Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Defaming Bugliosi: The Court Jester Speaks


I never thought of veteran stand-up comic, actor, talk-show host and author Richard Belzer (Law and Order: SVU) as a funny guy until I read his laughable article, "Defaming History or, Who Didn't Kill JFK" in The Huffington Post. I must say, I laughed myself silly at Belzer's goofy routine until tears streamed down my face. You will too. Here's the gist:

Belzer writes:

"...it behooves me to settle one irrefutable reality about the "crime of the century": IT WAS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR OSWALD TO HAVE SHOT PRESIDENT KENNEDY!!! There I said it: with no apologies to the likes of prosecutor [Vincent] Bugliosi. Let me explain this pesky fact once and for all..."

Here, Belzer lays out the "facts" that show Bugliosi's book, "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy," to be a fraud and Lee Harvey Oswald to be provably innocent:

"...After President Kennedy's head was exploded, Lee Harvey Oswald was discovered on the second floor of the Book Depository building drinking a Coke. His presence was verified by his boss, Roy Truly, and motorcycle patrolman Marion Baker..."

Wait a second, weren't Truly and Baker the ones who "discovered" Oswald? They couldn't verify their own discovery, could they? Sorry, I notice nuances like that. The important point here is that neither man saw Oswald "drinking a Coke" as Belzer says. Here's the testimony of both men on the subject:

MR. BELIN - Was [Oswald] carrying anything in his hands?

MR. BAKER - He had nothing at that time. [3H251]


MR. BELIN. ...Could you see whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald had anything in either hand?

MR. TRULY. I noticed nothing in either hand.

MR. BELIN. Did you see both of his hands?

MR. TRULY. I am sure I did. I could be wrong, but I am almost sure. I did.

Where does Belzer come up with the "fact" that Oswald was drinking a Coke? He gets it from the 1966 book "The Oswald Affair - An Examination of the Contradictions and Omissions of The Warren Report," by conspiracy author Leo Sauvage. According to Sauvage:

"...[Commission] Exhibit 3076, the photocopy of a handwritten deposition made by Marrion L. Baker on September 23, 1964, to the FBI...[states]...'On the second floor where the lunchroom is located, I saw a man standing in the lunchroom drinking a Coke.' Though still clearly legible, the words 'drinking a Coke' have been crossed out. Sure enough, Baker put his initials above the words crossed out; this means he deleted them himself. It also means that in his spontaneous recollection, Officer Baker remembered Oswald holding a Coke and that FBI Special Agent Richard J. Burnett (to whom Baker's 'voluntary signed statement' was made) had to remind the witness that his memory did not conform with what the Warren Commission was going to state four days later..." [Sauvage, Leo, The Oswald Affair, p.30]

Conspiracy author Sylvia Meagher repeats virtually the same story in a footnote in her 1967 book "Accessories After The Fact." It has since become gospel for nearly all conspiracy buffs looking to provide Oswald with an alibi.

The fact is, however, that Officer Baker didn't write the handwritten deposition published as CE3076 [26H679], as anyone can plainly see by simply looking at the document. It was written by FBI Special Agent Richard J. Burnett (and witnessed by Bobby W. Hargis of the Dallas Police Department). Officer Baker crossed out (i.e., deleted) the incorrect phrase "drinking a Coke", which had been written by Burnett, and initialed the alteration.

Did Burnett write "drinking a Coke" because Baker said it or because it had become an accepted "fact" due to an avalanch of press reports? Who knows? In any event, say bye-bye to Leo Sauvage's fantasy about the FBI coaxing Baker to do the right thing. In the end, it doesn't seem to make any sense that Baker would say it one minute and then cross it out the next, despite the conspiracy buff claim that Baker made a slip of the tongue. The fact is, Officer Baker is on record as saying that Oswald did not have anything in his hands at the time of the lunchroom encounter and the only other witness, Roy Truly, is "almost sure" that Oswald held nothing in his hands.

A moment after the Baker-Oswald encounter, Mrs. Robert A. Reid saw Oswald cutting through a second floor office with a full bottle of Coke. How does that happen if Oswald were slugging it down earlier?

The only person who claims Oswald was "drinking a Coke" at the time of the encounter is Oswald himself who told Captain Fritz that under interrogation. And of course, Oswald has all kinds of credibility on the events surrounding the assassination.

How does Bugliosi deal with the "drinking a Coke" issue? Bugliosi, whom Belzer says offers a "willfull, startlingly lax examination of the contradictions and omissions in the [Warren] report" in his book "Reclaiming History," notes:

"...Conspiracy theorists were quick to pounce on this as evidence that Oswald was in fact drinking a Coke when Baker confronted him, and Baker, like everyone else in the world, was trying to cover up the truth in the assassination and falsely implicate Oswald. But Baker's credibility in this matter couldn't be any better. After all, if he were trying to implicate Oswald he obviously would never have told the Warren Commission that Oswald was calm and collected when he, Baker, first confronted Oswald..." [RH, p.838]

Comedian/actor Belzer continues his routine with the laughably ridiculous and unfounded charges that the Warren Commission "rigged" the re-enactment tests to show that Oswald could get down the stairs from the sixth floor before Baker reached the second floor landing; that there were three rifles found on the sixth floor - a German Mauser, an Italian Mannlicher-Carcano, and a British Enfield; that the single-bullet theory suspends the laws of physics; that Oswald wiped his fingerprints off the rifle before hiding it behind a stack of boxes; that Oswald had to zig-zag through stacks of boxes to escape the sixth floor; and that Oswald had to run down eight flights of stairs (including landings) to get to the lunchroom where he was seen calm and collected.

Of course, anyone who knows anything about this case knows that Oswald could have gotten to the second floor faster than the Warren Commission calculated (as demonstrated in a Discovery Channel special); that Officer Baker took longer than he estimated to reach the second floor landing (as the photographs and films of the assassination demonstrate, and that Baker himself acknowledged was likely to be true); that only one rifle was discovered on the sixth floor - the Italian Mannlicher-Carcano owned by Oswald; that the single bullet theory does not require that the laws of physics be suspended to be valid; that Oswald didn't have to take time to wipe his prints off of the rifle (his fingerprints were all over the trigger guard); that Oswald didn't have to zig-zag around stacks of boxes to escape the sixth floor (an 'L-shaped' route would have been sufficient); and that Oswald only had to descend four floors (in a 'L-shaped' stairwell) to reach the second floor lunchroom.

The best conspiracy buffs like comedian Belzer can hope for is to convince their followers that it would have been impossible for Oswald to shoot the president and scurry down four flights of stairs before encountering Baker and Truly. But obviously, it is not impossible. Why? Bugliosi has the best answer to this:

"...On the basis of their time tests, the Warren Commission concluded 'that Oswald could have fired the shots and still have been present in the second-floor lunchroom when seen by Baker and Truly.' Of course, the critics vehemently disagree with the Commission's conclusion. But like many other aspects of the assassination, their arguments ultimately crumble in the face of abundant physical and testimonial evidence that shows Oswald killed Kennedy. Because of the strength of this evidence, we know that Oswald, of necessity, was able to beat Baker to the second-floor lunchroom. There can be no other reasonable answer that is compatible with the overwhelming evidence of Oswald's guilt." [RH, p.839]

Does that sound like someone willfully and startlingly lax in their examination of the Warren Commission's case against Oswald? Belzer thinks so.

Of course, most conspiracy theorists would argue that Bugliosi's logic (i.e., Oswald must have been able to beat Officer Baker to the lunchroom because Oswald was the assassin) is circular. But that's not what Bugliosi is saying.

He's pointing out that the lunchroom encounter is not an isolated event that occurred in a vacumn. There is an abundance of other physical, circumstantial, and testimonial evidence that demonstrates Oswald's culpability as the assassin above and beyond the lunchroom encounter. In short, Oswald's presence in the lunchroom shortly after the assassination neither proves Oswald was the assassin or precludes the fact that he might have been on the sixth floor with a rifle in his hands a few moments before. It is the abundance of other evidence, above and beyond the lunchroom encounter, that establishes Oswald's guilt as the assassin.

Consequently, we know, of necessity, that Oswald was able to reach the second floor lunchroom before Officer Baker no matter what issues of timing, visibility, or convoluted testimony are dug up by conspiracy theorists to color the lunchroom encounter and fashion it into some sort of half-assed alibi.

Of course, the conspiracy theorists' lunchroom alibi only works if you ignore the abundance of evidence establishing Oswald as the one and only sixth floor gunman or cling to the foolish and unsupportable notion that all of that evidence was faked as part of a frame-up. Now that's what I call goofy, circular logic.

Comedian Belzer spanks the funny bone one final time by quoting Fernand Labori, a defense attorney at the trial of Emile Zola in Paris in 1898: "Let General de Pellieux allow me respectfully to point out that a piece of evidence, whatever it may be, cannot have any value and cannot constitute scientific proof before it has been subjected to cross-examination..."

Unfortunately for Belzer, his own comedic dissertation can't even withstand a light dusting of cross-examination.

It seems that the best the conspiracy community can hope to do these days is deflect the eyes of the court away from the truth by applauding the fool. Too bad. Richard Belzer's court jester act can never cover up the truth about Oswald's terrible deed.

Just the same, thanks for the laughs.



Mr V said...

All right, you state that the magic bullet story is totally stupid... I agree with the fact that you can line up a trajectory through JFK's neck and Connally's body. But, how do you explain the fact that while JFK already has his hands on his neck Governor Connally is still holding his hat with a broken wrist?
Then, since Oswald could definitely beat the police officer to the second floor, he had to go down from the 6th floor, didn't he?
I have just been through records of the warren commission hearings and none of the TSBD employees saw Oswald in the staircase; nor did they see the elevator moving.
Ok, I know, it's not because nobody saw him go downstairs that he he didn't do it!
True! And it's not because nobody has ever proved that Bigfoot exists that he doesn't...
Sorry for this Ironical touch, but I think there is something fishy in that case.

Zero said...

An anonymous book outlining the details of the conspiracy to kill JFK (written about 1968) was banned by customs from entering the US. I think its called 'Farewell America' or 'America is burning'

Why buy a coke after making the hit? he bought it after his run in with Baker...how could he maintain his composure throughout?
If Clay Shaw's CIA connections were known during his trial, he would have been convicted- thats a 100% on that.