Thursday, November 14, 2013


November 14, 2013


Last evening, PBS's NOVA aired "Cold Case JFK" continuing its long-standing advocacy of the lone assassin theory.  I found the program to be interesting and well presented, but I have to say that it left me cold because of its failure, not surprising at all, to tell the complete story regarding the evidence.

At the very beginning of "Cold Case JFK," it is said...

"Physical evidence doesn't  lie."

I would argue that might be true if we are presented with the authentic physical evidence.

PBS goes on to say that this is an "old case that has never really gone cold," and  introduces Luke Hagg, a forensics expert with 47 years experience, who attempts to show that ballistics is the key to solving the case.

Clint Hill, Secret Service Agent, says that when he got to the car, he saw the third shot hit JFK and explode "out the right side of his head."

Then, the program focuses on the evidence found in the Texas School Book Depository.  At this point, not one word is mentioned about evidence from the Grassy Knoll.

We do learn that the rifle found on the 6th floor of the TSBD was a MAN-LICK-ER CAR-CAN-O, not a Manlicher CAR-CON-O as "most Americans pronounce it."*

Well, that is certainly good to know, but most Americans pronounce it the way all the other narrators of documentaries have pronounced it for 50 years now.

*I noted with interest that in tonight's CNN special, "The Assassination of JFK," they showed a film clip of Arlen Specter, the author of the single-bullet theory, pronouncing it CAR SANO.

This documentary does say the rifle was found hidden on the 6th floor of the Depository, but it does NOT say where on the 6th floor.  That tidbit might be interesting to know since it was found partially hidden near the stairwell on the opposite end of the Depository from the so-called "sniper's nest."

Cold Case JFK provides a very interesting scenario of why Lee Harvey Oswald chose this particular rifle in the Klein's Sporting Goods advertisement.  It was simply, according to PBS, a matter of price.  

While there were other, much better, rifles to order, one a automatic rifle which could fire 30 rounds simply by pulling the trigger 30 times, Oswald bought the Carcano because it was only $13 for the rifle and $7 for the scope.

The suggestion was made, in addition, that perhaps the difference in the capability of the rifle could be made up through "practice."

This program is not without merit.  

I found the discussion of the Carcano ammunition to be most interesting. 

They explain that the Manlicher bullet is cylindrical, not tapered or sharpened to a point, thus it is more stable in the rifle barrel.  Mr. Haag says that this is "uncommon," not only in rifles in general but in 6.5 rifles in particular.

At this point, however, Luke Haag makes an incredible assertion concerning the Dallas Police Department.  He says...

"They had the case solved in two days.  I give them high marks."

Another plus for this program, however, is that they show a short film clip of Dallas Medical Examiner Dr. Earl Rose who attempted to stop the removal of JFK's body from Parkland so that he could perform the autopsy required by Texas law.  I had never seen an image of Dr. Rose before.

Back to the negative side, Closed Case JFK says that the autopsy surgeons at Bethesda could not account for the bullet in JFK's back (that is, they could find no bullet in the body) and they were not shown the President's clothing, but there is no mention of the bullet holes in JFK's suit jacket and shirt being 5 1/2 inches below the collar.

And later when the statement is made that it was much more convenient for the government to say a lone assassin was responsible, the program shows an illustration with a bullet trajectory going into the back of JFK's neck. 

That is totally false. The bullet entered 5 1/2 inches below the collar line at the level of the third thoracic vertebrae (evidence includes eyewitness testimony and the bullet holes in JFK's coat and shirt, as well as the autopsy protocol).

Then, Mr. Haag and his son are put to work firing a Manlicher-Carcano into pine boards to demonstrate its bullet would have enough power to go through two men (i.e. single-bullet theory).

A test fired bullet, traveling 2089 feet per second, almost twice the speed of sound, penetrates 36 inches of pine un-deformed.  In other words, the program argues that this proves that the magic bullet could have traveled through both JFK and Governor Connally and end up nearly pristine.

They argue, also, that the bullet (CE-399), was not "undamaged."  It was slightly flattened with some bulging of it contents.

Luke Haag concludes that the single bullet theory "adds up."

The program also examines the head shot and employs the use of a 3D Laser Scanner, pretty impressive, to scan multiple locations in Dealey Plaza.  

They conclude that a shot from the Grassy Knoll "is possible," but argue that a bullet fired from that location would have had to exit from the LEFT side of JFK's skull (which it did not).

They make no mention of the possibility that the Grassy Knoll shot could have entered and exited on the right side of the skull.**

**One of the closest witnesses, Bill Newman, not called before the Warren Commission, said JFK was shot in the right temple in a televised interview shortly after the assassination.  If  Mr. Newman is correct, the bullet would have entered the temple at an angle from front to back, exiting out the right rear of the skull.

At the start of this review, we said that this program's premise was "the evidence does not lie," but throughout the program there are examples where evidence is either not presented at all, or presented incorrectly.

For example, when they discuss the head shot they show the photographs and drawings from the Warren Report which are obviously faked.  I am in reference particularly to the one that shows the back of JFK's head completely intact and the hair perfectly in place with a single bullet hole in the back. 

As most assassination researchers know, the right rear of the skull was blown out, about the size of a man's fist.  There could be no bullet hole there because there was nothing there for a bullet hole to be in.

The program concludes with the often heard line that its just hard to accept that "a nothing person" could bring down the leader of the free world, but NOVA argues "science shows it is probable that Lee Harvey Oswald alone shot John F. Kennedy."


  1. John, I just discovered and enjoy your blogs. I also enjoy the tone with which you cover the different topics and engage discussion. Too often people on one side or the other are so dismissive of the other side.

    I was wondering what your thoughts were of the theory put forth in the JFK: The Smoking Gun documentary which proposes that a Secret Service agent accidentally struck Kennedy in the head after one of the shots.

    The parts that intrigued me were the different type of bullets that cause different kinds of wounds; the various witnesses smelling gun smoke at ground level; I think John Connally even said that he heard Kennedy say "I've been shot" or something (I could be wrong on that one); and the whole Secrect Service cover up including destroying their documents before the 1990's release that occurred.

    1. Thank you for reading my JFK blogs and for the kind words. I have not seen the documentary you mention but have read the book which was published many years ago. While the book has some very good information, I have to say that the thesis does not ring, in my opinion, plausible. The smell of gun smoke at ground level also does not make sense. It certainly would be applicable to a "ground" shot, i.e. grassy knoll. Connally heard Jackie say 'They've shot Jack. I've got his brains in my hands' but the only person who claimed to hear JFK say anything was SS Agent Kellerman who testified that JFK said "I'm hit!"