Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lies, Omissions, and PBS NOVA: Cold Case JFK

With the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death looming, I’ve tried not to watch most of the documentaries and TV specials involving the event.  The few I’ve seen just repeat the same old party line or else go off on to some odd tangent this is incorrect.  With media as it is in the this country, I expect no new revelations and a rehashing of the same old story from the Warren Report.  But just on a lark, I decided to watch PBS Nova’s Cold Case JFK which purports to be a forensic investigation into the case.  Yes, it confirmed my suspicions of how the media plays the JFK assassination–the Warren Commission got it right!

The first lie starts on the PBS web site:  “NOVA launches a fresh investigation into the physical evidence, using state-of-the-art forensics, including laser scanning, new ballistics tests, and a 3D digital reconstruction of the president's skull, all to try to solve the murder of the century.

Gosh...all of this fancy technology just to come to the same conclusion the Warren Commission did 50 years ago.  Amazing!  They solved the case too!  Actually, this show is no different than Brad Meltzer’s goofy History Decoded show on the History Channel.  Television presentations such as this is are created to fool people that only have a basic understanding of the case.  They toss in scientific scrutiny with a touch of drama but there is much omitted for narrative flow.  They have to or else the story gets muddied up.  Such was done in Cold Case JFK.  They weren't out to solve anything.  They knew where they were headed from the get-go.   

A host of luminaries are provided such as Jeff Morley and Josiah Thompson, but the notorious cave troll, Marquette professor John McAdams gets most of the air time.  McAdams, a lone gunman zealot, is known as a rude and obnoxious defender of the Warren Report.  In the annals of JFK research he is a notorious and outrageous personality.  His assertions on the case are often misleading.  Among many loathsome acts, he once lied about his name and profession to a news reporter at a research conference. In another instance, he insinuated that researcher Dr. Gary Aguilar was a drug addict.  For that, McAdams received a reprimand from Marquette University for such conduct.  

And this is the man PBS brings to the fore to be an expert?

Of course, the Single Bullet Theory is the most controversial part of the case and admitted to as such in the show.  Even McAdams waggles his jowls in agreement.  All was well originally, with three shots resulting in three wounds, till James Tague came forward with his wounded cheek.  So one bullet had to pull double-duty or else you’ve got a conspiracy on your hands.  (And in fact, FBI crime lab tests found no trace of copper on the curb near Tague’s wounding.  Oswald was only supposed to be shooting copper jacketed bullets.  The FBI only found traces of lead.  Somebody else was shooting.)

So Nova engages ballistics expert Luke Haag (who with his son Michael, will appear on a host of programs) to supposedly conduct an objective test using a Mannlicher-Carcano shooting test targets.  Out comes the ballistic gelatin to simulate human muscle tissue.  Haven’t I seen this somewhere before? Like The Discovery Channel?  Anyway, the test shots show that the bullet does yaw at the end of its flight.  High speed video shows the flight of the bullet which always looks cool.  But this has been done before.

In one hilarious bit, after the rifleman took a shot and attempted to recycle the weapon, the spent shell hung up in the breach.  Ha!  And somebody is going to shoot the President of the United States with this piece of junk?  Oh, yeah...don’t let your lying eyes deceive you.  Anything is possible in Warren Commission Land.

The shortcoming with this type of test is that Haag never shoots anything as dense as bone, yet seems to have no disagreement with CE 399 coming out looking so good.  Well, somebody did test bone and the results were hidden away for years.  Dr. Joseph Dolce was the Army’s chief ballistic wounds expert and chairman of the Army’s Ballistic Wounds Committee.  He was tasked by the Warren Commission, along with another expert, Dr. Fredrick Light Jr., to test the single bullet theory using Oswald’s rifle to replicate CE 399, the so-called “pristine” bullet.  After shooting ten cadaver radial bones (the same bone struck and broken in Gov. Connelly’s wrist), the experiment did not replicate any bullet resembling CE 399 at all.  As Dr. Dolce stated in an interview in 1986, each of the ten test fired bullets were in his words, “markably deformed.”  Dr. Dolce, much to his surprise,
was not called to give testimony to Warren Commission and his findings were buried in a report, published by the U. S. Army Edgewood Arsenal in March of 1965, that was classified “confidential” for 8 years before being placed in the NARA.  Obviously, this was never mentioned in the show.  A serious omission of fact.  But the appearance of this information would only be the arrival of a bastard at the family reunion.  

(It should also be noted that in Haag's test of the pass-thru bullet produced a larger exit hole than entry; it was well documented by Parkland doctors that Kennedy's throat wound was very small and was first noted as a entry wound, not exit.  Haag actually disproves the single bullet theory!)

Other issues, such as firing at moving target, the effects of bullet drop, Oswald attempting a head shot through a live oak tree, windage, bullet drop due to the effects of gravity, a scope not properly sighted, are all ignored. So much for this being a high-tech forensic examination.  This is History Channel type faux research via PBS. Everybody is in on it now.

In the end, Luke Haag decides he has no problems with Single Bullet Theory.  He will state this on numerous other anniversary shows as well.  Of course not, since his experimentation never went far enough.  He did not allow for tests on bone.  And as stated above, Drs Dolce and Light could not replicate CE 399 in any meaningful way when firing at bone, so their report was buried. So PBS NOVA has to ignore it as well.  It should be made clear, this lone bullet nonsense comes from a gaggle of lawyers who are not ballistics experts.  Arlen Specter and boys were out to do what lawyers do, protect their client–in this case the Federal government.  The truth becomes a tin can kicked down the road.  

Other issues are explored such as Kennedy’s head wound, the Zapruder film showing Kennedy shot from the front (your lying eyes again), 3D laser mapping of Dealing Plaza, and the HSCA audio analysis of shots from a police motorcycle, and all come to the same conclusion.  This is why I am avoiding most of these 50th Anniversary shows.  The Warren Commission was right.  Always right. There is no conspiracy.  Just because it looks like one doesn’t make it real.  Now move on with your bad self.

Addendum - 2.7.14
Researcher Pat Speer did an excellent and more detailed analysis of the PBS show here:

And other good one by David W. Mantik, MD, PhD at CTKA:


John McAdams and the Siege of Chicago
By Jim DiEugenio with Brian Hunt

The Dulce/Light report

Gerald McKnight, Breach of Trust, Chapter 8, p.187. Chapter notes page 417 (note 18) and page 418 (note 25).