Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Rabbit Trail

Studying the Kennedy assassination is like running down an endless series of crisscrossing rabbit trails. As researcher Nancy Wertz said, "seemingly random and innocuous or irrelevant information sometimes does form a pattern. It simply becomes a case of the sum of the whole equaling much more than individual components." There you have it—a fancier way of describing the nature of the rabbit trail system.

Trails can lead somewhere and sometimes they lead to a dead end, despite how purposeful they might first appear. At times I have to walk away from it all and take a breather and try to make sense of it all. It fatigues the mind.

My most recent trip down the trail came to a junction where the multiple shooters live. It seems to me that if there are more shooters than Oswald, they are either using silencers or else they are shooting from the rear. The best witness to Oswald shooting out of the window on the sixth floor is AP photographer Bob Johnson. His had just finished off a roll and was reloading when he heard the first shot. Looking around and then up he saw the rifle barrel from the sixth window and saw the shooter withdraw. He could not make out the shooter. He reported hearing three shots. He came so close to getting a photograph of the ages. As a photographer that has missed a few great photo opportunities myself, my heart goes out to him. It would hurt me for a long time; it would matter not that I was a witness to history. However, his testimony is consistent and reliable down through the decades.

But even with this witness testimony there are problems. If Oswald took the Magic Bullet Shot, the one that passed through Kennedy and struck John Connelly, it would have to zigzag around Kenney’s ribs and spine to exit the throat. The angles appear to be off. (One of these days I’m going to get a model skeleton—hopefully a computer model—and pass a rod through there and see what bones are actually in the way.) On the other hand, if Kennedy is hit in the throat from the front, and then again from behind in the back, those bullets don’t exit. In that case, the x-rays should show fragments lodged in the upper torso. They do not. That rules out a frontal shooter.

Of course the whole Magic Bullet scenario is riddled with problems (see The Black Hole entry below). The bullet, CE 399, is in too unspoiled to have passed through both men, shattering one’s fifth rib (once from entry and twice from exit). No ballistic tests into cadavers or animals replicate this. Not to mention the array of bullet fragments found in Connelly’s body—one of which stayed in his thigh for the remainder of his life—which could not have come off of the CE 399. Whatever bullet hit Connelly shattered, leaving a debris field in its wake.

So here is another problem. Neither the single bullet pass-through nor a frontal shooter makes any sense. It all seems so impossible. Yet, we are expected to believe this illogicality.

My trip down the trail has made me tired again. I must go and take leave. A nap is in order. I hope I don’t dream of rabbit trails.