Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Lost Bullet

JFK assassination: Lone gunman theory gets more support in new documentary

Lee Harvey Oswald was only shooter, film claims

JFK: The Lost Bullet - National Geographic Channel - UK


Almost 50 years later, many are still completely obsessed with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Many forests have been destroyed to produce the estimated 1,000 to 2,000 books dealing with what has been described as the “mother of all conspiracies” surrounding the shooting of JFK in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963.

As the milestone 50th anniversary approaches, expect dozens more opuses. And, of course, myriad TV specials and documentaries.

We just can’t get enough of what may be the most compelling — and perhaps unsolved — murder mystery of the past century. Even many unborn at the time are up to speed on developments surrounding the assassination.

It’s not hard to comprehend why we remain so fixated on the crime. For starters, it focused on the most glam couple ever to make it to the White House. And, can’t forget, there was film footage of the assassination — marking the beginning of an age when cameras have become omnipresent and the lives of the famous and infamous are being presented throughout the planet in brilliant Technicolor.

 (Today, there would be thousands of cell phone videos, in lieu of the few 8-millimetre accounts of JFK’s assassination.) On this most concur: Kennedy was gunned down as he was being chauffeured, along with his wife, Jackie, and Texas governor John Connolly and his wife, in an open-top motorcade through Dallas. Connolly was also injured by one of the bullets. A couple of hours later, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of a Dallas cop and the next day for murdering the president. Two days after the assassination, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby gunned down Oswald as he was being transferred from jail to another holding facility.

Few believed — and few still believe — that Oswald acted alone. Conspiracy theories abounded, implicating everyone from the man who followed JFK in the White House, Lyndon Baines Johnson, to the Mafia to the KGB to Israel’s Mossad to George Bush the Elder to the CIA — the consensus favorite. Some of the theories were and are even more out there: a UFO cover-up (apparently JFK was a believer, and others were not amused) to the Federal Reserve Bank to the Illuminati and, seriously, to the Gay Thrill-Kill view.

The Warren Commission, the official investigation into the assassination, concluded the following year that there was no conspiracy and that Oswald, a disgruntled ex-U.S. Marine who had briefly defected to the Soviet Union, was the sole sniper. Three other investigations pretty much came to the same conclusion.

But in 1979, the United States House select committee on assassinations, while agreeing that Oswald killed the president, came to another conclusion: that the JFK assassination was probably the result of a conspiracy with a “high probability” that two gunmen had fired at him that fateful day in Dallas. The committee also took the Warren Commission to task for not thoroughly investigating the possibility of a conspiracy.

And then the floodgates really opened. Witnesses and conspiracy theorists and debunkers and director Oliver Stone came out of the woodwork with their own versions of events. In his film JFK, Stone implied that LBJ might have had a hand in it. Others suspected FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover and even Cuban President Fidel Castro — although some placed the blame on anti-Castro Cuban exiles.

About the only country absolved in all the various conspiracy theories was Canada — so far, that is.

Public opinion polls in the U.S. still show that a vast majority of Americans believe that Oswald didn’t act alone, that he was part of a conspiracy and that there was a cover-up. Many even believe Oswald was innocent.

All of which brings us to one of the most recent documentaries on the subject, JFK: The Lost Bullet, airing Sunday at 10 p.m. on the CBC News Network. Produced by the National Geographic Channel, this one is a shocker.

No, not for bringing up some scenario in which Martians teamed up with Marilyn Monroe to murder the president. Or any other wing-nut scenario. Rather, it sticks close to the script penned by the Warren Commission.

A team of investigators led by historian and author Max Holland tackles the so-called “lost bullet” theory and examines high-resolution restorations of witness home movies — including the famed footage from Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder — in coming to a startling conclusion: There is no proof of a second sniper on the grassy knoll overlooking the street where JFK was shot. Even more shocking, Holland and his gang appear to prove that Oswald acted alone in firing three bullets at the president from the sixth floor of the Texas School Box Depository, facing Dealey Plaza.

The “secret bullet” pertains to the first one shot, which was never recovered but which, thanks to new information about the timing of the blasts and the high-definition images, seems to indicate that it hit a traffic-light post between Oswald and the motorcade.

No matter how convincing the evidence, however, this documentary makes it abundantly clear that few want to believe there was no cover-up or conspiracy. On every Nov. 22 since the assassination, the scene around Dealey Plaza resembles that of a convention centre, with hundreds of theorists and visitors congregating and exchanging ideas. The newest wave in theories has a conspiracy existing between the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington.

Holland concedes that one of the few points most theorists have in common is that JFK had two wounds and governor Connolly, one. But the sky is the limit for other theories, from the mysterious shooter on the grassy knoll to JFK’s limo driver turning around to shoot the president point blank.

Holland’s high-resolution remastering of the witnesses’ home movies would certainly appear to refute both those theories. And the testimony of one Amos Euins, who was across the street from the book depository and both saw the rifle and heard the number of shots fired, certainly seems to support the one gunman theory. So, too, does the fact that three bullet casings were found on the sixth floor with Oswald’s fingerprints all over them, the rifle he used and the boxes of books around him.

Also, what emerges from this investigation is that the second bullet fired hit both Connolly and Kennedy — which had also been a bone of contention among conspiracy theorists.

As well as the new crystal-clear images from the home movies, Holland gets inputs from a former U.S. Secret Service agent who was on the case. He uses a sharpshooter to replicate Oswald’s actions from the sixth floor of the book depository and restages the entire assassination. Hell, he uses geometry and laser technology to trace the angles of the fired bullets.

Of course, none of this is to suggest that Oswald, while probably the only shooter, acted without the aid of others. And, without question, the findings of Holland et al here will probably never satisfy the skeptics.

The conspiracy theory cottage industry will continue to flourish long past the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Because some stories we just aren’t ever able to put down.

JFK: The Lost Bullet airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on CBC News Network.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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