Thursday, January 17, 2013

Z-Film at NPIC Event #1

Zapruder departed Kodak’s Dallas Plant at about 9 PM, and turned over two of the three “first day copies” to the Secret Service.  One was sent to Washington, D.C. – to Secret Service Headquarters – by Dallas Secret Service agent Max Phillips, who placed it on a commercial flight late Friday night.  It arrived in Washington after midnight, and sometime before dawn, on Saturday, 11/23/63.  The second “same day copy” relinquished to the Secret Service by Zapruder on Friday night was loaned by the Secret Service to the FBI in Dallas the next day, on Saturday; and then flown by the Dallas office of the FBI to FBI headquarters, in Washington, on Saturday evening. [7]

NPIC EVENT # 1 (Presided over by Dino Brugioni)

The summary below recapitulates information gleaned from the seven recorded (MP3) Peter Janney-Dino Brugioni interviews in 2009; an eighth recorded (MP3) Peter Janney-Dino Brugioni interview on April 28, 2011; and my own HD video interview of Mr. Brugioni on July 9, 2011.

Time and date: This event commenced about 10 PM, EST, on Saturday evening, 11/23/63, when two Secret Service officials (estimated to be in their late 30s or early 40s) brought an 8 mm home movie of the JFK assassination to the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center, located in building 213 in the Washington Navy Yard.  (At no time could Mr. Brugioni recall either of their names.) They had not yet seen the film themselves, and Mr. Brugioni is of the distinct impression that they had just gotten off of an airplane and had come directly to NPIC from the airport.  They did not volunteer where they had come from, or where the film had come from.  The event at NPIC went on all night long, until about dawn on Sunday, November 24th.  

[Note: The home movie of the assassination brought to NPIC by the two Secret Service officials was not copied as a motion picture that night; nor did NPIC even have the capability to do so.] 

How notified:  Dino Brugioni was the Duty Officer at NPIC that weekend, and was personally notified about the impending visit by NPIC’s Director, the legendary Arthur C. Lundahl.  Lundahl, in turn, had been notified by CIA Director John McCone that the Secret Service would be bringing in a film, and would require NPIC’s assistance.

Work crew called in (and not called in):  Mr. Brugioni personally notified and called in, as his primary assistants, Mr. Bill Banfield (the Head of the Photography and the Graphics Departments), and Ralph Pearse, the Lead Photogrammatrist at NPIC.  Bill Banfield had in turn ordered in 3 or 4 photo technicians, and 2 or 3 people from the graphics department, to assist in the work that evening.  During the course of several interviews, Mr. Brugioni was asked whether any of the following people were present, and he emphatically stated that they were not:  neither Captain Pierre Sands, U.S. Navy; Homer A McMahon; nor Morgan Bennett (“Ben”) Hunter was present that night, according to Mr. Brugioni.  He was quite certain, and unequivocal, about this.  When asked if he had sighted, and knew, the photography and graphics technicians assisting the management team that night, he affirmed that he had indeed seen them that night, and that none of them were either Homer McMahon, or Ben Hunter.  (Brugioni knew both men, and knew Ben Hunter particularly well.)  

Format of film delivered:  Mr. Brugioni clearly recalls that the film delivered was an 8 mm film.  He is positive about this because one member of his team had to go out that night and, through special arrangement, purchase a brand-new 8 mm projector, so that the film could be viewed as a motion picture. [NPIC had a state-of-the-art 16 mm projector installed in its briefing room, but had no 8 mm movie projectors.] He clearly recalls that the film strip only had sprocket holes down one side, which is consistent with a slit, 8mm wide “double 8” film. He is also positive in his own mind that it was the original film, and not a copy.  Mr. Brugioni personally owned an 8 mm “double 8” camera in 1963, and was familiar with the differences in quality between an original film and a copy film.  He recalls that the images on the film were extremely sharp.  Furthermore, the extreme nervousness and anxiety demonstrated by the two Secret Service officials convinced him that he had the original film, since they were terrified he would damage it when projecting it.  All factors he observed, Brugioni insists, pointed to the film being the camera-original.

The Secret Service Couriers – the Customer:  The two Secret Service officials, after examining the film at least 4 or 5 times as a motion picture, wanted it timed with a stopwatch, to gain an appreciation of time between perceived shots.  They were warned by the NPIC personnel that this would not yield precise or reliable results, since the Bell and Howell movie camera used was a spring-wound camera, and hence its frame rate, or running speed, would have varied throughout the filming of the assassination.  The customer persisted in this desire, however, and therefore the NPIC crew complied. 

After viewing the film as a motion picture several times, the Secret Service officials requested that specific frames be enlarged and blown-up as photographic prints, and that the prints be mounted on briefing boards. The two segments of the film they focused on were the limousine on Elm Street as it went behind, and emerged from behind, the Stemmons Freeway sign; and the head shot.  Mr. Brugioni could not remember any specific conclusions reached that night as to the number of shots fired, but he says the agents came with no pre-conceptions about this, for they had not yet seen the film.

Briefing Boards created:  After the customer selected individual frames to be enlarged and printed, the NPIC work crew made internegatives of each of those frames using a precision, high-quality enlarger, and then made two photographic prints from each internegative.  Between 12 and 15 frames on the home movie, total, were selected for enlargement, and two small prints, about 4 x 5 inches in size, were printed from each internegative.  Using these prints, two sets of briefing boards were made at NPIC, one for the customer (the Secret Service), and one for CIA Director John McCone.  (It was standard procedure for the CIA Director to receive duplicates of briefing boards made for other customers within the Federal government.)

The two briefing board panels that constituted each set were 22 x 20 inches in size, and joined by a plastic hinge in the middle, that allowed each briefing board set to be folded in half for easier transportation; thus, the overall size of each briefing board set was 44 inches wide from left to right, and 20 inches tall.  (Mr. Brugioni had originally estimated in 2009 that the conjoined, two panel briefing boards were each about 6 feet wide by 3 feet tall; but prior to the 2011 HD video interview, he had refreshed his recollection by examining old photos of NPIC staff members holding standard briefing boards used at NPIC; and in July of 2011, he more accurately recalled that the standard size of each pre-cut briefing board was 22 x 20 inches – and modified his answers accordingly.)  The only textual information that Mr. Brugioni recalls being posted on each briefing board set was: (1) the magnification factor, listed at the top of each panel; and (2) the frame number of each print, displayed above each print. [In 2009, Brugioni recalled the frame numbers being posted below each print.]

Accompanying Textual Material:  Mr. Brugioni personally prepared and typed a one page set of notes for Mr. Arthur Lundahl, NPIC’s Director, to use when delivering the two sets of briefing boards to CIA Director McCone, and briefing him, on Sunday morning.  The set of notes contained the names of all the NPIC people involved; the NPIC’s admonition against using a stopwatch to time shots depicted on a film shot with a spring-wound camera; and other technical information about how the briefing boards were prepared.  Two sets of notes were prepared, one to go with each briefing board. 

The departure of the Secret Service officials:  The two Secret Service officials departed at about 3 AM on Sunday morning, or 4 AM at the latest, as soon as they had seen what one of the blowup enlargement prints looked like, and were satisfied with its quality and resolution.  They departed without the briefing boards, for the boards were not even close to being completed when they departed.  The only textual material the two officials took with them was a list they had requested of Brugioni, listing the names of all of the NPIC employees involved in the briefing board event.  The two Secret Service officials took the film with them, and departed without saying where they were going.

Mr. Lundahl’s role on Sunday:  Brugioni notified Mr. Lundahl by phone about 7 AM on Sunday morning that the work was finished, and Mr. Lundahl arrived at NPIC at about 8 AM to pick up the two sets of briefing boards; the two sets of briefing notes; and deliver them to Director McCone.  

Lundahl briefed McCone on Sunday morning, November 24, 1963.

 It would be up to McCone, as per standard procedure, to deliver one set of briefing boards and one set of briefing notes to the customer.  Mr. Brugioni assumes that John McCone personally delivered one briefing board set and one set of notes to the Secret Service.

End of the event:  Mr. Brugioni went home shortly after Mr. Lundahl departed to deliver the two briefing board sets to Mr. McCone, and was never notified again that weekend about any other activity at NPIC, of any kind.  He said that if there had been additional activity, as Duty Officer that entire weekend (including Monday, the day of President Kennedy’s funeral), he should have been the person notified.

Briefing Boards placed in the National Archives by the CIA in 1993 are not the briefing boards prepared by Dino Brugioni’s team:  In 1993, the CIA’s Historical Review Group (HRG), as required by the JFK Records Act, deposited with the National Archives one set of briefing boards identified in 1975 at NPIC – a four panel set (four loose panels, not joined to each other in any way) – mounting frame enlargements of the Zapruder film.  In both 2009 and 2011, Mr. Brugioni was shown good photographs of each of these four briefing board panels (which together constitute one set) and he consistently and emphatically denied that the four panels in the JFK Records Collection (in Flat 90A) are the ones he made in 1963.  His reasons were as follows: first, theframe numbers his group placed above each print, and the magnification factor his group placed at the top of each board, are not present; second, this briefing board set consists of four loose panels, not two conjoined panels; third, the four panels together contain 28 prints, not the 12 to 15 prints he recalls making for his briefing boards;  fourth, each panel in the Archives is labeled “Panel I, Panel II, Panel III, and Panel IV,” which is notwhat was done on his briefing boards, where there were no identifying numbers placed on each panel; and fifth, the four briefing board panels at the Archives contain different information, and a different layout, than placed on his briefing boards.   

Working notes associated with the four briefing board panels at the Archives were not produced by Mr. Brugioni’s team at his event:  There are five (5) pages of NPIC working notes (also identified in 1975) stored with the four briefing board panels at the National Archives, in Flat 90A; one is a half-sheet of yellow legal pad paper with writing on both sides; one page is a typewritten summary of the prints (by frame number) on each of the four briefing board panels; and the three other pages consist of a shot and timing analysis of shots that may have hit President Kennedy and Governor Connally (three possible scenarios), keyed to frame numbers and taking into account the amount of time between postulated shots in each scenario.  [The first of the three scenarios is the one written about in the December 6, 1963 issue of LIFE magazine.] 

Mr. Brugioni, in both 2009, and again in 2011, denied having anything to do with these notes, and said he had not ever seen them until 2009, when Peter Janney first showed them to him.  He furthermore volunteered that his group would not have had the time to conduct such a shot and timing analysis at the event he presided over, commencing late on 11/23/63, so busy were they simply counting frames, making internegatives, printing photographic enlargements, and creating the two briefing boards from the photographic prints.

A startling revelation in 2011 – the “head explosion” seen in the extant Zapruder film, in the National Archives today, is not at all consistent with the head explosion seen by Mr. Brugioni in the Zapruder film he viewed on the evening of November 23, 1963:  During the follow-up interview at Dino Brugioni’s home on April 28, 2011, Peter Janney showed Mr. Brugioni a good image of frame 313 from the extant Zapruder film – the so-called “head explosion” – scanned from a 35 mm dupe negative of the film obtained from the National Archives.  [The provenance of the frame used therefore unquestionably represents what is in the National Archives today.]  Mr. Brugioni was quite startled to find out that this was the only frame graphically depicting the “head explosion” in the extant film, which the National Archives has characterized as “the original film.”  He insisted that the head explosion he viewed multiple times on 11/23/63 was of such a great size, and duration (in terms of time), that there should be many more frames depicting that explosion than “just the one frame” (frame 313), as shown in the Zapruder film today.  Furthermore, he said the “head explosion” depicted in the Zapruder film today is too small in size, and too low in the frame, to be the same graphic depiction he recalls witnessing in the Zapruder film on Saturday, November 23rd, 1963 at NPIC. 

Mr. Brugioni viewed the Zapruder film as a motion picture several times during the HD video interview I conducted with him on July 9, 2011 – using the 1998 MPI DVD product, Image of an Assassination, made by the LMH Co. in 1997 from the film in the National Archives – and reiterated those comments that he made on April 28th to Peter Janney, insisting that “something was missing” from the film in the National Archives today.  While viewing the video on July 9, 2011, Mr. Brugioni also stated that the head explosion he viewed was a large “white cloud” that surrounded President Kennedy’s head, and was not pink or red, as shown in the extant Zapruder film.   The words below are excerpted from Dino Brugioni’s April 28, 2011 interview with Peter Janney, as he recounted what he recalled seeing when he watched the head explosion in the Zapruder film on 11/23/63:

“…I remember all of us being shocked…it was straight up [gesturing high above his own head]…in the sky…There should have been more than one frame…I thought the spray was, say, three or four feet from his head…what I saw was more than that [than frame 313 in today’s film]…it wasn’t low [as in frame 313], it washigh…there was more than that in the original…It was way high off of his head…and I can’t imagine that there would only be one frame.  What I saw was more than you have there [in frame 313].” [17]   [emphasis as spoken]

In repeatedly viewing the Zapruder film as a motion picture during his July 2011 video interview, Dino Brugioni definitively confirmed that it was indeed the Zapruder film he was working with at NPIC on 11/23/63, even though the Secret Service couriers did not refer to it by that name; they simply referred to it as a “home movie.”  But Brugioni confirmed to me unequivocally that it was the Zapruder film he was working with, and not some other film.  Aside from the head shot, he recalled one other thing about the extant film that was inconsistent with what he saw on 11/23/63: prior to viewing the film on July 9, 2011, he had independently recalled Secret Service agent Clint Hill either physically striking, or violently pushing Jackie Kennedy to force her from atop the trunk lid, back into the rear seat of the limousine.  Brugioni spent a considerable portion of the interview attempting to find evidence of Clint Hill “striking Jackie” in the extant film, to no avail.  He was quite mystified.

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