Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination

Overview

After more than four decades and scores of books, documentaries, and films on the subject, what more can be said about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? A great deal, according to this physicist and ballistics expert. This provocative, rigorously researched book presents evidence and compelling arguments that will make you rethink the sequence of terrible events on that traumatic day in Dallas. Drawing on his fifteen years experience as an experimental physicist for the US Navy, the author ...

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Overview

After more than four decades and scores of books, documentaries, and films on the subject, what more can be said about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? A great deal, according to this physicist and ballistics expert. This provocative, rigorously researched book presents evidence and compelling arguments that will make you rethink the sequence of terrible events on that traumatic day in Dallas. Drawing on his fifteen years experience as an experimental physicist for the US Navy, the author demonstrates that the commonly accepted view of the assassination is fundamentally flawed from a scientific perspective. The physics behind lone-gunmen theories is not only wrong, but frankly impossible. He devotes separate chapters to the Warren Commission, challenges to the single-bullet theory, the witnesses, how science arrives at the truth, the medical and acoustic evidence, the Zapruder film, and convincing evidence for at least a second rifleman in Dealey Plaza.
This is the first book to:
• identify the second murder weapon;
• prove the locations of the assassins;
• demonstrate multiple shooters with scientific certainty.
The author concludes with a persuasive chapter on why this horrible event, now almost half a century old, should still matter to us today. For anyone seeking a fresh understanding of the JFK assassination, this is an indispensable book.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Head Shot is one of the most important books ever written on the JFK assassination. It is a must-read."
-JFK Assassination Web Page

"[Chambers] writes very clear prose that takes on a dizzy, endearing lyricism only when he dwells on the wonders achieved by science. He is mostly sober and commonsensical and forgiving to people he perceives to be making honest mistakes."
-London Review of Books

"I would recommend reading this book. If you are a conspiracist then this proves you right… If you believe the official, lone gunman theory, then you need to know that you have been misled."
-Science Fact and Fiction Concatenation

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616142094
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,085,503
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

G. Paul Chambers, PhD (La Plata, MD), is a contractor with the NASA Goddard Optics Branch and with Bellatrix, Inc. Formerly, he worked as the supervisory research physicist for the Energetic Materials and Detonation Science Department of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland and as a research physicist with the Condensed Matter and Radiation Sciences Division of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction....................7
Acknowledgments....................11
Chapter 1. The Warren Commission....................13
Chapter 2. Edward Epstein-The Single-Bullet Theory Challenged....................31
Chapter 3. The Witnesses....................53
Chapter 4. How Science Arrives at the Truth....................65
Chapter 5. The Medical Evidence....................91
Chapter 6. House Select Committee on Assassinations-The Acoustic Evidence....................115
Chapter 7. Reclaiming History?....................145
Chapter 8. The Zapruder Film....................179
Chapter 9. The Second Rifle in Dealey Plaza....................195
Chapter 10. Why It Matters....................223
Epilogue....................237
Notes....................239
Index....................253
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First Chapter

HEAD SHOT

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE JFK ASSASSINATION
By G. PAUL CHAMBERS

Prometheus Books

Copyright © 2010 G. Paul Chambers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61614-209-4


Chapter One

THE WARREN COMMISSION

The single bullet theory is no longer a theory. It's a fact. -Arlen Specter, former head of the Senate Judiciary Committee

As President Lyndon B. Johnson winged back to Washington on Air Force One following his taking the oath of office in Dallas, he had one predominant thought on his mind: were the missiles already flying? He could only assume-he could only afford to assume-that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the first act in a premeditated attack against the United States, an overt prelude to World War III. With Kennedy suddenly gone, the US government was in temporary confusion and disarray. What better time to launch the all-out attack that seemed all but inevitable since the Cuban Missile Crisis that had been touched off one year earlier and had brought the United States to the brink of nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union? If Kennedy's death was the end result of a Soviet plot, the prospect of war now seemed virtually imminent.

But even if Kennedy's murder was not the 1960s version of Pearl Harbor, the very real threat of nuclear war still loomed before the nation. Although presidents had been assassinated several times in the past, the specter of the involvement of foreign powers had never before been an issue. The prospects of international war had not arisen. Now, in the nuclear age, the possibility of the involvement of a foreign nation was all too real. The stakes had never been so high.

Johnson was still old enough to recall that World War I, the war to end all wars, was touched off by an assassination. Within a month after the unfortunate and unlucky murder of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the whole of Europe was at war.

Archduke Ferdinand was killed by the most unfortunate series of events imaginable. His driver got lost returning from an official visit to City Hall in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, on a June morning in 1914. Somehow, improbably, he ended up near a tavern where a group of young conspirators were waiting. They had given up on assassinating the archduke, but when he appeared before them, they decided to go through with their plot. The assassin, nineteen-year-old Gavrilo Princip, was consumed with a fierce feeling of Slavic nationalism. He believed the death of the archduke would free his people from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This act had unexpected political implications.

A third country, Serbia, played a key role in the assassination. Independent Serbia had provided the guns, ammunition, and training for the assassins. The Balkan region erupted in turmoil and open conflict. Within a month, all the major countries in Europe, including Russia, had geared up for war. Every nation thought that every other nation was getting ready to attack and no one wanted to be caught unprepared. As a result, all the major Western powers mobilized and in 1914, mobilization meant war. This terrible tragedy, which impacted and defined the twentieth century, was caused by a singularly unfortunate and ill-fated event.

Lying in the trenches, having survived the war miraculously by his own account, was a young corporal named Adolf Hitler. Hitler never forgot the First World War, never forgot the shame of Germany's defeat, and never forgot how his country was mistreated and humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles when they had not even really lost the war; they had just decided to stop fighting. Germany had retired from the field as a super elite fighting force. Yet Germany was obliged to accept very unfavorable treatment after the war.

This treatment rankled Hitler throughout his lifetime and in due course he found a way to attain revenge by using Germany's disgrace to rise to power. The war he fought in 1914 and its unfavorable outcome were always on his mind. Attacking the world was a way for Germany to recover her honor, avenge the deaths of the previous generation, and turn the appalling treatment at the hands of Europe to her advantage. The entire holocaust of the first half of the twentieth century was therefore ultimately attributable to a single ill-fated assassination. What would be the ruin of the next fifty years? A nuclear exchange among cold war superpowers threatened to kill more people than all the men and women who died in the First and Second World Wars combined. The terrible weapons that had ended the Second World War now threatened to be unleashed on all of humanity.

In a powder keg situation like the one that now confronted the nation, Johnson's worst fear came in the form of the lighted matches of confusion, speculation, and rumor mongering that surrounded Kennedy's death. Johnson knew he needed to move quickly to quell the inevitable hearsay, gossip, and half truths that would have arisen and threaten to spin out of control. With his Executive Order 11130, signed within a week of his oath of office, Johnson set up a commission to "ascertain, evaluate and report upon the facts relating to the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy." This act not only placed the nation on the path to determine the truth of what happened to Kennedy, but also would put a stop to other independent investigations like those that were getting under way in Dallas. The spectacle of multiple investigations would have been difficult for the public to embrace, would have led to confusion, and would have fanned the flames of the rumor mill that threatened to engulf the nation during the perilous days following Kennedy's death.

The seven-man commission was to be headed by US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and included Gerald Ford, representative from Michigan; Allen W. Dulles, former director of the CIA; John J. McCloy, former president of the World Bank; Richard B. Russell, senator from Georgia; John S. Cooper, senator from Kentucky; and Thomas H. Boggs, House majority whip from Louisiana. All were lawyers. Historically, there had been nothing like this commission in modern history. Edward Jay Epstein, a political science student at Cornell University and one of the earliest assassination researchers, felt that the closest historical analogue to the new commission was the Roberts Commission that had been convened to investigate the Pearl Harbor attack.

Johnson had appointed men for this crucial commission who had the highest possible credibility. What better choice to head the newly created commission than the Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren? Filling out the committee, he would choose distinguished leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as former heads of government agencies. Since the government enjoyed great trust at that time, any decision from these leaders should effectively quell all doubts surrounding the assassination and defuse the ticking time bomb of the public's confusion and its inconsolable grief.

But Chief Justice Warren wanted no part of the new commission. His first objection was that he already had a full docket of case work before him in the current Supreme Court term. It would be difficult if not impossible for him to devote the time that such a task would require. Second, the constitutional separation of powers militated against a Supreme Court justice serving on a presidential commission. It would conceivably undermine the well-entrenched concept of judicial independence. Third, the work of the commission might draw litigation and force him to disqualify himself from Supreme Court cases stemming from its work.

But after Johnson explained to him the severity of the rumors floating around the assassination, the potential implications of Cuban or Soviet involvement, and the possibility of these leading to war with the Soviet Union, Warren reconsidered. "He went on to tell me that he had just talked to the Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who had advised him that the first nuclear strike against us might cause the loss of 40 million people. I then said, 'Mr. President, if the situation is that serious, my personal views do not count. I will do it.'"

Senator Russell didn't want to participate either. Russell, a southern Democrat who had been Johnson's mentor when he was in the Senate, despised Earl Warren because of the Court's 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which had declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Russell didn't like Warren and he didn't trust him. He certainly didn't want to be on a committee that was to be headed by him. But Johnson browbeat Russell until he capitulated. Thus, two of the commission's seven members had to be convinced to accept the task.

To jump-start the commission, President Johnson also requested a report on the assassination from J. Edgar Hoover, who headed the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On December 9, 1963, the bureau produced a 384-page, five-volume report concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin and that no evidence of a conspiracy existed. One of the first orders of business for the new commission was to evaluate this report.

The commission held its first meeting December 5. The members believed they clearly had a presidential mandate to conduct an independent investigation. They concluded that "the public interest in insuring that the truth was ascertained could not be met by merely accepting the reports or the analyses of Federal or State agencies." Therefore, the commission would conduct its own independent investigation. In order to facilitate this, a general counsel was needed. Earl Warren proposed J. Lee Rankin, a former solicitor general of the United States. The commission unanimously agreed with this choice. The last order of business was to deal with the independent investigation being conducted in Texas. The commission agreed to ask Vincent Waggoner Carr, attorney general for the state of Texas, to postpone the Texas inquiry until the commission had completed its work. Warren wrote to Carr explaining the potential pitfalls of separate investigations and invited him to participate in the commission's investigations, an invitation that Carr accepted. On December 13, Congress passed a joint resolution empowering the commission to subpoena witnesses and grant immunity from prosecution to avoid Fifth Amendment hindrances to discovering the truth. With the assistance of all federal agencies guaranteed by Johnson, the commission now had all the tools it needed to conduct a meaningful investigation.

On December 16, the commission met to discuss the recently disclosed FBI report. Much of the information in the report had already been leaked to the press. J. Edgar Hoover was apparently not happy with the establishment of a separate entity to investigate the assassination and felt that the public could see the pointlessness of this redundant effort if the results from the FBI's own investigations were placed before them.

Even so, most commission members felt that the report lacked depth. The FBI report did not include details about Governor Connally's wounds. Little information was included concerning Jack Ruby, the alleged killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, his associates, movements, and how he got into the basement of the Dallas City Hall garage the morning of November 24, when Oswald was to be transported to the county jail. Warren believed that he would need the original raw materials, the interviews, photographs, affidavits, and recordings to assess the validity of the report. Despite its reliance on government agencies to perform the investigative fieldwork, the Warren Commission would make its own assessments and determinations of the evidence.

However, most commission members already had full-time jobs. Therefore, the tasks of investigating, determining the facts of the assassination, and developing a model of what actually happened was left to junior staff lawyers. These were men in their early thirties who had exceptional law school records and their own practices. Howard Willens, a young Justice Department lawyer, chose most of these attorneys: "We wanted independent lawyers, not government men, who had been at the top of their class and who could work sixteen hours a day."

This approach is analogous to using postdoctoral research associates to conduct scientific research in academia or government. Postdoctoral associates, or postdocs, are scientists who have just obtained their doctoral degrees but have not yet secured a permanent research position. Many academic departments and government research laboratories are built on the backs of the postdocs, who are young and bright, trained in the latest techniques and eager to do original research. They have more energy, enthusiasm, raw ability, and desperation than do their older, established counterparts. They have short windows to achieve recognition, often only a two- to three-year probationary period. During that time, they must publish research papers in scientific journals to secure their reputations. What they lack in experience they make up for in ambition, drive, and determination.

By contrast, senior scientists and professors are often tied up with administrative duties of one kind or another, responsibilities that require extensive experience, budgetary expertise, knowledge of the field, and well-established interpersonal relationships with other scientists and researchers. This situation is exactly analogous to the situation in which Warren Commission members found themselves. They were all credible experienced leaders, but other than Allen Dulles and John McCloy, they were consumed with other full-time duties. Employing junior people, provided they are given proper guidance, can often be the only viable path to success when faced with such a labor-intensive process.

The downside of this approach, however, is that junior people need extensive supervision. I have seen postdocs go off in the wrong direction, waste their time, make crucial mistakes, and end up out of science. One postdoctoral fellow I knew was an incredibly hard worker but ended up missing the scientific boat entirely. He spent all of his time writing operating system software and making electronic circuit boards. These are good skills to have, but they don't have much to do with science. It's best to purchase software and circuit boards out of project funds and commit your time to doing research that is publishable. Most senior scientists can recount numerous postdoc horror stories in which these junior personnel ended up out of science, not because they weren't intelligent, hard workers, but because they missed the forest for the trees. They either didn't receive the proper guidance from their mentors, or they refused to heed the advice and direction of senior people. Even the best junior researchers simply can't be left to their own devices; they need at least some leadership and guidance from more-established scientists to be successful.

The other problem with provisional junior people is that the organization doesn't have the control over them that it does over permanent company employees. Postdocs are temporary appointments, sometimes arranged through third-party organizations. Sometimes these researchers can't even be fired because they have an appointment for a set time period through another organization, like the National Research Counsel, for instance. The postdoc does not get performance reviews. Postdocs would usually like a good recommendation from their adviser so that they can secure a permanent position, typically at another institution. But they might decide to go off on their own, pursue work in other related areas, or leave science altogether. Because there is no strong direct control over a postdoctoral researcher, an organization would shy away from using these individuals for a high-profile project with a tight deadline. The outcome from relying on junior temporary people could be good or bad, depending on luck and circumstances, and the Warren Commission would sink or swim based on the performance of its junior staff.

Initially, Howard Willens had been asked by Nicholas Katzenbach, the deputy attorney general, to act as a liaison between the Justice Department and the commission. Willens had thought the job with the commission would be a part-time duty, but when he realized the extent of the work before the commission, he packed up his office and moved to the commission's offices. Willens would assume a key role, taking over administrative functions, dividing up the work, scheduling, and making requests to other agencies for assistance.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from HEAD SHOT by G. PAUL CHAMBERS Copyright © 2010 by G. Paul Chambers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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