A Second Primer of Assassination Theories
May 1967, pp. 104 ff.
Last December we thought we had offered you the complete works of the assassination buffs. The opus grows: here are twenty-five new entries.
As reported in last December’s Esquire, the Warren Commission’s crucial Single-Bullet Theory (hereafter, the S.B.T.) seemed to be in real trouble. This theory posits that President Kennedy and Governor Connally both were first hit by the same bullet—a crucial assumption because the Commission established that there was not enough time for the murder rifle to be fired twice within the interval that both men were first hit (1.8 seconds or less). In short, either the S.B.T. stands, or a Two-Assassin Theory emerges.
Trouble first developed for the S.B.T. with the publication of previously classified F.B.I. reports by Edward Jay Epstein’s Inquest, which flatly contradicted the Commission’s autopsy statement that the first bullet passed clean through President Kennedy and exited his throat. The F.B.I. reports instead stated that the autopsy showed that the bullet in question did not exit from the President’s throat, a fact which would make it impossible for this bullet to continue on to hit Governor Connally and thus would rule out the S.B.T. Next, Life magazine enlarged its 8mm amateur film of the assassination frame by frame, and, on the basis of this new evidence, concluded that Connally and Kennedy may indeed have been hit by separate bullets. Governor Connally also viewed the Life film frame by frame and stated categorically that he was hit by a separate bullet. The most unkind cut of all came when Governor Connally called a press conference for the express purpose of defending the Commission, then inadvertently mentioned that he still had a fragment of the bullet in his thigh. Alas, that fact alone would invalidate the S.B.T. because the bullet that is supposed to have wounded both men was found virtually intact. Finally, Senator Richard Russell, member of the Commission who now claims the dubious distinction of having been the only member “who bucked the Report,” stated that “from the outset” he never really believed in the S.B.T. Then Commissioner Hale Boggs followed suit during a Face the Nation interview by expressing his own doubts about the faltering S.B.T. But even as Commission members began deserting the sinking S.B.T., a number of last-ditch theories were proposed by the defenders of the Commission.
1. THE SECOND-THOUGHT AUTOPSY REPORT
Proponents: Arlen Specter and other Commission lawyers.
Thesis: Arlen Specter, a key investigator for the Commission and principal author of the S.B.T., has attempted to explain the contradiction between the F.B.I. Summary Reports and the Commission’s autopsy report in terms of two different autopsy conclusions. In the one and only autopsy examination conducted on the night of the assassination at Bethesda Hospital, the doctors arrived at the “tentative” conclusion that the bullet which struck President Kennedy in the back penetrated only a short distance, then fell out through the point of entrance when the Dallas doctors applied external heart massage. The next day, however, the autopsy doctors found out about the throat wound (which was obscured by the tracheotomy operation) and changed their conclusion, now deciding that the bullet went completely through the neck. This conclusion was reached without benefit of having the corpse before them (or the autopsy and X-ray photographs). Then, according to Specter’s theory, Commander Humes incinerated his original autopsy report in his recreation-room fireplace, and drew up a new autopsy report stating that the bullet exited the President’s throat. The F.B.I. was not shown the new report and reiterated the old conclusion in their summary reports.
Drawback: Specter’s theory contradicts The Warren Report’s description of the autopsy, which he himself wrote in 1964. In The Warren Report (pp. 88-89), Specter states that, during the autopsy, doctors rejected the possibility that the bullet penetrated only a short distance, and that the evidence from Dallas of a throat wound “confirmed” this conclusion. Thus, whereas The Warren Report states that there was only and only one conclusion of the autopsy reached during the examination, the autopsy conclusion was changed (not confirmed) the next day by evidence from Dallas, and thus there were two autopsy conclusions. The question remains: Which one of these conflicting statements is true?
2. THE HOOVER HEGELIAN THEORY
Proponent: J. Edgar Hoover.
Thesis: Although the F.B.I. Supplementary Report of January 13, 1964, states that the bullet that struck President Kennedy in the back penetrated “to a distance of less than a finger length,” and the Commission’s autopsy report states that this same bullet passed clean through the neck and exited the throat, J. Edgar Hoover finds that there is no “conflict” between the two statements of the autopsy, only a “difference in the information reported.” Hoover further claims that the F.B.I. of course knew that the bullet passed clean through the President’s neck at the same time that the reported the bullet penetrated only a finger’s length into his back. Since they also knew that the Commission knew the true contents of the autopsy report, there was no reason, Hoover insists, to make a false statement of the autopsy results. Moreover he dialectically explains that although the F.B.I. report flatly stated that the bullet did not pass through the President’s body, the F.B.I. itself helpfully pointed to weaknesses in its own theory by stating that there was a hole in the President’s shirt caused by an exiting projectile.
Drawback: Thesis plus antithesis doesn’t equal J. Edgar’s synthesis. Aside from the fact that the F.B.I. Supplementary Reports were prepared initially for public release and not for the Warren Commission, a major problem in Hoover’s explanation is that the F.B.I. told The Washington Post on December 18, 1963, that the hole in the shirt was caused by a fragment from the third shot which exploded against the President’s head (not from the first shot). Therefore, the F.B.I. report of the shirt hole does not “clearly” indicate that the autopsy doctors’ early observation “that the bullet penetrated only a short distance into the Presidents head probably was in error,” as Hoover postulates.
3. VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE THEORY
Proponent: Lawrence Schiller, a photographer and producer of Capitol Records album, The Controversy, on the assassination.
Thesis: A number of critics assume that shots came from the knoll because a number of witnesses state they saw smoke coming from the knoll area. The most celebrated puff-of-smoke witness is S. M. Holland. Schiller brought Holland back to the exact spot where he said he was standing, placed a camera level with his shoulder, aimed it at the spot where Holland said he saw the puff of smoke, and snapped a photograph. The photograph shows that directly behind and slightly higher than the spot where Holland claims the smoke came from is the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. Thus, Schiller suggests, “Maybe both Holland and the Warren Commission are right: the shots came from the Book Depository but from Holland’s perspective the smoke and the report of a gun appeared to come from the knoll.”
S. M. Holland (shown on the overpass
where he stood November 22, 1963)
saw smoke under the tree directly above his right thumb.
Drawback: Holland, whose depth perception is normal, was just possibly able to distinguish the knoll, 180 feet away, from the Book Depository, which was 120 feet beyond that. Also, Schiller’s analysis is destroyed completely in view of the fact that witnesses at other points also thought the shots came from the knoll: the policeman who ran up it, Abraham Zapruder, and others.
4. THE NOBLE LIE THEORY
Proponents: Drew Pearson, Henri Nannen (editor of Der Stern), and Jacob Cohen (former instructor at Brandeis summer school and author of Honest Verdict).
Thesis: Drew Pearson quotes Der Stern’s explanation that the original autopsy report was suppressed “on the grounds that President Kennedy was suffering from Addison’s disease” and “his family did not want it known.” Why? Because “politically Kennedy’s illness could become dangerous. Addison’s illness—it sounds sinister.” Thus, according to this theory, the Kennedys withheld the autopsy report and “hid the X-rays, even from the Warren Commission.” And “this would also explain the lack of a date on the Warren Commission autopsy report” which was changed “so that it contained no mention of the President’s illness,” as well as why the autopsy surgeon burned the original autopsy report (“otherwise hundreds of people would have been faced with lying under oath, which would have been deplorable”).
Drawback: The fact that Kennedy had Addison’s desease was in the Warren Report (as well as in Sorenson’s biography of Kennedy), so why delete it from the autopsy report? And the Commission files show that Attorney General Robert Kennedy explicitly gave his approval to the Commission to look at the autopsy photographs and X-rays.
5. MANCHESTER THEORY
Proponent: William Manchester.
Thesis: In his sometime authorized account, author Manchester recognizes that there was hardly enough time for Oswald to have fired three shots. He therefore proposes that only two shots were fired: the first hitting Kennedy in the back and then going on to cause all of Connally’s wounds, the second inflicting Kennedy’s fatal head wound. According to this theory, Oswald left an extra cartridge case at the scene [from the Walker shooting?] and the some hundred witnesses who thought they heard three or more shots actually heard only two and echoes.
Drawback: More than a hundred witnesses heard more than two shots, and a number of witnesses claim that they saw a bullet miss and hit the pavement. Finally, one man, James Tague, was wounded by a fragment from a bullet. As he was standing 260 feet from the President’s car at the time of the head shot, it does not seem likely that he was wounded by a fragment from that bullet.
Gaining wobbly support from the preceding sources, the S.B.T. runs into stiff competition from most of the following theories.
6. CONNALLY’S SMALL-DETAIL THEORY
Proponent: John B. Connally, Governor of Texas.
Thesis: Immediately after he single-handedly demolished the S.B.T. in Life, creating a nationwide outcry to reopen investigation, Connally called a press conference in Texas. He said that although he was not hit by the same bullet which hit Kennedy, it was only a small “detail,” and he advised everyone to have faith in the Warren Commission because they were all patriotic men.
7. RUSSELL LONG THEORY
Proponent: Senator Russell Long.
Thesis: The whole controversy over the S.B.T. was made to appear a bit irrelevant when Senator Long told the A.P. that he didn’t doubt Oswald played a part in the assassination. “But,” he added, “whoever fired that second shot was a lot better shot than Oswald.”
8. SHOT-THROUGH-THE-TREE THEORY
Proponent: Alexander M. Bickel.
Thesis: Professor Bickel, writing in Commentary, finds that although the S.B.T. is untenable, the single-assassin theory can be rescued by constructing an alternate hypothesis to explain the first two shots. The Commission concluded that the first shot could not have come before the 210th frame (photo A) on the Zapruder film because before that point an oak tree blocked the assassin’s line of sight. Bickel has found, however, that on frames 185-186 on the Zapruder film there was a “break” or window in the foliage of the tree (photo B). Bickel thus suggests that Oswald might have fired through the foliage at this point, which would have left sufficient time to operate the bolt and fire again at frame 232 to wound Connally, then fire the fatal head shot at film frame 313. According to this theory, the first bullet lodged in the President’s back and was later expelled on his stretcher at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, accounting for its pristine condition. The second bullet wounded Connally and fragmentized, accounting for the two fragments found in the front seat of the Presidential limousine, and the final shot disintegrated when it struck the President’s head, sending a minute fragment out through the throat and accounting for the throat wound.
Drawback: Although Professor Bickel’s theory is certainly a possible alternative to The Warren Report, it still leaves a few unsolved problems. First, the opening in the tree gave the assassin a view of the car for no more than a tenth of a second. It seems improbable that a rifleman could aim, squeeze the tiger, and fire off an accurate shot in this brief interval. Second, this theory means that the President was hit in frame 186 but did not react until frame 225—a two-second delayed reaction. Finally, the theory fails to account for the shot that went astray and hit a bystander (although conceivably Oswald had time to fire a fourth shot, but then why were only three cartridge cases found?).
9. THE STEROID THEORY
Proponent: Ellen Leopold, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Thesis: President Kennedy may indeed have had a two-second delayed reaction to the first shot “if he was on steroids.” Not infrequently, Miss Leopold points out, sufferers of Addison’s disease are put on steroids because they tend to suppress reactions of the adrenal glands. This theory lends unexpected support to Professor Bickel’s Shot-Through-The-Tree Theory and also to the Early-Hit Theory (which posits a shot before the tree, as reported in Esquire for December, 1966).
Drawback: The Warren Commission, possibly for reasons pointed out by Drew Pearson, never determined whether or not Kennedy was on steroids. Until this question is settled, the Steroid Theory will be academic.
10. RIDDLE-NEWTON THEORY
Proponent: R. A. J. Riddle, member of the Brain Research Institute and former Professor of physics at U.C.L.A.
Thesis: Dr. Riddle finds a discrepancy between the Warren Report and Newton’s second law of motion—i.e. that an object struck by a projectile will be given the same direction as that of the projectile. Because the film of the assassination shows that the general direction of motion of Kennedy is backward and to the left (viz. Vincent Salandria’s “Head Movement Theory,” Esquire, December, 1966) and because there is no evidence of a sudden acceleration of the car and on the assumption that a neuromuscular reaction can be ruled out as the cause for President Kennedy’s sudden violent backward motion, Dr. Riddle believes that the projectile must have come from in front of the President. His computations add weight to Vincent Salandria’s “Head Movement Theory.”
Drawback: Are Newton’s laws sound if they contradict the Warren Commission?
11. DOUBLE HEAD-SHOT THEORY
Proponents: Professor Josiah Thompson and Ray Marcus, independently.
Thesis: The “third” shot, which caused Kennedy’s fatal head wound, was actually two nearly simultaneous shots, one coming from the rear and another from the right front.
This theory takes Vincent Salandria’s “Head Movement Theory” and Riddle’s computations one step further. In a forthcoming book, Thompson uses precise scientific studies made of the Zapruder film frames and close analysis of the medical evidence to show that the damage was inflicted by two bullets, not one. Also, he cites ear- and eyewitness reports which back up his claim that the third shot was really a third and fourth.
12. MARK LANE’S FRENCH FIVE-SHOT THEORY
Proponent: Mark Lane.
Thesis: In the French edition of his Rush to Judgment, Lane first proposed a theory which was later appended to his paperback edition of Rush to Judgment. In his original French version bullet “une” strikes President Kennedy from the back. Bullet “deux” strikes Kennedy in the throat. Bullet “trois” hit Governor Connally. Bullet “quatre” misses and wounds the bystander James Tague. And bullet “cinq” fired from the grassy knoll hits Kennedy in the head. Since one shot came from behind the President (bullet no. 1), one shot came from in front of the President (bullet. No. 2)—he was facing straight ahead when hit in the throat—and one shot (bullet No. 5) came from the right (the knoll), there must have been at least “trois” assassins firing from different directions.
Drawbacks: If a bullet hit President Kennedy from in front, as Lane suggests, where did it go? There are no exit wounds that could account for a bullet entering through the throat. Then too, if the bullet entered the head from the rear, as the autopsy shows, it could not have entered from the right front, as Lane claims.
13. DAL-TEX THEORY
Proponent: Harold Weisberg (Whitewash series).
Thesis: Some of the shots may have come from the Dal-Tex Building across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. In Whitewash II, a sequel to his first book, Weisberg enlarges an A.P. photo of the motorcade (A and B) and claims to see “a man in seeming distress” on a fire escape (arrow) on the side of the Dal-Tex Building and “an arm-like object projecting from the open second-story window” (circle).
This theory receives some corroboration from a photograph that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on December 14, 1963 (C). It purportedly showed the assassin’s line of sight through the cross hairs of a telescopic lens. What the Post did not notice is that the corner of the Texas School Book Depository is visible in the right edge of the photo. Their photographer was shooting from the Dal-Tex Building, not having been able to gain entrance into the Depository. And strangely enough, according to Weisberg, the established bullet trajectories still bear him out.
A tantalizing note adds intrigue to the theory: a man was arrested in the Dal-Tex Building shortly after the assassination, allegedly for having no business being there.
14. THE 24 FRAMES-PER-SECOND THEORY
Proponent: Harold Weisberg.
Thesis: The Commission’s conclusion that all three shots were fired in 5.6 seconds is based on the assumption that Abraham Zapruder’s camera was operating at a speed of 18.3 frames per second. The 103 frames that elapsed between frame 210 (the earliest point the Commission says the first shot could have been fired) and frame 313 (the point at which the third shot struck Kennedy’s head), divided by the speed of the camera (18.3 frames per second), yields the 5.6-seconds time that the assassin had to fire in. Weisberg has found, however, an F.B.I. report in the National Archives in which Abe Zapruder claimed that his camera was set to operate at twenty-four frames per second, not 18.3. This would mean that the entire assassination occurred in less than 4.3 seconds (103 frames divided by 24), which is less time than the murder weapon could be fired twice.
Drawback: The F.B.I. established the film speed of the camera by filming the sweep second hand of a clock, and the camera’s manufacturer recently confirmed that the camera speed was less than a tenth of a frame from the figure reported by the F.B.I.
15. INDUCED CANCER THEORY
Proponents: Jack Ruby, Mark Lane, Penn Jones, Jr., Norman Mailer, and an unidentified Russian newspaper.
Thesis: That Jack Ruby’s death was planned and brought about by members of a conspiracy whose prior business had been the murders of President Kennedy, Patrolman J. D. Tippit and, possibly, Lee Harvey Oswald.
According to an Associated Press story by Bernard Gavzer (datelined Dallas, January 3, 1967), Ruby had expressed the belief that mustard gas had been seeped into his cell and that he was injected with cancer.
The Dallas Times Herald states in an editorial that “the Communist Russian press has accused the city of Dallas of being “‘Co-Conspirators’ who…might have deliberately injected cancer cells into the veins of Ruby.” This theory might in turn stem from such statements as the one uttered by Mark Lane after a screening of his movie, Rush to Judgment. Before a celebrity-packed audience he mused, “Isn’t it strange that Ruby’s sniffles went from a cold to pneumonia to cancer in twenty-four hours?”
Ditto Penn Jones, whose assassination-connected death count is now at twenty (before ruby: the motorcycle death of James Worrell, who allegedly saw somebody run out of the back door of the Texas School Book Depository). Jones, of course, finds Ruby’s death “very suspicious.”
In a rambling, emotional obituary entitled A Requiem for the Rube, Norman Mailer offers his own interpretation of Ruby’s death and the significance thereof. “Jack Ruby added a point to the general median cancer potential by bugging the hope we could find one answer via Lee Harvey Oswald. In turn, us, Great American Pure Breed Public, in for feed, gave him his cans back. He died of cancer this morning, told us the way. We do not know the cure, but son, now we know the way. We know how to give cancer now…”
16. TWO-MEN IN-A-WINDOW THEORY
Proponent: Mrs. Eric Walther.
Thesis: A few weeks after the assassination, Mrs. Walther stated in an F.B.I. report that she saw a rifleman in one window of the Texas School Book Depository, and next to the man with the rifle was another man in a brown suit coat. Mrs. Walther was unable to see whether or not the second man had a rifle. A second rifleman of course would explain how Governor Connally and President Kennedy were both hit less than two seconds apart. The Commission never evaluated Mrs. Walther’s statement.
Drawback: The window next to Oswald’s was closed during the assassination.
Retort: The second man may only have been a lookout.
17. DOCTORED PHOTOGRAPH THEORY
Proponents: Mark Lane, Harold Weisberg, David Lifton, et al.
Thesis: The photographs showing Oswald with the Kennedy and Tippit murder weapons are clever paste-ups of Oswald’s head on another man’s body.
When the Dallas police found the two photographs they were certain they had positive evidence linking Oswald with the weapons. Life magazine ran one of the pictures on its cover. Newsweek and The New York Times also printed the picture.
Confusion reigned shortly. Careful observers had noticed that all three publications had retouched the rifle and the pistol, but each did it in different ways. Their editors were forced to write humiliating letters to the Warren Commission admitting their alterations, but in essence none had falsified the photographs. Those accusations were to come later.
Mark Lane and Harold Weisberg noticed that the shadow under Oswald’s nose seemed to be inconsistent with the other shadows in the picture. Both the F.B.I. and the Dallas police rushed to prove such a photograph was possible, but only succeeding in adding a touch of Dogberry humor. The Dallas police shot a picture of a plainclothesman on the scene, but on a cloudy day. The F.B.I. posed an agent on a roof in bright sunlight, but the photograph they sent to the Commission had the head cut off.
Proponent: David Lifton, a U.C.L.A. engineering graduate student and coauthor of the three-assassins article in Ramparts which introduced Riddle’s analysis. (See No. 11.)
Thesis: On the day of the assassination, three types of camouflage were employed by conspirators positioned beneath, on, and above the grassy knoll. Lifton reached this hypothesis after minute study of photographs of the area during and after the assassination. It answers the question why, despite the fact that eyewitness reports and the Head Movement Theory indicate shots came from the grassy knoll, nothing at all was found there immediately afterward.
Underground camouflage: Lifton suggests that prior to the assassination, the grassy knoll was excavated from beneath and a system of tunnels and bunkers was built into it. Peepholes covered by grass-mesh camouflage were placed on the sloping surface of the knoll. Subterranean nooks would explain the statement of witness Garland Slack: “I have heard this same sort of sound when a shot had come from within a cave…” Lifton goes further to suggest that the puff of smoke seen by some people on the grassy knoll may have been the exhaust from a gas engine incorporated within the camouflage mechanization.
Surface camouflage: Lifton finds alterations (“bulges”) in the wall and the hedgerow on the grassy knoll, netting in the bushes and faint images of heads. Borrowing support from deputy Constable Weitzman who ran toward the wall and who said, “I scaled the wall and, apparently, my hands grabbed steam pipes. I burned them,” Lifton points out that there are no steam pipes atop the wall. This might, he says, be an indication that things may have been altered for that day. Weitzman also says a witness told him that he saw somebody throw something through a bush.
Elevated camouflage: Because a comparison of certain photographs taken during the assassination with others taken afterward indicates that some tree structures had been altered on the knoll, and because he sees images up in the trees in assassination photos, Lifton believes there was some camouflage in the trees. Eyewitnesses S. M. Holland, Austin Miller and Frank Reilly all state that shots seemed to have come out of the trees.
Drawbacks: As even Lifton admits, the photo enlargements are of extremely grainy quality (they could not be reproduced properly here) and interpretations of them are questionable at best.
19. BLUNDERBUSS THEORY
Proponents: Mark Lane and Harold Weisberg.
Thesis: At least five witnesses saw a puff of smoke during the assassination. Commission lawyers didn’t investigate because they believed no modern weapon would emit puffs of smoke conforming to the witnesses’ descriptions. (Some of the witnesses, when queried, guessed the smoke came from a motorcycle or steam pipe.)
Since Commission lawyers were willing to accept the fact that Oswald used “an antiquated rifle and twenty-year-old ammunition,” as Mark Lane frequently points out on TV, why preclude the possibility that the second assassin used even a more antiquated weapon?
20. MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT
Proponent: Vincent Salandria, a Philadelphia lawyer.
Thesis: Mr. Salandria finds a curious passage in Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1964. “On the flight [back to Washington aboard Air Force One] the party learned that there was no conspiracy; learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest.”
Salandria posits that this announcement was deliberately misleading and may have been the first sign of a conspiracy cover-up. The theory, obviously, would have to implicate strategically powerful individuals.
The argument is as follows: Johnson’s party landed in Washington at 4:58 p.m. Dallas time. But at this point, Oswald had not been charged with the assassination. He had not yet been identified by any eyewitnesses in the Tippit killing, much less the assassination. The rifle found in the Depository had not yet been traced. The photographs of Oswald holding a rifle and wearing a revolver in his holster were not discovered until the next afternoon. No fingerprints were taken from him for comparison purposes until sometime after six p.m. The fiber on the rifle was not examined until Saturday morning. The brown-paper bag had not been linked to him. Marina Oswald had not yet been questioned. In short, none of the evidence itemized in the table of contents of The Warren Report under Chapter IV, “The Assassin,” was known to the Dallas police at the time.
As to the statement that there was “no conspiracy,” Salandria believes that the announcement was suspiciously premature. At 4:58 p.m. it was understood that the shots had come from the front, yet the suspect Oswald was positioned behind the President. District Attorney Henry M. Wade told the Warren Commission that discussions relating to a conspiracy charge were carried on by telephone between his office and Washington until late that night. As far as Wade could remember, these included calls from the White House, the F.B.I. and the State Department. The general drift of the calls seemed to be to discourage any conspiracy charge. Salandria finds this disturbing.
During Commission hearings, Congressman Gerald Ford told Secretary of State Dean Rusk that a comment he made the day after the assassination indicating that no foreign power was involved seemed a bit hasty. Said Ford, “You really didn’t have much time to evaluate all of the evidence.” Ford was concerned about who in the State Department might have made telephone calls to Texas urging that no charge of conspiracy be alleged.
Drawback: As yet the precise text of the announcement on the plane is not known, nor is its origin. Theodore White refuses to comment except to say that the plane was in constant touch with the White House, and messages were relayed through a Signal Corps center in the Midwest. But the announcement may have been based, innocently, on the lack of any indication that there was a conspiracy afoot.
21. THE I-MURDER THEORY
Proponent: Malcom Muggeridge.
Thesis: According to this theory, Oswald “kills Kennedy for Intelligence’s own sake; the perfect I-murder.” Presume that Oswald was at least a double agent, recruited first by Soviet Intelligence during his stay in Minsk, then turned around by the F.B.I., and “finally reduced to a condition of bemusedness and lost identity which led him, in a trance-like state, to murder the President, as van der Lubbe, in a similarly trance-like state, set fire to the Reichstag.”
His shooting at Walker, Pro- and Anti-Cuban activities, etc. were all done as a cover, in the hope he would lead the F.B.I. to the Soviet contact. This bizarre game caused Oswald to lose touch with reality, and, not knowing who he was working for or why, he shot Kennedy. To avoid undue embarrassment, he had to be shot, and Jack Ruby was standing by.
22. THE SUGAR THEORY
Proponent: J. I. Rodale, editor of Prevention and Organic Gardening and Farming.
Thesis: Oswald was seen minutes after the assassination with a Coke bottle in his hand. This fact leads health-crusader J. I. Rodale to suggest “Oswald was not responsible for this action: his brain was confused because he was a sugar drunkard. So what is called for now is a full-scale investigation of sugar consumption and crime.”
The Curb Exchange. James Tague, who was standing on the curb along the south side of Main Street near the overpass, was struck sharply on the cheek at the time of the shooting. Police officers investigated immediately and said they found a “fresh chip in the curb” near where he was standing. A photograph was taken of the chip in the curb the next morning (photo A).
Eight months later (July, 1964) the photographer and two F.B.I. men returned to the site to make measurements, but could not find the chip. The F.B.I. men hypothesized that in the interim “there [had] been numerous rains that could have possibly washed away such a mark and also…the area is cleaned by a street-cleaning machine about one a week, which would also wash away such a mark.” A month after that, J. Edgar Hoover wrote the Commission that the F.B.I. had cut out the section of curb with the mark (a photo of which he enclosed, B), and that indeed the mark was the same as that in the original photograph!
This internal F.B.I. contradiction was discovered by Raymond Marcus, who also claims that the curb cutout doesn’t have any mark at all.
23. THE WASHING-MACHINE THEORY
Proponent: George de Mohrenschildt.
Thesis: Marina Oswald, on the eve of the assassination, told her husband that they couldn’t live together “unless he would equip the apartment with a washing machine.” This demand caused a bitter argument which evoked in Oswald “the wish to strike and hurt someone.”
Drawback: According to the Warren Commission, Oswald had the materials for making the paper bag for his rifle before he visited with his wife. Anyhow, as the Warren Report notes, they had lived near a Laundromat.
24. KENNEDY LIVES THEORY
Proponent: George Thomson, a Los Angeles swimming-pool engineer and writer.
Thesis: Thomson, in monographs and tapes which have been underground best sellers (reportedly 42,000 sold to date), advances the theory that Tippit was substituted for Kennedy in the Presidential limousine, and consequently it was Tippit not Kennedy who was shot. (Kennedy, years after, was the secret guest of honor at Truman Capote’s celebrated party.) This explains the illegal removal of Kennedy’s body from Dallas by his close cohorts, the missing X-ray and autopsy photographs, and subsequent confusion in reporting medical facts. The Kennedy controversy, for Thomson, revolves around the question of where Kennedy is today.
25. THE “WHAT HAVE WE HERE!” THEORY
Proponent: T. N. Tastmona.
Thesis: In a privately-printed 200-page volume called It Is As If: ($20), Mr. Tastmona (“American born of American-born parents) scrutinizes the details of the assassination and the text of The Warren Report, finding bizarre parallels with the life of Benjamin Franklin, Sherlock Holmes, Mormon doctrine and American history. One example, among many, is cited here as an extreme example of assassination theorizing.
In the Chronology index of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Tastmona finds mention of Arthur Lee, an American commissioner accompanying Franklin to France. Three pages later he finds a reference to Richard Oswald, Chief British negotiator. “The names ‘Lee’ and ‘Oswald’ sounded a responsive chord. Lee Oswald!—assassin of President Kennedy. Could some sort of historic parallel be coming to light? Could a Harvey be involved in these diplomatic deals?” Sure enough, on the next page of the Franklin autobiography Tastmona finds David Hartley, a British envoy. “Hartley!—a close approximation of ‘Harvey’…
“‘Hartley’ differs from ‘Harvey’ by two letters. Perceive a composite form—Har TLV ey. What have we here! TLV equals a better approximation for ‘television’ that even plain TV. Lee Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby in full view of a national television audience.…It is as if this television crime had somehow been arranged to expound the disparity existing between the names Hartley and Harvey.” Tastmona goes on to reveal that David Hartley was really David Hartley Junior, or Jr., and “it was Jack Ruby with initials J. R. who by this brutal system of criminal cryptology painstakingly identified the Hartley of scholarly historical allusion to be J R. or Junior.
“While in Russia, Lee Oswald kept what he called a ‘Historic Diary.’ He affected interest in his place in history. This attitude must be considered as part of a pre-instructed clue system, hinting the historical parallels just adduced.”
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