Assanation  fo JFK The State of the Evidence, The Evidence of the State  by Edward Jay Epstein

Evidence, by its very nature, can be controverted. If it could not be, it would not be evidence but an act of faith. Any document can be a forgery, any witness can give false testimony, and any object can be either fabricated or misidentified. Nevertheless, some evidence is better than other evidence. And when the best evidence is examined, tested and placed in the proper context, it provides the best way we have to establish the facts.

In the case of the assassination of President Kennedy, the central facts have been investigated and re-investigated for nearly three decades. The evidence-testers have included the FBI, the Treasury Department, the Warren Commission, the Rockefeller Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassination, the Department of Justice, independent coroners and forensic experts, and assassination researchers. Consider, for example, the much disputed autopsy findings of President Kennedy. Although the autopsy examination itself was badly handled by the Navy, and insufficiently probed by the Warren Commission, many of the problems were resolved the re-examination of the X-rays and photographs of the President's body by the panel of nine independent pathologists (including one Warren Commission critic) appointed by the House Select Committee. These findings, not those in the Warren Commission (or my criticisms of the original process in Inquest) constitute the best evidence.Since as imperfect as the process has been, it has resulted in filling in much of the reality of what happened on November 22nd, 1963. I believe that the seven following questions now can be answered-- or at least narrowed down to finite possibilities.1. Where did the bullets come from that hit President Kennedy and Governor Connally?The best available evidence on the nature of the discernible wounds inflicted on Kennedy is, first, the photographs and X-Rays of the President taken during the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital and, second, the fibers of the President's clothing.Although the photographs and X-Rays were not examined by the Warren Commission or its staff, leading to considerable doubt as to the validity of the Commission's conclusions, they were subsequently examined ,first, by a panel of three pathologists and a radiologist appointed by Attorney General Ramsey Clark in 1981, and then more thoroughly in 1976 by the nine man panel appointed by the House Select Committee. The members of this latter panel had between them experience in performing over 100,000 autopsies. The House Select Committee, moreover, established the authenticity of these photographs by having forensic dentists compare them with Kennedy's pre-mortem dental records and medical X-rays.All these pathologists agreed, without any dissent, that all the detectable wounds in the photographs and X-rays of President Kennedy had been caused by bullets fired from behind and above him, confirming the conclusions of the doctors who had performed the autopsy itself as well as those of the FBI and the Warren Commission. They also agreed unanimously from a reconstruction of the medical evidence that Governor Connally's multiple wounds had been caused by a bullet fired from the same direction. The path of the first bullet to hit the President was further established by the President's shirt and jacket fibers. The FBI analysis, as well as the re-analysis, showed that they were pushed inward, not outward, by the projectile which could only have happened if the President was shot from behind.The path of the bullet that hit Governor Connally was also confirmed by Governor Connally's testimony that he was certain he was hit from behind.The panel also unanimously concluded from the X-Rays that the fatal bullet had entered the rear of the President's head near the cowlick area and exited from the right front. None of the nine pathologist, including Warren Commission critic Dr. Cyril Wecht, were able to find any medical evidence that this massive wound was caused by a bullet fired from in front or side of the President's car. To be sure, a frame-by-frame analysis of the film of the assassination made by Abraham Zapruder shows President Kennedy's head at the time of impact moving backwards, not forward as might be expected. But this is not the evidence it seems to be because, depending on the neurological reactions to such a wound, the head can snap in any direction after being shot. Wound ballistic experts demonstrated this counterintuitive point to the House Select Committee through a filmed experiment that clearly showed that, when hit with a rifle bullet from the rear, the head could move either backward or forward. So there is not necessarily a relationship between the direction that the head moves and the direction from which the bullet strikes the head.By tracing the trajectory of the bullets from the path of the wounds, an analyst from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration was able to plot all three shots to their source the upper floors of the southeast face of the Texas Book Depository. This was the same building that five witnesses --Howard Brennan, Amos Lee Euins, Carolyn Walther, Arnold Rowland and Barbara Rowland-- claimed to have seen a rifle protruding from a South-eastern window at about the time of the assassination (Brennan told police he actually saw the rifle being fired and reloaded before the suspect was apprehended). While it is possible that numerous other shots may have been fired from other locations and directions and missed their target, we know from the best evidence, the autopsy photographs, that the shots that caused all the discernible wounds came from the a high window on the south eastern side of the Texas Book Depository.2. Did the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found by police on the sixth floor of the Texas Depository fire these shots?The best evidence for identifying the assassination weapon is the two bullet fragments found in the President's car and the nearly whole bullet found in a stretcher in Parkland Hospital in Dallas. In 1964, FBI experts ballistically matched this bullet and fragments to the rifle barrel of the Mannlicher-Carcano by microscopically comparing of the markings in the barrel with those found on the bullet and fragments. A firearms panel of independent experts appointed by the House Select Committee re-examined this evidence in 1977 and re-confirmed that the bullet and fragments had come from that Mannlicher Carcano rifle.In addition, the House Select Committee employed a very advanced form of neutron activation analysis to match the recovered bullet and fragments to the ammunition used in the Mannlicher Carcano. In this technique, traces from the ballistic evidence are bombarded by neutrons in a nuclear reactor so that the precise composition of elements-- antimony, silver, and copper-- can be measured by their emissions on a gamma-ray spectrometer to an accuracy of one-billionth of a gram. The composition of traces from the bullet and fragments were thus compared to that of the unfired bullet found in the chamber of the Mannlicher-Carcano and found to exactly match. This analysis convincingly showed that all the ballistic material that was recovered, and could be tested, came from two bullets, and both bullets identically matched in their composition the ammunition for the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.Although questions can be raised about the general accuracy of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found in the depository, there can be no doubt that the particular weapon can be fired with deadly accuracy at a target 100 yards away-- the distance from the depository to the President's car. After the assassination three different FBI agents fired this exact rifle and scored bull's-eyes two out of three times.
Although the suspicion has been raised that the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was "framed" as the murder weapon by a conspirator who planted the nearly-intact bullet on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital, it lacks any reasonable persuasiveness because i) the conspirator would have no certainty that he could recover from the hospital, car, autopsy and crime scene the "real" bullets that presumably would not match the Mannlicher-Carcano; ii) the fragments found in the car and Governor Connally's wrist match the Mannlicher-Carcano ammunition; iii) it would be pointless to frame the Mannlicher-Carcano, which the conspirators would have had to have in their possession anyway to leave at the murder site, since it was a weapon perfectly capable of hitting its target. So why not use it?We thus know that the Mannlicher Carcano found in the depository fired at least two of the shots at the President's motorcade.3. How many snipers fired at the President's motorcade?The best evidence of the sequence of events remains the ten-second long film taken by Zapruder. It fixes the earliest time Kennedy could have been first hit in the back, the latest time Connally was wounded, and the exact moment the President was shot in the head. From an analysis of this film, the Warren Commission staff determined that the interval between the time Kennedy and Connally were first shot was not long enough for a single rifleman to have fired two shots: therefore either both men were hit by the same bullet, or there had to be two riflemen. This conclusion was confirmed by the more sophisticated photographic analysis of the House Select Committee's photographic evidence panel and of independent researchers.Despite the crucial implications of this photographic evidence, the issue of whether Kennedy and Connally were hit by the same or separate bullets has not been satisfactorily resolved. The FBI concluded it was separate shots, the Warren Commission begged the question as "not relevant" and the House Select Committee, which went most thoroughly into this evidence, was unable to reach a definitive conclusion because members of its 9-doctor panel irreconcilably disagreed. Eight doctors believed it was possible, though not necessarily probable. that the bullet recovered had caused both Kennedy's back wound and Connally's, multiple wounds; one doctor, however, Cyril Wecht concluded from the photographic and medical evidence that it was absolutely impossible for those wounds to have been caused by a single bullet. Since Wecht marshals considerable evidence to support his view (as will be recalled from Epilogue I), we are left with two possible scenarios.A. The Single Bullet ScenarioOne rifleman fired three bullets from the Mannlicher Carcano in the depository. The first bullet missed the motorcade entirely and incidentally wounded a bystander, James Teague. The second bullet hit Kennedy and Connally and was recovered from Connally's stretcher. About three seconds later, the rifleman fired a third bullet which killed Kennedy, abandoned his rifle, and fled the depository.B. The Separate Shot ScenarioOne rifleman fired the first shot that hit Kennedy in the back from an unidentified rifle. The bullet exited the car and was not recovered. He then fired a second shot that went astray and nicked bystander Teague. About one second after the first rifleman fired, a second rifleman, using the Mannlicher Carcano, hit Connally; and, with his second shot, hit Kennedy in the head. While the first rifleman left the depository with his rifle and shell casings, the second rifleman left his behind.Both scenarios are consistent with the testimony of eyewitnesses-- one of whom saw a second person near the sniper's windows-- and the fingerprints found on the boxes arranged at the site. So we can conclude that either one or two riflemen participated in the assassination and that the one with the Mannlicher Carcano killed Kennedy.4. Whose Mannlicher-Carcano was it?The best evidence that identifies the ownership of the murder weapon is the handwriting of the person who ordered the rifle under the name "A. Hidell" from a mail order house in Chicago in March 1963 and rented the post office box in Dallas to which it was shipped.It was Lee Harvey Oswald.FBI and Treasury Department experts determined in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald had signed the name "A. Hidell" on both the purchase order for the rifle and the post box application. A half dozen other documents found in his possession, that Oswald used the alias "Hidell". The House Select Committee panel of questioned document experts, after re-examining the signatures, unequivocally agreed. So Oswald had ordered the murder weapon-- and it had been shipped to his post office box from Chicago on March 20,1963.PossessionMarina Oswald confirmed that Oswald had received the rifle in late March, and four other witnesses--George De Mohrenschildt, Jeanne De Mohrenschildt, Alexander Taylor and Gary Taylor-- saw that Oswald had a rifle in either late March or Early April.The best evidence of Oswald's actual possession of the Mannlicher- Carcano, however, is the much disputed photographs of Oswald holding the rifle in his hand that Marina Oswald said she took on Sunday, March 31, 1963 in the backyard of their house in Dallas. Oswald claimed after his arrest that the photograph had been faked by superimposing his head on the rifleman's body but this theory is contradicted by three pieces of evidence established by the House Select Committee. First, De Mohrenschildt produced in 1976 an inscribed copy of the backyard photograph which Oswald had given him in April 1963. The Committee's questioned document panel authenticated the signature-- which meant that Oswald had signed (and dated) the photograph he later claimed was faked. Second, by examining the negative with enhanced analytic techniques, the Committee' panel of photographic experts found a unique random pattern of wear on the rifle in the photograph which corresponded exactly to one on the Mannlicher-Carcano Oswald had purchased. Since the experts agreed this could not be faked, the rifle in the photograph had to be Oswald's. Third, by microscopically examining the scratch marks that Oswald's Imperial Reflex camera distributed on all negatives pulled through it, which are the equivalent of camera fingerprints, the panel established unequivocally that the backyard photographs could only have been taken by Oswald's camera, just as Marina had testified. Moreover, using digital processing analysis and stereo optic viewing techniques that did not exist in 1963, the panel concluded there was no signs of having been faked. Even two experts who had previously disputed the authenticity of the photographs (using copies, rather than the original) now agreed that the photograph was genuine. In light of this evidence, there can be no serious doubt that Oswald possessed the murder weapon at the end of March 1963.
UseMarina Oswald testified to the Warren Commission that when Oswald left their house on April 10,1963, he left her dramatic instructions in Russian about what she should if he were arrested, killed or had to go into hiding, and when he returned late that evening, he explained to her that he had just attempted to kill General Edwin Walker with his rifle. Her testimony is corroborated by three elements of evidence.First, the Russian handwriting in the note has been unequivocally identified as that of Oswald by the questioned documents experts of both the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee. The note, which contains details that date it, confirms that Oswald expected to be killed, arrested or a fugitive the week of April 10th 1963.Second, photographs of Walker's house taken from the position were the sniper fired at Walker were found among Oswald's possessions after the Kennedy assassination. Photographic experts established these photographs were taken with Oswald's imperial reflex camera. By referring to construction work in the background, the FBI was able to determine that the photographs were taken on March 9th or 10th (which was just about the date Oswald ordered the Mannlicher Carcano). Such photographs show that Oswald had reconnoitered Walker's house.Third, the previously-discussed Neutron Activation Analysis done in 1977 exactly matched the metallic elements found in the bullet that was recovered in Walker's home to the batch of Mannlicher-Carcano ammunition used in Oswald's rifle in the assassination of Kennedy.So we know the murder weapon was purchased, delivered and shown off in an inscribed photograph, and used in a prior attempted assassination by Oswald. 5. Was Oswald at the sniper's window on the sixth floor of the depository where the murder weapon was found.The best evidence here is three palm prints (which are as uniquely identifiable as fingerprints) found on the boxes stacked in front of the window to support the rifle and the nearby paper sack which was long enough to accommodate the Mannlicher Carcano. FBI experts matched them to Oswald hands. ( A fourth palm print, found on one box, belonged to an unidentified individual). The House Select Committee's fingerprint panel unanimously confirmed this evidence. Since the "freshness" of palm prints is of limited duration, it was further determined that Oswald had handled those boxes and paper sack either the day of the assassination or the preceding day. Moreover, two witnesses testified he carried the paper sack into the depository that morning. So we know Oswald arranged the boxes used by the sniper and handled the paper sack within 24 hours of the assassination and, if the witnesses are correct, brought the sack to the sniper's window the morning of the assassination.6. Was Oswald framed?Whereas there is no doubt that Oswald's rifle was used to shoot President Kennedy, the possibility exists it was used by another party to frame Oswald. If Oswald was totally innocent, his activities after the assassination would reflect his lack of knowledge and involvement in the event. Instead, the evidence is persuasive that he fled the building after the assassination, changed his clothing, armed himself, fatally shot a policeman resisted arrest by attempting to shoot another policeman, and, after his arrest, lied repeatedly to his interrogators about owning the rifle, appearing in the backyard photograph with the rifle, and using the alias "Hidell" (which he purchased both the rifle and pistol).The best evidence that he shot the policeman, J.D. Tippit, is that the cartridge cases found at the murder scene matched the firing pin of the revolver taken out of Oswald's hand when he was arrested. The FBI determined no all other weapon could have ejected these cartridges-- and these conclusions were reaffirmed by the Select Committee's firearms panel. Oswald admission that he had decided only on the spur of the moment to fetch this weapon effectively rules out the possibility he was framed since no one but Oswald could have known he would be carrying it.In addition, five witnesses identified Oswald from the police line up as either the person who shot Tippit or the person who fled from the scene with a gun in hand. The House Select Committee produced an additional witness who testified he saw Oswald stand over the downed policeman and fire a bullet into his head.His post-arrest actions, especially his mendacity in consistently denying ownership of the rifle to representatives of the FBI, Secret Service, Post Office, and district attorney, further indicate consciousness of guilt about owning the rifle. This would not be consistent with the behavior of a framed and innocent man -- who believed his rifle was still wrapped in a blanket in a friend's garage.While none of this evidence is unimpeachable-- no evidence is-- and none of it proves that Oswald was the only person involved in the shooting of Kennedy, Tippit or General Walker, it convinces me that he was involved in the assassination.The Conspiracy QuestionOne question, perhaps the only one that still matters, cannot be answered by the state's evidence: was Oswald part of a conspiracy? As we have seen, the re-investigations of the assassination have left unresolved the issue of whether or two shooters were involved but, even if they had definitively established, as the Warren Commission attempted to do, that a lone gunman had fired all the shots on November 22nd 1963, it would not logically diminish the possibility that the assassination resulted from a conspiracy.Conspiracies do not necessarily require more than one rifleman to accomplish their purpose. In many cases, such as the highly-sophisticated Rightist conspiracy in France to assassinate President Charles De Gaulle, a single "Jackal" rifleman was employed. One accurate rifleman might be preferable to a conspiracy when it is expected that the intended victim could be protected by his bodyguard immediately after the first shot is fired, because each additional snipers would increase the chances of detection, both before and after the act, but not necessarily increase the probability of success. Moreover, if multiple gunmen are captured (or killed), it would be difficult to divert the investigation away from the conspiracy, whereas a lone gunman, especially if killed himself, can be dismissed as a lone lunatic.The larger issue then is: was Oswald, whether firing alone or in tandem, acting at the behest of others.Oswald was not, to be sure, the sort of well-adjusted individual with whom most people would want to associate. He was wantonly self-destructive (e.g. his suicide attempt in Moscow); militantly hostile towards symbols of authority (e.g. the threat he made to blow up the FBI headquarters in Dallas); contemptuous of legal restraints (e.g. his plan to hijack an airliner to get to Cuba) and homicidal (e.g. his brutal murder of Tippit). As early as 1960, he expressed a cold-blooded willingness to commit political murder in a letter he presciently wrote his brother from Moscow: "What I say now I do not say lightly or unknowingly ... I would kill any American who put a uniform on in defense of the American Government, Any American". The one position that such unrestrained aggression would not exclude a person for employment would be a political assassin.In this context, the bullet Oswald coolly fired at General Walker was, whether he meant it to be or not, an advertisement of his willingness to kill or be killed for a political cause. Less than a week before he went out to assassinate Walker he distributed an inscribed photograph of himself to De Mohrenschildt (and perhaps others). It showed him dressed in black, armed to kill with a rifle and telescopic sight, and holding in his hand the radical newspaper, The Militant. When he went to Mexico to offer himself to the Cubans, he brought with him the tell-tale photographs of Walker's house to establish his bona fides as a revolutionary. Was his have gun, will kill message picked up of any antennae that summer? Just as De Mohrenschildt and Marina learned of his assassination attempt, so may have others in pro-Castro, anti-Castro and other fringe groups he was active with in the summer of 1963 (not to mention the various intelligence and police agencies monitoring his movements).There couldn't be that many potential assassins hanging around the militant peripheries of the Cold War with Oswald's perverse virtues: a convenient defector background, military training, complete disregard for human life, including his own, and possession of a rifle he was more than ready to use. Here was as assassin awaiting a mission. Did anyone pick him up as a shooter-- or, lacking a sponsor but finding an opportunity, did he act alone?


A Primer of Assassination Theories
The whole spectrum of doubt, from the Warren commissioners to Ousman Ba

Esquire, December 1966, pp. 205 ff.



Proponents: A 4-3 majority of the Warren Commission (see chart). And most Commission lawyers, notably Arlen Specter, who developed the theory in March, 1964, and Norman Redlich, who advocated it as the only alternative to a two-assassin theory.

Thesis: The first bullet wounded both Kennedy and Connally. A second bullet hit Kennedy in the head and killed him. Another bullet missed the car entirely and was never found.

Selling Point: This is the only theory that explains the assassination in terms of a single assassin. Why? Because films of the assassination show that a maximum of only 1.8 seconds could have elapsed between the earliest point at which Kennedy was first hit and the latest point at which Connally was first hit. Since the bolt of the murder rifle cannot be operated in less than 2.3 seconds, it could not possibly have been fired twice during the time in which both men were hit. Either both men were hit by the same bullet or there were two assassins.


This precise bullet path is essential to the Commission's theory 
that the first bullet went through Kennedy and then hit
 Connally (Exhibit 385). Any slight difference would 
rule this out and thereby suggest a second assassin.

Drawback No. 1: The single-bullet theory is tenable if and only if the three F.B.I. reports (November 26, December 9 and January 13) are completely wrong on their statements of the autopsy. Why? Because these three reports all state that the first bullet did not go completely through Kennedy and therefore it could not have gone on to hit Connally, who was seated in front of Kennedy.

Retorts: 1. The Incompetent F.B.I. J. Lee Rankin, at the time the Commission’s general counsel, and Norman Redlich, his deputy, have said—after the December 13 F.B.I. Summary Report was published in Inquest—that the “so-called F.B.I. Summary Report” (which the Commission considered of “principal importance”) was “evaluated and discarded” during the inquiry. Redlich further said “the Commission study used the actual (November 26) reports of the F.B.I. investigative agents, not just the summary.” (However, the actual report, just recently found in the National Archives, corroborates the Summary Report.)

2. Time magazine proposes that the F.B.I. was completely wrong on all reports and has long since publicly admitted these errors. (However, the F.B.I. told The Washington Post that its Summary Report was accurate as of when it was prepared, implying the doctors later may have changed their opinion. The F.B.I. declined comment to The New York Times in June, 1966, on the question of whether or not its reports were erroneous. Even to Commission champion Fletcher Knebel, the F.B.I. would only admit that it was possible that their initial reports did not reflect a subsequent decision by the doctors.)

3. The Commission’s Post-Report, reported by Fletcher Knebel, holds that the day after the autopsy, on receiving further information about the throat wound from the Dallas doctors, the autopsy doctors reached the conclusions that the bullet exited from Kennedy’s throat. Aside from the fact that this theory contradicts the version of the autopsy given in The Warren Report, it still leaves unresolved the problem of the bullet wound “below the shoulder” (reported by the F.B.I.), that later apparently moved up to the back of the neck.

Drawback No. 2: Photographs of the President’s shirt and jacket support the F.B.I. report that the first bullet struck Kennedy below the shoulder. If the bullet fired from above did enter below the shoulder it is highly unlikely that it exited through the throat.

Retorts: 1. The Creeping Shirt. Norman Redlich has suggested (after the F.B.I. photographs were published in Inquest) that the President’s shirt somehow rose up a few inches so that the bullet hole in the shirt coincided with a hole in the rear of the neck. Experimentation indicates, however, that raising the shirt over the collar line entails doubling it up, which would produce two holes in the back of the shirt.


Exhibits 59 and 60 indicate that the bullet entered lower than the Commission said it had.

2. Newsweek magazine suggests that Kennedy may have been bent over so far that his shoulder was higher than his throat. But the films of the assassination show that Kennedy was sitting erect, and his back brace, according to the Warren Report “tended to make him sit up straight.”



This photograph of the F.B.I. restaging, which appeared in several editions 
of the Warren Report, not only contradicts the Commission's placement 
of the bullet path but shows that if the bullet entered where the hole in the 
jacket is, and then went on to hit Connally, it would have come out 
Kennedy's chest, not his throat. And Kennedy had no chest wounds

Drawback No. 3: Governor Connally says it is in conceivable that he could have been struck by the same bullet that hit Kennedy. He remembers that after hearing the first shot he turned to his right but could not see the President. He then began to turn to his left, and was hit. His story is corroborated by Mrs. Connally.

Retort: Connally was confused. The Commission brushed aside Governor Connally’s testimony (and his wife’s) by declaring that in view of the circumstances he could hardly be expected to recall clearly what happened.


Proponents: The F.B.I.

Thesis: 1. The first bullet hit Kennedy below the shoulder and penetrated “only a distance of a finger length.” This bullet was “expelled” onto the President’s stretcher when the Dallas doctors applied external heart massage. 2. The second bullet struck Connally. 3. The third bullet entered Kennedy’s head and fragmentized. (The impact of the shot sent a tiny fragment of bone through Kennedy’s throat, causing a small throat wound.) All shots came from the Book Depository.


Exhibit No. 397, the autopsy sketch drawn by Dr. Humes, shows 
a bullet wound lower than the Commission's Exhibit 385 does.

Selling Points: 1. An entry wound below the shoulder would explain the shirt and jacket holes being about six inches below the top of the collar. It would also serve to explain the autopsy sketch showing a wound well below the collar line. And it would explain the Secret Service testimony that it was six inches below the collar.

2. The supposition that the bullet also fell out of Kennedy’s back accounts for the bullet found on the stretcher. (See Planted-Bullet Theory.)

3. The tiny bone fragment accounts for the small throat wound. Also, a bone fragment would explain the absence of metallic traces on the holes in the front of the shirt.

Drawback No. 1: The F.B.I. Theory, by positing that Kennedy and Connally were hit by separate bullets, leads to a two-assassin theory. As one Commission lawyer bluntly put it: “To say that they were hit by separate bullets is synonymous with saying that there were two assassins.”

Drawback No. 2: The Fourth Bullet. Late in the investigation, it was discovered that a bystander, James Tague, had been wounded by one of the shots. The F.B.I. Theory holds that all three shots hit inside the President’s car. Yet it was unlikely that Tague was wounded by any of these shots since he was standing about 260 feet away at the time of the fusillade. This raises the possibility that Tague was wounded by a fragment from a fourth bullet. But only three shells were found in the Book Depository.

Drawback No. 3: If the F.B.I autopsy report is accurate, then the Commission’s autopsy findings had to be purposely falsified. The implications of this are almost too disturbing to imagine. Yet, the fact that the autopsy surgeon, Commander Humes, burned “certain preliminary notes” has given rise to the theory that the “preliminary notes” actually contained the earlier version of the autopsy referred to by the F.B.I. This question is unresolved.

One of the main stimuli for theories that shots came from someplace other than the Book Depository is an amateur eight-millimeter film of the assassination taken by Abraham Zapruder. In ten seconds of color film, virtually the entire sequence of events is recorded. The Zapruder film shows the motorcade proceeding down Elm Street with the President smiling and waving, then suddenly he reaches for his throat, apparently hit. About a second later Connally grimaces with pain and begins toppling over. A few seconds elapse, then a bullet visibly strikes the President’s head. From the film. the Commission judged that the President was first hit between film frame 210 and 225, and the fatal head shot occurred on film frame 313. By determining the shutter speed of the camera (18.3 frames per second), the Commission ascertained: 1) a maximum of 5.6 seconds elapsed from the first to the final shot; and 2) no more than 1.8 seconds elapsed between the time Kennedy and Connally were first hit. This time bind led directly to the Commission’s Single-Bullet Theory (see above). The Zapruder film also led to four other interesting theories.


Proponent: Vincent Salandria, a Philadelphia lawyer.

Using two slide projectors, and superimposing frame 316 over frame 313, Salandria finds that after the fatal head shot, Kennedy’s head moves sharply backward and to the left, a direction inconsistent with shots from the Depository. Salandria extrapolated the trajectory from the direction in which the head moves and concludes that the shot came from behind the picket fence or the arcade on the grassy knoll. Salandria also suspects that, because of the massive devastation, this second wound, unlike the first, may have been caused by a dumdum bullet—which couldn’t have come from Oswald’s rifle.



A group of California theorists has used the Zapruder film to show that the first shot hit Kennedy between film frames 190 and 210. If true, this would be significant because the Commission established that during this interval the line of sight from the sixth-floor window in the Depository was obstructed by the foliage of an oak tree; therefore the shot must have come from elsewhere.

Harold Weisberg also uses the Zapruder film to prove the Early-Hit Theory. Since Zapruder testified that he saw Kennedy hit, and Zapruder’s view was blocked by a traffic sign between film frames 205 and 225 (by which time Kennedy had already been hit), Weisberg concludes that Kennedy was hit before film frame 205.


The fact that film frames 208 through 211 have been deleted from the black-and-white frame-by-frame photographs published by the Warren Commission (Exhibit 885) and from the color slides of the Zapruder film at the National Archives—and the fact that frames 207 and 212 show obvious splice marks—has led a number of theorists to suspect that Kennedy was shot during that interval and that the four missing film frames were suppressed deliberately.

Drawback: Life magazine owns the original film and according to those who have seen it, the film is complete, no frames are missing, and Kennedy does not appear to have been hit in the sequence. The Archive’s frames may just have been damaged innocently.


David Lifton, a U.C.L.A. graduate student, claims that he can detect stress marks coming from the traffic sign starting at frame 212 and continuing until frame 221. He interprets these as shock waves caused by a bullet hitting the sign. This shot, he figures, could not have been the same one that Oswald is supposed to have fired because of the timing. And strangely, right after the assassination the sign was removed.


Proponents: Mark Lane, Thomas Buchanan, Joachim Joesten, et. al.

Thesis: Early statements were made by Dallas doctors suggesting that the throat wound was made by a bullet entering the throat. Since films of the assassination firmly establish that the President’s car was past the Book Depository when he was shot, a bullet entering the throat must have come from a point well in front of the Depository. “In front” was at first interpreted to mean the railroad overpass; however, when the Commission showed that a bullet did not in fact pass through the limousine’s windshield, as was believed by the proponents of this theory, “in front” was then interpreted to mean the grassy knoll. Mark Lane states in his latest version that Kennedy was directly facing the knoll when he was shot in the throat, although none of the films indicates this to be the case.


Selling point: The entry-wound theory explains the Dallas doctors’ early statements and the relatively small diameter of the wound, although the doctors later testified that under certain conditions an exit wound would have the same appearance as an entry wound.

Drawback: The entry-wound theory does not explain what finally happened to the bullet that entered the throat. Since no exit wound was found in the President’s back (and no bullet was in the President’s body), the entry-wound theory depends on the assumption that the autopsy and other evidence was changed.


Proponents: Maurice Schonfeld, U.P.I., Jack Fox, U.P.I., Burt Reinhardt, U.P.I. In the United Press-International film library, a New York hobbyist found an eight-millimeter color film of the assassination made by Orville Nix. One of the frames of the Nix film particularly interested him because it showed an object behind the wall on the grassy knoll. He then employed a film specialist to blow the frame up, and it became clear that the object was in fact a vehicle. On the roof of the vehicle, he discerned a man aiming what appeared to be a rifle at the President’s car. He immediately took his photograph to Dallas and asked eyewitnesses about it.

U.P.I. editors, apparently impressed with the photograph, sent reporter Jack Fox to Dallas to interview witnesses to the assassination.

Lee E. Bowers, Jr. told him that the photograph was “exactly what I saw.” S. M. Holland, who was standing on the overpass and had one of the best views of any eyewitness, told Fox there were four shots: “…the first came from the book building and hit the President. The second came from the same place and hit Governor John Connally….The third shot came from behind the picket fence to the north of Elm Street. There was a puff of smoke under the trees like someone had thrown out a Chinese firecracker and a report entirely different from the one which was fired from the book building…”

According to Holland, the fourth shot came from the Book Depository. When Holland reached the fence he found a station wagon and a sedan. On the bumper of the station wagon there were two muddy marks “as if someone had stood there to look over the fence.” At least seven other witnesses on the overpass saw smoke rising from the same area, and many other witnesses thought the shots came from behind the picket fence. One Dallas policeman, J. M. Smith, even claimed to have “caught the smell of gunpowder” behind the wooden fence.

The Nix-U.P.I. film and partial blowup.


Eyewitness accounts of the assassination are perhaps the most popular source of two-assassin theories—virtually any armchair student of the assassination, given the Report’s twenty-six volumes of testimony, can develop an interesting theory as to where the shots came from. Right after the twenty-six volumes were made public, Harold Feldman, a writer on the psychology of assassins, counted up the various sources of shots reported by 121 eyewitnesses. His tally revealed that 38 gave “no clear opinion,” 32 thought the shots came from the Book Depository, and 51 though the shots came from the grassy knoll area. Largely on the basis of this analysis, Feldman advanced the theory that there were two assassins: one on the grassy knoll and one in the Book Depository.

Drawback: Eyewitness recollections often conflict: which means that somebody has to be wrong.


The following six theories name Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin.


Proponent: The Warren Commission. The Commission did not reach a final conclusion as to why Oswald killed President Kennedy. Instead, it listed five “factors” (which, a Commission lawyer said, read like clichés from a TV soap opera). They were:

  1. hostility to his environment;

  2. failure to establish “meaningful relationships”;

  3. desire for a place in history;

  4. a commitment to Marxism and communism (a “factor” inserted at the insistence of Commissioner Gerald Ford);

  5. a capacity to act decisively without regard to the consequences.

According to this theory, Oswald had no motive; he acted out of blind resentment.


Proponents: Some Commission lawyers and members of the C.I.A.

Since Oswald spent considerable time in a Soviet hospital, a few Commission lawyers entertained the theory that Oswald might have been brainwashed and conditioned as a “sleeper” assassin; then he went haywire (i.e., he was accidentally turned on). The Commission decided to send a letter to the C.I.A. requesting information on the “present status of Soviet ‘mind-conditioning’ techniques.” A few weeks later, a C.I.A. agent replied that this possibility was still “a main school of thought” at the C.I.A. on the assassination, and although such techniques were still in a relatively primitive stage, this form of conditioning could be induced by drugs. The theory, however, was not further developed.


Proponent: Representative Gerald Ford.

Commissioner Gerald Ford, in his book, Portrait of the Assassin, suggests that Oswald was still hedging on the eve of the assassination when he returned home to see his wife, Marina. She spurned him. Oswald then went to the garage. He got his rifle.


Proponent: Marina Oswald.

In her final testimony before the Commission, Marina Oswald advanced her own theory of Lee’s motive. She said she believed her husband was actually trying to shoot Governor John Connally, and missed, and by a horrible accident he killed the President.


Proponent: Dr. Renatus Hartogs, coauthor of The Two Assassins.

Dr. Hartogs, a psychiatrist who evaluated Oswald as a thirteen-year-old boy, has recently advanced a theory explaining the assassination in terms of Oswald’s repressed lust for his mother. Hartogs observes that Oswald slept in his mother’s bed long after he should have had a bed of his own, and suggests that inner guilt feelings may have led him to kill President Kennedy. Dr. Hartogs finds it significant that Oswald shot at both Kennedy and Tippit three times, since the number “three” in psychoanalytic thinking symbolizes the masculine genitals. However, Sylvia Meagher points out in her review of Hartogs’ book that Tippit was shot four times.


Proponent: John J. McCloy.

In a secret colloquium between the Commission and three psychiatrists, Commissioner McCloy advanced the “killer-instinct” theory. He noted that Oswald had killed two men and had attempted to shoot at least three others (Governor Connally, General Walker, and the police officer who tried to arrest him). McCloy reasoned that this indicated a pattern of innate violence. By the time the report was written, however, McCloy’s hypothesis seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

The following four theories are based on the belief that Oswald was innocent, that he was framed for both the Kennedy assassination and murder of officer J. D. Tippit by the real conspirators who planted evidence against him before and after the assassination. The logic of these theories inevitably leads to a high-level conspiracy involving law-enforcement agencies. For example, to believe that Oswald did not kill Tippit, it is necessary to assume: a) shells from Oswald’s revolver were planted at the scene by the real murderers; b) the revolver then was planted on Oswald by the Dallas police (the plot obviously could not have depended on Oswald going home and conveniently fetching his pistol; and c) Oswald’s admission that he had his revolver with him when arrested was fabricated.


Proponent: Mark Lane.

Thesis: A 7.65 caliber German Mauser was found in the Book Depository, and later Oswald’s 6.5 caliber Italian Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was substituted for it. This theory is based on testimony (and an affidavit) indicating that the three Dallas law officers first described the rifle as a Mauser. The problem with this theory is that the bullet fragments found in the President’s car ballistically match Oswald’s Carcano, proving that it was employed in the assassination (no matter where or when it was found).


Proponents: Professor Richard H. Popkin, Professor Josiah Thompson, Sylvia Meagher, Vincent Salandria, Léo Sauvage, Harold Weisberg, Mark Lane and Ray Marcus.

Thesis: A bullet, which the Warren Report states was found on Connally’s stretcher, was fired from Oswald’s rifle sometime prior to the assassination. Then, after the assassination, it was planted on a stretcher in the Dallas hospital where Kennedy and Connally were treated, thereby framing Oswald.

This theory is based on the fact that evidence developed by the Commission precluded both Kennedy’s and Connally’s stretchers as possible sources for the stretcher bullet. The Commission’s autopsy report stated that the bullet exited Kennedy, therefore it could not have come from his stretcher. And Drs. Finck, Humes, and Shaw testified that more fragments were found in Connally’s wrist than were missing from the bullet, thus ruling out Connally’s stretcher as a source for the bullet. Furthermore, in missing tapes of the doctors’ press conference, which was held after the stretcher bullet was found, Dr. Shaw supposedly says that a nearly whole bullet was lodged in Connally’s thigh. The theorists thus deduce that the bullet must have been planted on the stretcher. The fact that no blood or other organic material was found on the bullet reinforces their argument. Professor Thompson further points out that the only bullet similar in appearance to the stretcher bullet was obtained by firing Oswald’s rifle into a long tube of cotton. He believes that this test indicated that the stretcher bullet was probably obtained by firing the bullet into cotton.

The Commission claims this bullet pierced Kennedy's neck and 
Connally's shoulder, ribs, wrist and thigh. Theorists say it's a fake.

The Commission claims this bullet pierced Kennedy’s neck and Connally’s shoulder, ribs, wrist and thigh. Theorists say it’s a fake.


Proponents: Léo Sauvage, Harold Weisberg, Sylvia Meagher, (See also Popkin’s Two-Oswald Theory).

Thesis: Before the assassination, someone impersonating Oswald planted clues that would incriminate Oswald in the assassination. According to this theory, the impersonator made himself conspicuous at a nearby rifle range, brought a gun into a neighborhood gunsmith, cashed large checks, and acted suspiciously. The impersonator probably took part in the assassination.


Who is this man? A C.I.A. report on Lee Harvey Oswald arrived at the F.B.I. field office in Dallas they day of the assassination. It revealed that Oswald had visited the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City on September 27, 1963, and included a photograph taken by a secret C.I.A. camera of the man identified as Oswald leaving the Embassy. After the assassination, a problem developed; the man in the C.I.A. photograph was not Oswald! Oswald’s mother added to the confusion by claiming the man in the photograph was Jack Ruby. (Obviously, it isn’t.) Commission lawyers, attempting to find out if the man in the photograph was associated with Oswald or impersonating him, were never able to identify the mystery man. All the C.I.A. would say was that it was a “mix-up.”


Proponent: Joachim Joesten

Thesis: That the assassination was the work of a conspiracy involving some officers of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. as well as some Army figures and some reactionary oil millionaires. The conspirators used Oswald as a “fall guy, a red herring, to draw attention while the murderers escaped.” The F.B.I. for reasons of its own, completed the frame of Oswald and covered up evidence of the real conspirators.

The next three theories explain how the second assassin escaped from the grassy knoll.


Proponent: Sylvia Meagher.

Dallas policeman J. M. Smith ran to the parking lot behind the grassy knoll immediately after the assassination. He suddenly encountered a stranger and pulled his gun. The stranger identified himself as a Secret Service agent and showed Smith his credentials (although Smith later could not recall his name). Smith’s account is corroborated to some degree by two other law officers—Deputy Constable Weitzman and Sergeant Harkness.

Sylvia Meagher, an independent researcher, made a meticulous check of Secret Service records and found that no Secret Service agent was on or near the knoll area at the time that Smith encountered the “agent.” Mrs. Meagher suggests that the assassin may have escaped by using fake Secret Service credentials.


Proponents: S. M. Holland, Richard H. Popkin.

Soon after the shots were fired, S. M. Holland rushed to the picket fence behind the knoll (where he thought he saw smoke) and found a station wagon and a sedan parked near the fence (see Over the Fence Theory). Muddy footprints led from the bumper of the station wagon to the sedan and then mysteriously ended. Holland said: “I’ve often wondered if a man could have climbed into the trunk of that car and pulled the lid shut on himself, then someone else have driven it away later.” Other theorists, like Professor Popkin, have thought it more likely that the knoll assassin simply hid the rifle in the car, then fled on foot.


Proponent: Lillian Castellano.

Mrs. Castellano, a California accountant, located what appeared to be a storm drain in a photograph of the grassy knoll taken at the time of the assassination. However, it could not be located in later photographs of the grassy knoll. Through a contact in Dallas, Mrs. Castellano obtained a chart of the sewer and drainage system surrounding the grassy knoll. Apparently, the drain was filled in after the assassination. Mrs. Castellano suspected that it could have been part of an escape system.


According to Secret Service report 767, Alonzo Hudkins, a Houston reporter, told the Secret Service that he had heard from Chief Allan Sweatt of the Dallas sheriff’s office that Lee Harvey Oswald “was being paid two hundred dollars per month by the F.B.I. in connection with their subversive investigation” and that “Oswald had informant number S-172.” The Commission never called Hudkins or Sweatt to testify.

There are a number of other interesting circumstances surrounding Oswald’s possible relationship with the F.B.I.

  1. Warren De Brueys, an F.B.I. agent who covered both the New Orleans and Dallas beat, asked Carlos Bringuier to furnish the F.B.I. information about the activities of his Anti-Castro group. When Bringuier refused, De Brueys threatened to send an under-cover agent to infiltrate the group.
    Later, Lee Harvey Oswald came to New Orleans from Dallas and tried to infiltrate Bringuier’s group by pretending he was an Anti-Castroite. Bringuier, at first, did not think this was a coincidence.

  2. When Oswald was arrested for fighting with Bringuier, he asked to see an F.B.I. agent. An F.B.I. agent visited him in jail and questioned him about the activities of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

  3. Oswald’s address book contained the address and license plate number of Dallas F.B.I. agent James Hosty. It was later deleted from the police list of Oswald’s addresses.

Drawback: J. Edgar Hoover categorically denied that Oswald had any connection with the F.B.I. and offered the F.B.I.’s file on Oswald to the Commission. (The Chief Justice refused it, however, on the grounds that it might contain secret information.)


Proponents: Mrs. Marguerite Oswald and Norman Mailer.

Mrs. Oswald suggested long before the assassination, and is still of the belief, that her son was a C.I.A. agent. His trip to Russia was a C.I.A. mission, and so were his later activities. If Oswald was involved in the assassination, Mrs. Oswald suggests, “Now it could have been that my son and the Secret Service were all involved in a mercy killing,” explaining, “If he [Kennedy] was dying of an incurable disease, this would be for the security of our country.”

Norman Mailer, on the other hand, believes that it is quite possible Oswald was an undercover agent for not one, but a number of espionage services (who “tend to collect the same particular small agents in common”).

Mailer wrote in Book Week: “It was all but a comedy of the most horrible sort, but when Kennedy was assassinated, the espionage services of half the world may have discovered in the next hour that one little fellow in Dallas was…a secret, useless little undercover agent who was on their private lists; what nightmares must have ensued.” Oswald was then liquidated by one of his employer-agencies. According to Mailer’s scenario, we hear an Ivy League voice cry out in some unknown council-of-war room: “Well, can’t something be done, can’t we do something about this man?”, and a little later a phone call made and another, and finally a voice saying to our friend Ruby, “Jack, I got good news. There’s a little job…”


Proponent: Richard H. Popkin.

Thesis: Professor Popkin (Chairman, Philosophy Department, University of California at San Diego) has advanced a rather ingenious theory to explain certain discrepancies in the Commission’s findings. Certain witnesses claim to have encountered Oswald prior to November 22 in places where he could not possibly have been. To explain these anomalies, Popkin suggests that there were actually “two Oswalds”; the second “Oswald” closely resembled the real Oswald. The real Oswald’s role was to be a decoy—that is, he would lead the police astray by becoming the prime suspect. The escape of the second Oswald, who actually fired the shots from the Depository, was thus facilitated. When Oswald’s trial came up, he would undoubtedly produce a surprise alibi, and the evidence would be so confused by the second Oswald’s pre-assassination maneuvers that the Oswald-on-trial would be acquitted. What went wrong, however—and here the theory becomes a mite complicated—was that the real Oswald met Officer Tippit, who knew the second Oswald, and waved him down. In the ensuing confusion, Oswald panicked and shot Tippit.

This theory differs from the Oswald Impersonator Theory in one important way: here, the real Oswald is guilty.

Drawback: The sightings of this “second Oswald” all occurred before it was even known that Kennedy would be coming to Dallas. Thus it seems unlikely that a carefully deceptive plot cold have been underway.

Retort: Oswald and his double were only one of many pairs of assassins being set up all over the country on a contingency basis, should the opportunity for action arise.


Proponents: Penn Jones Jr. and Mark Lane.

Penn Jones, the editor of the Midlothian, Texas, Mirror, notes that a number of key witnesses have died under “clouded circumstances” since the assassination and he suggests the theory that people who know too much about the assassination are being silenced.

For example, Jones cites a meeting at Ruby’s apartment at which two newspaper reporters, Bill Hunter and Jim Koethe, were present. Bill Hunter was later killed by the “accidental discharge” of a policeman’s revolver in a police station in Long Beach, California. Jim Koethe was killed by a “karate chop” in his Dallas apartment. The murder is still unsolved. Ruby’s lawyer, Tom Howard, also attended the meeting. He later died of a “heart attack” (Jones notes “no autopsy was performed”). Jones suggests that some important information was divulged at the meeting, and those who heard the information had to be disposed of.

Moreover, Jones’s paper has maintained a death-count on other relevant individuals.

  1. Hank Killam, whose wife was a waitress at Ruby’s nightclub and whose friend lived in Oswald’s rooming house, was found on a Florida street with his throat cut.

  2. Dorothy Kilgallen, the only journalist who was granted a private interview with Ruby, died. Jones points out (erroneously) that her death occurred on the night of the “strange” Northeast Power Blackout. (Jones missed the connection that the announcer of What’s My Line, John Daly, is the Chief Justice’s son-in-law.)

  3. William Whaley, the cabdriver who took Oswald home after the assassination and possibly talked to him, died in a car crash—the first cabdriver to be killed on duty in Dallas since 1937.

  4. Karen Bennett Carlin, another performer at Ruby’s club and the last person to talk to Ruby before he shot Oswald, died of gunshot wounds in Houston, according to Penn Jones. This seems quite strange since she testified to a Commission lawyer after the reported date of her death.

  5. Earlene Roberts, the housekeeper at Oswald’s rooming house who claimed she saw a police car stop in front of the house about ten minutes before Oswald encountered Tippit, also died.

Mark Lane adds the case of Warren Reynolds, a witness to the Tippit shooting, who was shot through the head (but survived); Nancy Money, a former stripper in Ruby’s nightclub who also provided an alibi for the man accused of shooting Reynolds, hanged herself in the Dallas jail; and Lee E. Bowers, Jr., a bystander who saw a car making a getaway from the grassy knoll, was killed in a car accident to which there were no witnesses.


Proponents: Léo Sauvage, Hans Habe (author of The Wounded Land).

Sauvage, an American correspondent for Figaro, suggests the theory that Kennedy could have been killed by a conspiracy of Southern racists to prevent him from carrying out his civil-rights program. To turn blame away from themselves and onto Leftists, they methodically framed Oswald (by impersonating him and by planting evidence against him). Oswald’s murder, however, was not part of the racist conspiracy, but a separate plot instigated by the Dallas police to prevent a trial in which he might be acquitted of the crime


Proponents: Izvestia, Trud, Joachim Joesten, Barbara Garson, Don B. Reynolds, Jack Ruby and others.

Thesis: Although not one shred of hard evidence has been uncovered to prove them right, many people have taken the “Who benefited?” line of pursuit and point an accusing finger at Lyndon Johnson.

The Soviet Government newspaper Izvestia, after condemning The Warren Report as slanderous to Russia, hinted by sly innuendo that President Johnson may have been implicated in the assassination. They cite the soon-to-be published works of Joachim Joesten (seven volumes to be sold by subscription for $200) which argues that Johnson has been covering up. The next day, Trud, the trade-union paper, made the accusations more forcefully.

Californian Barbara Garson has written a satire, based on Macbeth, called Macbird in which L.B.J. and Lady Bird take the parts of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the murder of J.F.K. and Adlai Stevenson (the Egg of Head).

In January of 1964 the Warren Commission learned that Don B. Reynolds, insurance agent and close associate of Bobby Baker, had been heard to say that the F.B.I. knew that Johnson was behind the assassination. When interviewed by the F.B.I., he denied this. But he did recount an incident during the swearing in of Kennedy in which Bobby Baker said words to the effect that the s.o.b. would never live out his term and that he would die a violent death. Reynolds also vaguely suggested that Governor Connally may have called long distance from Washington to Lee Oswald who was staying in a Dallas Y.M.C.A. He had no proof.

A number of letters allegedly written by Jack Ruby and smuggled out of jail were auctioned off by New York autograph dealer Charles Hamilton. Penn Jones, Jr. bought one and published part of it.

"I walked into a trap the moment I walked down the ramp Sunday morning. This was the spot where they could frame the Jew, and that way all of his people will be blamed as being Communists, this is what they were waiting for. They alone had planned the killing, by they I mean Johnson and others.”

“…read the book Texas Looks at Lyndon and you may learn quite a bit about Johnson and how he fooled everyone.”

Drawback: In a letter to J. Lee Rankin, J. Edgar Hoover wrote, “I have not received any information to implicate President Johnson or Governor Connally in the assassination.”


Proponent: Thomas Buchanan.

According to Buchanan’s theory, “Mr. X,” a right-wing Texas oil millionaire, had to eliminate Kennedy and Khrushchev to gain world domination of the oil market. He decided to assassinate Kennedy in such as way that Khrushchev would be discredited. Oswald was to be framed as the assassin, then executed by Tippit. With Oswald dead, the Soviet Union would be blamed for the assassination. Oswald, however, outdrew Tippit and was captured alive later. The conspirators then induced Ruby to kill Oswald as a means of silencing him for good. Aside from Mr. X, Buchanan names the following “additional conspirators”:

  1. The assassin on the bridge. (He hints this was Ruby.)

  2. A second assassin in the Depository who was wearing a police uniform.

  3. A police officer involved in Oswald’s arrest (who was, next to Mr. X, the key conspirator).

  4. Tippit.

  5. Oswald.

  6. One of the policemen who missed Oswald as he left the building.


Proponent: Fidel Castro.

About a week after the assassination, Castro suggested that the conspirators intended that Cuba be blamed for the assassination. According to this theory, Oswald may have been one of the riflemen, but his prime role in the conspiracy was to ghost a trail that would lead directly to Cuba. Thus, a few months before the assassination, Oswald set up a phony Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans and Dallas, engaged in “brawls” with anti-Castro Cubans, and identified himself with Castro and Cuba on radio programs. Then he went to Mexico where he tried to obtain a Cuban visa. (Castro notes that Oswald had no reason to go to Cuba. If Oswald wanted to go to Russia, as he claimed, it was shorter and easier to go via Europe.)

After the assassination, the plan called for Oswald to disappear. Evidence planted at the scene would identify Oswald as the assassin, and Oswald’s pre-assassination activities and other planted clues would lead to the conclusion that Oswald had fled to Cuba. This, in turn, might serve as a pretext for an American invasion of Cuba.

There is some later evidence which fits in very neatly with the Castro thesis.

  1. On September 26, just before Oswald’s trip to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico, Mrs. Sylvia Odio, a Cuban Refugee leader, claims that three men visited her in Dallas. Two were Latins, possibly Cubans, the third was American. The American was called “Leon Oswald.” After the assassination Mrs. Odio as well as her sister definitely identified this man as Lee Harvey Oswald. The three men said that they had just come from New Orleans (the Commission established Oswald left New Orleans about September 25) and were about to take a trip. They wanted backing for some violent anti-Castro activities, but Mrs. Odio suspected that they might in fact be Castro agents. The next day one of the Latins called Mrs. Odio and told her that Oswald was “kind of nuts” and that he had said Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs, and that “it is so easy to do it.” Thus, Oswald established himself as a potential assassin traveling with two Cubans.

  2. Two days before the assassination, three people spoke to Wayne January, manager of Red Bird airport in Dallas, about renting a plane. They told him they wanted to be flown to Yucatán Peninsula on November 22. After the assassination, January told the F.B.I. that one of the three persons was Oswald. January later said that he suspected the threesome might want to hijack his plane and go to Cuba, and thus decided not to rent them the plane.

  3. Shortly after the assassination, there were literally dozens of allegations and “tips” that Oswald was closely connected with the Cubans. For example, one Latin American free-lance intelligence agent claimed that he saw Oswald receive $6,500 for the purpose of assassinating Kennedy. (The Commission found these allegations to be false.) However, if Oswald escaped and disappeared, these tips might very well have fed suspicion that Oswald was in Cuba.


Proponent: Jeane Dixon.

In December, 1963, prophetess Jeane Dixon “got psychically” an inside line on the assassination. “As I interpret my symbols,” she wrote, “Fidel Castro believed that President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev had gotten together on a plan to eliminate him and replace him with someone more acceptable to the United States and the U.N. Castro, in his conniving way, therefore arranged for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald was the triggerman, but there were other people involved in the plot.”


Proponent: Sergei Groussard.

In a series of articles in L’Aurore, Groussard offers the theory that Kennedy was assassinated in order to forestall a planned crackdown on organized crime. The “Al Capone gang” in Chicago ordered Ruby to set up the assassination. Ruby then sent Oswald (who was in his debt) to Mexico to visit the underworld’s own plastic surgery clinic and other escape facilities; and Oswald agreed to be the rifleman. Tippit was supposed to drive Oswald out of Dallas, but when he learned that Oswald was the assassin he tried to arrest him and Oswald killed him. Ruby then had to finish the job personally.


Proponent: M. S. Arnoni.

The editor of The Minority of One envisions a “titanic power struggle” in the U.S. Government. He postulates that the insurrectionist forces included the C.I.A., the Air Force, relevant defense contractors, and a number of congressmen and that the Junta’s leaders were high-ranking Air Force and Navy officers. The object was to deliver the U.S. into the hands of a “military-industrial cabal.”

Because President Kennedy attempted to oppose the Junta, he had to be eliminated. His fate was sealed when he signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963—which he, according to this theory, “signed in his own blood.”


Proponent: Revilo P. Oliver.

Professor Oliver, in an article for the John Birch Society magazine, advanced the theory that Moscow ordered Oswald to assassinate Kennedy. It seems that Kennedy was threatening to desert the Communists and “turn American.” But the President’s aides persuaded him to go to Dallas where he was “executed.”

Although the assassin’s accomplices escaped, Oswald himself was apprehended by dint of the heroic action of J. D. Tippit, and so it became necessary that “Jakob Rubenstein” eliminate Oswald.


Proponent: Ousman Ba, Foreign Minister of Mali.

Ba charged in the United Nations Security Council that “Kennedy’s assassination, the murder of Patrice Lumumba and Dag Hammarskjóld’s death were all the work of forces that were behind the recent U.S.-Belgian rescue operation in the Congo.” Ba did not elaborate.

Ahead to Second Primer of Assassination Theories


A Second Primer of Assassination Theories

Esquire, May 1967, pp. 104 ff.

Last December we thought we had offered you the complete works of the assassination buffs. The opus grows: here are twenty-five new entries

As reported in last December’s Esquire, the Warren Commission’s crucial Single-Bullet Theory (hereafter, the S.B.T.) seemed to be in real trouble. This theory posits that President Kennedy and Governor Connally both were first hit by the same bullet—a crucial assumption because the Commission established that there was not enough time for the murder rifle to be fired twice within the interval that both men were first hit (1.8 seconds or less). In short, either the S.B.T. stands, or a Two-Assassin Theory emerges.

Trouble first developed for the S.B.T. with the publication of previously classified F.B.I. reports by Edward Jay Epstein’s Inquest, which flatly contradicted the Commission’s autopsy statement that the first bullet passed clean through President Kennedy and exited his throat. The F.B.I. reports instead stated that the autopsy showed that the bullet in question did not exit from the President’s throat, a fact which would make it impossible for this bullet to continue on to hit Governor Connally and thus would rule out the S.B.T. Next, Life magazine enlarged its 8mm amateur film of the assassination frame by frame, and, on the basis of this new evidence, concluded that Connally and Kennedy may indeed have been hit by separate bullets. Governor Connally also viewed the Life film frame by frame and stated categorically that he was hit by a separate bullet. The most unkind cut of all came when Governor Connally called a press conference for the express purpose of defending the Commission, then inadvertently mentioned that he still had a fragment of the bullet in his thigh. Alas, that fact alone would invalidate the S.B.T. because the bullet that is supposed to have wounded both men was found virtually intact. Finally, Senator Richard Russell, member of the Commission who now claims the dubious distinction of having been the only member “who bucked the Report,” stated that “from the outset” he never really believed in the S.B.T. Then Commissioner Hale Boggs followed suit during a Face the Nation interview by expressing his own doubts about the faltering S.B.T. But even as Commission members began deserting the sinking S.B.T., a number of last-ditch theories were proposed by the defenders of the Commission.



Proponents: Arlen Specter and other Commission lawyers.

Thesis: Arlen Specter, a key investigator for the Commission and principal author of the S.B.T., has attempted to explain the contradiction between the F.B.I. Summary Reports and the Commission’s autopsy report in terms of two different autopsy conclusions. In the one and only autopsy examination conducted on the night of the assassination at Bethesda Hospital, the doctors arrived at the “tentative” conclusion that the bullet which struck President Kennedy in the back penetrated only a short distance, then fell out through the point of entrance when the Dallas doctors applied external heart massage. The next day, however, the autopsy doctors found out about the throat wound (which was obscured by the tracheotomy operation) and changed their conclusion, now deciding that the bullet went completely through the neck. This conclusion was reached without benefit of having the corpse before them (or the autopsy and X-ray photographs). Then, according to Specter’s theory, Commander Humes incinerated his original autopsy report in his recreation-room fireplace, and drew up a new autopsy report stating that the bullet exited the President’s throat. The F.B.I. was not shown the new report and reiterated the old conclusion in their summary reports.

Drawback: Specter’s theory contradicts The Warren Report’s description of the autopsy, which he himself wrote in 1964. In The Warren Report (pp. 88-89), Specter states that, during the autopsy, doctors rejected the possibility that the bullet penetrated only a short distance, and that the evidence from Dallas of a throat wound “confirmed” this conclusion. Thus, whereas The Warren Report states that there was only and only one conclusion of the autopsy reached during the examination, the autopsy conclusion was changed (not confirmed) the next day by evidence from Dallas, and thus there were two autopsy conclusions. The question remains: Which one of these conflicting statements is true?


Proponent: J. Edgar Hoover.

Thesis: Although the F.B.I. Supplementary Report of January 13, 1964, states that the bullet that struck President Kennedy in the back penetrated “to a distance of less than a finger length,” and the Commission’s autopsy report states that this same bullet passed clean through the neck and exited the throat, J. Edgar Hoover finds that there is no “conflict” between the two statements of the autopsy, only a “difference in the information reported.” Hoover further claims that the F.B.I. of course knew that the bullet passed clean through the President’s neck at the same time that the reported the bullet penetrated only a finger’s length into his back. Since they also knew that the Commission knew the true contents of the autopsy report, there was no reason, Hoover insists, to make a false statement of the autopsy results. Moreover he dialectically explains that although the F.B.I. report flatly stated that the bullet did not pass through the President’s body, the F.B.I. itself helpfully pointed to weaknesses in its own theory by stating that there was a hole in the President’s shirt caused by an exiting projectile.

Drawback: Thesis plus antithesis doesn’t equal J. Edgar’s synthesis. Aside from the fact that the F.B.I. Supplementary Reports were prepared initially for public release and not for the Warren Commission, a major problem in Hoover’s explanation is that the F.B.I. told The Washington Post on December 18, 1963, that the hole in the shirt was caused by a fragment from the third shot which exploded against the President’s head (not from the first shot). Therefore, the F.B.I. report of the shirt hole does not “clearly” indicate that the autopsy doctors’ early observation “that the bullet penetrated only a short distance into the Presidents head probably was in error,” as Hoover postulates.


Proponent: Lawrence Schiller, a photographer and producer of Capitol Records album, The Controversy, on the assassination.

Thesis: A number of critics assume that shots came from the knoll because a number of witnesses state they saw smoke coming from the knoll area. The most celebrated puff-of-smoke witness is S. M. Holland. Schiller brought Holland back to the exact spot where he said he was standing, placed a camera level with his shoulder, aimed it at the spot where Holland said he saw the puff of smoke, and snapped a photograph. The photograph shows that directly behind and slightly higher than the spot where Holland claims the smoke came from is the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. Thus, Schiller suggests, “Maybe both Holland and the Warren Commission are right: the shots came from the Book Depository but from Holland’s perspective the smoke and the report of a gun appeared to come from the knoll.”

S. M. Holland (shown on the overpass where he stood November 22, 1963) 
saw smoke under the tree directly above his right thumb.

Drawback: Holland, whose depth perception is normal, was just possibly able to distinguish the knoll, 180 feet away, from the Book Depository, which was 120 feet beyond that. Also, Schiller’s analysis is destroyed completely in view of the fact that witnesses at other points also thought the shots came from the knoll: the policeman who ran up it, Abraham Zapruder, and others.


Proponents: Drew Pearson, Henri Nannen (editor of Der Stern), and Jacob Cohen (former instructor at Brandeis summer school and author of Honest Verdict).

Thesis: Drew Pearson quotes Der Stern’s explanation that the original autopsy report was suppressed “on the grounds that President Kennedy was suffering from Addison’s disease” and “his family did not want it known.” Why? Because “politically Kennedy’s illness could become dangerous. Addison’s illness—it sounds sinister.” Thus, according to this theory, the Kennedys withheld the autopsy report and “hid the X-rays, even from the Warren Commission.” And “this would also explain the lack of a date on the Warren Commission autopsy report” which was changed “so that it contained no mention of the President’s illness,” as well as why the autopsy surgeon burned the original autopsy report (“otherwise hundreds of people would have been faced with lying under oath, which would have been deplorable”).

Drawback: The fact that Kennedy had Addison’s desease was in the Warren Report (as well as in Sorenson’s biography of Kennedy), so why delete it from the autopsy report? And the Commission files show that Attorney General Robert Kennedy explicitly gave his approval to the Commission to look at the autopsy photographs and X-rays.


Proponent: William Manchester.

Thesis: In his sometime authorized account, author Manchester recognizes that there was hardly enough time for Oswald to have fired three shots. He therefore proposes that only two shots were fired: the first hitting Kennedy in the back and then going on to cause all of Connally’s wounds, the second inflicting Kennedy’s fatal head wound. According to this theory, Oswald left an extra cartridge case at the scene [from the Walker shooting?] and the some hundred witnesses who thought they heard three or more shots actually heard only two and echoes.

Drawback: More than a hundred witnesses heard more than two shots, and a number of witnesses claim that they saw a bullet miss and hit the pavement. Finally, one man, James Tague, was wounded by a fragment from a bullet. As he was standing 260 feet from the President’s car at the time of the head shot, it does not seem likely that he was wounded by a fragment from that bullet.

Gaining wobbly support from the preceding sources, the S.B.T. runs into stiff competition from most of the following theories.


Proponent: John B. Connally, Governor of Texas.

Thesis: Immediately after he single-handedly demolished the S.B.T. in Life, creating a nationwide outcry to reopen investigation, Connally called a press conference in Texas. He said that although he was not hit by the same bullet which hit Kennedy, it was only a small “detail,” and he advised everyone to have faith in the Warren Commission because they were all patriotic men.

Drawback: None.


Proponent: Senator Russell Long.

Thesis: The whole controversy over the S.B.T. was made to appear a bit irrelevant when Senator Long told the A.P. that he didn’t doubt Oswald played a part in the assassination. “But,” he added, “whoever fired that second shot was a lot better shot than Oswald.”


Proponent: Alexander M. Bickel.

Thesis: Professor Bickel, writing in Commentary, finds that although the S.B.T. is untenable, the single-assassin theory can be rescued by constructing an alternate hypothesis to explain the first two shots. The Commission concluded that the first shot could not have come before the 210th frame (photo A) on the Zapruder film because before that point an oak tree blocked the assassin’s line of sight. Bickel has found, however, that on frames 185-186 on the Zapruder film there was a “break” or window in the foliage of the tree (photo B). Bickel thus suggests that Oswald might have fired through the foliage at this point, which would have left sufficient time to operate the bolt and fire again at frame 232 to wound Connally, then fire the fatal head shot at film frame 313. According to this theory, the first bullet lodged in the President’s back and was later expelled on his stretcher at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, accounting for its pristine condition. The second bullet wounded Connally and fragmentized, accounting for the two fragments found in the front seat of the Presidential limousine, and the final shot disintegrated when it struck the President’s head, sending a minute fragment out through the throat and accounting for the throat wound.


Drawback: Although Professor Bickel’s theory is certainly a possible alternative to The Warren Report, it still leaves a few unsolved problems. First, the opening in the tree gave the assassin a view of the car for no more than a tenth of a second. It seems improbable that a rifleman could aim, squeeze the tiger, and fire off an accurate shot in this brief interval. Second, this theory means that the President was hit in frame 186 but did not react until frame 225—a two-second delayed reaction. Finally, the theory fails to account for the shot that went astray and hit a bystander (although conceivably Oswald had time to fire a fourth shot, but then why were only three cartridge cases found?).


Proponent: Ellen Leopold, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Thesis: President Kennedy may indeed have had a two-second delayed reaction to the first shot “if he was on steroids.” Not infrequently, Miss Leopold points out, sufferers of Addison’s disease are put on steroids because they tend to suppress reactions of the adrenal glands. This theory lends unexpected support to Professor Bickel’s Shot-Through-The-Tree Theory and also to the Early-Hit Theory (which posits a shot before the tree, as reported in Esquire for December, 1966).

Drawback: The Warren Commission, possibly for reasons pointed out by Drew Pearson, never determined whether or not Kennedy was on steroids. Until this question is settled, the Steroid Theory will be academic.


Proponent: R. A. J. Riddle, member of the Brain Research Institute and former Professor of physics at U.C.L.A.

Thesis: Dr. Riddle finds a discrepancy between the Warren Report and Newton’s second law of motion—i.e. that an object struck by a projectile will be given the same direction as that of the projectile. Because the film of the assassination shows that the general direction of motion of Kennedy is backward and to the left (viz. Vincent Salandria’s “Head Movement Theory,” Esquire, December, 1966) and because there is no evidence of a sudden acceleration of the car and on the assumption that a neuromuscular reaction can be ruled out as the cause for President Kennedy’s sudden violent backward motion, Dr. Riddle believes that the projectile must have come from in front of the President. His computations add weight to Vincent Salandria’s “Head Movement Theory.”

Drawback: Are Newton’s laws sound if they contradict the Warren Commission?


Proponents: Professor Josiah Thompson and Ray Marcus, independently.

Thesis: The “third” shot, which caused Kennedy’s fatal head wound, was actually two nearly simultaneous shots, one coming from the rear and another from the right front.

This theory takes Vincent Salandria’s “Head Movement Theory” and Riddle’s computations one step further. In a forthcoming book, Thompson uses precise scientific studies made of the Zapruder film frames and close analysis of the medical evidence to show that the damage was inflicted by two bullets, not one. Also, he cites ear- and eyewitness reports which back up his claim that the third shot was really a third and fourth.


Proponent: Mark Lane.

Thesis: In the French edition of his Rush to Judgment, Lane first proposed a theory which was later appended to his paperback edition of Rush to Judgment. In his original French version bullet “une” strikes President Kennedy from the back. Bullet “deux” strikes Kennedy in the throat. Bullet “trois” hit Governor Connally. Bullet “quatre” misses and wounds the bystander James Tague. And bullet “cinq” fired from the grassy knoll hits Kennedy in the head. Since one shot came from behind the President (bullet no. 1), one shot came from in front of the President (bullet. No. 2)—he was facing straight ahead when hit in the throat—and one shot (bullet No. 5) came from the right (the knoll), there must have been at least “trois” assassins firing from different directions.

Drawbacks: If a bullet hit President Kennedy from in front, as Lane suggests, where did it go? There are no exit wounds that could account for a bullet entering through the throat. Then too, if the bullet entered the head from the rear, as the autopsy shows, it could not have entered from the right front, as Lane claims.


Proponent: Harold Weisberg (Whitewash series).

Thesis: Some of the shots may have come from the Dal-Tex Building across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. In Whitewash II, a sequel to his first book, Weisberg enlarges an A.P. photo of the motorcade (A and B) and claims to see “a man in seeming distress” on a fire escape (arrow) on the side of the Dal-Tex Building and “an arm-like object projecting from the open second-story window” (circle).


This theory receives some corroboration from a photograph that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on December 14, 1963 (C). It purportedly showed the assassin’s line of sight through the cross hairs of a telescopic lens. What the Post did not notice is that the corner of the Texas School Book Depository is visible in the right edge of the photo. Their photographer was shooting from the Dal-Tex Building, not having been able to gain entrance into the Depository. And strangely enough, according to Weisberg, the established bullet trajectories still bear him out.

A tantalizing note adds intrigue to the theory: a man was arrested in the Dal-Tex Building shortly after the assassination, allegedly for having no business being there.


Proponent: Harold Weisberg.

Thesis: The Commission’s conclusion that all three shots were fired in 5.6 seconds is based on the assumption that Abraham Zapruder’s camera was operating at a speed of 18.3 frames per second. The 103 frames that elapsed between frame 210 (the earliest point the Commission says the first shot could have been fired) and frame 313 (the point at which the third shot struck Kennedy’s head), divided by the speed of the camera (18.3 frames per second), yields the 5.6-seconds time that the assassin had to fire in. Weisberg has found, however, an F.B.I. report in the National Archives in which Abe Zapruder claimed that his camera was set to operate at twenty-four frames per second, not 18.3. This would mean that the entire assassination occurred in less than 4.3 seconds (103 frames divided by 24), which is less time than the murder weapon could be fired twice.

Drawback: The F.B.I. established the film speed of the camera by filming the sweep second hand of a clock, and the camera’s manufacturer recently confirmed that the camera speed was less than a tenth of a frame from the figure reported by the F.B.I.


Proponents: Jack Ruby, Mark Lane, Penn Jones, Jr., Norman Mailer, and an unidentified Russian newspaper.

Thesis: That Jack Ruby’s death was planned and brought about by members of a conspiracy whose prior business had been the murders of President Kennedy, Patrolman J. D. Tippit and, possibly, Lee Harvey Oswald.

According to an Associated Press story by Bernard Gavzer (datelined Dallas, January 3, 1967), Ruby had expressed the belief that mustard gas had been seeped into his cell and that he was injected with cancer.

The Dallas Times Herald states in an editorial that “the Communist Russian press has accused the city of Dallas of being “‘Co-Conspirators’ who…might have deliberately injected cancer cells into the veins of Ruby.” This theory might in turn stem from such statements as the one uttered by Mark Lane after a screening of his movie, Rush to Judgment. Before a celebrity-packed audience he mused, “Isn’t it strange that Ruby’s sniffles went from a cold to pneumonia to cancer in twenty-four hours?”

Ditto Penn Jones, whose assassination-connected death count is now at twenty (before ruby: the motorcycle death of James Worrell, who allegedly saw somebody run out of the back door of the Texas School Book Depository). Jones, of course, finds Ruby’s death “very suspicious.”

In a rambling, emotional obituary entitled A Requiem for the Rube, Norman Mailer offers his own interpretation of Ruby’s death and the significance thereof. “Jack Ruby added a point to the general median cancer potential by bugging the hope we could find one answer via Lee Harvey Oswald. In turn, us, Great American Pure Breed Public, in for feed, gave him his cans back. He died of cancer this morning, told us the way. We do not know the cure, but son, now we know the way. We know how to give cancer now…”


Proponent: Mrs. Eric Walther.

Thesis: A few weeks after the assassination, Mrs. Walther stated in an F.B.I. report that she saw a rifleman in one window of the Texas School Book Depository, and next to the man with the rifle was another man in a brown suit coat. Mrs. Walther was unable to see whether or not the second man had a rifle. A second rifleman of course would explain how Governor Connally and President Kennedy were both hit less than two seconds apart. The Commission never evaluated Mrs. Walther’s statement.

Drawback: The window next to Oswald’s was closed during the assassination.

Retort: The second man may only have been a lookout.


Proponents: Mark Lane, Harold Weisberg, David Lifton, et al.

Thesis: The photographs showing Oswald with the Kennedy and Tippit murder weapons are clever paste-ups of Oswald’s head on another man’s body.

When the Dallas police found the two photographs they were certain they had positive evidence linking Oswald with the weapons. Life magazine ran one of the pictures on its cover. Newsweek and The New York Times also printed the picture.

Confusion reigned shortly. Careful observers had noticed that all three publications had retouched the rifle and the pistol, but each did it in different ways. Their editors were forced to write humiliating letters to the Warren Commission admitting their alterations, but in essence none had falsified the photographs. Those accusations were to come later.

Mark Lane and Harold Weisberg noticed that the shadow under Oswald’s nose seemed to be inconsistent with the other shadows in the picture. Both the F.B.I. and the Dallas police rushed to prove such a photograph was possible, but only succeeding in adding a touch of Dogberry humor. The Dallas police shot a picture of a plainclothesman on the scene, but on a cloudy day. The F.B.I. posed an agent on a roof in bright sunlight, but the photograph they sent to the Commission had the head cut off.



Proponent: David Lifton, a U.C.L.A. engineering graduate student and coauthor of the three-assassins article in Ramparts which introduced Riddle’s analysis. (See No. 11.)

Thesis: On the day of the assassination, three types of camouflage were employed by conspirators positioned beneath, on, and above the grassy knoll. Lifton reached this hypothesis after minute study of photographs of the area during and after the assassination. It answers the question why, despite the fact that eyewitness reports and the Head Movement Theory indicate shots came from the grassy knoll, nothing at all was found there immediately afterward.

Underground camouflage: Lifton suggests that prior to the assassination, the grassy knoll was excavated from beneath and a system of tunnels and bunkers was built into it. Peepholes covered by grass-mesh camouflage were placed on the sloping surface of the knoll. Subterranean nooks would explain the statement of witness Garland Slack: “I have heard this same sort of sound when a shot had come from within a cave…” Lifton goes further to suggest that the puff of smoke seen by some people on the grassy knoll may have been the exhaust from a gas engine incorporated within the camouflage mechanization.

Surface camouflage: Lifton finds alterations (“bulges”) in the wall and the hedgerow on the grassy knoll, netting in the bushes and faint images of heads. Borrowing support from deputy Constable Weitzman who ran toward the wall and who said, “I scaled the wall and, apparently, my hands grabbed steam pipes. I burned them,” Lifton points out that there are no steam pipes atop the wall. This might, he says, be an indication that things may have been altered for that day. Weitzman also says a witness told him that he saw somebody throw something through a bush.

Elevated camouflage: Because a comparison of certain photographs taken during the assassination with others taken afterward indicates that some tree structures had been altered on the knoll, and because he sees images up in the trees in assassination photos, Lifton believes there was some camouflage in the trees. Eyewitnesses S. M. Holland, Austin Miller and Frank Reilly all state that shots seemed to have come out of the trees.

Drawbacks: As even Lifton admits, the photo enlargements are of extremely grainy quality (they could not be reproduced properly here) and interpretations of them are questionable at best.


Proponents: Mark Lane and Harold Weisberg.

Thesis: At least five witnesses saw a puff of smoke during the assassination. Commission lawyers didn’t investigate because they believed no modern weapon would emit puffs of smoke conforming to the witnesses’ descriptions. (Some of the witnesses, when queried, guessed the smoke came from a motorcycle or steam pipe.)

Since Commission lawyers were willing to accept the fact that Oswald used “an antiquated rifle and twenty-year-old ammunition,” as Mark Lane frequently points out on TV, why preclude the possibility that the second assassin used even a more antiquated weapon?


Proponent: Vincent Salandria, a Philadelphia lawyer.

Thesis: Mr. Salandria finds a curious passage in Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1964. “On the flight [back to Washington aboard Air Force One] the party learned that there was no conspiracy; learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest.” Salandria posits that this announcement was deliberately misleading and may have been the first sign of a conspiracy cover-up. The theory, obviously, would have to implicate strategically powerful individuals. The argument is as follows: Johnson’s party landed in Washington at 4:58 p.m. Dallas time. But at this point, Oswald had not been charged with the assassination. He had not yet been identified by any eyewitnesses in the Tippit killing, much less the assassination. The rifle found in the Depository had not yet been traced. The photographs of Oswald holding a rifle and wearing a revolver in his holster were not discovered until the next afternoon. No fingerprints were taken from him for comparison purposes until sometime after six p.m. The fiber on the rifle was not examined until Saturday morning. The brown-paper bag had not been linked to him. Marina Oswald had not yet been questioned. In short, none of the evidence itemized in the table of contents of The Warren Report under Chapter IV, “The Assassin,” was known to the Dallas police at the time. As to the statement that there was “no conspiracy,” Salandria believes that the announcement was suspiciously premature. At 4:58 p.m. it was understood that the shots had come from the front, yet the suspect Oswald was positioned behind the President. District Attorney Henry M. Wade told the Warren Commission that discussions relating to a conspiracy charge were carried on by telephone between his office and Washington until late that night. As far as Wade could remember, these included calls from the White House, the F.B.I. and the State Department. The general drift of the calls seemed to be to discourage any conspiracy charge. Salandria finds this disturbing. During Commission hearings, Congressman Gerald Ford told Secretary of State Dean Rusk that a comment he made the day after the assassination indicating that no foreign power was involved seemed a bit hasty. Said Ford, “You really didn’t have much time to evaluate all of the evidence.” Ford was concerned about who in the State Department might have made telephone calls to Texas urging that no charge of conspiracy be alleged.

Drawback: As yet the precise text of the announcement on the plane is not known, nor is its origin. Theodore White refuses to comment except to say that the plane was in constant touch with the White House, and messages were relayed through a Signal Corps center in the Midwest. But the announcement may have been based, innocently, on the lack of any indication that there was a conspiracy afoot.


Proponent: Malcom Muggeridge.

Thesis: According to this theory, Oswald “kills Kennedy for Intelligence’s own sake; the perfect I-murder.” Presume that Oswald was at least a double agent, recruited first by Soviet Intelligence during his stay in Minsk, then turned around by the F.B.I., and “finally reduced to a condition of bemusedness and lost identity which led him, in a trance-like state, to murder the President, as van der Lubbe, in a similarly trance-like state, set fire to the Reichstag.” His shooting at Walker, Pro- and Anti-Cuban activities, etc. were all done as a cover, in the hope he would lead the F.B.I. to the Soviet contact. This bizarre game caused Oswald to lose touch with reality, and, not knowing who he was working for or why, he shot Kennedy. To avoid undue embarrassment, he had to be shot, and Jack Ruby was standing by.


Proponent: J. I. Rodale, editor of Prevention and Organic Gardening and Farming.

Thesis: Oswald was seen minutes after the assassination with a Coke bottle in his hand. This fact leads health-crusader J. I. Rodale to suggest “Oswald was not responsible for this action: his brain was confused because he was a sugar drunkard. So what is called for now is a full-scale investigation of sugar consumption and crime.”

The Curb Exchange. James Tague, who was standing on the curb along the south side of Main Street near the overpass, was struck sharply on the cheek at the time of the shooting. Police officers investigated immediately and said they found a “fresh chip in the curb” near where he was standing. A photograph was taken of the chip in the curb the next morning (photo A).

Eight months later (July, 1964) the photographer and two F.B.I. men returned to the site to make measurements, but could not find the chip. The F.B.I. men hypothesized that in the interim “there [had] been numerous rains that could have possibly washed away such a mark and also…the area is cleaned by a street-cleaning machine about one a week, which would also wash away such a mark.” A month after that, J. Edgar Hoover wrote the Commission that the F.B.I. had cut out the section of curb with the mark (a photo of which he enclosed, B), and that indeed the mark was the same as that in the original photograph! This internal F.B.I. contradiction was discovered by Raymond Marcus, who also claims that the curb cutout doesn’t have any mark at all.

23. THE WASHING-MACHINE THEORY : Proponent: George de Mohrenschildt.

Thesis: Marina Oswald, on the eve of the assassination, told her husband that they couldn’t live together “unless he would equip the apartment with a washing machine.” This demand caused a bitter argument which evoked in Oswald “the wish to strike and hurt someone.”

Drawback: According to the Warren Commission, Oswald had the materials for making the paper bag for his rifle before he visited with his wife. Anyhow, as the Warren Report notes, they had lived near a Laundromat.


Proponent: George Thomson, a Los Angeles swimming-pool engineer and writer.

Thesis: Thomson, in monographs and tapes which have been underground best sellers (reportedly 42,000 sold to date), advances the theory that Tippit was substituted for Kennedy in the Presidential limousine, and consequently it was Tippit not Kennedy who was shot. (Kennedy, years after, was the secret guest of honor at Truman Capote’s celebrated party.) This explains the illegal removal of Kennedy’s body from Dallas by his close cohorts, the missing X-ray and autopsy photographs, and subsequent confusion in reporting medical facts. The Kennedy controversy, for Thomson, revolves around the question of where Kennedy is today.


Proponent: T. N. Tastmona.

Thesis: In a privately-printed 200-page volume called It Is As If: ($20), Mr. Tastmona (“American born of American-born parents) scrutinizes the details of the assassination and the text of The Warren Report, finding bizarre parallels with the life of Benjamin Franklin, Sherlock Holmes, Mormon doctrine and American history. One example, among many, is cited here as an extreme example of assassination theorizing. In the Chronology index of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Tastmona finds mention of Arthur Lee, an American commissioner accompanying Franklin to France. Three pages later he finds a reference to Richard Oswald, Chief British negotiator. “The names ‘Lee’ and ‘Oswald’ sounded a responsive chord. Lee Oswald!—assassin of President Kennedy. Could some sort of historic parallel be coming to light? Could a Harvey be involved in these diplomatic deals?” Sure enough, on the next page of the Franklin autobiography Tastmona finds David Hartley, a British envoy. “Hartley!—a close approximation of ‘Harvey’… “‘Hartley’ differs from ‘Harvey’ by two letters. Perceive a composite form—Har TLV ey. What have we here! TLV equals a better approximation for ‘television’ that even plain TV. Lee Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby in full view of a national television audience.…It is as if this television crime had somehow been arranged to expound the disparity existing between the names Hartley and Harvey.” Tastmona goes on to reveal that David Hartley was really David Hartley Junior, or Jr., and “it was Jack Ruby with initials J. R. who by this brutal system of criminal cryptology painstakingly identified the Hartley of scholarly historical allusion to be J R. or Junior. “While in Russia, Lee Oswald kept what he called a ‘Historic Diary.’ He affected interest in his place in history. This attitude must be considered as part of a pre-instructed clue system, hinting the historical parallels just adduced.”

 Back to First Primer of Assassination Theories


Who's Afraid of the Warren Report? by Edward Jay Epstein (With annotations by K. A. Rahn) Esquire, December 1966

The Warren Commission was supposed to end all doubts about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Tragically, it hasn’t. The distinguished members of the Commission never intended that their Report should become the basis for an amateur detective game. Yet this is precisely what is happening. A growing number of people are spending their leisure hours scouring the Commission’s Report and the twenty-six volumes of testimony and exhibits for possible clues to a conspiracy. Others, using high-powered magnifying glasses and infrared lights, are scrutinizing photographs of the assassination scene, hoping to find snipers concealed in the shrubbery. Still others are combing the National Archives on the hunch that they will locate something relevant in the three hundred cubic feet of documents that the Commission deemed irrelevant. Since the National Archives will provide microfilm copies of any nonclassified document in the assassination file at five cents a page, including F.B.I. and Secret Service investigative reports, a syndicate of private researchers is planning to buy all the available documents. Presumably they will then subdivide the 20,000 or so pages into areas (e.g., Ruby, Oswald, eyewitnesses, etc.) , and attempt a more definitive study than the Commission itself conducted.1 Elizabeth Hardwick, a literary critic of considerable stature, is considering joining the syndicate for another purpose. She believes it might contain the American comédie humaine. Meanwhile, more active private investigators are tracking down leads in Dallas and re-interviewing star witnesses. A few are keeping the death count2 on those who have been even remotely connected with the case. And there is a burgeoning grapevine through which assassination news is rapidly disseminated. As soon as a new discovery is made, assassination buffs across the country are alerted by a telephonic chain letter.This phenomenon would not be particularly disturbing if the players were merely kooks. However, most of them are not. Assassination buffs apparently are serious people—professionals, students, housewives, etc.—bent on solving what they consider to be an unsolved mystery. Perhaps this is all part of the American folklore tradition of amateurs stepping in and solving cases that baffle the police. Already amateurs have made some constructive contributions to the case. Mrs. Sylvia Meagher, a U.N. careerist, has completely indexed the  twenty-six volumes of testimony, a feat the Commission never had time to accomplish. Mr. and Mrs. George Nash, sociologists, found three new witnesses to the Tippit murder by following a tip given to them by a Dallas undertaker. Vincent Salandria, a Philadelphia lawyer, has charted the precise movements of the President’s head after the bullet’s impact by superimposing on each other the individual frames of the film of the assassination taken by a bystander.3 And Paul Hoch, a Berkeley graduate student, has unearthed some extremely important documents in the National Archives, including the original F.B.I. report on the autopsy. The man who has undoubtedly done the most to propagate the assassination cult is Mark Lane, thirty-nine-year-old attorney and sometime New York State Assemblyman. Lane began lecturing in coffeehouses, them stumped the college circuit, and is currently promoting both a book and a two-and-a-half-hour documentary film on the assassination. Above all, the Warren Commission itself shares at least part of the responsibility for the game. The Commission was obliged to publish all twenty-six volumes of data, although Commissioner Allen Dulles saw no point in doing so. “Nobody reads,” he said. “Don’t believe people read in this country. There will be few professors who will read the record.” Making the record public, however, is The American Way.  Indeed, the number of people who have bothered to read the record has been small (less than a thousand sets of the twenty-six volumes have been sold to date). But they have been an inquisitive group, often ingenious. With their help, the public record has spawned a school of theories that have been swimming in the eddies of the public press, lately with increasing dizziness. Many of the theories, it is true, depend on fragments of evidence which, although clear enough, are palpably irrelevant (i.e., the death of several peripheral witnesses since the assassination). But they are no more irrelevant than many of the Report’s own meticulous entries (i.e., in July of 1962 Oswald spent $3.87 for a subscription to Time). Assassination buffs have seized, perhaps too eagerly, on discrepancies in the testimony of witnesses who were understandably shaken and confused. But in this they are no more at fault than the Commission, which appeared to accept testimony, even though it may have been ambiguous, so long as it aided its predisposition to prove Oswald the lone assassin. While the Commission was obviously intent on proving there was no conspiracy, selecting testimony and evidence for their Report that particularly suited them, the assassination buffs have responded by being suspicious of everything in which the Commission put credence. Throughout the case, where an omission or a contradiction seems best explained as simple human error, the private theorists loudly claim intentional deceit on the part of the Dallas police, the F.B.I., the witnesses, and the Commission itself.  Most of these accusations would be difficult to prove without further evidence, and thus for the time being they are rendered moot. But from the mass of such charges there has emerged one flagrant contradiction in the Report which can be proved or disproved very easily. More important, it is a crucial contradiction upon which all of the other leading theories depend.

   This contradiction involves the one and only autopsy conducted on the President at the Bethesda (Maryland) Naval Medical Center on the night of the assassination. The report of the autopsy findings, published by the Commission, virtually precluded the possibility of a second assassin. First, it shows that both bullets that hit the President came from behind and the general direction of the Texas School Book Depository (where Oswald was at the time). This finding of course would cut the ground out from under early theories that the shots came from a point in front of the motorcade. Mark Lane’s theory that the throat wound was an entrance wound, Thomas Buchanan’s theory that the shots came from the triple overpass, and the many theories based on eyewitness testimony that the shots came from the grassy knoll would all be rendered invalid by the autopsy findings.  Second, the autopsy report states that the first bullet hit the President in the back of the neck and then exited through his throat. This led the Commission to believe that the same bullet that exited from Kennedy’s neck proceeded to wound Connally, who was seated directly in front of the President. This finding would explain the split-second time lapse between the first two shots. An amateur film of the assassination shows that both Kennedy and Connally were hit no more than 1.8 seconds apart. Yet, the bolt of the murder rifle cannot be operated in less than 2.3 seconds. In other words, both men were shot in less time than the rifle could be fired twice. And this fact has given rise to a number of two-assassin theories. But if both men were hit by the same bullet, as the autopsy report suggests, the time problem is resolved, and there is only one assassin  Finally, if in fact Connally and Kennedy were hit by the same bullet, it can be deduced that all the bullet fragments found in the President’s car came from the rifle of Lee Harvey Oswald. Since the autopsy findings indicate that only two bullets hit Kennedy, and one bullet was found virtually intact (raising some other problems), all the fragments must have come from the other bullet. Since some of these fragments matched Oswald’s rifle, the other fragments which were too deformed to be ballistically identified also must have come from Oswald’s rifle. The autopsy report thus leaves little ground for the two-assassin theories.  But the Commission’s account of the autopsy is not the only one. Two F.B.I. Summary Reports that were not published by the Commission give an alarmingly different version of the autopsy findings. After the F.B.I. Reports were published in my book Inquest, Norman Redlich, a former Commission lawyer, told the New York Times that these Summary Reports had to be deemed erroneous and instead the Commission relied on the original F.B.I. report of the autopsy (known as the Sibert-O’Neill report), prepared by the two F.B.I. agents who were present at the autopsy. This heretofore unpublished F.B.I. report was only recently made available to me. It gives a detailed description of the autopsy: “Upon completion of X-rays and photographs, the first incision was made at 8:15 p.m.” The F.B.I. Report then states that Commander J. J. Humes, the chief autopsy surgeon, made a detailed examination of the head wound to determine the exact path of the bullet. Only later, in “the latter stages of autopsy,” did Commander Humes discover the wound in the President’s back. It was, according to the F.B.I. Report, “below the shoulders.” In probing the wound, Humes found that the bullet had barely penetrated the skin “inasmuch as the end of the opening could be felt with the finger.” The autopsy surgeons were puzzled. The bullet hole was only a few inches deep, yet there was no bullet to account for it. The doctors then learned that a bullet had been found on a stretcher in the Dallas hospital where President Kennedy was first treated, and Commander Humes concluded: “The pattern was clear that one bullet entered the President’s back and worked its way out of the body during external cardiac massage.” The autopsy examination ended about eleven p.m.

    Ten months later, The Warren Report described autopsy findings entirely different form those reported by the F.B.I. Now, in the Report, there was no wound “below the shoulders.” Instead, there was a wound in the back of the neck. Rather than barely penetrating the skin, the bullet had gone clean through the neck and exited through the throat. The Warren Report states these conclusions were reached during the autopsy, the same autopsy that the F.B.I. report described. How can two such accounts, diametrically opposed to each other, be reconciled?  Former Commission lawyers have recently explained that at the time of the autopsy the doctors were not aware of the wound in the President’s throat. The outlines of this wound had been obliterated by a tracheotomy performed earlier in the day in Dallas. Learning of the throat wound the next day, the autopsy doctors changed their opinion and deduced that the bullet exited through the throat. This would seem to explain why a bullet that was first thought to have penetrated the back only a distance of a few inches was later thought to have passed entirely through the body. But it begs the question of how a wound below the shoulder became a wound in the back of the neck. Obviously, no amount of information about the throat wound could alter the location of the back wound. And this is the crucial contradiction.   Of course, the contradiction might be dismissed (as Time magazine dismisses it) simply as an F.B.I. error. But the fact is that other evidence seems to corroborate the F.B.I. version. A diagram of the President’s body, prepared by Commander Humes4 during the autopsy, very clearly shows the wound to be below the shoulder. The other autopsy surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, was quoted by a secret Service agent as saying: “There are no lanes for an outlet in this man’s shoulder.” Another Secret Service agent, who was called in after the autopsy for the express purpose of viewing the President’s body, later testified that he observed the back wound to be “about six inches below the neckline.” F.B.I. photographs taken of the President’s shirt and jacket (which were never published by the Commission) show the bullet hole to be about six inches below the top of the collar of both shirt and jacket, a position which corresponds with the F.B.I.’s assertion of a wound “below the shoulders.”   Perhaps all this evidence of a wound below the shoulder is only a strange series of random coincidences. But so long as these other discrepancies stand, the contradiction cannot be discounted merely as an “F.B.I. error.”   Nor can it be dismissed as irrelevant. It is true, as former Commission lawyers now point out, that an investigation as complex as the Kennedy assassination is bound to have a few “loose ends.” But the contradiction between the F.B.I. and Commission account of the autopsy findings is more than just a “loose end.” It is crucial to the question of whether or not Oswald acted alone.5 For if the bullet did hit the President below the shoulders, it could not have exited through the throat and continued on to wound Governor Connally. This is because the bullet was traveling downward and was undeflected. If the F.B.I. report is accurate, President Kennedy and Governor Connally were hit by two different bullets which, in turn, gives grounds for theories of a second assassin.

    Perhaps this is why the publication of the F.B.I. Summary Reports and photographs in my book precipitated a good deal of debate and wrangling over the contradiction in the autopsy findings. In Look magazine, Fletcher Knebel attempted to prove that the F.B.I. did not receive a copy of the official autopsy findings until after its Summary Reports were published. He stated that Treasury Department records show that the Secret Service sent the autopsy report to the F.B.I. on December 23, 1963. However, Professor Richard Popkin countered in The New York Review of Books that Knebel inadvertently had proved that the F.B.I. did have the final autopsy report in hand when its final summary report was prepared on January 13, 1964 (a fact Knebel apparently missed).6 Newsweek suggested that Kennedy “might have been bent forward enough” to place the back wound higher than the throat wound. But Life’s film of the assassination indicated that the President was seated erect at the time of the shot. And Philadelphia District Attorney Arlen Specter, a former Commission lawyer, attempted to demonstrate to the Greater Philadelphia Magazine7 how a shirt could rise high enough on the neck to that a bullet hole about six inches below the top of the collar would be consistent with a neck wound. The interviewer was not, however, fully convinced since it appeared that this feat would require doubling over a portion of the shirt—and there was only one bullet hole in the back of the President’s shirt.     Throughout the debate, the F.B.I. has remained coyly ambiguous. It told The Washington Post that its December 9 Summary Report was “based on the medical evidence at that time.” But it told the Los Angeles Times that the F.B.I. report was wrong when it said that there was “no point of exit” for the bullet, explaining “F.B.I. agents were not doctors, but merely quoting doctors.” To the New York Times and other papers, the F.B.I. declined comment.    The great irony of the controversy is that it can be settled decisively by available evidence that neither the Commission nor its critics have seen. Color photographs, taken during the autopsy, would show exactly where the bullet entered the President’s back, whether it was below the shoulders, as F.B.I. reports claim, or in the back of the neck, as the Commission’s autopsy report claims. After the autopsy, these photographs were turned over undeveloped to the Protective Research Section of the Secret Service. What happened to the photographs after this is not definitely known: some Commission lawyers believe they were given to the Kennedy family, others believe that they remained with the Secret Service or White House. In any case, the Commission never received either the autopsy photographs or X-rays. Not that the Commission lawyers did not try to obtain them: Arlen Specter reportedly was on the verge of tears when he found out that they were not to be requested by the chairman     The whereabouts of these photographs and X-rays has remained a mystery. Newsweek recently reported that a two-month inquiry by its staff “failed to turn up a single government official who can, or will, give a simple answer to the question: ‘Where are the Kennedy autopsy pictures?’”    Moreover, it is not known whether the autopsy photographs were ever developed. Undeveloped color film tends to lose detail and decompose in about five years. Three years have already elapsed. If the photographs fade or are somehow accidentally destroyed, the opportunity to resolve the contradiction will be lost forever. What is ascertainable today may become a moot point in the near future.   What is to be done? The Commission’s investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy cannot be considered complete so long as the contradiction in the autopsy findings remains unresolved. By viewing the photographs, the contradiction can be resolved once and for all time. If they show the wound to be in the back of the neck, then there can be no further doubt as to the accuracy and authenticity of the autopsy report. Theories of a second assassin, evolving out of the contradiction, would be quashed. And virtually all of the speculation would be reduced, at least among thinking people, to groundless banter.   There is another possibility. The photographs might show the bullet wound to be below the shoulders. If this were the case, the Commission (or any other fact-finding body) would have very serious unfinished business to attend to.8  Already, the conspiracy theories are proliferating at an alarming rate. As the following Primer shows, doubts about the authenticity of the autopsy report are at the root of all the two-assassin theories. The assumption, either explicit or implicit, that the autopsy report was changed makes tenable the theories that hold that a shot came from the front of the President’s car. This in turn leads to theories of suppressed and planted evidence, which implicates the authorities and other important figures in the conspiracy. Finally, there come theories speculating on the forces behind the conspiracy to kill Kennedy, some of which go so far as to accuse those with power to suppress evidence.

Annotations by K. Rahn
.  This syndicate never materialized.
. Refers mainly to the death count of Penn Jones, Jr., newspaper editor of Midlothian, Texas.
. The film, of course, was the famous Zapruder film. The superposition of frames by Vincent Salandria revealed the backward movement of the head and body. But the frames that Salandria chose missed the more important forward snap from a couple frames earlier. This seriously misled Salandria and may have set the tone for misleading nearly the entire research community.
. It was actually prepared by Dr. Boswell.
. Actually, it is not crucial to the question of one assassin versus two. The basic argument from the number of entrance and exit wounds in the body, plus the lack of a bullet in the body, is far stronger.
. The FBI may have had the official autopsy report on hand but not used it.
. The reporter was Gaeton Fonzi, later a staff investigator for the HSCA. For the full text of this article by Fonzi, click here.
. The autopsy photographs are now available via a set that was stolen and reproduced for the public. Ironically, Kennedy's back has enough blood spots still on it that it is very hard to determine where the wound is. Dr. Robert Artwohl, one of the few to have viewed the original photos, says that the wound is significantly less than six inches below the top of the collar.


Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald WALL STREET JOURNAL November 22, 1983 by Edward Jay Epstein

The endless tangle of questions about bullets, trajectories, wounds, time sequences and inconsistent testimony that has surrounded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and has obsessively fascinated, if not entirely blinded, a generation of assassination
buffs-probably never will be resolved.

Within this morass of facts. however, there is a central actor, Lee Harvey Oswald. His rifle, which fired the fatal bullet into the president, was found in the sniper's nest, His cartridge cases were also found near the body of a murdered policeman on the route his flight. He was captured resisting arrest with the loaded murder revolver in his hand. In light of this overwhelming evidence, the issue that ought to have concerned Americans was not Oswald's technical guilt but his dangerous liaisons abroad. Only eight weeks before the assassination he had excited FBI and CIA interest in his activities by renewing his contacts with Cuban and Soviet intelligence officers in Mexico City. Although these foreign connections remained of great concern to the two U S. intellige agencies, they were considered too sensitive to be aired, publicly in the emotional aftermath of the president's slaying. Oswald was not a "loner- in the conventional sense. Ever since he was handed a pamphlet about the Rosenberg prosecution at the age of 15, he had sought out affiliations with political organizations, front groups and foreign nations that opposed the policies of the U.S. When
he was 16. he wrote the Socialist Party "I am a Marxist and have been studying Socialist Principles for well over five years" and he requested information about joining their "Youth League-." He also attempted to persuade a friend to join the youth auxiliary of the Communist
Party. He subsequently made membership inquiries to such organizations as the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Labor Party, The Gus Hall-Benjamin Davis Defense Committee, the Daily Worker, The Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Communist Party, USA— correspondence that brought him under surveillance by the FBI,  While still in the early stages of his flirtation with political causes, 0swald joined the Marine Corps . In October 1959, after a two-year stint as a radar operator, Oswald became the first Marine to defect to the Soviet Union, In Moscow, he delivered a letter stating. "I affirm that my allegiance is to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." Not only did he publically renounce his American citizenship but he told the U.S. consul that he intended to turn over to the Soviet Union military secrets that he had acquired while serving in the Marines, adding that he had data of "Special interest" to the Russians. Since he indeed had exposure to military secrets such as the U-2 spy piane and radar identitification system, and since he may have collected data while on active duty, his defection had serious espionage implications.

Oswald thus had compromised all the secret data he had come in contact with in the Marines. He had also through this act put himself in the hands of his hosts.He was now completely dependent on the Soviets for financial support, legal status and protection. Before disappearing into the Soviet hinterland for a year, Oswald spelled out his operational creed in a long letter to his brother. From Moscow, he wrote presciently of his willingness to commit murder for a political cause: "I want you to understand what I say now, I do not say lightly, or unknowingly, since I've been in the military .... In the event of war I would kill any American who put a uniform on in defense of the American Government --", and then ominously added for emphasis, " Any American." Although his letter was routinely intercepted by the CIA and microfilmed, no discernable attention was paid to the threat contained in it . When Oswald returned from the Soviet Union in June 1962 (with a little help from a State Department eager to demonstrate that it could win back a defector from the Soviets), joined by a Russian wife, he retained his militant convictions. In Dallas, where he settled, he purchased a rifle with telescopic sights and a revolver from a mail-order house under a false name. He also lectured his more liberal acquaintances on the need for violent action rather than mere words. General Edwin A. Walker, an extreme conservative, who had been active in Dallas organizing anti-Castro guerrillas became in the Spring of 1963 a particular focus of Oswald's attention. He repeatedly suggested to a German geologist, Volkmar Schmidt, and other friends, that General walker should be treated like a "murderer at large". He did not stop at fierce words. For weeks, he methodically stalked Walker's movements, photographing his residence from several angles. He then had his wife photograph him, dressed entirely in black, with his revolver strapped on a holster on his hip, his sniper's rifle in his right hand, and two newspapers --~The Worker~ and the~Militant~ -- in his left hand. He made three copies of the photograph-- one of which he inscribed, dated "5--IV-63" and sent to a Dallas acquaintance, George De Mohrenschildt. He then left with his rifle wrapped in a raincoat, telling his wife he was off to "target practice", but his target, General Walker, was out of town that night. Five nights later, Oswald returned to Walker's house, and fired a shot at him that missed his head by inches, demonstrating that he had the capacity as well as the willingness to kill "Any American". After the failed assassination, Oswald went to New Orleans, where he became the organizer for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Aside from printing leaflets, staging demonstrations, getting arrested and appearing on local radio talk shows in support of Castro that summer, Oswald attempted to personally infiltrate an anti-Castro group that was organizing sabotage raids against Cuba. He explained to friends that he could figure out his "anti-imperialist" policy by "reading between the lines" of the Militant and other such publications. In August, he wrote the central committee of the Communist Party USA asking "Whether in your opinion, I can compete with anti-progressive forces above ground, or whether I should always remain in the background,i.e. underground". During this hot summer, while Oswald spent evenings practicing sighting his rifle in his backyard, the Militant raged on about the Kennedy Administration's "terrorist bandit" attacks on Cuba. And as the semi-secret war against Castro escalated, Oswald expressed increasing interest in reaching Cuba. Oswald told his wife he planned to hijack an airliner to Havana, suggesting, as the summer progressed, that he might even earn a position in Castro's government. On September 9th, in a report that appeared on the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Castro himself warned that if American leaders continued "aiding plans to eliminate Cuban leaders ... they themselves will not be safe". The implication of this threat was not lost on Oswald. Telling his wife that they might never meet again, he left New Orleans two weeks later headed for the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. To convince the Cubans of his bona fides-- and seriousness-- he had prepared a dossier on himself, which included a 10 page resume, outlining his revolutionary activities, newspaper clippings about his defection to the Soviet Union, propaganda material he had printed, documents he had stolen from a printing company engaged in classified map reproduction for the U.S Army, his correspondence with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee executives and photographs linking him to the Walker shooting. Oswald applied for a visa at the Cuban Embassy on the morning of September 27th 1963. He said that he wanted to stop in Havana en route to the Soviet Union. On the application the consular office who interviewed him, noted: "The applicant states that he is a member of the American Communist Party and Secretary in New Orleans of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee." Despite such recommendations, Oswald was told that he needed a Soviet visa before the Cuban visa could be issued. He argued over this requisite with the Cuban counsel, Eusebio Azque, in front of witnesses, and reportedly made wild claims about services he might perform for the Cuban cause. During the next five days, he traveled back and forth between the Soviet and Cuban embassies attempting to straighten out the difficulty. When he telephoned from the Cuban embassy to arrange an appointment at the Soviet Embassy with an officer called Valery Vladimirovich Kostikov, he set off alarm bells at the CIA, which had been surreptitiously monitoring the phone line. Kostikov was a KGB officer who had been under close surveillance in Mexico by the FBI ( and who,in 1971, was identified by a KGB defector in London as the head of sabotage operations in Mexico). By the time the CIA had identified Oswald, and notified the FBI, he had left Mexico.

When he returned to Dallas that October, Oswald assumed a different identity--"O.H.Lee-- and, separating himself from his family, he moved to a rooming house. He also forbade his wife from divulging his whereabouts. He then got a job at the Texas Book Depository, which overlooked the convergence of the three main streets into central Dallas. On October 18th, Oswald's visa was approved by the Cuban Foreign Ministry (despite the fact that he had not officially received a Soviet visa,as required.) Three weeks later, he wrote another letter to the Soviet Embassy, referring to his meeting with Kostikov in Mexico, and adding cryptically: "Had I been able to reach the Soviet Embassy in Havana as planned, the embassy there would have had time to complete our business."

FBI counterintelligence, which had intercepted this letter in Washington, and evidently was interested in Oswald's "business" in Havana, urgently requested its field agents in Dallas to locate him. An FBI agent, James Hosty, rushed over to the home where Oswald's family was living, and questioned his wife, but he did not find him Oswald until November 22nd, when he had been arrested for the murder of a Dallas policeman and President Kennedy. In the final analysis, the Warren Commission turned out to be right: Oswald was the assassin. He had brought his rifle to work on November 22nd, carefully prepared a concealed sniper's position at a sixth floor window, and, waiting in ambush for almost an hour, shot the President as the motorcade passed below. The possibility that he had assistance-- for example, someone setting off a firecracker as a diversion-- can never be precluded. But the real question is not how but why Oswald assassinated the President. The most obvious motive was provided by Oswald himself in his letter from Moscow: To kill any American who put on a uniform against his cause. He openly subscribed to the terrorist creed that a man with a rifle could change history; and, as far as Oswald was concerned, President Kennedy and General Walker were both actively working to destroy his avowed hero-- Castro.
Whether Oswald , given his clear disposition towards killing an American leader, was prodded or otherwise induced into committing the assassination was the question that vexed American intelligence after the shooting. Oswald had disappeared in the Soviet Union for more than a year, without yielding a trace of what, if any, training and indoctrination he had undergone. The only record of this missing year was a "diary" he brought out with him, which had in fact been written in two days presumably to provide him with a consistent cover story or legend. His five days with the Cubans in Mexico City were also a blank -- although friendly sources within the Cuban Embassy indicated that he was pressured to prove his loyalty and worth. Although the Cuban government insisted, through both official and intelligence channels, that Oswald was presumed crazy and dismissed as such by the embassy staff, it left unanswered the disturbing question of why a visa was approved for Oswald-- after the report was received from the embassy. Among the eleven questions prepared by the CIA for Mexican interrogators was one that expressed its direct concern: "Was the assassination of of President Kennedy planned by Fidel Castro ... and were the final details worked out inside the Cuban Embassy".
In Dallas, before Mexican investigators could question their sources, Oswald was shot dead, and with his death ended the hope of unraveling his motive.

The Big Picture ? "The end goal is to get everybody chipped, to control the whole society, to have the bankers and the elite people control the world."Nick Rockefeller quoted by Aaron Russo in this interview.

It's not about more power, it's not about more money, it's about the survival of the elite pyramid

Several years ago, after his popular video Mad As Hell was released and he began his campaign to become Governor of Nevada, Russo was noticed by Rockefeller and introduced to him by a female attorney. Seeing Russo's passion and ability to affect change, Rockefeller set about on a subtle mission to recruit Russo into the elite's CFR (Council of Foreign Relation) organization. Aaron Russo, the famous Film Maker of Trading Places starring Eddy Murphy, also made a film called "America: Freedom To Fascism". The motive behind this latter is surely linked to Nick (Nicholas) Rockefeller revelation about the ultimate aim of the Elites New World Order.

As Russo refused to join them, Rockefeller coldly questioned why Russo cared about the "serfs"

Russo rejected the invitation, saying he had no interest in "enslaving the people" to which Rockefeller coldly questioned why he cared about the "serfs." "I used to say to him what's the point of all this," states Russo, "you have all the money in the world you need, you have all the power you need, what's the point, what's the end goal?" to which Rockefeller replied (paraphrasing), "The end goal is to get everybody chipped, to control the whole society, to have the bankers and the elite people control the world."Rockefeller even assured Russo that if he joined the elite his chip would be specially marked so as to avoid undue inspection by the authorities.

Other themes are 9/11, agenda behind feminism the Rockefeller Foundation has helped promoted with CIA and depopulation of the world by 50%.

The Big Picture ?

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http://hubpages.com/hub/Federal_Reserve_Act Federal Reserve Act: the most Influential Act in US/World History since the Constitution72

By thecounterpunch

"In his final Senate years, Aldrich chaired the National Monetary Commission. His Aldrich Plan, providing for flexible cash reserves, was the forerunner of the Federal Reserve System."

-- Senate.gov

"This Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth... The worst legislative crime of the ages is perpetrated by this banking and currency Bill."

-- Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr (father of famous aviator), Congressman in his book Banking and Currency and The Money Trust, 1913

"The Congress shall have Power... To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures [see on the origin of the Gold Standard] ..."-- Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution

"The name of Central Bank is carefully avoided, but the ‘Federal Reserve Association’, the name given to the proposed central organization, is endowed with the usual powers and responsibilities of a European Central Bank."

-- Nation Magazine, January 19, 1911

The Federal Reserve Act was proposed in 1908 by Nelson Aldrich - whose unique daughter married unique Rockefeller's son - in theAldrich-Vreeland Act after the Panic of 1907.The Act created the "Federal Reserve System" which transferred control of the money supply from Congress [see above Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution] to the banking system. Though the Treasury still coins and prints our money under the authority of Congress, neither the Treasurynor the Congress has the slightest thing to do with its issue or regulating the value thereof. The Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson - under the influence of Colonel House - founder of the CFR (controlled byRockefeller) - on December 23, 1913 during the night (see timeline below) eighty years after President Jacksonrepelled the charter of the Second Bank Of United States.

The Incredible Timeline

The Federal Reserve Act was scheduled during the unlikely hours of 1.30 am to 4.30 am - were most members probably sleeping ? - on Monday 22 December 1913, at which 20 to 40 substantial differences in the House and Senate versions were supposedly described, deliberated upon, debated, reconciled and voted upon in a near-miraculous four-and-a-half to nine minutes per item, at that late hour. At 4.30 am, a prepared report of this Committee was handed to the printers. Senator Bristow of Kansas, the Republican leader, stated on the Congressional Record that the Conference Committee had met without notifying them, and that Republicans were not present and were given no opportunity either to read or sign the Conference Committee report. The Conference report is normally read on the Senate floor. The Republicans did not even see the report. Some senators stated on the floor of the Senate that they had no knowledge of the contents of the Bill. At 6.02 PM on 23 December, when many members had already left the Capital for the Christmas holiday, the very same day that the Bill was hurried through the House and Senate, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 into law.

Mike Mathiesen  says: 2 years ago This one of the many ways they have watered down the Constitution and our rights over the years. There are more going on today.

J D Murrah  says: 2 years ago Colonel House did a lot of damage to the Constitution through Wilson. His influence allowed massive centralization to occur in Washington. The only person who managed doing more damage to the Constitution was Lincoln. I heard a new saying the other day that the Federal Reserve is neither Federal nor does it have a Reserve. Jeffrey Murrah, author Texans Always Move Them: A True History of Texas.

DNKStore  says: 15 months ago We still live today under the influence of actions taken by venal corrupt men taken nearly 100 years ago. Nothing has changed much in this regard.

Socio-Image  says: 10 months ago Do you know if there was some process that is on the record of the Republicans or whoever did not like the bill, after it passed, took action to try and declare it as unconstitutional and have it thrown out? Certainly it would seem logical especially if they pushed the bill in the early morning hours before Christmas.

James Jesse Emery St. Louis  says: 7 months ago: Hey Guys Did you know these same men now operate 130 Central Banks in 130 Different Sovereign Nations The EU is their Conquest of Consent, no more habeus corpus in europe, Corpus Jurus, Judgement by the State, by The Court it's self, Double Joepardy is a thing of the past in the European Union, The North American union (Yes, that's, Mexico, Canada and The United States Merging their Economies and infrastructure) Is the Next Step in Their Plan, Their Plan is this Fraudulent, Manipulative, Self Destructive, Monetary-Communism via Central Banking, issuance of the currency, but on a global scale, The INTERNATIONAL Monetary (MONEY) Fund, The WORLD Health Organization, the WORLD Trade Organization and the WORLD BANK. we are fucked because the rothschilds are fucking satanists, they financed hitler's rise to power because he was harshly prejudiced, and would accomplish their goals for them, goals such as mass genocide, They financed Mao, who slaughtered 60 Million, because they are fucking satanists, and want no more than 500 Million People to "Burden" the Earth The Money Changers express their goals openly in the Georgia Guidestones, They are Raping third world countries of their resources, and spinning the world on it's head upside down drowing in debt 6 inches deep, and made of written agreements our own politicians signed, They are going to outlaw nutrients with codex alimentarius (not GNC Prodoucts, nutrients in our food) and neglect the world, legislated famine in the Name of the Earth, the environment, NCMR, you're ideas are not you're own "You Won't See this in the News" Rick and Dick abc cnn msnbc viacom NbC bbc npr pbs and everyone else didn't tell you about this, secret history, and current events, the banker will venture elsewhere, and profiteer (See what he Can BUY, to Make More MONEY) The Banker invested in industry, wartime industry, and he invested in public awareness,in general knowledge, in ideals, when he bought the newspapers, when he bought the Radio stations and the television broadcasters, the Networks, and then, He Proceeded to Buy, our Senators and representatives, and now he has bought us barack, bush, cheney, clinton, rumsfeld, Kissinger, Woodrow Wilson, Nixon, Greenspan, FDR, Ben Bernanke, Jay Rockefeller and many others, forging our future economically through the issuance and manipulation of the currency and it's value the other part of that qute is "This Act Legalizes the INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT of the Monetary (MONEY) Power." that was a hundred fucking years ago, nobody believes this shit because it's not feasible that our ideas are manipulated along with the economy to perpetuate debt to the men that killed kennedy, lincoln, bobby kennedy and bobby kennedy jr. Taft was killed for saying something about the monetary power two weeks after being elected, and americans are all kept ignorant of the history of these tycoons, manipulating governments through the issuance of the currency all the way back to the dark ages to Egypt and Ceaser, the world is kept ignorant to the true state of technology, and the possibilities of modern science.

MikeNV  says: 2 months ago American People are uneducated and unaware. I am amazed that an issue so important to the freedom and prosperity of our country, and the world for that matter gets absolutely no press. It's unfortunate but the average American is an idiot. They play the party politics game continuing to vote for politicians who perpetuate the fraud. People vote for candidates not on issues of relevance but on issues of emotion that are created in the media each election year. All the talk about the economy is laughable. People like Fed Chairman Bernanke perpetuating the lie with a straight face. I don't know how an issue so important can not make it to the mainstream - other than to say that the wealthy bankers own the media and continue to buy politicians so it can not.

I wish I could vote your hub up to 100. But I can only press the button once.


Nelson Aldrich: the Rockefeller's Middle Man who crafted the Income Tax and the Central Federal Reserve System

69  By thecounterpunch

"There are two distinct classes of men...those who pay taxes and those who receive and live upon taxes." -- Thomas Paine (1737–1809), pamphleteer and revolutionary

"You know, gentlemen, that I do not owe any personal income tax. But nevertheless, I send a small check, now and then, to the Internal Revenue Service out of the kindness of my heart." -- David Rockefeller (1915-), before a Congressional Committee

"In his final Senate years, Aldrich chaired the National Monetary Commission. His Aldrich Plan, providing for flexible cash reserves, was the forerunner of the Federal Reserve System."

-- Senate.gov

Aldrich introduced established an income tax, although he had declared a similar measure "communistic" a decade earlier

Born in Rhode Island, Nelson Aldrich (1841–1915) was a direct descendant of Rhode Island founder, Roger Williams. He had directed the Finance Committee and was tightly linked to Rockefeller as his only daughter married the only son ofJohn D. Rockefeller (Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller is his grandson and his son Winthrop Aldrich's will become chairmanship of the Chase National Bank - Rockefeller's Bank). In 1909, Aldrich introduced a constitutional amendment to establish an income tax, although he had declared a similar measure "communistic" a decade earlier. In 1908 he became the chief sponsor of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act which created the National Monetary Commission, later to become the Federal Reserve in 1913. Aldrich became wealthy with investments in street railroads, sugar, rubber and banking. In 1906 Aldrich and other American financiers invested heavily in mines and rubber in the Belgian Congo. They supported Belgium's King Leopold II, who was alleged to have imposed slave labor conditions in the colony.



Astounding Interview of Aaron Russo about Nicholas Rockefeller who asked him to join the CFR


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"The end goal is to get everybody chipped, to control the whole society, to have the bankers and the elite people control the world."

- Nick Rockefeller quoted by Aaron Russo in this interview.

It's not about more power, it's not about more money, it's about the survival of the elite pyramid

Several years ago, after his popular video Mad As Hell was released and he began his campaign to become Governor of Nevada, Russo was noticed by Rockefeller and introduced to him by a female attorney. Seeing Russo's passion and ability to affect change, Rockefeller set about on a subtle mission to recruit Russo into the elite's CFR (Council of Foreign Relation) organization.

Aaron Russo, the famous Film Maker of Trading Places starring Eddy Murphy, also made a film called "America: Freedom To Fascism". The motive behind this latter is surely linked to Nick (Nicholas) Rockefeller revelation about the ultimate aim of the Elites New World Order.

As Russo refused to join them, Rockefeller coldly questioned why Russo cared about the "serfs"

Russo rejected the invitation, saying he had no interest in "enslaving the people" to which Rockefeller coldly questioned why he cared about the "serfs."

"I used to say to him what's the point of all this," states Russo, "you have all the money in the world you need, you have all the power you need, what's the point, what's the end goal?" to which Rockefeller replied (paraphrasing), "The end goal is to get everybody chipped, to control the whole society, to have the bankers and the elite people control the world."

Rockefeller even assured Russo that if he joined the elite his chip would be specially marked so as to avoid undue inspection by the authorities.

Other themes are 9/11, agenda behind feminism the Rockefeller Foundation has helped promoted with CIA and depopulation of the world by 50%.

The Big Picture ?

Aaron and Nick were friends ...until the Revelation about Microchips


The Bilderberg Group - no more a secret in mass Medias - 64 By thecounterpunch

Cities of the UnderworldUnveil the Hidden World Beneath Major Cities. Videos at HISTORY Freemasony Warning: Do Not Join The Freemasons Until You've Seen This...

BBC - Bilderberg's head Viscount Davignon

In 1974, U.S. Senator James Buckley wrote: "I don't subscribe to the theory that there exists an organization of international bankers called the Bilderbergers." Bilderberg Group, so called because of their first meeting in May 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel, was kept in secrecy for several dozens of years. Today they prefer not to hide any more at least on European medias like the BBC (for example through their article "Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group"). Prince Bernhard, the Dutch aristocrat, former member of the honorary German Reiter SS Corps, founded the group and chaired meetings for more than 30 years. Over the years the group became a model for transnational diplomacy, lending support to European integration and oil company policies. Its steering committee was virtually a who's who of international finance; David Rockefeller, Gabriel Hauge (Manufacturer's Hanover Trust), Emilio Collado (Standard Oil, later Exxon) international lawyers such as Arthur Dean and George Ball. All U.S. steering committee members were also members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Rockefeller's organization (founded by Colonel House), which has dominated US foreign policy planning since World War II. Take George Ball, for example. A long-time CFR member, director of the Trilateral Commission (founded by Brzezinski for David Rockefeller - lifetime member), Undersecretary of State, and lawyer with Lehman Brothers. Or Arthur Dean. CFR member, partner in Sullivan and Cromwell law firm, whose partners included John Foster and Allen Dulles. Before World War II Sullivan and Cromwell worked with German chemical and steel monopolies. By the time the Bilderbergers began to meet, attorney Allen Dulles had become CIA director. Is Bilderberg goal the same as described by Caroll Quigley, Bill Clinton's mentor, in his book "Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time" ?

"The powers of financial capitalism had far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert." Carroll Quigley, Bill Clinton's mentor

Globalization: Maurice Allais, French Economics Nobel Prize for the "theory of markets and efficient utilization of ressources"


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Comments William F. Torpey  says: 2 years ago : Fascinating stuff, counterpunch. The wealthy and powerful don't need a secret conspiracy; they've had an open conspiracy for decades (and much longer.) These people deal with each other in business, attend all the same dinners and luncheons, belong to the same exclusive golf courses, gather in the same backroom political circles, etc. Just as the average guys meet at the public golf courses and fraternal organizations etc. The wealthy feel they are doing the world a favor by making all the big decisions. It's a little bit like the old slave owners who would brag about how well they treated their slaves, often refusing to believe their slaves would even want to be free and fend for themselves. Obviously, the world is headed in the wrong direction, and if something isn't done about it, well.
BBC - Bilderberg's head Viscount Davignon
He plays down the group's role in setting the international agenda
He plays down the group's role in setting the international agenda
http://hubpages.com/hub/Tragedy_and_Hope Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley (Bill Clinton's mentor) - 75 By thecounterpunch

Summary "The powers of financial capitalism had far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert." -- Carroll Quigley, Bill Clinton's mentor

Read before


“There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960's, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims [theCounterpunch: not any more see Home-School.Com: an astonishing interview with John Taylor Gatto] and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies (notably to its belief that England was an Atlantic rather than a European Power and must be allied, or even federated, with the United States and must remain isolated from Europe), but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.” “The Rhodes Scholarships, established by the terms of Cecil Rhodes's seventh will, are known to everyone. What is not so widely known is that Rhodes in five previous wills left his fortune to form a secret society, which was to devote itself to the preservation and expansion of the British Empire. And what does not seem to be known to anyone is that this secret society was created by Rhodes and his principal trustee, Lord Milner, and continues to exist to this day. To be sure, this secret society is not a childish thing like the Ku Klux Klan, and it does not have any secret robes, secret handclasps, or secret passwords. It does not need any of these, since its members know each other intimately. It probably has no oaths of secrecy nor any formal procedure of initiation. It does, however, exist and holds secret meetings, over which the senior member present presides. At various times since 1891, these meetings have been presided over by Rhodes, Lord Milner, Lord Selborne, Sir Patrick Duncan, Field Marshal Jan Smuts, Lord Lothian, and Lord Brand. They have been held in all the British Dominions, starting in South Africa about 1903; in various places in London, chiefly Piccadilly; at various colleges at Oxford, chiefly All Souls; and at many English country houses such as Tring Park, Blickling Hall, Cliveden, and others.” “No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner group accomplished in Britain, that is, that a small number of men should be able to wield such power in administration and politics, should be given almost complete control over the publication of the documents relating to their actions, should be able to exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and should be able to monopolize so completely the writing and teaching of the history of their own period.” “The powers of financial capitalism had far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”

Links BIS - Bank of International Settlement: the Mother of all Central Banks



BIS - Bank of International Settlement: the Mother of all Central Banks


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The BIS was originally established in May 1930 by bankers and diplomats of Europe and the United States to collect and disburse Germany's World War I reparation payments (hence its name). It was truly an extraordinary arrangement. Although the BIS was organized as a commercial bank with publicly held shares, its immunity from government interference, and even taxation, in both peace and war was guaranteed by an international treaty signed in The Hague in 1930. Although all its depositors are central banks, the BIS has made a profit on every transaction. And because it has been highly profitable, it has required no subsidy or aid from any government.

Since it also provided, in Basel, a safe and convenient repository for the gold holdings of the European central banks, it quickly evolved into the bank for central banks. As the world depression deepened in the Thirties and- financial panics flared up in Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Germany, the governors in charge of the key central banks feared that the entire global financial system would collapse unless they could closely coordinate their rescue efforts. The obvious meeting spot for this desperately needed coordination was the BIS, where they regularly went anyway to arrange gold swaps and war-damage settlements. Even though an isolationist Congress officially refused to allow the U.S. Federal Reserve to participate in the BIS, or to accept shares in it (which were instead held in trust by the First National City Bank [owned by William Rockefeller]), the chairman of the Fed quietly slipped over to Basel for important meetings. World monetary policy was evidently too important to leave to national politicians. During World War 11, when the nations, if not their central banks, were belligerents, the BIS continued operating in Basel, though the monthly meetings were temporarily suspended. In 1944, following Czech accusations that the BIS was laundering gold that the Nazis had stolen from occupied Europe, the American government backed a resolution at the Bretton Woods Conference calling for the liquidation of the BIS. The naive idea was that the settlement and monetary-clearing functions it provided could be taken over by the new International Monetary Fund. What could not be replaced, however, was what existed behind the mask of an international clearing house: a supranational organization for setting and implementing global monetary strategy, which could not be accomplished by a democratic, United Nations-like international agency. The central bankers, not about to let their club be taken from them, quietly snuffed out the American resolution. After World War 11, the BIS reemerged as the main clearing house for European currencies and, behind the scenes, the favored meeting place of central bankers. When the dollar came under attack in the 1960s, massive swaps of money and gold were arranged at the BIS for the defense of the American currency. It was undeniably ironic that, as the president of the BIS observed, "the United States, which had wanted to kill the BIS, suddenly finds it indispensable." In any case, the Fed has become a leading member of the club, with either Chairman Paul Volcker or Governor Henry Wallich attending every "Basel weekend." Originally, the central bankers sought complete anonymity for their activities. Their headquarters were in an abandoned six story hotel, the Grand et Savoy Hotel Universe, with an annex above the adjacent Frey's Chocolate Shop. There purposely was no sign over the door identifying the BIS, so visiting central bankers and gold dealers used Frey's, which is across the street from the railroad station, as a convenient landmark. It was in the wood-paneled rooms above the shop and the hotel that decisions were reached to devalue or defend currencies, to fix the price of gold, to regulate offshore banking, and to raise or lower short-term interest rates. And though they shaped "a new world economic order" through these deliberations, according to Guido Carli, the governor of the Italian central bank,, the public, even in Basel, remained almost totally unaware of the club and its activities. In May 1977, however, the BIS gave up its anonymity, against the better judgment of some of its members, in exchange for more efficient headquarters. The new building, an eighteen story-high circular skyscraper that rises over the medieval city like some misplaced nuclear reactor, quickly became known as the "Tower of Basel" and began attracting attention from tourists. "That was the last thing we wanted," Dr. Fritz Leutwiler, its president told me, when I interviewed him in 1983. "If it had been up to me, it never would have been built." While we talked, he kept his eyes glued to the Reuters screen in his office, which signaled currency fluctuations around the globe.

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Bilderberg's head Viscount Davignon plays down the group's role in setting the international agenda
Bill Clinton was featured at a Bilderberg meeting while he was governor of Arkansas

" There need to be places where these people can think about the main challenges ahead, co-ordinate where policies should be going, and find out where there could be a consensus ".....Professor Kees van der Pijl
" Business influences society and politics influences society - that's purely common sense ..." Will Hutton Economist who has attended a Builderberg meeting.Will Hutton, an economic analyst and former newspaper editor who attended a Bilderberg meeting in 1997, says people take part in these networks in order to influence the way the world works, to create what he calls "the international common sense" about policy.

Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group
How much influence do private networks of the rich and powerful have on government policies and international relations? One group, the Bilderberg, has often attracted speculation that it forms a shadowy global government. As part of the BBC's Who Runs Your World? series, Bill Hayton tries to find out more.

The chairman of the secretive - he prefers the word private - Bilderberg Group is 73-year-old Viscount Etienne Davignon, corporate director and former European Commissioner. In his office, on a private floor above the Brussels office of the Suez conglomerate lined with political cartoons of himself, he told me what he thought of allegations that Bilderberg is a global conspiracy secretly ruling the world. "It is unavoidable and it doesn't matter," he says. "There will always be people who believe in conspiracies but things happen in a much more incoherent fashion."

Lack of publicity

In an extremely rare interview, he played down the importance of Bilderberg in setting the international agenda. "What can come out of our meetings is that it is wrong not to try to deal with a problem. But a real consensus, an action plan containing points 1, 2 and 3? The answer is no. People are much too sensible to believe they can do that.  Every year since 1954, a small network of rich and powerful people have held a discussion meeting about the state of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the problems facing Europe and the US. Organised by a steering committee of two people from each of about 18 countries, the Bilderberg Group (named after the Dutch hotel in which it held its first meeting) brings together about 120 leading business people and politicians. At this year's meeting in Germany, the audience included the heads of the World Bank and European Central Bank, Chairmen or Chief Executives from Nokia, BP, Unilever, DaimlerChrysler and Pepsi - among other multi-national corporations, editors from five major newspapers, members of parliament, ministers, European commissioners, the crown prince of Belgium and the queen of the Netherlands. "I don't think (we are) a global ruling class because I don't think a global ruling class exists. I simply think it's people who have influence interested to speak to other people who have influence," Viscount Davignon says.  "Bilderberg does not try to reach conclusions - it does not try to say 'what we should do'. Everyone goes away with their own feeling and that allows the debate to be completely open, quite frank - and to see what the differences are. "Business influences society and politics influences society - that's purely common sense. It's not that business contests the right of democratically-elected leaders to lead". For Bilderberg's critics the fact that there is almost no publicity about the annual meetings is proof that they are up to no good. Jim Tucker, editor of a right-wing newspaper, the American Free Press for example, alleges they organise wars and elect and depose political leaders. He describes the group as simply 'evil'. So where does the truth lie? Professor Kees van der Pijl of Sussex University in Britain says such private networks of corporate and political leaders play an informal but crucial role in the modern world. "There need to be places where these people can think about the main challenges ahead, co-ordinate where policies should be going, and find out where there could be a consensus."

'Common sense'

Will Hutton, an economic analyst and former newspaper editor who attended a Bilderberg meeting in 1997, says people take part in these networks in order to influence the way the world works, to create what he calls "the international common sense" about policy.  "On every issue that might influence your business you will hear at first-hand the people who are actually making those decisions and you will play a part in helping them to make those decisions and formulating the common sense," he says. And that "common sense" is one which supports the interests of Bilderberg's main participants - in particular free trade. Viscount Davignon says that at the annual meetings, "automatically around the table you have internationalists" - people who support the work of the World Trade Organisation, trans-Atlantic co-operation and European integration.

Bilderberg meetings often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names. Bill Clinton went in 1991 while still governor of Arkansas, Tony Blair was there two years later while still an opposition MP. All the recent presidents of the European Commission attended Bilderberg meetings before they were appointed.

'Secret Government'

This has led to accusations that the group pushes its favoured politicians into high office. But Viscount Davignon says his steering committee are simply excellent talent spotters. The steering committee "does its best assessment of who are the bright new boys or girls in the beginning phase of their career who would like to get known." "It's not a total accident, but it's not a forecast and if they go places it's not because of Bilderberg, it's because of themselves," Viscount Davignon says. But its critics say Bilderberg's selection process gives an extra boost to aspiring politicians whose views are friendly to big business. None of this, however, is easy to prove - or disprove. Observers like Will Hutton argue that such private networks have both good and bad sides. They are unaccountable to voters but, at the same time, they do keep the international system functioning. And there are limits to their power - a point which Bilderberg chairman was keen to stress, "When people say this is a secret government of the world I say that if we were a secret government of the world we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves." Informal and private networks like Bilderberg have helped to oil the wheels of global politics and globalisation for the past half a century. In the eyes of critics they have undermined democracy, but their supporters believe they are crucial to modern democracy's success. And so long as business and politics remain mutually dependent, they will continue to thrive.


Ruling The World of Money HARPER'S November 1983 by Edward Jay Epsteinhttp://www.edwardjayepstein.com/archived/moneyclub.htm

Ten times a year— once a mouth except in August and October— a small elite of well dressed men arrives in Basel, Switzerland. Carrying overnight bags and attache cases, they discreetly check into the Euler Hotel, across from the railroad station. They have come to this sleepy city from places as disparate as Tokyo, London, and Washington, D.C., for the regular meeting of the most exclusive, secretive, and powerful supranational club in the world. Each of the dozen or so visiting members has his own office at the club, with secure telephone lines to his home country. The members are fully serviced by a permanent staff of about 300, including chauffeurs, chefs, guards, messengers, translators, stenographers, secretaries, and researchers. Also at their disposal are a brilliant research unit and an ultramodern computer, as well as a secluded country club with tennis courts and a swimming pool, a few kilometers outside Basel. The membership of this club is restricted to a handful of powerful men who determine daily the interest rate, the availability of credit, and the money supply of the banks in their own countries. They include the governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank, and the German Bundesbank. The club controls a bank with a $40 billion kitty in cash, government securities, and gold that constitutes about one tenth of the world's available foreign exchange. The profits earned just from renting out its hoard of gold (second only to that of Fort Knox in value) are more than sufficient to pay for the expenses of the entire organization. And the unabashed purpose of its elite monthly meetings is to coordinate and, if possible, to control all monetary activities in the industrialized world. The place where this club meets in Basel is a unique financial institution called the Bank for International Settlements-or more simply, and appropriately, the BIS (pronounced "biz" in German).THE BIS was originally established in May 1930 by bankers and diplomats of Europe and the United States to collect and disburse Germany's World War I reparation payments (hence its name). It was truly an extraordinary arrangement. Although the BIS was organized as a commercial bank with publicly held shares, its immunity from government interference, and even taxation, in both peace and war was guaranteed by an international treaty signed in The Hague in 1930. Although all its depositors are central banks, the BIS has made a profit on every transaction. And because it has been highly profitable, it has required no subsidy or aid from any government.Since it also provided, in Basel, a safe and convenient repository for the gold holdings of the European central banks, it quickly evolved into the bank for central banks. As the world depression deepened in the Thirties and- financial panics flared up in Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Germany, the governors in charge of the key central banks feared that the entire global financial system would collapse unless they could closely coordinate their rescue efforts. The obvious meeting spot for this desperately needed coordination was the BIS, where they regularly went anyway to arrange gold swaps and war-damage settlements.Even though an isolationist Congress officially refused to allow the U.S. Federal Reserve to participate in the BIS, or to accept shares in it (which were instead held in trust by the First National City Bank), the chairman of the Fed quietly slipped over to Basel for important meetings. World monetary policy was evidently too important to leave to national politicians. During World War 11, when the nations, if not their central banks, were belligerents, the BIS continued operating in Basel, though the monthly meetings were temporarily suspended. In 1944, following Czech accusations that the BIS was laundering gold that the Nazis had stolen from occupied Europe, the American government backed a resolution at the Bretton Woods Conference calling for the liquidation of the BIS. The naive idea was that the settlement and monetary-clearing functions it provided could be taken over by the new International Monetary Fund.What could not be replaced, however, was what existed behind the mask of an international clearing house: a supranational organization for setting and implementing global monetary strategy, which could not be accomplished by a democratic, United Nations-like international agency. The central bankers, not about to let their club be taken from them, quietly snuffed out the American resolution.After World War 11, the BIS reemerged as the main clearing house for European currencies and, behind the scenes, the favored meeting place of central bankers. When the dollar came under attack in the 1960s, massive swaps of money and gold were arranged at the BIS for the defense of the American currency. It was undeniably ironic that, as the president of the BIS observed, "the United States, which had wanted to kill the BIS, suddenly finds it indispensable." In any case, the Fed has become a leading member of the club, with either Chairman Paul Volcker or Governor Henry Wallich attending every "Basel weekend."Originally, the central bankers sought complete anonymity for their activities. Their headquarters were in an abandoned six story hotel, the Grand et Savoy Hotel Universe, with an annex above the adjacent Frey's Chocolate Shop. There purposely was no sign over the door identifying the BIS, so visiting central bankers and gold dealers used Frey's, which is across the street from the railroad station, as a convenient landmark. It was in the wood-paneled rooms above the shop and the hotel that decisions were reached to devalue or defend currencies, to fix the price of gold, to regulate offshore banking, and to raise or lower short-term interest rates. And though they shaped "a new world economic order" through these deliberations, according to Guido Carli, the governor of the Italian central bank,, the public, even in Basel, remained almost totally unaware of the club and its activities.In May 1977, however, the BIS gave up its anonymity, against the better judgment of some of its members, in exchange for more efficient headquarters. The new building, an eighteen story-high circular skyscraper that rises over the medieval city like some misplaced nuclear reactor, quickly became known as the "Tower of Basel" and began attracting attention from tourists. "That was the last thing we wanted," Dr. Fritz Leutwiler, its president told me, when I interviewed him in 1983. "If it had been up to me, it never would have been built." While we talked, he kept his eyes glued to the Reuters screen in his office, which signaled currency fluctuations around the globe.Despite its irksome visibility, the new headquarters does have the advantages of luxurious space and Swiss efficiency. The building is completely air-conditioned and self-contained, with its own nuclear-bomb shelter in the sub-basement, a triply redundant fire-extinguishing system (so outside firemen never have to be called in), a private hospital, and some twenty miles of subterranean archives. "We try to provide a complete clubhouse for central bankers ... a home away from home," said Gunther Schleiminger, the supercompetent general manager, as he arranged a rare tour of the headquarters for me. The top floor, with a panoramic view of three countries, Germany, France, and Switzerland, is a deluxe restaurant, used only to serve the members a buffet dinner when they arrive on Sunday evenings to begin the "Basel weekends." Aside from those ten occasions, this floor remains ghostly empty.On the floor below, Schleiminger and his small staff sit in spacious offices, administering the day-today details of the BIS and monitoring activities on lower floors as if they were running an out-of-season hotel. The next three floors down are suites of offices reserved for the central bankers. All are decorated in three colors— beige, brown, and tan— and each has a similar modernistic lithograph over the desk. Each office also has coded speed-dial telephones that at a push of a button directly connect the club members to their offices in their central banks back home. The completely deserted corridors and empty offices, with nameplates on the doors and freshly sharpened pencils in cups and neat stacks of incoming papers on the desks, are again reminiscent of a ghost town. When the members arrive for their forthcoming meeting in November, there will be a remarkable transformation, according to Schleiminger, with multilingual receptionists and secretaries at every desk, and constant meetings and briefings.On the lower floors are the BIS computer, which is directly linked to the computers of the member central banks and provides instantaneous access to data about the global monetary situation, and the actual bank, where eighteen traders, mainly from England and Switzerland, continually roll over short" term loans on the Eurodollar markets and guard against foreign-exchange losses (by simultaneously selling the currency in which the loan is due). On yet another floor, gold traders are constantly on the telephone arranging loans of the bank's gold to international arbitragers, thus allowing central banks to make interest on gold deposits.Occasionally there is an extraordinary situation, such as the decision to sell gold for the Soviet Union, which requires a decision from the "governors," as the BIS staff calls the central bankers. But most of the banking is routine, computerized, and riskless. Indeed, the BIS is prohibited by its statutes from making anything but short-term loans. Most are for thirty days or less that are government guaranteed or backed with gold deposited at the BIS. The profits the BIS receives for essentially turning over the billions of dollars deposited by the central banks amounted to $162 million last year.As skilled as the BIS may be at all this, the central banks themselves have highly competent staffs capable of investing their deposits. The German Bundesbank, for example, has a superb international trading department and 15,000 employees— at least twenty times as many as the BIS staff. Why then do the Bundesbank and the other central banks transfer some $40 billion of deposits to the BIS and thereby permit it to make such a profit?One answer is of course secrecy. By commingling part of their reserves in what amounts to a gigantic mutual fund of short term investments, the central banks created' a convenient screen behind which they can hide their own deposits and withdrawals in financial centers around the world. And the central banks are apparently willing to pay a high fee to use the cloak of the BIS.There is, however, another reason why the central banks regularly transfer deposits to the BIS: they want to provide it with a large enough profit to support the other services it provides. Despite its name, the BIS is far more than a bank. From the outside, it seems to be a small, technical organization. Just eighty-six of its 298 employees are ranked as professional staff. But the BIS is not a monolithic institution: artfully concealed within the shell of an international bank, like a series of Chinese boxes one inside another, are the real groups and services the central bankers need-and pay to support.The first box inside the bank is the board of directors, drawn from the eight European central banks (England, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Sweden, and the Netherlands), which meets on the Tuesday morning of each "Basel weekend." The board also meets twice a year in Basel with the central banks of other nations. It provides a formal apparatus for dealing with European governments and international bureaucracies like the IMF or the European Economic Community (the Common Market). The board defines the rules and territories of the central banks with the goal of preventing governments from meddling in their purview. For example, a few years ago, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris appointed a low-level committee to study the adequacy of bank reserves, the central bankers regarded it as poaching on their monetary turf and turned to the BIS board for assistance. The board then arranged for a high-level committee, under the head of Banking Supervision at the Bank of England, to preempt the issue. The OECD got the message and abandoned its effort.To deal with the world at large, there is another Chinese box called the Group of Ten, or simply the "G-10." It actually has eleven full-time members, representing the eight European central banks, the U.S. Fed, the Bank of Canada, and the Bank of Japan. It also has one unofficial member: the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. This powerful group, which controls most of the transferable money in the world, meets for long sessions on the Monday afternoon of the "Basel weekend." It is here that broader policy issues, such as interest rates, money-supply growth, economic stimulation (or suppression), and currency rates are discussed-if not always resolved.Directly under the G-10, and catering to all its special needs, is a small unit called the "Monetary and Economic Development Department," which is, in effect, its private think tank. The head of this unit, the Belgian economist Alexandre Larnfalussy, sits in on all the G-10 meetings, then assigns the appropriate research and analysis to the half dozen economists on his staff. This unit also produces the occasional blue-bound "economic papers" that provide central bankers from Singapore to Rio de Janeiro, even though they are not BIS members, with a convenient party line. For example, a recent paper called "Rules versus Discretion: An Essay on Monetary Policy in an Inflationary Environment," politely defused the Milton Friedmanesque dogma and suggested a more pragmatic form of monetarism. And last May, just before the Williamsburg summit conference, the unit released a blue book on currency intervention by central banks that laid down the boundaries and circumstances for such actions. When there are internal disagreements, these blue books can express positions sharply contrary to those held by some BIS members, but generally they reflect a consensus of the G-10.Over A bratwurst-and-beer lunch on the top floor of the Bundesbank, which is located in a huge concrete building (called "the bunker") outside of Frankfurt, Karl Otto Pohl, its president and a ranking governor of the BIS, complained to me in 1983 about the repetitiousness of the meetings during the "Basel weekend." "First, there is the meeting on the Gold Pool, then, after lunch, the same faces show up at the G-10, and the next day there is the board which excludes the U.S., Japan, and Canada, and the European Community meeting which excludes Sweden and Switzerland." He concluded: "They are long and strenuous-and they are not where the real business gets done." This occurs, as Pohl explained over our leisurely lunch, at still another level of the BIS: "a sort of inner club."

The inner club is made up of the half dozen or so powerful central bankers who find themselves more or less in the same monetary boat: along with Pohl are Volcker and Wallich from the Fed, Leutwiler from the Swiss National Bank, Lamberto Dini of the Bank of Italy, Haruo Mayekawa of the Bank of Japan, and the retired governor of the Bank of England, Lord Gordon Richardson (who had presided over the G-10 meetings for the past ten years). They are all comfortable speaking English; indeed, Pohl recounted how he has found himself using English with Leutwiler, though both are of course native German-speakers. And they all speak the same language when it comes to governments, having shared similar experiences. Pohl and Volcker were both under secretaries of their respective treasuries; they worked closely with each other, and with Lord Richardson, in the futile attempts to defend the dollar and the pound in the 1960s. Dini was at the IMF in Washington, dealing with many of the same problems. Pohl had worked closely with Leutwiler in neighboring Switzerland for two decades. "Some of us are very old friends," Pohl said. Far more important, these men all share the same set of well-articulated values 'about money.The prime value, which also seems to demarcate the inner club from the rest of the BIS members, is the firm belief that central banks should act independently of their home governments. This is an easy position for Leutwiler to hold, since the Swiss National Bank is privately owned (the only central bank that is not government owned) and completely autonomous. ("I don't think many people know the name of the president of Switzerland-even in Switzerland," Pohl joked, "but everyone in Europe has heard of Leutwiler.") Almost as independent is the Bundesbank; as its president, Pohl is not required to consult with government officials or to answer the questions of Parliament-even about such critical issues as raising interest rates. He even refuses to fly to Basel in a government plane, preferring instead to drive in his Mercedes limousine.The Fed is only a shade less independent than the Bundesbank: Volcker is expected to make periodic visits to Congress and at least to take calls from the White House-but he need not follow their counsel. While in theory the Bank of Italy is under government control, in practice it is an elite institution that acts autonomously and often resists the government. (In 1979, its then governor, Paolo Baffi, was threatened with arrest, but the inner club, using unofficial channels, rallied to his support.) Although the exact relationship between the Bank of Japan and the Japanese government purposely remains inscrutable, even to the BIS governors, its chairman, Mayekawa, at least espouses the principle of autonomy. Finally, though the Bank of England is under the thumb of the British government, Lord Richardson was accepted by the inner club because of his personal adherence to this defining principle. But his successor, Robin Leigh-Pemberton, lacking the years of business and personal contact, probably won't be admitted to the inner circle.In any case, the line is drawn at the Bank of England. The Bank of France is seen as a puppet of the French government; to a lesser degree, the remaining European banks are also perceived by the inner club as extensions of their respective governments, and thus remain on the outside.A second and closely related belief of the inner club is that politicians should not be trusted to decide the fate of the international monetary system. When Leutwiler became president of the BIS in 1982, he insisted that no government official be allowed to visit during a "Basel weekend." He recalled that in 1968, U.S. Treasury undersecretary Fred Deming had been in Basel and stopped in at the bank. "When word got around that an American Treasury official was at the BIS," Leutwiler said, "bullion traders, speculating that the U.S. was about to sell its gold, began a panic in the market." Except for the annual meeting in June (called "the Jamboree" by the staff ), when the ground floor of the BIS headquarters is open to official visitors, Leutwiler has tried to enforce his rule strictly. "To be frank," he I have no use for politicians. They lack the judgment of central bankers." This effectively sums up the common antipathy of the inner club toward "government muddling," as Pohl puts it.The inner-club members also share a strong preference for pragmatism and flexibility over any ideology, whether that of Lord Keynes or Milton Friedman. Rather than resorting to rhetoric and invoking principles, the inner club seeks any remedy that will relieve a crisis. For example, earlier this year, when Brazil failed to pay back on time a BIS loan that was guaranteed by the central banks, the inner club quietly decided to extend the deadline instead of collecting the money from the guarantors. "We are constantly engaged in a balancing act-without a safety net," Leutwiler explained.THE FINAL and by far the most important belief of the inner club is the conviction that when the bell tolls for any single central bank, it tolls for them all. When Mexico faced bankruptcy in the early eighties. The issue for the inner club was not the welfare of that country but, as Dini put it, "the stability of the entire banking system." For months Mexico had been borrowing overnight funds from the interbank market in New York-as every bank recognized by the Fed is permitted to do-to pay the interest on its $80 billion external debt. Each night it had to borrow more money to repay the interest on the previous night's transactions, and, according to Dini, by August Mexico had borrowed nearly one quarter of all the "Fed Funds," as these overnight loans between banks are called.The Fed was caught in a dilemma: if it suddenly stepped in and forbade Mexico from further using the interbank market, Mexico would be unable to repay its enormous debt the next day, and 25 percent of the entire banking system's ready funds might be frozen. But if the Fed permitted Mexico to continue borrowing in New York, in a matter of months it would suck in most of the interbank funds, forcing the Fed to expand drastically the supply of money.It was clearly an emergency for the inner club. After speaking to Miguel Mancera, director of the Banco de Mexico, Volcker immediately called Leutwiler, who was vacationing in the Swiss mountain village of Grison. Leutwiler realized that the entire system was confronted by a financial time bomb: even though the IMF was prepared to extend $4.5 billion to Mexico to relieve the pressure on its long-term debt, it would require months of paperwork to get approval for the loan. And Mexico needed an immediate 1.85 billion dollar loan to get out of the interbank market, which Mancera had agreed to do. But in less than forty eight hours, Leutwiler had called the members of the inner club and arranged the temporary bridging loan.While this $1.85 billion appeared in the financial press to have come from the BIS, virtually all the funds came from the central banks in the inner club. Half came directly from the United States -$600 million from the Treasury's exchange-equalization fund and $325 million from the Fed's coffers; the remaining $925 million mainly from deposits of the Bundesbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Italy, and Bank of Japan, deposits that were specifically guaranteed by these central banks, though advanced pro forma by the BIS (with a token amount advanced by the BIS itself against the collateral of Mexican gold). The BIS undertook virtually no risk in this rescue operation; it merely provided a convenient cloak for the inner club. Otherwise, its members, especially Volcker, would have had to take the political heat individually for what appeared to be the rescue of an underdeveloped country. In fact, they were true to their paramount values: rescuing the banking system itself.Inner club members publicly pay lip service to the ideal of preserving the character of the BIS and not turning it into a lender of last resort for the world at large. Privately, however, they will undoubtedly continue their maneuvers to protect the banking system at whatever point in the world it seems most vulnerable. After all, it is ultimately the central banks' money at risk, not the BIS's. And the inner club will also keep using the BIS as its public mask, and pay the requisite price for the disguise.


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