JFK 50 Year Jubilee Hearings
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 on: September 01, 2014, 01:12:01 am 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee

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 on: September 01, 2014, 01:07:28 am 
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Electronic Publication (EPUB) Filename extension    .epub
Internet media type    application/epub+zip (unofficial[1])
Developed by    International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)
Initial release    September 2007
Latest release    3.0  / October 11, 2011[2]
Type of format    e-book file format
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EPUB (short for electronic publication) is a free and open e-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). Files have the extension .epub.

EPUB is designed for reflowable content, meaning that an EPUB reader can optimize text for a particular display device. EPUB also supports fixed-layout content. The format is intended as a single format that publishers and conversion houses can use in-house, as well as for distribution and sale. It supersedes the Open eBook standard

 on: September 01, 2014, 01:05:54 am 
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Comparison of e-book formats

 on: August 30, 2014, 07:31:55 pm 
Started by JFK50YearJubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee
11*22*63 A Space Absurdity, Corrected   Tongue

Thanks to composer Linda Z at Facebook Group JFK ASSASSINATION RESEARCH BUREAU

SBT supporters posit one of the reasons JFK's head and body goes "back and to the left" from the head shot is "neuromuscular reaction". Since I have a medical background Steve Rxx asked me if I could support him on it. Frankly, I've never heard of it before except I connection to the assassination (turns out Belin and Ford on the WC came up with it as an explanation - apparently finding an expert or experts who were willing to testify it exists). I need proof, so I googled around and found this wonderful explanation from a Canadian neurologist, Dr Robert Zacharko, on alt.assassination.jfk in response to a inquiry to him about this theory. Brace yourself, Steve. "Neuromuscular reaction" is complete pseudoscience hogwash.

The Backward Head Snap in the Zapruder Film



I asked Dr. Robert Zacharko, a neuroscientist at Carleton University in Canada,
about the theory that JFK's backward head snap was caused by a neuromuscular
reaction. This is really the only theory that Warren Commission supporters
have to offer as an explanation for the violent backward movement of President
Kennedy's head in the Zapruder film. I wrote to Dr. Zacharko as follows:
In frames 312-313 of the Zapruder film, we see Kennedy's head knocked
forward, but then, suddenly, beginning in frame 314, we see his head and
upper body jolted violently backward and to the left as the rightfrontal
area of his skull explodes. One theory says that this violent backward
motion was the result of a neuromuscular reaction. This reaction would
have had to occur in no more than 56 milliseconds. I have two questions
about this theory:

1. Some object to this theory on the basis that the reaction could not
have occurred so quickly. They point out that the fastest involuntary
reaction known to man is the eye blink, which takes about 40
milliseconds. They argue that this indicates that the backward head snap
would have taken longer to occur, since it involved much more mass. One
author phrases this objection as follows:

. . . it [the head] is suddenly driven forward between frames 312
and 313. Amazingly, in the very next frame, 314, it is already
moving backward, a movement it continues in succeeding frames until
the President's shoulders strike the seat cushion at Z321. . . .
The extremely small time factor combined with the relatively
large mass of the President's head would tend to rule out
such an explanation [i.e., the neuromuscular-reaction theory].
The fastest reflex reaction known to science--the startle
response--takes place over an interval of 40 to 200
milliseconds. Beginning with an eyeblink in 40 milliseconds,
the response wave moves the head forward in 83 milliseconds,
and then continues downward reaching the knees in 200 milliseconds.
The change in direction we observe [in the head snap] occurs in 56
milliseconds (1/18th/second), and involves not the negligible mass
of an eyelid but the considerable mass of a human head
moving forward with an acceleration of several g's.

What is your opinion on the speed of the alleged neuromuscular reaction?

2. One author has objected to the neuromuscular-reaction theory on the
following basis:

A "massive neuromuscular reaction," according to Messrs. Ford
and Belin, occurs when there is "massive damage inflicted to nerve
centers of the brain." The nerve centers of the brain are the
pons, the medulla, the cerebellum--all located in the rear of the
brain. According to the Warren Commission and the HSCA, the head
shot damaged the right cerebral hemisphere of Kennedy's
brain--not a nerve coordination center, not capable of causing
a "massive neuromuscular reaction."

The neuromuscular reaction that supposedly accounts for
the backward snap of Kennedy's head when struck by a
bullet from behind could happen only if a major coordinating
center of the brain is damaged. According to the x-rays and
autopsy photos that lone-gunman theorists champion as
evidence of a shot from behind, those areas of the brain
are intact.

What is your opinion of this objection to the neuromuscular-reaction

Dr. Zacharko responded as follows in an e-mail dated 8 February 1999:

If you ask any neuroscientist what a neuromuscular effect is they will
tell you that it refers to some interface of nerve and muscle for
example. In some cases a simple reflex response (e.g., knee jerk for
example). Can certain reflexes be influenced? Certainly. Do head
movements fall into such a category? No. The head movements that you are

referring to are following the laws of physics. With all due respect to
Belin and Ford I would ask what medical references or more precisely what
research references are being using to document arguments of
neuromuscular reactivity. Simply stated there are none. The pons and
medulla contain centres for respiration, cardiovascular regulation,
visceral reactivity and the like. The cerebellum is also present at this level.
Damage to these areas will interrupt respiration and heart rhythm
and affect motor coordination. Neural damage per se associated with
bullet entry will not cause exaggerated head movement of the type you see
in the Zapruder film. In fact there are no brain sites that will. This
neuromuscular reactivity argument is simply nonsense.[Note: One could
make the argument, ludicrous as it may sound, that Kennedy actually saw
the bullet approaching and jerked his head back reflexively to avoid
being hit.]

The second author does not appear to be any more informed than either
Belin or Ford. There is no such thing as a major coordinating centre.
Those arguments were largely discounted in the 1960's. The brain simply
does not act in such a fashion. It is a coordinated system. Actually
there is a system which is referred to as the extrapyramidal motor
system, which runs from the mesencephalon to the forebrain. It controls
voluntary movement. If this system was to discharge, you would effect
gross motor output. Such discharge would typically represent the invasion
of seizure like activity to motor areas. It would not be coordinated and
certainly not of the type evident in the Zapruder film.

The bottom line is that the head movements are reactions to the direction
of bullet entry. They are not the product of central nervous system
damage. It would almost seem that certain myths are maintained in the
absence of documented data. Information from half-sources of
documentation appear to blend with legitimate sources of information to
provide muddled scenarios.


Dr Robert M. Zacharko
Life Sciences Research Building
Institute of Neuroscience
Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The neuromuscular-reaction theory is the principal hypothesis advanced by
lone-gunman theorists. It is untenable. Their other theory, the jet-effect
theory, is ludicrous. Even Larry Sturdivan told the HSCA that the force that
would have resulted from the right-frontal explosion would have been minimal
(and would have pushed the head leftward, not backward and to the left). In
short, lone-gunman theorists have no explanation for the marked backward head

Mike Griffith


Michael Griffith does a nice job on his webpage explaining how nothing could explain such a rapid motion - except the removal of frames in the Zapruder film
Reactions to Six Shots in the Zapruder Film

The Warren Commission said only three shots were fired at President Kennedy. But there is compelling evidence in the Zapruder film alone that six shots were fired. We see reactions to shots in the following frames:
Unlike · · Unfollow Post · Share · about an hour ago

    You like this.
    Gerald Fxxx A *most* excellent contribution! Thank you. I used to say that reaction could not happen if the area nerve the pro-commission theorists said caused head movement could not have happened if it was blown to a billion pieces upon contact. I mean like if you hit with a stick, but this was an instantaneous explosion obviously seen on the Z-Film. Your contribution here has replaced my dumb-dumb words with intelligent speech! As far as a massive trial if America ever gets this case into a court room - as a Consitutional Lawyer would argue best - I believe using the argument "imperical data is then conversion as direct evidence" certainly applies here. The imperical data is the medical evidence well elaborated on here and in simple enough terms that is medical fact period, and *not* opinion. Science is fact. If argued, it is the fact argued and not a theory, but fact. So the fact established here in the parley is then imperical data for the case and means in a trial it is submitted as Direct Testimony as to the facts of the case and being - there was no nerve struck in the President's head by a weapon causing the head movement. It is compared to like a direct evidence as an authentic autopsy picture or X-Ray, or authentic bullet fragments etc as evidence presented as Direct Testimony and is the facts of the case. Opinions and theories by experts and so on are outside of the facts. From what I read, this is direct medical facts that are not argued but taught in all medical schools and practiced by their graduates. Great piece, than you!

 on: August 30, 2014, 07:29:33 pm 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee


 on: August 28, 2014, 09:50:05 pm 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee
HSCA - Mary Ferrell Foundation
The House Select Committee on Assassinations was the second major investigation of the JFK assassination, following the Warren Commission by nearly a ...

 on: August 22, 2014, 07:29:05 pm 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee
David Lifton


David S. Lifton (born 1939) is an American author who wrote the 1981 bestseller Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, a work that puts forth evidence that there was a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.[1]

  [hide] 1 Biography
2 Best Evidence 2.1 Summary
2.2 Reception

3 References


Lifton grew up in Rockaway Beach, New York.[1] He graduated from Cornell University's School of Engineering Physics in 1962 and thereupon enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles to work on an advance degree in engineering.[1][2] While there Lifton worked nights as a computer engineer for North American Aviation, a contractor for the Apollo program.[1] In autumn 1964, around the time the Warren Report was published, Lifton became interested in the JFK case after attending a lecture on the topic of the conspiracy to cover up the Kennedy assassination by Mark Lane.[1] Lifton purchased a set of the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission's investigation and started his own research on the Kennedy case.[1] In 1966, Lifton was dismissed from UCLA for neglecting his studies. He quit his aerospace job, devoting all his time to the Kennedy assassination.[1]

The January 1967 issue of Ramparts magazine presented a "special report" by Lifton, with David Welsh, entitled "The Case for Three Assassins" that laid out the scenario that more than one assassin was firing at Kennedy based on anomalies in the medical evidence.[3]

In 1993, Lifton was played by Robert Picardo in the television movie Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald.[4] He testified before the Assassination Records Review Board in September 1996, and provided the Board with various materials including 35mm interpositives of the Zapruder film, as well as copies of audiotapes, videotapes, and transcripts of witness interviews he conducted.[5]

As of 2010, Lifton lived in West Los Angeles where he was working full-time on a major written work about Oswald entitled Final Charade.[6]

Best Evidence[edit]

After Lifton's book Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy was rejected by 21 or 23 other publishers, Macmillan gave Lifton a $10,000 advance and published his book in 1981.[1][2] Due to the controversial nature of the book, Macmillan went to unusual lengths to fact-check the book; it was "examined for potential factual errors by in-house counsel, an outside law firm, a forensic pathologist, and a neurosurgeon."[2] The book eventually reached #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list and was a Book of the Month Club selection.[1][7]

In 1990, Edwin McDowell of The New York Times described Best Evidence as "one of the most durable" of the dozens of books about the Kennedy assassination.[8] According to Kent Carroll of Carroll & Graf Publishers, who reprinted a soft-cover version in 1988, the book sold 60,000 copies in 1990 alone.[8] In the updated 1988 edition of Best Evidence, Lifton was responsible for the first publication of a series of autopsy photographs taken of President Kennedy at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Lifton had acquired these photos after the initial publication of Best Evidence, from a former Secret Service employee who had made private copies with the permission of Agent Roy Kellerman. Lifton also used the photos during his appearance on the October 1988 PBS Nova episode Who Shot President Kennedy?, which marked the first time they were shown on television. Lifton claims that the actual photographs are consistent with his thesis of body alteration.


Best Evidence is written in the first-person as a chronological narrative of his 15-year search for the truth about the Kennedy assassination. It is not written just as a theory of what took place on November 22, 1963, but also to highlight his personal quest to solve the puzzle through a meticulous and time-consuming search for new evidence that could finally resolve the many factual conflicts in the record.[1][9]

The central thesis of the book is that President Kennedy’s body had been altered between the Dallas hospital and the autopsy site at Bethesda for the purpose of creating erroneous conclusions about the number and direction of the shots. He details evidence—using both the Warren Commission documents and original research and interviews with those involved at both Dallas and Bethesda—of a stark and radical change between the descriptions of the wounds by the medical staff at Dallas and those at Bethesda.[10] For instance, nearly all the Dallas medical staff thought the head wound entered from the front and exited through a 2-in. by 2.-in. hole in the exterior.[10] The autopsy, on the contrary, reported a massive exit wound in the front (about 4x the size of the reports of the Dallas staff), which would indicate a shot from the rear.[1]

It was these sort of conflicts that drove his quest.[1] The Warren Commission had ultimately resolved them through relying on what was considered the “best evidence”, the autopsy report and photos; but that didn’t satisfy Lifton.[10]

As Lifton was methodically working through the 26-volume Warren Commission report and exhibits, he stumbled upon what would become the fulcrum of his narrative, the answer he was looking for. He read, according to a report by FBI agents Siebert and O'Neill who attended the autopsy and took notes on everything they observed, that it was "apparent that a tracheotomy had been performed...as well as surgery of the head area, namely, in the top of the skull." [1] Since Lifton knew that there was no surgery to the head in Dallas, this was the fact that intensified and focused his research, leading ultimately to the synthesis of the contradictory Dallas/Bethesda evidence to his conclusion that there was intentional fraud, that is, as Lifton puts it, a “medical forgery” to the body of the President.[11]

In connection with his body alteration theory, Lifton hypothesized about when and where the alteration took place. He posits that after John F. Kennedy's assassination, unnamed conspirators on Air Force One removed Kennedy's body from its original bronze casket and placed it in a shipping casket, while en route from Dallas to Washington. Once the presidential plane arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, the shipping casket with the President's body in it was surreptitiously taken by helicopter from the side of the plane that was out of the television camera's view. Kennedy's body was then taken to an unknown location — most likely Walter Reed Army Medical Center — where the body was surgically altered to make it appear that he was shot only from the rear.[11][12]

Among the explicitly stated clear implications of the book are the following: The assassination was an “inside” job with, at minimum, a number of secret service men involved—the ones who controlled the scene and the evidence[10] and Oswald was, as he stated after his arrest, “a patsy." [13]


Ed Magnuson of Time described the theory as "bizarre", but wrote that Lifton's work was "meticulously researched".[10] According to Magnuson: "Preposterous? Absolutely. Yet there is virtually no factual claim in Lifton's book that is not supported by the public record or his own interviews, many of them with the lowly hospital and military bystanders whom official probes had overlooked."[10]

Thomas Powers gave a critical review of the book in New York magazine stating: "There are a lot of curious theories about what happened to John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, but none quite so bizarre as David Lifton's, a theory that makes all previous speculation about the president's murder... look like the work of dull and sober men."[14] Powers' review was particularly harsh on Lifton's publisher, adding "Lifton is not to blame for this travesty" and asserting that Macmillan owed an apology to everyone involved in the transport of Kennedy's body from Dallas to Washington.[14] Reviewing the book for The New York Times, Harrison Salisbury wrote: "...no one before Mr. Lifton has constructed a theory so complicated, so quirky, in such violation of every law of common sense and reason."[15]

Discussing some of the books espousing a conspiracy in the assassination of Kennedy, Stephen E. Ambrose wrote in 1992: "Mr. Lifton argues that the conspirators who killed Kennedy got possession of Kennedy's body somewhere between Dallas and Washington, then removed his brain and otherwise altered his body and wounds to support a single-gunman theory. Mr. Lifton's account of how this was done is almost impossible to follow, almost impossible to believe and almost impossible to refute."[16]

Author and lawyer Gerald Posner has described Lifton's book as "one of the most unusual conspiracy theories" that "relies on an elaborate shell game involving rapid exchanges of coffins, a decoy ambulance, and a switched body shroud. He contends that once the body (of President Kennedy) was stolen from Air Force One, a covert team of surgeons surgically altered the corpse before the autopsy later that day...purportedly...so the autopsy physicians would determine the bullets that hit the President were fired from the rear...thereby sealing the case against Oswald."[17] Vincent Bugliosi devoted twelve pages to Lifton's theory in his 2007 book, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.[7] Bugliosi prefaced his comments stating that the "theory is so unhinged that it really doesn't deserve one word in any serious treatment of the assassination", but that he was "forced to devote some time to talking about nonsense of a most exquisite nature" due to the number of people who treated it seriously.[7]

While there were many negative reviews from the major-media outlets, the book also received many accolades. According to a Los Angeles Times article about Mr. Lifton: "The Orlando Sentinel Star went so far as to compare the book in stature and import to William L. Shirer's 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.' Other reviewers characterized Lifton's work as 'meticulously detailed,' 'methodical and well-documented' and 'a challenge to the Warren Commission.'"[1]


1.^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Green, Lee (November 20, 1988). "His J.F.K. Obsession : For David Lifton, the Assassination Is a Labyrinth Without End". Los Angeles Time (Los Angeles). Retrieved March 9, 2012.
2.^ Jump up to: a b c McDowell, Edwin (January 12, 1981). "New Books On John Kennedy Death Quietly Issued". The New York Times (New York). p. 17.
3.Jump up ^ Welsh, David; Lifton, David (January 1967). "The Case For Three Assassins". Ramparts 5 (7): 77–100. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
4.Jump up ^ O'Connor, John J. (November 15, 1993). "Review/Television; A New Round of Programs on J. F. K.". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved May 22, 2012.
5.Jump up ^ "Chapter Seven: Pursuit of Records". Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (pdf). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. September 30, 1998. p. 133.
6.Jump up ^ Lifton, David [1] April 15, 2010, retrieved May 20, 2012
7.^ Jump up to: a b c Bugliosi, Vincent (2007). "David Lifton and Alteration of the President's Body". Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 1057. ISBN 0-393-04525-0.
8.^ Jump up to: a b McDowell, Edwin (November 21, 1990). "Book Notes". The New York Tims (New York). Retrieved May 22, 2012.
9.Jump up ^ Chesire, Maxine (09/05/80). "David Lifton's Startling Study of JFK's Murder". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
10.^ Jump up to: a b c d e f Magnuson, Ed (January 19, 1981). "Now, a "Two-Casket" Argument: A bizarre new Kennedy assassination theory". Time 117 (3): 22. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
11.^ Jump up to: a b Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1988), pp. 678-683, 692-699, 701-702. ISBN 0-88184-438-1
12.Jump up ^ Turner, Nigel. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 3, "The Cover-Up", 1988.
13.Jump up ^ Lee Oswald claiming innocence on YouTube (film).
14.^ Jump up to: a b Powers, Thomas (February 23, 1981). "Robbing the Grave". New York (New York: News Group Publications, Inc.) 14 (Cool: 46–47. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
15.Jump up ^ Salisbury, Harrison E. (February 22, 1981). "JFK AND FURTHER SINISTER FORCES". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved May 21, 2012.
16.Jump up ^ Ambrose, Stephen E. (February 2, 1992). "Writers on the Grassy Knoll: A Reader's Guide". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved May 22, 2012.
17.Jump up ^ Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK ISBN 0-679-41825-3, pp.296-297

 on: August 22, 2014, 07:27:14 pm 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee

http://davidlifton-bestevidence-finalcharade.blogspot.com/2010/04/blogging-about-jfk-final-charde-my.htmlThursday, April 15, 2010

Blogging about JFK & "Final Charade"--My first post

Many people know about my 1981 book, "BEST EVIDENCE: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of President Kennedy." It was published by Macmillan, was a Book of the Month Selection, and was on the New York Times best seller list for about four months. The book was number one on the wire service lists--for about a month--and then remained in print for some seventeen years, through a sequence of four different publishers. (My favorite edition is the 1988 Carroll & Graf edition, published in trade paperback). Between January and April, 1981, I traveled all over the country, appearing on many shows, propounding what was a rather complex thesis, but one not only backed by critical evidence, but by videotaped interviews of key people connected with JFK's autopsy. Those video interviews were then compiled and released in 1989 (and again in 1991) as a 37 minute documentary titled "BEST EVIDENCE: The Research Video."

The central thesis of my book--now widely debated on the Internet (see, for example, the London Education Forum, or the JFK Lancer Forum)--is simply this: that the "best evidence" in the JFK case was the President's body, itself, and that the autopsy report in this case--the report relied upon by the Warren Commission as the legal basis for its "two shots struck JFK from behind" conclusions--was falsified by a simple (and rather ugly) mechanism, one that was, I believe, an integral part of the crime itself: the medical alteration of the wounds on the body, shortly after Kenned's death, and prior to the autopsy. (JFK was shot at 12:30 CST in Dallas; after he was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital --at 1 P.M.--his body was brought back to Washington aboard Air Force One, and then to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where an autopsy commenced at 8 P.M. EST). In a nutshell, the central thesis of Best Evidence--which starts with the recognition that the body of the deceased, in a gunshot case, offers a "diagram of the shooting," is that that "diagram" (i.e., the wound pattern on President Kennedy's body)--by 8 P.M. on the evening of 11/22/63--bore little resemblance to the wounds originally on the body immediately after the shooting. In short, by the time of autopsy, JFK's body was tantamount to a medical forgery, it told a false story of the shooting; and that "medical forgery" became the basis for the autopsy report that was accepted as the foundation for the "Oswald did it" version of President Kennedy's murder.

As those who have read my book well know, I do not believe that Oswald was JFK's assassin, and the appearance that he was in fact Kennedy's murderer is the result of a pattern of deliberately falsified evidence. This thorough falsification of a variety of evidence created the appearance not only that Oswald was "the assassin" but, in addition, that JFK was shot "from above and behind" ---and specifically, from the "sniper's nest" located on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository (today, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas).

In 1988, BEST EVIDENCE was published in trade paperback (as stated above) and that edition carried the JFK autopsy photographs--then, and still, under seal at the National Archives. The publication in the 1988 edition of my book marked the first time they were published anywhere in the world. Furthermore, that edition carried an important "Epilogue" reporting not only my own feelings about the necessity of publishing these pictures, but also developments in my own personal investigation relating to this evidence--specifically, what happened when I showed these photographs to various Dallas doctors and nurses who had actually seen JFK 's wounds, at Parkland Hospital, on the day of his death. The general verdict was that these photographs did not show the wounds as the witnesses recalled them. (The 1993 edition of BEST EVIDENCE, published by New American Library, also carries the pictures, and the same AFTERWORD.)

In 1992, in the aftermath of Oliver Stone's movie "JFK," Congress passed the JFK Records Act, mandating the declassification of all records pertaining to this case. The JFK Act created a small Federal Agency called the "Assassination Records Review Board" ("the ARRB") and during their three year life, they had the power to subpoena records, and to call witnesses to "clarify the record." This they did and during the course of their investigation, some 10 depositions were taken from critical witnesses connected with JFK's autopsy, some of whose accounts had appeared, for the first time, in BEST EVIDENCE. Douglas Horne, a former Naval officer, held the title Chief Analyst for Military Records, and played a major role in pursuing all matters pertaining to the medical evidence and the Zapruder film (and many other issues as well). He has just published a massive five volume work "INSIDE THE ARRB" , which I highly recommend, and which strongly endorses the major thesis of BEST EVIDENCE. Several years ago, he posted the following statement on the Internet, from which I now quote--that BEST EVIDENCE "has been validated by the work of the ARRB staff. Our unsworn interviews and depositions of Dallas (Parkland Hospital) medical personnel and Bethesda autopsy participants confirm that the President's body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in a markedly different condition than it was in when seen at Parkland for life-saving treatment. My conclusion is that wounds were indeed altered and bullets were indeed removed prior to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital. This procedure altered the autopsy conclusions and presented a false picture of how the shooting took place. In most essential details, David Lifton "got it right" in his 1981 bestseller." (END QUOTE)

From email and letters, I know that many who have followed my work have wondered what I have been doing since the publication of BEST EVIDENCE. The chief answer is: pursuing my own research on the JFK case, and, most important, writing a book on Oswald.

Since I do not believe Oswald shot Kennedy, the question is not only "who did?"--but also, "Just who was Oswald?" and how did he become entangled in this entire affair? To cast a similarly important question in terms of the physical evidence, the issue is not "who put the bullets INTO President Kennedy's body" but rather "who took them out?" Only by answering the second question can we hope to obtain a "global" picture of just what happened on November 22, 1963. In short, if President Kennedy's body was altered (post-mortem) and the autopsy conclusions falsified, then the answer to "who killed Kennedy?" can only be found by learning how this was accomplished, how was this entire event was arranged, and how such a conglomeration of evidence was falsified, so as to create--after it was over, i.e., in the aftermath of the shooting--the false appearance that Lee Oswald was President Kennedy's assassin.

Because that, I believe, is what happened in this case. That, to use the vernacular, is what "went down" on November 22, 1963. So one way of attempting to get to the bottom of all this is to find the answer(s) to the question: who was Oswald?

This is the question that is primarily addressed in my forthcoming work, FINAL CHARADE: Lee Oswald and the Assassination of President Kennedy.

In my own writing, I view Oswald as "the man who didn't do it", and .the question I address (and answer) is: Who was this "man who didn't do it?"

On a more personal note:

I was born on September 20, 1939, and am just three weeks older than Oswald would have been (had he lived)--so it is very easy for me to relate to someone who was a "child of the fifties" (I was high school "class of '57" and then Cornell "class of '62"). Had he not lost a year, from all the moving around, and then dropped out of school early to join the Marines, Oswald, too, would have been "class of '57." But he joined the Marines (October, 1956), and then--immediately after his discharge (9/11/59)--departed for the Soviet Union, arriving there on October 16, 1959, just two days prior to his 20th birthday. To put this in perspective, I had just begun my junior year at Cornell (in the School of Engineering Physics) and was just beginning my second course in electromagnetic theory, at the time that Oswald was telling the KGB that he would like to live int he Soviet Union for the rest of his life, and--if permitted to do so--had certain radar secrets to ofer. Oswald then remained there for just over two and a half years, returning in mid-June, 1962, about halfway through JFK's "1000 days." Utilizing this chronological correlation between Oswald and myelf helps put a more human face on Oswald, and helps "tell the story" of my investigation of his life, in the first person (just as I narrated my investigation of the medical evidence, in BEST EVIDENCE).

FINAL CHARADE was under contract some years ago (which explains some of the Amazon listings), but has undergone a major redesign, and is not currently under contract. Rest assured it will be published, and will be an important sequel to BEST EVIDENCE; and a very important book when it comes to understanding the events of November 22, 1963.

For the time being, I will keep future readers informed of my activities, via this blog; and address certain other issues as the need arises.

If I don't answer questions, please bear with me, as my time is limited and I am primarily focused on completing my work.

For those who want to know more about BEST EVIDENCE, be aware that 37 minute documentary film, "BEST EVIDENCE: The Research Video" is probably available, as a VHS, and we are trying to get that re-released as a DVD. There you will find some of the key witnesses who appeared in the book--witnesses I interviewed in 1980, when there was far less use of "home video" (and, of course, no Internet, no cell phones, no You Tube, etc.. My video contains the accounts of witnesses filmed "the old fashioned way" (i.e., on 16 mm film, using a professional film crew) and who much later appeared (circa 1996/97) before the ARRB. For those who want to learn more about my work in the area of the Zapruder film, I recommend my essay, "PIG ON A LEASH," which has been posted on the Internet.

Again, just as in the case of the President's body (and the official autopsy), the key issue is authenticity. In my essay, you will find a detailed account of my experiences (and research) concerning this most critical matter. Ultimately at issue is whether the "extant film" --the one which became "the evidence" on which the FBI and the Warren Commission relied for the timing of "the shots"--was in fact the genuine camera original, or an edited version. You will also learn the story of how in 1990, in New York City, I obtained access to an original 35 mm copy of the "original" film (a high quality copy made in 1967 by a private firm, then under contract with LIFE, the putative owner of the Zapruder film at that time); how I then obtained access to an optical printer, and then made extraordinarily clear copies of that 35mm item, one of which I then donated to the Kennedy Collection at the National Archives, when I testified before the ARRB in September, 1996. (A far more complete and extensive analysis addressing Zapruder film authenticity is to be found in Volume 4 of Horne's work, previously mentioned, the fine work of film editor David Healy, and I also refer any interested reader to the work of Australian physicist John Costella, which can also be found on the Internet.)

Ultimately, these matters of "physical evidence" relate to the "Oswald story" because it is via the "official evidence" (i.e., the autopsy, the Zapruder film, etc.) that the official "Oswald story" emerges--and the key issue is whether the evidence is legitimate.

On that score, it is important to remember what Lee Oswald--who had repeatedly and very publicly protested his innocence--said to his older brother Robert, during their brief meeting in the Dallas jail on Saturday, November 23, 1963, the day before he was murdered: "Do not believe the so-called 'evidence'."

The most important evidence in this case was the President's body--and I addressed that in BEST EVIDENCE. I will be covering the rest in FINAL CHARADE.

I wish everyone well, and will try to update this blog as time permits.

David S. Lifton
4/15/2010; 4:45 AM, PDT
West Los Angeles, California

 on: August 22, 2014, 07:23:40 pm 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee
David Lifton about Paul O'Conner

"What made O’Connor important is what he told the House Select Committee, and is recorded in the HSCA Outside Contact Report of Purdy and Flanagan, in 1977, and it comes down to 3 basic facts concerning the JFK autopsy:

1. JFK’s body arrived in a shipping casket
2. Inside, it was in a body bag
3. The cranium was empty.

O’Connor is a direct witness to these events, which is surely what was being suppressed by the “order not to talk,” which he (and the others) were placed under verbally, and then in writing, on November 26, 1963, the day after JFK’s funeral. Moreover, it was the recision of the “order not to talk” which made it possible for him (and the other) Bethesda witnesses to be interviewed by the HSCA.

Those interviews were conducted in 1977/78, and the appropriate reports written. But then Blakey didn’t like what they said and it was all locked up — and not scheduled for release until 2029.

Two things changed that schedule for the much delayed release of this information:

(1) I learned of, located, and interviewed the witnesses in 1979; and incorporated their accounts into Best Evidence, which was submitted in manuscript form by April, 1980, and was in the book stores by January, 1981..

(2) The JFK Records Act—passed as a result of Oliver Stone’s 12/91 release of JFK—led to the original HSCA documents being released in 1993/94.

Of course, the public didn’t have to wait until 1993/94; they could (and did) read Best Evidence, published in January, 1981.

The substance of what O’Connor (and the others) had to say made its first public appearance in Best Evidence, which was number one on many best seller lists by April of 1981. Further, I arranged to film his account, in October, 1980, at his home in Gainesville, Florida,, and that was broadcast nationally on several shows in the Spring of 1981 (e.g. Tom Snyder) plus in many cities across the U.S. where I went on my book tour, always carrying with me a 3/4” video of O’Connor and the other key Bethesda witnesses.

Neither the way O’Connor’s account became public nor any of the 3 key points that O’Connor made that made his account historically significant is mentioned in the obituary. The obit about Paul O’Connor should be focused on what was important about him as a witness, and the information he had which pointed to fraud in the autopsy; and how those facts became known—not on who fraternized with whom, and in what year.

When then HSCA report was released in July, 1979, and I saw the statement about the body bag, I located O’Connor (and the others), interviewed him (and the others, all in the fall of 1979) and published their accounts. (This is described in Chapter 26 of B.E.)

O’Connor’s statements that the body arrived in a body bag, inside a shipping casket; and that the cranium was empty—all that is nowhere to be found in the obituary but is spelled out in the HSCA (Purdy/Flanagan) Outside Contact Report, and it would have remained locked up until 2029, were it not for the JFK Records Act, which made it available in 1993/94. It only became available in 1981—a full 13 years earlier---because of Best Evidence.

In short, I played the major role in locating and interviewing (at length, and on camera) Paul O'Connor--and seeing to it that he was exposed, repeatedly, to a national television audience. None of that is mentioned in
the obit. Instead, the obit limits my involvement to this single sentence: "Mr. O'Connor was interviewed by David Lifton for Best Evidence”—as if events that happened in 1979-1981 can be ignored. They cannot and should not.

Starting in the Spring of 1981, Paul O’Connor’s face was all over the tv, in national broadcasts (e.g. Tom Snyder show) and in major news shows in individual cities across the country, where I was sent on tour, always carrying 3/4” video tapes of his account. Another burst of publilcity occurred on the 20th anniversary (1983), another on the 25th (1988) and still more on the 30th (1993).

As Paul himself said to me back then, “Thanks for putting me on the map, buddy.”

Of course, I realize that the obit ought to be focused on Paul O’Connor, not me; but we are inextricably linked because my book and video were the means by which Paul O’Connor’s critical information became available to the world. The obit, as currently written, misses all that entirely. Instead of being written about the events of 1977-1981, when all this occurred, its as if its focused on the year 2000, or who O’Connor was fraternizing with in the late 1990s, or what he said to William Law 22 years after I first interviewed him and filmed him.

Why in the world is there this misplaced emphasis? The role of B.E. is not just diminished, it is ignored. Further, what O’Connor had to say that was important is also ignored.

The result: that O'Connor's account, and its 3 key features (the way the body arrived--shipping casket, body bag, etc.--and the empty cranium)--is omitted.

That’s like writing an obit of Thomas Edison and omitting the fact that he discovered the electric light bulb.

For your reference, I’m attaching a chronology of my involvement with O’Connor. Perhaps what you generate in the future can be a more accurate reflection of this record."

 on: August 22, 2014, 07:18:46 pm 
Started by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee - Last post by JFK-50-Year-Jubilee
Presented in Dallas on Friday, 11/20/98 by
Dr. Josiah Thompson



[Josiah Thompson is the author of the famous 'Six Seconds in Dallas' - one of the very first JFK books in America, best seller.]
Educated at Yale, Josiah Thompson received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1964. Inbetween studies, he spent a couple of years in the Navy with Underwater Demolition Team 21. He taught at Yale and then Haverford College and rose to the rank of Professor of Philosophy.

In 1976, he resigned his tenured professorship to work as a private investigator in northern California, starting his own investigations firm in 1979.

In the past twenty years, he has participated in cases ranging from child kidnapping to white collar crime and insurance defense. He has investigated over one hundred murder cases, eighteen of them carrying the death penalty. His investigation of a 1991 Virginia case persuaded then-Governor Wilder to commute a death sentence to life-imprisonment on the eve of the scheduled execution.

A number of his cases have garnered national attention. He participated in the defense of Bill and Emily Harris in the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and of Huey Newton on murder and assault charges. He also participated in the successful defense of Chol Soo Lee on murder charges (an ABC-TV "20/20" segment and basis for the film, "True Believer"), and was defense investigator for attorney Stephen Bingham (acquitted on five counts of murder in the "San Quentin Six" case). His most recent high-profile cases include being investigator for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma bombing trial and investigating the bombing of environmental activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.

His hardcover 1967 and paperback 1976 publications of Six Seconds in Dallas - A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination live up to their sub-titles' promise: "Six Seconds in Dallas is infuriating," reviewed the Los Angeles Times, "for it suggests the kind of analytical study the Warren Commission failed even to attempt." His 1988 book, Gumshoe: Reflections in a Private Eye, has been called "the best book ever written about the life of the private eye."

The text below covers several points raised in the "Zapruder alteration" debate. Dr. Thompson walks us through what devious persons would have thought if they decided to undertake the alteration of the Zapruder film. Then he provides us with a "Zapruder Film Possession Timeline." He next debunks two re-hashed assertions that were recently published in James Fetzer's "Assassination Science" - first, that the NPIC possessed the Zapruder film on November 22, 1963, and second, Fetzer's tendency to pull facts out of context from others' works to suit his needs - and forsake the original authors' intent.

- Clint Bradford, 11/24/98

DR. THOMPSON: Before turning to the Zapruder film in particular, I want to situate it under a more general horizon.

If altered, the Zapruder film would be an example of a more general phenomenon: the alteration of physical evidence by the authorities in a criminal case. Yes, it does happen. Not often. In fact, it's almost unique.

In over twenty years of experience as a criminal investigator, I've seen it happen only once or twice. But it does happen. In fact, right now I have a death-penalty case where I think it happened. Let me tell you about it.


Whether or not a substitution was made in this case is not the point. What is the point is the considerations that would make such a substitution plausible, that would make someone even try it: Note first that the crime scene cartridge case was in the custody of the person carrying out the substitution. Note second that, since the cartridge case was linked to no other evidence in the case, once the substitution was made there was no way for it to be discovered. Note third that the person who substituted the cartridge case knew exactly what he had to prove by the substitution.

Now let's try on another hypothetical example for size. Let's say that a particular letter is found at a crime scene. Let's say that that letter was the output of a computer at a remote location. Let's also say that the investigating officer had some incentive to change the wording in the letter.

If you were that investigating officer, what questions would you ask yourself? Wouldn't you first ask whether there were other copies of the letter? Had the writer kept a copy in a safe place or given it to someone else? Was the text of the letter kept on the computer? Even if it had been deleted from the hard drive of the computer, was there a backup somewhere? The alteration of evidence in a criminal case is a desperate act. Would you take that chance if you knew that irrefutable evidence of the alteration might turn up somewhere else? And how could you ever be sure?

Now let's take a photograph of a crime. First, you'd have to know exactly how you wanted to alter it. Secondly, you'd have to be sure no other copies - no negative hidden away, no second copy residing in someone else's possession - existed. Thirdly, you'd have to be sure that no other photographs taken by anyone else later would surface to expose the alteration.

With these considerations in mind, consider whether you would undertake to alter the Zapruder film. First, you'd have to know exactly what you wanted to show in your alteration. Second, since the film in question was a movie, you might very well have to alter not just one frame, not just one sequence of frames, but many. Thirdly, what about the other films? At least thirty-eight people were taking pictures that day in Dealey Plaza.

At the very least, the Muchmore and Nix films also would have to be altered. The Muchmore film was purchased by UPI on Monday, November 25th, and shown the following day on WNEW-TV in New York City. On Friday, November 29th, the Nix film was also purchased by UPI and shown the next week in theater newsreels.

But the critical problem for anyone thinking of altering the Zapruder film is not the Muchmore and Nix films. It is all the other films you don't know about - films developed outside Dallas by people from out-of-state who just happened by...or by foreign tourists who would get their films developed in their home countries. Any one of these unknown films could expose your alteration.

If one sat down for a long, long time it would be difficult to come up with a situation where alteration was more unlikely than in a film of the assassination of President Kennedy - a murder occurring at noon in a public square in front of hundreds of witnesses, an unknown number of whom were taking photographs of it.

Unlikely? Yes. Foolhardy? Yes. Impossible? No.

What makes it impossible is the actual provenance of the film itself. Recall above the example which showed the foolhardiness of faking a letter if you were not in possession of all the copies. This situation is repeated with respect to the Zapruder film. For a minute, come along with me as we plot Zapruder and his film's movements over that crucial weekend thirty-five years ago...

NOVEMBER 22, 1963
8:00 am
Abraham Zapruder arrives at the offices of Jennifer Juniors. Marilyn Sitzman and Lillian Rogers persuade him to retrieve his 8 mm. movie camera from his home.

11:30 am
Zapruder returns to his office after retrieving his camera.

12:30 pm
Zapruder films the assassination from a pedestal in Dealey Plaza.

12:45 pm
Zapruder returns to his office and locks the camera in his safe.

1:30 pm
Reporter Harry McCormick takes Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels to Zapruder's office. Emotionally upset, Zapruder agrees to furnish Sorrels with a copy of his film - if Sorrels will agree that the copy is only for use by the Secret Service and that it would not be shown or given to any media. Sorrels agrees.

1:45 pm
Together with Zapruder's partner, Irwin Schwartz, Sorrels, McCormick and Zapruder drive to Dallas Morning News. Since they can't process the film, they walk to WFAA-TV. Zapruder is interviewed live; Schwartz is photographed with the camera.

2:15 pm
A police car takes Sorrels, Schwartz, Zapruder and McCormick to the Kodak plant. Zapruder makes arrangements for the processing of the film. Phil Willis meets Sorrels at the Kodak plant and also agrees to furnish the Secret Service with copies of his 35 mm. slides. Sorrels gets a phone call and leaves for Dallas Police Headquarters.

3:15 pm (est.)
The processed film is shown to fifteen to eighteen people. To have copies made, Zapruder must take camera original to Jamieson Company.

4:00 pm (est.)
Zapruder has three (3) copies made by the Jamieson Company. He requests affidavit that no more copies were made.

4:30 pm (est.)
Zapruder returns to Kodak plant with the original and three (3) copies. He has the three (3) copies processed and requests affidavits from Kodak personnel that only three (3) copies were processed.

Richard Stolley and Tommy Thompson of LIFE fly in from Los Angeles. LIFE stringers Patsy Swank and Holland McCombs learn that Zapruder has film of the assassination. Forrest Sorrels receives two of the three first generation copies and assures Zapruder they will be used only for official purposes by the Secret Service.

Stolley sets up offices in the Adolphus Hotel and begins calling Zapruder's home at fifteen minute intervals. Zapruder, shaken by the day's events, drives aimlessly around Dallas.

9:55 pm
Secret Service Agent Max Phillips sends one of the two copies to Secret Service Chief Rowley in Washington, D.C. In an accompanying note, Phillips says that "Mr. Zapruder is in custody of the 'master' film."

11:00 pm
Stolley reaches Zapruder at home and asks to come out and view the film. Zapruder declines. They agree to meet the next morning at 9:00am at Zapruder's office.

8:00 am
Stolley is waiting at Zapruder's office when Zapruder arrives. The film is screened for Stolley. Stolley agrees that LIFE will pay Zapruder $50,000 in two installments for print rights to the film. Stolley leaves with the original and perhaps the remaining copy. The original is sent to Chicago where the LIFE editorial staff has assembled to prepare the new issue to be on the newsstands the following Tuesday, November 26th. During the preparation of black and white copies, the original is broken in several places by photo technicians. Splices are made.

At some time this weekend, a copy of the film is sent to New York where it is viewed by C.D. Jackson, publisher of LIFE. Jackson decides to acquire all rights to the film and so instructs Stolley.

Since copies cannot be made in Dallas, Gordon Shanklin, FBI SAIC in Dallas, is instructed to send the copy the FBI obtained from Sorrels by commercial flight to Washington, D.C. Shanklin does so, at the same time requesting that the FBI Lab make three, second-generation copies, one for Washington and two for the Dallas Field Office.


Zapruder may have screened the film for Forrest Sorrels and other law enforcement agents.


Stolley meets with Zapruder in the offices of Zapruder's lawyer. The negotiations end with LIFE purchasing world-wide rights to the film for $150,000.

During these negotiations, Dan Rather is shown the film. He neglects to make an immediate bid but elects to check with New York first. During a radio broadcast with Richard C. Hottelet and Hughes Rudd, Rather describes the film which he has "just returned from seeing." Later that day, Rather describes his viewing of the film on the CBS Evening News. Rather could only have seen this film at this time if Zapruder had retained one copy and provided Stolley with only the original the previous Saturday.

LIFE begins newsstand distribution of the November 29th issue. At the same time, various LIFE editors order up prints of the film for viewing in their offices. I was shown one of these in October 1966. Since control was lax, bootleg copies began to circulate.


What emerges from this chronology is a single important fact:

At no time during this hectic weekend did the original of the film ever leave the custody and control of Abraham Zapruder and LIFE magazine.

Two first-generation copies were provided to Forrest Sorrels of the Secret Service in the late afternoon of November 22nd . One of these copies was shipped to Washington that night. The other was turned over to the FBI and sent by commercial air to Washington the next day. But the original stayed with Zapruder until the morning of November 23rd when **** Stolley walked out of Zapruder's office with it under his arm.

That original remained under LIFE's custody and control until it was given back to Zapruder's family in the 1970s.

But how do we know that LIFE did not conspire in the alteration of the film? As it is impossible to prove any negative, so it is impossible to prove this negative. But there is no shred of evidence that it happened. On Monday, November 25th, many millions of LIFE magazine copies went into the mails to subscribers with black and white frames from the film, and, about the same time, copies of the film began appearing in editors' offices. Had the conspiratorial alteration of the film by LIFE and the government already taken place? If not, it would have been too late. With unknown copies floating around, the toothpaste could no longer have been put back in the tube.

Recently, another thread in the fabric has become visible.

On Saturday morning, November 23rd, 1963, Zapruder sold just print rights to LIFE for $50,000. Other media were clamoring at Zapruder's heels, and two days later he sold additional rights to LIFE for $100,000 more. Are we to believe that Zapruder - always a shrewd businessman - had let Stolley walk out of his office with both the original and the last first- generation copy? How would Zapruder be able to negotiate with the media for the remaining rights to his film?

Had he given up his last copy of the film, then Dan Rather could not have viewed the film in the offices of Zapruder's lawyer on the morning of November 25th.

Had he given up the last copy of his film, he could not have shown the film numerous times to Forrest Sorrels and others over that weekend. Recently, a new fact has come to light via the inquiries of the AARB. Their report disclosed that "...the Zapruder family's company possessed a third, first-generation copy of the Zapruder film."

If Zapruder retained a first-generation copy of the film, then there was no time ever when the toothpaste could have been put back in the tube. You say that Zapruder and LIFE could both have cooperated with the government in the alteration of the film? You can say this if you will. You can believe it, I suppose...

But I can't. I think it's silly.

At this conference two years ago, Professor James Fetzer declared that a "historical turning point" had been reached: The alteration of the Zapruder film had been proven!

When my colleague here, Hal Verb, had the temerity to disagree, the Professor told him he was "irrational."

When earlier this year, I had the temerity to disagree, I was told by the Professor that "...you have thereby discredited yourself as a commentator on these matters."

Well, Professor Fetzer is a commentator here today and you will be able to judge his commentary. But since he is here, I want to close by taking up two of his contentions.

First, that the original of the Zapruder film was sent to the National Photographic Interpretation Center on the evening of November 22nd.

Second, that famed eyewitness identification expert Elizabeth Loftus has produced findings showing that salient details of events are remembered with 98% accuracy and completeness.

In a recent email to me, Professor Fetzer wrote:

"A study that appears in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE [states that] the film appears to have been in the hands of the National Photographic Interpretation Center run by the CIA already Friday night, where an original and three copies were struck and then returned to Dallas in time for a small group of reporters, including Dan Rather, to view the film in a preliminarily-edited version."

The study referred to is by Mike Pincher and Roy L. Schaeffer. These writers manufacture out of whole cloth a flight of "at least the original and one copy" from Dallas to Andrews Air Force Base on the night of the 22nd and a return flight of the altered film to Dallas in the early morning hours of November 23rd. They do this without a single fact to support their fancy. They even cite the Max Phillips note (quoted above), but never tell the reader that Phillips also pointed out that "Mr. Zapruder is in custody of the 'master' [read 'original'] film."

They - and apparently Professor Fetzer - have simply misinterpreted the socalled "CIA 450 Documents" discovered by Paul Hoch in the early 1980s.

These documents recount the preparation of four photo briefing boards for government officials based upon NPIC's analysis of the film. The question at issue is the timing of the shots. The selection of frames for the briefing boards makes clear that NPIC is looking at the same film we see today.

Telltale information is found on page six of the documents which refer to the December 6, 1963 issue of LIFE. Hence, the examination was carried out not on November 22nd - but sometime in December 1963. The copy of the film analyzed was the Secret Service copy, whose agents stayed with the film while the briefing boards were prepared. AARB located and interviewed two former employees of NPIC who stated that internegatives were made of only single frames to be mounted on briefing boards and that they never "reproduced the film as a motion picture."

Professor Fetzer makes his second claim in his own recognizable style. He wrote to me:

"On Table 3.1 of Elizabeth Loftus, EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY, appears a summary of research with 151 subjects which reports that, when a group of subjects considered what they were observing to be salient or significant, they were 98% accurate and 98% complete with respect to their observations, which reinforces their importance as evidence. Even though you appear to accept the widely-held belief that eyewitness testimony is unreliable, Loftus' findings provide one more striking indication that opinions that are popular are not always true.

"Indeed, to think that a view must be true because it is widespread is to commit the FALLACY OF POPULAR SENTIMENTS... While you have cited an appropriate expert in Elizabeth Loftus, you have misrepresented her findings concerning eyewitness testimony in relation to the assassination of JFK... Indeed, David [Mantik] offers a calculation that, whenever dozens of witnesses all recall an event...in the same way then they are almost certainly correct. If a single witness has a 2% chance of being wrong, then if all ten witnesses report the same event, the probability they are all wrong is 02 to the 10th power or 10 to the minus 17th, which equals .00000000000000001!"

There are so many errors in these few lines that it is difficult to know where to begin.

First of all, these are not Elizabeth Loftus' findings, but the account of an experiment published in the Harvard Law Review by Marshall, et al. entitled, "Effects of Kind of Question and Atmosphere of Interrogation on Accuracy and Completeness of Testimony." The focus of the study is not "salience" or "accuracy" or "completeness" - but, rather, methods of interrogation.

Elizabeth Loftus cited the study in her book - but these are not "her findings."

Had Professor Fetzer taken the trouble to look at the article he cites, he would have recognized that the "salient items" were not picked out by the people tested in the experiment, but by staff members and high school students. Hence, he misspeaks in saying, "...when a group of subjects considered what they were observing to be salient or significant, they were 98% accurate and 98% complete with respect to their observations."

It is Professor Fetzer's practice to ascribe nonsensical views to people and then criticize them for holding them. Likwise here. The Professor ascribes to me the silly idea that "...a view must be true because it is widespread." Then he exposes me as having committed "the fallacy of popular sentiments" for holding such a silly idea.

This isn't argument. It's just silliness!

Then there is Professor Fetzer's claim that I have "misrepresented" Elizabeth Loftus' findings with respect to the Kennedy assassination. It is not only I who "accepts the widely-held belief that eyewitness testimony is unreliable," it is also Elizabeth Loftus. In fact, it is precisely her work which brought about this "widely-held belief." The cover of Eyewitness Testimony states that the book "...makes the psychological case against the reliability of the eyewitness."

This is the book's single, unifying theme. Eyewitness testimony is both unreliable at its inception and subject to corruption by later acquired information and questioning.

Since I'd worked with Elizabeth Loftus on two cases (most recently the Oklahoma City bombing case), I asked her what she thought of the use the Harvard Law article had been put to by David Mantik and Professor Fetzer. She wrote back:

"It is fair to say that salient details are remembered better than peripheral ones. Also, it is easier to mislead people about peripheral details.

"It is WRONG [her emphasis], however, to say anything like 98% of salient details are accurately remembered. If that was shown in the Marshall case, it is only with those subjects, with that stimulus material, in that study. We virtually never make claims about absolute percentages because the real percentages in any situation depend on so many other factors."

So much for my alleged misinterpretation of her views.

Next is Professor Fetzer's quotation of a statistical error by David Mantik. Here, as in so many other things, he wraps himself in David Mantik's skirts. But David Mantik is mistaken when he writes:

"If a single witness has a 2% chance of being wrong, then if all ten witnesses report the same event, the probability they are all wrong is .02 to the 10th power or 10 to the minus 17th, which equals .00000000000000001!"

They both got it wrong. As Art Snyder will be able to explain to you, they confused a Type I Probability (false negative) with a Type II Probability (false positive). I am sure Professor Fetzer will go on for hours in argument with Art Snyder about this. As for me, I know zip about probability theory and find the important point to be Elizabeth Loftus' "...it's wrong to say anything like 98% of salient details are accurately remembered."

You may wonder why I've taken the time to attack Professor Fetzer here. It is because he expresses a trend in assassination research which I find odious.

His emphasis on credentials and the cult of expertise (or alleged expertise) is demeaning to the tradition of inquiry we all share as a community. When the final history of this case is written it will be based on the canons of acute historical research. These canons have nothing to do with how many initials you can hang after your name or how often you're called "distinguished."

They have to do with the evidence you put forward for your view and the reasonableness of the interpretations you hang on that evidence. That's what Sylvia Meagher and I believed when we started working together in the 60s. It was a long time ago in virtually another country. It was 1965... 66... 67, and here and there people were beginning to distrust what they'd been told.

There was Mary Ferrell in Dallas, Penn Jones just outside Dallas, Sylvia Meagher in New York City, Paul Hoch in Berkeley, Cyril Wecht in Pittsburgh, Vince Salandria in Philadelphia, Harold Weisberg in Maryland, Ray Marcus and David Lifton in Los Angeles... and many, many more. A housewife, a lawyer for the school board, the editor of a small paper, a graduate student, a young professor, a WHO official. We were little people. People who had only a few things in common -- inquiring minds, an unwillingness to be intimidated by public attitudes, more than a little tenacity, a bit of modesty and a willingness to laugh at oneself. None of us had any money or hoped to make any money out of this. We were doing it for its own sake. We formed a community... the closest thing to a true community of inquiry that I've ever known.

We shared information on a transcontinental basis. I still remember the excitement with which Vince Salandria and I received our copy of the Sibert-O'Neill Report from Paul Hoch! None of us gave a damn for credentials because - as we put it - "There are no Ph.Ds in assassination research."

Back then - with the might and majesty of the federal government aligned with the news media in defense of the Warren Report - performing assassination research was somewhat like doing research on UFOs. It was not respectable. And so we formed our own community and helped with each others' research and critiqued each others' drafts. It's that community which still stands in my mind's eye as the ideal - and it's that community to which I owe my loyalty.

That community lies at the farthest remove from "Assassination Science" and its promoter.

Josiah Thompson, 11/98


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