“ON ONE SMALL condition,” said Claudius, having been asked to promise his feared grandmother the Lady Livia Augustus that he would implore the new Roman Emperor Caligula to make her a goddess after her death.
“You see, there’s so much I want to know,” continued Claudius. “I’m a historian and I want to know the truth. When people die, so much dies with them, and all that’s left are pieces of paper that tell lies.”
“He wants to know the truth and he calls it a small condition!” exclaimed the Lady Livia Augustus.
“Grandmother, who killed Marcellus?” asked Claudius.
“I did!” said the Lady Livia Augustus.1
1 From the 1976 BBC Masterpiece Theatre production of I, Claudius. (Based on: I, Claudius: from the autobiography of Tiberius Claudius born 10 B.C. murdered and deified A.D. 54. and Claudius the God, both authored by Robert Graves. New York: Vintage International Edition, 1989, originally published by Random House, 1935.
Do not forget your dying king. Show this world that this is still a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Nothing, as long as you live, will ever be more important. It’s up to you.
—Attorney Jim Garrison
(during his summation
to the jury in the film JFK)
There’s something so mysterious about an orchid. They look as though they had been grown in damp underground caves by demons. They’re evil sickly flowers with no life of their own, living on borrowed strength.
—Mary Pinchot (Meyer)
(from her short story “Futility,”
Vassar Review and Little Magazine, 1941)
A SHOCKED AND traumatized nation attempted to fathom the death of its president. The eye of the storm was centered in Washington, encased within a hurricane of concealed controversy. In Dallas, an hour and fifteen minutes after the president’s death, a man by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald, who worked in the Texas School Book Depository—the place where shots had allegedly been fired at the president—was arrested in a Dallas movie theater. Oswald had, according to one eyewitness, entered the theater “shortly after 1:00 P.M.”1 Charged first with the murder of police officer J. D. Tippit, which had taken place at approximately 1:15 P.M. several blocks away, Oswald was eventually charged with the assassination of the president several hours later.
Two days later, in one of the most bizarre, phantasmagorical events ever witnessed on national television, Oswald was fatally shot by a man identified as Jack Ruby, adding to the bewilderment of an already stunned audience of viewers. So unprecedented had been the spectacle of horror, Agnes Meyer, mother of Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, reportedly seethed, “What is this, some kind of goddamn banana republic?”2 The American media struggled to sustain a semblance of calm and order, still insistent Lee Harvey Oswald had been the lone crackpot assassin and had acted unilaterally. But observers and journalists in other countries had already started speculating Oswald had been killed to keep him from talking.
Public distraction, supported by an obsequious, manipulative media, has long obscured what diligent researchers over the years have uncovered: that before Dallas, there were at least two other plots to assassinate President Kennedy. One assassination attempt against the president was planned to take place in Chicago on November 2, 1963. It would have involved multiple gunmen, as well as a designated “patsy,” a mentally handicapped ex-Marine named Thomas Arthur Vallee. Curiously, like Lee Harvey Oswald, Thomas Vallee had also served at a U-2 base in Japan under the Joint Technical Advisory Group (JTAG), the CIA’s code name for its U-2 spy plane surveillance unit. Vallee then “found work” in the fall of November 1963 in a building overlooking a Chicago street immediately adjacent to an L-shaped turn that would be on the route for the upcoming presidential motorcade. The plot finally had been foiled only because certain members of the Secret Service had acted quickly. President Kennedy had also canceled the trip as a result of President Diem’s assassination in South Vietnam. Having uncovered evidence in Chicago of a four-man assassination hit team with high-powered rifles, the Secret Service arrested two members of the team, although two others escaped.3
A second plot was set to unfold during President Kennedy’s trip to Miami on November 18, but the presidential motorcade was canceled. Word of the plot had been forwarded to the Secret Service from police intelligence in Miami. A secretly tape-recorded meeting between Miami police informant Willie Somerset and right-wing extremist Joseph Milteer on November 9 had revealed that an assassination attempt might be made in Miami “from an office building with a high-powered rifle.”4 Consequently, the president flew by helicopter from the Miami airport to the Americana Hotel, where he delivered his scheduled speech.
While the magnitude of such threats would have been communicated to the president, it wasn’t clear how much detail was given to him. However, according to one Washington insider with ties to the Kennedy family, quoted in a 1996 article by Bennett Bolton and David Duffy, “Jack told Mary before his death that he believed there was a conspiracy in the works to assassinate him, and that the people behind the plot were close to him.”5 In an interview for this book, Bennett Bolton verified the research he and his partner undertook for the article, though he wouldn’t divulge the source of the quote.6 What was certain was that weeks before Dallas, it appeared the president had been marked for a well-organized assassination.7
Though Mary has been previously portrayed as not believing in any conspiracy to assassinate her lover the president, her biographer claiming that she “accepted the idea that Oswald was the lone assassin,”8 the deeper evidence beneath the surface reveals a far different story. Throughout the last year of her life, Mary Pinchot Meyer was deeply engaged in exploration; her suspicion had been aroused, and it grew stronger. She wanted to know the real truth of what had taken place. Understandably preoccupied with Jack’s assassination, she maintained a collection of “clippings of the JFK assassination” in the bookcase in her bedroom, next to the place where she kept her diary.9 The lingering question was how far Mary had gone in her investigation, and what impact it might have had. She wasn’t the kind of person to stand idly aside in the face of an event of this magnitude. She was well aware of her ex-husband Cord’s work and his connection to Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s infiltration of the media. Her vigilance would have caused an awareness of whatever narrative the media was peddling, particularly if Jack had shared with her any information about what the Secret Service had uncovered earlier in November.
Mary was a “Washington insider” with many relationships and connections inside the Kennedy coterie and beyond. As such, she was privy to information and individuals that few people could access. Given the president’s regard for her, her presence within the intimate confines of the White House for two years had accorded her an unique status. Kenny O’Donnell certainly respected Mary as a special, trusted person in the president’s life. There were even times, he told Leo Damore, where he “feared the hold she had on Jack.”10
In fact, Mary had sought out O’Donnell several weeks after the assassination, inquiring about his recollection of events that horrific day in Dallas. According to O’Donnell’s statements to author Leo Damore, he (O’Donnell) confided to Mary what both he and Dave Powers had witnessed from their vantage point in the car directly behind the president’s. The smell of gunpowder, the sound of rifle shots, as well as other features of gunfire were well known to the two close Kennedy advisers, both seasoned World War II combat veterans. Both remained adamant for the rest of their lives that at least two shots had come “from behind the fence [on the grassy knoll],” in front of the motorcade. What O’Donnell had told Mary, he reiterated to author Leo Damore, although O’Donnell never spoke about it publicly. His account was further confirmed twenty-five years later by Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill in his 1987 memoir Man of the House. At a private dinner five years after the Kennedy assassination, O’Neill recalled a conversation with Kenny O’Donnell and Dave Powers, during which they had told him that at least “two shots” had come from in front of the motorcade “behind the fence.”11
“That’s not what you told the Warren Commission,” the astonished Tip O’Neill had said to O’Donnell.
“You’re right,” O’Donnell replied. “I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn’t have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn’t want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family.”
“I can’t believe it,” the Speaker said. “I wouldn’t have done that in a million years. I would have told the truth.”
“Tip, you have to understand,” continued O’Donnell. “The family—everybody wanted this behind them.” Before O’Neill published his memoir, he checked with Dave Powers to make sure his memory was not failing him, since O’Donnell had already died. “As they say in the news business,” wrote O’Neill, referring to Powers, “he stands by his story.”12
Not only did Dave Powers stand by his story, he went several steps further a few years later. WCAP radio producer Woody Woodland in Lowell, Massachusetts, interviewed Dave Powers in late 1991, shortly after the release of Oliver Stone’s film JFK. At the time, Powers was still the museum curator of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. After the interview, Powers walked with Woody Woodland to his car.
“I know this is a painful subject matter for you, Mr. Powers,” said Woodland as they walked into the parking lot. “But have you seen that movie [Oliver Stone’s film JFK]?” Powers confirmed he had indeed already seen the film.
“What did you think of it?” inquired Woodland.
“I think they got it right,” said Powers.
“Really?” said Woodland, somewhat taken aback.
“Yes,” continued Powers. “We were driving into an ambush. They were shooting from the front, from behind that fence [on the grassy knoll].”
“But you didn’t say that to the Warren Commission,” Woodland pressed.
“No [I didn’t], we were told not to by the FBI,” Powers replied.13
Whatever conversation Mary had with O’Donnell, her worst suspicions would have likely been confirmed. Over the years, scores of other eyewitness accounts from people who were in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination have been gathered, analyzed, and published that corroborate the O’Donnell-Powers account. Specifically, over fifty people, including Senator Ralph Yarborough, who was riding in the third car of the motorcade with Lyndon Johnson, immediately behind O’Donnell and Powers, would recount that the motorcade had actually come to a near-complete stop—immediately before the fatal head shot to the president.14
But the real clincher was what the FBI was doing to the most important witnesses in Dallas: pressuring them by whatever means necessary to conform to a deliberately contrived narrative—that there were just three shots, all from behind the motorcade, and all from the Texas School Book Depository. The second conspiracy—to manipulate and cover up the real evidence of the first—was under way posthaste, and neither Kenny O’Donnell nor Dave Powers, in the aftermath of the dastardly deed of Dallas, was willing publicly “to take a bullet for the truth.” Had they done so, they could have altered the course of history as we know it today. Instead, they succumbed to the intimidation of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI; and the cancerous malignancy rapidly spread.
Immediately after Dallas, there were a number of suspicions swirling around Washington that Mary, given her position, would unquestionably have accessed. According to some accounts, there were direct accusations leveled at the CIA almost immediately, and from within the Kennedy family itself. In his 2007 book Brothers, David Talbot recounts the fact that Bobby Kennedy, upon learning that his brother had been killed, placed a telephone call to a ranking official at CIA headquarters in Langley—reportedly less than an hour after the shooting—demanding to know, “Did your outfit have anything to do with this horror?”15 Bobby’s question was confounding and staggering. What would have led the attorney general of the United States to suspect that the nation’s premier intelligence apparatus—the Central Intelligence Agency—might be involved in assassinating the president?
Whether it was at the prompting of Bobby’s phone call, or on his own initiative, CIA director John McCone arrived at the Kennedy compound in McLean a short time later that afternoon. For three hours on that November 22 day, the two walked together on the grounds of the Hickory Hill estate. According to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Bobby directly confronted Mc-Cone about whether the Agency had assassinated his brother. Schlesinger claims that Bobby later reported: “You know, at the time I asked McCone … if they [the CIA] had killed my brother, and I asked him in a way he couldn’t lie to me, and they hadn’t.”16 That may have been Bobby’s feeling at the time, but it would very quickly change.
While Bobby’s fears and concerns may have initially been assuaged that afternoon, he knew that McCone, “a wealthy Republican businessman from California with no intelligence background, was not in control of his own agency.”17 Bobby Kennedy’s own monitoring of the Agency right after the Bay of Pigs had acquainted him with many of the CIA’s operational plans and methods; in fact, Bobby himself knew more about many of these things than McCone. John McCone had replaced Allen Dulles, the infamous father of American intelligence whom Jack had fired. But the elite of the Agency—people like Dick Helms, Jim Angleton, Cord Meyer, Tracy Barnes, Bill Harvey, even Bob Crowley—still “carried the flag” for Allen Dulles behind the scenes. Their loyalty to Dulles kept McCone in the dark, ostensibly because his strict Catholic religious principles might have been offended by many of the CIA’s covert operations. “Bobby would realize that while he had taken his question to the very top of the CIA,” Talbot concluded, “he had asked the wrong man.”18
There would be more whispers—above and beyond the O’Donnell-Powers eyewitness account—from those accompanying the presidential entourage in Dallas that day, some of whom Mary Meyer knew well. They were either too scared or too shocked, but several knew from contacts within the Secret Service that there had been more than one shooter, that there had, in fact, been a conspiracy to assassinate the president.19
Four days after Dallas, Life magazine published its November 29 issue, which featured thirty-one selected poor-quality black-and-white frames from Abraham Zapruder’s famous home movie, the film that would become legendary for revealing to the world the “kill shot” that exploded President Kennedy’s head. Carefully scripted, Life’s presentation would reinforce the manufactured narrative of disinformation that only three shots had been fired, all from behind the motorcade, and all from the Texas School Book Depository. Life’s publisher, C. D. Jackson, was a former CIA asset and a friend of Allen Dulles’s. It wasn’t an accident that the “carefully edited” photos showed up so quickly. Likely, Mary would have seen the issue of Life, though it’s not known whether it became part of her collection of “clippings of the JFK assassination” that she kept in “the bookcase in her bedroom” next to her diary. For the first time, however, the public became aware that something called “the Zapruder film” was in existence, though it would be barred from the public until 1975.
But though many, including Mary, were suspicious, only a few people were directly aware that immediately following the events in Dallas, an elite group within the National Security apparatus were moving quickly to contain anything that might reveal a conspiracy. Nowhere was this chicanery more evident than what took place with Abraham Zapruder’s infamous 8-millimeter home movie during the weekend following the assassination. For years, controversy has surrounded the alleged chain of custody of the original Zapruder film, and the three copies that were processed later in the afternoon of November 22. What remained unknown until 2009—not just to Mary, but to the rest of us—was that the original (not a copy) 8-millimeter home movie taken by Abraham Zapruder was, in fact, delivered to the CIA’s most secretive facility, the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) in Washington. The film was delivered by two Secret Service agents at approximately ten o’clock on Saturday evening, November 23, the day after the assassination.
CIA director John McCone had called NPIC director Arthur Lundahl several hours earlier and told him to prepare for the delivery of a film—not yet known publicly as “the Zapruder film”—that had captured the assassination. McCone told Lundahl he wanted a full briefing on the film’s contents early the following morning—Sunday, November 24. Lundahl immediately called his chief assistant, Dino Brugioni, to make preparations for the film’s Saturday evening arrival.
“I was the duty officer at NPIC that weekend,” Brugioni recalled in early 2009 in an interview for this book. “Lundahl called me and told me to assemble a crew and get into work. He told me it was going to involve pictures and that the Secret Service wanted support. I called Ralph Pearce, our best photogrammatist, and then Bill Banfield. We were there when the film arrived. It was 10 or 11 [P.M.] in the evening.”20
In placing the Zapruder film in the hands of the NPIC, McCone was enlisting the help of the man who was arguably the world’s foremost photo analyst. Known as the father of modern imagery analysis and imagery intelligence, Arthur C. Lundahl had been recruited by the CIA in 1953 to head the agency’s Photographic Intelligence Division (PID); he would be designated the first director of NPIC when it was formally created in 1961. Lundahl, in his capacity as NPIC’s first director, expanded the center into a national, multidepartmental component of the intelligence community, hiring over a thousand employees drawn from the CIA and the Department of Defense. NPIC was, indeed, as one former employee referred to it, “Lundahl’s Palace.” Starting with President Eisenhower, Art Lundahl’s presidential briefings became legendary during an era when aircraft such as the U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, and satellite imagery reconnaissance programs were made operational. A “Lundahl briefing” was considered the gold standard by which all other intelligence briefings to presidents were judged. Serving Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, all of whom had nothing but the highest praise for his knowledge and expertise, Art Lundahl retired in 1973, having received a personal letter and a silver memento of the Cuban Missile Crisis from President Kennedy, as well as the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II eventually named Lundahl a Knight of the British Empire.
Equally impressive was Art Lundahl’s chief assistant and “right-hand man,” Dino Brugioni, who later established himself, subsequent to his career at NPIC, as a highly acclaimed author in the field of photo intelligence and analysis (Eyeball to Eyeball, Photo Fakery, and recently (2010) Eyes in the Sky: Eisenhower, the CIA and Cold War Aerial Espionage). Prior to entering the intelligence world, Dino Brugioni had distinguished himself as part of a World War II bomber crew that flew sixty-six successful missions. Highly trained and thoroughly competent in all aspects of photographic imagery and analysis, Brugioni regularly accompanied his boss to the White House and all “seventh-floor” classified briefings at NPIC and CIA headquarters.
That Saturday, however, the day after the assassination, Dino Brugioni and his crew were caught off guard by what arrived late that evening: an already-developed 8-millimeter home movie film that was, according to Brugioni, the original film that Abraham Zapruder had taken of the Kennedy assassination the day before. The film had been developed the day before on Friday afternoon in Dallas right after the assassination.2 The world’s foremost photographic intelligence center, however, didn’t have an in-house, 8-millimeter film projector. Despite the late hour, crew member Bill Banfield called the manager of Fuller & d’Albert, a local photo supply store in downtown Washington at his home, and arranged to pick up a brand-new 8-millimeter projector that night. While Banfield was procuring the projector, Dino Brugioni and Ralph Pearce examined the film with a microstereoscope.
“The film arrived in a reel which was inside a box,” Brugioni recalled. “We went ‘white glove’3 all the way. I’m sure it was the original. Everything pointed [that] we were working with the original. We viewed the film at least three or four times. We ran it first at the regular speed, then ran it at various different speeds. The Secret Service pointed out what they wanted.”
Brugioni and his crew weren’t prepared for what they were about to see. The assembled team in the NPIC briefing room gasped in horror. “What grabbed us all were his [JFK’s] brains flying through the air,” Dino told me solemnly. “We counted all the frames in the briefing room and told the two Secret Service agents what we could do, and what we couldn’t.”21 One of the major concerns Brugioni remembered was whether the president had been hit by gunfire while he passed the Stemmons Freeway sign, which blocked the view in the film. “Do you remember seeing the motorcade slowing down or stopping before the fatal head shot?” I asked him. “How many different shots, and from what directions, do you remember discussing or analyzing?” Brugioni said he didn’t remember.
Under the vigilant eyes of the two Secret Service agents, the NPIC crew worked through the night, printing various frames on two identical sets of briefing boards. When Director Lundahl arrived at NPIC early next morning, he reviewed the notes that Brugioni had prepared, and took the two sets of identical briefing boards to his meeting with Director John McCone at CIA headquarters in Langley. The Secret Service also left early the next morning, taking with them the film, and a list of all the people who had been present for the night’s work, which included “at least seven support staff” in addition to Dino Brugioni, Ralph Pearce, and Bill Banfield.
Sometime between November 24 and December 9, McCone told Bobby Kennedy that he thought “there were two people involved in the shooting [of President Kennedy],” despite the FBI’s and the media’s attempt to maintain Lee Harvey Oswald as the only assassin. McCone’s remark to Bobby Kennedy likely had been engendered by Lundahl’s NPIC early morning briefing on Sunday, November 24. McCone’s disclosure was subsequently noted by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in his diary on December 9, after he had spent the previous evening with Bobby Kennedy.22
In the days ahead, Bobby Kennedy turned to a close group of trusted friends and advisers as he attempted to make sense of what had happened in Dallas. If the head of the CIA had privately shared with him the fact that there were at least two shooters (by definition, a conspiracy), that detail was likely shared by Bobby with people in his inner circle, as it had been with Arthur Schlesinger. Certainly, it underscored an undeniable reality: the director of Central Intelligence, John McCone, had let it slip that there had, in fact, been, a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. How close Mary Meyer was to anyone in Bobby’s entourage wasn’t definitively known, but she was very likely acquainted with some of them. Given her relationship with Jack, she had to have known some of what was being revealed.
Meanwhile, unknown to anyone—even to Dino Brugioni, who was the weekend duty officer at NPIC—on Sunday night, November 24, hours after Brugioni and his crew had concluded their work for Lundahl’s briefing Sunday morning, a second, ultra-classified Zapruder film event took place at NPIC. That Sunday night, a lone Secret Service agent showed up at the NPIC with a different Zapruder film. Identifying himself as “Bill Smith,” he was met by the NPIC’s deputy director, Captain Pierre Sands, USN. Sands escorted “Smith” into a room with two NPIC employees: Morgan Bennett (“Ben”) Hunter and Homer McMahon. McMahon years later said that the session that night was so sensitive and classified, even his own supervisor was not informed of the event. The two employees—Hunter and McMahon—were sworn to secrecy. “There was no record of this event,” McMahon stated in a lengthy interview to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in July 1997. “There was no codename attached to this operation. I was sworn to secrecy and it could not be divulged.”23
Secret Service agent “Bill Smith” told Homer McMahon that he had just come from Rochester, New York, where the 16-millimeter film now in his possession had been “processed” earlier that day at the CIA’s “Hawkeye” facility (sometimes referred to as “Hawkeyeworks”).4 Classified and designated top secret, known for its state-of-the-art “clean facility,” the CIA Hawkeye facility in Rochester required all technicians to wear full body suits of special fabric to avoid contamination.
“Hawkeye had the capability to do almost anything with any film product,” recalled Brugioni. While there is still debate among Kennedy assassination researchers as to whether the Zapruder film has been altered, the recent revelations by Dino Brugioni, along with Homer McMahon’s 1997 interview at the ARRB, clearly underscore the likelihood of alteration. That alteration plausibly could have taken place sometime after early Sunday morning, when the original 8-millimeter film left NPIC, and before Sunday night, when some version of the film returned to NPIC in a 16-millimeter format. The CIA’s Hawkeye facility in Rochester was the ideal place, technically superior and capable of such an alteration. “They could do anything,” Brugioni repeated emphatically.
Interviewed once on the telephone and twice in person by the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board in 1997, Homer McMahon was blunt, his statements staggering. After reviewing the 16-millimeter film at NPIC that Sunday evening, November 24, with his assistant Morgan Bennett Hunter, he was sure, he told the ARRB, that “about eight (8) shots” had been fired at the president’s limousine.
“[As to how many shots were fired] what was it that you observed on the film’s examination, in your opinion?” asked Jeremy Gunn, the chief counsel to the ARRB.
“About eight shots,” said the former NPIC employee Homer McMahon in 1997.
“And where did they come from?” Gunn further inquired.
“Three different directions, at least,” replied McMahon. “I expressed my opinion that night, but it was already preconceived. I did not agree with the analysis at the time. I didn’t have to. I was [just] doing the work. That’s the way I felt about it. It was preconceived. You don’t fight city hall. I wasn’t there to fight them. I was there to do the work.”
“Do you remember what [Secret Service agent] Smith’s analysis was?” asked Douglas P. Horne, chief analyst for military records at the ARRB.
“He thought there were three (3) shots,” recalled McMahon. “He went with the standard concept, that Oswald was the shooter.”24
When I interviewed Dino Brugioni in 2009, he was both shocked and mystified when he heard about the subsequent Zapruder film event that had taken place at the NPIC Sunday evening (November 24). As the NPIC on-call duty officer during the assassination weekend, Brugioni should have been notified. He wasn’t, and for good reason. Why? Homer McMahon and Ben Hunter had assisted in the preparation of a set of briefing boards that were significantly different in size and composition (as well as, presumably, in image content) from those made on Saturday night by Brugioni and his colleagues. When shown photos of the one surviving set of Homer McMahon’s briefing boards made on November 24, Brugioni categorically told me that they were not the briefing boards he had made on Saturday night.25 It appeared that the skulduggery that had taken place was known only at the highest levels, part of a well-organized cover-up, to which even mid-to-upper level CIA officers like Brugioni weren’t privy.
In the spring of 2011, I visited Dino Brugioni at his home in Virginia to further discuss the Zapruder film. I showed him a high-resolution image of the one and only frame in the extant Zapruder film that graphically depicts the fatal head shot, frame 313. Dino was incredulous there was only one frame of the head explosion—then repeatedly rejected the possibility, based upon what he had personally witnessed when he had viewed the camera-original Zapruder film on Saturday evening, November 23, 1963. I asked him several times, “Was there more than one frame?” Dino responded unequivocally there was indeed:
“Oh yeah! Oh yeah … I remember all of us being shocked…. it was straight up [gesturing high above his own head] … in the sky. … There should have been more than one frame…. I thought the spray was, say, three or four feet from his head…. what I saw was more than that [in the image of frame 313 being shown to him] … it wasn’t low [as in frame 313], it was high … there was more than that in the original…. It was way high off of his head … and I can’t imagine that there would only be one frame. What I saw was more than you have there [in frame 313].”26
Why was it necessary to alter the film and produce a different version of what had occurred? According to AARB staff member Douglas P. Horne, author of the 2009 five-volume Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, “they had to remove whatever was objectionable in the film—most likely, the car [the president’s limousine] stop, seen by over fifty witnesses in Dealey Plaza, and the exit debris which would inevitably have been seen in the film leaving the rear of President Kennedy’s head. They would also have had to add to the film whatever was desired—such as a large, painted-on exit wound generally consistent with the enlarged, altered head wound depicted in the autopsy photos, which were developed the day before on Saturday, November 23, by Robert Knudsen at NPC [Naval Photographic Center] Anacostia.”27 Horne was adamant in his book about the falsity of the photographic record:
The brain photographs in the National Archives today cannot be, and are not [Horne’s emphasis], photographs of President Kennedy’s brain. This we now know beyond any reasonable doubt. The purpose for creating this false photographic record was to suppress evidence that President Kennedy was killed by a shot or shots from the front, and to insert into the record false “evidence” consistent with the official story that he was shot only from behind. This discovery is the single most significant “smoking gun” indicating a government cover-up within the medical evidence surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination, and is a direct result of the JFK Records Act, which in turn was fathered by the film JFK.28
Simply put, the conspiracy to murder the president, if it were to succeed, had to be matched by an equal, and perhaps more elaborate, conspiracy to manipulate the evidence to support the contrived narrative of only three shots, all fired from behind the president’s motorcade from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, from one rifle, by one man. While eyewitness accounts in general are often vulnerable to misinterpretation, physical forensic evidence is much less so, and therefore poses a far greater challenge.
The most significant efforts were applied to the manipulation of physical evidence with respect to the gunshot wounds inflicted on President Kennedy’s body. As documented by David Lifton in Best Evidence (1980), President Kennedy’s body did not make an uninterrupted journey from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas to Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington, D.C. As Lifton explained in his bestselling and carefully documented forensic thriller, President Kennedy’s body left Dallas in an ornamental, bronze ceremonial casket, wrapped in cloth bedsheets—and yet it arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in a cheap, gray shipping casket, encased in a zippered, rubberized body bag.
As Lifton pointed out, there was a possibility that some—or all—of the president’s wounds had been tampered with prior to the arrival of his body at Bethesda. Indeed, the entry wound in the throat had been enlarged—obliterated, actually—by the time the Bethesda autopsy began at 8:15 P.M., and the posterior head wound had been dramatically enlarged to five times its original size, so that it encompassed not just the rear of the skull, as it had when first seen in Dallas, but the top and the right side as well, when examined at Bethesda. Lifton also presented persuasive evidence that Kennedy’s shipping casket arrived at Bethesda close to fifteen minutes prior to the official motorcade from Andrews Air Force Base carrying the bronze Dallas casket. This meant that the bronze Dallas casket seen by millions on television was empty when it was off-loaded from Air Force One at Andrews. In 1997, the ARRB obtained an official military report that verified, beyond all reasonable doubt, the earlier arrival of President Kennedy’s body at Bethesda, thus proving there had been a break in the chain of custody of the body, prior to the autopsy. ARRB staff member Douglas Horne, in his 2009 book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, using new evidence gleaned from the ARRB’s ten autopsy witnesses, provided confirmation of Lifton’s 1980 hypothesis that President Kennedy’s wounds had, in fact, been altered prior to the commencement of the 8:15 P.M. Bethesda autopsy.29
Both Douglas Horne and David Lifton agree today that the entry wound in President Kennedy’s throat was crudely tampered with in transit, prior to the body’s arrival at Bethesda. But whereas Lifton speculated in his book that Kennedy’s head wounds were surgically altered prior to arrival at Bethesda, Horne has presented a compelling case that postmortem surgery—forensic tampering—was actually performed at Bethesda Naval Hospital prior to the start of the official autopsy. All the facts point to the conclusion that evidence tampering of the most serious nature—the clandestine expansion of JFK’s head wound and the removal of evidence (bullet fragments and brain tissue)—was performed by Dr. James J. Humes, the lead Navy pathologist, as part of a Navy cover-up of the medical evidence, after President Kennedy’s body arrived at 6:35 P.M., and before the start of the official autopsy at 8:15. The autopsy photos and x-rays in the National Archives collection today, Horne has concluded, actually demonstrate the results of clandestine surgery performed by the Naval pathologist, not the damage caused by bullets in Dallas. This was, and remains, an intentional misrepresentation by the U.S. government.30
Horne and Lifton are also in agreement that the “best evidence”—the body of the deceased president—was surgically altered to (1) remove evidence prior to the autopsy, and (2) to radically change the appearance and size of both the head wound and the entry wound in the throat, so that they were much more compatible with the myth of one lone shooter firing from behind the motorcade. All evidence of frontal entry on President Kennedy’s body was surgically removed prior to the commencement of his autopsy.31 As of 2012, Douglas Horne and David Lifton have together established the clear-cut obstruction of justice that took place in the forensic alteration of President Kennedy’s wounds. No longer speculation, it is now an undeniable fact.
And that is why one problem in the immediate aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination wouldn’t go away—a piece of conspiracy evidence available to Mary Meyer and anyone else observing events unfolding in “real time” in the media. After the president had been declared dead, the two attending physicians in Dallas, Dr. Malcolm Perry and Dr. Kemp Clark, gave a short press conference. According to Tom Wicker of the New York Times, the two physicians described the president’s throat wound on the afternoon of the assassination: “Mr. Kennedy was hit by a bullet in the throat, just below the Adam’s apple,” they said. “This would have had the appearance of a bullet’s entry.”32 In fact, when Dr. Perry was asked by a reporter at the press conference immediately following the announcement of President Kennedy’s death, he confirmed this opinion—that President Kennedy’s throat wound was an entrance wound. If the government was about to declare that all shots came from behind the president, Dr. Perry was unknowingly, and indirectly, asserting there had been more than one shooter, again making the president’s assassination by definition a conspiracy.
Where was the entrance wound?
There was an entrance wound in the neck. As regards the one
on the head, I cannot say.
Which way was the bullet coming on the neck wound? At him?
It appeared to be coming at him.
Doctor, describe the entrance wound. You think from the front in the throat?
The wound appeared to be an entrance wound in the front of
the throat; yes, that is correct. 33
That evening after the press conference, according to Audrey Bell, the nurse who had been the supervisor of the operating and recovery rooms at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dr. Perry was harassed by a barrage of telephone calls all through the night “from people at Bethesda Naval Hospital who were trying to get him to change his mind about the opinion he had expressed at the Parkland Memorial Hospital press conference the day before; namely, that President Kennedy had an entry wound in the front of his neck.” In an interview by ARRB members Douglas P. Horne and Jeremy Gunn on March 20, 1997, Audrey Bell confirmed her conversation with Dr. Perry when, on the morning of November 23, she had learned about the pressure he was being subjected to.34The second conspiracy—the cover-up—had been under way immediately after the assassination.
During the months that followed, however, Dr. Perry did alter his conclusion, finally testifying before the Warren Commission that the throat wound “could be consistent with an exit wound.”35 The relentless pressure applied to Dr. Perry amounts to another “alteration” of evidence in an attempt to prove that the shooting came from behind the motorcade—that is, from Oswald—and not from sharpshooters positioned somewhere in front of the motorcade, likely behind the fence on the grassy knoll.
Nonetheless, long before the Warren Commission proceedings began, the theory of “throat wound as entrance wound” was gaining traction, as were some other anomalies. Mary Meyer’s access to Kenny O’Donnell shortly after the events in Dallas likely provoked her suspicion as well as horror, and his perspective had to have aroused her curiosity. O’Donnell had been a witness to the fact that the shots were fired from in front of the limousine, not from where Oswald was alleged to have been.
Before the end of the first month after the assassination, two articles appeared in national media outlets raising considerable doubt that there had been only one shooter. The first article, by attorney Mark Lane, was entitled “Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief;” the second, by history professor Staughton Lynd and Jack Minnis, was called “Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions about the Assassination.”36 Whether either of these articles were included among Mary’s “clippings of the JFK assassination” or not, it is quite likely that she would have come across them, as she would have been on the lookout for further validation of her growing suspicion concerning the treachery taking place in the cover-up.
Attorney Mark Lane’s article, “Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief,” was published in the left-leaning National Guardian on December 19. Lane had offered his feature gratis to any number of periodicals, including the New Republic Look, Life, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Progressive. No one would touch it. The New York Times, unwilling to muster any journalistic courage or integrity of its own, yet not wanting to be outdone, knowing what was coming, published a story about Lane’s National Guardianarticle the very same day it appeared, suggesting they had gone to the trouble of obtaining an advance copy.37 Lane’s article immediately ignited a firestorm of controversy, and its publication would become a defining moment in his career, setting the stage for an unrelenting pursuit that ultimately took him to a showdown at the doorsteps of the CIA in 1985. So many additional press runs of Lane’s article were needed to keep newsstands supplied, the Guardian editors eventually reprinted it as a special pamphlet. It was inconceivable that such an article—published within a month of events in Dallas—would have escaped Mary’s attention.
The then thirty-seven-year-old Mark Lane took no prisoners with his “Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief.” Already, the New York Times on November 26 had published the text of Dallas district attorney Henry Wade’s press conference, given shortly after Oswald’s murder. Wade had presented fifteen assertions concerning the sole guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald. Lane scrutinized not only Wade’s assertions, but also the contrived narrative that was emerging. He challenged the government’s narrative and exposed its many inconsistencies and half-truths. Point by point, Lane rebutted every allegation that Wade had made about Oswald’s guilt, particularly those reprinted uncritically by the New York Times itself. Indeed, Wade’s remarks about Oswald were nothing but distorted half-truths that would not have stood up in any court proceeding. Charging, for example, that Oswald had murdered police officer J. D. Tippit before being arrested, Wade never reconciled the original statement of Dallas authorities that Tippit was shot in a movie theater, and their subsequent assertion that “he had been shot on a street,” only to then change it again by moving the murder to a different street.
Most notable was Lane’s forceful argument that President Kennedy’s throat wound was one of entrance, not exit:
A motion picture taken of the President just before, during and after the shooting, and demonstrated on television showed that the President was looking directly ahead when the first shot, which entered his throat, was fired. A series of still pictures taken from the motion picture and published in Life magazine on Nov. 29 show exactly the same situation. The Life pictures also reveal that the car carrying the President was well past the turn from Houston St. and a considerable distance past the [Texas School book] depository building. The Life estimate in an accompanying caption states that the car with the President was 75 yards past the sixth-floor window when the first shot was fired.38
Lane then reviewed five separate newspaper accounts, including the New York Times, that quoted the Parkland Memorial Hospital doctors who had examined Kennedy’s body—Dr. Kemp Clark, Dr. Malcolm Perry, and Dr. Robert McClelland—all of whom had described the throat wound as “an entrance wound.” In particular, Lane pointed out that Dr. McClelland, too, had been quoted as saying that he saw bullet wounds every day, “sometimes several a day. This [President Kennedy’s throat wound] did appear to be an entrance wound.”39
Finally, lambasting the media for the uncritical reporting that had convicted Oswald before any defense could be assembled and before the evidence had been properly examined, the outspoken young attorney was unequivocal about the implications of the falsehoods that were being concocted to prove Oswald’s guilt. “Let those who would deny a fair consideration of the evidence to Oswald because of a rage inspired, they say, by their devotion to the late President, ponder this thought,” Lane wrote. “If Oswald is innocent, then the assassin of President Kennedy is still at large.”40
Two days later, on December 21, the New Republic published an article entitled “Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions about the Assassination.” It was authored by Spelman College history professor Staughton Lynd, who would move to a position at Yale in 1964, and Jack Minnis, a graduate student in political science at Tulane University and the research director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Like Mark Lane’s article, this article in the liberal New Republic would articulate some of the bedrock questions about the assassination that would never be satisfactorily reconciled by the Warren Report and that persist to this day. This article, too, had likely captured Mary’s attention, coming immediately on the heels of the Lane exposé. Citing New York Times reporter Tom Wicker’s November 23 interview of the two Dallas attending physicians, the authors arrived at the same conclusion as Mark Lane regarding President Kennedy’s throat wound: It was an entrance wound, indicating that at least one shot had been fired from in front of the motorcade. Taken together, both articles articulated issues that ruled out the possibility that Oswald, or any one person alone, could have pulled off a feat of the magnitude that had occurred that day in Dallas.
Throughout his life, Mark Lane would valiantly continue to lead a crusade to obtain the truth about President Kennedy’s assassination. Immediately after Dallas, he founded the Citizens’ Committee of Inquiry. Speaking almost daily to the fact that there had been a conspiracy that was now being covered up, Lane even volunteered to defend the deceased Lee Harvey Oswald in front of the Warren Commission; however, the offer was rejected. Oswald’s mother, Marguerite Oswald, would retain Lane to defend her son’s reputation anyway. Lane’s books would eventually become international bestsellers—after Mary had been murdered. She would not live to finally witness attorney Mark Lane (Hunt v. Liberty Lobby) expose E. Howard Hunt on the witness stand in January 1985 for the pathological liar he was: Hunt had, in fact, been in Dallas on the day of the assassination, acting as one of the paymasters for the conspiracy. Leslie Armstrong, the jury’s forewoman, would state to the media in attendance immediately following the trial’s conclusion: “The evidence was clear. The CIA had killed President Kennedy, Hunt had been part of it, and that evidence so painstakingly presented, should now be examined by the relevant institutions of the United States government so that those responsible for the assassination might be brought to justice.”41
In Washington, the Post, as well as the rest of the national media, avoided the story about the jury’s verdict—a case in which the unanimous jury, on the basis of the evidence presented during the trial, had found the CIA’s role in the president’s assassination to be conclusive.
On December 22, an unusually newsworthy editorial appeared in the Washington Post, followed by a somewhat ominous event. President Harry Truman was the author of the editorial, “U.S. Should Hold CIA to Intelligence,” published in the morning edition of the Post, one month, to the day, after the assassination. Mary Meyer, who had a delivered-daily subscription to the Post, would have to have seen the Truman editorial that morning. It contained an eerie warning, even a kind of coded message for the most discerning. “There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel we need to correct it,” concluded Truman at the end of his editorial. Suggesting something sinister, the former president regretted what he had given birth to in 1947:
For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.
That Truman was making such a statement exactly one month to the day after Dallas was astounding in and of itself. His warning was ominous. “But there are now some searching questions that need to be answered,” wrote the former president. “I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President, and whatever else it can properly perform in that special field—and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.” Like the slain president, who had intended to neuter the operational arm of the CIA after his reelection in 1964, President Truman had come to a similar conclusion about the Agency—and with good reason.42
According to veteran researcher and author Ray Marcus, the editorial appeared only in the first edition of the Post that morning. It was omitted from all subsequent editions that day. Who would have the decision to limit its publication? Moreover, the editorial was never picked up by any other media outlet, nor discussed by any other journalist, columnist, or broadcast commentator. It simply evaporated from the public landscape.
“I can’t read it any other way but [as] a warning by him [President Truman] that the CIA was involved in the [JFK] assassination,” said Marcus. “If that wasn’t what he meant, then I can’t imagine he would have written and/or released it then for fear of having it read that way.”43 Was Truman trying to alert the nation to the CIA’s involvement? Marcus came into possession of a draft of the editorial from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum that was dated December 11, 1963. “To me, this further strengthens the already high probability that in warning of the Agency’s excesses he had the assassination in mind.”44 Marcus reiterated that same position in an interview for this book.45
Unknown to Mary, however, or anyone else at the time, was the fact that Allen Dulles, the former CIA director defrocked by President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs failure, undertook a personal covert operation of his own after the short-lived Truman editorial appeared. At the very first executive session of the Warren Commission on December 5, 1964, Allen Dulles had wasted no time, not only in establishing himself as the so-called intelligence expert, but also in immediately attempting to control and narrow the parameters of the entire inquiry. At that meeting, according to author Peter Dale Scott, the disgraced spymaster took it upon himself to give each member of the commission a copy of a book that argued that all American assassinations, unlike European ones, were the work of solitary, deranged, and disaffected gunmen, thereby using his influence to immediately discourage any real investigation into the possibility of conspiracy.46
Whatever the ordinary reader’s interpretation of Truman’s Washington Post editorial, Allen Dulles would clearly have understood the former president’s implicit message. Again, according to Ray Marcus and based on his research of documents at the Truman Library, Dulles traveled to President Truman’s home in Independence, Missouri, on April 17, 1964, using as a pretext for his visit a scheduled talk he was to give in Kansas City, Missouri, that evening. His real mission, however, was almost certainly to document that his meeting with Truman took place that day so that he could then fabricate a story that Truman had come to disavow his December 22 editorial in the Washington Post.47
Four days later, on April 21, 1964, Dulles wrote a four-page memorandum to a former colleague, CIA general counsel Lawrence Houston, documenting his meeting with President Truman on April 17. It was in this memorandum that Dulles fabricated Truman’s retraction of his December 22 Washington Post editorial; the memorandum would be placed in CIA files. It first documented all the extraneous topics of Dulles’s conversation with Truman, as well as all the adulation he had bestowed upon his former boss during their meeting. The Dulles memorandum then documented their discussion of Truman’s editorial in the Post. Allegedly, Dulles had produced a copy of the editorial that he proceeded to review with Truman in person. Dulles claimed in his memorandum to Houston that Truman had “studied attentively the Post story and seemed quite astounded by it. In fact, he said that this was all wrong. He then said he felt it had made a very unfortunate impression.”48
But President Truman never wavered from the position he had stated in his December 22 Washington Post editorial, in which he had completely opposed the CIA’s covert operations arm. In fact, and ironically, one year exactly after Kennedy’s historic American University address, Truman repeated his warning in a June 10, 1964, letter to Look magazine managing editor William Arthur, underscoring his position that the CIA “was not intended to operate as an international agency engaged in strange activities.”49
Why would Allen Dulles—the man whom Mary Meyer once compared to “Machiavelli, only worse”—go to such extremes to discredit a former president’s written opinions? While the Truman editorial had been cut off at the pass, Dulles had to be worried about the possibility the editorial might be resuscitated at some point, adding weight to suspicions of CIA involvement in the death of the president and its subsequent cover-up.
“Dulles would have wanted to be in position to flash the Truman ‘retraction,’ with the hope that this would nip any serious questioning in the bud,” said disaffected former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who in 2003 co-founded the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). “As the de facto head of the Warren Commission, Dulles was perfectly positioned to exculpate himself and any of his associates, were any commissioners or investigators—or journalists—tempted to question whether the killing in Dallas might have been a CIA covert action.”50 The Dulles-Truman incident in April 1964 was yet another example of chicanery that illustrated the actions Allen Dulles and his loyal cadre were prepared to undertake in order to protect themselves and the secrets of the Agency they served.
One person Mary was almost sure to have sought out after Dallas was her friend and fellow artist William (“Bill”) Walton, the man who had been her escort to many of the White House social events she had attended. According to Leo Damore, Mary had engaged Walton’s counsel sometime in 1964. Walton had been aware, Damore said, of how distraught she was. According to Damore, he discreetly divulged to Mary the fact that Bobby long suspected the worst of foul play in his brother’s demise, but that he had to keep a low profile for the time being. It was too dangerous to do anything else. Bobby did have a plan, Walton told her. Bobby would position himself to take back the presidency, but it would be years before he could do anything. “Throw yourself back into your work” had been his advice, as he, too, despaired over what had occurred. That’s what he was doing, he told her.51 It is not known whether Walton ever revealed to Mary the secret, historic mission he had undertaken at Bobby’s request during a trip to the Soviet Union shortly after Jack’s burial.
Bill Walton had met Jack Kennedy in Georgetown after World War II, and their friendship developed into something extraordinarily special. “I think he was deeply fond of me,” Walton recalled in 1975. “I was of him. I haven’t had many male friends as close as he became finally.”52 Fondly calling him “Billy Boy,” Jack allowed Walton a level of access to the White House that few enjoyed. And so did Jackie, who thoroughly enjoyed his company and came to rely upon him. She also took a keen interest in Walton’s two children, Matthew and Frances, whom Bill was raising alone since his divorce.
“I got to know Jackie Kennedy a good deal,” recalled Bill Walton’s son, Matthew, in an interview for this book. “She came around to our house a lot. She was very kind to me, and paid attention to me. I wrote a diary in those days, and she’s the only one of my father’s friends I mentioned. She listened to me and remembered our conversations later.”53
But the other variable that made Walton “safe” was his sexual orientation. Though Walton was not openly gay (which in that era and social strata would have been social suicide), it was clear where his proclivities lay. Even so, he was “a man’s man,” yet “safe” to women like Jackie who came to revere his confidence.
Over the years, Walton had become the supreme Kennedy confidant and loyalist, not only to Jack and Jackie, but to Bobby as well. Both Jack and Jackie shared intimate secrets with him, often using him to communicate with one another. A bit older than both Jack and Bobby, Walton brought to the table an urbane sense of tasteful style and elegance that had its foundation in sincerity coupled with integrity. The president appointed him chairman of the Fine Arts Commission in 1963. Jackie and Bill Walton collaborated to safeguard various historic sections of the city, including the period architecture around Lafayette Square in downtown Washington. Yet, unlike the other political animals who surrounded the Kennedys, Walton had no need to play favorites; he had no expectation or desire of any reward. No doubt privy to any number of intimate secrets regarding Jack and Jackie, as well as Bobby, Walton never betrayed their confidences—not even to his children—or revealed the full extent of his access during his lifetime.
Having escorted Mary Meyer to the White House on many occasions, he obviously was aware of her romantic liaison with Jack, as were a number of other people—even if Ben and Tony Bradlee wanted to maintain they weren’t. How much Jack actually confided in Billy Boy about his feelings for Mary (as he had done with Charlie Bartlett), no one knows, not even Walton’s own children. The Walton trademark was always zipped lips. “He didn’t talk much about what he really knew,” recalled Matthew, “either about the Kennedy assassination or Mary Meyer’s murder.”54Surprisingly, not even Walton’s children were aware of their father’s secret mission after Dallas, ostensibly for the support of the arts in Russia.
In fact, it was not until 1997, some thirty-four years after Dallas, and three years after Walton’s own death, that Yale historian Timothy Naftali and Russian historian Aleksandr Fursenko revealed the staggering account of the mission Bobby Kennedy had asked Walton to undertake immediately following President Kennedy’s burial. Before Dallas, Walton had been scheduled to leave for Russia on November 22 on a goodwill mission to open a dialogue with Russian artists. The idea was part of President Kennedy’s many-tiered peace initiative with the Soviet Union that had begun with his American University commencement address in June, followed by the historic nuclear test ban treaty in August. Walton was to be the president’s emissary to Leningrad and Moscow, where he would preside over the opening of an American graphic arts exhibit for the U.S. Information Agency. But as he was preparing to leave for Russia that day, he received word of the president’s death and immediately canceled his trip.
A few days after the president’s burial at Arlington Cemetery, Bill Walton and his children, Matthew and Frances, visited Bobby Kennedy’s Hickory Hill estate. Jackie and Bobby were both present. Years later, in an interview for this book, Walton’s daughter, Frances Buehler, still vividly remembered Bobby taking her father into another room with Jackie and “closing the door.” She also recalled seeing her father walking with Bobby alone outside later that afternoon. “We had no idea what was being said,” recalled Frances. In fact, the pieces of that puzzle would not be fully revealed to her until 2007, when her brother showed her David Talbot’s book Brothers.55
As author Talbot details in his book, Bobby Kennedy, like his brother, trusted Bill Walton unconditionally. The loyal Kennedy ally had proven his integrity on innumerable occasions and to a degree rarely seen in the political snake pit of Washington. That day, during the Waltons’ visit to Hickory Hill, within days of the assassination, Bobby and Jackie asked their close friend to quickly reschedule his artistic mission to Russia. They wanted him to deliver a special, secret message to Georgi Bolshakov, formerly a KGB agent under journalistic cover in Washington, who the Kennedys had come to rely upon when they needed to communicate with Khrushchev directly during critical moments. Indeed, Bolshakov had once been referred to by Newsweek as the “Russian New Frontiersman” because he had become so close to Bobby. Official Washington was, of course, averse to using a known KGB agent for diplomatic missions, but that didn’t stop Bobby from developing a substantial relationship that had proven its reliability over time.56
Bobby and Jackie knew that through Bolshakov their message to the Soviets would be directly communicated to Nikita Khrushchev. They wanted “the Russian who they felt best understood John Kennedy to know their personal opinions of the changes in the U.S. government since the assassination.” On November 29, Walton resuscitated his trip to Russia. He had explicit instructions from Bobby to bypass the American Embassy upon arrival in Moscow and to meet with Bolshakov at some unofficial location, so Walton sat down with Bolshakov at the Sovietskaya restaurant. Walton’s message was crystal clear: “Dallas was the ideal location for such a crime,” he told the Soviet intelligence officer. “Perhaps there was only one assassin, but he did not act alone.” Bolshakov, who had been deeply upset by the assassination, listened intently as Walton explained that the Kennedys now believed there had been a large domestic political conspiracy at work. While Oswald appeared to have ostensible connections to the Communist world, the Kennedys believed that the president had been murdered by “domestic opponents.”57
Walton also communicated an even bigger bombshell: that the Kennedys considered the selection of Lyndon Johnson for the vice presidency to have been “a dreadful mistake.” Lyndon Johnson’s ties to big Texas oil and military defense companies would, in their own way, sabotage John Kennedy’s unfinished plans for world peace and détente with the Soviet Union. “Robert McNamara, in his position of secretary of defense, was the only one to be trusted now,” he said. He described McNamara as “completely sharing the views of President Kennedy on matters of war and peace.” Bobby did have a plan, Walton told Bolshakov, to eventually retake the White House where he would then continue his brother’s vision for world peace, but that wasn’t going to be possible before 1968.58 Yet this historic mission further demonstrated how the Kennedys, from the very beginning, never believed in the Warren Commission or the final Warren Report, released in September 1964. If, as Bobby Kennedy believed, his brother “had been killed by a powerful plot that grew out of one of the government’s secret anti-Castro operations,” they were sadly powerless to do anything about it, “since they were facing a formidable enemy and they no longer controlled the government.”59
Bill Walton appeared never to have never talked about his secret mission to Moscow with anyone. Even his own children weren’t aware of it until years after his death. “My father never really said much about the Kennedy assassination, even though he had the entire-volume set of the Warren Commission,” recalled Matthew. He did recall a strange outburst from his father one evening at dinner shortly after his Moscow return. Had Oswald really done it? a friend asked him at dinner. Bill Walton, the usually calm, even-tempered, urbane gentleman, exploded. “It doesn’t fucking matter!” he yelled, startling everyone at the table. “Who gives a shit!”60
Ten months later—the day Mary Pinchot Meyer was murdered—Bill Walton received the upsetting telephone call. “My father answered the phone and then told me she [Mary Meyer] had been shot, shot on the towpath,” Matthew said. Further recalling that his father was never given to emotional outbursts, Matthew said the elder Walton did something very uncharacteristic. “I was so struck at how upset he was,” Matthew continued. His father had become enraged. “What’s happening to everybody?” Walton screamed. “Everybody I know is killed, murdered, assassinated. Killed by strangers!” Whereupon he rushed outside and burst into tears. “He wasn’t the kind of person who usually did this,” his son recalled. “It was so unusual for him to burst out in the way he did.”61
Had the murder of Mary Meyer signaled a reminder—don’t talk, your life, possibly that of your children, might well be in danger? Walton was never given to gossiping anyway, even whispering. Nonetheless, as Bobby’s presidential bid started to take form in 1968, Bill Walton once again embraced the Kennedy dream, excitedly planning to do whatever he could for Bobby’s campaign. And once again—this time forever—the Kennedy dream would die with Bobby’s assassination. Bill Walton retreated into seclusion, even stopped painting for an extended period. According to Matthew, his father could occasionally be heard yelling, “Fuck life!”62
The Kennedy antipathy toward Lyndon Johnson was well known. “A dreadful mistake” had indeed taken place when Johnson manipulated himself into the position of vice president. Mary had to have known of both Jack’s and Bobby’s animosity toward him, and she likely knew they intended to dump him prior to the 1964 election. Lyndon Johnson had long since become a political liability. His involvement in scandals with his aide Bobby Baker and business tycoon Billie Sol Estes were about to make headlines. By 1963, Billie Sol Estes had been convicted on more than fifty counts of fraud. Leaks from prison suggested he had paid off the vice president on any number of occasions. Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy’s personal secretary, noting the implications, asked the president three days before Dallas (November 19) who his choice for a running mate might be. “He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, ‘At this time, I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.’”63
During the summer of 1963, Life magazine had been developing a major feature story concerning Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his scandalous dealings with Bobby Baker. The in-depth story was scheduled for publication in late November, right after the president’s trip to Dallas. The story, according to James Wagenvoord, at the time the chief assistant to Life’s Publishing Projects Director, Phil Wootton, had been researched and written by members of the senior staff at Life who had a direct line to Bobby Kennedy. The article would be published without bylines.
“It was all coming from Bobby,” recalled Wagenvoord. “It was going to blow Johnson right out of the water. We had him. He was done. Bobby Baker had taken the fall for Johnson. Johnson would have been finished and off the 1964 ticket, and would have probably been facing prison time.”64
In fact, on the very day of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, the Senate Rules Committee on Capitol Hill was meeting, presided over by Senator B. Everett Jordan of North Carolina. During the proceedings, Senator John Williams of Delaware—who in October had already begun investigating the activities of Lyndon Johnson’s close aide Bobby Baker—was being given documented testimony from a panicked Don Reynolds, a close associate of Bobby Baker’s, who had been asked by Baker to arrange Lyndon Johnson’s life insurance policy. The Reynolds bombshell was that he had seen Bobby Baker with a suitcase containing what Baker alleged was a $100,000 payoff to Lyndon Johnson for his role in securing the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) contract for General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas. Reynolds also stated that he had refused several attempts by Johnson to buy his silence. However, Reynolds’s testimony abruptly ended when news reached the committee that President Kennedy had been assassinated. What was clear was Reynolds’s information would not only have ended Lyndon Johnson’s political career, it also would have resulted in a criminal indictment.
In November 2009, former Life magazine chief assistant James Wagenvoord revealed to John Simkin at Spartacus Educational the logistics of what took place at Life immediately subsequent to the Kennedy assassination: “The LBJ/Baker piece was in the final editing stages and was scheduled to break in the issue of the magazine due out the week of November 24th (the magazine would have made it to the newsstands on November 26th or 27th). It had been prepared in relative secrecy by a small special editorial team. On Kennedy’s death, research files and all numbered copies of the nearly print-ready draft were gathered up by my boss (he had been the top editor on the team) and shredded. The issue that was to expose LBJ instead featured the Zapruder film.”65
Wagenvoord further substantiated in an interview for this book how the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird was controlling Life magazine at the time. “All of our people would always go down to Washington to be debriefed by the CIA after they did big world trips before they came home,” recalled Wagenvoord. “That was our news source. A lot of the high-level executives in publishing companies had been involved with the OS during the war. The whole publishing thing was hooked into the government so tightly, in the same way the Internet companies are now.”66
Edward K. Thompson, a senior editor at Life during 1963, was, according to Wagenvoord, a close friend of Allen Dulles’s. Wagenvoord remembered being introduced to Dulles in Thompson’s office, having been called to the office to deliver a $10,000 check made out to the former CIA director. “We paid Allen Dulles $10,000 for a nothing story,” recalled Wagenvoord. But that event paled alongside what Wagenvoord witnessed at Life’s offices on Sunday morning, November 24—before Oswald was gunned down on national television.
As James Wagenvoord stood outside his boss’s office, a man in a gray suit pushed through the glass door that opened from the elevator bank. He handed Wagenvoord a lumpy manila envelope. “This is Oswald material,” the man said, giving Wagenvoord the package as he flashed his FBI credentials, and then quickly left.67 Wagenvoord remembered opening the envelope and taking out a small, blue plastic reel that appeared to be a short 16-millimeter film, which he viewed later that day. The unsolicited footage, which had been shot months earlier by a New Orleans television news cameraman, was of Oswald handing out pro-Castro flyers on Canal Street near the World Trade Center in New Orleans, an event that had been staged to falsely portray Oswald as a Communist sympathizer, which, of course, he wasn’t. “An hour later [after the film arrived at Life] the Fat Lady sang an encore. Jack Ruby shot Oswald,” said Wagenvoord. The government’s second conspiracy, the cover-up, had already penetrated the major media outlets, including Life.68
Within seventy-two hours after the events in Dallas (and one day after the president’s funeral), President Lyndon Johnson signed a new National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM 273) that initiated the escalation of America’s involvement in Vietnam. The reader will recall from the previous chapter that President Kennedy had created a strategy for America’s extrication from Southeast Asia, which was formalized by the then top secret policy document National Security Action Memorandum 263 (NSAM 263), issued on October 11, 1963, ordering the removal of a thousand troops before the end of 1963, and the rest by the end of 1965.69 On the afternoon of Kennedy’s funeral, however, Johnson met in a closed-door session with Secretary of Defense McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, CIA director John McCone, and Vietnam ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge (whom President Kennedy had already planned to fire). “I am not going to lose Vietnam,” Johnson declared. “I am not going to be the president who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went.”70 A month later at a White House Christmas Eve reception, meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Johnson told them, “Just let me get elected [in 1964], and then you can have your war.”71
As 1964 unfolded, Mary, along with the rest of the country, would witness a horrific sea change taking shape. In January, the Joint Chiefs sent their new president a memo urging him to formally increase the U.S. commitment to Southeast Asia, as well as to consider a bombing campaign against North Vietnam, ostensibly as a strategy to win the war more quickly. Johnson willingly complied. By year’s end, there would be more than twenty-three thousand troops in the region, well more than the sixteen thousand advisers present when Kennedy was assassinated. To get the bombing campaign against North Vietnam started, something else was needed: the perception by congressional leaders that it was warranted.
The so-called Gulf of Tonkin Incident became the pretext to do just that—a contrived event during a stormy night in August in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. On August 2, the destroyer USS Maddox, then operating within the framework of a program of joint U.S.–South Vietnamese covert operations against North Vietnam—the kind of covert actions encouraged and justified by NSAM 273—was attacked by North Vietnamese PT boats that were reacting to these covert operations by defending the territorial integrity of North Vietnam. This first of two reported events in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam was a light and inconclusive skirmish that inflicted no serious damage on the USS Maddox.
Two days later, the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy reported a second socalled torpedo boat attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. Following initial confusion on board the two ships, as well as in Washington, D.C., it was later ascertained that the event reported on August 4 was a “phantom attack,” a nonevent in which the reporting vessels had mistaken low-lying clouds on their radar scopes during bad weather for enemy warships, and in which jumpy U.S. Navy sonarmen had imagined that they heard as many as nine torpedoes being launched against them by the “enemy.” President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara exaggerated the nature of the second “attack,” and falsely claimed U.S. Navy vessels, innocently operating on the high seas, had been attacked by Communist forces. This nefarious plan worked like a charm, to their everlasting discredit, and ultimately to America’s misfortune. A manipulated Congress, once again led to view the reported incident as an escalation in the global Cold War between East and West, responded with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution—a blank check for President Johnson’s unlimited proliferation of a hot war in Vietnam. Sadly, a nonevent had been used as a casus belli to justify the escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from a so-called technical advisory effort into a U.S.-led shooting war. With the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, President Kennedy’s 1963 policy of disengagement and withdrawal from Vietnam had irrevocably been overturned, just eight months after his assassination. Until its repeal in May 1970, the Tonkin Gulf Resolution provided the “legal” basis for all subsequent escalation and continuation of the Vietnam War by both President Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon.
Where was Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara—the ally who had so steadfastly stood with Jack Kennedy the previous October to formulate the end of such a senseless military debacle? What had happened to the brilliant, loyal tactician of Kennedy’s dream of peace in Southeast Asia? And why was he, McNamara, now walking obsequiously behind Johnson in his macho warmongering? McNamara, even in later life, when he realized it had all been so very wrong, would never answer that question. In an 2006 interview, author David Talbot confronted McNamara with the most singularly important question ever articulated regarding the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964 and thereafter: “Why did he [McNamara] allow himself to become the brains of the war under LBJ after plotting with JFK to disengage from it?”
Despite a superficial public “mea culpa,” Robert McNamara would forever avoid any real accountability or responsibility. His answer to Talbot—”Oh, I don’t want to talk about that”72—revealed once again his patronizing chief executive arrogance, as if the deaths of 3.8 million Vietnamese,73 as well as the deaths of more than 58,000 American combat soldiers (and an estimated 200,000 subsequent suicides of Vietnam veterans5) had no meaning in his equation. Such were “the best and the brightest” during the Cold War era.
That year, Mary could not have helped but witness McNamara’s betrayal of Kennedy’s peace agenda—a betrayal that permitted Lyndon Johnson’s reckless, destructive escalation to occur. It must have left her utterly demoralized to observe the White House, now inhabited by a ruthless, criminal cowboy, who, after a few years of being hammered by journalists—”Why were we in Vietnam?”—finally gave them his answer. At a private meeting with reporters, according to presidential historian Robert Dallek, President Lyndon Johnson offered his rejoinder: He casually “unzipped his fly, drew out his substantial organ and declared, ‘This is why!’”74 It must have been so deeply reassuring for all those who would at some point meet their death in Vietnam, as well as for the ones who had already made “the ultimate sacrifice,” to finally comprehend the glorious, principled cause for which they were fighting and dying.
Whatever her suspicions before the release of the Warren Report, Mary’s views had apparently made her a person of interest to someone. Author Nina Burleigh documented the fact that Mary’s “maid found the doors to the garden open on a January  morning while Mary and her sons were upstairs asleep” in their house on Thirty-Fourth Street in Georgetown. Reportedly, Mary filed a report with the police. When she returned from being away the following summer, wrote Burleigh, Mary was sure someone had been in her house. There was also an incident in which Mary found a very heavy door ajar in her basement, “a door neither she nor her sons could open without help.” According to one Burleigh source, who remained anonymous, on more than one occasion Mary had wondered aloud, “What are they looking for in my house?” The incidents escalated throughout 1964. “She [Mary] did say to me she was scared about seeing somebody in her house,” said Mary’s friend Elizabeth Eisenstein in her interview with Burleigh. “She thought she had seen somebody leaving as she walked in. She was frightened.”75
Even more revealing was Burleigh’s interview with CIA wife Joanne (“Joan”) Bross. Her husband, John, had been a longtime CIA covert action specialist, coming out of the OS, another of Allen Dulles’s “dream boys.” With a Harvard blue-blooded pedigree, John Bross eventually rose to become deputy director of the Agency in 1963, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1971. The Brosses were close to all the upper-level CIA honchos, including the Angletons and the Meyers. Joan Bross and Mary were close enough that Mary, who dreaded CIA social functions and parties, would call Joan for information. “She always asked me how many people were going to be there,” recalled Joan. “She was thinking about serious things and hated small talk, I think. She was asking big questions such as, ‘Why are we here?’” Joan Bross also indicated that Jim Angleton had boasted to her that he had bugged not only Mary Meyer’s telephone, but her bedroom as well. How long this had been going on, or when it had started, was never revealed, perhaps never known. According to Bross, the wiretaps could have begun as early as 1961 when Kennedy first took office, implying that Angleton may have known of Kennedy’s interest in Mary for some time.76 Without question, Angleton, and every other high-level CIA official, had been aware of Mary’s undisguised contempt for the Agency. From the very beginning of Cord’s CIA tenure, she had increasingly made no secret of her loathing of Allen Dulles; after her divorce, she would have been regarded as even more dangerous.
That spymaster Jim Angleton had the means to accomplish whatever he wanted was never in question. “Angleton ran everything, controlled everything in the CIA,” said Joe Shimon, who served in the White House officially as a “Washington Police Inspector,” but revealed to his daughter he was also working undercover for the CIA, and was their principal liaison to Mafia boss Johnny Roselli.77 If Mary was using her telephone to discuss any of her suspicions or research into Jack’s downfall, as well as what she had come to discover and was recording in her diary, Jim Angleton knew about it.
According to Leo Damore, Angleton’s “Mary spying” escalated into a fullblown surveillance operation at the time the Warren Report was released in late September 1964. She had bought the paperback version, said Damore, and read it carefully, becoming further enraged at the cover-up taking place. According to Damore, her copy had notes in the margins, with a great many page corners turned over for future reference.78
Someone else—a man who never knew Leo Damore or his research—independently came to a nearly identical conclusion just before Christmas of 1992: former CIA contract operative Robert D. Morrow, whose 1992 book First Hand Knowledge largely went unnoticed when it first appeared. Damore, in fact, never mentioned Morrow, nor was there any reference to him in Damore’s notes. Several well-regarded assassination researchers had already documented Morrow’s long-standing role as an undercover Agency employee in the cesspool of the CIA-funded anti-Castro Cuban community that was determined to destabilize Castro’s government. Morrow also claimed he became part of the plot to assassinate Kennedy, though some of Morrow’s claims have also been questioned, even discredited. Nonetheless, Morrow remained, until the time of his death, a widely cited source in the assassination controversy, often consulted as an authority on various CIA operations. One of the best books ever written about the Kennedy assassination, Dick Russell’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, relied on several of Morrow’s accounts, which were corroborated by other books, one of which was author Noel Twyman’s book Bloody Treason (1997).
In First Hand Knowledge, Robert Morrow provides a chilling account of an event that took place prior to Mary Meyer’s murder. Shortly after the Warren Report was released, Morrow claimed, he was urgently called to Washington by his CIA boss, Marshall Diggs, who told Morrow, “There is a very prominent lady here in Washington who knows too much about the Company [the CIA], its Cuban operations, and more specifically about the President’s assassination.” Diggs went on to say the woman’s talking might open up a lot of trouble for the CIA’s anti-Cuban counterfeit money operation, an effort that Morrow himself had been running, and which Bobby Kennedy had shut down before his brother’s assassination. Not understanding the significance of Diggs’s comment, Morrow reminded his boss that the Warren Commission hadn’t found out about the counterfeiting operation, and he therefore thought himself safe.
“I wish his brother thought that,” Diggs reportedly said.
“You mean RFK?”
“Yes, RFK,” exclaimed Diggs. “Now damn it, listen. As I said, there’s a certain lady in town who has an inside track to Langley, and most importantly, to Bobby. Fortunately, an intimate friend of mine is one of her best friends.” It was at that point Robert Morrow learned the identity of the woman that Diggs was referring to: Mary Meyer.79
Morrow’s counterfeit money operation had been run by an anti-Castro Cuban by the name of Mario Kohly, the son of the former Cuban ambassador to Spain under the Batista regime before Castro took power in 1959. At that time, Kohly came to the United States to set up an organization known as the Cuban Liberators. He was introduced to Marshall Diggs, who eventually recruited Morrow in 1960 as a CIA contract agent. Shortly after his recruitment, Morrow met with high-level CIA covert operative Tracy Barnes, who asked Morrow to become Mario Kohly’s CIA contact. According to one account, if the Bay of Pigs operation had been successful, the CIA was going to replace Fidel Castro as the president of Cuba with Mario Kohly.
“To get to the point,” Diggs told Morrow in 1964, “[Mary] Meyer claimed to my friend that she positively knew that [CIA] Agency-affiliated Cuban exiles and the Mafia were responsible for killing John Kennedy. Knowing of my association with [Mario] Kohly, my friend immediately called me.” Diggs urged Morrow to contact Kohly and tell him what was happening.
“So, what do I tell Kohly?” Morrow asked Diggs.
“Tell him what I told you—that as soon as the Meyer woman has the whole story, Robert Kennedy is going to be told that CIA-affiliated Cuban exiles and the Mafia killed his brother. Tell him, for God’s sake, to make sure he has us covered, or Miami and New Orleans will be down the drain, and maybe us with them.” Readers will recall, however, that Bobby Kennedy had already suspected the involvement of a CIA anti-Castro element in his brother’s demise, but he had shared that observation with just a few of his closest, trusted advisers and with members of his family.80
“My God, Marshall, you’re serious?” Morrow exclaimed to Diggs, realizing that his old boss was intimating that Mary Meyer should be eliminated immediately.
“Believe it. Even Tracy [Barnes] is concerned. Even though he could sanction it, he wouldn’t dare put a hit on her [Mary Meyer]. At least not now.”
Several days later, Robert Morrow met with Mario Kohly in New York and, as Diggs had instructed, relayed to Kohly the emerging problem of Mary Meyer’s knowledge.
“Just tell Diggs I’ll take care of the matter,” said Kohly to Morrow.81
A week later, Mary Meyer was dead. Robert Morrow immediately came to suspect his meeting with Kohly had triggered Mary Meyer’s death, and that Mario Kohly had set it all up. The entire incident sent Morrow into despair.
While author Nina Burleigh chose to dismiss Morrow’s account as “rife with holes”—never identifying what exactly those “holes” were82—further inquiry suggests his account of Mary Meyer’s death may well have been reliable. Author John Williams, professor emeritus of human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin, befriended Robert Morrow in 1993, and remained close to him right up until his death in 1998. Since 2009, he has been at work on a book about Morrow, based on the four years he spent with him.83
According to John Williams, in an interview for this book, he was with Morrow at his house when Nina Burleigh called to interview him for her A Very Private Woman. Williams recalled his impressions of the conversation. He didn’t think Morrow and Burleigh hit it off particularly well, largely because Morrow was still protective of what he knew, and “he found Burleigh’s attitude devious.”84 Morrow had already shared with Williams his distress over Mary Meyer’s death. His visit with Mario Kohly right before Mary’s death had become the catalyst for her murder. “Bob was feeling deep shame around having told Kohly what he did about Mary Meyer,” said Williams in 2004. At one point, Williams told Morrow’s wife, Jeanne, that he thought Bob was more upset over Mary Meyer’s death than he was with the entire conspiracy to assassinate the president; his wife concurred.85
“Few people understand the kind of pressure Morrow felt during the Warren Commission,” Williams maintained. “He told me he thought about committing suicide on more than one occasion. If the Warren Commission ever got beyond Oswald, it would only be a short time before Morrow himself would be implicated, even though he wasn’t in Dallas that day. But what really impressed me was the intensity of guilt he was feeling about Mary Meyer’s death.”
John Williams had spent four years interviewing Morrow, combing everything Morrow had written and researched. The two talked intimately about all of Morrow’s undercover assignments. Morrow was not only a CIA contract agent, but for more than two years he had also been the right-hand man of Tracy Barnes, one of the CIA’s most senior covert action specialists. They had started working together early in 1961, right after Marshall Diggs had recruited Morrow into the Agency.
“After Dallas, Bob wanted to know what had exactly happened,” said Williams. “He got a lot of information from Tracy Barnes, and others in the Agency, but couldn’t get beyond Tracy to see who was involved in Mary Meyer’s murder, and why it had occurred. For years, Morrow had been riddled with guilt over what he told Kohly and the fact that Mario Kohly had said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.’”86 Whether it was his guilt or just an obsessive need to know, Morrow continued to investigate Mary Meyer’s death. According to Williams, he “was constantly sifting through volumes of information.”
Shortly before his death, Bob Morrow’s ongoing research, as well as what Williams called “Morrow’s wonderful, intuitive sense” had changed his (Morrow’s) mind about who had murdered Mary Meyer. “Toward the end,” said Williams, “Bob told me more and more, ‘I don’t think Kohly did it, I think Angleton did it.’”87
2 When first developed by Kodak in Dallas the day of the assassination, the film was still in its unslit, 16-mm wide “double 8” home movie film format, as received from the factory and as loaded into the camera. After three contact prints (copies) were struck at another lab in Dallas, the Kodak lab then slit (or split) the original and all three copies, as was normal practice, and joined the two halves of each of them together, thereby marrying the A and B sides, with a splice so that each film could then be played on a home 8-mm projector.
3 According to Dino Brugioni, the term ‘white glove’ denoted NPIC’s highest sensitivity level used while working on all original film.
4 The 16-mm Zapruder film delivered to Homer McMahon by “Bill Smith” was an unslit double 8 home movie which McMahon believed to be the original film. He vividly and independently recalled during his first (telephonic) ARRB interview that this 16-mm wide film (from which he made enlargements of individual frames for briefing boards) contained opposing 8-mm wide image strips going in opposite directions, the precise characteristics of an original film right out of the camera before the A and B sides had been slit to 8-mm width and spliced together. That is, what had been a slit, 8-mm wide original film on Saturday night (November 23) when it had been delivered to Dino Brugioni, had been magically transformed back into an unslit, 16-mm wide double 8 “original” film 24 hours later, when it was delivered to Homer McMahon. The clear implication here is that the courier from the Hawkeye facility delivered to McMahon an altered film, masquerading as a camera original. Since the film had been altered, it had to be handled by a different group of NPIC employees; therefore at the second NPIC event on Sunday night (November 24), Dino Brugioni, who was the NPIC duty officer in charge that weekend, and his crew were never notified of this event. Instead, Homer McMahon and his assistant Ben Hunter were brought in to handle the altered film, and help create a second set of (sanitized) briefing boards.
5 A retired Veterans Administration doctor recently estimated that the number of Vietnam Veteran suicides was 200,000. The reason the official suicide statistics were so much lower was that in many cases the suicides were documented as accidents, primarily single-car drunk driving accidents and self-inflicted gunshot wounds that were not accompanied by a suicide note or statement. According to this doctor, the underreporting of suicides was primarily an act of kindness to the surviving relatives.