I’ve been reading S. M. Sigerson’s book on the death of Michael Collins, Irish independence leader, on August 22, 1922. The book is well done and I recommend it:
The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?
Sigerson considers all of the evidence carefully, and concludes that the official account of Collins’ death – that the IRA killed him in an ambush on an isolated road – is incorrect. The way she reaches this conclusion is instructive. Have a look at how she does it.
Her account of the armored car at the rear of Collins’ convoy, the vehicle closest to him when Collins died, reminds me of the limousine President Kennedy rode through Dallas on November 22, 1963. To me, it is inconceivable that the Secret Service should have swiped this car, just as the Secret Service swiped President Kennedy’s corpse at gunpoint at Parkland hospital. To _swipe_ means to _steal_, and conveys the idea that the act occurs in plain sight, where the victim can’t do anything to stop the theft. That is what happened in President Kennedy’s case. The car and his body certainly didn’t belong to the Secret Service. Yet they made off with both, to conceal what they might reveal about the president’s murder.
Find information about the president’s limousine here.
Let’s focus on the car for the moment. We do not know exactly what happened to the president’s Lincoln after William Greer drove it to Parkland Hospital. We do know that the FBI did not publish detailed analysis of the evidence present in the car, or on the outside of the car. Neither did the Warren Commission. We only know that if any evidence contradicted the official account – a single assassin who fired from the rear – investigators excluded that evidence from the final report. That meant excluding a lot of evidence from the car itself. You know that if the limousine evidence corroborated the government’s account, we would have heard a lot about it.
In a way, treatment of the car and of Kennedy’s body parallels treatment of evidence related to Officer Tippit’s murder. The first thing Dallas authorities did when they arrested Lee Oswald was charge him with Tippit’s murder. The media circus, however, revolved around the accusation that Oswald shot the president. When it came to evidence that Oswald had anything to do with Tippit’s death, no one could produce anything at all. A couple of flimsy suggestions about how Oswald might have shot Tippit quickly came to nothing. You had to conclude from eye witness accounts – from people who saw Tippit fall – that whoever shot him, he would not be punished for the murder. Whoever committed that murder, it was not Oswald.
So we return to the car. Imagine the wealth of key information we could have had from that vehicle, had investigators examined it with the care any police department would have exercised for a vehicle involved in a crime. In this case, we are talking about shooting of a president, and shooting of Texas Governor John Connally. Connally sustained a lot of wounds in the turkey shoot. What does the car tell us about the bullets that hit Connally. I expect the evidence would tell us he was not hit by a magic bullet that tumbled out of Kennedy’s throat.
You could ask a simple question of the car: is the evidence here consistent with the magic bullet theory? You could ask, in addition: is the evidence here consistent with a single shooter who fires from the rear? If one bullet passed through the right side of the car to hit Connally, for example, the Warren Commission’s conclusions are done. If one bullet follows a trajectory inconsistent with the trajectories so carefully traced from the book depository’s sixth floor window, the Warren Commission’s report is false.
In fact, the analysis in the report is inconsistent with any ballistics damage to the car at all. The magic bullet has no momentum left after it causes all of those wounds to Connally. No one says the bullet that shattered Kennedy’s skull caused damage to the car. The commission’s analysis rules out damage to the car’s windshield. It rules out damage to the car’s right side. We don’t know how many bullets the assassination team fired at the president’s limousine that Friday in November. We don’t know how many bullets hit the limousine, or the people in it. All we can say is that careful examination of the car, after the crime, would give us better answers to these questions than we have now.
Of course, we do not have detailed or credible evidence from the car, as investigators chose not to include that information in their report. Instead we have Arlen Specter showing us how a single bullet could have caused multiple wounds to both the president and the governor. We have Arlen Specter showing us how one bullet could enter Kennedy’s back, exit his throat, then tumble through Connally’s right side, and come to rest in his left thigh. A quick look at the car might tell you whether this hypothesis is accurate or not. By the time Specter came up with this idea, no one could check his hypothesis against evidence from the car, because evidence from the car did not exist any longer. An investigator’s report for all evidence gathered from the car did not exist, either. People who believed the Warren report took Specter’s word for it.
When people say, “We will never know what happened on November 22 in Dallas,” they are also saying that if investigators had examined the president’s car the way they should have examined it, if they had analyzed the evidence they found in the car, and if they had published both the evidence and the analysis, we would know a lot more about what happened that day than we do now. We would not have to make so many guesses about the number and direction of travel for the bullets assassins fired at the limousine. We would not have to argue so endlessly about whether the assassination involved one shooter, or more than one shooter. We already have a large amount of evidence that the assassination involved more than one person. Ballistics evidence from the car would confirm, or perhaps disconfirm, hypotheses about a conspiracy.
The above photograph at JFK Lancer, taken at Parkland Hospital, does not show damage through the right rear door of the limousine. It does show damage at the top rear of the right rear door, near where Connally was sitting. The general observation here is that careful analysis has rightly considered the bullets that hit Kennedy, with consequent skepticism about Specter’s magic bullet theory. We should pay equal attention to evidence about the bullet or bullets that hit Connally. Everything we do know – about when he was first hit, the location of his wounds, and the direction of travel of the bullet or bullets that hit him – indicates more than one shooter.