Next week the nation will mark a date which takes its place alongside Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001, as a date that will live in infamy. It will mark the day 40 years ago that the nation was stunned to learn that John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was murdered on the streets of Dallas, Texas.
In recent times after the assassination of national leaders such as Kennedy, his brother Robert and Martin Luther King Jr., a great deal of ink has been spilled in an attempt to remind us of the collective guilt we all must share in the death of these prominent Americans.
One suspects, however, that such verbal breast beating is so much rhetoric, for when it is suggested that more than one person was actually involved in the killings, much time and effort has been expended by our own government. its various agencies and the mass media to assure us that each was but the work of one deranged individual.
In the case of President Kennedy's murder, a prestigious commission established by executive order and headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court was set up to reassure the world of that fact. The initial near total acceptance of the findings in the Warren Commission Report to the American public became a constant source of anger and frustration for those courageous few individuals who took the time to carefully study and document every item hidden -- in addition to all the items missing -- in the report's 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits.
Defenders of the report immediately claimed that this anger and frustration with the Warren Commission among it critics was not only shrill and irresponsible, but was motivated by a radical political agenda in their characterization of the report as being superficial, illogical and dishonest.
But no one who read Sylvia Meagher's scholarly and thoroughly researched Accessories After the Fact: The Warren Commission, The Authorities and The Report [Bobbs-Merrill Co,, Inc. N.Y., 1967] could find shrillness in her 477-page book. Her conclusions faithfully reflected the evidence which the American adversarial judicial system would have most likely produced had Lee Harvey Oswald been allowed his day in court.
In 1966 Ms. Meagher also compiled a Subject Index to the Warren Report and Hearings and Exhibits [Scarecrow Press, N.Y.], the first time anyone had cared to catalogue all the material contained in the commission's 26 volumes. Her work was subsequently referred to in The American Scholar as "the standard work for all investigations into the Commission documents."
In Accessories she effectively uses the knowledge acquired from that index to not only show where the commission erred in its conclusions, but how it twisted and distorted testimony and evidence in pursuing its single assassin theory.
Where Ms. Meagher's book deals in detail with some 27 subjects before, during and after the assassination, Josiah Thompson's book Six Seconds in Dallas: A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination Proving That Three Gunmen Murdered the President [Bernard Geis Associates: N.Y., 1967] chooses to concentrate solely on those six important seconds in Dealy Plaza.
Using sketches of the important Abraham Zapruder film (Life magazine, one-time owner of the original print of the film, refused Thompson permission to reproduce the individual frames), 21 other known still and motion pictures taken in the plaza and numerous drawings and charts (all conveniently appearing alongside the book's relevant text), Thompson, who as a consultant to Life had the opportunity to examine the original Zapruder print numerous times, carefully and systematically shows how the commission's "single bullet theory" is implausible, i.e., the same bullet which first hit Kennedy could also have also wounded Texas Governor John Connally.
Once one admits that Kennedy and Connally were hit separately then the presence of two or more gunmen is inescapable and one therefore by definition has a conspiracy. Thompson, after pointing out the commission's major errors in evaluating these six crucial seconds and their "manufacturing" of the "magic bullet" shows how available evidence suggests that there were three riflemen firing ("trianglization") at the presidential motorcade.
Thompson not only rejected many of the report's major conclusions, but has posed a tight, well-thought out alternative.
The first shot, according to Thompson, came from the Texas School Book Depository (but not necessarily fired by Oswald), missing its mark and wounding Kennedy in the back.
The second bullet, striking Connally, possibly came from the roof of the Dal-Tex building situated across Houston Street from the Book Depository.
A third assassin ("the insurance gun") viewing the scene from behind the fence atop the legendary "grassy knoll" to the right and slightly in front of the oncoming motorcade, saw Kennedy still sitting upright. He fired almost point blank, just a fraction of a second after the gunman in the Book Depository, who realized he had failed in his initial shot, fired his second shot. Kennedy's head for an instant began to fall forward, only to be driven back by the force of the fatal shot from the knoll.
David S. Lifton's Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy [MacMillan Publishers: N.Y., 1980], after a brilliant opening chapter on the basic principles of good research, tells the chilling story of how the assassination's "best evidence" -- the body of the president -- became, in the hands of the conspirators, the means by which they deceived the American people and the world.
As these three authors -- Meagher, Thompson and Lifton -- have noted, unless those Americans in public and private life who revered John F. Kennedy, those members of the press who respected him, and those remaining members of his family who loved him demand that the circumstances surrounding his murder be reopened and the whole truth exposed, he will have died in vain and that certainly will be the real tragedy of Nov. 22, 1963.
A.V. Krebs is director of the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project, PO Box 2201, Everett, WA 98203. He publishes a free email newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner; email firstname.lastname@example.org; web site www.ea1.com/CARP/