John F. Kennedy Assassination











The assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, took place on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, USA at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC). Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunshots while riding with his wife in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza. He was the fourth U.S. President to be assassinated and the eighth to die while in office.

An official investigation by the Warren Commission was conducted over a 10-month period, and its report was published in September 1964. The Commission concluded that the assassination was carried out solely by Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza. This conclusion initially met with widespread support among the American public, but polling in recent years shows a majority of that public now hold beliefs contrary to the Commission's findings. A later official investigation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was conducted from 1976 to 1979, and it concluded that Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald "probably... as a result of a conspiracy". The assassination is still the subject of widespread speculation, and has spawned a number of Kennedy assassination theories.

Kennedy had chosen to visit Dallas on November 20 for three main reasons: to help generate more Democratic Party presidential campaign fund contributions in advance of the November 1964 presidential election; to begin his quest for re-election; and, as the Kennedy-Johnson ticket had barely won Texas (and had lost Dallas) in 1960, to mend political fences among several leading Texas Democratic Party members who appeared to be fighting politically amongst themselves.

There were concerns about security because as recently as October 24, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson had been jeered, jostled, struck by a protest sign, and spat upon during a visit to Dallas. The danger from a concealed sniper on the Dallas trip was also of concern. President Kennedy himself had mentioned it the morning he was assassinated, as had the Secret Service agents when they were fixing the motorcade route.

Sgt. Davis, of the Dallas Police Department, had prepared the most stringent security precautions in the city's history, so that the demonstrations like those marking the Stevenson visit would not happen again. But Winston Lawson of the Secret Service, who was in charge of the planning, told the Dallas Police not to assign its usual squad of experienced homicide detectives to follow immediately behind the President's car. This police protection was routine for both visiting presidents and for motorcades of other visiting dignitaries. Police Chief Jesse Curry later testified that had his men been in place, the murder might have been prevented, because they carried submachine guns and rifles to take out any attackers, or at least they might have been able to stop Oswald before he left the building.

It was planned that Kennedy would travel from Love Field airport in a motorcade through downtown Dallas (including Dealey Plaza) to give a speech at the Dallas Trade Mart. The car in which he was traveling was a 1961 Lincoln Continental, open-top, modified limousine. No presidential car with a bulletproof top was yet in service in 1963, though plans for such a top were presented in October 1963.

Just before 12:30 p.m. CST, Kennedy slowly approached the Texas School Book Depository head-on, then the limousine slowly turned the 120-degrees directly in front of the depository, now only 65 feet (20 m) away.

When the limousine had passed the depository, shots were fired at Kennedy for an estimated timespan of 6 to 24 seconds. During the shooting, the limousine is calculated to have slowed from over 13 mph (20 km/h) to 9 mph (15 km/h).

The shooting took place in front of Abraham Zapruder who was filming the President as he passed below his position. The transcript from his testimony can be read in full. At one point, he testifies to the shock, disbelief, and then the horror of seeing the President murdered right in front of where he was standing.

Secret Service agent Clinton J. Hill was riding on the left front running board of the car immediately behind the Presidential limousine. Sometime after the shot which hit the president in the throat, Hill jumped off and ran to overtake the limousine. After the shot which hit the president in the head, Hill jumped onto the back of the limosine and clung to the car as it exited Dealey Plaza and sped to Parkland Memorial Hospital.

There was hardly any reaction in the crowd to the first shot, many later saying they thought they had heard a firecracker or a car's exhaust backfire.

Texas Governor John Connally, riding in the same limousine in a seat in front of the President, was also critically injured but survived. Doctors later stated that after the Governor was shot, Mrs. Connally pulled the Governor onto her lap, and the resulting posture helped close his front chest wound (which was causing air to be sucked directly into his chest around his collapsed right lung). The action helped save his life.

James Tague, a spectator and witness to the assassination, also received a minor wound to his right cheek while standing 270 feet (82 meters) in front of where Kennedy was hit, presumably from debris that shot up when a bullet had hit the curb.

The staff at Parkland Hospital's Trauma Room 1 who treated Kennedy observed that his condition was "moribund", meaning that he had no chance of survival upon arrival at the hospital. Dr. Gregory Burkley, the President's personal physician arrived at the Parkland emergency room where the President was located, five minutes after the President arrived. Dr. Burkley observed both the head wound and a wound to the back of the President and determined the head wound was the cause of death. Dr. Burkley signed President Kennedy's Death Certificate.

At 1:00 p.m., CST (19:00 UTC), after all heart activity had ceased and after a priest administered the last rites, the president was pronounced dead. "We never had any hope of saving his life", one doctor said.

The priest who administered the last rites to Kennedy told The New York Times that the President was already dead by the time the priest arrived at the hospital, and he had to draw back a sheet covering the President's face to administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction. Kennedy's death was officially announced some time later, at 1:38 p.m. CST (19:38 UTC).

Governor Connally, meanwhile, was soon taken to emergency surgery where he underwent two operations that day.

A few minutes after 2:00 p.m. CST (20:00 UTC), and after a confrontation between Dallas police and Secret Service agents, Kennedy's body was taken from Parkland Hospital and driven to Air Force One. The body was removed before undergoing a forensic examination by the Dallas coroner, which was against Texas state law (the murder was a state crime, and occurred under Texas legal jurisdiction.) At that time, it was not legally a federal offense to kill the President.

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (who had been riding two cars behind Kennedy in the motorcade through Dallas and was not injured) was first in line of succession to become President of the United States upon Kennedy's death. Johnson took the oath of office on board Air Force One just before it departed Love Field.

After Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington DC, Kennedy's body was taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital for an immediate autopsy.

An autopsy of President Kennedy performed the night of November 22 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital led the three examining pathologists to conclude that the bullet wound to the head was nonsurvivable, and the bullet had:

"Entered Kennedy's head through a small hole in the scalp in the rear of the president's head, on the right hand side'.... [with a] final exit of this missile, or fragments of it, through a large lateral defect in the right parietal region of the skull over the right ear.

The autopsy report said the defect extended into the right temporal and occipital regions of the skull.

The report addressed a second missile which "entered Kennedy's upper back above the shoulder blade, passed through the strap muscles at the base of his neck, bruising the upper tip of the right lung without puncturing it, then exiting the front (anterior) neck," in a wound that was destroyed by the tracheostomy incision. Autopsy report, CE (Commission Exhibit) 387. This autopsy finding was not corroberated by the President's personal physician, Dr. Burkley, who recorded, on the death certificate, a bullet to have hit Kennedy at "about" the level of the third thoracic verteba. Supporting this location is a diagram from the autopsy report of Kennedy, which shows a bullet hole in the upper back, along with the bullet hole in the shirt worn by Kennedy, and the bullet hole in the suit jacket worn by Kennedy which show bullet holes between 5 and 6 inches below Kennedy's collar. However, photographic analysis of the motorcade shows that the president's jacket was bunched below his neckline, and was not lying smoothly along his skin, so the clothing measurements have been subject to historical criticism as being untrustworthy on the matter of the exact location of the back wound.

Later federal agencies such as the Assassination Records Review Board criticised the autopsy on a number of grounds:

* First, there has been confusion and uncertainty as to whether the principal autopsy prosector, Dr. James J. Humes, destroyed the original draft of the autopsy report, or if he destroyed notes taken at the time of the autopsy.

* Second, the autopsy measurements were frequently imprecise and sometimes inexplicably absent.

* Third, the prosectors were not shown the original autopsy photographs by the Warren Commission, nor were they asked enough detailed questions about the autopsy or the photographs.

* Fourth, the persons handling the autopsy records did not create a complete and contemporaneous accounting of the number of photographs nor was a proper chain of custody established for all of the autopsy materials.

* Fifth, when Dr. Humes was shown some copies of autopsy photographs during his testimony before the HSCA, he made statements that were interpreted as suggesting that he had revised his original opinion significantly on the location of the entrance wound.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations assembled a medical team and in 1979 and provided a detailed criticism of the Kennedy autopsy in which it found “serious” procedural errors:

* The pathologists charged with performing the autopsy had “insufficient training and experience to evaluate a death from gunshot wounds.”

* Proper photographs were not taken.

* The head entrance wound not accurately located with reference to fixed anatomic reference points, and the head was not reconstructed in order to determine the precise location of the head exit wound.

* The autopsy report was “incomplete”, prepared without reference to the photographs, and was “inaccurate” in a number of areas:

* The entrance” head wound location was incorrectly described.”

* The ”entrance and exit wounds on the back and front neck were not localized with reference to fixed body landmarks and to each other” so as to permit reconstruction of trajectories.

* The bullet track in the back and neck was not dissected, so extent of injury to the neck structures was not evaluated and the bullet’s course through the body not fully appreciated.

* The angles of the bullet tracks through the body were not measured relative to the body axis.

* The brain was not properly examined and sectioned.

The autopsy was followed by embalming and funeral preparation at Bethesda.

The first hour after the shooting, before Kennedy's death was announced, was a time of great confusion. As it took place during the Cold War, some people at first wondered if the shooting were not part of a larger attack upon the USA, and there was concern about Vice-President Johnson's safety. People began to huddle around radios and TVs for the latest bulletins.

The news of Kennedy's death by assassination shocked the world. In cities around the world, people wept openly. People clustered in department stores to catch TV coverage, and others prayed. Motor traffic in some areas came to a halt as the news of Kennedy's death spread literally from car to car. Most schools across the USA and Canada dismissed students early. A misguided fury against Texas and Texans was reported from some individuals. All three TV networks cancelled regular programs scheduled for the next three days in order to provide non-stop news coverage of the assassination. The television coverage of the assassination was the longest uninterrupted news coverage of one event until the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Radio stations also cancelled their regular programming; a few of which provided non-stop coverage of the assassination for days; others either went off the air or aired funeral music. Not all recreational and sporting events scheduled for the day of the assassination and during the weekend after were cancelled. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, whose league decided to play games that weekend explained his decision to play a full schedule in the following way: "It has been traditional...to perform in times of great personal tragedy...He (Kennedy) thrived on competition."

Memorial services for Kennedy were held worldwide. The US Government declared a day of national mourning and sorrow for the day of his state funeral, Monday, November 25. Many other countries did the same.

After being prepared for a funeral, the President's body was then then brought back to the White House and placed in the East Room for 24 hours. The Sunday following the assassination, his flag-draped coffin was moved to the Capitol for public viewing. Throughout the day and night, hundreds of thousands lined up to view the guarded casket.

Representatives from over 90 countries, including the Soviet Union, attended the funeral on November 25 (which was his son's third birthday). After the service, the casket was taken by caisson to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested eighty minutes after the assassination for killing Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. He was charged with murders of Tippit and Kennedy later that evening. Oswald denied shooting the president and claimed he was a patsy. Oswald's case never came to trial because two days later, while in police custody, he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.

A rifle was found on the 6th Floor of the Texas Book Depository by Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman and Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone soon after the assassination of President Kennedy. The recovery was filmed by Tom Alyea of WFAA-TV. This footage shows the rifle to be a Mannlicher-Carcano, and it was later verified by photographic analysis commissioned by the HSCA that the rifle filmed was the exact same one identified as the assassination weapon. A distinctive gouge mark and identical dimensions also identify it as the rifle in the Oswald backyard photographs. The rifle was later identified by police as a 6.5 x 52 mm Italian Mannlicher-Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle with a six-round magazine serial number C2766.

A 6.5 mm 160 gr. round-nosed fully copper-jacketed military-type bullet, of a type normally used in 6.5 mm military rifles (such as the Mannlicher-Carcano) was found on Connally's stretcher. This bullet (CE 399, see single bullet theory) was ballistically matched to the rifle found in the book depository building. The previous March, this rifle had been sold by mail-order to an "A. Hidell," with the Dallas address being a post office box which had been rented October 9, 1962, by Lee Harvey Oswald in his own name. Oswald was arrested with a forged identity card for "Alek James Hidell." A partial palm print of Oswald was also found on the barrel of the gun.

No radio or television stations broadcast the assassination live because the area through which the motorcade was traveling was not considered important enough for a live broadcast. Most media crews were not even with the motorcade but were waiting instead at the Trade Mart in anticipation of Kennedy's arrival. Those members of the media that were with the motorcade were riding at the rear of the procession.

However, Kennedy's last seconds traveling through Dealey Plaza were recorded on silent 8 mm film for the 26.6 seconds before, during, and immediately following the assassination. This famous film footage was taken by garment manufacturer and amateur cameraman Abraham Zapruder, in what became known as the Zapruder film. Stills from the film were published by Life magazine shortly after the assassination and there were repeated, but heavily edited, showings on television starting in 1970.

Zapruder was not the only one who photographed or filmed at least part of the assassination. Bystanders with still or motion cameras included Robert Hughes, Orville Nix, Charles Bronson, Elsie Dorman, Tina and Jim Towner, Philip Willis and Mary Moorman. The lone professional in Dealey Plaza who was not in the press car was Ike Altgens, photo editor for the Associated Press in Dallas.

An unknown woman, nicknamed the Babushka Lady by researchers, might have been filming the presidential motorcade during the assassination because she was seen apparently doing so on film and photographs taken by the others. Her identity is still unknown.

There have also been attempts to recreate the events that took place during the assassination.

A Dallas radio station KBOX-AM recreated the sounds of the shooting on a Long playing record and it released the record album with excerpts of news coverage of that day, but it was not an original recording of the shooting.

In 2003, ABCNEWS re-created the motorcade route and assassination using computer renderings and models. The computer re-creation was based on footage from all currently available video recordings of the assassination in a news documentary called "Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination-Beyond Conspiracy."

Just before the 1964 presidential election, President Johnson ordered the Warren Commission documentations to be sealed against public availability for 75 years (until 2039). However, in 1992 Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. Congress questioned the legitimate need for continued protection of such records after three decades of secrecy. The purpose of the Act was to gather and accelerate the public release of assassination related documents.

The Act requires all documents related to the assassination that have not been destroyed to be released to the public by no later than 2017.

From 1992 until 1998, the Assassination Records Review Board gathered and unsealed many documents. However, tens of thousands of pages of other documents will remain classified and sealed, away from the public until 2017, including:

* 3+% of all Warren Commission documents

* 21+% of the House Select Committee on Assassinations documents

* An undeterminable percentage of CIA, FBI, Secret Service, National Security Agency, State Department, US Marine Corps, Naval Investigative Service, Defense Investigative Service, and many other US government documents.

Additionally, several key pieces of evidence and documentation are described to have been lost, cleaned, or missing from the original chain of evidence (e.g., limousine cleaned out at hospital, Connally's suit dry-cleaned, Oswald's Marine Corps service record file lost, Connally's Stetson hat and shirt sleeve gold cufflink missing, forensic autopsy photos missing, etc.)

On May 19, 2044, the 50th anniversary of the death of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, if her last child has died, the Kennedy library will release to the public a 500-page transcript of an oral history about John F. Kennedy given by Mrs. Kennedy before her death in 1994.

After arresting Oswald and collecting physical evidence at the crime scenes, the Dallas Police held Oswald at the police headquarters for interrogation. Then, at 10:30 p.m., that evening, Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry was ordered by, in his words, "people in Washington" to send all of the physical evidence that had been collected, but not Oswald, to FBI headquarters in Washington.

Before Oswald himself was murdered at the police headquarters, he was interrogated, but the interrogation of him, according to Chief Curry, "was just against all principles of good interrogation practice." Chief Curry said: "Ordinarily an interrogator in interrogating a suspect will have him in a quiet room alone or perhaps with one person there," In contrast, the interrogation room of Oswald was filled with FBI agents, Secret Service Agents, agents from other federal agencies and the homicide detectives. The authorities announced that Oswald simply denied everything.

The Captain of the Dallas homicide detectives, J.W. Fritz, was in charge of interrogating Oswald, and he also testified to the Warren Commission that no record was kept of the interrogation sessions, but instead he prepared notes several days later. Captain Fritz’s sworn testimony was contradicted by his actual handwritten notes by him of the interrogation sessions that were turned over to the Assassination Records Review Board in 1997.

The FBI was the first authority to complete an investigation. On November 24, 1963, just hours after Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, said that he wanted "something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

On December 9, 1963, only 17 days after the assassination, the FBI report was issued and given to the Warren Commission. Then the FBI stayed on as the primary investigating authority for the commission. The FBI stated that only three bullets were fired during the assassination; that the first shot hit President Kennedy, the second shot hit Governor Connally, and the third shot hit Kennedy in the head, killing him. The FBI stated that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all three shots.

The finding by the FBI that three shots were fired contrasts with the conclusion of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which later concluded that, although Oswald fired three shots at the president, a fourth shot had been fired during the assassination of the president.

The Warren Commission agreed with the FBI investigation that only three shots were fired, but disagreed with the FBI report on which shots hit Kennedy and which hit Governor Connally. The FBI report claimed that the first shot hit President Kennedy, the second shot hit Governor Connally, and the third shot hit Kennedy in the head, killing him. The Warren Commission concluded that one of the three shots missed, one of the shots hit Kennedy and then struck Connally, and a third shot struck Kennedy in the head, killing him. The FBI report was consistent with the later Warren Commission Report stating that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all three shots.

The FBI's role in the murder investigation has come under criticism for destroying evidence. The name and phone number of an FBI agent, James Hosty, appeared in Oswald's address book. The FBI provided a typewritten transcription of the document in which Hosty's name and phone number were deleted. Two days before the murder, Oswald went to the FBI office in Dallas to meet with Hosty, and when he found that Hosty was not in the office at the time, Oswald left an envelope for Hosty with a letter inside.

When Oswald was arrested and then himself immediately murdered, Hosty's supervisor ordered him to destroy the letter and Hosty did so. Months later, when Hosty testified before the Warren Commission, Hosty failed to mention Oswald coming to the office, leaving a letter, and Hosty being ordered to destroy it. He did this by tearing the letter up and flushing it down the toilet. This information only became public much later.

The first official investigation of the assassination was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson on November 29, 1963, a week after the assassination. The commission was headed by Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States and became universally (but unofficially) known as the Warren Commission.

In late September 1964, after a 10 month investigation, the Warren Commission Report was published. The Commission reported that it could not find any persuasive evidence of a domestic or foreign conspiracy involving any other person(s), group(s), or country(ies), that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the murder of Kennedy, and that Jack Ruby acted alone in the murder of Oswald. The theory that Oswald acted alone is also informally called the Lone Gunman Theory.

The commission also concluded that only three bullets were fired during the assassination, and that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all three bullets from the Texas School Book Depository behind the motorcade. The commission's determination was that:

* one shot likely missed the motorcade (it could not determine which of the three),

* the first shot to hit anyone struck Kennedy in the upper back, exited near the front of his neck and likely continued on to cause all of Governor Connally's injuries, and

* the last shot to hit anyone struck Kennedy in the head, fatally wounding him.

It noted that three empty shells were found in the sixth floor in the book depository, and a rifle identified as the one used in the shooting - Oswald's Italian military surplus 6.5x52 mm Model 91/38 Carcano - was found hidden nearby. The Commission offered as a likely explanation that the same bullet that wounded Kennedy also caused all of Governor Connally's wounds. This single bullet then backed out of Connally's left thigh and was found on a stretcher in the hospital. This theory has become known as the "Single Bullet Theory" or, the "Magic" Bullet Theory (as it is commonly referred to by its critics and detractors).

Photo enhancements made long ago purport to show that Kennedy and Connally were positioned in such a way that one bullet could have inflicted the injuries to Kennedy and Connally.

The Commission also looked into other matters beside who killed the president and criticized weaknesses in security, which has resulted in greatly increased security whenever the President travels. The supporting documents for the Warren Commission Report are not all due to be released until 2017.

After the Warren Report was issued, skeptics began questioning its conclusions. A multitude of books and articles criticizing the Warren Commission's findings have been published in the four decades since the Commission's report was issued. The Commission's Report that Oswald was the lone gunman has not gained widespread acceptance from the American public. A 2003 ABC News poll found that 70% of respondents "suspect a plot" committed the assassination of President Kennedy. In the end, the public did not fully accept the results published by the Warren Commission secret investigations. About 70% to 90% of the American public do not accept some of the basic conclusions of the Warren Commission, and this skepticism was shared by some prominent government officials including those who served on the Warren Commission itself.

In 1968 The Ramsey Clark Panel met in Washington, DC to examine various photographs, X-ray films documents and other evidence pertaining to the death of President Kennedy. The chain of custody of the evidence on which the Panel reached its conclusions has been called into question. Attorney General Clark raised this with president Johnson. The Assassination Records Review Board said, in 1998: "[T]he persons handling the autopsy records did not create a complete and contemporaneous accounting of the number of photographs nor was a proper chain of custody established for all of the autopsy materials."

Based on what was given to them, the Clark Panel determined that President Kennedy was struck by two bullets fired from above and behind him, one of which traversed the base of the neck on the right side without striking bone and the other of which entered the skull from behind and destroyed its right side.

Fifteen years after the Warren Commission issued its report, a congressional committee named the House Select Committee on Assassinations reviewed the Warren Commission report and the underlying FBI report on which the Commission heavily relied.

The Committee criticized the performance of both the Warren Commission and the FBI for failing to investigate whether other people conspired with Oswald to murder President Kennedy. The Committee Report concluded that:

"[T]he FBI's investigation of whether there had been a conspiracy in President Kennedy's assassination was seriously flawed. The conspiracy aspects of the investigation were characterized by a limited approach and an inadequate application and use of available resource."

The Committee found the Warren Commission's investigation equally flawed: "[T]he subject that should have received the Commission's most probing analysis--whether Oswald acted in concert with or on behalf of unidentified co-conspirators the Commission's performance, in the view of the committee, was in fact flawed."

The Committee believed another primary cause of the Warren Commission's failure to adequately probe and analyze whether or not Oswald acted alone arose out of the lack of cooperation by the CIA. Finally, the Committee found that the Warren Commission inadequately investigated for a conspiracy because of: "[T]ime pressures and the desire of national leaders to allay public fears of a conspiracy."

The transcripts of the Warren Commission's private sessions reveal the members of the commission were aware of the FBI's refusal to investigate the possibility that more than just Oswald were involved in the murder, but were at a loss at what to do about it, and seemed fearful that the FBI's premature conclusion of the lone gunman theory would leak out.

The committee concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots at President John F. Kennedy. The second and third shots he fired struck the President. The third shot he fired killed the President. The HSCA agreed with the single bullet theory, but concluded that it occurred at a time point during the assassination that differed from what the Warren Commission had theorized. Their theory, based primarily on dictabelt evidence, was that President Kennedy was assassinated probably as a result of a conspiracy. They proposed that four shots had been fired during the assassination; Oswald fired the first, second, and fourth bullets, and that (based on the acoustic evidence) there was a high probability that an unnamed second assassin fired the third bullet, but missed, from President Kennedy's right front, from a location concealed behind the Grassy Knoll picket fence.

Many years after the House Select Committee on Assassinations issued its report, the attorney for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, G. Robert Blakey issued a statement to the news media calling into question the honesty of the CIA in its dealings with the Committee and the accuracy of the information given to it.

The attorney for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, G. Robert Blakey, told ABC News that the conclusion that a conspiracy existed in the assassination was established by both witness testimony and acoustic evidence:

The shot from the grassy knoll is not only supported by the acoustics, which is a tape that we found of a police motorcycle broadcast back to the district station. It is corroborated by eyewitness testimony in the plaza. There were 20 people, at least, who heard a shot from the grassy knoll.

The sole acoustic evidence relied on by the committee to support its conclusion of a fourth gunshot (and a gunman on the grassy knoll) in the JFK assassination, was a Dictabelt recording alleged to be from a stuck transmitter on a police motorcycle in Dealey Plaza during the assassination.

After the committee finished its work, however, an amateur researcher listened to the recording and discovered faint crosstalk of transmissions from another police radio channel known to have been made a minute after the assassination. Further, the Dallas motorcycle policeman thought to be the source of the sounds followed the motorcade to the hospital at high speed, his siren blaring, immediately after the shots were fired. Yet the recording is of a mostly idling motorcycle, eventually determined to have been at JFK's destination, the Trade Mart, miles from Dealey Plaza.

Several years later, in 1981, a special panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) disputed the evidence of a fourth shot, contained on the police dictabelt. The panel concluded it was simply random noise, perhaps static, recorded about a minute after the shooting while Kennedy's motorcade was en route to Parkland Hospital.

The NAS experts, headed by physicist Norman F. Ramsey of Harvard, reached that conclusion after studying the sounds on the two radio channels Dallas police were using that day. Routine transmissions were made on Channel One and recorded on a dictabelt at police headquarters. An auxiliary frequency, Channel Two, was dedicated to the president's motorcade and used primarily by Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry; its transmissions were recorded on a separate Gray Audograph disc machine.

The conclusion by the NAS was then rebutted in 2001 in a Science and Justice article by D.B. Thomas, a government scientist and JFK assassination researcher. Mr. Thomas concluded the HSCA finding of a second shooter was correct and that the NAS panel's study was flawed. Thomas surmises that the Dictaphone needle jumped and created an overdub on Channel One.

In reponse to Thomas's findings, Michael O'Dell concluded in his report that the prior reports relied on incorrect timelines and made unfounded assumptions that, when corrected, do not support the identification of gunshots on the recording.

However, Thomas claimed those findings to be false at a conference in DC in 2005, and provided what he said was further support for evidence of at least four shots.

In 2003, ABCNEWS aired the results of their investigation on a program called "Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination-Beyond Conspiracy." Based on computer diagrams and recreations done by Dale K. Myers, ABCNEWS concluded that the sound recordings on the dictabelt could not have come from Dealey Plaza and that the Police Officer H.B. McLain was correct in his assertions that he had not yet entered Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination.

The Assassination Records Review Board was created under federal law to gather and preserve the documents relating to the assassination. Doctors who conducted the autopsy on President John F. Kennedy may have performed two brain examinations of two different brains in the days following his assassination, a staff report for the Assassinations Records Review Board determined. The report, summarizing perplexing discrepancies in the medical evidence, was among more than 400,000 pages of internal government records reviewed. The Board's chief analyst for military records, Douglas Horne, believed that the substitution of the brain of another cadaver was probably part of a coverup to make it seem as if President Kennedy had not been the victim of a conspiracy. Horne contended that the damage to the second brain examined at Bethesda reflected a shot from behind, while Kennedy's brain reflected a shot from the front. However, the full Board did not take a position on Mr. Horne's theory, which was based on the testimony of a photographer who said he saw the brain, and a pathologist who said he saw sections of it, before it was formally examined by the autopsy doctors for their supplimentary report on December 6 The Assassination Records Review Board looked over the autopsy records and took testimony of the participants and determined that the autopsy of the murdered president was handled in such an unprofessional manner that it termed it a "tragedy."

An official investigation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), conducted from 1976 to 1979, concluded that Oswald assassinated President Kennedy as a result of a probable conspiracy. This conclusion of a likely conspiracy contrasts with the earlier conclusion by the Warren Commission that the President was assassinated by a lone gunman.

The perception of a conspiracy was widespread even at the time. A source considered reliable by the FBI, related that Colonel Boris Ivanov, Chief of the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB) Residency in New York City at the time of the assassination, stated that it was his personal feeling that the assassination of President Kennedy had been planned by an organized group rather than being the act of one individual assassin.

Many not only dispute the conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin (claiming that there was a conspiracy), but also claim that Oswald was not involved at all. Shortly after his arrest, Oswald insisted he was a "patsy." Oswald never admitted any participation in the assassination, and was murdered two days after being taken into police custody.

Some polls indicate a large number of Americans are suspicious of official government conclusions regarding the assassination. A 2003 ABC News poll found that 70% of respondents suspected there was an assassination plot. These same polls also show that there is no agreement on who else may have been involved. Virtually every person and organization that could have had any possible motive for the crime has been accused at one time or another of involvement in the Kennedy assassination.

The motorcade consisted of numerous cars and police motorcycles.

The lead car, an unmarked white Ford: Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry (driver), Secret Service Agent Winston Lawson (right front), Sheriff Bill Decker (left rear), Agent Forrest Sorrels (right rear)

SS 100 X, a 1961 Lincoln Continental: Agent Bill Greer (driver), Agent Roy Kellerman (right front), Nellie Connally (left middle), Texas Governor John Connally (right middle), First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (left rear), President Kennedy (right rear)

Halfback, a convertible: Agent Sam Kinney (driver), Agent Emory Roberts (right front), Agent Clint Hill (left front running board), Agent Bill McIntyre (left rear running board), Agent John Ready (right front running board), Agent Paul Landis (right rear running board), Presidential aide Kenneth O'Donnell (left middle), Presidential aide David Powers (right middle), Agent George Hickey (left rear), Agent Glen Bennett (right rear)

1964 Lincoln 4 door convertible: State highway patrol officer Hurchel Jacks (driver), Agent Rufus Youngblood (right front), Senator Ralph Yarborough (left rear), Mrs. Lyndon Johnson (center rear), Vice-President Lyndon Johnson (right rear).

Varsity, a hardtop: a Texas state policeman (driver), Vice Presidential aide Cliff Carter (front middle), Agent Jerry Kivett (right front), Agent Woody Taylor (left rear), Agent Lem Johns (right rear)

Press pool car, (on loan from the phone company): telephone company driver, Malcolm Kilduff, UPI (middle front), Merriman Smith, UPI (right front), Jack Bell, AP, Robert Baskin, Dallas News, Bob Clark, ABC (rear)

Press Car: Bob Jackson, The Dallas Times Herald, Tom Dillard, The Dallas Morning News, Mal Couch, WFAA-TV/ABC

Every United States president elected or reelected in 20-year intervals beginning with 1840 (beginning with William Henry Harrison) had died in office (Harrison 1840, Lincoln 1860, Garfield 1880, McKinley 1900, Harding 1920, Roosevelt 1940). John F. Kennedy's assassination continued this pattern. It ultimately broke with Ronald Reagan who, elected in 1980, survived being shot in a March 1981 assassination attempt. This pattern of Presidential deaths has been referred to as Tecumseh's curse, the 20-year curse, or the zero factor.

After JFK's assassination, numerous similarities between Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln were noted.

The JFK assassination is also compared to the assassination of other prominent figures in the 1960s for which the lone gunman theory is also disputed, such as the assassination of JFK's brother, Bobby Kennedy, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Kennedy's life and the subsequent conspiracy theories surrounding his death have been the topic for many films, including Mark Lane's 1966 Rush to Judgment, Executive Action in 1973, NBC TV's 1983 mini series Kennedy, Nigel Turner's 1988, 1991, 1995, and 2003's continuing documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Oliver Stone's 1991 JFK, and the 1993 JFK: Reckless Youth (which looked at Kennedy's early years).

In 1975, a San Francisco-based group of artists called Ant Farm reenacted the Kennedy assassination in Dealey Plaza and documented it in a video piece called "The Eternal Frame."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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