Differences between the transcript and the
videotape of James Files's "confession
Recently I decided to check the official transcript of
James Files's "confession" against the videotape. It was an easy
exercise, just following along in the text on Bob Vernon's web site ( http://homes.acmecity.com/music/keyboards/688/confession2.htm
) and stopping the tape to record discrepancies as they were found. I found a
bunch of omissions and a few additions. Some were very interesting.
Collectively, they showed that the transcript is a worked-over rendition of the
videotape. For the sharp-eyed, I note that Bob Vernon claims that the tape is a
true unedited copy, but he claims no such thing for the transcript. Having seen
that claim for the tape, I automatically assumed the same for the hard copy, but
I was wrong. Here is a summary of what I found. It will make you regard the
transcript with more caution. Any critical quotes should be checked for accuracy
against the tape.
Omissions. First, there are quite a few omissions.
Many are minor details, some simply cleanse the text of redundant words that are
commonly found in speech, but some seem to make Files appear more respectable
than he was during the interview. Here are some of the omissions.
- I [have] raised a family. [Omission shown in brackets.]
- La[t]otian army. (Several times)
- [And] there was just a handful of Americans working…
(Many such cases with and.)
- Q. No problem. (Omitted after one of
- …someone would handle the loan sharking
and [the] booking…
- Tell me the story…in your [own] words…
- …since the Chianos Bay affair which was
[known as] the Bay of Pigs.
- …and then he asked me what I thought
about [with] about Johnny Roselli working with us…
- …and [just] in your own words, tell me…
- We were just talking, having casual talk
about [one thing or another,] the weather and everything.
- He asked me [where would you,] if you was
to be outside here…
- …and I walked down on the grassy knoll
[and looked things over], no one paid any attention…
- [Q. Excuse me, can we cut? A. Sure.] (At the end
of an answer)
- After asking Files if he would autograph a picture of him behind the fence
(presumably the Moorman photo), the questioner adds I had to ask you that,
which is omitted in the transcript.
- A. .222 [pistol]…
- Discussion of microphones omitted from
- Q. Could you give me a full sentence on
- Q. [I recall that you mentioned…] Tell
me in your own words…
- In the middle of one of Files's answers, the
questioner interjects Start that sentence with "The only thing that…"
In response, Files says As far as I know the only thing that Sam Giancana
- after they beat [me] up a few times…
- After Files answers a question with Yes, he did, the questioner
interrupts and says Say it by starting with "Charles…"
In response, Files continues with Charles Nicoletti knew of my background…
- I guess I put him through a lot of paces
[because]…I couldn't understand his way of thinking…
- Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't the type of
person to [go running] run around…
- In response to one of Files's answers that
ends with …just followed the orders [to shoot Kennedy]…to me…it was
like taking out the garbage, the questioner adds That's a good
line. The text omits this comment.
- Q. …or does that matter to you [, Jim]?
- After the question Can you show me exactly
using your finger where your shot hit President Kennedy? the following
exchange is omitted: A. On whose face? Q. On yours.
- A. …on things [that] I have done…
- Q. Jimmy, in all your years in the service
and all the activities [you've been involved in]…
- Q. …do you have any idea of how many
[people] you have killed?
- A. …The only party [here] that we are…
- Q. I'm sorry I asked that [, but it was human interest stuff]…I
- A. …because every time I've been in
trouble [a lot of times]…
- A. …they started out that way in the
beginning and [it's still that way;] nothing's ever changed…
- A. …[But] I don't want to elaborate on
- A. …to everybody…[I mean] even the
people around him…
- A. …he [referring to Nicoletti] was my
God back then…[like Sam] he walked on water.
- After this exchange Q. So the US
government will kill people? A. Definitely… the questioner interjects Say
it. In response, files continues the US government will kill people…
The interjected instruction is omitted from the transcription.
- After the last transcribed answer, the
following remark is omitted: Q. Wrap. Can you think of anything else you
want to add, brother?
- You mentioned to me [at] one time…
[Addition shown in brackets.]
- I left and I went down a week [earlier] early. [Altered version of
original word shown in brackets.]
- …tell me what happened from November 21,
1963 [until] till the night of November 22, 1963…
- But when they made that, [it] that was the
only change in it.
- [Original, cut] Q: Anybody else there you
recognized? You told me at one time it looked like "Old Home
Week." [Revised, printed] Q. Did you see anybody else there you
- [Original, cut] A. No, I did not know that he was on the sixth floor
there. Q. You got to say that "I did not know that Lee Harvey Oswald
was… [Revised, used] A. I did
not know that Lee Harvey Oswald was ["there" omitted] on the 6th
- Files consistently referred to Officer Tippit
as "T.J." instead of "J.D." The transcription changes
all the references to "J.D."
- "John F. Kennedy" changed to
- I remember that when the shots [had been]
- …everyone's [exciting] excited…
- XP-2100 Fireball (a gross and telling
error by Files) changed to XP-100 Fireball.
- As the years went by, Sam got killed, I
believe, in June 1975… changed to As the years went by, Sam got
killed in June, I believe, in 1975…
- A. The other people there has no bearing…
is changed to The other people have no bearing…
- A. …I would do exactly what [just like]
I always did…
- In the middle of one of Files's (transcribed)
answers, this is omitted: Q. [pause] I think we may have it. I think we
can wrap. I can't think—[break in recording, followed by apparent
resumption of same answer (as transcribed): As far as John F. Kennedy
- A. …he [referring to Nicoletti] could
have made a deal for his own life and for security and protection and [but]
- it's mistakenly transcribed as its.
- therefore transcribed as therefor.
- severial brain hemorrhage used several times.
- Marine Corps transcribed as Marine Corp.
- If I hadn't of fired the shot…[of
turned into a verb!]
- overextended transcribed as over
- …you going to find… transcribed as
…you go into find…
- …one of the local hitman instead of one
of the local hitmen…
- …they go[t] no support whatsoever…
- i instead of I.
The net effects of these omissions and alterations are
severalfold. First, they make the transcription appear smoother and more
flattering to James Files than the true interview was. Second, they remove
critical errors by Files, such as giving the Fireball a fictitious numerical
designation and using the wrong initials for Patrolman Tippit, that reveal that
he was considerably less familiar with the weapon and the man that he claimed to
be. And third, they hide the fact that the questioner was coaching Files at
several points to say things in the way that the questioner wanted. Thus,
readers need to beware that this transcription is not faithful to the original
interview. All key points should be checked against the videotape before being
Of course, the overall effect of all this is to considerably
weaken Files's credibility. This result is completely consistent with the
several points in his story that are incompatible with the validated physical
evidence from the assassination. Collectively all this leads to the inevitable
conclusion that the "confession" is a carefully crafted hoax. One
thing we cannot say, however, is who created the hoax. James Files is clearly
lying. Whether Bob Vernon is part of it we cannot tell—he
may just have been taken in by the story. Score yet another victory for the
power of the physical evidence!
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