With all of the evidence we have in this day and age demonstrating that contrary to the Warren Commission’s conclusions, Lee Harvey Oswald was not President Kennedy’s assassin (and was framed for the assassination), one would think that there would be no more books published declaring that Oswald was the lone assassin. But sadly, this is not the case. In September, 2013, a book entitled The Accidental Victim: JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the real target in Dallas was published. The author of the book is James Reston Jr. Reston had worked as a research assistant and then as a speech writer for President Kennedy’s secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall. As a matter of fact, Reston dedicated his book to Udall. Reston is also the author of several other books such as The Conviction of Richard Nixon, Warriors of God, Defenders of the Faith, and the biography of former Texas Governor John Connally entitled The Lone Star: The Life of John Connally, which was published in the year 1989.
Although Reston is a supporter of the Warren Commission’s ludicrous conclusion that Oswald was President Kennedy’s sole assassin, unlike the majority of lone assassin theorists, Reston argues in his book that Oswald’s intended target on that dreadful day was actually Governor Connally; and that Oswald shot the President by mistake. As most researchers of the assassination are probably aware already, following his alleged defection to the Soviet Union in 1959, Oswald’s honourable discharge from the United States Marine Corps was downgraded to “undesirable” by the Marine Corps Reserve on September 13, 1960 (Warren Report, Appendix XIII, page 689). On January 30, 1961, Oswald wrote a letter to Connally; who at the time was the Secretary of the Navy, protesting this decision (ibid, page 710). According to Reston, Oswald’s reason for wanting to shoot Connally was because he held a grudge against him (Connally) over the fact that his honorable discharge had been downgraded. What follows below is a discussion of how Reston cherry-picks evidence to support this absurd notion.
Oswald’s so-called defection
Like many lone assassin theorists before him, Reston posits that Oswald had a genuine desire to renounce his American Citizenship and to defect to the Soviet Union. In his book, Reston recounts the all too familiar tale of Oswald’s visit to the American Embassy in Russia on October 31, 1959, at which time he allegedly demanded the right to renounce his American citizenship. As Reston writes; “[Oswald] presented himself to a wry and experienced professional named Richard Snyder… Oswald got right to the point. Slapping his passport down on the desk, he demanded the right to renounce his American citizenship” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 7). But what Reston never mentions is that on that very same day, a man named Edward Keenan was present at the Embassy. As author and researcher Greg Parker explains, Keenan was a student at Harvard University at the same time that Richard Snyder was a recruiter for the CIA’s REDSKIN program; a program which involved using people travelling legally into the Soviet Union for the purpose of collecting information (see here). Parker’s belief is that Oswald was recruited into the REDSKIN program at the embassy, and as Parker explained to this reviewer by email, it is his belief that Keenan’s role was to brief Oswald on what he could expect living conditions to be like in the Soviet Union.
It is also worth mentioning here that Parker believes the purpose of Oswald’s so-called defection to the Soviet Union was to deliver radar information to the Soviets to help with negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty between them and the United States; and that Oswald’s mission was being supported by the REDSKIN and REDSOX/REDCAP programs (see here). This will be explained in much greater detail in Volume two of Parker’s book Lee Harvey Oswald’s Cold War. In this reviewer’s opinion, there are two things which give credence to this notion. First of all, as even Reston writes in his book, Oswald was in agreement with a nuclear test ban treaty between the Soviet Union and the United States (ibid, page 54). Secondly, on July 26, 1963; the very same day President Kennedy announced the passage of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (see here), someone claiming to be Oswald wrote down his (Oswald’s) name on the visitor’s registry at the American Museum of Atomic energy at Oak Ridge, Tennessee (WCD 835, page 3). According to the FBI’s investigation, the word “USSR” was written on the registry next to Oswald’s name (ibid). It is almost as if Oswald was trying to make a point. Although the FBI claimed that the handwriting on the registry was not Oswald’s, one has to ask why someone would be impersonating Oswald at the museum (ibid, page 4).
As stated towards the beginning of this review, Reston postulates that Oswald’s intended target was Governor Connally. Reston is at pains to convince his readers that Oswald harboured a grudge against Connally over his undesirable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. For example, Reston writes that after learning that his honourable discharge had been downgraded to undesirable “Lee Harvey Oswald was devastated at the news. That he would care at all is noteworthy. Why should a true convert to Communism, one so desperate for political action, one so ready to take up arms against America – in short, a person who was described by the Warren Commission as a Marxist – have even a moment of anxiety over what the fascist United States and its most dangerous military force might do in his buried military records? The true believer would be amused. But Oswald did care. He cared deeply. At bottom, his military service gave meaning to his life – beyond his new family it was the only thing that did” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, pages 18 and 19).
Reston also points out to his readers that in his letter to Connally concerning his undesirable discharge, Oswald wrote “I shall employ all means to right this gross mistake or injustice to a boni-fied U.S. citizen and ex-service-man” (ibid, page 20). On February 23, 1962, Oswald received a letter from Connally in which Connally wrote to him “Your letter of January 30 has just been called to my attention. As I am no longer connected with the Navy, I have referred your letter to the office of the Secretary of the Navy in Washington, D.C.” (See here). The letter was sent to Oswald in an envelope with the words John Connally for Governor and Connally’s smiling face (centred within a Texas star) on the front of it. According to Reston “…Oswald had been spurned by a fellow Texan, and he resented it deeply. The change in his discharge was only one, but perhaps the worst indignity that Oswald felt he had suffered. Now he had [Connally’s] face, in the middle of a star with a derisive smile, to go with his torment. Connally’s face became the face of the U.S. Government, and Connally’s perfunctory snub fortified Oswald’s bitterness against the country” (ibid, page 23).
The reader should bear in mind that at the time Oswald’s honourable discharge was downgraded to “undesirable,” Connally was not the Secretary of the Navy. In fact, Connally became the Secretary on January 25, 1961 (a mere five days before Oswald wrote his letter to him concerning his discharge). The witnesses Reston uses to bolster the ludicrous notion that Oswald was shooting at Connally on the day President Kennedy was assassinated are Marina Oswald, George Bouhe, George DeMohrenschildt, and Alexandra DeMohrenschildt (DeMohrenschildt’s daughter). Let’s take a look at how Reston cherry-picks the statements of these witnesses to support his case, beginning with Marina Oswald. Reston points out to his readers that Marina told the Warren Commission “I feel in my own mind that Lee did not have President Kennedy as a prime target when he assassinated him… I think it was [Governor] Connally. That’s my personal opinion – that perhaps he was shooting at Governor Connally, the Governor of Texas” (ibid, pages 60 and 61).
In his book, Reston incorrectly sources this claim to Marina’s third testimony before the Warren Commission (ibid, page 60). In actual fact, Marina made this claim during her sixth testimony before the Warren Commission; on September 6, 1964 (WC Volume V, page 607). Reston also points out that during her same testimony before the Warren Commission, Marina claimed “I feel that the reason that he had Connally in his mind was on account of his discharge from the Marines and [the] various letters they exchanged between the Marine Corps and the governor’s office, but actually, I didn’t think that he had any idea concerning President Kennedy” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 61). Although Reston points out the fact that Marina testified that Oswald never expressed his displeasure or hatred of Connally to her, he never points out that on February 5, 1964, Marina told the Warren Commission that “…while we were in Russia [Lee] spoke well of [Connally]. It seems to me that Connally was running for Governor and Lee said that when he would return to the United States he would vote for him” (WC Volume I, page 72).
In this reviewer’s opinion, Marina most likely believed that Connally was running for Governor due to the fact that Oswald had received his letter from Connally inside the envelope with the words “Connally for Governor” on the front of it. Reston criticises Commission members Hale Boggs and Richard Russell for what he claims was their mistreatment of Marina. According to Reston “Instead of pursuing this new and highly significant tack or calmly attempting to elicit more from her, Boggs and Russell proceeded to browbeat the widow with the inconsistency of this [claim about Connally being Oswald’s intended target] with her prior testimony, and they quickly left the subject altogether” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 61). But what Reston doesn’t mention is that one of the questions Russell asked Marina during her testimony on September 6, 1964, was “…do you think [Lee] would shoot and kill a man that he would vote for, for the Governor of his state [Texas]?” (WC Volume V, page 610). The fact that Reston never mentions to his readers that Marina told the Warren Commission that Oswald would vote for Connally for Governor while they were still living in Russia, shows just how dishonest and agenda driven he is.
Let’s now take a look at how Reston uses George Bouhe to convince his readers that Oswald’s intended target was Connally. For those who are unaware, Bouhe was a prominent member of the “White Russian” community in the Dallas and Fort Worth area who became acquainted with Lee and Marina Oswald following their return from Russia to the United States. Reston quotes the following from Bouhe’s Warren Commission testimony “If anybody asked me, did [Oswald] have any hostility [against] anybody in the government, which I didn’t hear myself, I would say Governor Connally” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 28). Although Bouhe did in fact state this in response to the question “Did [Oswald] ever express any hostilities toward any individual in the Government?” Reston omits the section of Bouhe’s response which this reviewer has underlined (WC Volume VIII, page 374). Reston also omits the fact that when Bouhe was asked if he had any knowledge of Oswald’s “displeasure” with Connally, he remarked “Absolutely not” (ibid).
The reader should keep in mind that the reason why Bouhe believed that Oswald may have had a grudge against Connally was because he (Bouhe) had read in the newspaper about the letter Oswald wrote to Connally, in which Oswald claimed “I shall employ all means to right this gross mistake or injustice to a boni-fied U.S. citizen and ex-service-man” and considered this to be a threat (ibid). As stated previously, another witness whom Reston uses to convince his readers that Oswald’s intended target was Connally is George DeMohrenschildt; an oil geologist who had reportedly become acquainted with Oswald at the behest of J. Walton Moore, the chief of the CIA’s Dallas station (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, 2nd edition, pages 152 and 153). In his book, Reston describes DeMohrenschildt as “A Pompous, flamboyant dandy…” who was “…drawn to Oswald largely for reasons of self-amusement” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, pages 29 and 30). Quoting from DeMohrenschildt’s manuscript on Oswald (which was given to the HSCA in 1978), Reston writes that Oswald told DeMohrenschildt “I received an honorable discharge and then those bastards in the Navy changed it into an undesirable discharge, just because I went to Russia and threw my passport in the face of the American Consul” (ibid, page 34).
Further quoting from the manuscript, Reston writes that Oswald exclaimed to DeMohrenschildt “And Connally signed this undesirable discharge” (ibid), (the manuscript can be read here). Whilst Reston is eager to use this as evidence that Oswald’s intended target was Connally, what Reston never mentions to his readers is that DeMohrenschildt told the Warren Commission in 1964 that he never discussed Connally with Oswald (WC Volume IX, page 255). As a matter of fact, DeMohrenschildt told the Warren Commission that he learned about Oswald’s “dishonourable” discharge after the assassination! (ibid). We should also keep in mind that DeMohrenschildt’s wife, Jeanne LeGon, told the Warren Commission that Oswald never mentioned Connally at any time, and claimed (in so many words) that she and her husband learned about Oswald’s “dishonourable” discharge by reading about it in the newspapers after the assassination (ibid, page 326).
Finally, let’s look at how Reston uses the statements by Alexandra DeMohrenschildt (Mrs. Donald Gibson) to convince his readers that Connally was Oswald’s intended target. Reston describes Gibson as “…a good witness, for in the fall of 1962, she had been married to an engineer with liberal politics named Gary Taylor and had listened as Oswald and Taylor engaged in political discussion” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, pages 35). When Gibson testified before the Warren Commission, she was asked “Was President Kennedy ever mentioned in the course of the discussions between your husband [Gary Taylor] and Lee?” Gibson responded “Never, never… the only person ever mentioned pertaining to that was the Governor of Texas” (WC Volume XI, page 145). Gibson would go on to explain that “…for some reason Lee just didn’t like [Connally],” and that Oswald had a “definite aversion” to Connally (ibid). However, Gibson could offer no definitive answer as to why Oswald allegedly disliked Connally, remarking instead that “I just know Lee never spoke too much about why he left the Marines or anything like that. I don’t know. Maybe it was a dishonourable discharge, I don’t know. All I know is that it was something he didn’t talk about. And there was a reason why he did not like Connally” (ibid).
Although Reston has no qualms about using Gibson as a witness to Oswald’s so-called aversion to Connally, there are several reasons why she should not be considered a credible witness. First of all, as pointed out above, Gibson could offer no definitive answer to the Warren Commission as to why Oswald disliked Connally. Secondly, when Gary Taylor testified before the Warren Commission, he was asked if Oswald ever mentioned Connally. Taylor claimed that he didn’t; and further remarked that he never heard Oswald take exception to Government officials (WC Volume IX, page 95). Reston never mentions this to his readers. Finally, it is also perhaps worth keeping in mind that Gibson had to be reminded by Counsel Albert Jenner that Connally was the Governor of Texas, after she made the statement “…you are going to have to tell me who the Governor [of Texas] was” (WC Volume XI, page 145).
As the reader can see, Reston selectively quoted from the statements made by the aforementioned witnesses to bolster the ludicrous notion that Oswald was shooting at Connally. Reston also includes the claim by Carroll Jarnagin; an attorney who was acquainted with Jack Ruby, that a man whom he thought was Oswald had discussed the possibility of assassinating Connally with Ruby at the Carousel club (Reston, The Accidental Victim, pages 82 to 93). According to Reston, he included the Jarnagin’s claim “as an example of how dramatic testimony can generate conspiracy theories, why they are given credence or ultimately debunked, and what type of individual can sometimes be behind them” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, pages 83 and 84). This reviewer would like to point out that Jarnagin was given a polygraph examination by the DPD concerning the conversation he allegedly heard between Oswald and Ruby; which he purportedly failed (Dallas Municipal archives, Box 18, Folder 4, Item 3).
Jarnagin also admitted to the FBI that he was drunk on the night he allegedly heard the aforementioned conversation between Oswald and Ruby at the club (WCE 2821). According to Jarnagin, he also telephoned the Texas Department of Public safety one day after he allegedly heard the conversation; and informed a State Highway Patrolman of same (ibid). However, according to Major Guy Smith of the Texas Department of Public safety and Captain Robert Crowder of the Texas Rangers, no such information was received by them from Jarnagin (ibid). Although this reviewer can go on, as discussed, there is good reason to believe that Jarnagin’s claim should be taken with a grain of salt. The reader should also keep in mind that the following people who were related and/or acquainted with Oswald either claimed or implied that they had no knowledge of Oswald’s so-called aversion to Connally: Oswald’s mother Marguerite (WC Volume I, page 224); Oswald’s brother and half-brother, Robert Oswald and John Pic (ibid, page 450), (WC Volume XI, page 79); Declan and Katherine (Katya) Ford (WC Volume II, pages 315 and 328); Michael and Ruth Paine (ibid, page 414), (WC Volume IX, page 373); Oswald’s Cousins Marilyn and John Murret (WC Volume VIII, pages 173 and 193); Max Clark (ibid, page 351); Anna Meller (ibid, page 386); Elena Hall etc. (ibid, page 405).
The Walker shooting and the “Nixon incident”
Like his fellow lone assassin theorists, Reston claims that on the evening of April 10, 1963, Oswald took a shot at former Army General Edwin Walker using the Mannlicher Carcano rifle he allegedly owned (WCE 139). To bolster this claim, Reston quotes Marina Oswald; who told both the FBI and the Warren Commission that Oswald had confided to her that he had taken a shot at Walker (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 42). Reston also uses George DeMohrenschildt’s manuscript which was given to the HSCA; in which DeMohrenschildt wrote that his wife Jeanne noticed a rifle inside the bedroom closet at the apartment at 214 West Neely Street in Dallas, where the Oswalds allegedly lived in early 1963 (ibid). However, what Reston omits is that DeMohrenschildt wrote in his manuscript that he had also seen the rifle after his wife allegedly told him about it (see here). Although Reston is more than eager to use the statements by Marina and DeMohrenschildt to sell the notion that Oswald took a shot at Walker, let’s take a look at the numerous problems with this allegation.
First of all, as researchers such as John Armstrong have shown, Oswald did not own the Mannlicher Carcano rifle he allegedly used to shoot at Walker and the President (see here). Secondly, although the bullet fired at Walker was allegedly a mangled 6.5 mm copper coated Mannlicher Carcano bullet (WCE 573), the DPD claimed that the bullet was steel jacketed; and the media reported that it was a 30.06 calibre bullet (see here). Furthermore, Walker; who had examined the bullet fired at him, claimed that WCE 573 was not the bullet fired at him! (see here). Although Walker made this claim many years after the incident, one would think that a man with considerable military experience; and who had examined the bullet fired at him, would vividly remember what the bullet looked like. Finally, as many researchers have noted, Oswald was never considered a suspect in the Walker shooting until after the assassination.
Let’s now look at the problems with Marina and the DeMohrenschildts as witnesses. Although Marina told the Warren Commission that Oswald owned the Mannlicher Carcano rifle allegedly used to assassinate the President, she initially failed to positively identify it as being Oswald’s when it was shown to her by the DPD and the FBI (Dallas Municipal Archives, Box 2, Folder 1, Item 1; WCE 1778; WC Volume I, page 119). In fact, she told the DPD that Oswald owned a “rifle” in Russia which he used for hunting, but failed to tell them that he owned a rifle following their return to the United States. Furthermore, she told the FBI that she would not be able to identify it if she saw it again (WCE 1778). The reader should also keep in mind that although Marina claimed that the gun Oswald owned in Russia was a rifle, it was actually a shotgun (WC Volume I, pages 327 and 328). During her testimony before the Warren Commission, she claimed that she didn’t know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun (ibid, page 13).
In order to understand why Marina eventually claimed that Oswald owned the rifle (WCE 139), the reader should take the following into consideration. Firstly, Oswald’s brother Robert told the Warren Commission that the FBI had implied (in so many words) that they might deport Marina back to the Soviet Union if she didn’t cooperate with them (WC Volume I, page 410). According to the report by FBI agents Charles Brown and James Hosty on Marina’s interview with them and the United States Secret Service on November 27, 1963, she was informed during that interview that if she cooperated with the government it could be of some assistance to her (WCE 1780). During that same interview, she allegedly claimed that it was all right with her if she wasn’t allowed to stay in the United States; but she also claimed that she would like to stay in the United Stated because of her two daughters, and asked for assurance that she would be allowed to stay (ibid). She was then told that the government needed her help and that “this might help” her (ibid).
The implication of the above is that Marina would have a better chance of being allowed to stay in the United States if she cooperated with the authorities. During her testimony before the Warren Commission, Marina claimed that a representative from the immigration office told her that it would be better for her if she helped the FBI; in the sense that she would have more rights in the United States (WC Volume I, page 80). Given the fact that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were determined early on in the investigation that Oswald was guilty of assassinating President Kennedy (see here for example), we have good reason to believe that Hoover and the FBI would threaten to deport Marina if she didn’t cooperate with them. Should the reader doubt that Hoover would threaten to deport her if she didn’t cooperate with the FBI, the reader should consider that Hoover had the legendary leftist labor leader Emma Goldman (whom he detested) deported to Canada by altering the trial testimony of Leon Czolgosz; the assassin of President William McKinley, to make it appear as though she encouraged him to shoot McKinley (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, page 214).
Although this reviewer could point out numerous other problems with Marina as a witness against her husband; such as her claim that she took the so-called “backyard photographs” of him posing with the rifle (WCE 133 A and B), when we take the above into account, her claim (amongst others) that Oswald owned the rifle allegedly used to assassinate the President should be taken with a grain of salt. As for the DeMohrenschildts, when Jeanne DeMohrenschildt testified before the Warren Commission, she claimed that Marina showed her the rifle (WCE 139) which was allegedly inside a closet at the aforementioned Neely street apartment where the Oswald’s purportedly lived, and that she told her husband about it when they were there (WC Volume IX, page 315 and 317) She also claimed that the rifle wasn’t hidden inside the closet (ibid, page 315). However, Marina told the Warren Commission that she couldn’t remember showing the rifle to the DeMohrenschildts (WC Volume I, page 14, WC Volume V, page 619).
On a further note, when Marina was asked if the rifle was ever placed inside a closet at the apartment, she remarked “No, it was always either in a corner, standing up in a corner or on a shelf” (WC Volume I, pages 13 and 14). She also remarked “You must know that the rifle –it isn’t as if it was out in the open. [Lee] would hang a coat or something to mask its presence in the room” (ibid, page 14). As pointed out above, George DeMohrenschildt claimed in his manuscript that he had seen the rifle. However, he told the Warren Commission in 1964 that he didn’t see the rifle (WC Volume IX, page 250). Therefore, his latter claim should be taken with a grain of salt. Let’s also take into account the following contradictions between the statements of Marina and the DeMohrenschildts. Marina told the Warren Commission that as soon as the DeMohrenschildts arrived at their apartment following the Walker shooting, George asked Oswald (with regards to what she claims she thought was Oswald’s attempt to assassinate Edwin Walker) “Lee, how is it possible that you missed” (WC Volume I, page 18).
But when DeMohrenschildt was asked if he had said this to Oswald during his testimony before the Warren Commission, he claimed “Never. I don’t recall that incident… my recollections are vague, of course, but how could I have said that when I didn’t know that he had a gun you see” (WC Volume IX, page 250). Suffice it to say, given all of the aforementioned contradictions between the statements of Marina and the DeMohrenschildts, there is good reason to believe that the DeMohrenschildts were both lying when they claimed that Oswald had a rifle inside the closet at the apartment. But this doesn’t prevent the likes of Reston from using them as witnesses to Oswald’s ownership of the rifle. Most researchers are also probably aware of the allegation by Marina that Oswald had intended to shoot former Vice President Richard Nixon, during an alleged visit by him to Dallas in April, 1963. According to Marina, Oswald learned of Nixon’s alleged intention to visit Dallas after reading about it in the newspaper (WC Report, page 188).
The Warren Commission dismissed this allegation on the basis that neither of the Dallas newspapers in the period from January 1, 1963 to May 15, 1963, mentioned any proposed visit by Nixon to Dallas (ibid). The Warren Commission also reported that Nixon had informed them that the only time he was in Dallas in 1963 was during November 20 and 21, and that “An investigation failed to reveal any invitation extended to Mr. Nixon during the period when Oswald’s threat reportedly occurred” (ibid). Although Reston believes that Oswald was about to leave his home with a pistol after reading the newspaper (as Marina claimed), he argues that Oswald was going after Connally! As Reston writes “…the governor was scheduled to open a conference of space scientists at the Marriott Motor Inn in Dallas” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 45).
This reviewer has been unable to verify if this is true. Essentially, Reston argues that Oswald was going after Connally due to his undesirable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps (and the envelope Oswald received which contained Connally’s letter to him and which had Connally’s smiling face on it inside a Texas star) and because of a speech Connally made at the San Jacinto Bay (which was printed in the newspaper Oswald allegedly read) during which Connally said that the spirit of the Texas revolution made him stand “just a little taller, just a little stiffer to men like [Fidel] Castro and [Nikita] Khrushchev” (ibid, page 46). Although Reston is free to believe whatever fantasy he wants to, for the reasons pointed out above by this reviewer, Marina’s claim that Oswald was about to leave their apartment with a revolver after reading about Nixon’s alleged intention to visit Dallas should also be taken with a grain of salt.
The Single Bullet Theory
If there is one thing more ludicrous than the notion that Oswald was trying to shoot John Connally, it is probably the single bullet theory. It will probably come as no surprise to the reader to learn that Reston is a supporter of this nonsense. According to Reston “Oswald’s first, wounding bullet had passed cleanly through the soft tissue of Kennedy’s lower neck, missing the spinal cord and any bone, passing cleanly through Kennedy’s neck-tie, then entering Connally’s back, streaking through the governor’s body, hitting his wrist and finally lodging in his thigh” (ibid, page 139). First of all, as any honest researcher of the assassination can acknowledge after viewing the photograph of the President’s back taken during his autopsy, the President’s back wound was not in his lower neck; but in his upper back. Secondly, as Dr. David Mantik has shown, in order for the so-called magic bullet (WCE 399) to exit the President’s neck after entering his back at the location shown on the autopsy photograph of his back, it most certainly would have struck his spinal cord; resulting in the nose of the bullet becoming deformed (see here).
But as photographs of the bullet show, the nose of the bullet is not deformed. Many researchers of the assassination are probably aware that during his autopsy, the President’s back wound was probed with a surgical probe to determine whether the bullet which entered his upper back had exited his throat. In their report on the President’s autopsy, FBI agents James Sibert and Frank O’Neill wrote that “…probing [of the back wound] determined that the distance travelled by this missile was a short distance in as much as the end of the opening could be felt with the finger” (WCD 7, page 284). Sibert also told author William Law that no exit for the back wound was found after it had been probed (Law, In the Eye of History, page 215). During his testimony before the Warren Commission, Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman claimed that as the autopsy doctors were probing the back wound, he asked Pierre Finck (one of the autopsy doctors) where the bullet which caused the back wound had gone. According to Kellerman, Finck remarked “There are no lanes for an outlet of this entry in this man’s shoulder” (WC Volume II, page 93). In other words, there was no exit for the back wound.
Although the wound clearly wasn’t in the President’s shoulder, given the fact that the wound was located in the President’s upper back, this could explain why Kellerman mistakenly remembered that the entrance for the bullet was in the President’s shoulder. Other witnesses to the President’s autopsy who claimed that no exit for the back wound was found by surgically probing it, were autopsy technicians James Curtis Jenkins and Paul O’Connor, pathologist Robert Karnei, and radiologist John Ebersole (Law, In the Eye of History, pages 40 and 74, DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, page 117). During his testimony before the Warren Commission, Commander James Joseph Humes (the chief autopsy pathologist) implied that there was no exit for the back wound when he claimed “Attempts to probe in the vicinity of this wound were unsuccessful without fear of making a false passage… We were unable, however, to take probes and have them satisfactorily fall through any definite path at this point” (WC Volume II, page 361).
To evidently bolster the notion that Connally and the President were both struck by the same bullet, Reston writes that the entrance wound in Connally’s back was 3 cm long (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 145). This is the same length as WCE 399, the Magic Bullet. Lone assassin theorists commonly use this as evidence that the bullet was tumbling as it entered Connally’s back; and that it had therefore hit another object (namely President Kennedy) prior to entering Connally’s back. However, measurements of the size of the bullet hole in the back of Connally’s shirt and suit jacket reveal that the largest diameter of the hole was approximately 1.3 cm and 1.7 cm respectively (HSCA report, Volume VII, pages 138 and 141). Furthermore, Dr Robert Shaw; the Parkland Hospital surgeon who operated on Connally’s chest wound, told the Warren Commission that the bullet entrance in Connally’s back was “approximately a centimeter and a half in its greatest diameter” (WC Volume IV, page 104).
As Shaw told the HSCA (and implied during his testimony before the Warren Commission), the wound only became 3 cm long in its greatest diameter after it had been surgically enlarged (HSCA report, Volume VII, pages 142; WC Volume IV, page 108). Although there are numerous other reasons to believe that the single bullet theory is nothing but a fantasy; such as the fact that the wound in President Kennedy’s back was anatomically lower than the wound in his throat (with the President sitting upright), and the fact that the size of the smallest diameter of the President’s back wound (4 mm) as measured during his autopsy was smaller than the diameter of the bullet (6.65 mm), it is not this reviewer’s intention to provide a lengthy discussion of these issues (WC Volume III, page 400). Suffice it to say, whilst Reston and his ilk are free to uphold this ludicrous theory as a fact, the evidence demonstrates otherwise.
Let’s now take a look at the issue of the discovery of the so-called magic bullet. Although this issue is not directly related to the question of whether the single bullet theory is true, this reviewer feels it is important to discuss it here. First of all, let’s take into the account the fact that Darrell Tomlinson, the senior engineer at Parkland Hospital who allegedly discovered the bullet on Governor Connally’s stretcher after it allegedly dislodged itself from Connally’s thigh, told the Warren Commission that he thought he found the bullet on a different stretcher (WC Volume VI, page 130). Secondly, O.P. Wright; a personnel officer at Parkland hospital to whom Tomlinson allegedly gave the bullet after he discovered it, told researcher Josiah Thompson that the bullet was sharp nosed and lead colored, whereas WCE 399 is a copper colored, round nosed bullet (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, page 66). Although both Tomlinson and Wright allegedly told FBI agent Bardwell Odum that they thought WCE 399 appeared to be the same bullet discovered at parkland hospital, during an interview with researchers Josiah Thompson and Gary Aguilar many years later, Odum (who knew Wright) claimed that he didn’t remember showing the bullet to either man (ibid, WCE 2011).
The reader should also bear in mind that according to an FBI Airtel dated June 20, 1964, neither Tomlinson nor Wright could identify WCE 399 as the bullet allegedly discovered on Connally’s stretcher (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, ibid). After Wright allegedly received the bullet from Tomlinson, he purportedly turned it over to Secret Service agent Richard Johnsen; who in turn allegedly turned it over to James Rowley, the head of the Secret Service at the time. However, both men told the FBI that they couldn’t identify it as the bullet which was given to them (WCE 2011). Furthermore, Johnsen wrote in his “chain of custody” note that the stretcher on which the bullet was allegedly found had rubber gloves, a stethoscope, and “other doctor’s paranphilnylia” (sic, WCE 1024). R.J. Jimison; the hospital orderly who placed Governor Connally’s stretcher onto the elevator after Connally was placed onto the operating table, told the Warren Commission that he noticed nothing but a little flat mattress and two sheets on the stretcher (WC Volume VI, page 126). We should also keep in mind that during his testimony before the Warren Commission, Tomlinson claimed that the stretcher which had “surgical instruments” on it was a different one to Connally’s (ibid, page 131).
It is also important to note that at the end of his “chain of custody” note, Johnsen wrote the time 7:30 pm (WCE 1024). According to FBI agent Robert Frazier, the FBI laboratory in Washington D.C. received the bullet at that exact same time (see here). However, FBI agent Elmer Lee Todd, who allegedly received the bullet from Chief Rowley at the white house and then handed it over to the FBI laboratory in Washington, wrote in his report that he received the bullet from Rowley at 8:50 pm (WCD 7, page 288). Whilst some might argue that this discrepancy was due to an error, we should keep in mind that FBI agents Sibert and O’Neill wrote in their report on President Kennedy’s autopsy that they were telephonically informed by FBI agent Charles Killion from the FBI laboratory in Washington D.C. that the laboratory had received the bullet through Richard Johnsen; with no mention of either Rowley or Todd. (ibid, page 284).
In light of the above, it seems likely to this reviewer that whatever bullet was found on a stretcher at Parkland hospital was given to the FBI laboratory by Johnsen, and that Rowley gave Todd a different bullet. It is also worth keeping in mind that Gerald Behn; the Secret Service agent in charge of the white house detail, claimed that Johnsen had possession of the bullet; but made no mention of the bullet being given to his superior, chief Rowley (ibid, page 286). On a final note, let’s keep in mind that Todd wrote in his report that he etched his initials on the nose of the bullet which he turned over to the FBI laboratory, for “identification purposes” (ibid, page 288). But as researcher John Hunt has shown, Todd’s initials are nowhere to be found on WCE 399 (see here).
No evidence of a conspiracy?
Like the majority of lone assassin theorists, Reston claims that there is no evidence of a conspiracy. In the preface of his book, Reston writes that “In a recent poll of Americans, 85% expressed belief in a conspiracy, even though no convincing evidence has been put forward to support that notion” and that “The evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, with absolutely no encouragement from, or involvement with, a foreign government or a criminal organization” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 2). Towards the end of his book, Reston writes that “While the Warren Commission concluded definitively and correctly that Oswald acted alone, the various conspiracy theories about the famous Grassy Knoll have been thoroughly discredited by painstaking historical research. No convincing evidence of a conspiracy has ever come forward” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 176).
To refer to the above comments by Reston as malarkey would be an understatement. Contrary to what Reston wants us all to believe, there is very good reason to believe that there was a conspiracy behind the President’s assassination. For example, as both Pat Speer and this reviewer have discussed, there is very good reason to believe that there was a silenced shot fired at circa frame 224 of the Zapruder film which struck Governor Connally; and that this shot could therefore not have been fired from the sixth floor of the TSBD by “Oswald’s” Mannlicher Carcano rifle (see here). Furthermore, Speer has demonstrated that the majority of the eye/ear witnesses in Dealey plaza recalled hearing the last two audible shots fired in rapid succession; whereas it required a minimum of 2.3 seconds to fire back to back shots from the Mannlicher Carcano rifle (see here).
Most researchers are probably aware of the presence of fake Secret Service agents in Dealey Plaza on the day of the assassination. For those who aren’t, shortly following the assassination, DPD officers Joe Marshall Smith and David Harkness encountered men claiming to be Secret Service agents behind the picket fence and TSBD respectively (see here). The problem is that there were no genuine Secret Service agents in Dealey Plaza within the first twenty minutes of the assassination. One has to wonder what these men claiming to be Secret Service agents were doing in Dealey Plaza shortly following the assassination. Given all of the evidence we have indicating that there was a conspiracy, it is this reviewer’s opinion that these men were by all likelihood conspirators. As Pat Speer has demonstrated, several railroad workers standing on top of the triple underpass (and other witnesses) observed smoke coming from the direction of the picket fence (see here). It is also in this area where eyewitness J.C. Price; who was watching the motorcade from the roof of the Terminal Annex building on Commerce Street, observed a man with what he thought might have been a head piece running towards the cars in the parking lot behind the picket fence (Dallas Municipal archives, Box 5, Folder 2, Item 49).
The reader may also be aware that in the parking lot behind the picket fence is where eyewitness Lee Bowers; who was working in the railroad tower in that area at the time of the assassination, observed three suspicious vehicles enter and leave shortly before the assassination; one of which was driven by a man with what appeared to him (Bowers) to be a “mike” or telephone in the car (Dallas Municipal archives, Box 5, Folder 2, Item 9). Finally, it is in this area where Dallas deputy Sheriff W.W. “Bo” Mabra claimed that he encountered a man he described as a “city officer” (see here). During an interview with author Larry Sneed, Mabra claimed that the “city officer” was wearing a uniform, and that he told him (Mabra) “I don’t know what’s going on, but there hasn’t been a thing move back here in an hour or more because I’ve been here all that time” (Sneed, No More Silence, page 519).
The reader should also bear in mind that at Greg Parker’s research forum, researcher Lee Farley has posted evidence that at the time of the assassination, a DPD squad car was parked behind the picket fence (see here). Whilst some might argue that there is nothing sinister about the presence of this squad car, one should ask why the officer(s) who was assigned to that car never came forward to claim that he/they was/were behind the fence; and that he/they not only didn’t observe any shots being fired from that area, but didn’t observe anyone acting suspicious in that area given all of the allegations by conspiracy advocates over the years? In this reviewer’s opinion, the most rational explanation is that the officer(s) was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the President which involved a shot(s) being fired from behind the picket fence.
Aside from all of the above, other evidence indicating that there was a conspiracy to assassinate the President includes the mock-up wallet containing Identification for Oswald and his alleged alias “Alek James Hidell” which was left behind in the vicinity of the murder scene of officer J.D. Tippit; to implicate Oswald for Tippit’s murder. This evidence was discussed in part 2 of this reviewer’s review of Dale Myers book With Malice (see here under the subheading IX: Hints and allegations). Although many researchers are of the opinion that Oswald had possession of the revolver which was most likely used to kill Tippit (WCE 143) at the time of his arrest at the Texas Theater, as this reviewer has discussed in the essay entitled Gerald Hill and the Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald, there is good reason to believe that DPD Sergeant Gerald Hill framed Oswald for Tippit’s murder by pretending to remove the revolver (WCE 143) from Oswald during his arrest at the Theater (see here). On a final note, researcher Sean Murphy has painstakingly shown that at the time of the assassination, Oswald was probably standing just outside the front entrance to the TSBD! Murphy’s brilliant and mind blowing research can be read here.
Overall, this is a very bad book. However, this reviewer doesn’t want to leave the readers of this review with the impression that this is a completely worthless book. On a positive note, Reston does a good job in showing that Oswald admired President Kennedy. But it is apparent to this reviewer that the only reason he does this is to bolster his ludicrous contention that Oswald was shooting at Connally. Another positive aspect of the book is a discussion of a conversation President Kennedy had with Texas congressmen Henry Gonzales about the war in Vietnam on board Air force one the day before the assassination. As Reston writes, the President allegedly said to Gonzales “…I’ve already ordered all the men and all the helicopters to be out of South Vietnam by the end of the year” (Reston, The Accidental Victim, page 111).
Gonzales allegedly told Reston the above during an interview with him. Although there can be very little doubt that President Kennedy was determined to remove 1,000 U.S. military personnel from South Vietnam by the end of 1963, as researchers such as Jim DiEugenio have discussed, the President’s intention was to remove all military personnel from South Vietnam by the end of 1965 (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, 2nd edition, page 371). It also makes much more sense to this reviewer if U.S. military personnel and helicopters were gradually removed from South Vietnam from the end of 1963 until the end of 1965, rather than removing all by the end of 1963 to provide the South Vietnamese military enough time to sustain themselves against the North Vietnamese communists. Therefore, it is this reviewer’s opinion that the aforementioned quote should be taken with a grain of salt.
I would like to thank researcher Greg Parker for generously taking the time to respond to my questions concerning his research. I would also like to thank researcher Jim DiEugenio for generously taking the time to proof read this review prior to it being published on this blog.