“Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I stand”–with apologies to Stealers Wheel
by Jim Fetzer
Josiah Thompson represents an especially stunning example of disinformation dissemination within the JFK research community, which appears to date from the publication of Six Seconds in Dallas (1967), for which he was lionized and even received coverage in the then-prominent Saturday Evening Post (2 December 1967), with a cover story about three assassins having fired four shots, one from the top of the County Records Building, two from the alleged “sniper’s nest” in the Book Depository, and one from the grassy knoll. On his account, the first shot (from the Book Depository) hit JFK in the back, the second (from the County Records Building) wounded Gov. John Connally, and the third (also from the Book Depository) hit him in the back of the head while the fourth (from the grassy knoll) hit him in the right temple, which was pretty good work for its time.
As a young Marine Corps officer, when I returned from a 13 month tour of duty in the Far East (where I had been anchored out about the LPH Iwo Jima in Kangshung Harbor, Taiwan, when JFK was assassinated), I bought, read and annotated a copy of his book, which I still have in my possession. It came as a bitter pill to discover that a man I had idolized–as a philosophy Ph.D. from Yale who had also served in the Navy and become a college professor, which I was also destined to do–had abandoned the search for truth and had turned into an active opponent of new research on the death of JFK. When he began to refer to Assassination Science (1998), which he ought to have been hailing for having shattered the cover-up, as “Assassinated Science”, I knew something was wrong. But I was hardly the first to call out Josiah Thompson for suppressing proof of conspiracy in this case, a distinction that falls to Vincent Salandria, a lawyer and first-generation critic, who concluded (1) that JFK was killed by ‘the national security state’ because he was trying to reach accommodations with the USSR and Cuba, (2) that the truth of the assassination was systematically covered up by the government, civilians, and the mainstream media, and (3) that “JFK was killed by ‘our warfare system,’ aka ‘the American power elite,’ rather than by Cuba, the USSR, the Mafia, the FBI, or Lyndon Johnson.”
A biographical sketch notes that, when he became involved in a protest at Haverford and confronted legal charges, his attorney turned out to be Vincent Salandria. It adds that, while Thompson has not been overly active since 1988, “Most recently, he delivered a searing blast at Prof. James Fetzer and others involved with Fetzer’s book Assassination Science, at JFK Lancer’s annual conference, Dallas, 20 November 1998, in a classic address entitled ‘Why the Zapruder Film is Authentic‘ .” The ironies in all this are simply staggering, since the author does not know the evidence well-enough to know who is right and who is wrong. Based upon the multiple sources I have presented in “The JFK War: An Insider’s Guide to Assassination Research II”, we also know that the Altgens7 is a fabrication, which appears to have been made to correspond to the revised Zapruder film, where it, like the Altgens6, was published on the front pages of many newspapers, a point to which I shall return.
The problem, of course, is that someone like Josiah Thompson can create false impressions of uncertainly about what is known. When this exchange expanded on The Education Forum (perhaps the largest, interactive on-line research website in the world), I put up a post (which might itself be regarded as a classic), “Did Josiah Thompson rip off David Lifton?” (7 January 2010) explaining how Lifton had published a 30,000 word article in Ramparts magazine, “The Case for Three Assassins” (January 1967 cover story), which may well have been the basis for Thompson’s “new theory”. One might have thought that Lifton’s earlier work, which advances similar themes, would have deserved recognition in his “Acknowledgments”, which received a single, obscure citation. While Josiah extols the virtues of Vincent Salandria as his primary source of encouragement, there is an irony here, since Vince had written to me in a year earlier (in February 2009) as follows:
“With respect to Josiah Thompson, I am surprised that you do not know that immediately after the issuance of his book, ‘Six Seconds in Dallas,’ I characterized him as a government agent. I so designated him at my home after I called his attention to the last paragraph of his book wherein he denied that the material analyzed in the book demonstrated that the assassination of JFK was a conspiracy. He explained the paragraph as ‘an error of exposition.’ I said that it was proof enough for me that he was an agent assigned to help make the JFK assassination a subject of eternal debate without signifying anything. He has publicly told audiences that I consider him an agent.”
For those who bother to look, on page 246 of Six Seconds in Dallas (1967), Josiah Thompson concludes his book with the words,
“What does this collection of new evidence prove? It does not prove that the assassination was a conspiracy and that two men were together on the sixth floor of the Depostitory at the time the shots were fired. Nor does it prove Oswald’s innocence. What it does suggest is that there are threads in this case that should have been unraveled long ago instead of being swept under the Archives rug. It also shows that the question of Oswald’s guilt must remain–nearly four years after the event–still unanswered.
But that is absurd. Even the McClelland diagram, with which this article begins, displays a massive blow-out to the back of the head, which cannot have been caused by a shot fired from above and behind. You can find that on page 107. On page 113, you can find the dent in the chrome strip and the third windshield, which the Secret Service substituted for the original.
Conspiracies only require two or more individuals acting in concert to bring about an illegal end: they do not have to be in the same shooting location at the same time! The most objective and scientific proof of conspiracy, moreover, is the two-near-simultaneous shots that hit at frames 312 and 313, for which he presents a stunning and convincing analysis on pages 86-95, substantiated by a technical appendix (prepared by William Hoffman) on pages 272-276. This is such powerful proof of at least two shooters that I was not surprised when he began to back away from the evidence presented in his own book and disavowed the “doubt hit theory” on The Education Forum.
He has now gone further and, as I explain in “JFK, the CIA and The New York Times” (29 November 2011), has begun the process of debunking proofs of conspiracy that have been advanced in the study of the assassination, which is why I regard him as the worst of the worst.
The “double-hit theory” is an instructive case, because when David S. Lifton visited Richard Feynman, one of the most distinguished physicists of our time, and discussed these frames with him, Feynman took out a ruler and established the existence of the “double hit” himself. It is difficult to imagine a more revealing situation than for Josiah Thompson to be disavowing an objective, scientific proof of the existence of a conspiracy not only proven in his own book but also by an Nobel Prize winning physicist. Anyone with any lingering doubt about Tink’s betrayal of JFK research should pay close attention to what he says here, where he is suggesting that there are arbitrarily many innocuous explanations for any evidence that has ever been viewed as “sinister” in the assassination of JFK. As Cliff Varnell has astutely remarked, “Check out the sarcasm dripping from Tink’s [use of the two phrases] “really sinister” and “sinister underpinning”, which are verbal indications of what is going on during this performance for The New York Times:
Here’s a transcript: (laughing) What it means is 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. That this was setting himself up to disavow conspiracy in the death of JFK for the 50th, I have no doubt.
The Man in the Doorway
So by the deft use of a straw man (to imply that, unless two men had been in that window together, there would be no proof of the existence of a conspiracy) and by suppressing the significance of his own study (which already presented abundant proof that JFK had been killed by a conspiracy), Josiah Thompson demonstrated to Vincent Salandria that he was not on the level–and the history of our interaction and the actions he has taken in the meanwhile have confirmed it.
A more recent development involving a second photograph attributed to James “Ike” Altgens, known as the “Altgens6″, has brought further efforts to suppress the latest information about the assassination of JFK into play. In this case, when I published “JFK: What we know now that we didn’t know then”, Veterans Today (21 November 2011), I included copies of Homicide Detective Will Fritz’s note from his interrogation with Lee Oswald, during which Lee had told him that he was “out with Bill Shelley in front” during the shooting.
That led me to do a search for evidence in perhaps the most famous of all assassination photographs of Oswald’s presence, where I discovered that a face (circled) had been obscured–ironically, on a web site, “Was Oswald in the Doorway of the Depository at the time of the JFK Assassination?”, of John McAdams, perhaps the world’s leading proponent of the long-discredited Warren Report:
This appeared to be striking confirmation that Oswald’s reply to Fritz had been true. After all, surely the only reason to have altered a photograph of this historic significance could only have been if someone had been there who should not have been there, where the only candidate for that role would have been Lee Oswald. I therefore drew the inference that the man whose face had been removed was Oswald.
But I would be corrected in short order by Ralph Cinque, D.C., a professional chiropractor, who convinced me that the key to identifying Doorman–given the choice between Billy Lovelady (seen on the left below) and Lee Oswald ( seen on the right)–was the clothing the man was wearing, not his face, about which he was completely right. (It would even turn out that alterations had been made to the face to make it look more like that of Billy Lovelady.)
That initiated a series of articles, beginning with “JFK Special: Oswald was in the doorway, after all!”, where Ralph and I began to lay out the multiple lines of proof, and ending with “49 Years in the Offing: The Altgens Reenactment“, where Ralph reports upon a series of new photographic studies in Dealey Plaza in response to arguments that have been raised against the conclusion that, since Lee was in the doorway, he cannot possibly have been “the lone assassin” as direct proof of what we have long since concluded, but in the past based upon circumstantial evidence.
In this copy of the Altgens6, I have identified (1) the hole in the windshield, (2) the man in the doorway, (3) the Dal-Tex shooter’s location, (4) and LBJ’s security already reacting at the same time JFK’s detail is looking around and non-responsive. It is also very curious how at least two of the agents are looking toward the doorway as though they recognized someone who should not have been there.
It has long been known co-workers placed Lee in or around the lunchroom on the 2nd floor at 11:50 AM (by Bill Shelley), at Noon (by Eddie Piper), and as late as 12:15 and even 12:25 PM by Carolyn Arnold, the executive secretary to the Vice President of the Book Depository. Lee would be confronted there within 90 seconds of the shooting by Motorcycle Office Marrion Baker, who held him in his sights until Roy Truly, his supervisor, came over to confirm that he was an employee and belonged there.
In his written report, Officer Baker even wrote that he was “drinking a coke”, which caused problems for the Warren Commission, since it was bad enough that there was only a 6.5 minute interval for him to have reached the sixth floor, fired three shots at JFK, and rushed back to the 2nd floor to have a coke. Had he done that, his adrenaline would have been pumping so hard he could not have been able to put a nickel into the coke machine, pressed the lever and removed the bottle to be drinking a coke by the time Officer Baker would arrive.
This area of the Altgens6 offers conclusive proof that the photograph has been altered. The obfuscated face, which I inferred to have been Lee’s but which we not believe was Bill Shelley’s (since if Shelly was there, it lent credence to Lee’s assertion to Fritz), the man in the doorway’s left shoulder is missing, the man behind him (we call “Black Tie Man”, whom we believe to have been Jack Ruby), is both in front of him and behind him at the same time (like an Escher cube, as Clare Kuehn has observed), and the profile of a black man appears at mid-torso (which appears to have been to conceal features of the shirt that would have given the game way).
While one might have thought that evidence of the Altgens6 alteration–which by itself was prima facie proof that Oswald had been there– would have been welcomed by the JFK research community, the since it demonstrates that he could not even have been a shooter, to my dismay, however, the response has been quite the opposite, where Ralph and I have been repeatedly attacked, especially on JFK research forums, such as “The Education Forum” and “The Deep Politics Forum”, which has been one of the most bizarre events of my intellectual life.
That these rejections are irrational and based neither upon logic nor evidence has become apparent as study after study has disclosed more and more proof that Doorway man was Lee Harvey Oswald and cannot have been Billy Lovelady. Insofar as Billy himself insisted that he was wearing a red-and-white striped short sleeved shirt that day, the situation is actually beyond belief. Serious students should read “The Lovelady Deception” and “The Lovelady Caper”, by Harold Weisberg, Whitewash II (1966), who points out that Lovelady had been emphatic in telling others he was wearing that shirt. We are confirming what Weisberg had already figured out in 1966!
Oswald wasn’t even a shooter
Based upon extensive and meticulous research with Ralph Cinque and Richard Hooke (aided and abetted by contributions from K.D. Ruckman and Clare Kuehn), we have been able to establish that Doorman was Oswald on the basis of comparisons of the right ear, the left eye, the cranium, the hairline and a vast number of distinguishing features of the shirt, which has been summarized in a new poster created by Richard Hooke, which displays 27 points of identification. (Richard has now prepared yet another and even more detailed comparison with 50 points of identification in anticipation of the 50th observance of the assassination.) Ralph had it right: the key to unraveling the identity of Doorman is not the face (which was altered to make it look more like Lovelady, just as one of the FBI photos of Lovelady appears to have been altered to make it look more like Oswald) but the shirt and clothing he was wearing:
Indeed, one rather fascinating outcome has been the discovery of other persons who have been identified as “Lovelady”, when they bear only the most paltry resemblance to him. Here, for example, is another study by Richard Hooke in which he compares the man in a checkered shirt–who appears in photographs and film taken both outside the Book Depository shortly after the assassination and in films that purport to be following Oswald as he is escorted through the Dallas Police Department. Not only are they obviously not the same person–the man in the checkered shirt is obviously not Billy Lovelady, who had a normal facial profile, while this guy has a face like a gorilla!–but it turns out that the elements that have been used in on-going attempts to obfuscate Doorman’s identity are present in the original photograph (above) that I discovered at the McAdams’s web site, which is revealing of their modus operandi:
Because they imposed features of Billy Lovelady’s face on that of Lee Oswald, there are going to be some features of Doorman’s face that are the same as those same features of Lovelady; and because they imposed features of Lee Oswald’s face over the FBI photo at the bottom left (above), there are going to be some features of that “Lovelady” face that resemble those of Doorman. This is part and parcel of the ultimate objective of disinformation, which is not to convince anyone (in this case) that Doorman is Lovelady or that Doorman is Oswald but to create enough uncertainty that everything is believable and nothing is knowable, as Martin Schotz has astutely observed in History Will not Absolve Us (1996). In this instance, however, meticulous research has been their undoing:
The replies by participants on various JFK research forums has been quite striking. When I posted Ralph’s reenactment study, which demonstrated that objections that had been raised to our position were unfounded, the response was not to address the new evidence he had adduced but to flood the thread with irrelevant posts.
When I refuted a few “best efforts” to debunk us by David Von Pein, Craig Lamson, and Mike Rago–and an astute post by Pat Speer–they changed their tactics and began posting on other subjects, which is an improper practice on a forum of this kind. Yet a series of irrelevant posts began to appear from Jim DiEugenio, David Von Pein and Lee Farley concerning Wesley Buell Frazier, Ruth Paine and even the “magic bullet” theory.
An attempt would be eventually made by David Josephs to show that some of the features of the face of Doorman corresponded with those of Billy Lovelady, which is what we would expect, given that they had imposed features of Lovelady over Oswald’s face, to which I would respond in post #127 with a point-by-point critique.
More and More Proof Emerges
Other forums were less subtle. On the “Deep Politics Forum”, for example, when I introduced a new thread, “JFK believe it or not: Oswald wasn’t event a shooter”, Charles Drago, who was a founding member and who dominates that forum, embedded it within an older thread, “TSBD Doorway man – Oswald or Lovelady?”, even boasting on the thread that he had done it so others would not know it was there! In response to my earlier post, #284, “Reasoning about Doorman: The Oswald Innocence Project”, in post #286, he wrote that we had been “totally discredited” and that we represented “an attack on the community of JFK assassination researchers”:
Think about this carefully: If the JFK-related oeuvres of Fetzer and “Cinque” did not exist, the truth of conspiracy in the murder of JFK would be no less firmly established.
Accordingly, I submit that it is high time that we, as a community, remove Jim Fetzer from our midst and in effect institutionalize him as a once-important, now fatally, irrevocably impaired, and dangerous man who is being manipulated by his enemies to do their work and undermine his own legacy.
We do not debate the likes of Gerald Posner, Vince Bugliosi, David von Pein, John McAdams, and Ken Rahn. Rather, we expose their lies and agendas and then banish them from the company of honorable, civilized human beings.
But while a few sane voices of reason observed that his claims were themselves fabrications because no one had debunked our work, the tenor of this forum was even more hostile than that of “The Education Forum”–and those who review this thread on the DPF will find ample support for my contention that Charles Drago himself has lost his way and become an obstacle to assassination research.
The most telling indication that we are on the right track and that our research has been sound is that, the deeper and deeper we dig, the more proof we obtain that we are correct. The case of Bill Shelley is a nice illustration. Oswald had told Fritz that he was “out with Bill Shelley in front” at the time of the shooting. Why would Lee have said such a thing if it were not true? He knew that Bill Shelley could confirm or refute it. As it happens, David Ferrie and Lee had known each other in the Civil Air Patrol, where they are together in a CAP photograph taken in 1955. William Weston, The Spider’s Web (reviewed in The Dealey Plaza Echo), reports that Bill Shelley was not only an Army intelligence officer in World War II but also a member of the CAP, which was founded by D. H. Byrd, a wealthy oil man, who owned the Book Depository in 1963. Bill Shelley was simply playing his part in setting up Lee.
It was a “spider’s web”, indeed. The husband of Ruth Paine, who assisted in obtaining a job for Lee at the depository, Michael, was a Vice President of Bell Helicopter, which received a huge contract for helicopters when the Vietnam War went down. Both of them had CIA connections, which I have discussed in my review of Mrs. Paine’s Garage (2002), archived on assassinationscience.com. The agency left nothing to chance, where the information about Lee’s location at the time of his interrogation appears to have been used as the stimulus to alter the Altgens6. Some newspapers would publish both the Altgens6 and the Altgens7 together on their front page, which is a remarkable albeit indirect confirmation of its former Director, William Colby’s, observation, “The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media”. Indeed, some newspapers even published Altgens7 and Altgens6 side by side.
I wish I could deny that the conduct of the JFK research community contradicts rather than confirms the saying attributed to Lenin, “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves!” But the fact of the matter is that we find one confirming instance after another. On jfkassassinationforum.com/, for example, hundreds of pages of studies of the Altgens6, including brilliant work by Richard Hooke, was dispatched by the simple but effective method of deletion by Duncan MacRae. And on another forum, a sophisticated attempt to suggest that Shelley’s face was actually part of the figure behind him, who appears to have been Billy Lovelady, has been published by Robin Unger. What this means is that those who venture onto these forums need to develop their critical thinking by relying upon the objective, scientific findings I have presented in Part I to navigate in the more turbulent waters I have discussed in Parts II and III. As we approach the 50th observance of the death of JFK, you should have no doubt that the JFK war will approach its zenith in the expectation by the intelligence agencies that, once that landmark date has passed, no one will care about “ancient history”. But the American people deserve to know the truth about their own history–which we are determined to give them.
Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer and McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has published three books on JFK and chaired or co-chaired four national conferences about it (Minneapolis 1999, Dallas 2000, Dallas 2001, and Duluth 2003).
McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he has also conducted extensive research into the assassination of JFK, the events of 9/11, and the plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone.
The founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, his latest books include The Evolution of Intelligence (2005), The 9/11 Conspiracy (2007), Render Unto Darwin (2007), and The Place of Probability in Science (2010).
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