Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fair Play for Bugliosi: John Kelin Reports


It seems that Vincent Bugliosi can’t even get a fair shake from former Fair Play Internet magazine editor John Kelin, who reports his “initial impressions” of the former L.A. prosecutor’s recent book, “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” without reading the entire 1,600 page tome and apparently without any intention of doing so. So much for fair reporting.

Still, it’s very interesting to see what lengths conspiracy advocates will go to keep their flock from reading anything that might lead them to revelations about the JFK assassination case – especially if that enlightenment leads to their defection from the “sacred cause” that a few like Mr. Kelin have taken it upon themselves to lead.

In his recent essay, “An Ass of You and Me or, Buyer Beware: Initial impressions, but not really a review, of ‘Reclaiming History’,” appearing on the Bugliosi-bashing website edited by Rex Bradford, Kelin acknowledges that he only devoted “about twenty minutes” to writing his negative impressions of Bugliosi’s book. Believe me, it shows.

Kelin questions why Bugliosi would spend twenty years researching and writing a book that ultimately “merely” backs-up the 1964 Warren Report findings that Oswald did it alone. Kelin quotes Bugliosi as saying that he wrote it to help balance the debate. Kelin then adds:

“Well, maybe. But what was the purpose of the Warren Report? Early Commission critic Sylvia Meagher once observed that if the Report cannot stand on its own – if it requires additional books to prop it up – that in itself is ‘a total default’ to its critics.”

What self-serving nonsense. Mr. Bugliosi wrote in his introduction (and has said many times in subsequent radio and television appearances) that the case against Oswald is not a complicated case at its core; hundreds of conspiracy books and allegations (including the late Sylvia Meagher’s Accessories After the Fact) have made it the most complicated murder case in the history of the world. Bugliosi wrote:

“Refusing to accept the plain truth, and dedicating their existence for over forty years to convincing the American public of the truth of their own charges, the critics have journeyed to the outer margins of their imaginations. Along the way, they have split hairs and then proceeded to split the split hairs, drawn far-fetched and wholly unreasonable inferences from known facts, and literally invented bogus facts from the grist of rumor and speculation.” [RH, p.xxvi]

Having spent the better part of 32-years personally investigating hundreds of conspiracy charges (a good decade of it as a conspiracy believer), I find Mr. Bugliosi’s summation of the Warren Commission critics spot on. I’m sure that Ms. Meagher, Mr. Kelin, and the rest of the conspiracy community would prefer that the general public simply continue to embrace their brand of truth without question for years to come. Surveys show that a good portion of the American public have done just that for more than four decades. Too bad. The conspiracy buffs have short-changed the public big-time, and anyone who reads Mr. Bugliosi’s book will come to that realization before very long. Perhaps that’s why the conspiracy community is so cheesed-off that Bugliosi’s book even exists.

So here we are again, faced with a conspiracy community complaining that they are only a solitary voice in a wilderness of government lies seeking simple justice for poor Oswald.

Mr. Kelin himself paints a picture of a community of researchers squaring off against a four decade media onslaught of books and television programs that have unjustly convicted Oswald again and again. Of course, nearly all of the pro-Warren Commission books and television programs produced over the last forty years (and the total number pales in comparison to the anti-Warren Commission rhetoric produced over the same period) were in response to the unfounded doubts and ridiculous allegations championed by the conspiracy community that Kelin represents, not the other way around.

Mr. Kelin notes in his essay:

“...if you like to read everything on this case, then by all means spend the fifty dollars that is the book’s suggested retail price. Otherwise, hang on to your money.”

Everything on the Kennedy case? That’s a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one. But of course, Mr. Kelin really wants his readers to hang on to their money – until his forthcoming book, Praise from a Future Generation, hits book shelves this fall. Praise, according to Kelin, is the story of the early, “first generation” Warren Commission critics, whom Kelin believes were champions of truth regarding the Oswald case.

Mr. Bugliosi, on the other hand, hammers these first generation critics in his chapter entitled, “History of the Conspiracy Movement,” which is the reason, no doubt, for Kelin’s anti-Bugliosi essay. Kelin responds thusly:

“...In a section of his book describing the earliest Commission critics, [Bugliosi] emphasizes their politics, which were mostly, but not exclusively, left-leaning. The first published book on the assassination [Thomas Buchanan’s Who Killed Kennedy?], Bugliosi writes, was by ‘an expatriate American Communist living in Paris.’ Another early author [Joachim Joesten, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?] was ‘a German Communist party member.’ The next two books [Harold Weisberg’s Whitewash and Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment] were written by ‘leftists sympathetic to Marxist ideology.’ “

Kelin writes that “this is reminiscent of fifties-style red baiting,” and that “if such criticisms are valid, then it is equally valid to argue that Vincent Bugliosi, as a former big city prosecutor, is a thoroughly entrenched Establishment figure who is parroting the party line, and summoning his considerable rhetorical skills in an effort to bully skeptical readers and reassure others...”

Mr. Kelin must not be aware of Bugliosi’s anti-Establishment rip The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President or of Bugliosi’s forthcoming book in which he promises to again blast the right-wing Establishment. I guess Mr. Bugliosi is not as entrenched as Kelin wishes.

As far as “red-baiting,” Kelin’s usage of the term when referring to Bugliosi’s chapter on the early critics is nothing more than a transparent attempt to poison-the-well. To further bolster his position, and his forthcoming book sales, Kelin writes:

“...The ‘German Communist party member’ Bugliosi refers to is Joachim Joesten, the author of Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? Bugliosi happily acknowledges (on p. 990) that his sources on Joesten include, via the Congressional Record, Gestapo documents seized by British authorities at the end of World War Two. Copies of these Gestapo records were provided to the Warren Commission by then-CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Helms. One of these Gestapo documents, translated by the CIA, was a memorandum from 1937 stating that while living in Copenhagen, Joesten published an article in a French newspaper warning of Germany’s military threat to Denmark. So Joesten’s life work includes opposing Hitler, and in Reclaiming History, Vincent Bugliosi relies on documents prepared by Hitler’s Nazi regime to pass judgment on his political reliability. This, I think, is just a tad questionable...”

But, of course, Mr. Kelin is not telling the whole truth here.

Joachim Joesten, who told authorities himself that he was a “left-wing liberal,” was peddling a manuscript in early 1964, which he claimed contained “extensive documented findings convincing him of Oswald’s innocence and relating various clues developed by him as to the real assassin.” Naturally, the FBI launched an investigation to determine the “full details in Joesten’s possession concerning the assassination.”

That investigation determined that Joesten’s “documentation” of Oswald’s innocence was based on nothing more than newspaper clippings and a four-day visit to Dallas in 1963. Mrs. Joesten indicated that her husband had been making “rambling senseless statements” after his return to New York from Dallas and that she felt he was on the verge of a “nervous breakdown.” Joesten quickly skipped town and flew to Germany where he attempted to sell his manuscript to Stern

The manuscript eventually became the basis for his book Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? which was published by Marzani and Munsell of New York City – a known Communist front organization.

In 1999, Vasili Mitrokhin, a former chief archivist for the FCD, the foreign-intelligence arm of the KGB, who smuggled notes out of the KGB archives over a 12 year period and later defected, revealed in the book, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, that publisher Carl Aldo Marzani (codenamed NORD), an Italian-born American Communist and Soviet agent, was extensively used by the KGB.

Using KGB monies, Marzani was responsible for publishing hundreds of titles that promoted the Soviet system and served as an outlet for Soviet propaganda during the height of the Cold War. (Marzani served two years in Federal prison during 1949-51 for making false statements regarding past Communist Party membership. His publishing partner, Alexander Ector Orr Munsell, was reported to have financially supported the Communist Party and its front organizations.) Marzani and Munsell, who were being subsidized by the KGB, published Joesten’s book within five weeks of receiving the manuscript.

Mitrokhin wrote in his book that Joesten’s book, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, “ established two themes which were to recur in Soviet and Russian active measures for the next thirty years; a plot by [oil magnate H.L.] Hunt and other right-wing fanatics; and the involvement of the CIA.” [Sword and the Shield, pp.227]

Sound familiar? The fact is, the allegations made by Joesten in his books, articles, and pamphlets are outrageous lies and fly in the face of known facts.

In October, 1964, Richard Helms sent J. Lee Rankin a “set of German documents seized by the U.S. authorities at the end of World War II.” [CD1532]

The documents show that the German Gestapo began focusing on Joesten in 1936, at a time when the Communist Party had been outlawed in Germany. (Joesten had been a member of the German Communist Party since 1932 and had held Communist meetings at his place of business.)

It was discovered that Joesten had attempted to establish a connection with Communist publishers in order to “depict the economic and cultural conditions in the USSR in a most flattering manner.”

In 1937, Joesten wrote “anti-German” articles in a French newspaper which charged that Denmark’s military defenses were lax and that German troops could take the Danes “without drawing a sword.” The documents describe Joesten as “a notorious Marxist well-poisoner” who failed to remain loyal to Germany.

By November, 1937, the Gestapo demanded “that his German citizenship be revoked and that his possessions be confiscated and declared as forfeited to the state.” By then, Joesten had already fled Germany. [CD1532]

Two weeks after the release of the Warren Report, Joesten wrote to Nicholas Katzenbach, acting Attorney General of the United States, charging five high-ranking law enforcement officers in Dallas (Jesse E. Curry, J. Will Fritz, J. Gordon Shanklin, James P. Hosty, Jr., and Forrest V. Sorrels) with “conspiring among themselves and with others to assist and shield the persons responsible” for the assassination of JFK. According to Joesten, all of this could be proved “by reference to the Warren Report.” [CD1548]

All of this, and more, is described in documents available at the National Archives.

Mr. Kelin’s characterization of Joesten as a heroic Nazi fighter, or of Bugliosi relying solely on captured German documents for his assessment of Joesten’s political bent is as misleading and unfair as it gets. But then, this has been the modus operandi of the conspiracy community for over four decades, hasn’t it?

Mr. Bugliosi writes in the introduction of his book:

“I want to assure the readers of this book that I commenced my investigation of this case with an open mind. But after being exposed to the evidence, I have become satisfied beyond all doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy, and beyond all reasonable doubt that he acted alone. I am very confident that the overwhelming majority of objective readers of this book will end up feeling the same way.” [RH, p.xliv]

What facts does Bugliosi present that convinced him of Oswald’s guilt and which he believes will convince any objective, reasonable reader of his book?

Mr. Kelin and the conspiracy community don’t want you to know. That says it all, doesn’t it?


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:

" 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.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rewriting History: Don Thomas, Vincent Bugliosi and the Warren Report


Fire up the WayBack Machine, Mr. Peabody! It’s time to take a time trip back to the mid-sixties and visit those rollicking, fun-loving modern day conspiracy buffs who find that the time honored distortions, manipulations, and fabrications from the days of old are the only way to keep today’s conspiracy faithful coming back for more.

The latest historical hack job comes courtesy of Dr. Donald B. Thomas, the entomologist and part-time conspiracy buff, whose Mary Ferrell Foundation website article “Rewriting History: Bugliosi Parses the Testimony” promises to take author Vincent Bugliosi to task for dismissing piles of evidence that Oswald was an innocent lamb in the Kennedy slaying.

According to Dr. Thomas, “ of the more shameful aspects of the Warren Commission investigation was its handling of the African-American witnesses… The accounts of these witnesses tended to exculpate Oswald, but the Warren Commission took advantage of their status as second class citizens to ignore or distort, and in some cases, manipulate their statements...”

So, the Warren Commission not only covered up the truth, according to Dr. Thomas, they were racist to boot? How does Dr. Thomas support such an outrageous charge?

Dr. Thomas claims that the Warren Commission, as well as Vincent Bugliosi in his new book, “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” twisted the statements and testimony of James Jarman, Jr. and Harold Norman (who allegedly confirmed Oswald’s alibi), Charles Givens (who allegedly saw someone else shoot Kennedy), Bonnie Ray Williams (who allegedly ate his chicken lunch in the sniper’s nest, and thus, supported Oswald’s alibi), and many others in an effort to “rewrite history” and pin the Kennedy assassination on the hapless Oswald.

As you might suspect, Dr. Thomas only manages to shoot himself in the foot time and time again in his awful (and I do mean, gawd awful) 8,893 word essay and prove that the only one rewriting history is Dr. Thomas himself.

Here’s twenty items, just a small sampling of the quackery found in Dr. Thomas’ diatribe, and the truth behind the allegations:

(1.) “...[Danny Arce, Charles Givens, and James Jarman, Jr.] were among the Book Depository employees closest to Lee Harvey Oswald...”

Oh, really? According to an FBI interview of James Jarman, Jr., obtained two days after the assassination: “[Jarman] stated that from what he could observe Oswald was not particularly well acquainted with anyone employed at the TSBD. He said that no one could seem to get acquainted with Oswald and that he, himself, had never talked to Oswald sufficiently to draw any conclusion as to Oswald’s thoughts, aspirations, or attitudes.” [CD5, p.334 11/24/63]

Asked by the Warren Commission whether Oswald had any close friend that he would eat lunch with every day, Jarman replied: “No sir; not that I know of.” [3H200]

Danny Arce, one of Oswald’s other close friends according to Dr. Thomas, told the Warren Commission that Oswald “didn’t associate with us too much. He was kind of quiet. He didn’t like to talk too much to us or anything.” Asked whether he ate with Oswald, Arce said, “We all eat lunch together in this little domino room… [Oswald] might walk in and lay around with us and he would walk out. He didn’t stay in there too long. I guess he didn’t like crowds.” [6H364]

Charles Givens, the other close black friend of Oswald that Dr. Thomas cites told the Warren Commission essentially the same thing, “Well, he was a fellow that kept pretty much to himself. He never had too much to say.” [6H348]

Bonnie Ray Williams, another black employee, told the FBI the day after the assassination: “...that Lee [Oswald] did not seem to have any close friends or associate with anyone else on the job.” [CD5, p.331 11/23/63]

In another FBI report from the day of the assassination, Billy Lovelady “described Oswald as a ‘loner’ who never seemed to be very friendly or associate with any of the other employees. At lunch periods Oswald would go to the second floor on occasion by himself where he would eat his lunch and read a newspaper. If he did eat lunch in the lunchroom with the other employees he would stay by himself and ‘always had his face in the newspaper’.” [CD5, p.332 11/22/63]

With this kind of historic record on file, where in the world does Don Thomas come up with the idea that any of the black or Hispanic employees at the Texas School Book Depository were remotely close to Oswald?

Who’s rewriting history?

(2.) “...Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz who led the interrogation…was not only under qualified for his job (admitting to the Warren Commission that he had no formal training in forensics ) but demonstrably incompetent...”

This statement alone is enough to dismiss just about anything else that Dr. Thomas ever has to say on the Kennedy case. Anyone who knew or worked with John William Fritz, without exception, had the highest regard for Fritz’ abilities as a lawman. I’ve personally talked to quite a few law enforcement officers in Dallas, long after Fritz had passed away when one could assume these officers were free to speak their minds without reservation, and not one had anything derogatory to say about Captain Will Fritz. His reputation in law enforcement was impeccable and his record of getting confessions was the best in the Southwest. Frankly, Dr. Thomas is a fool for suggesting otherwise.

And as for Dr. Thomas’ crack that Fritz “admitted” (a favorite word of conspiracy buffs eager to color any acknowledgement with something seemingly more derogatory) having no formal forensic training, here’s the actual testimony that Thomas refers to:

MR. BALL: Have you had any special training in police schools or places like that?

MR. FRITZ: Well, of course, I have had a good many years of experience, and I attempted, I still go to school to our police schools, and I now attend seminars at different places, Oklahoma University and Texas University and go to most any training school that is available.” [4H202-203]

So, in fact, Dr. Thomas completely misrepresents what Captain Fritz told the Warren Commission about his formal training. Fritz doesn’t “admit” to having no formal training in forensics, as Thomas claims, but in fact told the Commission that in addition to his many years in law enforcement as a homicide investigator (31 years at the time of the assassination) he had attended and continued to attend “most any training school that is available.”

Who’s rewriting history?

And let’s be honest, Captain Fritz, who was made head of the Dallas Homicide and Robbery Bureau at its inception in 1932, could easily have taught a class in law enforcement at any university based on his vast personal experience as a professional homicide investigator. Who is Dr. Thomas kidding, anyway? And does anyone need to be reminded that Dr. Thomas, an entomologist (i.e., one who studies insects), continues to speak out on issues surrounding acoustics in the Kennedy assassination without any formal training in that field. Who’s zooming who, here?

But that’s not the only bull-hockey that Dr. Thomas tosses around in an effort to convince his readers that Captain Will Fritz was an incompetent boob. Thomas also writes:

“...His investigation of Kennedy’s murder was a succession of blunders, not the least of which was a failure to protect the crime scene. It was Fritz who was responsible for the misidentification of the murder weapon widely reported in the press as a Mauser rifle. It was Fritz who refused to allow the suspect access to legal counsel. It was Fritz who told Louisiana law enforcement officials that he didn’t need their witnesses because he already knew who killed the President [editor's note: the Rose Cherami incident]. Fritz picked up the evidence cartridges before they could be checked for prints and then pilfered one, apparently for a souvenir, and then returned it damaged...”

Each one of these six allegations is false or misleading.

(a) I know of no incident that could be construed as a failure on Captain Fritz’ part to protect the crime scene at the Book Depository. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney, who discovered the sniper’s nest, testified:

MR. MOONEY. ...So I stood guard to see that no one disturbed anything until Captain Will Fritz approached with his group of officers, city officers. [3H285]

Captain Fritz himself testified:

MR. FRITZ. wasn't very long until someone called me and told me they wanted me to come to the front window, the corner window, they had found some empty cartridges...I told them not to move the cartridges, not to touch anything until we could get the crime lab to take pictures of them just as they were lying there and I left an officer assigned there to see that that was done, and the crime lab came almost immediately, and took pictures, and dusted the shells for prints... [4H205]

Captain Fritz actually assigned two men to secure the scene – L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson. Both men testified:

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Well, first I reported to Captain Fritz, my partner and I and he assigned us to this position over there where the boxes were...It would be what--the southeast corner of the building--over there from where the shooting took place. [7H97]

MR. JOHNSON. we went on up to the sixth floor, and [Fritz] was there, and that is when he assigned L. D. Montgomery, my partner and myself to the scene where the shooting occurred...

MR. BELIN. What did Captain Fritz instruct you to do?

MR. JOHNSON. To remain there and protect the scene. [7H101-102]

Given the fact that Captain Fritz did issue the proper instructions to the men under his command to protect the crime scene, how can Dr. Thomas claim that Fritz failed to protect the scene of the crime?

(b) Captain Fritz was not the one responsible for the widely reported misidentification of the murder weapon as a 7.65 Mauser rifle.

Deputies Eugene Boone and Seymour Weitzman were discussing what kind of rifle had been found while they waited for Lt. J.C. Day to photograph it lying partially hidden beneath a stack of boxes. According to Deputy Boone, Captain Fritz reportedly remarked that it looked like a 7.65 Mauser. Fritz didn’t say it was a Mauser, according to Boone; simply that it looked like one. [3H295] Indeed it does look like a Mauser. In fact, the Mannlicher-Carcano has a Mauser action.

Deputy Weitzman, however, told the Warren Commission that he was the one who identified it at a glance as a Mauser, having previously been in the sporting goods business. [7H108]

During his testimony to the Warren Commission, Fritz conceded that he might have used the word Mauser on the sixth floor to describe the rifle, but that he never mentioned the caliber of the weapon to anyone, as Boone claimed. Here’s what Fritz told Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball:

MR. BALL. Was there any conversation you heard that this rifle was a Mauser?

MR. FRITZ. I heard all kinds of reports about that rifle. They called it most everything.

MR. BALL. Did you hear any conversation right there that day?

MR. FRITZ. Right at that time?

MR. BALL. Yes.

MR. FRITZ. I just wouldn't be sure because there were so many people talking at the same time, I might have; I am not sure whether I did or not.

MR. BALL. Did you think it was a Mauser?

MR. FRITZ. No, sir; I knew--you can read on the rifle what it was and you could also see on the cartridge what caliber it was.

MR. BALL. Well, did you ever make any---did you ever say that it was a 7.65 Mauser?

MR. FRITZ. No, sir; I am sure I did not.

MR. BALL. Or did you think it was such a thing?

MR. FRITZ. No, sir; I did not. If I did, the Mauser part, I won't be too positive about Mauser because I am not too sure about Mauser rifles myself. But I am certainly sure that I never did give anyone any different caliber than the one that shows on the cartridges. [4H205-06]

Lieutenant J.C. Day, who was assigned to the crime scene search section of the Dallas police identification bureau, and who was on the sixth floor preparing to photograph the rifle as it lay in place, told Warren Commission counsel David Belin that the press were the ones who ran with the misidentification:

MR. BELIN. Did you ever hear this rifle referred to as a 7.65 Mauser or as any type of a Mauser?

MR. DAY. Yes, sir; it wasn't referred to as that. Some of the newsmen, when I first carried the rifle out, asked me if it was a .3006, and at another time they asked me if it was a Mauser. I did not give them an answer.

MR. BELIN. Were there newsmen on the sixth floor at the time the rifle was found, if you know?

MR. DAY. I think there was.

MR. BELIN. Did you ever describe the rifle as anything but a 6.5-caliber with regard to the rifle itself?

MR. DAY. I didn't describe the rifle to anyone other than police officers. [4H263]

So it would appear that newsmen were the ones responsible for elevating an informal conversation on the sixth floor into a positive identification in their rush to get the news out. The suggestion by Dr. Thomas that Captain Fritz was responsible for positively identifying Oswald’s 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano as a 7.65 Mauser, or that Fritz was the one responsible for telling the press that the rifle was a Mauser, is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts.

(c) Oswald was never denied access to legal counsel by Captain Fritz as any fifth grade student of the assassination knows. Surely, Dr. Thomas must know that Oswald is the one who refused access to local counsel offered by Fritz and H. Louis Nichols, the president of the Dallas Bar Association. In fact, Oswald spoke to Nichols on Saturday in his jail cell, but refused Nichols’ offer to find Oswald an attorney. [24H813-16] Instead, Oswald opted to made several attempts to telephone John Abt, an attorney with left-wing affiliations in New York. Oswald was unable to reach Abt before his own death at the hands of Jack Ruby.

(d) As for the call to Captain Fritz by Louisiana authorities after Oswald’s death at the hands of Jack Ruby, the subject of the call was Rose Cheramie, a known heroin addict with over fifty-one arrests for public drunkenness, vagrancy, prostitution, driving under the influence of narcotics, larceny, driving a stolen vehicle across state lines, and arson. The suggestion that Captain Fritz was refusing to investigate a “good” lead is ludicrous.

(e) The idea that Captain Fritz picked up and handled the three cartridges discovered in the sniper’s nest before the crime lab arrived comes from an allegation made by Tom Alyea, a news film cameraman who claimed to have photographed Fritz doing exactly that.

According to Alyea, Fritz picked up the three shell casings before the crime lab arrived, held them out for Alyea to film, and then placed them in his coat pocket. [Alyea, Tom, “JFK Facts: Chapter 1,” undated, p.15] Alyea further claimed that the shell casings were not photographed on the floor until late that afternoon when Lt. J.C. day returned to the sixth floor (after 3:30 p.m.) and faked the crime scene photo which showed the shells lying in place below the window. Alyea wrote:

“Later [Fritz] would regret his good deed to the press (me), which forced him to formulate a cover-up plan that would require his remembering exactly where the casings were located. He was fairly accurate, but his crime lab people, who never saw the placement of the casings, did not follow his instruction, and came up with a positioning of their own.” [Alyea, Tom, “JFK Facts: Chapter 1,” undated, p.26]

Really? First and foremost, the film that Alyea supposedly shot of Fritz handling the shells has never surfaced despite the fact that much of Alyea’s unedited film was broadcast live the afternoon of the assassination, and even more important, none of the non-broadcast sequences that have come to light since then show Fritz or anyone else handling the cartridge cases in the manner described by Alyea.

Second, Alyea’s account is full of misstatements of fact. For instance, Alyea claimed that the crime lab wasn’t called to the sixth floor for “over an hour after the window location had been found,” and that it took Lt. J.C. Day and Detective Robert L. Studebaker another 15 to 20 minutes to arrive with their equipment. [Alyea, Tom, “JFK Facts: Chapter 2,” undated, p.3] Yet, by all other accounts, Day and Studebaker arrived within minutes of the discovery of the sniper’s nest.

But, most important of all, Tom Alyea provided a very detailed account of his November 22 activities during an oral history project conducted by Columbia University in December, 1963. During that interview, less than a month after the assassination, Alyea did not mention one word about the shell casings being picked up by Captain Fritz, his own alleged act of filming them, and the big cover-up that he now alleges took place. Here’s the only relevant passage:

“...It boiled down to the sixth floor...There was a stack with a stack of chicken bones in it. There was a Dr. Pepper bottle which they dusted for fingerprints. The fingerprints were not Oswald’s. You know how he piled the boxes up...I got a picture of them taking the gun from the hiding place and dusting it for fingerprints. After this the crime lab man, Captain Will Fritz - and I have footage of this - pulled the bolt back and a live round came out.” [Interview of Tom Alyea, December 19, 1963, Columbia University Oral History, p.4]

Captain Fritz himself testified that he ordered officers to make sure that the shells were not touched before the crime lab could photograph them:

MR. FRITZ. ...and it wasn't very long until someone called me and told me they wanted me to come to the front window, the corner window, they had found some empty cartridges.

MR. BALL. That was on the sixth floor?

MR. FRITZ. That is right; the sixth floor, corner window.

MR. BALL. What did you do?

MR. FRITZ. I told them not to move the cartridges, not to touch anything until we could get the crime lab to take pictures of them just as they were lying there and I left an officer assigned there to see that that was done, and the crime lab came almost immediately, and took pictures, and dusted the shells for prints.

MR. BALL. Which officers, which officer did you leave there?

MR. FRITZ. Carl Day was the man I talked to about taking pictures.

MR. BALL. Day?

MR. FRITZ. Lieutenant Day; yes, sir.

MR. BALL. Do you know whether he took the pictures or not?

MR. FRITZ. I feel like he did but I don't know because I didn't stay to see whether he could.

MR. BALL. You didn't know whether he took the pictures?

MR. FRITZ. I went on searching the building. I just told them to preserve that evidence and I went right ahead.

MR. BALL. What happened after that?

MR. FRITZ. A few minutes later some officer called me and said they had found the rifle over near the back stairway and I told them same thing, not to move it, not to touch it, not to move any of the boxes until we could get pictures, and as soon as Lieutenant Day could get over there he made pictures of that. [4H205]

According to Alyea, Fritz is lying to the Commission. But, why in the world would Captain Fritz lie about such a thing if he knew that Alyea had filmed him handling the shells and thus his account could be easily refuted? Or that other officers at the scene might report what actually happened? Alyea doesn’t say, nor does Dr. Thomas explain this obvious contradiction.

Lt. J.C. Day also told the Warren Commission that the shells had not been moved prior to his arrival:

Mr. DAY. I took photographs of the three hulls as they were found before they were moved... [4H250]

Obviously, Lt. Day wasn’t in a position to testify about what took place before his arrival on the scene, however, he had it on good authority that nothing had been disturbed in the sniper’s nest prior to his arrival:

Mr. BELIN. Would you circle the three hulls on Exhibit 716? Do you know whether or not Exhibit 716 and Exhibit 715 were taken before these hulls were moved?

Mr. DAY. They were taken before anything was moved, to the best of my knowledge. I was advised when I got there nothing had been moved.

Mr. BELIN. Who so advised you?

Mr. DAY. I believe it was Detective [Richard] Sims standing there, but I could be wrong about that. [4H251]

Detective Robert L. Studebaker, who was working with Lt. Day, told the same story:

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Now, I took two of the photographs and Lieutenant Day took two. We took double shots on each one. These are the ones I took myself - these pictures. There's the two pictures that I took. This one was right before anything was moved. There is a hull here, a hull here, and a hull over here.

Mr. BALL. Now, this picture you have just identified as the picture you took, we will mark it as Exhibit "A" in your deposition.

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir… This is exact before anything was ever moved or picked up... [7H139]

And later...

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; that's why, right after these [two photos] were taken, they said they had found a rifle and to bring the cameras over to the northwest corner of the building where the rifle was found and I loaded everything up and carried it over there. [7H140]

Studebaker testified that Captain Fritz had assigned Detectives Marvin Johnson and L.D. Montgomery to stay with Day and Studebaker and help out if needed. [7H145] Neither Johnson or Montgomery reported anything unusual about the handling of the shells.

There is one eyewitness account – that of Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney - that critics point to as supportive of Tom Alyea’s claim. Here’s the exchange between Mooney and Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball:

Mr. BALL - Those were empty shells?

Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL - They were turned over to Captain Fritz?

Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; he was the first officer that picked them up, as far as I know, because I stood there and watched him go over and pick them up and look at them. As far as I could tell, I couldn't even tell what caliber they were, because I didn't get down that close to them. They were brass cartridges, brass shells.

Mr. BALL - Is this the position of the cartridges as shown on CE510, as you saw them?

Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir. That is just about the way they were laying, to the best of my knowledge. I do know there was--one was further away, and these other two were relatively close together--on this particular area. But these cartridges--this one and this one looks like they are further apart than they actually was...

Mr. BALL - You mean the "B" cartridge should be closer to the "C?"

Mr. MOONEY - Closer to the "C"; yes, sir... [3H286]

While Mooney says Captain Fritz picked up the shells, he doesn’t say when this occurred. Was it before the crime lab arrived (as Alyea claims) or after?

Later in his testimony, Mooney only says that Fritz picked up the shells sometime during the 15 to 20 minutes that Mooney was at or near the sniper’s nest:

Mr. BALL - How long did you stay up on the sixth floor? After you found the location of the three cartridges?

Mr. MOONEY - Well, I stayed up there not over 15 or 20 minutes longer--after Captain Will Fritz and his officers came over there, Captain Fritz picked up the cartridges, began to examine them, of course I left that particular area. By that time there was a number of officers up there. The floor was covered with officers. And we were searching, trying to find the weapon at that time...

Senator COOPER - May I ask---did you change the position of the shells which you have identified?

Mr. MOONEY - No, sir; I didn't have my hands on them. [3H289]

While Mooney’s testimony indicates that Captain Fritz picked up the shells sometime after their discovery, it doesn’t clarify whether that occurred before or after the crime lab team arrived. Common sense dictates that if Fritz did pick up the shells to examine them, it was after they were photographed in place.

(f) Finally, the cartridge that Captain Fritz supposedly “pilfered” for a souvenir was one of three cartridges discovered under the sniper’s nest window. In an affidavit published 44 years ago (you would think Dr. Thomas would have been aware of it by now) in the Warren Commission’s Hearings & Exhibits, Captain Fritz explained:

“I kept the hulls in an envelope in my possession and later turned them over to C. N. Dhority of the Homicide Bureau and instructed him to take them to Lt. Day of the Identification Bureau. I told Detective Dhority that after these hulls were checked for prints to leave two of them to be delivered to the FBI and to bring one of them to my office to be used for comparison tests here in the office, as we were trying to find where the cartridges had been bought. When Detective Dhority returned from the Identification Bureau, he returned the one empty hull which I kept in my possession. Several days later, I believe on the night of November 27, Vince Drain of the FBI called me at home about one o'clock in the morning and said that the Commission wanted the other empty hull and a notebook that belonged to Oswald. I came to the office and delivered these things to the FBI.” [7H404]

The “damage” that Dr. Thomas refers to is a slight dent on the lip of one of the cartridges. It is widely known that such a dent occasionally occurs when the cartridges are routinely ejected from the rifle. None of this is sinister, except in the goofy minds of conspiracy theorists.

Does Dr. Thomas really believe he can dismantle the stellar reputation of Captain Will Fritz with falsehoods and distortions?

Who’s rewriting history?

(3.) “...the statements by the black employees which actually corroborated Oswald’s [lunchtime] alibi, is twisted by Bugliosi to make it appear that Oswald had lied...”

Dr. Thomas writes that “...Fritz gave a distorted version of Oswald’s alibi, claiming that Oswald had said that he had eaten lunch with two of the black employees, ‘Junior’ and a ‘short fellow’...” when his own notes only said that ‘two negr. came in’; that Bugliosi ignored the statement of an FBI agent who reported that Oswald said he “had eaten lunch in the lunch room alone, but recalled possibly two Negro employees walking through the room during this period;” that James Jarman and Harold Norman confirmed that they did indeed ‘walk through’ the lunchroom; and that Norman recalled someone was in the lunchroom but he couldn’t remember who. Dr. Thomas concludes: “...the statements by the black employees which actually corroborated Oswald’s alibi, is twisted by Bugliosi to make it appear that Oswald had lied.”

In fact, Dr. Thomas is the one twisting the truth here. The record shows that Oswald himself continually altered the details of his own alibi, first telling Fritz on November 22 that he was stopped by Officer Marrion Baker on the second floor after Oswald had purchased a Coke. After Roy Truly vouched for him as an employee, Oswald stated that he then went to the first floor where he stood around and had lunch (Oswald didn’t mention anything about Jarman or Norman). Then, Oswald claimed he went outside where he spoke to his supervisor Bill Shelley and gathered that no more work would be done that day, so Oswald went home. [24H265] Captain Fritz’ rough notes from the interrogation record it this way:

“Claims 2nd floor coke when off[icer] came in, to 1st floor had lunch, out front with Bill Shelley in front, left wk opinion nothing to be done that day etc.”

FBI agent James Bookhout, who was present during the interrogation session on November 22, also reported that Oswald claimed to have gotten a Coke in the second floor lunchroom, encountered Officer Marrion Baker, then returned to the first floor where he “stood around and had lunch in the employees lunch room,” then went outside, spoke to Bill Shelley, and left for home. [WR619]

The sequence of events that Oswald described on day one (on the second floor with a Coke, then went down to first floor to eat lunch) is the opposite of the one Oswald later claimed – that he ate lunch first, then went up to get a Coke. Dr. Thomas conveniently ignores both Fritz and Bookhout’s report of Oswald’s very first statements regarding his lunch activities.

The next day, November 23, Oswald changed the order of his activities (claiming now that he ate lunch first, then went up to get a Coke) and added that he was having lunch with Jarman and Norman, both of whom denied eating with Oswald.

Dr. Thomas claims that Bugliosi ignored the November 23 statement of FBI agent James Bookhout who reported that Oswald actually claimed to have “eaten lunch in the lunch room alone, but recalled possibly two Negro employees walking through the room during this period,” and thus was guilty of shading the record to show Oswald was a liar.

The truth is Bugliosi did report Bookhout’s November 23 statement as well as the statement of another person present during Oswald’s Saturday interrogation - Secret Service Inspector Thomas Kelley, whom Dr. Thomas conveniently ignores. Inspector Kelley’s report agrees with Captain Fritz, that Oswald claimed to have eaten lunch with Jarman and Norman. Only Bookhout reported that Oswald claimed to have eaten alone.

Dr. Thomas also fails to mention that Harold Norman testified that he last saw Oswald at “about 10 or 10:15” that morning. [3H188] So, it seems that whoever the “someone” was that Norman recalled seeing in the lunchroom just after noon, it could not have been Oswald. Nor does Thomas mention that Danny Arce and Jack Doughtery both testified that they ate their lunch in the first floor lunchroom (Arce then accompanied Jarman and Norman outside) [3H189, 201-202; 6H365, 378], and that obviously Arce and Dougherty were the “someone” Norman had recalled – not Oswald, as Dr. Thomas suggests. Bugliosi reports all of this in his book. [RH, p.829-831]

Finally, and most importantly, Dr. Thomas fails to mention the report of Postal Inspector Harry Holmes who attended the November 24 interrogation of Oswald. Holmes reported:

“When asked as to his whereabouts at the time of the shooting, [Oswald] stated that when lunch time came, and he didn’t say which floor he was on, he said one of the Negro employees invited him to eat lunch with him and he stated ‘You go on down and send the elevator back up and I will join you in a few minutes.’ Before he could finish whatever he was doing, he stated, the commotion surrounding the assassination took place and when he went down the stairs, a policeman questioned him as to his identification and his boss stated that ‘he is one of our employees’ whereupon the policeman had him step aside monetarily. Following this, he simply walked out the front door of the building.” [20H180]

So, here again, is Oswald altering the story of his alibi for the third time, yet in this version, Oswald admits to being on one of the upper floors of the Depository at the time of the shooting. And since we know that the “negro” Oswald refers to was Charles Givens (the conversation Oswald reports is nearly identical to the one Givens testified occurred when he returned to the sixth floor to recover his cigarettes), we know that the last floor Oswald admitted to being on was the sixth floor – the location of the sniper’s nest. Oswald also admitted that he had just descended the stairs immediately before encountering Baker; and that he didn’t come up from the first floor lunchroom as he claimed on Saturday. Oswald’s acknowledgement, again, places Oswald on one of the upper floors of the Depository (the last known floor was the sixth) at the time of the shooting. All of this is reported in Bugliosi’s book. [RH, p.957]

Who’s rewriting history?

(4.) “...Among the false claims made by Bugliosi in his effort to convince us that Oswald shot Kennedy is that he was the only employee to 'flee' the Texas School Book Depository following the shooting...”

Dr. Thomas claims that several employees left the building, citing the affidavits in CE1381, and noting that the Dallas police put out an APB on Charles Givens, a Depository employee with a previous police record who was wanted for questioning.

Commission Exhibit 1381 contains 73 signed statements obtained from those individuals known to have been in the Book Depository on November 22. Those statements show that of those who were inside the building at the time of the shooting, only Oswald “fled” the scene. [22H632-686]

As for Charles Givens, he was already outside the Depository at the time of the shooting, and consequently he could hardly “flee” the building afterwards. Givens, by his own account, was one block east of the Depository at the time of the shooting and returned to the building after the shots but was not allowed to re-enter. Givens then walked over to an Elm and Record parking lot where he remained until he learned from James Jarman that the Depository employees were being told to go home for the day. (The APB had been put out in the meantime.) Givens again returned to the Depository to get his hat and coat and was told by a police officer that he was wanted for questioning downtown. Givens was then escorted to police headquarters where he gave a statement. [6H351, 355]

So, in fact, contrary to Dr. Thomas’ claims – Oswald was the only person to flee the Depository after the shooting, just as Bugliosi pointed out in his book.

Who’s rewriting history?

(5.) “...[Charles] Givens never testified to the Warren Commission...”

Dr. Thomas writes that the Warren Commission met with 94 Dallas witnesses in Washington, D.C., yet Givens, who could place Oswald at or near the sniper’s nest at the time of the shooting, “was deposed in private in Dallas by a single Warren Commission lawyer,” and therefore never testified before the Commission. Why did the Warren Commission do this? According to Dr. Thomas, “Givens was deposed in private in an apparent effort to control the record.”

I see. Givens was questioned in “private,” and then the transcript of that deposition was published for the whole world to read, all in an effort to “control the record”? Is Dr. Thomas kidding? And just in case Dr. Thomas isn’t aware (and apparently he isn’t), the entire Warren Commission was rarely, if ever, in complete attendance during the questioning of any witness that appeared before the Commission. So, how does the fact that Givens’ testimony was obtained by legal counsel David Belin, as opposed to one or more members of the Warren Commission have any bearing on anything?

A quick perusal of the Warren Report shows that 552 witnesses provided testimony to the Warren Commission, 420 of which provided testimony via deposition, just like Givens had done. [WR, Appendix V, pp.483-500]

Contrary to Dr. Thomas assertion, Givens did testify before the Warren Commission, as his testimony in Volume 6, pages 345-346, and his statements available in other Commission documents, clearly show.

Who’s rewriting history?

(6.) “...Bugliosi dismisses [William Shelley and Eddie Piper’s] accounts by saying that they may have seen Oswald on the first floor but it was probably earlier in the day, ignoring Piper’s statement that he had actually spoken to Oswald about eating lunch!...”

Dr. Thomas makes this charge while addressing the question of whether Oswald went up to the sixth floor around noon or down to the first floor to eat his lunch as he later claimed.

Here’s what Bugliosi actually wrote:

“Piper and Shelley may very well have seen Oswald sometime before noon on the first floor, but chances are they (particularly Piper) saw Oswald a little earlier than they thought. I say that because four other Book Depository Building employees recall seeing Oswald on the fifth floor about ten to fifteen minutes before noon.” [RH, p.821]

Dr. Thomas takes Bugliosi’s “a little earlier” and rewrites it as “earlier in the day” in an effort to convince his readers of Bugliosi’s untruthfulness. But, who’s really being untruthful here? And does Bugliosi really dismiss Shelley and Piper’s accounts of seeing Oswald on the first floor, virtually ignoring Piper’s comment that he spoke to Oswald about eating lunch, as Dr. Thomas claims? You guessed it.

Contrary to Dr. Thomas’ outrageous claim, Bugliosi spends two pages [RH, pp.828-29] dealing directly with the old, false conspiracy buff claim that the testimony of William Shelley and Eddie Piper supports Oswald’s alibi.

Bugliosi points out that William Shelley testified that he came down from the sixth floor for lunch at about 11:50 a.m. and saw Oswald on the first floor. [6H328] This was before the other workers on the sixth floor broke for lunch. Bugliosi notes that “it may very well have been Shelley’s appearance on the first floor that triggered Piper’s remark to Oswald, ‘It’s about lunchtime. I believe I’ll go have lunch.’ “ [6H383] According to a signed affidavit Piper gave sheriff deputies on November 23, Oswald replied, “I’m going up to eat.” [19H499] Piper told the same thing to the Secret Service two weeks later. [CD87, p.6] By the time of his Warren Commission testimony in April, 1964, Piper said that Oswald said he was “going up or out” – he couldn’t remember which. [6H383]

So, contrary to the claims of Dr. Thomas and all conspiracy buffs, Oswald didn’t intend to eat lunch on the first floor (sans his alibi), but intended to eat on one of the upper floors.

Bugliosi also points out that we can be virtually certain that Oswald did go up to the fifth and sixth floors (where he was seen by multiple witnesses) after talking with Piper and not before as conspiracy buffs believe, because of the movements of the freight elevators at that time. When William Shelley descended from the sixth floor at 11:50 a.m., he left one freight elevator on the sixth floor. Yet, only minutes later, both elevators were available to the remaining work crew. Bugliosi writes:

“It seems pretty obvious that it was Oswald himself who took the freight elevator back up to the sixth floor after talking with Piper, considering the fact that Oswald was seen on, and heard calling from, the fifth floor shortly thereafter by his coworkers descending past him on their way to lunch. Once again, the cohesiveness of all of the evidence – Oswald’s statement to Piper (‘I’m going up to eat’), his presence on the upper floors of the Depository shortly thereafter (as determined by eyewitness testimony and from the movements of the freight elevators), and all of the physical evidence (Oswald’s finger and palm prints in the sniper’s nest, his ownership of the murder weapon found on the sixth floor, etc.) – easily overwhelms the allegation that Oswald was eating lunch on the first floor of the Depository at the time of the shooting.” [RH, p.829]

After reading two pages of Bugliosi’s dissertation on this issue, how in the world can Dr. Thomas claim that Bugliosi dismissed Shelley and Piper’s accounts or that he ignored Piper’s statement that he had spoken to Oswald about eating lunch?

Who’s rewriting history?

(7.) “...While awaiting the President’s passage, [Carolyn] Arnold recounted that she looked back through the glass door of the building and saw Oswald gazing out...”

Dr. Thomas cites Commission Document 5, a statement given by Carolyn Arnold to the FBI, to support this statement. Yet, if you read the citation Thomas gives, you find this:

”As she was standing in front of the building she stated she thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of LEE HARVEY OSWALD standing in the hallway between the front door and the double doors leading to the warehouse, located on the first floor.” [CD5, p.41]

As anyone can plainly see, there's absolutely nothing in that passage (or the rest of the FBI report for that matter) that indicates Carolyn Arnold “recounted” seeing Oswald “gazing out” of the Book Depository door, nor does she recount seeing Oswald looking in ANY particular direction or doing any particular thing other than just standing there.

Why would Dr. Thomas make such an obviously phony claim?

Could it have something to do with the fact that later in Dr. Thomas’ article he speculates that “…Oswald had been standing inside the front door, watching the motorcade pass by the building…” at the time of the shooting, and Dr. Thomas felt compelled to misrepresent what Carolyn Arnold actually said to help bolster his theory that poor Oswald didn’t do anything evil that day?

What is particularly disturbing, given the thesis of his article, is that Dr. Thomas completely ignores Carolyn Arnold’s later statements given in 1978, which any half-wit can see seriously undermines her credibility. Oh yes, Thomas alludes to them in the following convoluted sentence:

“Subsequently in March however, Arnold would claim that the FBI had misquoted her and that she had actually seen Oswald on the second floor, not the first (CE1381, p.7). It seems more likely that time had eroded her memory and it was she not the FBI agents who had mis-remembered.”

Dr. Thomas’ reference to a March statement by Arnold refers to a statement she gave to the FBI in which she only said that she did not see Oswald at the time the president was shot; failing to even tell them about seeing Oswald in the first floor vestibule (as she had said in November 1963). There is nothing in her March, 1964, statement about the seeing Oswald on the second floor, as Thomas seems to be saying. [22H635, CE1381, p.7]

It wasn’t until 1978 that Arnold first mentioned seeing Oswald in the second floor lunchroom. Rather than describe her evolving story, Dr. Thomas only offers his opinion that “time had eroded her memory.”

Where can you find a detailed retelling of Carolyn Arnold’s 1978 statements? You’ll find them thoroughly covered in Vincent Bugliosi’s book [RH, p.830-32] – the same Bugliosi that Dr. Thomas claims ignores and manipulates the truth about the assassination.

Bugliosi points out that Carolyn Arnold changed her story in 1978, telling the Dallas Morning News and conspiracy author Anthony Summers that the FBI misquoted her in 1963 and that she actually saw Oswald in the second floor lunchroom, not the front vestibule. Never mind the fact that she gave the Dallas Morning News and Summers two different times for the encounter (12:25 and 12:15 p.m.), or that she gave the FBI a signed statement in March, 1964, in which she didn’t mention seeing Oswald in either the vestibule or lunchroom. Bugliosi notes that Pauline Sanders, a Depository employee, reported leaving the second floor lunchroom at 12:20 p.m. (the approximate time that Arnold claimed Oswald was there) to go outside and watch the motorcade and that even though she knew Oswald by sight, she didn’t see Oswald at all on the day of the assassination. [22H672]

Who’s rewriting history?

(8.) “...The authors of the Warren Report and Bugliosi failed to consider that this hallway leads to another set of stairs down to the first floor; and in fact, this route in reverse was the one taken by Oswald when he left the building. If Oswald used this same route to arrive at the lunchroom as Baker's testimony supports, he could have come up from the first floor exactly as he claimed...”

Dr. Thomas makes the same argument that twenty-three-year-old conspiracy theorist Howard Roffman did in his 1975 book, Presumed Guilty, in an effort to explain how Oswald could have been seen by Officer Marrion L. Baker through the vestibule door window.

The dilemma exists because both Roy Truly and Marrion Baker, who were running up the stairs, both testified that the vestibule door was not moving as they passed the second floor landing. Of course, it was through the window of this same door that Baker spotted Oswald walking through the vestibule. The layout of the vestibule door and the lunchroom is such that if Oswald had descended from the sixth floor just ahead of Truly and Baker, as the Warren Commission believed, then the hydraulic mechanism would have kept the door in motion during the brief moment that Oswald would have been passing through the vestibule en route to the lunchroom, and hence, in Baker’s line-of-sight. The fact that the door was not in motion, suggests that Oswald must have passed through the door a sufficient period of time (enough for the door to close) before Truly and Baker arrived on the second floor landing. But if that happened, the critics point out, then Oswald would have had time to leave the vestibule and enter the lunchroom to his left and therefore would not have been visible to Baker through the vestibule door window.

Author Howard Roffman offered a solution in 1975 that served as an alibi of sorts for Oswald. According to Roffman, “The only way Oswald could have been in [the area of the vestibule visible to Baker] on his way to the lunchroom is if he entered the vestibule through the southernmost door…” that is, came up from the first floor via the front staircase and cut through “either a large office space or an adjacent corridor.” [Roffman, Howard, Presumed Guilty, 1976 edition, p.217, 221]

This is precisely the argument Dr. Thomas uses to suggest that Oswald had lunch on the first floor, just as Oswald claimed, and came up to the second floor via the office or hallway to get a Coke. (Thomas ignores, of course, Oswald’s own admission to Postal Inspector Holmes on Sunday morning, November 24, that he descended the back stairwell just before the encounter with Officer Baker, and therefore must have entered the vestibule door just before Baker. See Item #3 above.) But Roffman and Thomas are wrong to suggest that Oswald could not have been seen through the vestibule door window unless he had come up from the first floor.

Anyone who has studied this issue knows that Oswald could have descended from the sixth floor and been seen just as Baker described if he had simply entered the vestibule door just a moment before Truly and Baker reached the landing. If Oswald had turned to his right, instead of going into the lunchroom to his left, the hydraulic mechanism would have pulled the door closed behind him. Then, if Oswald doubled-back toward the lunchroom a few seconds after the door closed, he would have passed the window just as Baker described, and the door would have been motionless.

I calculated that in less than ten seconds Oswald could have gotten as far as the entrance way to a large office space adjoining the vestibule and lunchroom. This was the same office that Oswald would later cut through to leave the building after his lunchroom encounter with Baker. That’s when he encountered Mrs. Robert Reid, who had just returned to her desk after witnessing the assassination. Before the lunchroom encounter, however, the office was empty. If Oswald had entered the vestibule and turned right instead of left and walked to the entrance of the empty office, he might have occurred to him for the first time that he had managed to escape the sixth floor without being seen. Perhaps, that was the moment he decided to double-back into the lunchroom and retrieve a Coke which he could use as a sort of alibi, and in so doing passed the vestibule window and was inadvertently spotted by Officer Baker.

Author Jean Davison (Oswald’s Game) suggested a similar possibility in an Internet newsgroup posting. Ms. Davison noted that Depository employee Geneva L. Hines testified that she remained in her second floor office, located in Room 200, and watched the motorcade from a window facing Houston Street. After hearing three shots and seeing spectators running on Elm Street, Ms. Hine went out into the front hallway hoping to get into an office that overlooked Elm Street so that she could see what was happening. She began knocking on the office door of Lyon and Carnahan, Room 201 – which was right at the top of the same front stairs that Oswald presumably used to later exit the building.

Here’s the subsequent exchange with Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball:

MISS HINE. I tried the door, sir, and it was locked and I couldn't get in and I called, "Lee, please let me in," because she's the girl that had that office, Mrs. Lee Watley, and she didn't answer. I don't know if she was there or not, then I left her door. I retraced my steps back to where the hall turns to my left and went down it to Southwestern Publishing Co.'s door [Room 203] and I tried their door and the reason for this was because those windows face out.

MR. BALL. On to Elm?

MISS HINE. Yes; and on to the triple underpass.

MR. BALL. I See.

MISS HINE. And there was a girl in there talking on the telephone and I could hear her but she didn't answer the door.

MR. BALL. Was the door locked?

MISS HINE. Yes, sir...I called and called and shook the door and she didn't answer me because she was talking on the telephone; I could hear her. They have a little curtain up and I could see her form through the curtains. I could see her talking and I knew that's what she was doing and then I turned and went through the back hall and came through the back door.

MR. BALL. Of your office, the second floor office?

MISS HINE. Yes; and I went straight up to the desk because the telephones were beginning to wink; outside calls were beginning to come in. [6H396]

“Here’s my guess as to what happened,” author Jean Davison wrote. “Oswald was coming downstairs when he heard Truly hollering for the elevator or pounding up the stairs, so he ducked into the vestibule and started down the hallway. But then he heard Ms. Hine making a racket in the front hall. He didn't want to be seen, so he doubled back into the vestibule, where he was spotted by Baker. Getting a Coke just gave him a visible excuse for being there. Kind of like, ‘Don’t mind me, I'm just having lunch.’”

In the end, it’s obvious that the manner in which Officer Baker spotted Oswald doesn’t preclude Oswald from having descended from the sixth floor, as Dr. Thomas claims.

Who’s rewriting history?

(9.) “...Oswald ran into NBC newsman Robert MacNeil...”

Dr. Thomas contends that the timing of the Baker-Oswald encounter in the second floor lunchroom was “much more constrained than the Warren Commission and Bugliosi seem willing to admit,” then uses the claim that Oswald steered MacNeil to a Depository telephone (where MacNeil made a phone call to NBC, recorded at 12:34 p.m.) to show that “the encounter in the second floor lunch room really had to have happened as the Warren Commission calculated, at about 90 sec after the shooting, and with precious little time to spare.”

Dr. Thomas doesn’t explain how the Warren Commission’s own 90 second approximation for the lunchroom encounter could be more constrained by MacNeil’s call, but that’s the least of Dr. Thomas’ problems.

First, Robert MacNeil almost certainly was not the one Oswald steered to a Depository telephone. As Bugliosi explains in a lengthy footnote [RH, p.871], Pierce Allman, a reporter at WFAA-TV in Dallas, also reported being directed to a Depository telephone. The Secret Service believed that Allman, who sported a crew-cut haircut, was the one Oswald referred to during his interrogation when he said he directed a “young crew-cut man” to a telephone as he left the Depository. Photographs of Robert MacNeil taken on November 22 show him having short hair, but not a crew-cut, as Allman had.

Second, Dr. Thomas takes another false swipe at Bugliosi during his discussion of the MacNeil phone call, writing:

“MacNeil called NBC headquarters in New York and the tape of the call has MacNeil saying that, ‘Police chased an unknown gunman up a grassy hill’ [MacNeil, pp. 207-213] – which information the Warren Commission and Bugliosi were not anxious to share.”

Really? Dr. Thomas must have missed page 49 of Bugliosi’s book in which he recounts the MacNeil call to headquarters, including the entire report MacNeil cites in his book, “Right Place at the Right Time”:

“Shots were fired as President Kennedy’s motorcade passed through downtown Dallas. People screamed and lay down on the grass as three shots rang out. Police chased an unknown gunman up a grassy hill. It is not known if the shots were directed at the president. This is Robert MacNeil, NBC News in Dallas.”

The actual broadcast, as informed researchers know, contains a slightly different wording:

“Several shots were fired as President Kennedy’s motorcade passed through downtown Dallas. Ah - crowds screamed and lay down on the grass as the motorcade went by. Police broke away and began chasing an unknown gunman across some railroad tracks. It was not known if the shots were aimed at the president. Repeat - It is not known if the shots were aimed at the president. This is Robert MacNeil, NBC News in Dallas, Texas.” [NBC News recording]

No doubt, Mr. Bugliosi would have used the actual transcript of the recording rather than MacNeil’s skewed recollection had he had access to it. But what excuse can Dr. Thomas offer for slapping Bugliosi around for supposedly dodging MacNeil’s verbiage about the “grassy hill” (which was never actually said) when Bugliosi did in fact quote the passage that Dr. Thomas refers to?

Who’s rewriting history?

(10.) “...Bugliosi dismisses [Arnold] Rowland as a “looney bird.” It is clearly easier to make ad hominem attacks on the critics and witnesses than to analyze the facts...”

Dr. Thomas’ only hope in selling his brand of snake-oil to conspiracy buffs is to convince his readers not to bother even reading Bugliosi’s book. He knows that if they do read it, they’ll never buy what he’s selling. For instance, when it comes to Arnold Rowland, Bugliosi writes:

“Arnold Rowland was a clearly intelligent and fairly articulate eighteen-year-old high school student who was watching the motorcade with his wife...” [RH, p.833]

Bugliosi then spends two-and-a-half pages presenting and analyzing Rowland’s statements and only then concludes that Rowland had a tendency to exaggerate and embroider the story as he told it to subsequent people.

So, where does Bugliosi dismiss Rowland as a “looney bird”? Asked by the Warren Commission to describe the man he only saw momentarily, Rowland gave the Commission incredible details even though Rowland was 290 feet (nearly a football field) away and the man was standing in the darkness of the sixth floor at least ten feet back from the southwest window. After discussing Rowland’s testimony, Bugliosi writes:

“Rowland didn’t mention the state of the man’s shoeshine, but only because he couldn’t see more than ‘six inches below his waist.’ This was not looney bird time. This clearly was fabrication time.” [RH, p.834]

Bugliosi questions Rowland’s credibility, to be sure, but not without first analyzing Rowland’s statements. Dr. Thomas’ suggestion that Bugliosi dismissed Rowland’s testimony without even looking at the facts is a completely false, as anyone who bothers to read Bugliosi’s book can see.

Who’s rewriting history?

(11.) “...Williams then somehow sensed that he had friends on the fifth floor and joined them (did he stick his head out the window and see them?)...”

It’s simple things like this that demonstrate that Dr. Thomas doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If it were one or two minor errors in an article of this length, one could be more forgiving. But this is as simple as it gets.

If Dr. Thomas had bothered to spend two-seconds to check the record on this point he would have found this exchange between Bonnie Ray Williams and Joseph A. Ball:

Mr. BALL. Where did you intend to go when you left the sixth floor?

Mr. WILLIAMS. I intended to stop on the fifth floor, and if there wasn't anyone there, I intended to get out of the building, go outside.

Mr. BALL. Well, you stopped on the fifth floor. Why?

Mr. WILLIAMS. Beg pardon?

Mr. BALL. Why did you stop on the fifth floor?

Mr. WILLIAMS. To see if there was anyone there.

Mr. BALL. Did you know there was anyone there before you started down?

Mr. WILLIAMS. Well, I thought I heard somebody walking, the windows moving or something. I said maybe someone is down there, I said to myself. And I just went on down.

Mr. BALL. Did you find anybody there?

Mr. WILLIAMS. As I remember, when I was walking up, I think Harold Norman and James Jarman as I remember, they was down facing the Elm Street on the fifth floor, as I remember. [3H171]

In fact, William’s testimony is supported by Harold Norman:

Mr. BALL. And you went up to the fifth floor?

Mr. NORMAN. Fifth floor.

Mr. BALL. Why did you go to the fifth floor?

Mr. NORMAN. Usually, one reason was you usually fill orders, I fill quite a few orders from the fifth floor and I figured I could get, you know, a better view of the parade or motorcade or whatever it is from the fifth floor because I was more familiar with that floor.

Mr. BALL. And what did you and Junior do after you got off the elevator?

Mr. NORMAN. We walked around to the windows facing Elm Street and I can't recall if any were open or not but I remember we opened some, two or three windows ourselves.

Mr. BALL. Did somebody join you there?

Mr. NORMAN. Bonnie Ray, I can't remember if he was there when we got there or he came later. I know he was with us a period of time later.

Mr. BALL. And then did he come down before the President's motorcade came by?

Mr. NORMAN. Yes; he was with us before the motorcade came by. [3H190]

And, William’s testimony is also supported by the testimony of James Jarman, Jr.:

Mr. BALL - Where did you go?

Mr. JARMAN - To the fifth floor.

Mr. BALL - Why did you go to the fifth floor?

Mr. JARMAN - We just decided to go to the fifth floor.

Mr. BALL - Was there any reason why you should go to the fifth floor any more than the fourth or the sixth?

Mr. JARMAN - No.

Mr. BALL - Did you know who made the suggestion you go to the fifth floor?

Mr. JARMAN - Well, I don't know if it was myself or Hank.

Mr. BALL - When you got there was there anybody on the fifth floor?

Mr. JARMAN - No, sir.

Mr. BALL - What did you do when you got to the fifth floor?

Mr. JARMAN - We got out the elevator and pulled the gate down. That was in case somebody wanted to use it. Then we went to the front of the building, which is on the south side, and raised the windows.

Mr. BALL - Which windows did you raise?

Mr. JARMAN - Well, Harold raised the first window to the east side of the building, and I went to the second rear windows and raised, counting the windows, it would be the fourth one.

Mr. BALL - It would be the fourth window?

Mr. JARMAN - Yes.

Mr. BALL - Did somebody join you then?

Mr. JARMAN - Yes, sir; a few minutes later.

Mr. BALL - Who joined you?

Mr. JARMAN - Bonnie Ray Williams.

Mr. BALL - And where did he stand or sit?

Mr. JARMAN - He took the window next to Harold Norman. [3H202-203]

So, you see, it’s really no mystery how Bonnie Ray Williams “sensed that he had friends on the fifth floor” – it’s apparently only a mystery to Don Thomas.

Who’s rewriting history?

(12.) “...Also contrary to Bugliosi’s version, Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig confirmed that Rowland told him of seeing two men, one with a gun, on the sixth floor of the Book Depository when he spoke to him in Dealey Plaza about ten minutes after the shooting. So, Rowland was not embellishing his story to the Commission as Bugliosi wants us to believe...”

Dr. Thomas makes this false charge about Bugliosi’s handling of the Arnold Rowland story in the wake of discussing Rowland’s claim that he saw a “negro man” hanging out of the sniper’s nest window shortly before he spotted the man with a rifle at the opposite end of the building, but that the FBI told him “to forget it.” [2H175, 183] According to Dr. Thomas, Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig confirmed Rowland’s story.

But that’s not true. Roger Craig, who has his own share of credibility problems, filed a report in the day of the assassination yet made no mention of the Rowlands or of anyone claiming to have seen two men (one with a rifle) on the sixth floor of the Depository. [19H524] Deputy Sheriff C.L. “Lummie” Lewis, who escorted the Rowlands to the sheriff’s office to make a statement, did mention the Rowlands in his November 23 report and Arnold Rowland’s account of seeing a man with a rifle – but not one word about seeing a second man. [19H526] Rowland told Dallas police detective F.M. Turner about a man with a rifle, but nothing about a second man. [7H220] Rowland also told Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels about the man with a rifle, but again, no mention of a second man. [7H351] Rowland’s notarized statement of November 22 tells the same story; he saw a man with a rifle, but no mention of a second man. [16H953]

It wasn’t until March, 1964, that Arnold Rowland first claimed that he saw an elderly Negro hanging out of the sniper’s nest window about five minutes before the motorcade passed by. [2H175-78] When Arnold Rowland’s wife was asked if he ever told her or anyone else that he saw two men on the sixth floor, she said, “No, sir.” [6H188-89]

What about Roger Craig’s confirmation of Arnold Rowland’s story? Craig testified in April, 1964, that Rowland told him that about 12:15 p.m. he saw two men, one holding a rifle with a telescopic sight on it, walking back and forth two windows east of the west side of the building’s sixth floor. He thought they were Secret Service agents. When he looked back a moment later, he only saw the man with the gun. [6H263-65]

How in the world does Don Thomas find support for Rowland in Craig’s belated testimony? Craig’s version places the two men together on the west side of the building about fifteen minutes before the motorcade passed by. Yet, Rowland said the two men were at opposite ends of the building, that one was white and had a gun and one was an elderly Negro, and that he saw the man with the gun about fifteen minutes before the shooting, while he saw the Negro about five minutes before the shooting. All of this is discussed in detail in Bugliosi’s book.

Who’s rewriting history?

(13.) “...The Warren Commission could not accept Rowland's detailed testimony and still infer that Oswald was in place in the sniper's nest for the thirty minutes preceding the assassination. It is obvious now that the "negro" seen by Rowland was a Book Depository employee named Bonnie Ray Williams...”

Nowhere does the Warren Report infer that Oswald was hunkered down in the sniper’s nest for the thirty minutes preceding the assassination, therefore, they would have no reason to reject Rowland’s testimony about seeing a black man in the sniper’s nest window based on that inference. Even Bugliosi allows the possibility that “Rowland may have seen Oswald himself holding the rifle, around fifteen minutes before the shooting, on the west side of the sixth floor.” [RH, p.835]

And how does Dr. Thomas conclude that it is “obvious” that the elderly black man seen by Arnold Rowland was Bonnie Ray Williams?

Williams was 20-years-old at the time of the assassination with short, nappy hair, wearing a dull, olive green, shirt. Rowland described the black man he saw as:

“...very thin, an elderly gentleman, bald or practically bald, very thin hair if he wasn’t bald. Had on a plaid shirt. I think it was red and green, very bright color...[age] possibly 55 or 60... [height] 5’8” to 5’10”, in that neighborhood. He was very slender, very thin...Seemed like his face was…either very wrinkled or marked in some way.”

Now, honestly – does Rowland’s description sound anything like the 20-year-old Williams?

More importantly, Bonnie Ray Williams testified that he ate his lunch sitting on a two-wheel hand truck in the third or fourth aisle west of the sniper’s nest window. [3H169] Shown a crime scene photograph [CE484] of a two-wheel hand truck located in the third aisle of the sixth floor (26 feet west of the sniper’s nest), Williams said, “Yes, sir; that is the exact place I was sitting.” [3H170] Williams further testified that he finished his lunch in about “5, 10, maybe 12 minutes” and then walked back to the elevators and went down to the fifth floor because he “heard somebody walking, the windows moving or something.” [3H171]

Williams never said one word about walking over, entering the sniper’s nest 26 feet away, and hanging out the window. Yet, according to Don Thomas, it is “obvious” that Bonnie Ray Williams did just that.

Who’s rewriting history?

(14.) “...Junior Jarman, Oswald’s direct supervisor...”

Dr. Thomas apparently feels he can refer to James Jarman Jr., as “Oswald’s direct supervisor” because Jarman would occasionally check the orders Oswald filled to make sure they were correct. But, Jarman did that with all of the order fillers. That was his job. Does that make Jarman everyone’s “direct supervisor”? I think not.

James Jarman was a “checker” who checked the orders before they were shipped out. Jarman was Oswald’s co-worker, not a supervisor. [3H199] Oswald’s supervisor was William H. Shelley. [6H328; FBI 62-109060 JFK HQ File, Section 9, p.6]

It doesn’t get any simpler or more basic than this.

Who’s rewriting history?

(15.) “...Exactly what Bonnie Ray Williams saw on the sixth floor that day is open to question...”

Is it? Really? The fact is, Williams’ testimony is very specific on what he saw while on the sixth floor:

MR. DULLES. You ate your lunch on the sixth floor?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.

MR. DULLES. And you were all alone?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.

MR. BALL. What did you sit on while you ate your lunch?

MR. WILLIAMS. First of all, I remember there was some boxes behind me. I just kind of leaned back on the boxes first. Then I began to get a little impatient, because there wasn't anyone coming up. So I decided to move to a two-wheeler.

MR. BALL. A two-wheeler truck, you mean?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. I remember sitting on this two-wheeler. By that time, I was through, and I got up and I just left then.

MR. DULLES. How much of the room could you see as you finished your lunch there? Was your view obstructed by boxes of books, or could you see a good bit of the sixth floor?

MR. WILLIAMS. Well, at the time I couldn't see too much of the sixth floor, because the books at the time were stacked so high. I could see only in the path that I was standing--as I remember, I could not possibly see anything to the east side of the building. But just one aisle, the aisle I was standing in I could see just about to the west side of the building. So far as seeing to the east and behind me, I could only see down the aisle behind me and the aisle to the west of me. [3H169]

And then a bit later, this testimony:

MR. DULLES. I would like to ask one question here. When you were on the sixth floor eating your lunch, did you hear anything that made you feel that there was anybody else on the sixth floor with you?

MR. WILLIAMS. No, sir; I didn't hear anything.

MR. DULLES. You did not see anything?

MR. WILLIAMS. I did not see anything.

MR. DULLES. You were all alone as far as you knew at that time on the sixth floor?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.

MR. DULLES. During that period of from 12 o'clock about to--10 or 15 minutes after?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. I felt like I was all alone. That is one of the reasons I left--because it was so quiet. [3H178]

So, exactly what did Bonnie Ray Williams see on the sixth floor? Nothing. No one. Not a single soul. Williams felt he was all alone and so he left, and went to the fifth floor where Harold Norman and James Jarman were. Considering Williams’ explicit testimony on this point, how can Don Thomas possibly claim that what Williams saw is “open to question”?

Who’s rewriting history?

(16.) “...[Bonnie Ray Williams] then went to the second floor lunchroom and bought a bottle of Dr. Pepper from the machine...”

Dr. Thomas can’t even get this right. Bonnie Ray Williams testified:

“I got a small bottle of Dr. Pepper from the Dr. Pepper machine.” [3H169]

Not a single word about Williams going to the second floor lunchroom. In fact, the machine that dispensed Dr. Pepper was on the first floor next to a refrigerator near the double freight elevator at the back of the building, as Bugliosi pointed out in his book on page 958. A photograph of the machine appears in Commission Document 496. [CD496, photo #7]

Who’s rewriting history?

(17.) “ is certain that [Bonnie Ray Williams] left the scraps of his lunch in the sniper’s nest window...”

Like nearly everything else in his essay, Dr. Thomas makes this claim of certainty without one scrap of believable evidence to support it. In fact, Dr. Thomas distorts and manipulates the evidence he does offer in an effort to support this ridiculous thesis.

For instance, while Dr. Thomas acknowledges that Williams was shown a crime scene photograph of the remains of a chicken lunch and a Dr. Pepper bottle alongside a two-wheel cart located 26 feet west of the sniper’s nest, and that Williams remembered sitting on the cart, Thomas goes on to suggest that Williams couldn’t remember leaving his lunch there. Dr. Thomas quotes this snippet from Williams’ testimony:

“I don't remember exactly, but I think I put some of them back in the sack. Just as I was ready to go I threw the sack down...I think I just dropped it there.” [3H171]

Dr. Thomas then concludes: “Thus, Williams was not certain about just where he left the remains of his lunch.”

But this is absolute nonsense. Williams vividly recalled where he ate and what he did with his lunch. Here’s Williams’ testimony before the Warren Commission on this point:

MR. BALL. Where did you eat your lunch?

MR. WILLIAMS. I ate my lunch--I am not sure about this, but the third or the fourth set of windows, I believe.

MR. BALL. Facing on what street?

MR. WILLIAMS. Facing Elm Street.

MR. McCLOY. What floor?

MR. WILLIAMS. Sixth floor.

MR. DULLES. You ate your lunch on the sixth floor?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.

MR. DULLES. And you were all alone?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.

MR. BALL. What did you sit on while you ate your lunch?

MR. WILLIAMS. First of all, I remember there was some boxes behind me. I just kind of leaned back on the boxes first. Then I began to get a little impatient, because there wasn't anyone coming up. So I decided to move to a two-wheeler.

MR. BALL. A two-wheeler truck, you mean?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. I remember sitting on this two-wheeler. By that time, I was through, and I got up and I just left then. [3H169]

Shown a crime scene photograph [CE484] of the area of the two-wheel hand cart, Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball asked:

MR. BALL. And is that anywhere near where you were sitting?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir; that is the exact place I was sitting.

MR. BALL. That is the two-wheeler you were sitting on?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. [3H170]

Then a bit later, this exchange from which Dr. Thomas siphoned his quote:

MR. BALL. How long did you stay there?

MR. WILLIAMS. I was there from--5, 10, maybe 12 minutes.

MR. BALL. Finish your lunch?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. No longer than it took me to finish the chicken sandwich.

MR. BALL. Did you eat the chicken?

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, I did.

MR. BALL. Where did you put the bones?

Now, here’s the response Dr. Thomas selected to establish William’s “uncertainty”:

MR. WILLIAMS. I don't remember exactly, but I think I put some of them back in the sack. Just as I was ready to go I threw the sack down.

And here’s the rest of William’s answer:

MR. BALL. What did you do with the sack?

MR. WILLIAMS. I think I just dropped it there.

MR. BALL. Anywhere near the two-wheeler?

MR. WILLIAMS. I think it was. [3H170-71]

So, according to Bonnie Ray Williams, he came up to the sixth floor, ate his chicken lunch on or near the two-wheel hand cart, then left the remains of his lunch near the two wheeler and went down to the fifth floor. What is so mysterious? And how in the world does Dr. Thomas concoct a tale about Williams eating in the sniper’s nest 26 feet away from these passages of testimony?

If there was any doubt about what Williams did, it was completely erased on May 25, 1964, when Williams repeated the same information he gave the Warren Commission for the FBI – he left his lunch near the third set of double windows west of the sniper’s nest (i.e., near the two-wheel hand cart):

“Williams advised that according to his recollection he took up a position at the third double window from the southeast corner of the TSBD building. Williams said his lunch consisted of several pieces of fried chicken, some bread, and a package of Fritos. He also said he drank a bottle of Dr. Pepper while he ate his lunch. Williams advised to the best of his recollection he completed his lunch between 12:00 and 12:15 p.m. and left the chicken bones, some wax paper, and a brown bag on the floor by the window where he consumed his lunch.” [CD1245, p.82, FBI Interview of 5/25/64, dated 5/26/64]

Dr. Thomas does the same hack job on Williams’ testimony regarding the empty Dr. Pepper bottle. Thomas quotes this portion of Williams’ testimony:

“I am really not sure about it. I don't think I left it there. I am not sure.” [3H171]

This too is meant to suggest that Williams did not know where he left the remains of his lunch or his empty soda bottle. Too bad, Dr. Thomas didn’t quote the very next line of Williams’ testimony which explains precisely what he did with the Dr. Pepper bottle. Here’s the complete exchange:

MR. BALL. What did you do with the Dr. Pepper bottle?

MR. WILLIAMS. Just set it down on the floor.

MR. BALL. There is a pop bottle that you see in the picture, [CE484] - does that look like anything like the pop bottle that you were drinking from that day?

MR. WILLIAMS. I believe that was the bottle - I believe. I am not sure. But it looks like it.

MR. BALL. Did you leave the bottle somewhere near the point shown - of the bottle shown on [CE484]?

Again, here is the carefully culled line Dr. Thomas uses to build his case:

MR. WILLIAMS. I am really not sure about it. I don't think I left it there. I am not sure...

And again, the very next thing Williams says:

...I think I left it sitting up on top of the boxes, right to the side of the two-wheeler. As I remember - I am not sure about it. It is possible that I could have put it there.

MR. BALL. Your memory is that the Dr. Pepper bottle was left on top of the boxes?

MR. WILLIAMS. Beg pardon?

MR. BALL. Your memory is that you left the Dr. Pepper bottle on top of some of the cartons?

MR. WILLIAMS. As I remember. I am not sure.

MR. BALL. It is shown there on the floor.

MR. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. [3H171]

You can see from the above passage that the point Bonnie Ray Williams was unsure about was whether he left the Dr. Pepper bottle on the floor, as CE484 depicts, or “on top of the boxes, right to the side of the two-wheeler,” as he remembered.

Dr. Thomas wants his conspiracy followers to believe that Williams’ uncertainty meant that Williams might have left the bottle somewhere else on the sixth floor – specifically, inside the sniper’s nest. You can see what Dr. Thomas did to create that illusion, can’t you?

Williams reiterated his belief that he left the bottle on top of one of the boxes near the hand-cart when he spoke to the FBI in May, 1964:

“[Williams] said he also left his Dr. Pepper bottle sitting on a box in the same location.” [CD1245, p.82, FBI Interview of 5/25/64, dated 5/26/64]

The “same location,” of course, refers to the third double window west of the sniper’s nest – the location of the hand-cart. So, in fact, contrary to Dr. Thomas’ suggestion, there is no uncertainty as to the where Williams left the Dr. Pepper bottle (he obvious left it near the hand-cart), only a bit of uncertainty as to whether it was on a box or on the floor near the hand-cart.

But that is just the beginning of Dr. Thomas’ fantasies surrounding the remnants of Bonnie Ray Williams’ chicken lunch.

According to Dr. Thomas, Bonnie Ray Williams was apparently pressured by sinister forces to say that he ate his lunch near the two-wheel hand cart. The real story, according to Thomas, is that William’s ate lunch in the sniper’s nest, hung out the window where he was mistaken by Arnold Rowland as an “elderly Negro,” then left the remains of his lunch in the sniper’s nest. When the police arrived, they found the lunch “scattered on the boxes in the sniper’s nest.” But, according to Dr. Thomas, Captain Fritz moved the evidence of William’s presence in the sniper’s nest before crime scene detectives arrived to secure the area.

Why all the subterfuge? Dr. Thomas doesn’t say why Captain Fritz would feel compelled to move chicken bones out of the sniper’s nest less than forty-five minutes after the assassination or how Fritz could possibly know how the testimony of Williams and Givens would later figure into the case, and I presume he doesn’t know himself. Dr. Thomas only says this:

“The Warren Commission could not allow Williams to admit that he was in the sniper’s nest and still use [Charles] Givens’ deposition to place Oswald at the scene of the crime, and there is a further problem. How did Williams and Givens fail to run into one another, and to the assassin whoever he was, during their time on the sixth floor if the Warren Commission’s version is true?”

Uh? Apparently in piecing together evidence of the big conspiracy, Dr. Thomas missed the fact that Charles Givens and Bonnie Ray William were on the sixth floor at two different times, and therefore, wouldn’t have run into each other. Givens reportedly encountered Oswald on the sixth floor at about noon, while Williams came up to the sixth floor to eat lunch sometime shortly thereafter. We know they were there at two different times because both men used the same east elevator to go from the first floor to the sixth. [6H351, 3H171]

Dr. Thomas’ entire allegation about Bonnie Ray Williams is nothing more than a feeble attempt to start a new, outrageous, and frankly, silly conspiracy theory that isn’t worth one second of anyone’s attention. Need more proof of how far Dr. Thomas will go to fabricate evidence for his cause? Get a load of this:

Dr. Thomas tells us:

“...The witnesses who arrived after Fritz saw the chicken lunch and pop bottle on the third aisle. All those witnesses who arrived ahead of Fritz saw the chicken bones scattered on the boxes in the sniper's nest... No officer who arrived ahead of Captain Fritz failed to see the lunch remnants, or saw them anywhere except at the sniper's nest window...”

Dr. Thomas then offered up snippets from the testimony of Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney, who discovered the sniper’s nest:

“I did see this one partially eaten piece of fried chicken laying over to the right...It would be laying over on top of these other boxes... [3H286] ...There was one of them partially eaten. And there was a little small paper poke… [3H288] …Saw the chicken bone was laying there. The poke was laying about a foot away from it...”[3H288]

Asked by the Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball how far the piece of chicken and the paper lunch sack were from the boxes used as a gun rest in the sniper’s nest, Thomas tells us that Mooney responded:

“...I would say they might have been 5 feet or something like that. He wouldn’t have had to leave the location. He could just maybe take one step and lay it over there, if he was the one who put it there...they were in close relation to each other, yes sir...” [3H288]

But what Thomas doesn’t tell his readers is that Mooney was shown a crime scene photograph [CE513] and asked if it showed the place where he saw the chicken bone. Mooney said, “If I recall correctly, the chicken bone could have been laying on this box or it might have been laying on this box right here,” and marked with two “X’s” the boxes he was talking about. The photograph shows that Mooney thought the chicken bone was either on top of the high wall of boxes immediately adjacent to the sniper’s nest (i.e., 2 feet north of the gun rest boxes) or on top of the high wall of boxes further north (i.e., 6 feet north of the gun rest boxes). Both locations would be better described as “around or near” the sniper’s nest, not “in” (as in “inside”) the sniper’s nest as Thomas reports.

Thomas also doesn’t tell his readers that the piece of chicken was a single “chicken leg” bone, or that Bonnie Ray Williams said his lunch consisted of “several pieces of fried chicken.” [CD1245, p.82]

Nor does Thomas tell his readers that Oswald’s supervisor, William H. Shelley, testified that “those colored boys are always eating chicken,” [6H331] which suggests that the single leg bone mentioned by Mooney could have been left by any number of Depository employees at any time, and wasn’t necessarily connected to the lunch that Bonnie Ray Williams had on November 22.

Crime Lab detective Robert L. Studebaker, who swept the area for fingerprints, didn’t recall seeing chicken bones in any area other than that near the two-wheel hand cart:

MR. BALL. Now, did you see a chicken bone over near the boxes in the south-east corner, over near where you found the cartridges and the paper sack?

MR. STUDEBAKER. I don't believe there was one there.

MR. BALL. You didn't see any. One witness, a deputy sheriff named Luke Mooney said he found a piece of chicken partly eaten up on top of one of the boxes; did you see anything like that?


MR. BALL. Was anything like that called to your attention?

MR. STUDEBAKER. I can't recall anything like that. It ought to be in one of these pictures, if it is. [7H147]

Thomas also cites the testimony of Clyde A. Haygood who stated, “There was a lunch bag there. You could call it a lunch bag,” at “the same location where the shells were.” Asked by the Warren Commission counsel if there was a Coke bottle or anything with it, Haygood said, “Dr. Pepper bottle.” [6H300]

Thomas reports that E.D. Brewer (who Thomas falsely claims was “looking over Haygood’s shoulder”) also saw a “...paper lunch sack and some chicken bones or partially eaten piece of chicken, or a piece of chicken...” and “a cold drink bottle, soda pop bottle” by the sniper’s nest window. [6H307]

According to Dr. Thomas, Haygood and Brewer’s testimony confirms his suspicion that Bonnie Ray Williams ate in the sniper’s nest and the evidence of his lunch was later moved to the area of the two-wheel hand cart.

But, Thomas doesn’t tell his readers that Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney, who discovered the sniper’s nest, was asked whether he saw a soda pop bottle or a Dr. Pepper bottle at the location and he said, “No, sir.” [3H288-89]

Dr. Thomas also claims that Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig also saw remnants of William’s lunch in the sniper’s nest, but all Craig could say was that he saw a “small paper bag” that had been “rolled up...kind of crushed up” laying on top of a box. Even Craig acknowledged that he didn’t get to close to the scene. [6H267-68]

But far more important than all of these witnesses, is the testimony of homicide detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson, who were called upon to secure the area of the sniper’s nest. To further bolster his theory, Dr. Thomas cites the testimony of L.D. Montgomery (“Les” to his pal Thomas), whom Thomas claims “arrived at the scene with Captain Fritz.” In fact, Montgomery arrived with his partner, Homicide Detective Marvin Johnson, at about 12:45 p.m. and “reported to Captain Fritz,” who was already on the scene. [7H97]

According to Dr. Thomas, “Les” Montgomery testified that:

“...there was one piece of chicken on a box and there was a piece on the floor -- just kind of scattered around right would be the southeast corner of the building there where the shooting was.” [7H97]

Yet, here’s the entire exchange between Montgomery and Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball:

MR. BALL. Did you see anything else over in the southeast corner of that sixth floor?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Well, sir, as I say, there was a lot of boxes and there was a sack and there was this pieces of chicken.

MR. BALL. Was there a piece of chicken over there?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir--there was chicken bones and what not--it looked like somebody had been eating chicken there.

MR. BALL. Where was that?

MR. MONTGOMERY. It was right there with the boxes---right there on the floor.

MR. BALL On the floor?


MR. BALL. All right.

MR. MONTGOMERY. Well, let me see, there was one piece of chicken on a box and there was a piece on the floor--just kind of scattered around right there.

MR. BALL. Where was the paper sack?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Let's see--the paper sack--I don't recall for sure if it was on the floor or on the box, but I know it was just there----one of those pictures might show exactly where it was.

MR. BALL. I don't have a picture of the paper sack.

MR. MONTGOMERY. You don't? Well, it was there--I can't recall for sure if it was on one of the boxes or on the floor there.

MR. BALL. It was over in what corner?

MR. MONTGOMERY. It would be the southeast corner of the building there where the shooting was.

MR. BALL. Did you turn the sack over to anybody or did you pick it up?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Yes---let's see Lieutenant Day and Detective Studebaker came up and took pictures and everything, and then we took a Dr. Pepper bottle and that sack that we found that looked like the rifle was wrapped up in.

MR. BALL. Now, where was the Dr. Pepper bottle?

MR. MONTGOMERY. It was over a little more to the west of that window.

MR. BALL. There was a sack of chicken bones with that--near that Dr. Pepper bottle?

MR. MONTGOMERY. No; the Dr. Pepper bottle, the best I can recall, was sitting over there by itself.

MR. BALL. Where was the sack with the chicken in it?

MR. MONTGOMERY. It was right around where the boxes were--where the hulls there were.

MR. BALL. The picture was taken of the sack by Mr. Studebaker, and he said it was the third set of windows near the little two-wheel truck?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Over there by the Dr. Pepper bottle.

MR. BALL. Correct.

MR. MONTGOMERY. I was thinking it was right there--it was probably that sack I'm thinking about---the one we found on the floor there that was used.

MR. BALL. Here are two pictures, which are Exhibits H and I in the Studebaker depositions, which show the paper sack and the Dr. Pepper bottle and a two-wheel truck, and that is in Exhibit H, and Exhibit I shows the Dr. Pepper bottle and a two-wheel truck.

MR. MONTGOMERY. Is this the sack right here, now?

MR. BALL. That's right--do you remember that?

MR. MONTGOMERY. I don't remember the sack being right there--I remember it was there somewhere, but exactly--I don't.

MR. BALL. Evidently you don't know?


MR. BALL. Now, was there some more chicken some place there also?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Yes--there would be some more chicken over here around where the hulls were found.

MR. BALL. Now, I will show you a picture of----

MR. MONTGOMERY. I know there was one piece laying up on top of the box there.

MR. BALL. I show you a picture which is Exhibit J, which shows some boxes in the picture that's in the southeast corner there.


MR. BALL. Can you tell me where the chicken was?

MR. MONTGOMERY. I believe it was right up on these boxes right along in there. There's some boxes coming along in there.

MR. BALL. Coming along in there you mean it's outside of the view of the pictures?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir; right along in here.

MR. BALL. And that would be to the north, of that point?


MR. BALL. And what did you see on top of those boxes?

MR. MONTGOMERY. There was one piece of chicken there.

MR. BALL. Partially eaten?

MR. MONTGOMERY. Yes; I believe it was partially eaten---on that picture right there I was just looking at.

MR. BALL. That's Exhibit J.

So, according to this exchange, Montgomery concedes that chicken bones were found in two different locations – not a single location, and then moved by Captain Fritz, as Thomas charges.

What does Montgomery’s partner have to say on this issue? According to Dr. Thomas, Homicide Detective Marvin Johnson “also testified that [he] saw the remnants of Williams’ lunch near the sniper’s nest window.”

But, hold on a minute, doctor. Detective Johnson’s testimony doesn’t support your claim that William’s ate his lunch in the sniper’s nest – it completely destroys it.

When detectives Johnson and Montgomery arrived on the sixth floor, Captain Fritz (who was already there) instructed them “to remain there and protect the scene.” [7H102] Johnson testified that Montgomery secured the area surrounding the sniper’s nest, while he (Johnson) secured the area west of there, where Bonnie Ray Williams ate his lunch. Here’s the exchange between Johnson and Warren Commission Counsel David W. Belin:

MR. BELIN. When Captain Fritz told you to preserve the scene, what did you do?

MR. JOHNSON. Now you got to remember he told L. D. Montgomery, my partner, and I to preserve the scene, and we remained there near that corner.

Now over to the right, which would be back toward the west of the window, there was a lunch sack--a brown paper bag--and some remnants of fried chicken, and a pop bottle. And I stayed closer to that pop bottle while we were waiting for the crime lab to finish their work.

MR. BELIN. Now there was a sack and a pop bottle. Was there anything else other than the sack and the pop bottle?

MR. JOHNSON. And the remnants of fried chicken.

MR. BELIN. The remnants of fried chicken, was that right by that window, or was it by another set of windows?

MR. JOHNSON. That was by some other window.

MR. BELIN. Now there are, I believe, on the south side of the building, seven pairs of windows?

MR. JOHNSON. I didn't count them. I couldn't say.

MR. BELIN. Would you say it was toward the east, or the west, or the center?

MR. JOHNSON. Where the sack was?


MR. JOHNSON. It would be toward the west. I believe the next set of windows to my--I am pretty sure it was.

MR. BELIN. You said it would be in the second pair of windows counting from the east wall?

MR. JOHNSON. To the west.

MR. BELIN. Is where you found it, was it between the second and the third set of windows or between the first and the second, or right by the second?

MR. JOHNSON. Right by the second pair of windows.

MR. BELIN. Now you stayed over there?

MR. JOHNSON. Yes, sir.

MR. BELIN. And your partner, Detective Montgomery, stayed over by the first pair of windows?

MR. JOHNSON. By the corner.

MR. BELIN. By the corner window, southwest corner of the sixth floor?

Were you there when Lieutenant Day and Studebaker came in to take pictures?

MR. JOHNSON. Yes, sir.

MR. BELIN. Do you know of your own personal knowledge whether anything prior to the time that they took the first set of pictures up had been moved there?

MR. JOHNSON. No, sir; as far as I know, they hadn't been moved. They weren't supposed to have been, and that was our job to keep them out of there, and nobody came in there, I am pretty sure. [7H102-03]

So, in fact, Dr. Thomas’ claim that Detective Marvin Johnson saw remnants of Bonnie Ray Williams’ lunch near the sniper’s nest window is utterly false. Truth be told, Johnson confirmed what Bonnie Ray Williams himself told investigators – he ate lunch near the two-wheel hand cart, some 26 feet west of the sniper’s nest window.

Who’s rewriting history?

(18.) “...[Captain] Fritz disregarded, and apparently discarded, the lunch remains in his search for what he thought was "real" evidence...”

Can Dr. Thomas’ thinking on this subject get any sillier than this? According to the good doctor, Fritz should have been focusing on the remains of a chicken lunch instead of real evidence like Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, which had Oswald’s finger and palm prints on it; the three spent hulls below the window that were fired from Oswald’s rifle to the exclusion of all other weapons; the finger and palm prints that Oswald left on the cartons which had been moved into the sniper’s lair to be used as a gun rest; and all the other physical and eyewitness accounts that tied Oswald to the crime.

Dr. Thomas complains that Lt. J.C. Day of the Dallas police crime lab failed to turn over the chicken bones and Dr. Pepper bottle to the FBI even though the partially eaten chicken “was evidence that William’s lunch was interrupted.” Thomas doesn’t mention that Lt. Day dusted the Dr. Pepper bottle for Oswald’s prints and found none, or that by the time Day discarded the chicken bones, he had already learned that Bonnie Ray Williams had acknowledged that it was the remnants of his lunch they recovered. More important, Dr. Thomas doesn’t remind his readers that Williams testified that before leaving the sixth floor he finished his lunch [3H169-170] – and was not interrupted by unseen forces.

And of course, Dr. Thomas wouldn’t dare tell his readers that Bonnie Ray Williams was among those Depository employees who were fingerprinted on June 15, 1964, in an effort to identify 19 latent fingerprints and 6 latent palm prints found on the four boxes (the three used as a gun rest and the one used as a seat) which were recovered from the sniper’s nest. It was determined that Williams’ fingerprints were not on any of those boxes, [CD1546, p.43, 55-56] and so, there is absolutely no physical evidence that Williams was ever in the sniper’s nest, as Don Thomas claims.

The good Dr. Thomas wraps up all of his malarkey about chicken bones and the alleged cover-up by writing:

“The fact is that the physical evidence coupled with the eyewitness testimony, indicates that Bonnie Ray Williams was in the snipers nest at 12:16 and probably later. Whoever the assassin was he could not have moved into place until a few minutes before the shooting. Yet, he must have been lurking somewhere on the sixth floor, perhaps on the west end of the building just as Rowland had testified.”

There’s only one thing to say to such an argument – So what? Even if Dr. Thomas’ theory – with all of its falsehoods and distortions – were true (and of course, we know it isn’t), it doesn’t preclude Oswald from being the assassin, does it? After Bonnie Ray Williams finished his lunch and left the sixth floor, Oswald could have simply moved out of the shadows and into the sniper’s nest where all of the evidence shows he murdered Kennedy.

All of the verbal gymnastics that Dr. Thomas invokes in his article to save poor Oswald doesn’t erase the mountain of evidence that points to Oswald’s sole guilt. Not one bit.

Nor are Dr. Thomas’ arguments entirely new. Nearly every point was argued by Sylvia Meagher forty years ago in her 1967 book, “Accessories After The Fact,” including the idea that “someone” might have moved the chicken or the lunch bag. Indeed, the majority of the books Dr. Thomas cites in his bibliography are from the 1966-69 time periods.

Dr. Thomas, like many conspiracy buffs, is apparently stuck in the mid-sixties, when conspiracy allegations went largely unchallenged and every crackpot theory was eagerly gobbled up by a more than willing audience.

In his book, “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” which spotlights many of these unsupported theories, Vincent Bugliosi says this about the sinister connotations surrounding Bonnie Ray Williams’ chicken lunch:

“During a search of the sixth floor after the assassination, a detective for the Crime Scene Search Section of the Dallas Police Department found a lunch bag with chicken bones, a piece of waxed paper, and a little piece of Fritos in it in front of the “third” double-window over from the southeasternmost window on the sixth floor of the Book Depository Building. He also found a Dr. Pepper bottle nearby. [7H146, WCT Robert Lee Studebaker; CD 1245, p.84, FBI interview of Robert Studebaker on May 29, 1964]

“Since Bonnie Williams had chicken, Fritos, and a Dr. Pepper for lunch at that exact place, that should have been the end of it. Lieutenant J. C. Day dusted the Dr. Pepper bottle for fingerprints, and no prints of Oswald’s were found. When Day later found out the food and drink had belonged to Williams, he decided the lunch bag and Dr. Pepper bottle had no value to the case and threw the sack and bottle away. [CD 1245, p.83]

“Not so fast, said conspiracy theorist Sylvia Meagher, who said that since Day “saw no need to check the empty bottle for fingerprints other than Oswald’s, we will never know if fingerprints were on the bottle, or whose they were.” And even though Studebaker, whose job it was to search the sixth floor, saw the food and drink next to the third double-window over, and several other witnesses said they saw them in the same place (e.g., 6H330–331, WCT William H. Shelley), and Williams himself said that’s where he ate his lunch, Meagher proceeded to cite other witnesses who said they saw food elsewhere, for example, Luke Mooney [3H288–289], who said he saw a piece of chicken on top of one of the boxes surrounding the sniper’s nest. [Meagher, Accessories after the Fact, pp.39–41]”

Bugliosi then asks the same questions one could very well ask of Dr. Thomas and anyone else that buys his silliness:

“Other than her and her colleagues’ insatiable passion for pointing out normal (not to them) inconsistencies in the recollections of witnesses, nowhere does Meagher tell her readers what the relevance of these inconsistencies was. Was it her point that Williams was lying, that the chicken eater was the assassin in the sniper’s nest (who wasn’t, Meagher would assure us, Oswald), or Williams was not lying, but the assassin in the sniper’s nest was also eating chicken while he waited to kill the president? I wish the theorists would tell us the relevance of the many inconsistencies they cite in the Kennedy case instead of feeling that the inconsistencies are an end in themselves and nothing else has to be shown or argued.” [RH, CD Endnotes, p.23]

Who’s rewriting history?

(19.) “...did Givens see the assassin…and if so was it Oswald? When Givens was subsequently questioned by the police he apparently told them that he did see the assassin...”

While Dr. Thomas never comes to a firm, clear conclusion, he spends a good portion of his essay on trying to convince us that Charles Givens was pressured into making up a story that he saw Oswald on the sixth floor around noon when he went to retrieve his cigarettes, and that he may actually have seen Kennedy’s real killer firing shots from the sniper’s nest.

This would truly be a revelation, especially for Dr. Thomas who believes that Kennedy was killed by a shot fired from the grassy knoll. But, I presume that Dr. Thomas means that Givens may have only seen one of Kennedy’s killers.

To begin, Dr. Thomas notes that and all-points-bulletin (APB) was put out on the police radio at 12:46 p.m. by Inspector Herbert J. Sawyer:

“We have a man that we would like to have you pass this on to CID to see if we can pick this man up. Charles Douglas Givens, G-I-V-E-N-S. He is a colored male, 37, 6'3", 165 pounds, I.D. # Sheriff Department 37954. He is a porter that worked on this floor up here. He has a police record and he left.” [23H873, CE1974, pp.83-84]

Dr. Thomas then quotes Sawyer’s testimony before the Warren Commission in which he explained the reason for the APB:

“He is the one that had a previous record in the narcotics, and he was supposed to have been a witness to the man being on that floor. He was supposed to have been a witness to Oswald being there...somebody told me that. Somebody came to me with the information. And, again, that particular party, whoever it was, I don't know. I remember that a deputy sheriff came up to me who had been over taking affidavits, that I sent them over there, and he came over from the sheriff's office with a picture and a description of this colored boy and he said that he was supposed to have worked at the Texas Book Depository, and he was the one employee who was missing, or that he was missing from the building. He wasn't accounted for, and that he was supposed to have some information about the man that did the shooting.” [6H321-322]

Dr. Thomas finds Sawyer’s identification of Oswald sinister, pointing out that “At the time of Sawyer's broadcast Oswald was not yet connected to the shooting and therefore the fact that someone had seen him on the sixth floor was not yet of significance, as far as anyone knew.”

Of course, Dr. Thomas’ suspicions are misplaced. He apparently lifted the Sawyer quote from Sylvia Meagher’s 1967 book, “Accessories After The Fact,” (you’ll note the good doctors’ reference to 6H321-322. The actual quote Thomas uses in his essay ends on page 321 of volume 6) which Thomas heavily relies on for most of the suspicions raised in his essay.

If Thomas had turned to page 322 of Volume 6 and read the very next line of Sawyer’s actual testimony, he would have read this:

MR. BELIN. When you say ‘about the man who did the shooting,’ did you know at that time who did the shooting?

MR. SAWYER. No. [6H322]

So, in fact, Sawyer flat out says that at the time of the conversation with the unnamed deputy sheriff, Oswald’s name was not mentioned. End of mystery. It seems pretty obvious that Sawyer’s retelling of the conversation with the deputy sheriff is a skewed version of the truth - a combination of contemporary information (i.e., information he was actually given by the deputy) and information he had learned between the time of the conversation and his testimony before the Commission.

This seems likely, especially given the fact that Sawyer offered other skewed information to the Commission. For instance, Sawyer also had this exchange with Warren Commission counsel David Belin:

MR. BELIN. Is there anything else you can think of that occurred at the Texas School Book Depository that afternoon while you were there that might have any relevancy about where the shots came from, other than what you have told thus far?

MR. SAWYER. Well, I had heard some of the officers come to me and said there was supposed to be, somebody told them about a woman that had taken some pictures of that window, and then one of the sergeants came to me, and I am not sure who the sergeant is now, but anyway he said that there was on the building immediately west east, I am sorry, east of the Texas School Book Depository, that a man up in one of the upper windows up there was taking some moving pictures of what had gone on.

MR. BELIN. Did you ever contact this man? Do you know what his name is?

MR. SAWYER. No; I don't know his name. The sergeant told me that the man would not give them the pictures, that he was waiting for the Secret Service or the FBI, I forget which now, and I sent the sergeant and two men back over there with instructions to bring that man and his pictures to me. When they got back over there, Forrest Sorrels of the Secret Service was already there, and at least they so reported back to me, and was talking to this man. So I told them to go ahead with their normal assignments and since Forrest was already there and talking to him, I knew that that part would be taken care of.

MR. BELIN. You don't know what his name was or what the results of it was?

MR. SAWYER. I don't know. [6H324]

Obviously, the man Sawyer is referring to was Abraham Zapruder, who had an office in the Dal-Tex building – the building that Sawyer was describing. But of course, we know that Zapruder filmed the motorcade from a concrete pedestal on the north side of Elm Street, not from one of the “upper windows” of the Dal-Tex building as Sawyer says in his testimony.

Under the circumstances, it seems pretty clear that Sawyer’s explanation of how the APB on Givens originated was a combination of contemporary knowledge and information gleaned after the fact.

Yet, Dr. Thomas, who apparently never bothered to read Sawyer’s actual testimony, concludes that Sawyer was lying and then asks: “Did Givens see the assassin, as the mystery witness reported, and if so was it Oswald?” To answer the question, Dr. Thomas turns to a snippet from the testimony of Lt. Jack Revill:

“I asked him if he had been on the sixth floor...he said, yes, that he had observed Mr. Lee, over by this I turned this Givens individual over to one of our Negro detectives and told him to take him to Captain Fritz for interrogation.” [5H35-36]

Dr. Thomas then questions, “Did Givens actually say it was ‘Mr. Lee’ at the window...What exactly did Givens say to the police?”

Dr. Thomas claims there was a witness to Given’s police statement – a secret service agent named Mike Howard – who told the whole story to Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Thayer Waldo in February, 1964. Dr. Thomas then quotes Commission Document 2516, which is actually a letter from conspiracy guru Mark Lane to J. Lee Rankin wherein Lane writes his own version of events:

“Mike Howard then explained that the negro witness had been arrested in the past by the Special Services office of the Dallas Police for gambling; and, since he was familiar with that branch of the Dallas Police, he immediately gave himself up to that branch. Mr. Howard alleged that he had visited the negro witness while he was in custody of the Special Services in the Dallas Jail.” [CE2516, p.1]

Thomas also quotes this part of Lane’s letter, a statement made by Howard according to Waldo:

“Wait till that old black boy gets up in front of the Warren Commission and tells his story. That will settle everything. Yes, sir. He was right there on the same floor, looking out the next window; and, after the first shot, he looked and saw Oswald, and then he ran. I saw him in the Dallas Police station. He was still the scaredest nigger I ever seen. I heard him tell the officer, "Man you don't know how fast fast is, because you didn't see me run that day." He said he ran and hid behind the boxes because he was afraid that Oswald would shoot him.” [CE2516, p.1]

Dr. Thomas writes: “None of this may be a problem for Mr. Bugliosi, but for those of us who insist on a reliable account of the events that day, the implications are horrendous.”

Horrendous? An eyewitness who actually saw Oswald up close and personal as he pulled the trigger? Obviously it would only be horrendous for the conspiracy crowd, whose forty-four year quest to prove Oswald innocent of any wrong doing would disappear down the drain.

But, that is not what Dr. Thomas is suggesting. Oh, no. The good doctor suggests that Charles Givens did see the assassin in the sixth floor sniper’s nest and it wasn’t Oswald!

To support this nonsense, Dr. Thomas makes the following false or misleading claims:

(a.) “...Waldo’s version of Howard’s story meshes with the accounts by Revill and Sawyer..”

Really? On February 10, 1964, an article appeared in the Fort Worth-Star Telegram by Thayer Waldo stating that an informed source (who wasn’t named at the time, but who Waldo later identified as Mike Howard) had advised that a witness was being held in protective custody who could identify Oswald as Kennedy’s killer. The witness, who was not identified, was described as a Negro employed as a janitor at the Book Depository. The original story claimed that the unnamed source had said the Negro witness was working on the sixth floor at the time of the assassination, but after the first edition got out on the streets, the unnamed source allegedly recanted and said the Negro was actually on the fifth floor at the time of the shooting and heard the shots, hid behind some cartons, heard footsteps coming down the stairs after the shots were fired, and saw that it was Oswald. [CD735, p.291]

An FBI investigation determined that no witness was ever held in protective custody in the Kennedy case; that only three men were on the fifth floor (Norman, Jarman, and Williams) and none of them saw who did the shooting; and that Eddie Piper was on the only janitor employed at the Depository and he was on the first floor at the time of the shooting. [CD735, pp.291-92]

The managing editor of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram told the FBI that his paper was “aghast” at the developments in the story and was of the opinion that the source was wrong.

When Waldo was questioned, he told the FBI that the source said “when I saw this boy he was the scaredest nigger I ever saw. All you could see were the whites of his eyes.” Waldo also said that his source claimed that when the Negro fled the Depository, he surrendered to the Special Service Bureau of the Dallas police department because that branch had picked him up on crap-shooting charges in the past. Waldo said that after the story was written, his source called him and said the Negro witness was not on the sixth floor but on the fifth floor, and that was the only change made. [CD735, p.293]

So, does Waldo’s version of Mike Howard’s story mesh with Lt. Revill’s account, as Dr. Thomas claims? Only by the wildest stretch of one’s imagination can Dr. Thomas make such a claim.

Lt. Jack Revill told the FBI on February 13, 1964, that Charles Givens had been handled by the Special Services Bureau on “a marijuana charge” (not on crap-shooting charges as Waldo writes), and that when Revill interviewed Givens “immediately after the assassination, he stated he was not in the building” at the time of the shots (Waldo wrote that he was on the fifth or sixth floor).

Revill then told the FBI that “he believes that Givens would change his story for money,” a reference that clearly suggested that Givens might have been reporter Waldo’s paid source. Revill didn’t know that Mike Howard was the source and that Givens had nothing to do with the article. Revill’s remark is exploited by Dr. Thomas, who insinuates that because Givens was “an ex-convict, a black man in a southern town, [he] was vulnerable to pressure from the authorities to support, or at least not contradict, the official line,” and thus, may have been paid money to change his story just like Lt. Revill said.

Of course, this is an old conspiracy buff claim that’s been around since 1967. Here’s what Vincent Bugliosi has to say about it:

“Conspiracy author Sylvia Meagher argues that Charles Givens’ prior police record (marijuana charges) made him “vulnerable to intimidation” and that he was “persuaded to fabricate this story” in his Warren Commission testimony (Meagher, Accessories after the Fact, p.68). And critics have pointed out that Lieutenant Jack Revill told the FBI in 1964 that he believed Givens is the type of person who would “change his story for money” (CD 735, p.296). But this totally ignores the fact that long before Givens was allegedly persuaded, by money or intimidation, to tell the Warren Commission he saw Oswald by the sniper’s nest window, he had told two Dallas detectives (Revill and Brian) the same thing. And it’s difficult to imagine that Revill (whom Meagher implicitly accuses of improperly inducing Givens’ Warren Commission testimony) would admit to his belief in Givens’ propensity to change his story if Revill had actually been involved in persuading Givens to do so. But this is all a nonissue, since, as indicated, Givens had already told the same story on the day of the assassination.” [RH, CD, Endnotes, p.461]

Finally, Lt. Revill testified to the Warren Commission on May 13, 1964:

Mr. REVILL. ...I talked to a Negro by the name of Givens, and we had handled this person in the past for marijuana violations and I recognized him and in talking to him I asked him if he had been on the sixth floor, and as well as I recall, and Detective Brian was present at this same time he said, yes, that he had observed Mr. Lee, by this window. Well, I asked him who Mr. Lee was, he said, “It is a white boy.” He didn't know his full name. So, I turned this Givens individual over to one of our Negro detectives and told him to take him to Captain Fritz for interrogation, and while going to the city hall, or the police station I passed this detective and Givens, and they came into the homicide and robbery bureau shortly after Hosty and I did, so I am sure Captain Fritz did talk to Mr. Givens. [5H35-36]

Revill’s testimony is, of course, consistent with Givens own account which describes how Givens returned to the sixth floor at about noon to retrieve his cigarettes and saw Lee Oswald walking away from the area of the sniper’s nest window.

(b.) “...Givens’ deposition is full of holes...”

Dr. Thomas writes that “[Givens] states that after retrieving his jacket he left the building and walked to a parking lot at the corner of Main and Record and was there when the President went by. He further states that he was walking in front of the Record Building when he heard gunfire. At some point he decided to return to work and tried to reenter the book depository but was refused entry by the DPD who by this time had locked down the building. Meanwhile, inside the building the occupants were lined up and questioned by police until, according to Junior Jarman, ‘somewhere between two and two-thirty when they turned us loose and told us to go home.’ If Givens’ account as given in the deposition is true, then who among the buildings occupants knew that Givens had witnessed anything - and informed Inspector Sawyer of such before 1:46 p.m., the time of the APB?”

Here’s Givens’ actual testimony:

MR. GIVENS. When I got down to the first floor Harold Norman, James Jarman and myself, we stood over by the window, and then we said we was going outside and watch the parade, so we walked out and we stood there a while, and then I said, "I believe I will walk up to the parking lot. I had a friend that worked on the parking lot, right on Elm and Record... I stood around over there and went up on the corner... Up on Main and Record. That is where I watched the President pass right there...[I was with] James and Edward Shields...[After the motorcade passed] We turned and started back down to the parking lot... by the time we got along in sight across in front of the Record Building, then we heard the [three] shots... Well, we broke and ran down that way, and by the time we got to the corner down there of Houston and Elm, everybody was running, going toward the underpass over there by the railroad tracks. And we asked--I asked someone some white fellow there, ‘What happened ?’ And he said, ‘Somebody shot the President.’ Like that. So I stood there for a while, and I went over to try to get to the building after they found out the shots came from there, and when I went over to try to get back in the officer at the door wouldn't let me in... So I goes back over to the parking lot and I wait until I seen Junior [James Jarman]... They were on their way home, and they told me that they let them all go home for the evening, and I said, ‘I'd better go back and get my hat and coat.’ So I started over there to pick up my hat and coat, and Officer Dawson saw me and he called me and asked me was my name Charles Givens, and I said, ‘yes.’ And he said, ‘We want you to go downtown and make a statement.’ And he puts me in the car and takes me down to the city hall and I made a statement to Will Fritz down there. [6H351-355]

It would be nice if Dr. Thomas could get the simplest of details correct (i.e., the parking lot Givens walked to was at Elm and Record, not Main and Record), especially given the fact that he’s trying to show that Givens deposition is full of holes (i.e. inaccuracies), however, that is the least of Dr. Thomas’ problems.

The thrust of Dr. Thomas’ argument seems to be that Givens’ was never in a position to tell anyone that he had seen Oswald near the sixth floor sniper’s nest between the time he left the building, which was before the assassination, and the time the APB was broadcast by Sawyer at 1:46 p.m., especially since his fellow employees were held in the building until 2 or 2:30 p.m.

But, of course, that presumes that Sawyer’s 1964 testimony that he learned that Givens saw Oswald on the sixth floor led to the APB broadcast is true and accurate. Dr. Thomas believes it is, even writing: “Inspector Sawyer’s testimony that he was told that Givens had seen the assassin is supported by the physical evidence – the radio tapes.”

But, that’s not true. The radio tapes (i.e., the actual recording of Sawyer’s broadcast) say nothing about Givens seeing Oswald:

“Ah - we have a – man that we would – ah – would like to have you pass this on to the CID to see if we can pick this man up. Charles Douglas Givens, G-I-V-E-N-S. He is a colored male, 37, six foot three, a hundred sixty five pounds. He has an I.D. number in the Sheriff Department: 37954. He’s a porter that worked on this floor up here. He has a police record and – he left.” [Transcript, actual recording, Channel 1, 1:46 p.m.]

So in fact, contrary to Dr. Thomas’ claim, the radio tapes do not support Sawyer’s later testimony that he was told that Givens saw Oswald before he made the broadcast. In fact, the radio recordings themselves provide the sole reason why an APB had been put out on Givens: “...He has a police record and he left.”

(c.) “...The account by Police Lt. Revill further strongly suggests that Givens did claim to have seen the assassin...”

Uh? This is nothing short of absolute fantasy. Lt. Revill only said that Givens told him that he had been on the sixth floor and saw ‘Mr. Lee’ [Oswald] over by the sniper’s nest window, not that he had been on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting or that he had seen Oswald [or anyone else] firing a rifle as Waldo’s story claims. How in the devil can Dr. Thomas make such a claim with a straight face?

(d.) “...Did Givens also tell the FBI that he saw the assassin shooting at the President, but that it wasn’t Oswald – and did the FBI then leave the latter assertion out of their report – just as they left Rowland’s assertion about the black man in the window out of those reports?...”

That’s a good question, Dr. Thomas. Did he? Did they? Dr. Thomas doesn’t say, which is not surprising, really. One thing we do know, these are unsubstantiated allegations without a single basis in fact.

(e.) “...No effort was made to identify the mystery witness who reported to Sawyer even though it was almost certainly one of the book depository employees and most probably one of Givens’ friends (Bonnie Ray ?)...”

According to Inspector Sawyer, someone told him (he couldn’t remember who) that Charles Givens was supposed to have been a witness to Oswald being on the sixth floor. Dr. Thomas charges here that the “someone” referred to by Sawyer was “almost certainly” a Depository employee and probably one of Givens’ pals – questioning whether it wasn’t Bonnie Ray Williams himself. But where does Thomas come up with such an allegation, except from his own fertile conspiracy-oriented mindset?

How could Bonnie Ray Williams have been the one who reported to Sawyer that Givens saw anyone shoot Kennedy when Williams was on the fifth floor watching the motorcade at the time of the assassination and had no contact with Givens before Sawyer’s APB was broadcast? Dr. Thomas doesn’t say.

(f.) “...Secret Service Agent Mike Howard was never called to testify. Thayer Waldo did testify to the commission but was not asked about his conversation with Howard...”

This little blurb of misleading information is designed to make it appear that the Waldo-Howard story was ignored by the Commission, yet, the reality is that it was seriously investigated as detailed in Commission Exhibits CE2516; CE2578 and 2579; and Commission Document 735, pp.290-296. Even Dr. Thomas refers to two of these documents in his own essay.

Here’s what Vincent Bugliosi had to say about the Waldo-Howard story in his book:

“A card-carrying member of the American Communist Party, Thayer Waldo had been in Fort Worth for only a year at the time of the assassination. Before then, he was a stringer for Drew Pearson in Uruguay in 1948, where he was known for inaccurately reporting on U.S. embassy events there. And as an executive for El Sol, a leftist daily in Quito, Ecuador, in 1953, he was considered to be, per a CIA report, “unreliable, dishonest and unsavory by Americans and Ecuadorans” alike. After working in Cuba and Mexico as a newspaperman in the succeeding years, and writing as a stringer for American papers like the Denver Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Tucson Citizen, and New York Times, he ended up at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1963. In 1965, he was fired as head of public relations for the University of the Americas in Mexico City for poor job performance. (CIA Record 104-10127-10207, “Mexico City Chronology,” pp.123–124)

"On February 9, 1964, Secret Service agent James “Mike” Howard, his brother, Pat Howard (a deputy sheriff in Tarrant County), and Waldo, who was with Mrs. Marguerite Oswald at the insistence of Mark Lane, drove Mrs. Oswald to Love Field for her flight to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Warren Commission. After she departed, the group had coffee at the airport restaurant with Forrest Sorrels, head of the Dallas Secret Service. Lane wrote an article on May 9, 1964, in the National Guardian, a New York weekly, claiming that over coffee, Pat Howard had told Waldo that there was a black witness who had actually seen Oswald shooting at Kennedy. James Howard admits only that on the way back to Fort Worth, with the Howards in the front seat and Waldo alone in the rear seat, he said to his brother that he had been told there was a black man in the Book Depository Building at the time of the assassination who left the building right after the shooting out of fear he might be suspected of having been involved. Waldo dictated a statement at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on May 28, 1964, for the FBI in which he said that at the coffee shop, Pat Howard had told him that “if it hasn’t already come out of the Warren Commission by then, after this Ruby trial I’m going to come up and give you a story that will blow everybody’s head off.” Just after walking out of the coffee shop he claims Pat Howard took him aside and said his story “has to do with a witness who saw the shooting and can positively identify Oswald as the killer.” Waldo goes on to say in his signed statement that in the car on the return trip he had overheard James Howard telling his brother that the witness was a black Book Depository Building employee, that he had seen Oswald shoot Kennedy, and later told police, “I was scared to death, I thought he would kill me, too.” Both of the Howards were outraged at the Star-Telegram article, asserting to the FBI that Waldo had made up the story. (CE 2578–2579, 25 H 844–850)” [RH, CD, Endnotes, pp.557-558]

Who’s rewriting history?

(20.) “...Charles Givens testified that his reason for returning to the sixth floor was to retrieve his cigarettes. Reporters recall that Captain Fritz announced to the press on the night of the assassination that along with the chicken bones and soda bottle, there was a cigarette package next to the sniper's nest window. The report is corroborated by photographs of police Detective Marvin Johnson leaving the Book Depository carrying the lunch bag, the Dr. Pepper Bottle and, a cigarette package...”

The suggestion that Charles Givens lied and never returned to the sixth floor to retrieve his cigarettes is Dr. Thomas’ final salvo in his effort to cast aspersions onto the credibility of Charles Givens. And once again, the good doctor doesn’t disappoint us with any level of truthfulness.

Givens testified that he returned to the sixth floor to get his cigarettes which he left in his jacket. Dr. Thomas doesn’t bother to tell his readers where that jacket was located. Here’s Givens’ testimony before Warren Commission counsel David Belin:

MR. BELIN. Did you go immediately to your jacket when you went back up to the sixth floor?

MR. GIVENS. Yes, sir; I went straight and picked up my jacket.

MR. BELIN. Where was your jacket?

MR. GIVENS. It was on the west side of the building where we were working...

MR. BELIN. You have pointed to a spot which appears to be approximately, oh, 25 feet north, and about 10 feet east of the southwest corner of the sixth floor. Would that be about right?

MR. GIVENS. Yes, sir. [6H352-353]

So, in fact, Givens’ cigarettes were on the opposite side of the sixth floor from the sniper’s nest, 82 feet away from where police reportedly found a cigarette package.

A photograph depicting Dallas homicide detective Marvin Johnson holding a Dr. Pepper bottle, a crushed paper lunch sack and an empty Viceroy cigarette package appears in Richard B. Trask’s “Pictures of the Pain.” [p.446] Dr. Thomas noted the photograph in his essay but only referred to the item Johnson is seen holding as “a cigarette package,” failing to mention a key point – it was empty. Obviously, Dr. Thomas wanted his readers to think that Givens had left his cigarettes up on the sixth floor near the sniper’s nest and lied about going back up to retrieve them.

In addition, even though Detective Johnson is depicted holding the empty cigarette package, there is no documentation that it was ever entered into the Dallas police record as evidence. A 1966 inventory report states:

“On November 22, 1963 at 3:20 p.m., a brown paper bag and a Dr. Pepper bottle were placed in the Crime Scene Search Section evidence room. The bag and the bottle were found in the book depository building. It was later determined that the items belonged to another employee of the book depository and were not evidence. The bag and he bottle were retained in the Crime Scene Search Section evidence room.” [DOJCD RIF 1861000110290, Report, G.M. Doughty to Charles Batchelor, September 16, 1966, p.3]

Indeed, Commission Exhibit 2003 indicates that detective Marvin Johnson placed 3 items into the evidence room that day – (1) Dr. Pepper bottle, (1) small paper bag, and (1) long homemade bag made from shipping paper. [24H307, 314; CE2003, pp.210-211, 223-224] A Crime Scene Search form confirms that the above items were deposited at 3:20 p.m. on November 22. Again, no cigarette package was listed as being among these items.

Who’s rewriting history?

* * * *

Don Thomas concludes his essay by charging that the Warren Commission was full of liars (“we know who the liars are”) and that Vincent Bugliosi parrots these lies in his book, “Reclaiming History.”

“The truth is very different from the version related in Bugliosi’s book,” Dr. Thomas assures us.

Don Thomas is like a lot of conspiracy buffs who’ve been steeped almost exclusively in conspiracy think since day one. They know all the theories and allegations like the back of their hand, but they don’t know the real case very well. Considering the amount of falsehoods, omissions, and misrepresentations found throughout his own essay, I don’t think Dr. Thomas is in a position to call anyone a liar or charge that history is being rewritten by author Vincent Bugliosi. In fact, it seems pretty obvious that the only one rewriting history in this instance is the unrepentant conspiracy buff lurking inside Don Thomas.

It took 60 hours to compose this 22,406 word rebuttal to Thomas' 8,893 word essay – an essay that you can bet the farm took only a fraction of that time to write. Of course, that is the problem with the endless stream of conspiracy nonsense. It always requires more time and effort to investigate and document the truth than it does to just toss out groundless, unfounded allegations. And, of course, it’s particularly frustrating when you know going in, as anyone familiar with this case knows, that the allegations are pure B.S. to begin with.

Vincent Bugliosi spent twenty-five years writing a 2,500 page (1.6 million word) rebuttal to the 44-year conspiracy legacy, and sadly, few of his critics have even bothered to read it – certainly not rabid conspiracy buffs like Don Thomas who are willing to charge Bugliosi with omission, misrepresentation, and rewriting history without even reading the man’s work. How pathetic can it get?

No doubt, Dr. Thomas will be a big hit at the next conspiracy conference – signing autographs and spewing his brand of truth for those who don’t know any better and don’t want to know any better. I used to feel sorry for the so-called truth-seekers who pay to attend those charades, but I don’t anymore. I’ve had a first-hand dose of what goes on at those carnival-like side shows, and believe me, it doesn’t come anywhere close to revealing the truth about what really happened in Dealey Plaza.

One would think that after laying the hammer down on Dr. Thomas’ latest contribution to the “historic” record, anyone with an ounce of brains and a penchant for the truth wouldn’t pay any attention to what the good doctor has to say in the future on the subject of the John F. Kennedy assassination.