Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ford 'Memoir' Fuels JFK Assassination Buffs

by PAT SHELLENBARGER / Chronicle News Service

Over the last four decades of his life, President Gerald Ford insisted there was no evidence anyone but Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

That's why Ford's friends, family and biographers are casting doubt on a book publisher's claim that in his last days the president confided that Oswald did not act alone and that the CIA destroyed documents about Kennedy's murder.

Nashville publisher Tim Miller is touting the book as "President Gerald R. Ford's final memoir." That is feeding the conspiracy frenzy that has lingered since Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas in 1963, particularly because Ford was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the assassination.

"Sounds like someone's trying to sell some books," Steven Ford, the late president's son, said during a recent visit to Grand Rapids. "I've sat around the dinner table with Dad many times, and he'd be the first to tell you they couldn't rule out a conspiracy, but there was no evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone." [Read the complete story here...]

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[My Two Cents: Ford's final 'memoir' is a reprint of the 1964 Warren Commission Report, which includes a new foreword written by the late President. The new foreword contains Ford's thoughts on the assassination, the Commission investigation he was a part of, conspiracy theories, and some of the information that came to light in the wake of the Warren Commission Report's release. The foreword is 29 pages long.

There is nothing - I repeat, nothing - in the new foreword that constitutes Gerald Ford changing his long-standing opinion that Oswald acted alone. In fact, it seeks to underscore that which Ford has said all along - i.e., that which the Gerald Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, continues to send out in a letter under the President's name: "In 1964, the Warren Commission unanimously decided, 1) Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin, and, 2) The Commission found no evidence of a conspiracy, foreign or domestic. As a member of the Commission, I endorsed those conclusions in 1964 and fully agree now as the sole surviving Commission member."

Here are some excerpts from the foreword credited to President Gerald Ford for A Presidential Legacy and the Warren Commission:

"It is true that you can't ignore coincidences, but there are many reasons those coincidences occur. Conspiracies may or may not have existed or occurred somewhere, such as the government-sanctioned plot to kill Castro, but considering the meticulousness of our investigation, we were confident that we would have uncovered links from those to Oswald and to Kennedy's assassination had there been any. I have become increasingly adamant that we were correct as more and more experts have questioned and then verified our conclusions."

"The echoes of the assassin's shots had hardly died out before everyone began speculating 'whodunit.' The trouble was, given the kind of turbulence going on in the world at the time (not to mention covertly in the U.S.), there were plenty of groups with plausible motives to assassinate President Kennedy, which helped to encourage speculation. Notwithstanding that, our Commission's findings were that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin and that he worked alone -- there was no evidence of a conspiracy. The same went for Jack Ruby."

"I have been accused of changing some wording on the Warren Commission Report to favor the lone-assassin conclusion. That is absurd. Here is what the draft said: 'A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder and to the right of the spine.' To any reasonable person, 'above the shoulder and to the right' sounds very high and way off the side -- and that's what it sounded like to me. That would have given the totally wrong impression. Technically, from a medical perspective, the bullet entered just to the right at the base of the neck, so my recommendation to the other members was to change it to say, 'A bullet had entered the back of his neck, slightly to the right of the spine.' After further investigation, we then unanimously agreed that it should read, 'A bullet had entered the base of his neck slightly to the right of the spine.'"

"The reason some things appeared to be suspicious was possibly because there were people who apparently did have things to hide. It came out later there was a government-sanctioned plot to kill Fidel Castro. There seemed to also have been a scramble to cover that up which did interfere marginally with our investigation, as I testified to the HSCA (House Select Committee on Assassinations). It was really more of a problem for the CIA. JFK's assassination and our investigation into it put certain classified and potentially embarrassing operations in danger of being exposed. Their reaction was to hide or destroy some information, which can easily be misinterpreted as collusion in JFK's assassination."

The former president's remarks are being shamelessly marketed in a style reminicient of the Old West's classic snake-oil salesmen. Buyer beware! - DKM]


George W.Bailey said...

Never the less, Ford's moving of the bullet hole from Kennedy's back to the back of the neck is in error. From numerous sources Kennedy's back wound is the "third thoracic vertebra." That is, as you know, the upper back near the shoulder blade. The President's shirt and jacket both show the bullet hole in the same position, as clearly shown in the autopsy photographs, the sworn testimony of the pathologists, and the death certificate.

Ford's defense of his actions is self-serving and not based on facts and results in a misrepresentation of evidence in a murder investigation. This does not trouble you?

Dale K. Myers said...

Sorry, George. You're assertions are wrong. The X-rays of the president's body show that the bullet that struck Kennedy in the upper-right back entered at the level of the first thorasic vertebra, not the third located several inches lower as you claim. See the Hearings and Exhibits of the House Select Committee on Assassinations for more information.

The autopsy pathologists never testified that the entrance wound in the back was at the level of the third thorasic vertebra, nor did any other pathologist.

Your other secondary sources have been effectively refuted many times before in other publications.

Whether you agree or disagree with President Ford's choice of wording as to the location of Kennedy's back wound, his words don't change the actual location as demonstrated by the autopsy X-rays.

Anonymous said...

George, you are correct. Numerous sources confirmed the location of the back wound at the 3rd Thoracic vertebra. The shirt and jacket confirm it. The Presidents personal physician confirmed it.
Anyone who is familiar with the JFK assassination is familiar with the circus surrounding the differing autopsy testimony, the reliability of the X Rays, and the motive for Ford moving the back wound to "the back of the neck. D. Meyers is just part of the support group for the coverup, and should not be taken seriously.

Dale K. Myers said...

I love it when the conspirati stand by the courage of their convictions by posting here anonymously.

Still, all the footstomping in the world doesn't change the fact that the persistent assertion that the president was struck in the back at the level of the third thorasic vertebra is false!

The authenticated X-rays and photographs taken during the autopsy and re-examined in 1978 prove this fact once and for all.

The best the conspirati can do is claim, with no hope of proving their assertion, that the X-rays and photographs have been forged (yes, Virginia, all the evidence in the JFK assassination is phony); offer unnamed "numerous sources" to back up their assertions; hold up the president's jacket and shirt as evidence of the back wound even though photographs taken between Love Field and Dealey Plaza show the president's jacket riding high on his shoulders; offer the "confirmation" of the location of the entrance wound in the back as written by the president's physician in the death certificate despite conclusive proof to the contrary as seen in the authenticated X-rays [ARRB MD6; 1HSCA199]; and claim Gerald Ford had sinister motives for changing the language of the Warren Report in order to better describe the location of the back wound, despite the fact that the language in the report didn't change the location as shown in the autopsy X-rays and photographs - which again, destroy the claims of the conspirati.

When all else fails, the conspirati must resort to charging those who champion the truth to be part of the ongoing "coverup" and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Read the record, if you dare. The truth awaits you.

Alan said...

The "record" once stated emphatically that the world was flat.

Dale K. Myers said...

Yes, the "record" once did proclaim that the world was flat - until it was conclusively proven that it was not. Where is the conclusive proof that Oswald was not the lone shooter? (It's a rhetorical question, please don't post your list of "proofs.") Answer: There is none - hence the continued debate more than fifty years after the fact. No doubt the arguments will continue long after we are all dead.