying.
And there it stuck, until David Lifton "bridged the gap", by following the hypothesis that both groups of doctors were telling the truth, even though that hypothesis led him to the necessity of thinking the unthinkable: that something had happened to the President's body after it left Parkland Hospital in Dallas but before Dr. Humes saw it in Bethesda. Lifton's research is published in a book called "Best Evidence".
It took years of research but eventually Lifton managed to talk to several of the men who had brought Kennedy's body into the hospital/morgue at Bethesda. It came in a slate-gray shipping casket, and it arrived nearly half an hour before the ornate bronze casket that had been spirited away from Parkland at gunpoint. The bronze casket came to Bethesda accompanied by the President's grieving widow and his suddenly-arrived younger brother, but by that time the President's body was already inside the morgue.
Lifton even talked to an X-ray attendant who was carrying a set of X-rays of the President's body when he saw the widow's motorcade arrive. It was the second set of X-rays taken of the President that evening.
There's a lot more to it, but this is a single post and I can only give you the outline. It's a huge book -- hundreds of pages and zillions of footnotes, and I've read it and read it and looked for holes in it for years. There just aren't any.
The unthinkable happened: the plotters got access to the President's body between the gunpoint escape from Parkland and the Humes-officiated Bethesda autopsy. They fooled everybody they needed to fool, including the national media and the President's widow. And they performed crude surgery on the body before they allowed Humes to see it.
The entry wound in the throat had been used as the site of a tracheotomy in Dallas, when saving the President's life had seemed possible (though it was always unlikely). The plotters removed the bullet that was lodged in the President's spine, and enlarged the tracheotomy, making it look like a ragged exit wound.
They also bashed apart the President's skull, obliterating the evidence of a shot from the front and that incriminating exit hole in the rear of his head. They removed his brain from his skull and took out all the big pieces of lead from his brain, doing considerable damage in the process. Humes' testimony and his notes of the autopsy describe all this damage, but in medical terminology and in the context of a gunshot wound.
Lifton translates the medical jargon so we can all see that this damage is in no respect consistent with any number of gunshot wounds, let alone a single one.
In Humes' autopsy notes and/or his testimony we find things like "corpus colossum cut," "vomer crushed," and "cerebral peduncles torn." These are not indications of gunshot damage. On the contrary, they are the smoking guns of the case. The Dallas doctors never saw anything like this!
What was the point of the pre-autopsy surgery? By altering the President's body before the autopsy, the plotters removed all the lead (so slugs matching Oswald's rifle could be introduced as "evidence"). By enlarging the entrance wounds, so that they looked like exits, they also reversed the apparent direction of the shots.
Until the autopsy had reached a preliminary conclusion, there was no murder charge. Only after the autopsy declared that the President had been shot from the rear was the nation's legal machinery set in motion against the patsy Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been behind the President when he was killed from the front.
Of the thousands of questions that remain, I will tackle only a few in this post.
Yes, the plotters were indeed better than Doyle. On the other hand, given enough time and shag tobacco, Sherlock Holmes would certainly have solved this mystery, using his time-honored maxim:
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
David Lifton realized that the President's body could not have left Dallas in one condition and arrived in Bethesda in a very different condition, unless something had happened to it along the way.
His improbable solution is not as widely known as it should be, for a variety of reasons. Those who wish to perpetuate the "Lee Harvey Oswald, lone nut assassin" myth would have no reason to mention Lifton other than to ridicule him. And even many "conspiracy theorists" have been hostile to him on an ad hominem basis, although none has seriously challenged any of his research.
There are at least two reasons for this hostility: first, virtually everybody wants to be the one who cracks the case, and hardly anyone wants to admit that any important aspect of the case has been broken by someone else. This helps to keep the research community fragmented and fits in superbly with the government's wishes.
A second, and perhaps even more important reason concerns the Zapruder Film. This short film of the assassination, made by eyewitness Abraham Zapruder, has been considered (in some circles) the most accurate time-line and therefore the best evidence of the assassination. "Some circles" indeed -- an entire research community has grown up around the 17 seconds of video affectionately referred to as "the Z-film".
David Lifton's research showed conclusively that the body (and in lieu of the body, the autopsy) was the best evidence in the case, not the film. But he almost incidentally showed that the Z-film was bogus. For this he was shunned and ignored, and an entire "research community" continued to worship a false idol.
People who say they are looking for the truth can be very hostile to truth when they find it, if it's not the truth they're looking for.
Aside from the novelty of the plot, there's another extremely powerful reason why people are reluctant to accept Lifton's research: the very idea is so unthinkable!
In order to believe David Lifton, you have to accept the notion that people capable of immense evil have infiltrated our government to the very core. Some of us find that more difficult than others.
I told you there were a lot of parallels between the JFK assassination and the other national tragedy, the one that happened six years ago.
I'll have more on some of this in another post. In the meantime, click here, read the text, scroll down and follow the links ... and see for yourself exactly what's wrong with the Zapruder Film.
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