Saturday, January 24, 2009
Last night I watched a highly interesting new documentary on the History Channel, "Beyond Conspiracy," about the assassination of President Kennedy. When it first came on, I assumed it would be another conspiracy screed. I thought about changing the channel to spare myself the irritation, but it grabbed my interest before I could.
The documentary made use of 3D graphics and modeling to determine what happened, using the Zapruder film and other films as references and source points. The graphics expert had rebuilt Dealey Plaza in Dallas in graphics form, including all of the streets and side streets, and made them a mathematically exact representation of the actual site. I am interested in 3D graphics and play with them a bit myself, using two software programs, Poser and Bryce.
3D graphics generate models that may be viewed from any angle, just like a real object in life. This enables the viewer to see the scene from high overhead, from close up, from left or right, front or back. In this documentary, the graphics is a 3D recreation of the Zapruder film and pinpoints events at the exact place in the road where the presidential car was when the events occurred.
The graphics artist digitally rebuilt the car in which President Kennedy and Governor Connally were riding. The model shows, graphically, how the so-called "pristine bullet" of the "single shot theory" passed through both Kennedy's throat and into Connally's back and into his arm. A computer-generated graphics line was then extended backward from the bullet's entry points, all the way to its origin, namely, the corner window of the sixth floor in the Student Book Depository, where Oswald fired his three shots. This is very convincing proof that the single bullet was indeed fired from Oswald's "Sniper's Lair."
Was there a second shooter on the Grassy Knoll? The short and correct answer is no. The graphics model shows that Kennedy's head wound could not have been made from the Grassy Knoll -- it would have to hit him in the right temple and he was hit in the back of the head.
The documentary examines many key conspiracy theories and convincingly disproves them using the 3D model. This included several out and out lies generated by Oliver Stone's movie "JFK." One of the dumbest claims put forth in "JFK" was that the "pristine bullet" would have had to make a sharp left turn after exiting Kennedy's throat then a right, make a U-turn at the Dairy Queen, order a chocolate shake and some fries, then wait for the light before ultimately entering Connally. I'm exaggerating a bit here, but the point of "JFK" was that the bullet's path could not have made the wounds it did, so a second shooter had to be involved.
However, "JFK" based its claim on erroneous positioning for Kennedy and Connally in the car. The film showed Connally sitting at the same height as Kennedy, directly in front of him and staring straight ahead. However, Connally was sitting on a fold-out jump seat which was six inches further in than Kennedy's seat, and also three inches lower. Also, Connally was not staring straight ahead; Oswald's first shot missed but Connally heard the shot over his right shoulder and turned his head towards the sound. His body was twisting right when the second bullet was fired. This is visible in the Zapruder film. The bullet passed through Kennedy's throat at a downward angle and entered Connally's back, emerging just below the right nipple, then into his right wrist where it emerged as "the pristine bullet." Except that it was not pristine, but banged up pretty good, all flat on one side and with a lot of lead missing.
The bullet's speed was slowed by its passage through Kennedy's throat and Connally's body, began tumbling and hit Connally's wrist, not point first, but on its side. This is why the bullet is flat on one side. Oh yeah, and the rifle muzzle markings on the bullet prove it was fired from Oswald's Carcano rifle. Duh, do you think the "single bullet" theory has any credibility?
When the actual positioning is used in the 3D model, the bullet's path is clear and the Warren Report's conclusions proved beyond a reasonable doubt, i.e. that a single bullet created Kennedy's throat wound and all of Connally's wounds.
The graphics were fascinating, but there is more than that to this documentary. "JFK" says that Oswald was a lousy shot and that no one could operate a bolt action rifle in the 6 seconds it took to fire three bullets. However, the Zapruder film shows it took 8.2 seconds for Oswald to fire the three bullets, not 6. Would it be possible to fire the three bullets in 8.2 seconds?
An old guy who is now 89 demonstrated that it could be done by doing it in 7.2 seconds. Further, he produced an actual U.S. Marines scoring book for Oswald that recorded his skill as a marksman. In a firing range of 200 yards, Oswald, using a similar bolt action rifle in the Marines, put most of his shots in the target in a rapid fire drill, scoring 48 out of 50 in one test and 49 out of 50 in a second. Oswald was a damn good shot.
The Marines test involved a target at 200 yards. Kennedy was only 87 yards away when Oswald put a bullet through the back of his head (the third and fatal shot). It was, frankly, an easy shot for Oswald.
In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) listened to the recording of a Dallas motorcycle cop's open microphone as he rode through Dealey Plaza. The microphone had been hung up, but, unknowned to the officer, was still on. So it picked up the noises of Dealey Plaza as the presidential motorcade moved through. The mic's transmission was recorded at Dallas Police headquarters as is standard practice. The tape of the transmission still exists.
Some expert on sound testified to HSCA that the recording showed four sharp spikes that he claimed were gunshots. The tape itself is a jumble of noise and static, so these "four" shots are not at all obvious to the naked ear. Later, the National Sciences Foundation disputed the sound expert's conclusions as did other groups, but based on his testimony the NSCA concluded that the Kennedy assassination was the result of a conspiracy and not merely the act of a lone gunman. If there were four shots, there had to be a second gunman, as Oswald only fired three. However, the HSCA conclusions were wrong.
Today we have much better technology than they had in either 1963 or 1978, and scientists have concluded that the motorcycle policeman would have to have been in a certain specific spot, at the corner of two streets, in order for the microphone to reliably record the shots. The police officer testified that he was 75 yards away from this spot when the shots were fired. The recording, therefore, is irrelevant to any investigation of the assassination. I was happy to see the HSCA's erroneous conclusions finally refuted by modern technology.
Every responsible and realistic investigation into the assassination always turns up the same conclusion. Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and he acted alone.