JFK Murder Part 15
Sat Jan 27, 2007 18:09

(3) Exchange between Max Frankel and President Gerald Ford during a televised debate on 6th October, 1976.

Max Frankel : I'm sorry, could I just follow - did I understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence in occupying most of the countries there and making sure with their troops that it's a Communist zone, whereas on our side of the line the Italians and the French are still flirting with the possibility of Communism?

Gerald Ford: I don't believe, Mr. Frankel that the Yugoslavians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don't believe that the Rumanians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don't believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. Each of those countries is independent, autonomous; it has its own territorial integrity. And the United States does not concede that those countries are under the domination of the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact, I visited Poland, Yugoslavia and Rumania to make certain that the people of those countries understood that the President of the United States and the people of the United States are dedicated to their independence, their autonomy and their freedom.

(4) Mike Feinsilber, Gerald Ford and the Warren Report (2nd July, 1997)

Thirty-three years ago, Gerald R. Ford took pen in hand and changed - ever so slightly - the Warren Commission's key sentence on the place where a bullet entered John F. Kennedy's body when he was killed in Dallas.

The effect of Ford's change was to strengthen the commission's conclusion that a single bullet passed through Kennedy and severely wounded Texas Gov. John Connally - a crucial element in its finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman.

A small change, said Ford on Wednesday when it came to light, one intended to clarify meaning, not alter history.

''My changes had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory,'' he said in a telephone interview from Beaver Creek, Colo. ''My changes were only an attempt to be more precise.''

But still, his editing was seized upon by members of the conspiracy community, which rejects the commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone.

''This is the most significant lie in the whole Warren Commission report,'' said Robert D. Morningstar, a computer systems specialist in New York City who said he has studied the assassination since it occurred and written an Internet book about it.

The effect of Ford's editing, Morningstar said, was to suggest that a bullet struck Kennedy in the neck, ''raising the wound two or three inches. Without that alteration, they could never have hoodwinked the public as to the true number of assassins.''

If the bullet had hit Kennedy in the back, it could not have struck Connolly in the way the commission said it did, he said.

The Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that a single bullet - fired by a ''discontented'' Oswald - passed through Kennedy's body and wounded his fellow motorcade passenger, Connally, and that a second, fatal bullet, fired from the same place, tore through Kennedy's head.

The assassination of the president occurred Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas; Oswald was arrested that day but was shot and killed two days later as he was being transferred from the city jail to the county jail.

Conspiracy theorists reject the idea that a single bullet could have hit both Kennedy and Connally and done such damage. Thus they argue that a second gunman must have been involved.

Ford's changes tend to support the single-bullet theory by making a specific point that the bullet entered Kennedy's body ''at the back of his neck'' rather than in his uppermost back, as the commission staff originally wrote.

Ford's handwritten notes were contained in 40,000 pages of records kept by J. Lee Rankin, chief counsel of the Warren Commission.

They were made public Wednesday by the Assassination Record Review Board, an agency created by Congress to amass all relevant evidence in the case. The documents will be available to the public in the National Archives.

The staff of the commission had written: ''A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder and to the right of the spine.''

Ford suggested changing that to read: ''A bullet had entered the back of his neck at a point slightly to the right of the spine.''

The final report said: ''A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine.''

Ford, then House Republican leader and later elevated to the presidency with the 1974 resignation of Richard Nixon, is the sole surviving member of the seven-member commission chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

(5) Michael L. Kurtz, The JFK Assassination Debates (2006)

Virtually every serious Kennedy assassination researcher believes that the Warren Commission's single bullet theory is essential to its conclusion that only one man fired shots at President Kennedy and Governor Connally. The awkwardness of the Mannlicher-Carcano's bolt action mechanism, which forced FBI experts to fire two shots in a minimum of 2.25 seconds, even without aiming, coupled with the average time of 18.3 film frames per second as measured on Abraham Zapruder's camera, constitute a timing constraint that compels the conclusion either that Kennedy and Connally were struck by the same bullet, or that two separate gunmen fired two separate shots at the two men. Although a handful of researchers contend that the first shot struck Kennedy at frame Z162 or Z189, thereby allowing sufficient time for Oswald to fire a separate shot with the Carcano and strike Connally at frame Z237, the vast majority of assassination scholars maintain one of two scenarios. First, both Kennedy and Connally were struck by the same bullet at frame Z223 or Z224, evidenced by the quick flip of the lapel on Connally's suit jacket as the bullet passed through his chest. Second, the first bullet struck Kennedy somewhere between frames Z210 and Z224, and the second bullet struck Connally between frames Z236 and Z238, evidenced by the visual signs on the film of Connally reacting to being struck.

The evidence clearly establishes, however, that Kennedy and Connally were struck by separate bullets. The location of the bullet wound in Kennedy's back has given rise to considerable controversy. Originally, the Warren Commission staff draft of the relevant section of the Warren Report stated that "a bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder and to the right of the spine." The problem lay in the course of the bullet through Kennedy's body. If a bullet fired from the sixth-floor window of the Depository building nearly sixty feet higher than the limousine entered the president's back, with the president sitting in an upright position, it could hardly have exited from his throat at a point just above the Adam's apple, then abruptly change course and drive downward into Governor Connally's back. Therefore, Warren Commissioner Gerald Ford deliberately changed the draft to read: "A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine." Suppressed for more than three decades, Ford's deliberate distortion was released to the public only through the actions of the ARRB. When this alteration first surfaced in 1997, Ford explained that he made the change for the sake of "clarity." In reality, Ford had elevated the location of the wound from its true location in the back to the neck to ensure that the single bullet theory would remain inviolate. The actual evidence demonstrates the accuracy of the initial draft. Bullet holes in Kennedy's shirt and suit jacket, situated almost six inches below the top of the collar, place the wound squarely in the back. Because JFK sat upright at the time, and because photographs and films show that neither the shirt nor the suit jacket rode up over his collar, the location of the bullet holes in the garments prove that the shot struck him in the back. Kennedy's death certificate places the wound at the level of the third thoracic vertebra. Autopsy photographs of the back place the wound in the back two to three inches below the base of the neck.

(6) Angus Mackenzie, The CIA's War at Home (1997)

The CIA would spend the next two decades fighting the release of documents to citizens who requested them under the FOIA. For CIA officials, whose lives were dedicated to secrecy, the logic behind the checks and balances of the three-branch system of government may have been incomprehensible. The idea that federal judges not trained in espionage could inspect CIA files and even order their release was enough to curdle the blood of secret operatives like Richard Ober. CIA officers felt that neither Congress nor the courts could comprehend the perils that faced secret agents. Their instinctive reaction, therefore, was to find any avenue by which they could avoid judicial or journalistic scrutiny.

A month after Congress enacted the new FOIA amendments, someone at the CIA leaked the news of MHCHAOS to Seymour Hersh at the New York limes. Hersh's article appeared on the front page of the December 22, r974, issue under the headline "Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years." Although sparse in detail, the article revealed that the CIA had spied on U.S. citizens in a massive domestic operation, keeping 10,000 dossiers on individuals and groups and violating the 1947 National Security Act. Hersh reported that intelligence officials were claiming the domestic operations began as legitimate spying to investigate overseas connections to dissenters.

Gerald Ford, who only four and a half months earlier had assumed the presidency in the wake of Nixon's resignation, took the public position that the CIA would be ordered to cease and desist. William Colby, who had replaced James Schlesinger as CIA director, was told to issue a report on MHCHAOS to Henry Kissinger.

Apparently Ford was not informed that Kissinger was well aware of the operation. A few days later, after Helms categorically denied that the CIA had conducted "illegal" spying, Ford named Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to head a commission that would be charged with making a more comprehensive report. Ford's choice of Rockefeller to head the probe was most fortunate for Ober. Rockefeller was closely allied with Kissinger, who had been a central figure in the former New York governor's 1968 presidential primary campaign. Although Rockefeller was well regarded in media and political circles for his streak of independence, it was all but certain from the beginning that his report would amount to a cover-up.

In fact, Colby ran into trouble because he was willing to be more forthcoming about MHCHAOS than Rockefeller and Kissinger desired. After Colby's second or third appearance before the commission investigators, Rockefeller drew Colby aside and said, "Bill, do you really have to present all this material to us? We realize there are secrets that you fellows need to keep, and so nobody here is going to take it amiss if you feel there are some questions you can't answer quite as fully as you seem to feel you have to."

Because of MHCHAOS and Watergate, Congress began to investigate the CIA. On September 16, 1975, Senators Frank Church and John Tower called Colby to testify at a hearing about CIA assassinations. Colby showed up carrying a CIA poison-dart gun, and Church waved the gun before the television cameras. It looked like an automatic pistol with a telescopic sight mounted on the barrel. Producers of the evening newscasts recognized this as sensational footage, and just as surely Colby recognized that his days as director were numbered. He had not guarded the CIA secrets well enough.

Colby was fired on November 2, 1975. His successor was George Herbert Walker Bush, who had been serving as chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing. Bush's job would be delicate, perhaps impossible, and probably thankless; but as the former chairman of the Republican Party, he had already been in a similar position, guiding the party through the worst days of the Watergate scandal. He had supported Nixon as long as it was politically feasible, then finally had joined those who insisted on Nixon's departure.

(8) Daniel Schorr, Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism (2001)

The disclosure that the CIA, in its domestic surveillance program code-named Operation Chaos, tapped wires and conducted break-ins caused a public stir that intervention in far-off Chile had not. Over the Christmas holiday in Vail, Colorado, President Ford, it would later emerge, had finally gotten to read the CIA inspector general's report, informally dubbed the Family Jewels.

It detailed a stunning list of 693 items of CIA malfeasance ranging from behavior-altering drug experiments on unsuspecting subjects, one of whom plunged to his death from a hotel window; to assassination plots against leftist third world leaders.

Anxious to keep congressional committees, already gearing up for investigations, from laying bare the worst of these, President Ford, on January 5, 1975, announced the appointment of a "blue-ribbon" commission to inquire into improper domestic operations. The panel was headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and included such stalwarts as Gov. Ronald Reagan of California, retired general Lyman Lemnitzer, and former treasury secretary Douglas Dillon.

A few days later President Ford held a long-scheduled luncheon for New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger and several of his editors. Toward the end the subject of the newly named Rockefeller commission came up. Executive Editor A. M. Rosenthal observed that, dominated by establishment figures, the panel might not have much credibility with critics of the CIA. Ford nodded and explained that he had to he cautious in his choices because, with complete access to files, the commission might learn of matters, under presidents dating back to Truman, far more serious than the domestic surveillance they had been instructed to look into.

The ensuing hush was broken by Rosenthal. "Like what?"

"Like assassinations," the president shot back.

Prompted by an alarmed news secretary Ron Nessen, the president asked that his remark about assassinations be kept off the record.

The Times group returned to their bureau for a spirited argument about whether they could pass up a story potentially so explosive. Managing Editor E. C. Daniel called the White House in the hope of getting Nessen to ease the restriction from "off-the-record" to "deep background." Nessen was more adamant than ever that the national interest dictated that the president's unfortunate slip be forgotten. Finally, Sulzberger cut short the debate, saying that, as the publisher, he would decide, and he had decided against the use of the incendiary information.

This left several of the editors feeling quite frustrated, with the inevitable result that word of the episode began to get around, eventually reaching me. Under no off-the-record restriction myself, I enlisted CBS colleagues in figuring out how to pursue the story. Since Ford had used the word assassinations, we assumed we were looking for persons who had been murdered - possibly persons who had died under suspicious circumstances. We developed a hypothesis, but no facts.

On February 27, 1975, my long-standing request for another meeting with Director Colby came through. Over coffee we discussed Watergate and Operation Chaos, the domestic surveillance operation.

As casually as I could, I then asked, "Are you people involved in assassinations?"

"Not any more," Colby said. He explained that all planning for assassinations had been banned since the 1973 inspector general's report on the subject.

I asked, without expecting an answer, who had been the targets before 1973.

"I can't talk about it," Colby replied.

"Hammarskjold?" I ventured. (The UN. secretary-general killed in an airplane crash in Africa.)

"Of course not."

"Lumumba?" (The left-win

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