By: Stewart Galanor
The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. was a very emotional time in our nation’s history. This horrifying incident occurred on November 22, 1963, in a motorcade procession in Dallas, Texas. At 12:30 in the afternoon the procession was going down Elm Street in Dealy Plaza, when shots were fired. One struck President Kennedy in the throat and moments later a bullet tore apart his head. At 1:00 p.m., President JFK was pronounced dead. That same afternoon, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested as a suspect of murder. Oswald however, pleaded his innocence by stating, ” I’m just a patsy.” This caused many suspicions and questions. Was he a lone assassin? Was he innocent? Was there a conspiracy against the president? These questions called for Lyndon B. Johnson, the new president, to form the Warren Commission specifically to investigate the assassination. It was named for the Chairman, and the Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren. This commission, after ten months of investigation, presented their report to President Johnson. The 26 volumes of testimony and exhibits, ” overwhelmingly supported the conclusions that the assassination was no conspiracy, but the work of one unhappy man, Lee Harvey Oswald.” (New York Times) However many Americans continued to believe there was a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The book Cover- Up, by Stewart Galanor, is a great description of the facts and fictions of the investigation.
The shots the president received were both incredibly fatal. The first shot to the neck was seen to be an entrance wound, however this seems to be impossible if the assassin was behind him 6 floors up. However, like usual, the Warren Commission performed a test and proved the shot to indeed be an exit wound. The test was performed using a goatskin to show that entrance and exit wounds are similar in appearance, when they really are not. The Warren Commission stuck to their beliefs, although it was obviously a false idea. The fatal wound was also discussed and questioned. Many doctors thought there really was no fatal blast to the head, just a small exit wound. However, two Parkland doctors described the head wound to be extremely fatal. One doctor stated, “As I took position at the head of the table, I was in such a position that I could very closely examine the head wound. I noted that the right posterior portion of the skull had been completely blasted, you could actually look down into the cavity itself and see that probably a third or so, at least, of the brain tissue, posterior cerebral tissue and some of the cerebellar tissue had been blasted out.” However, there arose a disagreement. Of all the interviewed doctors who attended the autopsy, and saw the photographs, some claim they do not show a large wound in the right rear portion of the skull. There is a missing piece somewhere in this investigation, but this is only the first.
After watching the Zapruder films, the investigation was faced with another problem. President JKF was shot in the throat, Governor Connolly was shot in the back, a missed shot, and the fatal shot to the president’s head. Four shots with the Mannlicher-Carcano, the supposed assassination weapon, in that time span was impossible. Olympic champion, Hubert Hammerer said that he doubted he could duplicate Oswald’s actions. How is it possible for Oswald to be a better shot than an Olympic Champion? The Commission was faced with yet another contradiction to their theory. So they resolved it by saying that the bullet that struck the President’s throat also hit Governor Connolly. Although the wounds do not line up, the Warren Commission still stated it as the truth. The bullet that struck JFK’s throat was only slightly deformed, but when a bullet was shot through a cadaver’s wrist, it was bent greatly, so this too was a contradiction. It also was a very difficult shot. From 60 feet above the ground to a moving target, by an average marksman, a direct hit seems almost impossible. Once again the Warren Commission came up with something to cover up this problem.
Another option to try to disprove the lone assassin theory was to look at the Zapruder films and see where the film may be a little blurred. This would show when the person filming jumped at each shot fired. When the film was analyzed, CBS found that the first two shots differ by 36 frames. Since the film runs 18.3 frames per second that means there were less than 2 seconds between them. This is impossible with the weapon and an inexperienced gunman. Another study says they differ by 39 frames or 2.1 seconds. Either way it is disproved that Oswald firing with the Mannlicher-Carcano was the lone assassin.
The grassy knoll was a more public part of the investigation. Many witnesses when questioned as to where they thought the shots came from, answered, not the Book Depository, but the grassy knoll. Also some claimed to see a puff of smoke rise from the trees in front of a wooden fence at the top of the grassy knoll. The Warren Commission ignored these observations, and never addressed them. There were also many accounts of suspicious behavior on the knoll from denial of access prior to the assassination, to the sighting of men with guns after the assassination.
In February 1964, a picture was discovered and seen throughout the media of Oswald holding the weapon used in the assassination. Twenty-two of the nation’s leading photography experts examined this picture and found no evidence of faking in these photographs. However, Superintendent Malcom Thompson of England, went on record stating the photos were forgeries. He said there was a discrepancy in the shadows of the picture. The shadows from Oswald’s nose to his body indicate the sun is in more than one place. Thompson felt that the only way this could have been done was if Oswald’s head was put on someone else’s chin, then with retouching, the montage was covered up. The backyard photograph was compared to his mug shot, and it shows the chins are entirely different. When the Warren Commission tried to duplicate the lighting, they covered up the head of the person, and said they duplicated it; however, the discrepancy was in a shadow on the face. So the Warren Commission once again was willing to accept questionable evidence as fact as long as it supported the lone assassin theory.
Marina Oswald, Lee Harvey’s wife, at first acted as though she was completely clueless about rifles, including the one that supposedly belonged to her husband and was used to kill the president. She also stated that “Lee expressed to her that Kennedy was a good President,” and she believed he was innocent. However, she changed her story and told the Warren Commission that the Mannlicher-Carcano was the “fateful rifle of Lee Oswald’s,” and she testified that she thought her husband was guilty. Twenty-five years later on a TV documentary, Marina once again reverted back to the first story in saying that she never could buy the idea that Lee was against the President. She said that, ” Everything I learned about President Kennedy was good through Lee.” Marina stated later that she felt the Warren Commission used her, and she was a vulnerable person, which was just what they wanted. She now believes that Lee may have been working for the government, and he was just doing what he had been told to do.
Lee Harvey Oswald was a very different and confused man. When he was young, his favorite show was I Led Three Lives. Oswald in a sense throughout his life did the same. He went into the Marine Corps, began to learn the Russian language, and felt that communism was the best system in the world. He then moved to Russia, with the intention to defect and divulge classified material about radar to the Soviets. After becoming bored with his life in Russia, he and his wife and little girl moved back to the US in June 1962. However he continued to profess Marxism, and in the spring of 1963 he attempted to form a chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Oswald had a hard time keeping a job, but on October 16, 1963, he was hired at the Texas School Book Depository. He led many lives, all of which had more contradictions than his former hero in I Led Three Lives.
Jack Ruby was the man who murdered Oswald in the Dallas jail. He was not questioned until about six months after the assassination. Ruby was obviously aware of this, when he stated “Well, it’s too bad, Chief Warren, that you didn’t get me to your headquarters six months ago.” Ruby repeatedly asked ” Is there any way you can get me to Washington?” Ruby felt that the truth would only be known if he took a lie detector test, and that is why he wanted to go to Washington. After much investigation, an FBI report was uncovered in the National Archives that describe Ruby’s close connections with the Dallas Mafia. Nevertheless the Commission stated there was no credible evidence that Ruby was active in organized crime.
In October of 1993, a radiation oncologist and Dr. David Mantik examined the autopsy x- rays of JFK. Dr. Mantik was extremely concerned with how white the rear of the skull was. The whiter the area, the denser the tissue, and in a previous x-ray of JFK’s skull during his lifetime, the image was much darker. After much investigation, Dr. Mantik concluded the x-rays had been altered. In his lab he tried to alter a set of x-rays, and within minutes he had done so. Dr. Mantik also disproved the lone assassin theory. He looked at a CAT scan and drew a straight line connecting the back and throat wounds of the President. He determined that clearly any bullet along that path would have shattered his spine, and there was no spinal damage.
There were numerous thoughts by many Americans that the assassination was a conspiracy, and there was a cover-up. I also believe that there was a conspiracy, and all the false information given by the Warren Commission proves there was a cover up. The investigation goes so deep and was so carefully planned, that the truth may never surface because of others in fear for their life.
This book greatly expanded my knowledge of this event. I now know so much about the investigation, and the so- called cover up. Previously I didn’t know there was really a cover up. This time period was one of total distrust in the government, and a time of confusion. I think that Johnson was a very sly president who focused more on what would improve his reputation as a president, rather than helping the nation get to the bottom of the decade’s greatest mystery. As for the Warren Commission, they were really doing the same thing, except they were just looking for the easiest way out, not the truth. They should have known that one day all of their hidden evidence would be found. And it was, which caused great distrust, by the majority of Americans, in their own leaders, their government. The people in this book who went on record showing a part of the “cover-up” are very brave people, and they should be the people who the world looks to for the truth in the investigation. The information in this book was very interesting and attention grabbing. It really focused on the evidence of a conspiracy or cover- up. This book really taught me that some people will do anything to satisfy themselves, no matter what they have to do to others. All the people directly involved in the investigation seemed to give up or take over something to keep things as simple and secretive as possible. Even though the world still went on and there were more conflicts to deal with, I think the most plaguing question of the average American in this decade was, “Who killed JFK?”