stripping away the blackouts of history

Unredacted Episode 3: Transcript of Interview with Josiah Thompson

Josiah Thompson is the author of Six Seconds in Dallas: A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination. This interview was conducted on 5 Apr 2006. Tyler Weaver provided the introduction, and the interview was conducted by Rex Bradford.

Go to this Unredacted episode's main page to listen to the interview and for additional resources.


TYLER: Hi there, and welcome to episode three of "Unredacted," right here at maryferrell.org. My name's Tyler, and my co-host is Rex Bradford, who for this episode, has an exclusive interview with Josiah Thompson, author of one of the - one of the cornerstone books in Kennedy assassination literature, Six Seconds in Dallas. Now, in addition to the interview with Josiah, we're pleased to bring you the first-ever publication of Josiah's new essay, "Bedrock Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination." It addresses the whole issue of Zapruder film alteration, and that's brought to you for the first time anywhere right here at maryferrell.org, so be sure to check that out. So, without any further introduction, I'm going to turn it over to Rex and Josiah, and I hope you enjoy.


REX: My name's Rex Bradford, we're here with Josiah Thompson, who has been a long-time active researcher in the pursuit of truth in the Kennedy assassination. And, Josiah, I think I'd like to start - you, you were the author of a book called Six Seconds in Dallas, which was a landmark book published in 1967, and I was flipping through it recently, and was possibly surprised at how many things seemed relevant and unresolved even to this day, and so I wanted to use some of the topics in the book as a jumping off point to see where we are - what, some, uh - almost forty years later after the publication of that book. I wonder if we might start by taking us back in time, not all the way to 1963, but maybe to around 1966 when you were a philosophy professor writing about Kierkegaard, I believe. I'm curious what was going on in that era, and what got you to start researching and writing a book about the Kennedy case?

JOSIAH: Well, I had had interest in the Kennedy case since basically the day it happened. My wife Nancy and I drove down to Washington, stood in the rain to go by the (unclear) in Congress on that Sunday night. And um - early the next week, when the New York Times on Tuesday, I think, published a dispatch indicating that Dr. Malcom Perry had made his throat incision through a pre-existing bullet hole, and at the same time that Life Magazine came out with frames from the Zapruder film, as a young graduate student, I trotted down to the local FBI office to point out this important intelligence to the FBI, namely that he was facing away from the building, folks.

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: I'm sure that interview was not formalized in an FBI 302, but was probably dropped in the wastebasket ...

REX: Wh - when did you do that? I'm curious because the FBI report does not mention a wound in the throat, of course.

JOSIAH: No, the point was if you put together, if you put together the New York Times with Life Magazine, these two very qualified (laughs) intelligence sources, you come up with the, with the obvious conclusion that if there was an entry hole in the throat and he was facing away from the building, that bullet didn't come from the building. That was simply something that I wanted to bring to the attention to the, this ace government investigating agency.

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: Well, that's when it started.

REX: Ok, ok. And uh, um, were you - did you read some of the early books, did you become a skeptic of the government's conclusions? What happened to galvanize your interest to the point of actually writing a book yourself?

JOSIAH: Well, it was in large part Vince Salandria. While I was at Yale, I would pull out the Warren Commission volumes and read in them. In early - this is early '65 I guess - a series of articles began appearing in obscure left-wing periodicals, like "The Minority of One," or "Liberation" magazine. The were penned by Vincent Salandria, a lawyer from Philadelphia. And they dealt with the evidence, with the difficulty about the placement of the wounds with trajectory, et cetera, et cetera. They were very solid articles, they caught my attention, and um - I plugged them into the back spaces of my mind. In early 1966 - in the winter of 1965-66 - protests against the Vietnam War were beginning in the Philadelphia area, and another professor and I - another professor named Bill Davidon and I - went over to Media, Pennsylvania on a weekend. Why did we go there? Because the sheriff of Delaware County had said, basically, to the press, "If any of them peaceniks come into my area, I'm gonna bust 'em." So we went over and passed out leaflets from the American Friends Service Committee, and we were immediately busted, immediately arrested, for - of all things - littering.

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: We were taken into jail, and about two or three hours later, the ACLU sent out an attorney. We were brought out of our cells and put out in the middle of the squad room, and the ACLU attorney did the most wonderful job of bluffing that in my thirty years as a P.I. I've ever even heard of. He looked at his watch with Seargeant so and so, Captain so and so, all these cops standing around - speaking to us, not to the cops. Looked at his watch and said, "Now when the FBI agents arrive, we've uh - we've told of your plight to Attorney General Katzenbach, and when the FBI agents arrive, I want you to tell them that not only have your civil rights been violated, but you're suing for false arrest! Captain So and So, Lieutenant So and So, Sergeant So and So, Patrolman So and So -" we were out of there in two minutes.

REX: (laughs) Oh, no kidding.

JOSIAH: Two minutes. And - guess what? The ACLU attorney was Vincent Salandria.

REX: Oh, no kidding. So is that how -

JOSIAH: That's how I met Vince.

REX: I see.

JOSIAH: That's how I met Vince. And, uh, from that point on, Vince and I began kind of a long-standing conversation, and then later on in that year, he and I started going to Washington - driving to Washington - to go to the National Archives to see the great body of documents that were slowly being declassified by the Archives staff. And, it was with Vince Salandria that for the first time, I got a chance to see the Zapruder film.

REX: I see.

JOSIAH: Somewhere in 1966.

REX: Right. Now, you know, one of the things that he wrote about at the time was the single bullet theory, which caught other peoples' attention as well as being one of the more implausible parts of the Warren Commission story. I'm sure we'll get back to that. What I wanted to segue into relevant to that is um, Commission Exhibit 399, the "Magic Bullet," because you, uh, in the research for your book dug up some interesting things about that bullet and you also've been at it more recently with Gary Aguilar, and I'm wondering if we could go through that story a little bit, because I think it's quite enlightening and in some sense, a microcosm for the case itself.

JOSIAH: Right.

REX: Can you talk about your visits to Parkland Hospital and what you found out first of all about that bullet which mysteriously showed up on a hospital stretcher after the assassination?

JOSIAH: You bet. We'll have to rewind back until - this was early November 1966. I'd been hired as a consultant for Life Magazine and we were all working on a story that appeared in late November 1966 called "Grounds for Reasonable Doubt," a reappraisal of the Kennedy assassination. By that time Parkland Hospital was basically an armed fort in terms of journalists and people interested in the Kennedy assassination. They had - Parkland Hospital had really had it. Their security people were keeping the press and other people out. Life Magazine got me and, I think a, uh, another light-stringer named Patsy Swank into Parkland Hospital, and I interviewed Darrell Tomlinson, who found the bullet, and I interviewed the Security Director, O.P. Wright, who was handed the bullet by Tomlinson, and who subsequently then gave the bullet to a Secret Service agent by the name of Johnsen. I was interested in Wright because as a ex-deputy Chief of Police and a cop for twenty five or thirty years, Wright had an educated eye for bullets. So I had brought along for that interview, a bunch of photographs of bullets, .38's, the ballistic comparison rounds for 399, and then 399 itself. So I started putting these photographs out and asking Wright what the bullet he found looked like. I put out the .38's, and he said, "eh, I don't - the .38's didn't look like that." And then I put out the ballistic comparison rounds, and he said, "no, no - it was pointed." And then I put a photograph of 399, and Wright said, "no... no you know, can't you hear, I said it was pointed."

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: At that point then he reaches into his desk and pulls out a unfired projecticle, I think it was a 30/30, with a pointed tip, and he said, "now that's what I'm talking about. It looked like that." And I looked at the 30/30 round, and gulped, and said "look can I keep this?" And he said, "yeah, sure." So I put it into my pocket and photographed it that night. The photograph is in Dealey - is in Six Seconds. That bullet is pointed. And Wright certainly had an educated eye for the bullet, the so-called stretcher bullet, and he had it in his possession for a few minutes in any case. So that raised the whole possibility that the bullet in evidence as Commission Exhibit 399 is not the bullet found on the stretcher.

REX: Right. Which would -

JOSIAH: Much much later, ten years after this, the House Select Committee was called by a gentleman named Poole. P-O-O-L-E. Poole was the service representative for Otis Elevators, and Poole reported that he had been in Parkland Hospital that morning, that he had been sent over as soon as the assassination occurred, and he witnessed the discovery of the bullet. Certainly Poole was there, we have other affidavits from people mentioning someone with Otis Elevator on their overalls. So it's clear he was there. Poole called the House Select Committee and the first phone call was taken by a lawyer. The notes that that lawyer took indicated, indicated that Poole described the bullet that was found as "pointed."

REX: Oh, no kidding.

JOSIAH: That surely is a, is a kind of... hit. However, Poole wasn't really interviewed, that is, face to face - for over a year. And by the time he's interviewed a year later, the bullet has now come to resemble Commission Exhibit 399.

REX: I think that story and the kind of story for the HSCA is not unique. I'm curious though, because I mean, for one thing - this is amazing because it - CE 399 itself many people believe was planted. But this would be then something yet beyond that - a substitution of the bullet that was found while in federal hands.

JOSIAH: Right.

REX: Let's fast-forward because there's more to this story much more recently, is there not?

JOSIAH: Well, there is indeed. We know from various documents - and we knew from various documents back in the mid-sixties - that this particular bullet has a transmission chain. It was discovered by Tomlinson, given to Wright, Wright gave it to Agent Johnsen, Agent Johnsen gave it to the head of the Secret Service, Mr. Rowley. Rowley gave it to an FBI agent named Elmer Todd, and Elmer Todd took it to the FBI lab where he gave it to Robert Frazier. Now, that's quite a transmission chain. (laughs)

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: However, Frazier and Todd testified that they put their initials - they inscribed their initials on the bullet. The others, that is Wright, uh Tomlinson, Wright, uh, Johnsen, and Rowley did not put their initials on the bullet. In June of 1964, the Warren Commission wanted to establish evidence chains for the major pieces of evidence in the case, that would include the rifle, the cartridge cases, Commission Exhibit 399, et cetera. We know that they sent Commission Exhibit 399 to Dallas. The idea was that it was to shown to Tomlinson and Wright to determine whether they could say it was the same bullet they observed on November 22nd. We have no FBI 302's concerning the showing of the bullet to anybody in Dallas -

REX: Is that un-

JOSIAH: However, we have - that's extremely unusual.

REX: OK, that was my question.

JOSIAH: By 302 I mean the government form FD-302. It's a standard interview form used by the FBI and used again and again, whenever the FBI turns around, they file a 302, as I've learned in many criminal cases outside the Kennedy assassination.

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: So, there were no 302's of this occurring. There were some teletypes back and forth between Washington and Dallas stating that Tomlinson and Wright were unable to positively identify the bullet as Commission Exhibit - as the bullet they saw on November 22nd. The same thing came out of showing Agent Johnsen and the head of the Secret Service, Rowley, a bullet - they too were unable to positively identify the bullet. Now, we don't know whether that means that simply these people, since they didn't initialize the bullet to begin with, were unable to positively identify it, or whether in fact, they thought the bullet looked quite differently. There is a memo, that is dated I think July 8, 1964, in Washington, and that memo states that, uh, an FBI agent out of the Dallas office, um, actually took the bullet to Tomlinson and Wright, and they said although they couldn't positively identify it, it resembled the bullet that they saw on November 22nd.

REX: This was in the form of -

JOSIAH: Now, that agent -

REX: This was in the form of a letter from J. Edgar Hoover to the Commission, I believe? Or am I wrong on that?

JOSIAH: No, au contrair - this is simply a memorandum, and it's an unsigned memorandum, so we don't know exactly how it originated or from whom it originated.

REX: OK.

JOSIAH: But, it's in the Warren Commission documents. Now, the FBI agent who is alleged to have taken this bullet to these two people for comparison had an extremely odd name. His name was Bardwell D. Odum. So when Gary Aguilar brought this up, I got on the computer and I found Bardwell D. Odum in about ten minutes. He'd retired from the FBI and was a lawyer in Dallas. Gary called him up, and Bardwell D. Odum told Gary, "what do you mean? I never saw Commission Exhibit 399. I never had it in my hand. No, I never showed it to anybody. What's all this about?"

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: The final word on this is that, if you remember, Elmer Todd allegedly got CE 399 from the head of the Secret Service and took it over to the FBI lab. Well, very recently, John Hunt has done some very good work in the Archives, has examined CE 399 with exquisite precision, and has determined that Elmer Todd's initials are not on Commission Exhibit 399. So this is, this is a running crap game! (laughs)

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: - starting in the mid sixties and lasting right up 'til the present.

REX: Do you have any conclusions at this point? What do you - What do you make of all this?

JOSIAH: Well, I don't know - I don't know what it means. I think one of the most important logical considerations is that if you look - I do criminal cases all the time - if you look at the evidence in a criminal case, if you look at the physical evidence, the physical evidence has to fit into some narrative as to what happened, right?

REX: Mmmhm.

JOSIAH: If it doesn't fit into a narrative as to what happened, then you have to be very suspicious of the credentials of that physical evidence. Now, if you take Commission Exhibit 399, one of the major problems is that you can't fit it into what happened. In other words, Commission Exhibit 399 will not fit given any of the wounds to the individuals that we're talking about. We know that any bullet that hit Kennedy in the head is grossly deformed, and we have some grossly deformed fragments that probably came from hitting him in the head. We know that a, a bullet that would even - that would pass through Connolly's chest and blow out his fifth rib would be grieviously deformed. We know that a bullet that would break Connally's wrist at its largest point would be grieviously deformed. We know -

REX: It would probably show up with tissue on it as well, which CE 399 did not.

JOSIAH: Yeah, right.

REX: I mean, it seems like it's -

JOSIAH: So, the real problem is if you look at the wounds in this case, right? Commission Exhibit 399 couldn't have caused them. Now, Specter would reply to this by saying, "Ah ha! There is one series of wounds that may be likely caused by 399." That is, all the wounds that were caused by the single bullet. In other words, a bullet goes through Kennedy's thoracic cavity, through his neck, et cetera, it slows down a bit, it does not hit bone. It then begins to tumble. It goes back end forward into Connally's back, sort of slips over the fifth rib, right?

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: Blows out a fifty cent piece wound out of the front of his chest, continues on, slowing down now, goes through his wrist and ended up causing a superficial wound in his thigh. In other words, if you go through these rather amazing acrobatics, says Specter, you will come up with a series of wounds that would slow down the bullet in such a way that it might end up resembling 399. Well, to that I say, "yeah, and how about the Easter bunny?"

REX: (laughs) Yeah, yeah. Well, um, to bend over backwards to be fair to the Warren Commission - and I think is partly what's maddening about this case - if you remove CE 399, and say "OK, this is a planted bullet," it still seems like you have trouble then explaining the wounds in Kennedy and Connally with the fragments which were found, right? I mean, you've got a back wound which was initially described by autopsy doctors as having no point of exit. You've got a wound in the throat, a head wound, multiple wounds in Connally. Where did all these bullets go?

JOSIAH: I think that's an excellent point, right.

REX: I want to, um, move on, and I think we'll get back to some of these issues and the single bullet theory. Another thing that has been a bit puzzling over the years, and I think more information is learned from your book, but you were one of the people involved in first discussing it - is this issue of the wound in the back of Kennedy's head. In your book Six Seconds in Dallas, you showed a drawing done at the direction of Robert McClelland, at Parkland Hospital, showing a -

JOSIAH: Let me correct that -

REX: OK, certainly.

JOSIAH: I think a mistake surrounding that drawing was first put out by Robert Groden, and it's been picked up by everybody since.

REX: OK.

JOSIAH; What happened with that - if you look closely at the person in that line drawing, it's me. (laughs) Because, what I did was I took the description that Robert McClelland gave of the avulsive wound in the occipital, right?

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: That came, I think, from his testimony or from, or from his affidavit. I then -

REX: I see -

JOSIAH: I then gave that description to a medical illustrator, along with a Polaroid photo of the right back of my head, and I said "draw what Dr. McClelland describes in words." So, in other words -

REX: I see -

JOSIAH: - Dr. McClelland never saw - never had anything to do with that.

REX: Oh, ok.

JOSIAH: I simply took his words and had a medical illustrator draw it.

REX: Mmhm. OK, I understand. That drawing then, it - after that point, the next major thing along the way is the House Select Committee, which is faced with the issue of um that drawing which did appear to match the description of not only McClelland but other doctors at Parkland Hospital, but was at variance with the drawing that was done under the direction of Dr. Humes for the Warren Commission. So we had this discrepancy between the idea of whether Kennedy had a rear-side head wound versus one on the right side and more towards the top of the head. Many of us in the nineties, after the House Select Committee basically sided with the autopsy and said, "no,no,no, it was not in the back of the head," to find that the House Select Committee had taken interviews with many people present at the autopsy who agreed that there was a rear side wound, had not published those interviews, and in fact had misrepresented them in the House Committee's Medical Report. I'm wondering now where this has shaken out? Was there a rear head wound, do you believe? How did the witnesses line up, and how does this match with the physical evidence in the case?

JOSIAH: Ok, in the late sixties, when I wrote Six Seconds, there seemed to be an enormous discrepancy between what the doctors at Parkland and other people at Parkland observed, and what people at the autopsy had observed. The reason for that was that we had from the people at the autopsy really only the autopsy itself and the testimony of the three autopsy surgeons. Since that time, the House examined - the House Committee - looked into precisely that question, and as you say, there is no longer a discrepancy. I mean, Gary Aguilar has done some great work on this, showing that overwhelmingly at both Parkland and Bethesda, the people who observed the wounds in the head said, almost without any minority view that there was a significant avulsive - that is exploding outward wound - in the right-rear portion of the head. So what appeared as a discrepancy between Parkland and Bethesda in the sixties has been resolved. No. The people who actually looked at this wound in both locations ended up saying it was a large avulsive wound in the right parietal ociptal area of the president's head.

REX: It seems that if there's any remaining discrepancy there, it would be that many of the people at Bethesda described a wound which was large and extending from the rear through the right side of the head, whereas in Dallas, if that wound existed it wasn't noticed, or at least not by most of the people present. Would that be fair to say?

JOSIAH: Yeah, that seems about right, Rex. I mean, I've relied on Gary and on doctors to, uh, study this and tell me what they think, so I think that's about right.

REX: Mmhm. So, here's a question then. We have physical evidence. We have autopsy photographs. Autopsy X-rays. We have the Zapruder film. Is this rear head wound present in them?

JOSIAH: Well, I (laughs)

REX: (laughs)

JOSIAH: This depends on varying views. I mean, the - what do you see in a photograph question has been with us since 1963. It is possible to see some sort of disturbance in the hair - in Kennedy's hair - in the Zapruder film in the say, one or two seconds subsequent to Zapruder frame 313. I think you can see something happening there, but exactly what it is and certainly it uh - what you clearly do not see is an avulsive wound - a bullet exploding out of the back of his head. You clearly do not see that.

REX: Mmhm. Would that possibly be if it was actually a tangential wound of some kind? Would that possibly explain it? I, I'm curious ...

JOSIAH: Yeah, um.. it's my own view that now, although in - over the years I've really changed my view on one major part of the reconstruction of the event. And that is: was Kennedy hit in the head between 312 and 314 by two bullets, one from the rear, first, then one from the right front? I no longer, uh - I've been educated by various people, and I no longer believe that there is any significant evidence on the Zapruder film of a hit from the rear subsequent to 312 - in the few frames subsequent to 312.

REX: What made you change your mind?

JOSIAH: Um, well, um, a physicist, Art Snyder, who works at Stanford Linear Accelerator, first explained to me that when I claimed to have measured a two-inch forward movement of Kennedy's head immediately subsequent to 312, what I was really measuring was not the movement of his head, but the actual smear in the frame 313. As you recall, 312 is quite clear and quite hard-edged. Well, as 313 is horizontally smudged. So, what I took to be movement of the head was actually - I measured the smudge, or smear.

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: That was uh - so that started me on this road of thinking, and it was completed by the work of a man named David Wimp, who, uh, did very exacting studies of the Zapruder film, and was able to show that at about 308, everybody in the limousine begins to pitch forward. By everybody, I mean Greer, Kellerman, Mrs. Connally, Connally, Jackie, the President. They all begin a sort of moderate to small movement forward. All of them, except Kennedy, continue that movement forward until about 317. Kennedy's movement forward is interrupted by 314 when he is thrown backwards and to the left. So, in other words, what we are very likely seeing on the Zapruder film is simply the fact that Bill Greer, when he turned around at 302 or so, inadvertently touched the brake with his foot. This decelerated the limousine, everybody pitches forward for about half a second, and during that process, Kennedy gets hit in the head, and is bowled over, backwards and to the left. The importance of this is that there doesn't seem to me any longer any evidence on the Zapruder film of a shot from the rear, hitting Kennedy in the head, at this point.

REX: Mmhm. Ok. One of the other recent developments in the case which relates to the Zapruder film as well, I think, is the acoustics evidence. You know Don Thomas, who is - a few years ago, published a re-analysis, which revived the debate about the acoustics evidence from a police dictabelt which recorded, apparently, gunfire in Dealey Plaza. What I'm curious to focus on is not so much Thomas's work directly, but what you know about how it correlates with the Zapruder film. Is this something that makes sense in terms of the Zapruder film, particularly the so-called jiggles that happen in the film when Zapruder is reacting to gunfire? Do these things work well together, or are there problems correlating the two?

JOSIAH: Yes. First of all, I should say I'm very enthusiastic about Don Thomas's work. I've spent time with Don Thomas, I find him to be the very paradigm of what a real scientist is. In other words, he doesn't bend things, he clearly observes things, and then with a very sharp intelligence, analyzes them. Yeah, I think that we're on the verge of a - for the first time, beginning to set up a genuine timeline of the assassination. I think the combination of the Zapruder film and what we see on the Zapruder film - in other words, the best visual record that we have of the assassination is beginning now to match not the best, but the only, audio record we have of it. And the fact that those two - those two records - audio and visual - begin to come into exact correspondence, is a very remarkable fact, because that is something that we've never had in the past. So, I'm very enthusiastic about, about Thomas's movement beyond just acoustics but to look wider in the evidence of Dealey Plaza, to see whether what we find in the acoustics evidence is confirmed elsewhere, and I think it is.

REX: Uh-huh, ok. I think I'd like to have us step back a little bit away from the physical analysis - physical evidence - right now, and talk about some of the bigger pictures her. I think, you know, there are clearly still to this day some fervent defenders of the Warren Commission's conclusions. The House Select Committee seems to have been forgotten along the wayside by most people, and in fact, I see that most defenders of the official view are reverting to a low head wound and probably have the House Select Committee medical people rolling in their grave as they do so. Among people who are less enamored of the Warren Commission view, it seems like there is a wide range of views, and wide range of people in terms of how closely they hew to physical evidence, and what kind of arguments they make. I guess, the question would be, how do you see the case 42 years later? Are we making progress in it? What's the best methodology for getting to the bottom of what happened?

JOSIAH: OK, I... I think this is going to be a long haul. I don't think either you, or I, or anybody else within the next ten or fifteen years is going to be able to say with confidence, "I know what happened in the Kennedy assassination."

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: It may be that we will never know the answer to that question. However, certain touchstones of knowledge are now becoming clear. Let's for a moment think of a situation in which we did not have the Zapruder film, or we did not have other films and photos taken in Dealey Plaza of the shooting. You'd be left with a series of affidavits that were made out on the afternoon of November 23rd. You'd be left with basically eyewitness testimony as to what happened - plus some physical evidence. Now, Elizabeth Loftus has written the most distinguished works, she's a worldwide expert on eyewitness identification and testimony. Almost every single factor which degrades eyewitness testimony - the reliability thereof - was present in Dealey Plaza. So, if one had - didn't have the films and photos of Dealey Plaza, one would be left with only physical evidence and eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness testimony - we all understand - is an absolute mess in this case. All we would be left with is various alleged memories, various stories about what happened. So, I think the films and photos of Dealey Plaza - as they have always been - are a real repository of information. It can't disputed. That's the thesis of an essay I just put together.

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: The thesis is that if you take films and photographs of the same event from different angles, that tapestry of films and photographs becomes a self-authenticating body of evidence. Why? Because if any film or photograph is fiddled, it will show like a sore thumb, because the only difference in the various films and photographs is the different perspective from which the film or photo is shot. Hence, putting all these films and photos together, you end up with a self-authenticating fabric, and that's what we've got in this case. Without the Zapruder film, it would have been absolutely impossible to really undermine the credibility of the Warren Commission's reconstruction of the event.

REX: Mmhm, I agree with that.

JOSIAH: Because we wouldn't have anything sharp-edged to argue with. Specter and company had enormous problems with the Zapruder film. That was basically the basic problem of their investigation was to fit their conclusion within the actual photographs that were apparent in the Zapruder film and other films. And ultimately, it didn't work.

REX: I think, uh, there's a larger picture which I wonder if you might speak to. It seems like with this self-authenticating web of evidence, assuming that it leads to a conclusion that there were more than one gunman in Dealey Plaza, it seems like what we would be left with at that point is some physical evidence - whcih was outside federal hands - which proves a conspiracy in the case and - coupled with a then incorrect reporting of what happened. But not only incorrect - filled with many examples, like the autopsy photos, like CE 399, where there's at least great call for suspicion in the providence of those. So that's - it may not tell us who killed Kennedy, but doesn't it cast great suspicion on the process by which the government tried to find out what happened? It's more than bumbling at this point?

JOSIAH; Yeah, well - I mean. The first thing in this case is to identify a self-authenticating core of evidence, right?

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: If one can do that, then that core becomes the touchstone as to what other pieces of physical evidence are deemed to authentic, genuine, unaltered, right?

REX: Mmhm.

JOSIAH: So, that's the move. I mean, the first move is to identify and lay out exactly what we know could be authentic, and that then becomes a kind of bedrock on which on can then move further to either authenticate or dis-authenticate other pieces of evidence, and ultimately - fifty years from now - professional historians - professional historians will finally take a look at this case. Can then attempt to build up a kind of responsibly valid account of what happened. That's not a very pretty picture is it?

REX: It's sure not. That still leaves us with one person who may or may not have been a gunman and one or more who are unknown, right?

JOSIAH: Yes, right!

REX: Ok, do you have anything that you'd like to add to that not too pretty picture? (laughs)

JOSIAH: Well, yeah, I think one more, just, just general observation. This case, from the very beginning, that is from November and December 1963 has been a case that has been riven by advocacy. Almost everybody touching this case has advocated something or other. So, basically, it's been a case that's almost been turned over to the lawyers. One lawyer builds the case in one direction, another lawyer builds the case in another direction and they clash. What this case needs is less advocacy and more scholarship. I'd hope that, over the - now that it begins to recede and has very little political importance anymore - as it begins to recede and become a kind of historical curiosity or historical mystery - that one could see much more scholarship and a lot less gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair, insulting the other side, and all the - all the brouhaha of advocacy, and see some solid historical scholarship. That's what I'd like to see.


TYLER: Alright, so I hope you enjoyed that interview, and I just wanted to say - on behalf of the entire Foundation - thanks to Josiah for having a little chat with us, and to remind you to be sure to check out Josiah's new essay, "Bedrock Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination," right here at maryferrell.org. Also just wanted to say thanks for tuning into episode three. Hope to have all of you back for episode four. We'll see you next time on Unredacted.

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