More Light on the Kennedy Assassination

V. Berezhkov

Book Reviews
Joachim Joesten, Die Wahrheit über den Kennedy-Mord.

Wie und warum der Warren-Report lügt.

Schweizer Verlagshaus AG, Zürich, 1966

New Times No. 43, 26 October 1966, pp. 28–32.

    With the publication of the Warren Commission’s report on the assassination of President Kennedy the official investigation was terminated and the case pronounced closed. Yet the circumstances of the crime continue to agitate the minds of many Americans. The report has not satisfied American and world opinion. A Washington Post poll this month revealed that three out of five distrust the Commission’s findings. Book after book has been appearing in the United States and in other countries casting grave doubt on them, demonstrating them to be biased and unsound. Their authors seek, as it were, to continue the investigation.
    In recent months Harold Weisberg in “Whitewash” and Edward Jay Epstein in “Inquest,” to name only two, have virtually disproved the official theory that Oswald was the assassin. Now a second book on the subject by the American publicist Joachim Joesten, “The Truth About the Kennedy Assassination,” has come out in Switzerland. His first, “Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy,” appeared in New York in 1964 (see New Times, No. 38, 1964). After its publication the clouds gathered so think over Joesten that he thought it the better part of discretion to remove to Switzerland. But even there he was under the watchful eye of those who want to keep the facts about the Kennedy assassination secret. This summer Joesten was suddenly arrested in Zurich and put in a mental hospital. He got himself out of it with great difficulty. He later declared at a press conference that the Swiss authorities had acted on the insistence of the American secret service and that his materials and notes on the assassination had been stolen from him.
    Joesten gave his new book the subtitle “How and Why the Warren Report Lies.” He shows this on the basis of his close and painstaking study of the 26 bulky tomes of the report and its appended documents, only in rare instances drawing on evidence other than that contained in it.
    President Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone and on his own initiative¾that is the official theory upheld by the Commission. Though Joesten does not name the real killers, he implants in the reader’s mind grave doubts of the validity of the conclusion. Many things point to the existence of a secret plot and carefully prepared plan to assassinate the President. Chief Justice Earl Warren on one occasion told newsmen that for security reasons some of the facts about President Kennedy’s assassination might not be made public for 75 years. Joesten chose the statement as the epigraph of his new book.
    Much of the author’s attention is centred on Lee Harvey Oswald who was promptly declared the assassin and who was himself killed at a police station by Jack Ruby two days later. He follows Oswald’s movements closely, giving the details of his trip to the Soviet Union, his marriage in Minsk, the circumstances of the Oswald family’s return to the United States, and then going on to the anti-Soviet fabrications cited in the Warren Report, patently meant to deflect public attention from the essential issue. But it is not these chapters that are of real interest. The important thing is the conclusion the author draws. Official propaganda painted Oswald as a man who, carried away by Marxism, decided to settle in the Soviet Union and then became disillusioned. Joesten shows that in reality Oswald was a secret agent of the U.S. intelligence service. Since he was soon seen through in the Soviet Union and could not carry out his assignment, the American authorities hastened to return him to the United States. The CIA made one more attempt to utilize him, this time for subversive activity against revolutionary Cuba. It was for that Oswald traveled to Mexico where he vainly sought to obtain a Cuban visa. Failing of this, he returned to the United States  and found himself in the position of a discredited agent.
    This, writes Joesten, was just at the time when Dallas ultra-Rightist elements were plotting an attempt on President Kennedy’s life. For them Oswald was a find: his questionable past offered the opportunity , in their opinion,, to make a lone-demented-killer solution credible to the public.

Riddles of the Warren Report
    In some measure this was realized when the crime was committed, but as time passed it became harder to maintain the official version. This is in effect borne out by the Report itself. It contains no facts proving Oswald’s guilt, gives no explanation of his possible motives. The theory that he sought the fame of a Herostratus is beneath criticism, for them why did he vehemently deny his guilt when questioned at the police station? Nor does the Report offer any rational motive for Ruby’s killing of Oswald. The plea that he did not like the expression on Oswald’s face or that he wanted to spare Jacqueline Kennedy the unpleasantness of a public trial of Oswald cannot be taken seriously. All of this remains a profound mystery if one closes one’s eyes to the fact that there were no few people in the United States who did indeed hate Kennedy and were capable of taking extreme measures to get rid of him. Joesten writes:

“The world did not know—it still does not, for the Warren Commission concealed this bitter truth from it—that Kennedy had envenomed enemies in his own camp. First among there were:

“The billionaire oil tycoons of Texas, all the Hunts, Murchisons, etc., whose tax privileges he was planning to cut;

    The retired generals whose military wings he had cut and many of whom live in or around Dallas:

“The ultra-Right secret John Birch Society, whose fanatical blindness goes so far that it has even accused the conservative Presidents Truman and Eisenhower of being docile tools of world communism;

“The fanatical racists of the South, banded together in the Ku Klux Klan and similar organizations;

“Influential elements in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the most powerful secret service in the world, who hated Kennedy (pp. 20, 21).

    Of interest in this connection is the opinion of Harriet van Horne, a well-known American journalist. Joesten cites her as writing in the New York World Telegram and Sun (September 29, 1964) that the criticism she had to make of the Warren Report was that it ignored the absolutist climate of Dallas as a contributing or catalyzing factor in the Kennedy assassination. Dallas, she continued, was a city where the rich did indeed inherit the earth. And they ruled it with guns, money, and the whip of hate. One Texan told her that after Kennedy’s death one could often hear it said in Dallas that they should have invited him sooner. Yet the Report was disappointingly silent on the guilt of Dallas.
    The Warren Commission called more than 550 witnesses, but the record shows that it accepted as reliable only evidence supporting the official theory. On one pretext or another it dismissed or discounted evidence conflicting with it.

Oswald’s Double
    At times when from official data Oswald is known to have been elsewhere, certain witnesses saw in the environs of Dallas a man who called himself Oswald. This person—everything points to his having been another CIA agent—told things about himself that cast a shadow on the name of Oswald even before the assassination.
    The mysterious double appears repeatedly in the Commission’s documents. He was seen most often early in November 1963, that is, on the eve of the assassination, at a rifle range near Irving (a Dallas suburb). He was an amazingly good marksman and loudly boasted of his ability. To all who had the curiosity to ask him he gave his name as Oswald. Yet it is known that the real Oswald was a poor shot: his service record in the marines confirms this. Why the second Oswald? Joesten writes:

   “1. There was in the Dallas area a man who looked very much like Lee Oswald.

   “2. This man was an excellent sniper. He missed no opportunity to demonstrate his marksmanship to onlookers.

   “3. He owned a foreign rifle similar to Oswald’s (a Mauser or Carcano), with a Japanese gunsight.

   “4. He practised shooting in two rifle ranges in the neighbourhood of Irving, where Oswald lived.

Was all this sheer chance? Was there design behind it? (p. 233).
    It requires no great acumen to perceive that the double was needed in order to make it appear later that Oswald was a good shot. Joesten probably comes very near the truth when he suggests that the double was one Larry Crafard, who worked for Ruby. Crafard was the same age as Oswald and resembled him strongly. And Crafard vanished from Dallas the day after the assassination. For some time all trace of him was lost but the Warren Commission located and questioned him. The Commission confirms Crafard’s striking resemblance to Oswald but leaves it at that.

Kind Mrs. Paine
    No less suspicion attaches to the manner in which Oswald came to be employed in the Dallas School Book Depository. The Commission deliberately by-passed this question, although it should have gone into it since the official version has it that it was from a sixth-floor window that the fatal shots were fired.
    The stage here was taken by a certain Mrs. Paine who, judging by everything, is also associated with the secret service. At a time when Oswald, having no steady job, was in financial straits Mrs. Paine invited Marina Oswald and her two children to live with her. On Saturdays Lee Oswald joined his family. Mrs. Paine did Oswald a big service—got him a job at the Book Depository. When he went for his interview she gave him a map of the city on which he marked in red pencil the best way of getting to the Depository.
    After the assassination this map, found in Oswald’s room, served as a major piece of evidence against him. Later—and the Warren Commission admits this—the true origin and purpose of the map was established. It stands to reason that an unemployed vagabond like Oswald could not have known more than a month in advance of either the President’s impending visit to Dallas or the route to be taken by his motorcade. But, asks Joesten, was it by chance that Mrs. Paine furnished the prosecution beforehand with one more piece of evidence against him?

Why Kennedy went to Dallas
    Joesten presents interesting data about how the question of going to Dallas arose. The original plan of the President’s tour did not include Dallas. Later, as the Dallas Morning News reported on November 23, 1963, leaders of the Democratic Party urged the President to drive through Fort Worth and Dallas so as to give a greater number of voters the chance to see him (p. 212). Kennedy consented. “Unfortunately,” writes Joesten, “the Warren Commission did not enquire what ‘leaders of the Democratic Party’ persuaded President Kennedy to ride in a slow-moving motorcade through the inner streets of Fort Worth and Dallas. Future historians unquestionably will” (p. 213).
    Two different routes were planned from the airfield to the suburban exhibition hall where the President was to speak at a luncheon. The first ran along the edge of Dallas. The second, which was the route finally chosen, ran through its central streets. But there was a last-minute change in this route that even Governor Connally, as was later established, knew nothing about though he rode with Kennedy.
    This was the ill-starred detour which, the Warren Report explains, was made in order to comply with the traffic rules in the chosen area. Because of this detour the motorcade had to slow down to 15–20 kilometres an hour and pass by the Book Depository. Had the car followed a direct route they could have driven at a speed of 50–60 kilometres, which would have made it much harder for even a crack sniper to hit his target. As things were, the President’s car came to be at an equally close distance from the Depository and from the overpass ahead, behind which the conspirators could easily have hidden. Kennedy thus came under crossfire.
    Joesten draws the conclusion that the attack on Kennedy was thoroughly planned out beforehand: the ambush was laid in accordance with the strategy and tactic of guerilla warfare, in which “the high-ranking military specialists party to the conspiracy were peculiarly experienced” (p. 221).

How many snipers?
    One more mystery in the case is the murder of police officer Tippit. The Nashes,. a New York couple, who went to Dallas after the Warren Report was made public, discovered, as they reported in the press, that the Commission had not taken the trouble to question witnesses of this killing. It never summoned Frank Wright, who had been sitting at the time art the window of his apartment opposite the spot where Tippit was shot. Wrights name and address were entered in the register of the funeral parlour which sent a car for Tippit’s body. He told the Nashes that on hearing the shot he had run out to see Tippit lying in a pool of blood and his slayer standing over him. The slayer had bent over Tippit to see if he was dead, ran to a gray Plymouth car, got behind the wheel and driven away. Who shot Tippit? Not Oswald, for according to the Warren Report he had no car and didn’t even drive.
    True, the gun with which Tippit was shot was later found in Oswald’s possession. Couldn’t it have been planted on him? asks Joesten.
    And, he goes on to say, may not Tippit have been implicated in Kennedy’s assassination? The Warren Report contains the evidence of a witness who saw in the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository a man with a gun whose description does not match Oswald’s. Several witnesses testified that following the shots a man came running out of the Depository and got into a slow-moving car which immediately spurted forward and vanished. That man was not Oswald.
    On the day of the assassination a large group of workers were reflooring the room from which the shots were fired. They left the room at noon but one of them, a young Negro named Williams, stayed behind. He sat down at the window to have his lunch and wait for the Presidential motorcade. The remains of the lunch and an empty Coca-Cola bottle, which long figured as material evidence against Oswald, were really left by Williams. At 12:20 Williams went down to the fifth floor to join his workmates. All this is confirmed in the Commission’s documents.
    This means that after Williams’ departure Oswald had only tem minutes in which to barricade himself with packing cases, assemble his rifle which he is supposed to have brought disassembled in a brown paper bag, regulate the gunsight and take up his position. As tests ordered by the Warren Commission showed, the biggest experts could not assemble the rifle in under six minutes. At best, therefore, Oswald was left with only four minutes in which to drag over the cases, regulate the sight and make ready to shoot.
    There is the additional question of how Oswald could have built his barricade of pretty heavy packing cases by himself. Obviously, the wall of boxes forming a nest for the sniper at the window could only have been arranged beforehand. There had been people working in the room. Maybe one of them had helped to arrange the nest? The Warren Commission did not inquire into this.

Four versions
    The various versions of the number of shots fired and the number of bullets which struck President Kennedy and Governor Connally make a strange story.
    The first version, circulated from November 22 to 26, was that the first bullet hit the President in the throat and lodged in his right lung, the second wounded Governor Connally, and the third struck the President below the nape of his neck and was the one to cause death.
    This version was discarded because it was believed that all three bullets had been fired by Oswald at a receding car. Since in that case the first bullet could not have entered the throat, a second explanation was suggested: that Kennedy had turned his head sharply and the bullet, aimed at his back, had struck his throat instead. In all the rest the second version, maintained form November 26 to December 18, coincided with the first.
    From a reconstruction of the events on the spot it emerged that however Kennedy may have turned his head the bullet could not have hit him in the throat. It was therefore announced that the first bullet had entered his back and gone clear through his neck.
    This third version did not last long either. In May 1964 it was replaced by version No. 4 which is presented as the correct one in the Warren Report. To explain away the fact that one of the bullets landed on the pavement without hitting anyone, which, if no more than three shots were fired, left only two for Kennedy and Connally, it was decided that the first bullet struck the President in the back, emerged from his neck and then wounded Governor Connally.
    Joesten casts grave doubt on this version. In the first place it is highly improbable that one bullet, zigzagging in the most amazing fashion, could pass through two human bodies and even injure the second in two places, the hand and leg. Secondly, the version conflicts withy the original statements of the surgeons who operated on Kennedy in Dallas in an attempt to save his life. They unanimously affirmed—and this was published in the newspapers at the time—that the throat wound was not an exit but an entry wound, and that the bullet had not gone clear through the President’s body but had lodged in the lung. If that is so, someone shot at the President from the front as well, and there were not three shots but more, as many witnesses have testified.
    An autopsy performed on the spot would have cleared this question up. But contrary to the laws of the United States and of all other civilized countries and over the protests of experts in forensic medicine, Kennedy’s body was flown to Washington and the autopsy was tardily performed in a naval hospital. Being bound by military discipline, the navy doctors gave no information to the press.
    In these circumstances the official report of the autopsy appears to have been adapted to the official version of the assassination.: it also mentions a bullet which entered the President’s back. How, it may them be asked, could the doctors and nurses in the Dallas hospital have failed to see a wound in his back? They saw only two wounds, in the throat and the nape of the neck. And although Kennedy was stripped to the waist, no one noticed a bullet hole either in his jacket, his shirt or his undervest.
    Joesten cites Dr. Robert Shaw, under whose direction the Dallas operation was performed, as saying that the first bullet hit the President in the trachea and from there traveled to the right lung. That bullet, Dr. Shaw, said, was extracted during the autopsy. Consequently, it could not have wounded Governor Connally, which means there were at least four shots, not three. It is significant that Governor Connally insisted all along that he was hit by the second bullet, after he saw President Kennedy clap his hands to his throat.

Thirteen Murders
    The Warren Report ignores all these discrepancies, evades all these enigmas and merely repeats the lone-killer theory put forward in the first days. Not everyone believed that theory. There were some in the United States who wanted to get to the truth of the crime. This turned out to be a dangerous undertaking.

    Joesten focuses attention on a series of articles unknown to the broad public. These articles, published in the Midlothian Mirror (Midlothian is near Dallas), name journalists and other persons who were killed because they “knew too much.”
    One of the journalists, Bill Hunter, was shot by a policeman who claimed he had dropped his revolver and accidentally pulled the trigger while picking it up. The policeman got off scot-free. Another journalist, Jim Koethe, was killed in his home. As he was coming out of his bathroom he was felled by a blow on the throat and died on the spot. His murderer was never found. A man associated with the Ruby case died suddenly in a hotel room. It was given out that he died of heart failure. Dorothy Kilgallen, a New York journalist who had succeeded in interviewing Ruby, died in mysterious circumstances before she could publish her story in full. In all, the Midlothian Mirror reports, thirteen persons have died because they came too close to the carefully guarded secret of the men who plotted the Kennedy assassination.
    Only recently the death verdict on Ruby, who had so adroitly removed a dangerous witness, was set aside. His case will be heard again and it is believed that this time he will get off with a two- or three-year sentence. Why this tender care for Oswald’s slayer? That is one more suspicious aspect of the Kennedy assassination, one more unsolved mystery.

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