With a number of distractions around, including the likelihood of a short war in the Ukraine and the slow but steady collapse of the Johnson government in Britain, I’ve had to push this subject back. However I’m an intelligence historian and don’t just cover current affairs.
Moreover the lessons of the JFK assassination have relevance nearly six decades later, indeed the failure to identify who was responsible for President Kennedy’s murder led directly to the failure to prevent the subversion of the Trump presidency 57 years later.
The 60th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination falls next year, and it’s going to be huge. I can cover the war next week, or maybe the week after.
Over four days, between December 28th and New Year’s Eve, Sky Documentaries in the UK broadcast Oliver Stone’s devastating new documentary mini-series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, on the assassination in Dallas Texas on Friday November 22nd 1963 of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. With forensic brilliance it dismantles the case against CIA asset Lee Harvey Oswald, blamed for the slaying by the with respect absurd Warren Commission.
What it didn’t do, because no one has yet briefed in Oliver Stone about the DVD, is identify who set up the assassination and why, although it offered a number of perfectly reasonable theories based on the evidence which has emerged since 1963. It is of course possible to be both reasonable and wrong.
Oliver Stone and I have never met. We are rather different individuals and work in different fields – he in movies and documentaries and myself in law and intelligence. He is American and I am British. He is marginally to the left of center, whilst I am marginally to the right. We’ve both met and befriended Latin American dictators – Hugo Chavez in his case and General Pinochet in mine – but they had slightly different approaches to running their countries.
He was opposed to American participation in the Vietnam War whereas I have always supported it. However, unlike me (I was too young, although I had no plans to scuttle back to England to beat the call-up in Australia, where I was then living) he actually fought in Vietnam and has a Combat Infantryman’s Badge to prove it. In fact he has a few more badges and medals than that and conducted himself under fire with courage and honor, winning two Purple Hearts.
One thing we do share however is a dedication to the truth, in particular to the truth about the Kennedy Assassination. As I explain in my book Spyhunter it was actually the second Kennedy assassination, with one more to come, although I have since come round to the view that John F. Kennedy Jnr, the late president’s son, was also assassinated, like three of his uncles.
Oliver Stone has come in for a lot of stick since his brilliant movie JFK, with its haunting music by John Williams. He has been painted, unfairly, as a ‘conspiracy theorist’, the usual term of abuse hurled by the ignorant and frightened against those who seek the truth. You won’t find any of that nonsense coming from me.
It will already be apparent that I differ from Oliver as regards his analysis of who was responsible, but in so doing I hope I am showing the man some respect. He’s not a reporter for the New York Times after all! Where we agree totally, however, is that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot or attempt to shoot the President and was not involved.
We also agree that there were multiple shooters and, by definition, a conspiracy. We are also ad idem in discounting the half-crazed German agent, no offense intended, Arlen Specter’s preposterous magic bullet theory, although Oliver, I suspect, is unaware that Specter worked for German intelligence.
Unlike Oliver Stone, who volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam and saw action, Arlen Specter stayed a long way from Korea in the Korean War. Indeed he spent the entire war behind a desk, in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, passing secrets to the Germans.
The Oswald Theory
The theory that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy has always rested on five key assumptions:
(1) That he was present on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository when the President was shot.
(2) That he possessed a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mil rifle.
(3) That this weapon was recovered after the assassination by Dallas Police Department.
(4) That only bullets fired from this rifle hit the President, and
(5) That the President was hit from behind.
Each of this assumptions is blown apart in this superb documentary. A number of them had already collapsed, not least (5), following the release of the Zapruder footage, but Destiny Betrayed wraps it up nicely in a neat package, which even a journalist could follow. I firmly reject the Oswald theory in Spyhunter of course, well aware that the Mannlicher handed in to the Dallas PD lacked a clip.
A suitable clip was handed in to the Warren Commission, months after the rifle, by a heavy-duty CIA contact of mine, the same man who discovered that there had been a mix-up over time zones in Washington and that the call to a federal judge to head to Love Field with a bible had been placed from the Vice-President’s office half an hour before the President was shot. (Whoops!)
Relying on eyewitness testimony either suppressed from the Warren Commission report or misrepresented in it, Oliver demolishes the claim that Oswald was on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository at the material time. He wasn’t even in the building.
The infamous photo showing Oswald holding a Mannlicher rifle is a phoney. Someone in either the CIA or the FBI screwed up and ended up with a critical ring in the wrong place. Oh dear! As the documentary explains, the rifle couldn’t have been delivered by mail order in any event as it wasn’t ordered in Oswald’s name. It would have been returned to sender.
As Oliver also demonstrates, with great forensic skill with respect, the rifle in the forged photo isn’t the same as that triumphantly held aloft by corrupt Dallas PD officer Lt J.C. ‘Carl’ Day. It can’t be – the barrels are of a different length.
I should explain that the Mannlicher-Carcano, a development of an old Austro-Hungarian weapon, was made in both infantry long gun and carbine versions. It was originally designed of course to be used by both horse cavalry and infantry.
Obviously the Dallas boys weren’t thinking in terms of horse cavalry. They wouldn’t have been of much use in the Charge of the Light Brigade! Someone evidently asked for a “Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mil rifle” without specifying which version and forgot that it was supposed to match the rifle in the faked photo.
The strap is also mounted differently in the Dallas rifle. There is no way it could be the same weapon as in the phoney photo. The absence of a clip is another fatal blow for the Oswald theory. All the theorising over the years about how many shots could have been fired in eight seconds assumes that the rifle had a clip. It didn’t, which would have slowed down the rate of fire considerably, as each round would have had to be loaded manually.
I gather that the CIA kicked themselves when someone pointed out that they’d forgotten to insert a clip! I gather that Richard Helms, the operational director for the assassination, was not amused! Don’t forget that Italian army rifles of Austro-Hungarian ancestry weren’t exactly common in the States in ‘63. You couldn’t just walk into a store in Washington and ask for an ammunition clip for a World War II vintage Italian army rifle.
Indeed I rather suspect that the clip handed in to the Warren Commission was actually obtained in Italy by the CIA’s Rome station and sent over in the diplomatic bag. Agents in loud check trousers wearing aviator glasses might have aroused suspicion going around Washington trying to buy up clips for a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle after the assassination.
Dallas PD knew from the get-go that Oswald was innocent. As Lt Day must have known with respect, the rifle he held up so triumphantly hadn’t been fired that day. The documentary also suggests that a paraffin test was conducted on his hands confirming that Oswald hadn’t recently fired a weapon. Since he hadn’t that would make sense.
The magic bullet theory is brutally taken apart. It was always a nonsense. What was new, for me at any rate, was that the windshield of the Lincoln was hit, and replaced soon after the car was flown back to Washington. This opens up the possibility of shots being fired from the grassy knoll. We always knew that there was a sniper team there.
My assumption has always been that they never got a clean shot, that is to say a shot which would have missed the windshield. The hit on the windshield brings LBJ’s grassy knoll boys into play, however. (The boys on the sixth floor were underworld enforcers from Saigon.)
The magic bullet by the way wasn’t even in Dallas on the day of the shooting. It wasn’t recovered from Governor Connally’s left thigh, or the Lincoln, or from Dealey Plaza. It hadn’t suffered enough deformation for it to have been through one body, let alone two. Since it had never been fired from the rifle handed in to Dallas PD there was of course no ballistics match.
The President was actually hit by bullets of two different calibers, 6.5 mil and 0.22 (5.588), which kind of makes a nonsense of the single shooter theory. He was also struck, in a crossfire, from different directions.
The Zapruder footage fatally undermined the struck from behind theory, but Oliver demonstrates beyond a peradventure that what the Warren Commission claimed was an entry wound at the back of the President’s head was an exit wound. Any doubt about that is removed by the autopsy X-rays, which show a pattern of bullet fragments consistent with a shot from the front and wholly inconsistent with a shot from behind.
The DVD’s role
So far, so good. Oliver and I and agree that Oswald:
(1) Was a fake defector to the USSR.
(2) Had a close connection to both the CIA and the FBI.
(3) Was a patsy and had no involvement whatsoever in the assassination of President Kennedy.
(4) Never possessed a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mil rifle.
(5) Did not fire a shot on November 22nd 1963 and
(6) Was taken out by an FBI asset, with full cooperation from Dallas PD, in circumstances where Dallas PD had been unable to break him down into confessing and the DA had no case, since Oswald could not be linked to the rifle and none of the bullets fired at the President’s limousine were a ballistics match to that weapon.
Where we differ is over who set up the shooting. As I explain in Spyhunter, Admiral Wilhem Canaris, head of the Abwehr, survived World War II. As Oliver’s people would soon to able to tell the photo below was taken post-war. It shows a growth of the earlobes which is wholly inconsistent with it being taken before his supposed execution by the SS at Flossenbürg Concentration Camp on April 9th 1945.
The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was ordered by Admiral Canaris, then the Director of the DVD, in order to try and regain control of the CIA after the DVD’s Allen Welsh Dulles had been fired by President Kennedy.
What was even worse from the DVD’s point of view was that President Kennedy’s choice as DCI, John A. McCone, had been instrumental in exposing both the crash in which Joe Kennedy Jnr was murdered as sabotage and the Abwehr agent James Forrestal’s role in setting it up.
John McCone’s excellent work led in due course to the termination of Secretary Forrestal with extreme prejudice and rightly so, although it is a pity that he wasn’t tried and fried for treason.
Oliver would understand the Kennedy assassination better with respect if he knew that the Dulles brothers and Richard Helms were German agents and that the DVD’s powerful Washington station had substantial blackmail material on a transvestite named J. Edgar Hoover, who at the material time was director of the FBI.
I wish documentary makers would ask me to review material! There are a couple of mistakes with the stock footage which let the programs down, with respect. There’s a De Havilland Comet 4 airliner in there, for example, along with some De Havilland Vampire jet fighters, for no obvious reason.
There’s also a Yorktown class carrier being pictured 17 years after the last one, Enterprise, was sadly broken up, her sisters Hornet and Yorktown tragically having been sunk by the Japanese.
Time for intermediaries to get out of the way
Oliver Stone is clearly aware that the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy ran deep. However I am not sure with respect that he knows just how deeply. Destiny Betrayed for example does not draw a link between President Johnson’s withdrawal from the 1968 presidential race and his shameful involvement in the murder of his predecessor.
It was in fact the self-same CIA officer who checked the phone records and found the critical call from the Vice-President’s office to the judge in Dallas before the shooting who went to the President, in Texas, and gave him the bad news that he had decided to withdraw from the ‘68 race. I daresay that said agent had a copy of the phone records with him, along with a .357 Magnum. (He liked his Magnums, partly because they don’t jam.)
He’s a good man, by the way, who once flew a U-2 over Cuba. He’s also one of the finest intelligence officers that America has ever produced. I’m using the present tense because I’m hoping that he’s still with us. (President George H.W.Bush ordered him to break off contact with me after he verified the existence of that stolen Russian nuclear warhead in London in 2012 – ‘Pappy’ Bush could be quite persuasive.)
I have critical information to give to Oliver Stone. Copies of this column are going to a number of intermediaries with access to him. I implore them not to get in the way and just pass the column along. The American people have been kept in the dark for far too long about the murder of their youthful, idealistic and charismatic president. Oliver Stone has shown them that Oswald did not shoot the President. I can show who did, and why. It’s way past time that Oliver and I sat down and had a chat.
Everybody keeps asking me when I think dear old Pooters is going to give the order to attack. Since he’s not taking me into his confidence I can’t be sure. All I do know is that the ground hasn’t been firm enough up till now to support massed armored formations, except in the south. All I will say is that I would advise against booking a short break in Kiev for next weekend and the weekend after. If you do go, take a helmet!
I respectfully welcome the news of Cressida Dick’s resignation as Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. She’s been a disaster, no offense intended. However I do not join in the general condemnation of her for sanctioning, as Gold Commander, the shooting of the Brazilian terrorist bomb-maker Jean Charles de Menezes on July 22nd 2005.
De Menezes was mistaken in good faith for a suicide bomber, partly because he was behaving like one and partly because he had a concealed, silenced, firearm about his person.
It was a clean shoot and Cressida need feel no remorse, as indeed I once told her, although she looked at me a bit askance. She’s no fan of Shrimpton, by the way, possibly because she was once shown some junk about me on a Thames Valley Police Special Branch file, which had come from GO2, alleging that an associate of mine was involved in fraud.
GO2, who were of course smearing me, carefully neglected to mention that the said associate was as honest as the day is long, was a devout member of Opus Dei and a friend of the Pope and was trying to protect Vatican funds from unlawful seizure, by Bush 41 as it happens, not the other way round. He also happened to be a junior member of the Hapsburg dynasty, whose father had fought for us against Rommel at El Alamein.
Years later, after my wrongful arrest, Thames Valley Police were apparently baffled when they discovered a direct dial number at the Vatican in one of my address books. It’s probably just as well that they didn’t ring it. It was for the Private Secretary to His Holiness the Pope – and the rozzers were puzzled as to how I ended up acting for that nice man General Pinochet, who happened to Catholic!
The Opus Dei network is quite a powerful one, by the way. The boys have a lot of pull in Catholic parts of the world. You would be amazed at how helpful a phone call from the Pope can be, although the boys in the Vatican prefer the more personal touch.
If any reader has made a connection between the HQ of the DVD being in Dachau, Bavaria, Bavaria being Catholic and Michael having the Pope’s number, well done! They’re not all Bad Guys at the Vatican. Some of them are even religious.
And yes, I have been consulted this weekend over who the new Commissioner should be, and no, I didn’t recommend Neil Basu QPM, except for beat officer Port Stanley. My chap would make an excellent Commissioner, with respect. I’m sure that the Home Secretary, who’s getting a copy of this column, will be delighted when the name is passed to her by MI5 this week!
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.