"JFK: THE LOST BULLET"
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFKASSASSINATION) Last night the National Geographic Channel aired a new documentary titled "JFK: The Lost Bullet".
FoxNews.com says that in the program "historians claim new research shows Oswald acted alone in (the) JFK assassination."
Fox adds that "a team of historians & retired secret service officers (have) used new technology on old evidence to solidify the judgment that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."
Having watched most every documentary on the JFK assassination, supporting both "lone gunman" & "conspiracy" viewpoints, I am always interested in the latest one.
I watched this documentary last night with an open mind & will attempt in this post to give it a fair critique.
I do want to say that I found the program very well done & very interesting. While I do not agree with all the conclusions, I recommend it highly.
First, the focus of the program is on the work of historian Max Holland who says that the Zapruder film "did not capture the whole thing."
Holland argues that Zapruder stopped filming before the 1st shot was fired & started filming again before the 2nd & 3rd shots were fired.
Holland then uses other films which were made, according to him, at the time of the 1st shot.
All these home movies, Zapruder's included, have been digitally enhanced to HD quality by Image Trends of Austin, Texas.
Bell & Howell
"Zoomatic" Movie Camera
FBI Exhibit, National Archives Images
Holland concludes the 1st shot which was fired at the motorcade & missed (according to the Warren Report) came before Zapruder restarted filming & since the Warren Commission based their conclusions only on the Zapruder film's time sequence, wrongly claimed the 1st shot came later than it actually did.
The documentary's groundbreaking conclusion is that the 1st shot hit a traffic light & was deflected then hitting the curb down by the overpass which caused a splattering of concrete some of which hit James Tague & left a cut on his face.
That traffic light has long since been replaced & no mention was made in the program about what happened to it, but Holland says there is a "white spot" or "defect" visible on the traffic light as seen on the secret service reenactment film made shortly after the assassination.
Thus, according to Holland, Oswald had more than 11 seconds to fire 3 shots rather than 6 seconds as previously thought.
Holland identifies the "3 shots" (Warren Commission conclusion) as "A", "B" & "C" & the program covers these shots in reverse order.
I. SHOT "C"
Shot "C" is the 3rd or fatal shot to JFK's head.
The HD quality Zapruder film is shown. It debunks the "wild" theory that the limo driver fired the fatal shot. He is, however, clearly seen turning to look toward the back after JFK was hit.
Another theory, "not so easily dismissed" according to the narrator, is that the 3rd shot came from the right front or "Grassy Knoll".
They show a view from the picket fence on the knoll & say that if a shot came from there it would also have hit Mrs. Kennedy.
I found it very interesting that from the camera angle at that point is was easy to see that a shot from that location, fired at JFK, would have acutally missed Mrs. Kennedy.
Then, Holland says something that, in my opinion, is completely ridiculous.
He says that witnesses "ran up the knoll (after the shots) because it was the closest area" to the motorcade.
While the reasons each witness chose to run up there could well vary, the evidence shows that most of the witnesses who were in the area away from the Texas School Book Depository thought the shots came from the grassy knoll.
That's why many of them "raced up there" not because it was closest (sorry to say, but that's an absurd statement, Max.)
An excellent part of the program is the inclusion of eyewitness Amos Euins who was the same age as me in 1963 (15).
Euins was standing across from the Depository & saw a rifle in the 6th floor SE corner window.
The program says although Euins was interviewed for television at the time, since then he has not made appearances until now. (I have not seen Euins in later days on any previous documentary).
Euins told Holland that the 1st shot came when JFK's limo was in line with a highway sign, which again would put the 1st shot coming before previously thought.
Euins believed,& still does, that all 3 shots came from the TSBD.
Evidence, not included in this documentary, shows that most eyewitnesses who were located in the area of the Depository thought the shots came from there.*
*Opinion: Since witnesses closest to the Depository thought that's where the shots were fired & witnesses closest to the Grassy Knoll thought that's where they were fired, one could, I think, assume that shots were fired from both locations by two different shooters.
Photo by Brodie319 (2003)
THE BELL FILM
Then, the enhanced version of the "Bell Film" is shown & Holland says that as Bell is panning the knoll (after the motorcade has left the scene) "there's nobody there".
Well, Max, did you expect a shooter firing from behind the picket fence would just stand there & look after firing the shot?**
**The documentary does not give any evidence regarding shooters on the knoll such as the facts that there were footprints & cigarette butts left in an area behind the picket fence & that witnesses on the overpass saw smoke rising from the line of trees on the grassy knoll.
They also omitted Bill Newman, who standing at the curbside with the grassy knoll behind him, said in a live TV interview made within minutes of the shooting that the shots "came from behind us" & that JFK "was hit in the (right) temple."
II. SHOT "B"
The 2nd shot, the program says, is the one dubbed "the magic bullet" by "conspiracy theorists".
This shot, according to the Warren Report, entered at the base of the back of JFK's neck, passed downward through his throat, exited the front of his throat then entered Governor Connally's right back, passed through his chest breaking a rib, exited near the nipple, continued downward striking his right wrist & then deflected lodging in his left thigh.
This sequence of events is known as the "single or magic bullet theory".
Holland reminds us that this idea was considered after the realization was made that a single shooter firing the bolt-action rifle later found on the 6th floor of the Depository could not be fired twice in the time span that JFK & Governor Connally were hit.*
*The Zapruder film shows JFK & Connally hit within 1.6 seconds of one another but the Manlicher-Carcano bolt action rifle required a minimum of 2.3 seconds to fire between shots. (the bolt-action ejects an empty shell & pushes in a new live round during that time period).
Arlen Specter Demonstrates
The Single Bullet Theory*
Warren Commission Report
Volume 18 (1964)
*Mr. Specter was a consul for the Warren Commission. He later became a
United States Senator from Pennsylvania.
The program does not mention that the FBI Report, issued before the Warren Report was completed & used as a primary source of information for the Warren Commission, found JFK & Connally were hit by different shots.
To make a case that the single bullet theory is true, Holland has a "shooter" located at the 6th floor window of the TSBD fire a laser at the JFK car.
The stand-in for JFK then is shown to have a small green mark in the upper back. Holland then has "JFK" move out of the way & "wa-la" the same green dot appears at Connally's right shoulder.
I will give credit here to the program when the narrator says that this shows both men "COULD (have been) hit by a single bullet."*
*The program does not mention that at JFK's autopsy an entry wound was found in JFK's back about 5 inches below the neck line or "at the level of the 3rd thoracic vertebrae" & that in attempting to "track" this bullet, no exit & no bullet was found.
Also, if the "magic bullet" was fired from the 6th floor, coming at a downward trajectory & entered JFK's back 5 inches below the neck, it could not exit the throat from the front unless it changed direction from downward to upward inside the body.
III. SHOT "A"
The 1st shot fired, according to the Warren Commission, missed the car & hit a curb down by the overpass.
Holland says that since that 1st shot did not hit anyone, the Warren Commission did not think it necessary to give it more than passing consideration.
Holland claims, however, that the timing of the 1st shot is critical to showing that a single shooter had more time to fire 3 shots than previously thought.
Using an enhanced secret service reenactment film made shortly after the assassination, Holland claims that a white mark on a traffic light indicates that the 1st shot hit the traffic light & then continued on down toward the overpass.
Elm Street toward the overpass
Dallas, Texas (2009)
Photo by M. Denise Costello*
*by permission from Ms. Costello
Again, Holland says that this 1st shot came when Zapruder's camera was not rolling & thus the 1st shot came several seconds before the Warren Report said it did.
Holland argues that it wasn't "Six Seconds in Dallas" but "Eleven Plus Seconds in Dallas" giving Oswald, in his opinion, plenty of time to fire the 3 shots.*
*I honestly think Holland has brought up an interesting question on this 1st shot. In my personal reading & research, I too have concentrated on the 2nd & 3rd shots. To be fair to Max Holland, I need to revisit the 1st shot & will give my conclusions in a future post.
"JFK: The Lost Bullet" is well worth your time. It is an interesting documentary which has something that previous programs do not in that it gives the viewer who has an HDTV a look at various films made on November 22, 1963, including the Zapruder Film, in high definition.
The program also gives the viewer his due. It does not make you feel like a total loser if you don't happen to agree with their conclusions. By saying things like a shot from the grassy knoll "cannot be so easily dismissed" or that both JFK & Connally "COULD" have been both hit by one bullet, they leave room for an alternate view. I, for one, appreciate that approach.