Lies, Damn Lies, and National Geographic

Recently by Ralph Cinque: A Chiropractor Looks at the ZapruderFilm

I am shocked and staggered by this evening's presentation of The Lost Bullet on National Geographic television. Sure, I expected it to be one-sided and misleading in its defense of the Warren Report concerning the murder of President Kennedy. But no, I did not think they would resort to such outrageous tactics and woefully corrupt reasoning.

First, the program, which was directed by journalist Max Holland, started with a lie. That lie was that researchers, of all stripes, including conspiracy theorists, agree that only 3 shots were fired that day: one that went through Kennedy and Connally; one that blew Kennedy's head off; and one that missed completely and nicked a bystander, James Teague. No! Only Warren Report devotees claim that. Every single JFK researcher that I know of claims that more than 3 shots were fired. And, conspiracy researchers most certainly do not accept the single bullet theory, that one pristine "magic" bullet caused all 7 wounds in Kennedy and Connally and then emerged unscathed on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital after falling out of Connally's thigh.

The word they used on the program was "consensus." They said there was a "consensus" about those things, and therefore, they were able to assume them, which they did.

Do you see how easy television journalism is? All you have to do is say that something is true, and act like it's true, and as long as you control the camera and the microphone, you can get away with it. It was a bold-faced lie. I am calling you a liar, Holland!

So, they started by laying that out and acting like it was all beyond reproach. And then they said that although controversies persist, the answer is to figure out what happened to the missing bullet. They maintained that two of the bullets (the magic bullet and the one that caused the fatal head shot) were accounted for, but the first bullet that missed completely was unaccounted for. Hence, the title of the program: The Lost Bullet.

But, even though it was the last shot, they began by examining the fatal head shot. They acknowledged the controversy: that many people believe that the shot came from the direction of the Grassy Knoll, and they attributed that to two things: the fact that the area was closest to the limousine at the time, and the fact that Kennedy's head went back and to the left. So, how did they deal with that?

They brought on a ballistics expert, Larry Sturdivan, who explained that the shot could not have come from the Grassy Knoll because the bullet would have exited Kennedy's head in the same direction, that is, to the left, and probably hit Jackie, and if not her, then someone else, and since that did not happen, the shot could not have come from the Grassy Knoll.

What? Mr. Sturdivan, a ballistics expert, did not even raise the issue of a frangible bullet? A frangible bullet is a bullet that is designed to explode on contact. Here is the definition from Wikipedia:

"A frangible bullet is one that is designed to disintegrate into tiny particles upon impact to minimize their penetration and to limit the danger behind the intended target."

Mr. Sturdivan, a ballistics expert, actually sidestepped the whole issue of the frangible bullet. He just assumed that it was full metal jacketed bullet that would have traversed the cranium. But, this issue has not been overlooked by others in the JFK research community. I want to expound on this some because it is important.

First, note that the title of the program was really a misnomer because there is really only one existing bullet, not two. Of course, many of us do not believe that the magic bullet, otherwise known as CE399, actually went through Kennedy and then entered Connally – twice – bursting two bones. But, we are just going to put that aside because they proffered it as foregone conclusion, ridiculous as it is, and for the sake of brevity, we'll leave it alone.

But, what happened to the bullet that struck Kennedy's head and killed him? It did not do what Mr. Sturdivan, the expert, said. It did not pass through and out of Kennedy's head – at least, not in the form of a bullet.

Do you remember Kennedy's threat that he was going to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces?" Well, that is pretty much what happened to that bullet. It pulverized. His head x-rays showed a virtual snowstorm of tiny particles throughout his brain from that bullet disintegrating. The bullet fragmented into numerous pieces. What have experts had to say about that?

Forensic pathologist, Dr. Jimmy W. Green, said that “Full metal jacket bullets (like those Oswald allegedly used) fired from medium-to-high-velocity rifles do not fragment into numerous pieces.”

Dr. Eric Berg, another medical examiner, said: “In x-rays of gunshot wounds, the presence of small fragments of metal along the wound track (as seen in Kennedy) virtually rules out full metal-jacketed ammunition (such as what Oswald allegedly used). A lead snowstorm on x-ray (such as Kennedy had) rules out full metal jacketed ammunition.” Forensic expert and detective Shaun Roach said: “Due to the inherent strength of the 6.5 mm Carcano jacket, I believe that it would not shear off and fragment upon entering the head. The head wound of President Kennedy has all the hallmarks of 5.56 mm bullet performance. I would expect that if JFK were struck in the head by a 6.5 Carcano bullet, the bullet would have crashed into the skull, out the other side, intact, and continued on till it hit something else.” And finally, let's listen to Dr. Cyril Wecht:

“It is my experience with bullets, including bullets that are not as powerful and fully jacketed as this one [the 6.5 mm Carcano bullet], that they do not explode into dozens of pieces. They may break into two or three large fragments or pieces, but they don’t just disintegrate like that [like the missile that left dozens of fragments in Kennedy’s skull]. And so when you say it [the bullet or bullets that struck Kennedy in the head] behaved much more like a soft or hollow-point, I agree with you. I’ve been saying that for a long time.”

Do you see now how deceitful this program was? Forget about biased. It was way beyond biased. It was Machiavellian for them to glibly say that the shot could not have come from the Grassy Knoll because such a bullet would have traversed Kennedy's head and struck Jackie. Hiding the existence of frangible bullets was most deceitful.

Of course the killers were going to use a frangible bullet from the Grassy Knoll. Don't you think they were under strict orders not to harm a hair on Jackie's head? Besides, if the bullet disintegrated, it would hide, to some extent, its trajectory. They knew that all the shots had to look like they came from the Book Depository.

The program offered two other reasons to reject the Grassy Knoll hypothesis: One was the fact that on the Zapruder film when Kennedy's head explodes at frame 313, the mist of blood and fragments seems to be drifting forward. Therefore, the shot must have come from the rear.

It's funny: they take the movement of the mist, which was forward, as an indication of shot direction but not the movement of Kennedy's whole head and body, which was back and to the left.

But, at this point, I must refer you to Professor James Fetzer's book, The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK. Dr. Fetzer is certain that the Zapruder film was altered in many ways, including the blob of red when the head explodes. And it really does look like somebody shot it with a paintgun.

The other thing they did , which was really laughable, was simply show footage from other amateur movies of the Grassy Knoll taken that day showing that nobody was there. But wait! Nobody ever said that the gunman was standing on the grass in plain view. He was behind the picket fence! The term "picket fence" was never mentioned on the program, not even once. I kept waiting for it. It never came.

And that brings us to the piece de resistance, the first bullet, the lost bullet. The Warren Report is rather wishy-washy about the missed shot. They know that it occurred because they found the evidence that it struck the curb, and Teague definitely got grazed by a fragment. But, they weren't even sure if it was the first shot. If it was the first shot, how did Oswald miss by so much? He missed by the length of a football field! And yet, a few seconds later, at a greater distance, he hits Kennedy squarely in the head? They suggested that maybe the bullet deflected off the tree. And, in later years, attorney Gerald Posner, has elaborated on that theory. In his book, Case Closed, Posner proffered the idea that the bullet struck the tree and then the metal jacket popped off, and then inner core sailed on alone a great distance to strike the curb. Assassination researchers assailed Case Closed for its wild ideas and inaccuracies, but the mainstream media loved it, and Posner was almost awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History for writing it.

But, now comes along Max Holland, and he says that the Warren Commission and Gerald Posner were both wrong. The first bullet didn't hit the tree; it hit the traffic light. Of course, the existing traffic light isn't there any more, but they found a photo or an amateur movie which included the traffic light on Elm Street, and sure enough, it looks like there is a defect (a gouge? a mark?) on the bottom of it that Holland says could have been made by a bullet deflecting off of it.

Before going any further, let me sum up Orlando Martin's take on the first bullet. Orlando is the author of JFK: Analysis of a Shooting. Note that Orlando is a retired military sharpshooter and ballistics expert.

Orlando explains that the first bullet missed completely and hit the curb on the southeast end of Main Street near the underpass, which was 400 feet away from the limousine, which is common knowledge. How could Oswald have taken a down-angled shot and missed by 134 yards? And there was another problem: lead and antimony components were found but no copper, and it was supposed to be a copper jacketed bullet. (Thank God for Gerald Posner's fertile mind) Some have tried, through the Freedom of Information Act, to get to see the spectrograph analysis plate from that shot. But alas, the FBI said that the plate had been destroyed to save space in their building. This is a building that is a city-block long, and the plate is 1/32 of an inch thick.

What does the lack of copper tell us about the missed bullet? It tells us that it could not possibly have been a 6.5 mm Carcano bullet, alleged to be used by Oswald. Plus, the small amount of damage it did to the curbstone proves that it had to be a smaller bullet, hence, a very different caliber.

But, there is no basis for assuming the bullet deflected before it hit the curb. What happened is that it was shot from a low elevation; it sailed over Kennedy's head, perhaps not by much, and then it kept going until it ran out of gas, and gravity took it down. Like many other assassination researchers, Orlando believes that the most likely place where the first gunman was perched was a low elevation in the Dal-Tex building, which was the next building down from the Book Depository on the same side of the street.

But, Max Holland, whose vivid imagination surely has to rival Mr. Posner's, has his reasons for saying no, it was Oswald shooting very early on, practically at the intersection. It hit the metal frame of the traffic light and then bounced off of it, which meant that it deflected an even greater distance. Wow! And you wouldn't believe the things he offered as proof. One was the position of the three spent cartridges on the floor at the Book Depository. Holland claimed that one of them was in a position, a spot on the floor, that required, demanded that Oswald must have been aiming at the traffic pole at the time. Wow again! The things that Physics can prove!

Of course, it's a big advantage to Warren devotees to claim that the first (missed) shot came that early on because it means that instead of having 6.2 seconds to get off all 3 shots, Oswald had over 11 seconds. So now all that dazzling and impossible marksmanship goes away. But, not quite. It is widely accepted that the longest interval was between the first two shots. It's the second two shots that were close together, and getting off those two shots in 4-some seconds and hitting the target both times would still have been a phenomenal shooting performance on the part of Oswald. Holland didn't mention that. He just made it sound like the (assumed) 11 second timespan for the whole shooting spree made it a cakewalk. I don't remember his exact words, but my impression was that he felt it would have been easy.

But, one thing he did not address at all was that old lack-of-copper-on-the-curb problem. Was he alleging, like Posner, that the copper jacket came off and that the core sailed on by itself? Is that a reasonable thing to expect from a full metal jacketed bullet bouncing off of a metal object?

But wait! There is an easy way he could have tested his theory! He could have simply shot at the traffic light and seen if the bullet shed its jacket and bounced all the way to curb at the southeast end of Main by the underpass – the entire length of Dealey Plaza. Come on, Max! You're a physicist! And you know the laws of physics haven't changed. If it happened that way in November 1963, it should happen again that way in November 2011. Surely, the Dallas police can clear the area for a day so that you can accomplish this test. And if they can't, then you can duplicate it somewhere else. It wouldn't be that hard. I'm just saying that before you pat yourself on the back for being so smart, why don't you actually test it? See if the bullet actually does do what you claim it did?

There was also a lot of incriminating of Oswald. Holland made a big deal about the testimony of Amos Euins, the 15-year-old boy who claimed to see a man at the window of the Book Depository. But, Euins never identified the man he saw as Oswald. In fact, his description of the man at the time differed from Oswald. For instance, he kept emphasizing a bald spot on the man's head which didn't match Oswald.

For the record, Orlando does not think that any of the shots came from the 6th floor of the Book Depository – certainly not the confirmed missed shot, nor any of the shots that hit targets. Like all other sensible researchers, he thinks that the head shot came from behind the picket fence at the Grassy Knoll, and he thinks the other shots that hit Kennedy and Connally came from the Dallas Criminal Court building across the street. And that's because those shots had a left-to-right trajectory, not a right-to-left trajectory. The entrance wound in Kennedy's throat had to come from the front, obviously.

But, it stands to reason that if the conspirators were planning to frame Oswald that they'd stick somebody up there in the Depository and hope that somebody saw him.

In conclusion, I don't have to ask how convincing the program was because it was not at all convincing. It was a rude insult to one's intelligence. It was a crime against humanity in its own right.

But alas, I do have to ask how persuasive it was to American viewers. I am sure that many American viewers were appalled by it, as I was. But the idea that any viewers of any nationality were impressed with it, is disturbing. You might think from that that I have a low opinion of humanity. But, I say no! It's Max Holland who thinks that people are stupid because he's the one who made the thing, and he's the one who's trying to sell it. It was the lowest and most abhorrent and demeaning attempt at mass manipulation and indoctrination that I have ever witnessed. Curse you, Max Holland.