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JFK, the CIA and The New York Times

by  Jim Fetzer

 

“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” — William Colby, former CIA Director

In 1977, Carl Bernstein, who would subsequently co-author All the President’s Men (1994)  with Bob Woodward, one of the most celebrated books in American political history, published “The CIA and the Media”, Rolling Stone (October 20, 1977), reporting that, with respect to its infiltration of the American media, “By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.” Those who lent their cooperation to the agency were  Williarn Paley of the CBS, Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of The New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA included ABC, NBC, the AP, the UPI, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.  It was therefore fascinating to discover that The New York Times, which has a history of suppressing research on the assassination of JFK, was publishing “The Umbrella Man: A video interview with the author of SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS (1967)”, widely regarded as a classic of conspiracy research on the assassination of JFK.

Its author, Josiah Thompson (whose nickname is “Tink”), was at one time a professor of philosophy at Haverford College and, when I returned from 13 months in the Far East with the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, where we had been anchored out in Kauschung Harbor in Formosa (now Taichung Harbor, Taiwan), where I had been awakened at 3:30 AM by the officer of the deck who told me that JFK had been shot and, then again, an hour later that they had caught the guy who had done it, who was a communist, which I thought at the time was “pretty fast work”, I obtained a copy of his book while stationed at the USMC Recruit Depot in San Diego as a series commander, supervising 15 DIs and 300 recruits going through the training cycle, which I read with great interest, especially because I had earned my A.B. at Princeton in philosophy and, like myself, Tink had served in the Navy (in the UDT rather than the Marine Corps) and was doing research on JFK, which was attracting my interest as well.

SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS

At the time, I thought it was an admirable study, which payed special attention to the Zapruder film, to which the author had had access in conducting research with LIFE magazine, ostensibly for an article about the film.  Apparently, Tink took a copy of the film without authorization and there was a falling out.  LIFE rescinded permission it had granted for him to use frames from the film, which were replaced by very high-quality charcoal sketches–not as good as the actual frames, but still valuable.  Among the most important features of his book was an analysis of the “double-hit”, according to which, in frame 312, JFK’s head moves forward under the impact of a shot fired from behind, while in frames 313-316, his head moves violently back and to the left, which is indicative of a shot fired from in front–to the right/front, actually, which many have assumed to have meant from the grassy knoll or even the picket fence. The book created quite a sensation at the time and lead to Thompson’s story being feature on the front page of The Saturday Evening Post (2 December 1967).

According to the analysis published there, three assassins had fired four shots, all of which hit.  The first, fired from the Texas School Book Depository, hit JFK in the back. The second, fired from the roof of the County Records Building, hit Gov. John Connally in the back.  The third, again from the Book Depository, hit JFK in the back of the head, moving it forward, while the fourth was fired from the picket fence and struck him in the right forehead, killing him.  For its time, this was excellent work, which offered a stunning contrast to the “official account” of the assassination, which featured three shots with one miss, where one hit JFK at the base of the back of his neck, passed through without hitting any bony structures, and entered John Connally’s back, while the other hit him in the back of the head, killing him.  We know today that the “magic bullet” scenario is not only provably false but not even anatomically possible, where no bullet could have taken the alleged trajectory, because cervical vertebrae intervene.  I even presented a lecture about it at Cambridge during an international conference, which would be published in an international, peer-reviewed journal under the title, “Reasoning about Assassinations”.

While Tink’s book was very good for its time, his analysis of the shot sequence was superseded by  the far more extensive study by Richard Sprague, COMPUTERS AND AUTOMATION (May 1970), which demonstrated that there had been more shooters and more shots, which I have refined based upon our studies of the medical evidence and the ballistics published in three books, Assassination Science (1998), Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), and The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003).  The issue over which we have repeatedly clashed, however, concerns the authenticity of the film that was the foundation for his book.  I suppose it would be only natural that he would resist evidence that the film has been faked (edited, altered, revised, fabricated), when it pulls the rug out from under his classic study.  The proof is abundant and compelling, as anyone who has followed my columns about JFK here can verify for themselves by reading “JFK: Who’s telling the truth:  Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?”, right here at Veterans Today.  If you read the comments on Six Seconds in Dallas (1967), moreover, you will find those who are adamant that Tink got it right and the rest of us got it wrong.  The first “reader’s review”, for example, makes these claims:

5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever about the Kennedy assassination – bar none, January 22, 2005
By Michael K. Beusch (San Mateo, California United States) – See all my reviews

As an American who believes in his heart that President Kennedy was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy, it pains me to see so many half-baked and flat-out irresponsible studies of the assassination. These run the gamut from the ridiculous defenses of the Warren Report (Gerald Posner, in particular) to the most outlandish conspiracy books hawking absolutely ridiculous theories (James Fetzer’s books claiming that the Zapruder film is a fake is the latest). Both the Warren Commission’s defenders and the way-out conspiracy theorists do the search for the truth a great disservice. Both groups pick and choose whatever evidence suits their needs. . . .

Indeed, Josiah has been attacking me for doing research on Zapruder film authenticity since 1996, when I organized the first symposium devoted to this issue at the JFK Lancer Conference.  I conducted a 10.5 hour preliminary discussion the day before with a dozen or more students of the film, which led to the 4.5 hour presentation the following day with the best half-dozen, including Jack White, Noel Twyman, David Lifton, David Mantik and Chuck Marler, which can be obtained as a 2-disc DVD from Lancer to this day. Our encounters have been relentless since then, numbering in the hundreds.  By now, there may have been as many as a thousand, where he has referred to my first book as “Assassinated Science”, even though it published the studies of the autopsy X-rays by David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., which revealed that the X-rays had been altered to conceal the true causes of death of JFK, and by Robert Livingston, M.D., a world authority on the human brain and an expert on wound ballistics, who concluded that, given the consistent and multiple reports from experienced and highly qualified Parkland physicians, who described cerebellar as well as cerebral tissue extruding from fist-sized wound at the back of his head, that the brain shown in the diagrams and photographs at the National Archives could not possibly be of the brain of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Since it also included multiple studies of Zapruder film alteration, perhaps that was Tink’s overriding concern.

THE UMBRELLA MAN

His credibility was not enhanced when he attacked Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), which many regard as the best published on the death of JFK, claiming that a study by Gary Aguilar, M.D., showing the consistency of descriptions of that fist-sized blow out to the back of the head had been highly consistent across witnesses in Dealey Plaza, others at Parkland Hospital, and even those who observed the body at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the autopsy would be performed.  While we now know that James Humes, who was performing the autopsy, actually took a cranial saw to the head and enlarged the head wound to make it look more like the effect of a shot fired from behind (but inexplicably allowed two witnesses to watch him do this, as Doug Horne, Inside the ARRB (2009), has documented in detail, which means that Aguilar’s study is not quite as accurate as I initially supposed), the case for that massive defect–or one that was even larger–is amply established by this study.  When Tink said that Gary’s chapter was the only good one in the book, therefore, I knew he had committed a blunder, since if Gary was right, then the film–which does not show this defect–had to have been faked.  Indeed, since I had found a late frame, 374, in which the blow out is visible, while it has been blacked out in frames 313-317, for example, the film is not even self-consistent, which means that it cannot, in its totality, possibly be authentic.

The Umbrella Man pumping his umbrella

When I discovered that the estimable Errol Morris, described as “an Academy Award-winning filmmaker (‘The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara’) and a recent New York Times best-selling author (‘Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography’), whose first film, ‘Gates of Heaven’, is even on Roger Ebert’s list of the 10 best movies ever made, and his latest, ‘Tabloid’, has just been released on DVD”, was conducting a series of interviews with Tink, I was fairly incredulous.  It was striking to me that he had used “Believing as Seeing” as the title of his study about photography, since we had shown that “Seeing is not Believing” in relation to the Zapruder film.  In agreement with most students of JFK, I had formed the opinion that the Umbrella man was complicit in the assassination, not only because of his association with the Cuban, but because he had been pumping his umbrella up and down in what we took to be a signal to the assassins that their target was still alive and to continue shooting. The video interview in The New York Times, however, portrayed the Umbrella man as having been completely innocent and present with an umbrella to protest policies, not of JFK, but of his father in relation to an earlier era:

OP-DOCS
‘The Umbrella Man’: A video interview with the author of SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS (1967)

The Umbrella Man: On the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Errol Morris explores the story behind the one man seen standing under an open black umbrella at the site.

By ERROL MORRIS
Published: November 21, 2011

COMMENTS (254)

For years, I’ve wanted to make a movie about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Not because I thought I could prove that it was a conspiracy, or that I could prove it was a lone gunman, but because I believe that by looking at the assassination, we can learn a lot about the nature of investigation and evidence. Why, after 48 years, are people still quarreling and quibbling about this case? What is it about this case that has led not to a solution, but to the endless proliferation of possible solutions?

Years ago, Josiah Thompson, known as Tink, a young, Yale-educated Kierkegaard scholar wrote the definitive book on the Zapruder film — “Six Seconds in Dallas.” Thompson eventually quit his day job as a professor of philosophy at Haverford College to become a private detective and came to work with many of the same private investigators I had also worked with in the 1980s. We had so much in common — philosophy, P.I. work and an obsessive interest in the complexities of reality. But we had never met.

Last year, I finally got to meet and interview Tink Thompson. I hope his interview can become the first part of an extended series on the Kennedy assassination. This film is but a small segment of my six-hour interview with Tink.

where this reader’s comment (and there were more than 250 at that point in time) spoke volumes to me about Tink’s interview and the impression it was conveying to the public:

23. HIGHLIGHT (What’s this?)
Mark M
New York, NY
November 22nd, 2011
6:16 am
This was wonderful. The best – and most convincing – debunking of any and all conspiracy theories I have ever seen, and in just 6 minutes too.

I  submitted a comment of my own after listening to what Tink had to say, which was a fascinating effort to undermine not just conspiracy research related to the Umbrella man but, it turned out, with respect to JFK conspiracy research generally. With The Times running performance art like this from Josiah, I regarded it as most unlikely that they would publish my comment, even though I was exposing a false assumption at the foundation of his presentation:

Your Submitted Comment
Display Name
James H. Fetzer
Location
Oregon, WI
Comment
How can Josiah Thompson have written “the definitive book” on the Zapruder film when its fabrication has been proven beyond reasonable doubt? The limo stop was removed, the wounds were changed, and, having reduced the time frame, Clint Hill’s activities–about which he has been consistent for more than 47 years–contradict what we see in the extant film. See, for example, “JFK: Who’s telling the truth: Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?” For more on how it was done, see “US Government Official: JFK Cover-Up, Film Fabrication”. For a tutorial on some of the ways we know the film we have is not the original, see John Costella, “The JFK Assassination Film Hoax”, http://assassination…ella/jfk/intro/ I dismembered Josiah’s feeble defense of the authenticity of the film in THE GREAT ZAPRUDER FILM HOAX (2003). Check it out. The American people are entitled to the truth about the assassination of our 35th president. It isn’t a close call.

THE UMBRELLA MAN DEBATE

At this point, I was rather incensed that Tink was playing fast and loose with one of the most interesting figures whose image was recorded in the Zapruder film and by others with cameras in Dealey Plaza at the time.  I therefore initiated a thread on The Education Forum to discuss it, entitled “Tink’s performance in The New York Times: Josiah Thompson shows his true colors”. Among my earliest posts was one laying out arguments that Tink had shaded the evidence in a number of important respects, where I would later add photographs to support my points. When David S. Lifton, the author of Best Evidence (1980), asked for “credible evidence” that Witt was not the person he claimed to be to the HSCA, I posted three images that supported my objections to their identification:

(1)  As I have previously observed, the Umbrella Man and the Cuban were obviously together, where any explanation of the presence of the Umbrella Man must account for their association:

(2) While everyone else in Dealey Plaza was dumbfounded, the Umbrella man and the Cuban did not act surprised by the assassination–and their faces have been obscured in certain photos, which is highly suspicious by itself:

(3) Moreover, they hang around together, sitting on the curb, as though nothing especially unusual had taken place, where I had supposed virtually everyone would agree that their behavior is abnormal under these circumstances:

When Jim DiEugenio, the author of Destiny Betrayed (1992), posted this summary of Witt’s testimony, I thought the case against Witt was cinched:

Posted 25 November 2011 – 07:36 PM

Has anyone read Witt’s testimony of late? I don’t think so.These are some of the things he said.

1.) He never planned on doing what he did until that morning.

2.) He did not know the exact parade route.

3.) He just happened to wander around for a walk and guessed where it would be.

4.) Contrary to what Cliff says, he did what he did with no relation to JFK’s policies, only Joe Sr.

5.) What did the Cuban looking guy say? Words to the effect, They shot those people. (Oh really Louie?)

6.) Admits he sat there for up to three minutes and that he never even looked behind him at the picket fence! (Truly surprising.)

7.) He never did anything like this before or since, and he was not a member of any conservative group or organization.

8.) He placed the umbrella on the sidewalk and then picked it up. He wavers on whether this is definitely the umbrella he had that day.

9.) He often uses the conditional, like I think that is me, or that may be the guy I sat next to.

At this point in time, I felt very confident that Jim and I were right in debunking Tink’s suggestion that the Umbrella man was Louie Steven Witt, including that Tink was taking that identification for granted, when it is instead a conclusion that requires its own substantiation. In logic, this is called “begging the question” by assuming what requires independent proof.  He was ignoring that more reasonable identifications would be of the Cuban as Felipe Vidal Santiago, a committed anti-Castro Cuban, and of Roy Hargraves, who fit the photos and the scenario, I thought, to a “t”. The very idea that Witt would offer this fantastic story about Joe Kennedy, which is preposterous on its face, and Tink would claim it was “so extraordinary and unbelievable it must be true”, struck me as simply absurd.

It seemed far more likely that, by pumping his umbrella, Witt was signaling to the assassins that JFK was still alive, which makes sense, rather than an obscure historical allusion that no one, including Jack, would have grasped.  By remarking that there are always alternative explanations that might be true, when you isolate one element of a complex picture, Tink was employing the technique known as “divide and conquer”. If all you knew were what Tink had presented in this little clip, then you could rather easily be taken in; but once you consider the other evidence we have available, his scenario is not remotely plausible.  Still, I thought it would be appropriate to review what others have thought, so I turned to Jim Marrs’ classic study, Crossfire (1989), pp. 29-32, for such light as it might shed on the subject.

JIM MARRS IN CROSSFIRE (1989)

About the time that Kennedy was first hit by a bullet, two men standing near each other on the north sidewalk of Elm Street acted most strangely—one began pumping a black umbrella while the other waved his right arm high in the air.

The Umbrella Man and the Cuban raising his fist

These and subsequent actions by this pair aroused the suspicions of researchers over the years, yet the initial federal investigation ignored both men. Their activities are known only through analysis of assassination photographs.

As Kennedy’s limousine began the gentle descent into Dealey Plaza, a man can be seen standing near the street-side edge of the Stemmons Freeway sign holding an open umbrella. He holds the umbrella in a normal fashion and the top of the umbrella almost reaches the bottom of the sign.

In photos taken minutes before Kennedy’s arrival, the umbrella is closed and, immediately after the shooting, pictures show the umbrella was closed again. The man’s umbrella was only open during the shooting sequence. Furthermore, as seen in the Zapruder film, once Kennedy is exactly opposite the man with the umbrella, it was pumped almost two feet into the air and then lowered.

At the same time, the second man—in photos he appears to be of a dark complexion, perhaps a black man or Hispanic—raised his right hand into the air possibly making a fist. This man was located on the outer edge of the Elm Street sidewalk opposite the umbrella man, who was on the inner edge.

The man with the open umbrella was the only person in Dealey Plaza with an open umbrella. Under the warm Texas sun, there was no reason to carry an open umbrella at that time.

Two main theories have emerged concerning the “umbrella man” and his activities that day. Assassination researcher Robert Cutler has long maintained that the umbrella may have been a sophisticated weapon that fired a dart or “flechette” filled with a paralyzing agent. Cutler’s theory has been the object of dirision over the years but it is supported by the 1975 testimony of a CIA weapons developer who told the Senate Intelligence Committee that just such an umbrella weapon was in the hands of the spy agency in 1963.

Charles Senseney, who developed weaponry for the CIA at Fort Detrick, Maryland, described a dart-firing weapon he developed as looking like an umbrella. He said the dart gun was silent in operation and fired through the webbing when the umbrella was open. Senseney said the CIA had ordered about fifty such dart weapons and that they were operational in 1963.

Cutler theorized that the umbrella was used to fire a paralyzing dart into Kennedy immobilizing him for marksmen with rifles. He claims this theory accounts for the small puncture wound in Kennedy’s throat described by Dallas doctors, but which was altered by the time of the Bethesda autopsy. According to Cutler, this dart explains Kennedy’s lack of motion during the shooting sequence. Since such a weapon existed and since both the actions of Kennedy and the “umbrella man” were consistent with the operation of such a weapon, Cutler’s theory cannot be completely dismissed.

They were there together and remained together

However, most assassination researchers prefer the alternative theory that both of these suspicious men may have been providing visual signals to hidden gunmen. This theory suggests that Kennedy was killed by a crossfire coordinated by radiomen. The two men, who were among the closest bystanders to the President when he was first struck, gave signals indicating that he was not fatally hit and therefore more shots were needed.

A fascinating twist on this latter theory came from researcher Gary Shaw, who said the two men may have been providing Kennedy with a last-second sign of who was responsible for his death. Shaw recalled that throughout the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion, CIA officers had promised an “umbrella” of air protection of the Cuban invaders. This “umbrella” failed to materialize because Kennedy refused to authorize U.S. military support for the invasion. According to Shaw’s theory, the man with the open umbrella symbolized the promise of an air-support “umbrella” while the dark-complected man may have been one of the anti-Castro Cuban leaders known to Kennedy. Thus, in the last seconds of his life, Kennedy may have seen the open umbrella and the face of a Cuban he knew was involved in the Bay of Pigs and realized who was participating in his death.

But this is all speculation. The existence of the “umbrella man” and the dark-complexion man is fact. Their activities after the assassination especially bear study. While virtually everyone in Dealey Plaza was moved to action by the assassination—either falling to the ground for cover or moving toward The Grassy Knoll—these two men sat down beside each other on the north sidewalk of Elm Street.

Here the dark-complexion man appears to put a walkie-talkie to his mouth. In a photograph taken by Jim Towner, what seems to be an antenna can be seen jutting out from behind the man’s head while his right hand holds some object to his face.

They remained together long after the assassination

Several photos taken in the seconds following the assassination show both of these men sitting together on the Elm Street sidewalk. Moments later, the man with the umbrella gets up, takes one last look toward the motorcade still passing under the Triple Underpass, and begins walking east in the direction of the Depository. The dark-complexion man saunters toward the Triple Underpass passing people rushing up The Grassy Knoll. He can be seen stuffing some object—the walkie-talkie?—into the back of his pants.

Despite the suspicious actions of these two men, there is no evidence that the FBI or the Warren Commission made any effort to identify or locate them. Officially they did not exist. Yet over the years, this pair became the focal point of criticism by private researchers. Researchers claimed the lack of investigation of these men was indicative of the shallowness of the government’s handling of the assassination.

Once the House Select Committee on Assassinations was formed in 1976, researchers urged an investigation of both men. The Committee finally released a photograph of the “umbrella man” to the news media and urged anyone with knowledge of the man to come forward.

Coincidentally—if it was a coincidence—the “umbrella man” suddenly was identified in Dallas a few weeks after this national appeal. In August 1978, a telephone caller told researcher Penn Jones, Jr., that the man with the umbrella was a former Dallas insurance salesman named Louis Steven Witt. Jones contacted some local newsmen (Jim Marrs being one of them) and together they confronted Witt, who then was working as a warehouse manager. Witt refused to talk with newsmen but acknowledged that he was in Dealey Plaza on the day Kennedy was killed.

Jones later wrote: “I felt the man had been coached. He would answer no questions and pointedly invited us to leave. His only positive statement, which seemed to come very quickly, was that he was willing to appear before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in Washington.”

Witt indeed appeared before the Committee during its public testimony. His story was comic relief compared to the intense scrutiny of witnesses like Marina Oswald and Warren Commission critics. His story was facile and improbable and when the umbrella that Witt claimed was the same one he had had in Dealey Plaza in 1963 was displayed, it suddenly turned wrong-side out, prompting one Committee member to quip: “I hope that’s not a weapon.”

Witt told the Committee that on the spur of the moment, he grabbed a large black umbrella and went to Dealey Plaza to heckle Kennedy. He claimed that someone had told him that an open umbrella would rile Kennedy. While Witt offered no further explanation of how his umbrella could heckle the president, Committee members – not Witt — theorized that the umbrella in some way referred to the pro-German sympathies of Kennedy’s father while serving as U.S. ambassador to Britain just prior to World War II. They said the umbrella may have symbolized the appeasement policies of Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who always carried an umbrella.

According to Witt:

I think I went sort of maybe halfway up the grassy area [on the north side of Elm Street], somewhere in that vicinity. I am pretty sure I sat down. . . . [when the motorcade approached] I think I got up and started fiddling with that umbrella trying to get it open, and at the same time I was walking forward, walking toward the street. . . . Whereas other people I understand saw the President shot and his movements; I did not see this because of this thing [the umbrella] in front of me . . . My view of the car during that length of time was blocked by the umbrella’s being open.

Based on the available photographs made that day, none of Witt’s statements were an accurate account of the actions of the “umbrella man” who stood waiting for the motorcade with his umbrella in the normal over-the-head position and then pumped it in the air as Kennedy passed.

Witt’s bizarre story—unsubstantiated and totally at variance with the actions of the man in the photographs—resulted in few, if any, researchers accepting Louis Steven Witt as the “umbrella man.”

And there continues to be no official accounting for the dark-complexion man who appears to have been talking on a radio moments after the assassination. The House Committee failed to identify or locate this man and Witt claimed he had no recollection of such a person, despite photographs that seem to show the “umbrella man” talking with the dark man.

Witt claimed only to recall that a “Negro man” sat down near him and kept repeating: “They done shot them folks.”

Interestingly, one of the Committee attorneys asked Witt specifically if he recalled seeing the man with a walkie-talkie, although officially no one has ever admitted the possibility of radios in use in Dealey Plaza.

NEW EVIDENCE APPEARS

No one could have been more surprised than I when another student of the assassination, Bernice Moore, sent me a comment that had been posted in response to The New York Times, which included an extract of Witt’s actual testimony to the HSCA:

228.
Christopher Marlow
San Diego, CA
November 22nd, 2011
6:08 pm
After watching this video, I looked up the interview of the “Umbrella Man” for the House Committee on Assassinations. It was very enlightening. The man’s name was Louis Steven Witt, a former Dallas insurance salesman. He was questioned by counsel for the committee, Mr. Genzman….

Mr. WITT. Yes. As I moved toward the street, still walking on the grass, I heard the shots that I eventually learned were shots. At the time somehow it didn’t register as shots because they were so close together, and it was like hearing a string of firecrackers, or something like that. It didn’t at that moment register on me as being shots.

Mr. GENZMAN. What do you next recall happening?
Mr. WITT. Let me go back a minute. As I was moving forward I apparently had this umbrella in front of me for some few steps. Whereas other people I understand saw the President shot and his movements; I did not see this because of this thing in front of me, The next thing I saw after I saw the car coming down the street, down the hill to my left, the car was just about at a position like this [indicating] at this angle here. At this time there was the car stopping, the screeching of tires, the jamming on of brakes, [!!!] motorcycle patrolman right there beside one of the cars. One car ran upon the President’s car and a man jumped off and jumped on the back. These were the scenes that unfolded as I reached the point to where I was seeing things.

—> If you look at the Zapruder film, you will see that the car does not stop. But the Umbrella man and literally dozens of witnesses testified that the presidential limo came to a stop during the assassination. The Zapruder film has been altered to conceal this and other facts. Any careful examination of the Z film will lead you to this conclusion.

 

This new evidence, moreover, makes an enormous difference to the evaluation of Witt’s testimony.  Based upon other evidence we have accumulated about the Zapruder film, which is contradicted by witness reports about the limo having been brought to a halt–which we believe was in response to the Cuban’s raised fist–for which there are many witnesses, whose reports have been collated by John Costella in “What happened on Elm Street? The Eyewitnesses Speak”,“New Proof of Zapruder Film Fakery” and “Who’s telling the truth: Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?”, what Witt is saying closely corresponds to those other witnesses and to the reports of others who have seen “the other film”, which appears to be the original Zapruder before it was subjected to reconstuction, as Doug Horne has explained in his five-volume study, which I summarized in “US Government Official: JFK Cover-Up, Film Fabrication”. As I then explained in post #160 on The Education Forum,

 

Well, I’m only beginning to sort this out, but his description of what happened is very close to what happened as we have reconstructed it. The limo stop, of course, is at the heart of the matter. It was such a blatant example of Secret Service complicity that it had to be taken out. When you study Clint Hill’s report of the sequence of acts he took–running forward, boarding the vehicle, pushing Jackie down, lying over their bodies and peering into a fist-sized hole in the back of JFK’s head while giving a “thumbs down” BEFORE THE LIMO REACHED the TUP–which he has been saying and reporting consistently for (then) 47 years–this is hardly the first time we’ve had a witness who supported the limo stop. I have given several references to studies that document their reports.

 

The point is that THIS DESCRIPTION, which was NOT in DiEugenio’s summary, POWERFULLY SUGGESTS HE ACTUALLY WAS THERE. Some of it is rather fascinating, including about the breaks and all that, because it has not come up before. But when you have a motorcade that is proceeding quite uneventually AND THE LEAD CAR SLAMS ON ITS BREAKS, it would not be surprising if the car following should run up against it or if other drivers had to react by slamming on their breaks. So you are making too quick an inferences from the sound of breaks to assuming the sound came from the limo! What he is saying needs to be sorted out but, given this stunning and dramatic report (which he cannot have acquired from viewing the Zapruder film), he probably WAS there.

 

It’s like finding a fingerprint or the DNA of someone who was not previously a suspect at a crime scene. This guy could not possibly have known some of what he is reporting UNLESS HE HAD BEEN THERE. Even the limo stop is not widely known, even though there are dozens and dozens of witnesses who reported it. Too many play on the “slowed dramatically” versus “came to a halt” difference, which is splitting hairs, since (1) it had to slow dramatically to come to a halt and (2) the Zapruder film shows NEITHER dramatic slowing NOR coming to a halt. So this is really quite remarkable, because, as in the case of Gary Aguilar’s chapter in MURDER, Tink has endorsed Witt, but he turns out to have witnessed the limo stop, which is further proof that the film is a fake.

 

WHAT THEN ABOUT THE UMBRELLA MAN?

I have now done what I should have done originally, namely, check his testimony for myself.  Here is what I have found:

While there is massive evidence of the limo stop (links to some of which I have cited above), I do not find Witt credible simply because he observed the limo stop but because he is reporting information that only someone who was actually there could possibly have known. The Zapruder film was shown for the first time on the Geraldo Rivera TV program in 1975, but it does not show any of these very specific details that Witt is reporting.  Even most  students of the assassination would be hard pressed to say what they think actually happened at that place and time. The screeching of tires, with one car running up onto the other (the Secret Service Cadillac evidently butting up against the Lincoln limousine) and one man jumping off and climbing onto the back of the other (Clint Hill rushing from the Cadillac to the back steps of the Lincoln) not only fits the scenario to a “t” but adds details that offer more data to consider, including especially the acoustical aspects of this event, which have been under-explored previous to this belated discovery.

This also means that Robert Morrow, another contributor to the forum, may have been closer to the truth than I was in relation to the Umbrella Man. A fundamental principle of scientific reasoning is that the search for truth must be based upon all the available relevant evidence. Witt’s remarks about the shots and their sound are also telling. We know many said that the first shot (or “the first shots”) sounded like firecrackers. Jim Lewis has found that, when high velocity bullets are fired through windshields, they make the sound of a firecracker. But the fact is we have new evidence to consider in assessing this. When his testimony was vague and ambiguous, my other arguments carried greater weight. But this very detailed and specific testimony outweighs the vagueness of the rest.   At the very least, we have found a remarkable additional witness to the limo stop from an expected source–and thanks to Tink!  And that underlines a mistake in Jim Marrs’ discounting of Witt’s story:

According to Witt:

I think I went sort of maybe halfway up the grassy area [on the north side of Elm Street], somewhere in that vicinity. I am pretty sure I sat down. . . . [when the motorcade approached] I think I got up and started fiddling with that umbrella trying to get it open, and at the same time I was walking forward, walking toward the street. . . . Whereas other people I understand saw the President shot and his movements; I did not see this because of this thing [the umbrella] in front of me . . . My view of the car during that length of time was blocked by the umbrella’s being open.

Based on the available photographs made that day, none of Witt’s statements were an accurate account of the actions of the “umbrella man” who stood waiting for the motorcade with his umbrella in the normal over-the-head position and then pumped it in the air as Kennedy passed.

But that is to overlook that the film has been massively revised to conceal the true causes of the death of JFK.  One of the first and most obvious oddities of the extant film is that so many figures in Dealey Plaza, including the bystanders on the north side of Elm Street, are virtually motionless and unresponsive, even when the president is immediately before them.  This has long since appeared to be a result of taking earlier footage as the foreground and making adjustments to later footage, including the introduction of special effects, such as adding the “blob” and blood spray to make it look as though the head shot in frame 313 was fired from behind and blackening out the actual wound at the back of his head.  In order to achieve consistency between the various films, they had to change them to conform to the revised Zapruder, where removing activities like those that Witt reported would have made that task immeasurably simpler.  If he is moving around, the effects of deleting frames would have been conspicuous because of “jumps” in his actions.  It was simpler to keep him frozen, more or less as was done with Mary Moorman and Jean Hill on the opposite side of the street.

There are multiple indications that Tink’s purpose here and throughout the entire series–which, given there are 10 six-minute segments in an hour and  Errol Morris has reported he has six hours of interviews, which may mean as many as 59 more six-minute reports–is to attempt to debunk belief in conspiracy in the assassination of JFK.  His remarks about a “wing-nut” who suggested that the umbrella may have concealed a device to fire a flacehette is particularly revealing, since such a device is actually discussed in the HSCA transcript of the testimony of Louis Steven Witt. Richard Sprague and Robert Cutler were among those who took the idea seriously, where it turned out that the CIA actually had devices of this kind in 1963. So Tink was either faking it (because he was not familiar with the Umbrella man’s testimony) or deliberately distorting an odd aspect of the investigation of the assassination (which was conducted by investigators that no one else familiar with their work would describe as “wing-nuts”).

It was not irresponsible for Sprague and Cutler to endorse the flechette hypothesis when, to the best of my knowledge, (i) they did not have access to the Parkland Press Conference transcript (which was not even provided to the Warren Commission), (ii) they did not know there was a through-and-through hole in the windshield, (iii) they were apparently unaware of the tiny shrapnel wounds in JFK’s face, and (iv) they did not know that, unless the tentorium had been previously ruptured, even the near simultaneous impact of the shot to the back of his head and the frangible hit around his right temple would not have been sufficient to cause cerebellum to extrude from the world. So this appears to be a classic case of acquiring new information and new hypotheses that make a difference to understanding what took place, where, in this case, hypotheses that were previously accepted should be rejected and hypotheses that were previously rejected should be accepted. Another serious student of the assassination, Alan J. Salerian, M.D., moreover, has taken this hypothesis seriously in studies he has presented as recently as 2008.

Anyone with any lingering doubt about Tink’s betrayal of JFK research should pay close attention to what he say, where, in particular, he is suggesting there are arbitrarily many innocuous explanations for any evidence that has ever been viewed as “sinister” in the sassassination of JFK. As Cliff Varnell has remarked, “Check out the sarcasm dripping from Tink’s [use of the phrases] “really sinister” and “sinister underpinning”:


YouTube - Veterans Today -

Here’s a transcript: (laughing) What it means it that, if you have any fact which you think is really sinister — it’s really obviously a fact which can only point to some sinister underpinning — hey, FORGET IT, MAN, because you can never, on your own, think up all the non-sinister perfectly valid explanations for that fact. A cautionary tale.

And that, of course, is why Mark M., commented, “This was wonderful. The best – and most convincing – debunking of any and all conspiracy theories I have ever seen, and in just 6 minutes too.”

I hate to say “I told you so”, but I nailed Tink as working the opposite side of the street a long time ago and was attacked for doing so. I also observed earlier that, in disavowing the “double-hit” theory, he was setting himself up to proclaim that there was no conspiracy in the assassination, after all, just in time for  the 50th observance.  That we have good reasons  to believe that Witt was there, however, does not excuse his suspicious activities and association with the Cuban.  That the Secret Service would allow them to act that way in close proximity to the president is one more indication–along with more than 15 others–of Secret Service complicity in setting JFK up for the hit.   While Robert Morrow and I may not completely agree on the activities of the Umbrella man, we converge in our conclusions about the role of Josiah Thompson in this shabby affair; and for that reason, I want to give him the last word for this round of what may well turn out to be the most elaborate CIA cum New York Times disinformation campaign in history:

I have “fallen into traps” before on the JFK assassination. Then when I see the error of my ways I try to get out of that hole as quick as possible. That means I change my mind when the weight of evidence changes direction.

As for this this NY Times – Josiah Thompson – Umbrella Man thing … it looks like it is yet more generalized lone-nutter propaganda given an NY Times platform. Really, instead of debunking one probable fallacy – that Umbrella Man was part of the assassination – they could have used that valuable air space/print space to document a THOUSAND things that point to a coup d’etat.

So we have yet another pathetic performance by the NY Times. Perhaps not an error of commission, but a thousand errors of omission. How about an article on Fletcher Prouty and Victor Krulak’s identification of Maj. Gen. Edward Lansdale at the TSBD and what that probably means? Spend a little time on that photo and the backgrounds of Lansdale and what Prouty has to offer.

That is but one mere example.

As for Josiah Thompson – count me extremely unimpressed with his smug attitude and *performance* – and that is exactly what he was doing , *performing* – as the JFK expert for the NY Times, playing along with their lone-nutter agenda, much in the way [that] “conspiracy theorist”  Gary Mack [who is the official archivist for The 6th Floor Museum] constantly does. 

 

Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, is McKnight Professor Emeritus at  the University of Minnesota Duluth.

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Posted by on Nov 29 2011, With 0 Reads, Filed under Civil Liberties and Freedom, Corruption, Editor, Government, History, Of Interest, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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8 Comments for “JFK, the CIA and The New York Times”

  1. What you apparently cannot understand, Trowbridge Ford, is that the set up and the cover-up are the keys to understanding who was involved. There are more than 15 indications of Secret Service complicity in setting JFK up for the hit: two agents were left behind at Love Field, the vehicles were in the wrong order, the flat-bed truck was cancelled, the 112th Military Intelligence Unit was ordered to stand down, the motorcycle escort was cut down to four and instructed not to ride ahead of the rear wheels, the manhole covers were not welded, the open windows were not covered, the route was improper, the driver pulled the limo to the left and to a halt after shots began to be fired, an agent got a bucket and sponge and began to wash blood and brains from the limo at Parkland, the vehicle was taken to Ford and torn down and completely rebuilt, the body was stolen from the hospital before an inquest could be held, Roy Kellerman took the autopsy X-rays (exposed and developed) and photographs (exposed but not developed) and, when they eventually become available, they have been altered and changed. I have no idea what you have been doing, Trowbridge, but it does not appear to have been research. Do you understand that the mob could not have extended its reach into Bethesda Naval Hospital to have altered X-rays under the control of medical officers of the US Navy, the president’s personal physician and agents of the Secret Service? that anti-Castro Cubans could not have substituted another brain for that of John Fitzgerald Kennedy? that the KGB might have had capabilities comparable to Hollywood or the CIA to faking photographs and films but could not have secured a copy of the Zapruder film? Once you take what happened into account, there are not a lot of options about who had the power and the control to make these things happened. I have explained all of this in many places, such as “Dealey Plaza Revisited: What happened to JFK?” I have published three books, many articles, and a large number of public presentations about this. If you want to catch up on JFK, I suggest you study them. You are obviously a dilettante.

    • Jim,
      I listened to your interviews with Len Osanic and Meria Heller and in both interviews you said the grassy knoll gunmen behind the picket fence MISSED his shot, why do you think the easiest shot (picket fence) missed and why do you think a shot from the storm drain hit JFK?, i saw a video once where a man went into the storm drain with a rifle and it was a near impossible angle to shoot from

      • We are talking about different locations. I am not talking about the curb storm drain. David and I were down there and you are correct: it is not the right trajectory. I am talking about above ground (half-way between the roadway and the top of the Triple Underpass) sewer openings on both sides of the structure. The shot to the throat appears to have been fired from the south side above-ground-level sewer opening and the shot to his right temple from the north. You need to get MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000) and read the chapter on the Lincoln limousine by Doug Weldon, J.D. Or take a look at “Dealey Plaza Revisited: What happened to JFK?”, which you can access on-line, where I have a diagram outlining the shot sequence. I believe the easiest shot missed because the shooter realized that he was going to injure Jackie and pulled it. They had strict orders that she was not to be harmed. That’s my best guess.

  2. Don’t see how this continuing demolition effort of Josiah Thompson. what has been going on for a decade now, advances our understanding of the JFK assassination one iota.

  3. Excellent piece.
    I still have the May 1970 issue of Computers and Automation. Besides the analysis of the shooters, it was notable for the publishing of the various press photographs of the three tramps who were picked up 15 minutes after the shooting, taken in by Sgt.Harkness and other Dallas Police officers (one of whom was never identified), held and then quietly released with no arrest reports, photograhs or fingerprints. One of them was a ringer for E.Howard Hunt, and it was suggested that the author Richard Sprague had included these to see if Hunt’s cover had been blown. Perhaps in May 1970 it had not, but that all changed after the Watergate break-in two years later.

    Re: JFK’s apparent immobility during the shooting – he was wearing a back brace which prevented him from ducking. People have also been known to freeze as a result of the shock of being shot. I think the umbrella man was there only to signal when the fatal shot hit.

    • Yes, he does look a great deal like E. Howard Hunt and there has been a long-enduring controversy over his identification. In 2000, I organized a Chauncey Holt Panel at JFK Lancer, where his daughter, Karyn, used photos from the family album and overlaid them with the images of the third “tramp”, which provided very convincing proof that he was not Hunt but Holt, who had prepared 15 sets of forged Secret Service credentials for use in and around Dealey Plaza as a contract agent for the CIA. You might want to listen to my two-hour interview with her at http://radiofetzer.blogspot.com. Hunt, of course, would later admit that he had been a “back-bencher” in Dallas and that LBJ, Cord Meyer, David Atlee Philips, William Harvey, and David Sanchez Morales had all been involved in taking out JFK. You can find it on-line under “The Last Confession of E. Howard Hunt”, Rolling Stone. A copy can be found at this link: http://www.infowars.com/articles/us/jfk_hunt_last_confessions_rolling_stone.htm That issue of Computers and Automation (May 1970) is a classic and the best early study of the shooting sequence.

  4. Professor Fetzer hits the target again with a bulls-eye. His trilogy series of the three classic Scientific studies of all the available evidence of the JFK Assassination (Assassination Science, Murder In Dealey Plaza, and the Great Zapruder Film Hoax) are exactly what the Warren Commission and the HSCA should have been but weren’t. These three books constitute valid, grand jury ready evidence that could easily put a number of the participants away for ever if honestly prosecuted, because although quite old some are still alive and other younger associates who have carried on the coverup are still active in corrupting our current regime (an after the fact conspiracy to coverup and misprision of a felony are still prosecutable as is murder which has no statute of limitations). The full impact of Fetzer’s trilogy hits the psyche like a freight train once the reader fully understands it’s complete validity and it most serious ramifications for our current world situation and war profiteering and illegal drug trafficking into the USA.

    Fetzer’s personal investigative work was cutting edge, but he knew that in order for it to be scientifically sound from every direction, he would have to assemble the world’s top experts to complete a three part JFK Assassination research project and make it comprehensive (which he did extremely well and obtained complete success with his astute management and editing).

    Tink is a lightweight but connected BS’er IMO, who maybe just happens to have establishment media connections which give him instant credibility to the unwashed, uninformed masses, credibilty he does not deserve, IMO. Tink has been a public figure for years in the JFK Assassination research community, but IMO his arguments collapse like an ice cream cone held in the direct sun light on a 100 degree day in Dealey Plaza when even a modicum of logic, investigative methodology and common sense are applied to his startlingly absurd misinformation. If Tink actually believes his own story line ie narrative, then he is either horribly misinformed, very naive or highly competitive and motivated to maintain his view no matter that the newer evidence completely debunks his claims. To me Tink seems like another Posner, a wolf in sheep’s clothing IMO, but not near as slick as the “prince of darkness”, ie actually a flyweight.

    It’s fun to watch Fetzer debate lone nutters and disinformation folks. He chews them up and spits them out in a very short time. That’s why Tink or Posner would never dare to enter a real college style debate with Fetzer which followed actual rules of formal debate. Fetzer would clean the floor with them in mere minutes and they know it.

    Now if you think the JFK Assassination is an old story of no current relevence, ponder this. It was the “secret team” according to Col. Fletcher Prouty that “did it”, a cabal of the military industrial complex that took JFK out with a complex deep black, “wetboy op” that was completely deniable and hidden in plain sight and layered into complex parallel subplots to confuse researchers and fact-finders. Experts know this secret team of “war and drug profiteers” started and ran the Korean war, Vietnam War, the war in Lebanon and the Balkinization of Yugoslavia and the current illegal, unConstitution, undeclared Mideast wars. They are the cutouts that have been responsible for the massive illegal drug trafficking into the USA from the Golden Triangle (via defunct Air America and others many of us know the names of), the Iran Contra illegal drugs in for illegal arms out at Mena, etc, and the current illegal afghan opium production and marketing, the “Gander hit”, Pan Am 103 (where the Tiny McKee team was hit), Murrah and 911 false flag inside jobs. One might ask, how can these folks be so evil? Answer from highly connected informed sources is two-fold: First with this group and their shadow govt associates, it is just “big business” (like slavery, opium wars, boxer rebellion, human sex trafficking–drugs, wars, weapons and big military contracts are very big profit makers and just ordinary good business with huge profit margins to these folks). Second alleged reason, their inner circle is comprised a weird death cult that worships death as in displaying the skull and bones like the WW1 prussian officers did on their hats, the pirate ships and a current fraternity at Yale (they worship death, but not their deaths–they only worship the deaths of what they called the “unwashed masses”, the chattel–ie anybody but them to be specific, IMO). They are allegedly so demented they believe that they will eventually become Gods if they sacrifice these masses by ministering mass death via war which will preserve the human race by purifying it and fomenting survival of the fittest (sick beyond words, no?). They call evil good and good stupid and unprofitable. Many of these folks are psychopaths and abject sadists, and also pedophiles–they tend to feel completely self-justified and engage in Druidic cleansing rituals such as at Bohemian Grove allegedly. This combination of ideology and practice makes them extremely dangerous to mankind and the human race in general, and strage enough this program is all allegedly run by less than twenty top controllers (yes, it’s sick and demented beyond words). Exposure is the first stage of change, so hat’s off and highest commendations to Professor Fetzer for doing an extremely good job fully solving and exposing this “crime of the twentieth Century” and pulling the thread that can unravel the whole currentrly operational “magic carpet” of illegal drugs, weapons trafficking, and war profiteering for mass murder and big profits which could easilyu expose these perps who hijacked our great republic).

  5. This quote needs some additional information:

    ” We know today that the “magic bullet” scenario is not only provably false but not even anatomically possible, where no bullet could have taken the alleged trajectory, because cervical vertebrae intervene.”

    To add:

    Not only is this impossible from a technical viewpoint but the pristine condition of the retrieved “magic bullet’ disproves the Warren Report’s theory because no bullet that has been fired and retrieved could possibly look this clean and unblemished.

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