THE CONCLUSIONS AND RESEARCH OF
THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS:
WHOSE SIDE DO THEY SUPPORT?
Michael T. Griffith
@All Rights Reserved
Revised on 11/30/2002
Few assassination researchers would dispute the fact that the JFK assassination investigation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was much more thorough and comprehensive than the Warren Commission's investigation.
Both conspiracy and lone-gunman theorists cite HSCA analyses and conclusions to support their positions. Which side, the conspiracy theorists or the lone-gunman theorists, is in a better position to accept all of the HSCA's conclusions and analyses? Which side can more consistently accept most of the HSCA's conclusions and analyses? Without a doubt, it is the conspiracy camp.
If one were to accept all of the HSCA's conclusions and research, one would believe the list of statements that appears below. Before we get to that list, let's remember that not all of the HSCA's findings and evidences were highlighted or mentioned in the committee's report. The HSCA volumes contain a number of important evidences and expert conclusions that were either passed over or only briefly mentioned in the final report. With this understood, let's see what one would have to believe if he or she accepted all the evidence that was developed by the HSCA experts and all the conclusions expressed by the HSCA and/or by one of its expert panels:
* Kennedy was probably killed by a conspiracy. This was the key finding of the committee, a finding that the committee argued was supported by existing evidence and by additional evidence that it developed during its investigation.
* Four shots were fired during the assassination, one of them from the grassy knoll.
* Two gunmen were involved.
* Oswald fired three of the four shots.
* Oswald might have had links to Jack Ruby.
* Oswald shot Officer J. D. Tippit and also took a shot at General Edwin Walker.
* There was a gunman on the grassy knoll.
* A Dallas police dictabelt recording contains four impulses that are the result of the sounds of four gunshots that were fired in Dealey Plaza during the shooting (and possibly as many as seven to nine such impulses). One of these impulses was caused by a shot that came from the grassy knoll.
* The Zapruder film shows Kennedy was first hit at around Z188-190. (Lone-gunman theorists now reject this conclusion because they know it proves there were four shots and because they're now committed to the alleged magic-bullet hit occurring at Z224.)
* The jet-effect theory to explain the head shot in the Zapruder film is untenable or possible. (The HSCA experts were divided on this: Dr. Sturdivan implicitly rejected it and noted that any force generated by the right-frontal explosion would have been minimal, while Dr. Baden, who recently defended O. J. Simpson and the nanny in the Nanny Trial, cited the theory as a possible explanation for the violent backward motion of the head snap.)
* The Dillard and Powell photos of the sixth-floor window taken less than 2 minutes after the shooting show that boxes were being moved during a time when Oswald was known to be downstairs on the second floor encountering a police officer. (It's worth mentioning that two witnesses also reported seeing movement in the window just a few minutes after the shooting. This could not have been Oswald.)
* Ruby did not enter the basement via the Main Street ramp, contrary to what the Warren Commission (WC) claimed. (The WC took Ruby's word on this, but it's clear Ruby lied about how he entered the basement.)
* Ruby entered the basement via another means, probably with help from someone in the police department.
* Ruby had considerable ties to the Mafia.
* Ruby's AGVA alibi doesn't seem to be a credible explanation for all the long-distance phone calls Ruby made to Mafia contacts all across the country after Kennedy's visit to Dallas was announced.
* Ruby's polygraph test indicates he was quite possibly lying when he denied he was involved in the assassination.
* Ruby's killing of Oswald probably was not a spontaneous act but a premeditated act that reminded one of Mafia hits to silence witnesses. Ruby's story that he killed Oswald out of sympathy for Mrs. Kennedy was a lie, as revealed by a note that Ruby wrote to one of his attorneys.
* The eyewitness reports of seeing puffs of smoke above the firing point on the grassy knoll are credible.
* Abraham Zapruder's report that one of the shots caused a great reverberation around him indicates that shot came from the grassy knoll, since it is very unlikely that a shot from the sixth-floor window could have caused such a reverberation.
* Kennedy's autopsy was flawed and incomplete.
* There was a huge discrepancy between the autopsy pathologists' descriptions of the wounds and the wounds as they appear to be shown on the autopsy photos and x-rays. (For example, if the autopsy photos are to be believed, the autopsy pathologists mislocated the rear head entry wound by at least a staggering 3 inches, if not 4 inches.)
* The FBI and the CIA misled and withheld information from the WC.
* Military intelligence destroyed important evidence relating to the case that should not have been destroyed.
* The HSCA formally cleared the CIA of involvement in the assassination as an institution. The committee did not do so for the military. As Rockefeller Foundation scholar Henry Hurt notes in his book REASONABLE DOUBT, this astonishing fact is often overlooked by researchers and newcomers alike.
* The FBI failed to properly investigate an informant report that an anti-Castro activist named Homer S. Echevarria appeared to have advance knowledge of a plot to kill Kennedy. Just one day before the assassination, during a discussion about a shipment of illegal weapons for anti-Castro activities, Echevarria told the informant that his anti-Castro group had plenty of money and that they would proceed "as soon as we take care of Kennedy." The Secret Service tried to investigate the matter, but the FBI made it clear it wanted the investigation halted, and, incredibly, the FBI itself did not pursue the issue further. The HSCA noted that Echevarria was associated with Juan Francisco Blanco-Fernandez, military director of the anti-Castro group DRE, and that the arms deal was being financed through one Paulino Sierra Martinez by hoodlum elements in Chicago and elsewhere. The committee also found that Echevarria may have been a member of the 30th of November anti-Castro organization, adding,
The 30th of November group was backed financially by the Junta del Gobierno de Cuba en el Exilio (JGCE), a Chicago-based organization run by Paulino Sierra Martinez. JGCE was a coalition of many of the more active anti-Castro groups that had been rounded in April 1963; it was dissolved soon after the assassination. Its purpose was to back the activities of the more militant groups, including Alpha 66 and the Student Directorate, or DRE, both of which had reportedly been in contact with Lee Harvey Oswald. Much of JGCE's financial support, moreover, allegedly came from individuals connected to organized crime. (HSCA Report, p. 134)
* Security arrangements for the presidential motorcade might have been uniquely insecure.
* Although the committee said it "could not credit" former anti-Castro leader Antonio Veciana's story of having seen a CIA officer meet with Oswald before the assassination, the committee did find some support for aspects of Veciana's story. Veciana claimed that prior to the assassination the CIA assigned him a case officer who went by the name of Maurice Bishop. Veciana said he saw Oswald and Bishop talking on one occasion. Some of the committee's staff suspected that Bishop's real name was David Atlee Phillips, a CIA officer who had been heavily involved in anti-Castro activities.
* The committee concluded Veciana probably did in fact have a case officer from some government agency, and it noted the CIA had assigned case officers to lesser figures in the anti-Castro movement. The committee found a record of $500 in operational expenses, given to Veciana by a person with whom the CIA had maintained a longstanding operational relationship.
* Phillips denied under oath that he had even known Veciana. The committee said it suspected Phillips was lying when he denied knowing Veciana, given the fact that Veciana was a prominent figure in the anti-Castro Cuban exile community, and that Phillips was deeply involved in anti-Castro activities.
* Veciana declined to identify Phillips as Bishop, although Veciana also said Phillips bore a physical resemblance to Bishop. Veciana also told a committee staffer that he wouldn't disclose that Phillips was Bishop even if he were. Based on the way Veciana acted when he said this, the staffer came away suspecting Veciana may have been trying to tell him Phillips was Bishop after all.
* The committee's report includes a footnote that says the committee suspected Veciana was falsely denying that Phillips was Bishop! In other words, the committee in effect said, or at least implied, that it suspected Phillips may have been Bishop and that Veciana denied this because he hoped for further CIA support for his anti-Castro operations!
* A former CIA case officer who was assigned from September 1960 to November 1962 to the JM/WAVE station in Miami told the committee that Phillips had in fact used the alias, Maurice Bishop.
* A former CIA director and a former CIA agent said a man named Maurice Bishop had worked for the CIA.
* The Clinton-Jackson witnesses who reported seeing Oswald with David Ferrie and Clay Shaw were credible.
* Mafia boss Carlos Marcello was a plausible suspect for having been involved in the assassination conspiracy.
* Oswald associated with David Ferrie, an ultra-right-winger who was involved in the Carlos Marcello Mafia organization. (Very strange company for an alleged Marxist to be keeping.)
* Oswald had ties to the Marcello crime organization.
* Sylvia Odio's story is credible. (Her story supports the position that there was a conspiracy involved in Kennedy's assassination and that CIA-backed anti-Castro Cubans were involved in it. Odio's account also strongly suggests someone was impersonating in the weeks leading up to the assassination.)
* The Mafia had the means, motive, and opportunity to assassinate President Kennedy.
* The bullet that struck Kennedy in his back and allegedly exited his neck had a slightly upward trajectory. The pathology panel even noted that the photos of the back wound show the tissue inside the wound to be tunneled upward. (The committee's trajectory study ignored the pathology panel's placement of the back wound.)
* The eyewitness reports of hearing shots from the grassy knoll are credible and cannot be dismissed as merely being the result of echoes.
* The WC failed to adequately investigate the possibility of conspiracy.
Of course, most conspiracy theorists do not accept every single one of the HSCA's findings. But they accept many or most of them, and a few conspiracy theorists accept all of them.
Lone-gunman theorists, on the other hand, accept very few of these conclusions and findings. They are constantly forced to pick and choose among the HSCA's evidences and conclusions. And, needless to say, they of course reject the committee's central conclusion of a probable conspiracy. They must also reject the photography panel's findings that the Zapruder film shows Kennedy was first hit at around Z188 and that the Dillard and Powell photos show boxes were being moved in the sixth-floor window at a time when Oswald was known to be downstairs encountering a policeman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael T. Griffith holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Excelsior College in Albany, New York, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force. He is a two-time graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, in Arabic and Hebrew, and has completed advanced Hebrew programs at Haifa University in Israel and at the Spiro Institute in London, England. He is also a two-time graduate of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas, and holds an Occupational Instructor Certificate from the Community College of the Air Force. He is the author of the book Compelling Evidence: A New Look at the Assassination of President Kennedy (Grand Prairie, TX: JFK-Lancer Productions and Publications, 1996). His articles on the assassination have appeared in several journals that deal with the case. In addition, he is the author of four books on Mormonism and ancient texts.
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