ODDITIES OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION


Published in Athens Human Rights Festival, p. 8 (May 8 & 9, 1993).

Author: Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.

Oliver Stone's movie JFK has reawakened interest in the most traumatic political murder of our time--the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963.  That murder is still unsolved.  The Warren Commission's conclusion that 24-year old Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot and killed President Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository was based on an inadequate and hurried investigation and never accepted by the American people, and is now completely rejected by almost all serious researchers of the assassination.

The identity of the murderers of President Kennedy may never be known and the full truth of the assassination may never be uncovered.  Over the years, however, there has been steady progress in the search for the truth about the murder of John F. Kennedy.  Since the Warren Commission issued its final report in 1964, investigations of the assassination by governmental agencies as well as by private citizens have disclosed a number of important, documented facts unavailable to or overlooked by the Warren Commission.  Many of these facts are downright odd.  They seem as inexplicable as the assassination itself.  Yet they help throw light on the violent death of our 35th president and thereby assist us to understand exactly what happened on Nov. 22, 1963, and why.  The more the facts of the assassination are known, the greater the likelihood is that the mysteries surrounding America's crime of the century eventually will be cleared up.

In order to contribute to the spread of knowledge about the slaying of President Kennedy, I am setting forth below 10 numbered paragraphs containing a small sampling of the numerous oddities concerning the Kennedy assassination.  To dispel any doubts about the accuracy of my facts, I have included references to the reliable sources which confirm them.

  1. In 1963 Secret Service regulations governing escort security for presidential motorcades provided that buildings along the motorcade route had to be inspected whenever the motorcade route was a standard one that had been used in the past.  President Kennedy's Dallas motorcade route had been the standard route for motorcades for years; President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example, had visited Dallas in 1936 and traversed the same route in a motorcade (although in the opposite direction).  Nevertheless, on Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy visited Dallas, the Secret Service's own guidelines were violated, and no inspection of the buildings along the motorcade route was made.  Source: U. S. House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vol. 11, pp. 525-27 (1979).
  2. In accordance with its standard procedures, the Secret Service rejected a request by the Dallas Police Department to insert into the motorcade, three cars behind President Kennedy's limousine, a police squad car filled with homicide detectives.  Source: U. S. House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vol. 11, pp. 529-30 (1979).
  3. Compared with security precautions taken during President Kennedy's motorcade through Houston the day before the Dallas assassination, the physical protection provided during the Dallas motorcade was, in the words of a congressional committee that reinvestigated the assassination, "uniquely insecure."   In Houston on Nov. 21, six police motorcycles flanked the presidential limousine; in Dallas on Nov. 22, on orders of the Secret Service, only four motorcycles were assigned to escort the limousine, and the police motorcyclists were instructed to remain to the rear of the limousine rather than flank it.  Source: U. S. House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vol. 11, pp. 527-29 (1979).
  4. During the Dallas motorcade there were supposed to be four motorcycles escorting the presidential limousine--two at the right rear of the limousine, and two at the left rear.  However, when shooting began, only three of the motorcycles were in place; one of the motorcycles supposed to be on the right rear of the limousine was in fact several cars back in the motorcade, thereby weakening security on the president's right side.  Source: U. S. House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vol. 11, pp. 528-29 (1979).
  5. Frames 1 through 132 of the Zapruder film, the famous color motion picture of the assassination taken by Abraham Zapruder on his home movie camera, show an odd and inexplicable event occurring approximately ten or fifteen seconds before the burst of gunfire that killed President Kennedy.  Preceded by a formation of three policemen on motorcycles, the presidential motorcade is about to enter Dealey Plaza, about to make the slow, fatal turn from Houston St. to Elm St.  Suddenly, however, one of the three lead motorcyclists disappears from the scene: he breaks formation, leaves the motorcade, and fails to make the turn onto Elm.  Evidently he continued along Houston while the motorcade made the turn from Houston to Elm.  The Warren Commission did not investigate this bizarre, suspicious event, and it is not even mentioned in the Commission's final report.  Source: P. Model and R. Groden, JFK: The Case for Conspiracy, p. 141 (1977); R. Groden and H. Livingstone, High Treason, p. 135 (2nd ed. 1989).
  6. At the time the presidential limousine came under fire, the two Secret Service agents in the front seat failed miserably to perform the protective functions expected of them.  Under Secret Service regulations the agent on the passenger side of the front seat was supposed to protect President Kennedy by pushing the president down or by throwing his body over the president's.  The agent did neither.  The agent driving the limousine was, under Secret Service regulations, supposed to accelerate the limousine and speed away from dangers such as sniper fire.  However, during the entire time that rifle bullets were whizzing into the open limousine the driver failed to accelerate, and may have even slowed down.  Films taken during the assassination show that the limousine's brake lights were on and remained on until after President Kennedy had been fatally injured.  Source:  J. Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, pp. 12-15; 35; 244-45 (1989); R. Groden and H. Livingstone, High Treason, pp. 13-19; 127-28 (2nd ed. 1989).
  7. The Secret Service agents in the escort car immediately behind then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson's limousine behaved far more commendably than the Secret Service agents in the escort car immediately behind President's Kennedy's limousine.  Specifically, the agents protecting Johnson (who was in the motorcade two cars back from the presidential limousine) reacted much more quickly to the assassination.  A still photograph taken by AP photographer James Altgens after the shooting had begun but before President Kennedy had been mortally wounded shows that the alert agents in the car behind Johnson are already opening the left rear door of their car, whereas the agents in the car following the President are still standing on the car's running boards, looking around but doing nothing, even though the president is in distress and is grabbing at his throat.  A cropped version of the Altgens photograph is reproduced on page 113 of the final report of Warren Commission.  The excised portion of the photograph is the portion depicting Johnson's limousine and the escort car behind, its left rear door opened almost all the way.  Source:  H. Weisberg, Whitewash, pp. 50, 202-03 (1965); J. Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, pp. 244-45 (1989).
  8. The Warren Commission view that an assassin on the sixth floor of the Depository waited to begin shooting until President Kennedy was on Elm St. makes no sense.  An assassin firing at President Kennedy from the sixth floor window which the Warren Commission said Lee Harvey Oswald used would have been foolish to wait to shoot, as Oswald allegedly did, until the presidential limousine had left Houston St., entered Elm St., and was moving downhill and away from the window, with an elm tree blocking the view for several seconds.  From that window it would have been much easier to shoot President Kennedy while his limousine, moving slowly along Houston St. for one block, approached the window, from which the view of Houston St. was superlative and unobstructed.  Why would an assassin pass over an easy shot and wait until the limousine was in such a position that even expert marksmen would find it extremely difficult to hit the president?  Source: H. Weisberg, Whitewash, pp. 51, 201 (1965); J. Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas, pp. 190-91 (1967); R. Groden and H. Livingstone, High Treason, p. 135 (2nd ed. 1989).
  9. Originally, President Kennedy was scheduled to receive an honorary degree from Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth on the morning of Nov. 22.  After the honorary degree ceremony the president was scheduled to fly to Dallas for a midday luncheon.  Amazingly, however, on Nov. 1 the Board of Trustees of TCU held a meeting and decided not to award President Kennedy an honorary degree.  The decision to refuse to grant the degree to President Kennedy appears to have resulted from petty, political bickering.  If the trustees had voted to issue the honorary degree and the ceremony at TCU had not been cancelled, there probably would have been some delay in the president's arrival at Dallas, the Dallas motorcade would have taken place later than it did, and the assassination might have been frustrated or rendered more difficult.  Source: U. S. House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vol. 11, pp. 512-14 (1979).
  10. The Warren Commission was never given access to the military service file of the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had previously served in the Marine Corps.  In 1973 the Department of Defense "routinely" destroyed Lee Harvey Oswald's military service file, allegedly as part of a general program to eliminate its files pertaining to nonmilitary personnel.  It is not possible to determine who accomplished the actual physical destruction of the file.  It is also not possible to identify the individual ordering the destruction of the file.  Because of the destruction of the file, it is impossible to determine whether, among other things, Oswald had connections with military intelligence.  Source:  U. S. House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations, 95th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 223-24 (1979).