Response To Anthony Marsh On His "Critique Of Mark Zaid And Dennis Ford's Ttd Paper On Jean Hill's Memory
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
At the Third Decade's Second Annual Research Conference held in
Providence, Rhode Island this past June, Psychology Professor Dennis Ford and I
presented a paper entitled "Eyewitness Testimony, Memory, and Assassination
Research." In this paper we not only explained how unreliable and highly
inaccurate eyewitness accounts can be but applied unquestionable data to that of
a particular witness of President Kennedy's assassination. That one witness
being Mrs. Jean Hill.
Mrs. Hill was utilized as an example specifically because her statements and accounts, unlike those of many other eyewitnesses, can be effectively traced over the entire period of time that has passed since 1963. In essence, based upon our findings, she is her own worst enemy.
While I appreciate Mr. Marsh's placid endorsement of our paper's premise that eyewitness testimony is often unreliable, I must, respectfully, emphatically disagree with his specific criticisms of the analysis of Mrs. Hill's "enlightening" observations presented by myself and Professor Ford. In no way, whatsoever, were any statements attributed to Mrs. Hill or any other individual distorted or misrepresented in our paper. To state otherwise is an example of deliberate falsification or mistaken interpretation of what our paper accurately represents.
First, Mr. Marsh insinuates that it is we who attribute Mrs. Hill's placement of a little dog within the presidential limousine as that of a mistaken identification of Mrs. Kennedy's red roses. He further indicates Jean Hill was never able to correctly identify the actual object which was the root of her error. Apparently, according to Mr. Marsh, our analysis is faulty because Mrs. Kennedy's roses were red rather than white as was the alleged dog.
Clearly if one merely reviews Mrs. Hill's own testimony as contained in the Warren Commission's Hearings, the conclusions presented within our paper on this issue are unmistakably correct. It is Mrs. Hill herself that accepts the responsibility of her error placing a small dog where Mrs. Kennedy roses actually lay. (See Testimony of Jean Hill, W.C. Vol VI p. 214) The discrepancy of white versus red or whether it was gloves instead of flowers is a minor and insignificant observation as either fact supports our finding that Mrs. Hill's sense of perception was in error.
Second, it is alleged by Mr. Marsh that our statements regarding the encounter of Secret Service "agents" on the Grassy Knoll by Mrs. Hill is incorrect. While Mr. Marsh correctly points out that we indicate Patrolman J. M. Smith encountered agents rather than the individual agent that Smith describes to Commission staff attorney Wesley Liebeler, this criticism in no way serves to misquote Mrs. Hill--the true subject of our critique, rather it would seem to lend credence to her story that agents were, in fact, present on the knoll. However, once again it is quite easy to provide evidence of Mrs. Hill's fabrications by utilizing her own contradictions.
In her book, JFK: THE LAST DISSENTING WITNESS, Mrs. Hill states two men, not one, identified themselves as agents of the Secret Service. (Id at 27). An additional two men to whom Mrs. Hill was allegedly turned over to by the two "identified" agents also were suspected to be federal agents by Mrs. Hill. Her story of the encounter, unfortunately immortalized by Oliver Stone in the film JFK, is not only contradicted by her own statements given to officials of the Dallas Sheriff's Office, to a staff attorney representing the Warren Commission and to representatives of the media in the period immediately following the assassination, but by every other witness that possessed actual knowledge of her actions, including her close friend Mary Moorman.
To divert the blame for these and other gross inaccuracies to Mrs. Hill's co-author Bill Sloan, as Mr. Marsh attempts to do, is inexcusable and inappropriate. The scenarios described in her book are attributed to her and it is she who allows it to be published as an account of historical fact. If, in fact, parts of the story as written were the result of artistic license by Mr. Sloan, then Mrs. Hill has intentionally contributed to the continuing subversion of facts that is being perpetuated by so many researchers of today. Should this be the case, I, for one, DO place blame directly on Mrs. Hill.
To his credit, Mr. Marsh devotes the remainder of his critique to describing additional errors in Mrs. Hill's increasingly refined memory. To properly evaluate or refute, in their entirety, all of Mrs. Hill's statements would require a lengthy manuscript. It is unfortunate that the time already expended on evaluating and debating her stories could not have been devoted to more worthwhile projects as it should have been in the beginning.
There is no question that Mrs. Hill's stories are the result of false memories developed over a period of years. Whether this was a result of "unconscious transference" as the experts call it, or by "event insertion" as Mr. Marsh calls it, the final conclusion can only be that Mrs. Hill has developed into one of the most unreliable eyewitnesses. It is not the fact that Professor Ford or I attempted to, according to Mr. Marsh, "win our argument by deception" that should concern the reader but that so many of the findings presented over the years by researchers have relied on testimony that amounts to more than deception but true distortion.
For the record, by letter dated June 27, 1993, Mrs. Hill was presented a copy of the paper in question and invited to respond to any errors or misrepresentations of her statements that may have been inadvertently reported. To date, she has neglected to dispute any of our conclusions or observations.
Should anyone wish to obtain a copy of our paper, "Eyewitness Testimony, Memory, and Assassination Research," please contact Professor Jerry Rose, editor of The Third Decade, at SUNY Fredonia, New York or send $3 (to cover copying and postage) to Mark S. Zaid, 1201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Suite 440, Washington D.C. 20036