Nuts, I used to really enjoy debating conspiracy-theorists on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I have always held that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and that he acted alone -- just like the Warren Commission said he did, way back in 1964. Now it's just getting too easy to win those arguments. They aren't much of a challenge anymore.
This week the Military History Channel showed a documentary called "Beyond The Magic Bullet." The magic bullet, if you have been hiding in the woods these past few decades, refers to the Mannlicher-Carcano bullet that was Oswald's second shot from the sixth story window of the Texas School Depository on that early afternoon in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
That bullet, a copper metal jacketed round, is said to have passed through Kennedy's throat, into Governor Connally's back where it broke a rib, then emerged near Connally's right nipple where it then slammed into his wrist, went through that and embedded itself in his leg. The spent bullet was found on Connally's stretcher at Parkland Hospital. The bullet appeared almost pristine, that is, undamaged from its passage through two human bodies. It had lost some of its lead through the open end of the metal jacket and was slightly flattened on one side.
For years conspiracy-kooks have railed to the heavens about how impossible this is, that one bullet could make such wounds and yet suffer so little deformation in the process. They contemptuously referred to this bullet, Commission Exhibit (CE) 399, as "the magic bullet."
The researchers in the film, however, showed that identical bullets from the same batch used by Oswald were often pristine, after being fired through the end of a log, where it was embedded several feet in, and by other bullets fired through gelatin blocks designed to mimic the physics of the human body. Further, the bullets fired through the gelatin blocks began to tumble, head over end, after emerging from the target -- exactly what happened to CE 399 when it exited Kennedy and slammed sideways into Connally's back, leaving a "keyhole" wound. CE 399 then went through Connally, through his wrist and into his leg, where it was shallowly embedded, later falling out on the stretcher at Parkland Hospital.
The researchers then created body models of both Kennedy and Connally, with simulated organs and bones (made by a company who produces such things for safety testing, forensic studies and other uses). Both of the torsos were positioned like the original humans targeted by Oswald, e.g., with the Connally torso twisting to the right and the Kennedy torso with its right arm raised as if supported by the side of the car. Photographs of the actual bodies in the car were superimposed with a photograph of the molded torsos to prove that the models were exactly in the same position as the originals, and the same distance apart. A block of gelatin containing wrist bones was used to simulate Connally's wrist.
A rifleman then fired one of the same bullets, from a rifle identical to Oswald's, from a height of six stories. He aimed for a small red mark on the right side of the Kennedy torso's upper back area, the same spot where CE 399 struck Kennedy, traveling downward and through Kennedy's neck. The shot was very accurate, striking about one inch away from the red mark. Slow motion cameras show the bullet emerge from the simulated neck of Kennedy and then to immediately begin tumbling, striking the Connally torso in the back and making an almost identical keyhole wound as the original; the bullet, however, did not strike only one rib bone as in the actual assassination, but two. Still, the bullet traveled through the simulated wrist of Connally and then bounced off the simulated leg. After hitting two ribs instead of one, the bullet was sufficiently slowed so that it could not penetrate the leg, as it did in the original scenario. The test bullet, probably as a result of striking two ribs instead of one, was somewhat more deformed than CE 399, but still in one piece, somewhat twisted in its length but not mushroomed. In other words, less pristine than CE 399, but still in remarkably good shape.
What "Beyond the Magic Bullet" proved, convincingly, was that the path of CE 399 was exactly as described in the Warren Commission report on the assassination and created all seven wounds between Kennedy and Connally.
The bullet wasn't magic and there was no conspiracy. Conspiracy kooks, you lose again.
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