American Opinion Magazine October 1975. Review by the editor Professor Medford Evans.
Murder From Within by Fred T. Newcomb – Review by Dale Thorn
Having read Newcomb’s material and seen the ‘Z’ film a thousand times, I proposed to many people “What is the percentage possibility of a near-perfect optical illusion of the driver shooting JFK occurring at the exact moment of the head shot on the most unique film in history?” There in that question lies the essential proof and the clue to how the film was altered to create the illusion, rather than perform a more obvious alteration on the film that would attract suspicion.
Since my question is so provocative, I have to explain how this came about before I get into the book itself. Like most kids at the time, Kennedy’s murder was a shock and a sudden wakeup call to the real world of power politics. That became more apparent with the live broadcast of Oswald’s murder by a mobster two days later. I somehow missed Newcomb’s original work and most of the Senate hearings on these and related matters in the mid-1970’s, but when Oliver Stone’s movie JFK came out in 1991, I was back on the case so to speak.
There was a flood of new books after the JFK film and I read most of them, again, not being aware of Newcomb’s research. However, one particularly interesting individual came along in the 1990’s claiming that the driver of Kennedy’s limousine shot the President with a gun, and offered an “enhanced” copy of the Zapruder film to prove his case. Unfortunately and for whatever reasons, reputable JFK researchers rebuked this claim and the altered Zapruder film used to promote it.
I was aware of that claim in the 1990’s since I caught many of the shortwave broadcasts that promoted it, but like those other researchers I avoided looking into it for what I thought were obvious reasons, i.e. how could the driver turn around and shoot the President of the U.S. in broad daylight with hundreds of people looking on and photos and movies being taken, and nobody notice?
Fast forward to 2010 and I discovered Newcomb’s book (out of print) on the Internet, raising the same issue of the driver shooting Kennedy, but this time suggesting that you don’t need a special copy of the Zapruder film to see what happened. So I contacted Newcomb’s son Tyler who worked to get the book republished, and got some preliminary information from him. I also ordered a copy of the Zapruder film DVD edition, with beautifully restored copies of the film in digital format, the only alterations being that the DVD also contains image-stabilized copies of the film with the original film, to make it easier to view the persons in the limousine as it moves along the street. This is the best available copy of the film, and is produced and distributed by Zapruder’s heirs.
I knew by this time that people were able to “see” the driver shooting the President in the Z-film, so I tried looking for that myself, playing the stabilized film over and over and then just the shooting segment over and over again, from different viewing angles, on different sized screens and so on. Eventually I did see the optical illusion that was described in those shortwave broadcasts in the 1990’s (which is where I first heard about it). And the optical illusion as I “knew” it to be was dramatic! I can’t adequately describe what it felt like to see a perfect illusion of the President’s driver turning around twice as his President was being shot at, and delivering the fatal shot himself.
Quite naturally I couldn’t believe that this was anything except an optical illusion, since looking at the film “normally” I could clearly see the sun’s reflections streaming across the window’s chrome strip and the agent’s head as the limousine moved along the street. But what started nagging me about this was the incredible timing and drama of that illusion. So I began asking people, in person and on Internet forums, the question I started out with here. Then I dug into Newcomb’s material a little deeper and checked some references on film alterations, and was surprised by what I learned about editing tiny 8mm
films in 1963.
I had always assumed that alterations had to be done to the tiny negatives with small jeweler’s tools and so on, to be convincing. And so the difficulty in getting that done in a short period of time would be insurmountable. But I was completely missing the state of the art of film editing in 1963. These alterations were done with big machinery working with large images projected from the tiny film, and then recorded back to an identical blank filmstrip. I do similar things myself with still photos, greatly enlarging an original so that I can make very fine changes, especially to eyes which are very sensitive to alterations. I can even make changes in some critical situations one pixel at a time when necessary. Then I shrink the large work copy back to normal size and the alterations are not obvious at that viewing level.
Film editing was so sophisticated in 1963 that they could take the background from a film like Zapruder’s, i.e. the people watching the limousine roll by and the grassy areas and objects around them, and shrink or enlarge that background and seamlessly merge it with the foreground so that nobody could tell that any alteration was made. And so, if the driver did shoot the President with a pistol when he turned around the second(!) time in just a couple of seconds, changing that arm with pistol into reflections would actually be a fairly simple task, requiring no more than a couple of hours to perfect.
CHAPTERS 1 to 3:
Newcomb begins by making the point that it was the Secret Service who had ultimate control over the process, both prior to the assassination and afterward. The Secret Service set up the parade route, organized the motorcade, and provided the direct security for the President. During the assassination the Secret Service braked the President’s limousine to a halt while shots were fired at him, they controlled all evidence on the way to and at the hospital, and when the President was declared dead they took custody of the body and all known evidence. One of the most unusual things the Secret Service did was put the press corps at the back of the motorcade instead of next to the President’s car, which is the normal position the press would occupy in order to record the interactions between Kennedy and the crowds that lined the parade route.
When Kennedy’s body was flown back to Washington for the autopsy, the Secret Service (and notably the driver of the President’s car himself) maintained complete control the entire time. Once this process was complete, one man had supreme authority to control matters after that, including all investigations. That man was Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson, who in criminal law would be considered the chief suspect in the murder.
According to Newcomb, the first shot was a decoy shot fired from VP Johnson’s car by a Secret Service agent riding in the back seat. Immediately after that shot the driver of the President’s car fired at Kennedy, hitting him in the throat. When Governor Connally realized what had happened he turned around to Kennedy and said that they were all going to be killed. At that point the driver fired at Connally, hitting him in the back. A few seconds later the driver fired the fatal shot into Kennedy’s head.
Numerous witnesses including police officers (and this is actual testimony in Warren Commission records) smelled gunpowder in and around the President’s limousine. Many witnesses testified that they heard what sounded like gunshots or firecrackers in and around Kennedy’s car. Some of those witnesses stated that they saw what looked like a firecracker going off inside the car. The testimony of one officer who smelled gunpowder next to the President’s limousine was very explicit – there was no ambiguity in what he said.
CHAPTERS 4 to 6:
In most of the books I’ve read about the assassination, the CIA and FBI are featured prominently as the guardians of the evidence, if not collaborators in the killing itself. The Secret Service has been relegated to a minor role in all of these matters, or at best “gee whiz” observers of the assassination and bodyguards of the corpse from Parkland Hospital back to Washington DC.
Despite those popular perceptions, I didn’t have to get very far into this book before I realized something that should have been obvious to everyone who has studied the assassination – the Secret Service carried guns and had complete control of the motorcade and the President, they took control of the hospital and closely monitored the medical procedures, then they seized Kennedy’s body at gunpoint over the objections of the Texas authorities at the hospital and flew it back to Washington DC.
Newcomb makes a detailed analysis of the Zapruder film, notes the many splices and gaps where frames have been deleted, and where colors are inconsistent from frame to frame indicating where segments from different generations of the film have been merged into what passes for a complete copy. Debunkers of the various conspiracy theories have made much of the shower of red blood shown in frame 313 with the head shot in order to prove that the shot came from behind, but at least a couple other films showing that scene do not have any such explosion of blood in their frames.
At Parkland Hospital, the resident doctors noted things that were not slated to become part of the official story, such as the entrance wound in Kennedy’s neck and a bullet entrance somewhere in the front part of the head where the bullet went through the brain and took out a large part of the right rear of the skull. That bullet also took out a major part of the cerebellum, which precluded any large neuromuscular reaction that some debunkers have offered to explain Kennedy’s upper torso being slammed back into the seat following the head shot.
According to Newcomb, the autopsy in Washington DC would have to be concerned with two problems: One, how to produce an autopsy report consistent with an assassin firing shots from a building behind the limousine, and two, making the autopsy credible enough to refute the statements of the several Parkland doctors who worked on the President there. Working from bits and pieces of evidence and some conjecture, David Lifton hit upon the body alteration scheme, and Newcomb incorporated that into his research.
Review note: I was aware from prior reading where the FBI reported from the autopsy room that when the President’s body was unwrapped for the autopsy, there was prior surgery performed on Kennedy’s head. The FBI agents were not reporting about some old scar from college football practice, they were noting an obvious removal of the top of the skull prior to the autopsy, probably to remove bullet fragments that would point somewhere besides the erstwhile sniper in the building.
Of all the bizarre and unexplainable things that debunkers have to explain in the JFK case, the autopsy (which should be cut and dried) is one more thing they have to suffer with. The chief autopsy surgeon, and possibly the other attending surgeons, did not have experience in performing autopsies. The Piece de Resistance for these surgeons was to have the chief surgeon burn his autopsy notes at home that night, and then recreate them purely from memory the next day.
CHAPTERS 7 to 9:
A short note on debunking technique: Newcomb notes (as have others) that Oswald was reported to be drinking a “coke” when encountered by a police officer on the second floor of the Depository building seconds after the shooting. In my own short debate with a well-known debunker, that person mentioned that Oswald was known to prefer beverages other than “coke” and thus the report of his appearance with a coke should be held suspect. Had I not lived in the Deep South for the four years prior to my debate, I would not have understood the significance of this. Suffice it to say that in the old South, and even as late
as 1990, “going to get a coke” had the exact same meaning as “going to get a soda” would have in New York or Philadelphia. It’s not about Coca-Cola necessarily.
My take on Oswald’s involvement is that he was certainly an agent of the U.S. at some level – to enter the U.S.S.R. and return with a beautiful wife who was closely related to an important KGB officer, with no condemnation or imprisonment by the U.S. government is confirmation enough, but when you consider Francis Gary Powers’ pointing to Oswald as the radar expert (trained by the U.S. Marines at the very base in Japan where the U2 flights originated over the U.S.S.R.) who was most likely involved in helping the Soviets to bring the U2 down on May 1, 1960 (ironically the most important day of the yearly Soviet calendar), and Oswald was not only not rendered and tortured on that account but was actually passed along on his pro-Communist agenda in the U.S. with government assistance, it becomes a mind-boggling exercise to suspend one’s disbelief and give even a moment’s credence to the government’s official
Other evidence against Oswald is not only not credible, it’s laughable, and not in a good way. Didn’t any of the investigators past or present note that revolvers don’t eject their empty cartridges like semi-automatic handguns do? So when the empty cartridges were found next to Officer Tippit’s body, didn’t anyone become suspicious of that, or of the backyard photo with “Oswald” holding pro-Stalin and pro-Trotsky papers at the same time? Hmmmmm.
Newcomb wraps up his book by noting certain Constitutional issues relating to succession of the Vice-President to the top job, as well as the President’s authority to instigate and/or conduct a war. First, I would suggest that the new President has to be held to be the chief suspect in the assassination of his predecessor, on long established police investigative procedure that goes back hundreds if not thousands of years. Not holding the new President suspect is bad enough, but then allowing him to control all official investigations is ludicrous.
Then we come to the Warren Commission. There we have an egregious violation of a principle that underlies the Constitution itself – the separation and balance of powers, in which the head of the Supreme Court is coerced into reporting to the President on the murder of the President’s predecessor. Once Warren got his hands dirty there (if you ignore his and Hoover’s dalliances with organized crime at those country clubs in California and elsewhere), it would have been impossible to rat out the President on a suspicion of murder.
I noted above under the “CHAPTERS 1 to 3” heading how the Secret Service had complete control over the entire process from the beginnings of the motorcade to the completion of the autopsy and disposal of all of the physical evidence. For the past 30 years or so the prevailing view of the assassination has been that the CIA and other powerful partners carried out the murder, protecting themselves mainly on the premise that the government could not allow the public to know how widespread the cooperation had been between these agencies and organized crime (who also allegedly participated in the shooting), or worse,
how these agencies on behalf of the Chief Executive have brokered a wealth of U.S. assets to foreign agents to secure favors for themselves and their “crime families”, as many researchers and authors of the past couple decades have taken to describing these new Barons of the American establishment.
So comes the oft-repeated questions: Who did it, why did they do it, and what does it matter now?
Who: I believe that the assassination was planned and green-lighted by the nation’s senior management, which may sound like an odd phrasing, but I think it’s appropriate. The same persons who had the power to imprison free people for protesting U.S. involvement in World War One. The same persons who had the power to imprison Americans of Japanese ethnicity in the World War Two era. The same persons who had the power to invade Iraq and lynch its President, Texas-style. The same persons who had the power to render and torture anyone they wanted to on the often-false premise of being an accessory to terrorism.
‘Who’ would not include the new President as a top-level “decider” unless the new President were already a member of that elite circle, but it would have to include the new President and his security people as key conspirators who control the evidence and subsequent investigations.
Why: Although the so-called Mob does not generally shoot people with rifles, and of course given the ironic necessity for the Secret Service to complete the job in Dealey Plaza with handguns (the alleged riflemen apparently having failed to kill Kennedy with absolute certainty), still I believe that the assassination was a show of force, much as organized crime would do if they were double-crossed or ratted out by a former associate. To me, the most important motives for killing Kennedy would always be centered around money and various money agreements, whether acknowledged or assumed. Exactly how Kennedy was seen to have double-crossed his erstwhile partners or superiors I will leave for someone else to ponder.
What does it matter now: Personally, I think Kennedy could have been bumped off a hundred different ways, most of them far less risky than the show in Dealey Plaza. And so the Sources and Methods (to borrow a phrase) used in Dallas are a key component of why it matters now. With the new President’s subversion of the Separation of Powers principle plus his nearly complete control of all evidence and investigations, the threat of excessive shifting of power to the Executive branch was realized to a great extent at that time.
And then there is the question of how much deeper into their relationship with organized crime our government has sunk. That question is always important and always a current concern, whether we’re talking about large gangs dealing in drugs and other contraband and killing anyone who gets in their way, whether it’s the CIA and their alleged Mob partners killing foreign competitors or political opponents, or whether it’s just the corruption of our police and security agencies when they associate with criminals and Potential Criminal Informants, as Jack Ruby and other FBI assets have been described in research documents.
Lyndon Johnson’s Plot Against President Kennedy
The Crime Scene
In any homicide case yellow tape surrounds the area of the murder for investigators to gather all prime forensic evidence. The body(ies), blood spatter, clothing, murder weaponry and any powder residue or spent shells are gathered and initialed by anyone handling the evidence etc. etc. The crime scene in this case was immediately destroyed as evidence. First, The Secret Service had blood spatter on the trunk and back seat of the Limo wiped off indicating an exit wound from the back of the head and a shot from the front. Then windshield was swapped out to cover up a fresh through and through bullet hole seen by 3 Dallas Police Offices and a nurse and reporter at Parkland Hospital. Finally, the new President ordered the Limo completely rebuilt on the interior and bullet proofed on the exterior. Any gun powder residue found by the FBI would have exonerated Oswald and implicated the 2 Secret Service Agents in the front seat. But all that was destroyed on orders from the sole beneficiary of the murder (who should have been suspect number one in any murder case typically), Lyndon B. Johnson.
In the Assassination of President Kennedy a totally unique and bizarre situation happened that left local Dallas investigators scrambling and demanding the evidence stay there per Texas Law. There was a struggle, guns were drawn and the body was snatched away from the Coroner Dr. Earl Rose who was left screaming in the halls of Parkland Hospital “You can’t take the body there has to be an autopsy first!!”
They, (meaning the Secret Service agents who killed the President according to this book), left in a hurry and took off in Air Force One along with the Limo in a C-130 cargo plane. 10 minutes later the Dallas Crime Lab arrived but was too late to gather evidence from the real crime scene the Presidential Limo itself. Dealey Plaza was NOT the crime scene. It was merely a conduit for the real crime scene the Limo which also conveniently served as the “get away vehicle” for the real killers.
All they left behind was a planted rifle 3 spent shells and the intense smell of gun powder both in the street and coming from the car. The gunpowder smell is much better evidence for the source of the shots than eye witness or ear witness which was reported all over Dealey Plaza. No gunpowder smell was reported by the police who stormed the 6th floor where the alleged “patsy” Lee Harvey Oswald had fired the rifle linked to him by a Post Office ship to address receipt. No finger prints were found on the rifle for 3 days. Finally a latent palm print was found when the rifle was disassembled on the underside of the barrel. This was in the crime lab for Dallas. Next door to that lab was the morgue where the “patsy” lay dead who was seen with black ink on his left palm. Get it?