Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Man in the Doorway


The controversy has raged for some time about the famous James Altgens photo showing a man resembling Oswald sanding in the doorway of the School Book Depository Building watching the motorcade go by. The timing is just after the first bullet strike on John Kennedy. After doing my own comparison I have concluded that it is not Oswald but another employee, Billy Lovelady. They do resemble each other from a distance and certainly from a fuzzy image. The general consensus is that Lovelady is standing in the doorway though many in the conspiracy crowd refuse to believe it. The shape of the hairline, facial features, and the pattern on the shirt all point to Lovelady.

But like all things in the Kennedy assassination investigation there is always a twist. When Billy Lovelady was asked under oath for the Warren Commission who was with him he mentioned two people, Bill Shelley and Sarah Stanton. The twist comes when the Dallas police are interrogating Oswald and he states that did not shoot the president because he was on the first floor viewing the motorcade at the time the shots rang out. As proof he gives Bill Shelley’s name as one of the persons there. This fact is born out by witness testimony of Lovelady and Shelley himself. Obviously Oswald can’t be seen in the photograph above. However, the view is blocked by two secret Service agents and a tree. Could Oswald been standing to Lovelady’s left?

So here is the rub—only by Oswald being on the first floor could he have known of Bill Shelley in the doorway. He could not have seen him from the sixth floor even if he had hung himself out the window. Other evidence questions Oswald being the sniper. There is his gun in the sniper’s nest with his palm print on it, though one can hardly shoot a rifle one handed. Conversely, the paraffin test for nitrites on his cheek is a negative. The landing on each floor is 20 feet. So coming down the stairs he has to cross that distance. Nobody on those floors after the assassination saw Oswald walking by. As usual with the Kennedy assassination, the story weaves an odd tapestry of conflicting data and events.

However, none of the witnesses recalled Oswald being there with them. But how else could he have known of Shelley’s presence? It is not known if these men were friendly or spoke to each other that day. Maybe Oswald was too far in the back to be observed so no one made note of it. In this type of inquest you do not blurt out what you know—you only tell what you are asked. The questioner only has the basic facts of which assumptions are formed to what happened in a given event. The system of questioning witnesses is flawed because not all questions are asked. None of these witnesses were queried if Oswald had joined them on the first floor because it’s assumed he is on the sixth floor shooting at that time. It has already been decided at this juncture. By this method, questions that may reveal valuable information fall through the cracks.

But the story doesn’t get less muddled from here. As I reported in my piece, The Investigation That Never Was, two more witnesses most likely encountered Oswald on the first floor moments after the slaying of Kennedy. Pierce Allman and Terrance Ford were both program directors for the local TV station, WFAA. They were witnesses to the assassination on Elm and immediately rushed through the door of Texas School Book Depository Building to find a phone. They found a man there that directed them to where it was. Later, they could not identify Oswald from photographs as the man they had spoken to. However, Oswald told the Dallas police, the Secret Service, and the FBI that he was on the first floor at the time of the shooting when shortly thereafter two men entered, claiming to be SS agents and asked to use the phone. Allman and Ford later deny saying they were agents of any kind. Of final note, Oswald identified one of the men as having a crew cut and carrying a briefcase. One of the men did indeed fit this description including the briefcase.

Pierce Allman and Terrance Ford independently substantiate Oswald’s account of where he was shortly after the shots were fired. Both men were never called to give their testimony to the Warren Commission, nor any of the subsequent investigations. If Oswald was not on the sixth floor then who was? An accomplice? And this assassin would want to use Oswald’s junky rifle with a scope that is not properly sighted? There are never any real solutions here or else we wouldn’t be asking questions over forty years later. This is what keeps me interested in the Kennedy assassination. It’s all one big looping mystery.

So where was Lee Oswald at the time of the shooting of the President? First floor or sixth? Flip a coin.


Sources
McKnight, Gerald, Breach of Trust; jfk-assassination.de; Buglosi, Vincent, Reclaiming History; Scott, Peter Dale, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK; maryferrell.org

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Long Barrels


Photo courtesy of crytome.org.

Rather an ominous picture, isn’t it? Rest assured these men are not carrying guitars to a gig. And they will not be toting Mannlicher Carcanos either. These are Secret Service (presumably) snipers in New York City providing security for President Obama’s visit. Of course they could be anybody’s boys. They have a discernible military bearing; short-cropped hair; no beards or mustaches; lean; all dressed in black. It would be nice to have these guys protecting you. But what if one of them goes bad? There would be nothing to stop them from picking off the head of state. I can see this as a nerve wracking situation for any president. Surely visions of Dealey Plaza must race through the mind. If there are powerful fiefdoms in our government, having those men with gun bags about you is a subtle reminder not to get too far off the reservation.

Vince Buglosi, in his mammoth defense of the Warren Commission, Reclaiming History, makes the point that if there was a conspiracy, why is Oswald not doing anything that would be associated with a plot? Such as, attending meetings with co-conspirators and so on as Booth did before the Lincoln assassination. Buglosi, the relentless cherry picker, ignores the other side of the argument--what did Oswald do to be an assassin other than buying two cheap firearms?

Apparently, not much. He is known to have visited a firing range one time. He did no research we know of in regards to range, bullet drop, wind, and other factors. As a friend who is a hunter told me, the hardest thing to do is accurately aim and fire at a moving subject. Oswald did no ballistic tests of moving targets. And evidently did no shooting experiments to properly sight the scope, which army marksmen had to use metal shims to properly align. Oswald’s notoriety for being bad marksmen-—qualifying the first time, doing not as well the second time, and barely passing the final time—is clearly documented. Even when hunting in Russia with friends he was assigned a shotgun—in the hopes he would at least be able to hit something with it.

So is there evidence or even a qualifier for Oswald being a patsy? Could he have been one considering the situation he found himself in? I think the evidence bears this out though his actions after the assassination invoke suspicion. For example, upon his arrest he denied to Dallas police ownership of the rifle yet his palm print was on it. As the police officer asks him to stand up in the movie theater he tries to strike the policeman and the tries to shoot him to boot. In his personal possessions later will be found the receipt for the money order he used to order the weapons. In another twist, the rifle requires two hands for operation and assembly since he snuck it in the building that morning disassembled. It should have been covered with his fingerprints but it was not. He must have wiped the rifle down before hiding it but that wastes valuable time in getting to the second floor lunchroom a few moments later. Or else the Dallas police did in their possession.

As you see, one can get a brain freeze in trying to come to terms with all of this.

Oswald can only be a patsy if there are other shooters. That is the Achilles heel of the whole conspiracy view of the Kennedy assassination. Any and all conspiracies in the case can only be based on circumstantial evidence. Other shooters can never be named, witnesses are often confused over what they saw and heard, and clear photographic evidence is lacking. It’s only through our peripheral vision that we see a hint of something going on that is not right. And even that is a vague look.

As usual, the rabbit trail winds its way back to the mysterious former marine and his peculiar life and final acts. Lee Oswald is not the innocent patsy as he ensnares himself in numerous lies to the Dallas police, Secret Service, and the FBI. Probably to provide cover even though this would all come out later in a trial. In the end he never admitted to any crime either against officer Tippet or the murder of the President of the United States. He even denied being on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting, stating that he was on the first floor at that time the shots rang out. Perhaps that explains his coolness and lack of nerves by those who witnessed him. Could he have had an accomplice? If so, the other shooter would be forced to use Oswald’s junk, something distasteful to a professional who would most likely bring his own gear. And maybe that is what happened. After all, Mac Wallace, a bagman for LBJ had a match on one his finger prints on a box on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository Building. The FBI would later toss the data, much to the chagrin of the veteran expert that analyzed the prints.

Ultimately, Lee H. Oswald could be the patsy; he could not be the patsy. Such a chameleon could be anything you wanted him to be. As the former CIA director Richard Helms said cryptically, “No one will ever know who or what Lee Harvey Oswald represented.”

Indeed.

Sources
Buglosi, Vincent, Reclaiming History; Crytome.org; McClellan, Barr, Blood, Money & Power; maryferrell.org