“The most productive mindset you can have is simply this: always, always, always have a belief system that doesn’t resist change. Go wherever the information leads you, without fear, because surely the truth is never something to dread.” – Darryl Sloan, Reality Check
Air Force One landing at Love Field, Dallas, TX
On the eve of the 50th observance of the death of JFK, it would appear to be timely to make an assessment, not only of what we know now that we didn’t know then, but of the contributions of some of the most admired figures in the history of assassination research. One of those, Josiah Thompson, has been the subject of an earlier study,“JFK, the CIA and The New York Times”, which suggests that he has been preparing to disavow the existence of a conspiracy in the assassination of our 35th president.
Another, Robert Groden, however, presents a more challenging case, because so much of his work has been impressive and has made important contributions to understanding the events of 22 November 1963, including a JFK video series. An evaluation of Groden’s contributions, especially the positions he has adopted that appear to be mistaken, requires an appreciation of the logical and evidentiary connections and relationships between the witness reports, the available photos and films, and especially the medical evidence.
I personally have greatly valued his books and other contributions, where we agree on many aspects of the events in Dealey Plaza, including a shooting sequence that entailed eight, nine or ten shots, including as many as four misses, as he lays it out inThe Killing of a President (1993), pages 18-40, which is comparable to my analysis of eight, nine or ten shots with at least three misses. While we differ on the sequence in which the shots were fired and order of the wounds they inflicted, he and I are very close on the mechanics of the assassination. Where we differ concerns the authenticity of the evidence, including the Zapruder film and the Altgens6, which appears to be consistent with his endorsement of the Altgens7, where the evidence I shall review suggests that he is wrong:
(1) Groden denies the existence of a bullet hole in the windshield;
(2) he defends a set of autopsy photos that seem to be fabrications;
(3) he claims the Zapruder film is authentic, which may explain (1);
(4) he maintains that the Altgens6 photograph is also authentic;
(5) he denies Oswald was in the doorway during the shooting; but
(6) he offers an alternative explanation of his location at the time;
(7) which also implies that Lee cannot have been on the 6th floor.
While it may have been reasonable for Groden to maintain these positions in the past, research conducted since the publication of The Killing of a President (1993) published in Assassination Science (1989), Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003) and articles that have appeared in Veterans Today render (1) through (6) indefensible, even though (7) is true. of Since rationality of belief requires us to change our minds on the basis of new evidence or alternative hypotheses, which I am going to summarize here–which displays the complex inter-relations between photographic, medical, and witness evidence–Groden ought to respond with appropriate adjustments to his (1) to (6), which are no longer defensible, given the available relevant evidence.
According to Robert Groden, The Killing of a President (1963), page 36, the photo taken by AP photographer James “Ike” Altgens (technically known as the “Altgens6”) displays no signs of a bullet hole in the windshield, where has a larger image that exhibits spider-web cracks that he, in agreement with the Secret Service, claims to have been caused by a fragment of a bullet that was fired from behind, not by a shot that was fired from in front:
There are many problems with this position, however, including that the bullet hole IS visible in the Altgens6, that multiple witnesses reporting observing it at Parkland, and that, as he explained in his chapter on the limo in Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), Doug Weldon, J.D., recently deceased, tracked down the official at Ford who had been responsible for replacing the windshield, who confirmed that the original had a through-and-through hole:
Moreover, as I explain in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003), page 436, Jim Lewis has been traveling through the South and firing high-velocity rounds through the windshields of junked car to determine whether or not he could hit a dummy in the back seat. Not only have they created small, white spiral nebulae with a dark hole at the center but, passing through, they have made the sound of a firecracker, which many witnesses reported hearing.
The mortician’s confirmation
Perhaps most interesting of all, the mortician, Thomas Evan Robinson, discovered that the body had several tiny shrapnel wounds in the face from which embalming fluid leaked, where David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., inferred that they resulted from small shards of glass that broke off when the bullet passed through the windshield, which means that the medical evidence, including the wound to the throat that JFK sustained, supports the conclusion.
Indeed, Charles Crenshaw, M.D., drew diagrams of the wound to the throat both before and after a tracheostomy incision was made by Malcolm Perry, M.D., who described it three times during the Parkland Press Conference that afternoon as a wound of entry. It was a small, clean puncture wound, where the transcript of the meeting, which was not provided to the Warren Commission, is an appendix of Assassination Science(1998).
Comparison between the Crenshaw diagrams from Parkland (top) and the autopsy photo from Bethesda (bottom/ left) and the HSCA version of the head wound (bottom/right)–where the small wound in the right temple should not be confounded with the skull flap, which is conspicuous on the bottom/right)–makes it difficult to deny the thesis of David Lifton, Best Evidence (1980), that either the body was subject to alteration or autopsy photos were faked.
The dubious autopsy photographs
It is difficult to imagine why anyone, much less Robert Groden, would persist in denying the bullet hole in the windshield when the only evidence to the contrary are photographs from which it has been removed. Perhaps as extraordinary has been Groden’s insistence that photographs showing a mass of brains and gunk on the top of the head are authentic, when they are grossly inconsistent with the observations of the Parkland physicians as well as diagrams and photos of the House Select Committee on Assassinations Final Report (1979), which, if anything, are even more bizarre and indefensible. Compare the Groden photographs with the HSCA versions:
The extraordinary contrast led the Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB) to ask James Humes, the US Navy medical officer in charge of the autopsy, whether the body had been given a shampoo and a haircut during the procedure, to which he had replied, “No, no, no, no, no, . . . .” Obviously, both sets of photographs cannot be authentic, although they could both be fabrications–which, as I shall explain, appears to be the case. I have been troubled by the realization that the performance of the HSCA medical panel is completely indefensible, not least of all because it completely ignores the Harper fragment found in the grass the day after the shooting:
Notice the skull flap extending from the right side of the head in both the HSCA photograph and drawing. This is the defect that the mortician, Thomas Evan Robinson, was describing when he told Joe West that, in addition to the “large, gaping hole” in the back of his head–an exit wound–there was a smaller wound in the right temple–which Charles Crenshaw, M.D., would confirm as an entry wound in a TV interview–and a “crescent shape(d), flapped down (3)” skull flap that had been blown open by the shock waves generated by the explosion of the frangible bullet entering there–which is clearly not the Harper fragment, for which the HSCA cannot account.
The back-of-the-head wound
The HSCA photograph and diagram not only ignore the Harper fragment but contradict the Bethesda autopsy report and are inconsistent with the Parkland physicians observations, which was of a fist-sized blow-out at the back of the head and slightly to the right. These diagrams were drawn by Robert McClellan, M.D. (on the left) and by Charles Crenshaw, M.D. (on the right), who were present in Trauma Room #1 during JFK’s treatment:
Just two days later, Dr. Crenshaw would be responsible for the treatment of his alleged assassin, Lee Oswald, in Trauma Room #2.) They were discounted on the ground that the autopsy X-rays did not confirm them. However, as the extraordinary research by David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., Assassination Science (1998), on the basis of meticulous optical densitometry studies have established, those X-rays were “patched” to conceal the blow out,
which has now been confirmed by my discovery of the visible blow-out in late frame 374, which I emphasized in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003). Notice how closely “Area P” (for “patch”) defined by the series of broken lines corresponds to the blow out as seen in that frame. For those who prefer evidence-based history, there is no longer any room for doubt who got it right–the Parkland physicians, the Bethesda pathologists, or the HSCA!
The evidence intersects
What this means–believe it or not!–is that the medical evidence in the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy has undergone an astounding evolution from the appearance of the wounds to thoroughly competent and highly experiences physicians at Parkland Hospital–who were used to dealing with gunshot victims–to the Bethesda autopsy report–by physicians who had never dealt with one–and then was unjustifiably contracted by the HSCA:
Indeed, we now know from depositions conducted by the ARRB, that Humes took a cranial saw to the skull of JFK and enlarged the wound to make it more consistent with the appearance of (what could have been) a shot fired from behind, since the Parkland observations were obviously of an exit wound from a shot fired from in front. Humes performed that grisly task in front of two witnesses, one of whom was Thomas Evan Robinson, the mortician.
This comparison of earlier frames with frame 374 demonstrates that the blow-out observed at Parkland was taken out by the simple expedient of painting over the wound in black–as the Hollywood restoration experts have confirmed. This means that the film is not even internally consistent, which makes it all the more incredible that experts on film and photos, such as Robert Groden, would persist in contending the film is authentic, when it is provably false.
Zapruder film authenticity
So much proof that the film is a fabrication has been published–where some of those proofs are as simple and straightforward as the one I have just presented–that I shall simply summarize some of the most important proofs that have appeared since the publication of The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003), where it is beyond belief that any serious student of the assassination of JFK, much less experts on film and photos, would continued to deny them:
(1) We have more than 60 witnesses who reported seeing the limo slow dramatically or come to a complete stop, where it slowed dramatically AS it came to a complete stop, where those witnesses include all four of the motorcycle escort officers: See “What happened on Elm Street? The Eyewitnesses Speak” compiled by John P. Costella, Ph.D.
(2) We also know that Officer James Chaney motored forward to inform Chief Curry the president had been shot, which was confirmed by Chief of Police Jesse Curry, Secret Service Agents Winston Lawson and Forrest Sorrels, as well as Motorcycle Officers Bobby Hargis, James Chaney, and Marrion Baker: See “New Proof of JFK Film Fakery”.
(3) We know that, for nearly 50 years, Clint Hill has described climbing on the trunk, pushing Jackie down, lying across their bodies, peering into the wound, observing a fist-sized blow-out and giving a “thumbs down”, all before the limo had reached the Triple Underpass: See “JFK: Who’s telling the truth: Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?”
(4) We know that the original 8mm, already split film developed in Dallas, was taken to the NPIC on Saturday, the 23rd, and that a substitute 16mm, unsplit film, developed in Rochester, was taken there on Sunday, the 24th, where two different teams worked on the different versions: See “US Government Official: JFK Cover-Up, Film Fabrication”.
(6) We have John Costella’s precise visual tutorial about evidence internal to the film that explains how we can know that the film is a fabrication, where all of its frames had to be reshot to create the right sequence of “ghost panels”: See “The JFK Assassination Film Hoax: An Introduction”. Here’s an informal discussion of his research on the film:
(7) We know that they not only removed the limo stop but painted over the blow-out in early frames and that the “blob” and the blood spray were painted in, but that they overlooked that in later frames, especially in Frame 374, the blow-out can be seen, as I explain in many places, including “What happened to JFK–and why it matters today”:
The timeline argument–that there was no opportunity for the film to have been faked,which Josiah Thompson has endlessly promoted–has no basis in fact and was merely a gambit. We know that the film was altered, which can be proven by multiple lines of argument. We also know when and where it was altered and when and where the fake film was substituted for the original. Since rationality requires that we revise our beliefs with the acquisition of new evidence and alternative hypotheses, the time has come to abandon the fantasy that the Zapruder film is authentic.
What about the Altgens6?
The proof that the Altgens6 was altered may be even more obvious and compelling than the proof that the Zapruder film was fabricated, where each frame had to be reshot in the laboratory to create a new sequence of “ghost panels”, in the absence of which the fakery would have been conspicuous. We have another time-line argument about this photo, which also has no merit. When there is proof that a photo or film has been faked, there must have been time to fake. You don’t have to be a philosopher to appreciate that whatever is actual must be something that is possible. In this case, however, the CIA took extraordinary measures to conceal that Oswald had been in the doorway at the time of the shooting, which has to be the most direct and obvious proof that The Warren Report (1964) is a sham.
My research on the Altgens6 began when I belatedly discovered that the ARRB had released notes that Will Fritz, the homicide detective who had interrogated them, had taken, during which Lee Oswald had told him he was “out with Bill Shelley in front”, which led me to take a closer look to see if he had been caught in this famous photo (above). I discovered a collage on a John McAdams web site, in which it was apparent that a face had been obfuscated. It was my initial inference that this had to have been Lee’s face, since there was no obvious reason to have removed anyone else’s. But I was soon contacted by Ralph Cinque, who explained I had the right conclusion for the wrong reasons, an area in which he possessed considerable relevant expertise, given his background as a professional chiropractor.
Just as we know the actual must be possible, we also know that the impossible cannot be actual. Since anyone can see that Doorman is missing his left shoulder and that Black Tie Man is both in front of him and behind him at the same time, I have become incredulous that any serious student of the assassination could deny the Altgens6 has been altered. Indeed, Richard Hooke has done a series of studies that place the identity of Doorman as Oswald beyond a reasonable doubt, since no alternative explanation is reasonable. This study of the right eyes of Billy and Lee lends further support to that conclusion, but also exposes the duplicity of the HSCA in reversing Oswald’s image to make it less obvious that he had been the man in the doorway. Many other measures would be taken to obfuscate that fact.
One of Larry Rivera’s most remarkable discoveries was that the entry way to the Dallas School Book Depository was remodeled, apparently to create space for Buell Wesley Frazier to have stood and leave it vague as to whether or not the “official account” requires him to have been Black Hole Man, where there wasn’t originally space for any other inference to be drawn. Most stunning of all, after some of those opposed to the alteration thesis found newspapers that seemed to showing the Alrgens6 had been published on 22 November 1963, Ralph discovered two “EXTRA” issues of the Beacon Hill News-Paladium (22 November 1963), which is a small community of around 10,000 in Michigan. So not only has the agency altered photographs and films, but it has spared no expense in concealing the truth from the American people, even to the extent of fabricating fake issues of obscure newspapers at taxpayer expense!
On pages 186-187 of The Killing of a President (1963), Robert Groden not only endorses Billy Lovelady as Doorman, but he asserts (beside photos of Billy in a checkered shirt), “I interviewed Billy in 1976. Lovelady took our the shirt he had worn in Dealey Plaza (he had packed it away for safekeeping) and put it on for the first time in years”. Moreover, he asserts (below the photographs of Billy in the short-sleeved shirt he had worn for his visit to the FBI, “When the FBI called Lovelady to come down and be photographed, they told him not to bother to wear same shirt. When they released the photographs, they stated that it was the same shirt, creating the controversy over whether it was Oswald or Lovelady in the Depository doorway”. But what Robert Groden is claiming in both cases is false.
These photographs are extremely important, not only because Groden is concealing that the statement that Billy had been wearing this shirt on 22 November 1963 was in the formal FBI report to J. Edgar Hoover, Director, but that Billy himself had told them that this was the shirt he had been at the assassination, which is clear from the report itself. He also ignores that Billy had been interviewed by Jones Harris in Dallas and that Lovelady had confirmed to Jones that the short-sleeved, red-and-white vertically striped short sleeved shirt was the one that he had been wearing:
Notice that Billy’s height is given as 5’8″, while Lee was around 5’10” or even 5’11”, which corresponds with Billy’s statement that he was 3″ shorter and 10-15 lbs. heavier than Lee Oswald, who was slight of build, while Billy was quite a bit stockier. Although Groden publishes profile photos of Checkered Shirt Man just above the FBI photos, he does not observe that they look nothing alike: Billy has an ordinary facial profile and normal cranium, while those of Checkered Shirt Man make him look like a gorilla! They are not remotely the same, which we have emphasized in many of our studies. Ralph consulted with nine experts, who unanimously agreed they were not the same man. Here is one of Richard Hooke’s collages, which makes the point so clearly that it is unreasonable to deny:
That a point is unreasonable to deny does not mean that otherwise reasonable people might not still deny it, especially if they have an agenda! The crucial distinction must be drawn between rationality of belief and rationality of action, where those who have specific aims, goals or objectives–such as persuading a target audience that something true is actually false, as with swindlers, con-men and disinfo ops–may deny that something is true even when the evidence is abundant, objective and compelling. You do not have to be an expert in photography or film to discern that these are photographs of two different persons. And in The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald(1995), page 159, Groden takes another step in the wrong direction by offering a frame from a film into which Checkered Shirt Man has been introduced.
What about Geneva Hine?
It was therefore fascinating for me–and, independently, Richard Hooke, during a separate interview–to discover that Jones Harris had been called down to Time-Life in Rockefeller Center by Josiah Thompson, who was working for the company at the time, where he showed Jones some of the footage with Checkered Shirt man at the DPD. This suggests to me that Josiah was “on the job” even earlier than some have surmised, although Vincent Salandria was quite explicit in calling him out when his book, Six Seconds in Dallas (1967), first appeared, because in the final paragraph of the text, he disclaims that his book proved the existence of a conspiracy in the assassination of JFK, even though the proof it presents is abundant and compelling. So Groden is reinforcing Thompson on this point.
In this context, therefore, I have been intrigued to discover that Robert Groden claims to have “new proof” that Lee was innocent of the crime, which derives from a source–now deceased–who is unavailable for confirmation. Her name is Geneva Hine. Groden made the following remarks during a 17 September 2009 interview on BlackOpRadio:
I actually found a woman some years ago. She was terrified. She did not want to come forward. And she finally agreed to give an interview, and I did interview her. When the shots actually went off, she was talking to Lee Oswald on the second floor. We always assumed that Lee had the change, that he had had the change for the machine. He didn’t. He went into the office across from the snack room with a dollar bill and asked for change. He said, “No pennies, please.” And, as the change was being counted out into his hand, the shots went off. And they looked at each other, this woman and Lee, and [asked], “What was that?” Backfires, firecrack[ers], who knew?
He got the rest of the change, walked back across the hall, bought the Coke and then just a little over a minute later there was a gun in his ribs held by Officer Baker. Lee had an airtight alibi. He could not possibly have done this. She told this story to the Warren Commission. They told her to keep her mouth shut. And she did. She told very few people. Very few people. I was one of the few that she did. So I got to speak to her because I had a friend who knew a friend of hers. I had to promise her I would never reveal any of this until after she was gone. And now she is. The whole story, including her name, will be in the next book.
The “next book” has apparently been sent to the printer, according to an interview on 18 October 2012,
So it may be worthwhile to consider whether or not Robert Groden has found a “smoking gun” in the form of the testimony of Geneva Hine. It would resolve questions about the time line for Oswald to have rushed from the 6th floor to the 2nd floor lunchroom and would explain why he was drinking a coke when he was confronted by Officer Marrion Baker. The time line is problematic, because several of Oswald’s co-workers had observed him in and around the lunchroom shortly before the shooting and, according to the official account–which in this respect appears to be accurate–he was confronted by Officer Baker within 90 seconds of the shooting, which his supervisor, Roy Truly, confirmed:
Has Groden “cracked the case”?
Observe that, if Lee was inside the building obtaining change from Geneva Hine, he cannot have also been in the doorway watching the motorcade as it passed by. Like those who suggest Doorman was someone other than Lee Oswald, their remarkable convergence in their height, build, shirt and other features would defy the odds. The probability of the evidence we have adduced, on the hypothesis that Doorman was Oswald, is extremely high, while the likelihood that it was someone else is extremely low. There is no good reason to suppose that we are wrong, given the available evidence. His claim about Hine is new evidence and a new hypothesis. If Groden is right, then we are wrong. But it seems implausible on its face. Geneva Hine was interviewed by the FBI on 18 March 1964,
Her Warren Commission testimony on 7 April 1964 also contradicts Groden’s position. She acknowledges that she knew Oswald but denied that she had seen him at the time of the shooting. Here are her most interesting comments:
Mr. BALL. Were you alone then at this time?
Miss HINE. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Did you stay at your desk?
Miss HINE. Yes, sir: I was alone until the lights all went out and the phones became dead because the motorcade was coming near us and no one was calling so I got up and thought I could see it from the east window in our office.
Mr. BALL. The east window?
Miss HINE. Yes, sir; going north on Houston Street. I saw it turn left and I saw the President’s car coming and I saw the President and saw him waving his hand in greeting up in the air and I saw his wife and I saw him turn the corner and after he turned the corner I looked and I saw the next car coming. Just at the instant I saw the next car coming up was when I heard the shots.
Mr. BALL. How many did you hear?
Miss HINE. Three.
Mr. BALL Could you tell where the shots were coming from?
Miss HINE. Yes, sir; they came from inside the building.
Mr. BALL. How do you know that?
Miss HINE. Because the building vibrated from the result of the
explosion coming in.
Mr. BALL. Did you know they were shots at the time?
Miss HINE. Yes, sir; they sounded almost like cannon shots they were so terrific. . . .
The part about hearing three shots and that they sounded as though they had come from inside the building are not very persuasive, but suppose we give her the benefit of the doubt. There appears to be nothing here that would inspire confidence in Groden’s story about what she had confided in him. And given the evidence we have amassed that Lee was in the doorway at time time–which also explains how he could have reached the lunchroom for a coke in such a short time–we have to weigh Groden’s credibility against his track record, which is what we have been doing here. So how credible is Robert Groden based upon the evidence we have presented in our discussion of his work above?
The Groden Score Card
I find it painful to draw the conclusions that follow from this evaluation, because they are highly unfavorable to his claims to be dedicated to exposing falsehoods and revealing truths about the assassination of JFK. Robert Groden has done a great deal of good for JFK research, including being the first person to arrange for the extant Zapruder film to be broadcast on television. He has testified before Congress and he advised Oliver Stone on “JFK”, where, alas, he conveyed the false positions that the film is authentic and that Doorman was Billy Lovelady. This article provides him with an opportunity for him to reconsider our findings:
(1) Groden denies the existence of a bullet hole in the windshield; but the evidence for the through-and-through hole is readily accessible and he has to know better. This suggests he is covering it up.
(2) He defends a set of autopsy photos that seem to be fabrications; indeed, they are as fake as those presented by the HSCA, which indicates that the performance of the HSCA deserves more scrutiny.
(3) He claims the Zapruder film is authentic, which may explain (2); but there are multiple lines of argument, each of which supports the other in the conclusion that the extant film is a fabrication.
(4) He maintains that the Altgens6 photograph is also authentic; but it includes impossible features that make its alteration beyond dispute: no authentic photograph can include impossible features.
(5) He denies Oswald was in the doorway during the shooting; but comparisons of the height, build, and shirt with the incompatible properties of the alternatives make it beyond a reasonable doubt.
(6) He offers an alternative explanation of Oswald’s location at the time; but the available evidence in relation to Geneva Hine’s prior testimony makes that very difficult to accept, especially given (1)-(5).
(7) While this new account also implies that Lee cannot have been on the 6th floor and could not have been a shooter, it pales in comparison with the proof we have adduced that he was in the doorway.
If Robert Groden is rational with respect to his beliefs, then he will take these arguments into account and revise his present beliefs. But, if he has an agenda to ignore reason and promote beliefs that are no longer justifiable, that will be a telling sign that he, like Josiah Thompson, does not deserve continuation of the admiration that he has enjoyed in the past. So this article is an invitation for him to take stock of his past positions and consider revising them. As a token of my own appreciation for much of what he has done, I conclude with a video about Robert Groden’s efforts to make the case for conspiracy in Dealey Plaza. No matter how much we disagree on the facts of the case, here he has clearly excelled.
Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth. [NOTE: This is one in a series of articles being republished since veterans today.com deleted them in a dispute with its Senior Editor, Gordon Duff, about which I have since written several articles.]