The Warren Commission
There are three areas the Warren Commission's lone assassin theory
- considerable evidence indicates that at least 2 gunmen fired at
- other less definite evidence, indicates that Oswald was not one
of those gunmen
- there was strong evidence that Jack Ruby was not a lone nut
either, instead he was ordered to silence Oswald (to prevent a trial)
The Single (Magic) Bullet Theory
The Warren Commission's lone assassin theory rests on the belief
that there 3 shots, all of them fired by one man in the Book Depository behind
To sustain it the Commission had to explain 2 things:
How could Connally have been hit a half second to a second
after JFK if only Oswald was firing?
- Abraham Zapruder's 22 second home movie, which indicated a gap
of half a second between JFK's reaction to the shot to his throat and
Connally's reaction to the shot to his back
- the performance capability of the 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano
rifle, found in the Book Depository. This was a bolt action rifle from World
War II. Test by the Warren Commission experts establishes a minimum refiring
time of 2.3 seconds.
The only solution - the one adopted by the Warren Commission - was
the Single ("Magic") Bullet Theory, that one shot must have been responsible
for the wounds to both men.
In this theory, a bullet hit Kennedy in the back, came out of his
neck, changed direction, hit Connally in the right armpit, blew out a 5 inch
section of rib upon exiting, went through his right wrist from back to front,
breaking it into several pieces and pierced his left thigh.
Three of the Warren Commission did not believe it. The
medical panel of the 1978 House Assassinations Committee said:
"The medical evidence alone does not provide the panel
with sufficient information to state with absolute certainty that the bullet
that struck Governor Connally was the same one which had previously struck
President Kennedy. The problems with this theory:
- the experienced trauma room surgeon, who first examined the
President at Parkland Hospital in Dallas minutes after the shooting,
interpreted the front wound as an entrance wound.
Dr. Kemp Clark, who
pronounced Kennedy dead, was quoted in the November 27 New York Times as
saying that one bullet struck Kennedy " about the necktie knot. It ranged
downward in his chest and didn't exit."
- Kennedy and Connally's wounds do not line up. The bullet holes
in the back of Kennedy's jacket and shirt are five and three quarter inches
below the collar and slightly to the right of the spine.
But the front neck wound is several inches higher in his body,
at the area of the knot in his tie. If the back and throat wounds are connected
as entrance and exit and JFK was sitting erect (as his back brace required)
then the bullet must have coursed slightly upwards through his body and exited
on an upwards slant and in a right to left direction.
Such a trajectory would have carried the bullet up and out the
car to the left, away from Connally, who (from the perspective of the Book
Depository sniper) was positioned somewhat to JFK's right. In fact the entrance
wound in Connally's right armpit was several inches lower and to the right of
JFK's neck wound.
A bullet can change its trajectory after it hits flesh but the
deflection required to connect the path of JFK's back wound with that of
Connally's is highly unlikely - especially since the distance between the two
men was only 28 inches.
- the single magic bullet (known as CE - for Commission Exhibit -
399) is alleged to have wounded both the President and the Governor, yet
emerged in a nearly pristine condition. It was slightly compressed at its base
but otherwise undeformed. It was less than three grains from its original 161
grain weight and showed none of the severe distortion expected of a bullet
fired through bone.
There was far too much lead in Connally's body for the bullet
to emerge "nearly whole." Audrey Bell, head nurse in the trauma room where
Connally was treated, said that she was given four or five fragments from
Connally's right wrist and turned them over to the FBI.
Charles Harbinson, a Texas State Highway patrolman, also
turned over to the FBI three additonal bullet fragments that fell from
Connally's leg when he helped move Connally to another room, three or four days
after the shooting. Neither was interviewed by the Warren Commission.
If these seven or eight fragments were deposited by a single
bullet that passed through Connally's body then CE 399 could not have been this
bullet and the single bullet theory collapses.
- John Connally himself testified against the single bullet
theory. He is supported in details by his wife Nellie, who sat on his left.
"one bullet caused the President's first wound and
that an entirely separate shot struck me"
- how could Connally hold his rather heavy Stetson in his right
hand after the bullet had already smashed his right wrist?
If different bullets hit JFK and Connally, and Oswald could not
have fired again so quickly using a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, then there must
have been at least one other shooter.
Where might have he been
61 of the 178 witnesses in Dealey Plaza believed that at
least one of the shots came from the front, including in the motorcade:
- David F. Powers, a top JFK aide, both in a car behind the
- Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels, in a car in front of the
- Police Officer B. J. Martin
- Police Officer Bobby W. Hargis, both riding police motorbikes
- Secret Service Agent Paul Landis
and near the grassy knoll or the overpass:
- Sam Holland, a railrod signal supervisor, on the overpass
- Luke Winborn, on the overpass
- Lee Bowers, another railroad worker, in the signal tower
- Gordon Arnold, a 22 year old soldier
- William Newman, a Korean War combat veteran
With thanks to "Who killed JFK?" by C Oglesby