Sunday, September 23, 2007



People impressed by big fat books will be impressed by this one, but in a sense its very size is a judgment against it.

It is no great feat for experienced court prosecutors to churn out voluminous documents. They do it all the time in their court briefs, taking pages of legalese to say what should take paragraphs of good, clear English.

It is fitting in more than one way that Bugliosi is a prosecutor, for this book is a prosecutor's brief, just a fatter one than the ones produced by Bugliosi's predecessors like Gerald Posner or Edward Epstein.

But size here serves another purpose. What I would call intimidation. How could you possibly argue with this massive pile (1,600 pages) of evidence and argument?

The truth is that it is not hard at all to argue with it.

Bugliosi follows his predecessors who used pretty much the same evidence to reach the same conclusions which any independent-minded student of the assassination understands is impossible, that is, that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone.

Bugliosi had no new evidence of any significance with which to work. He simply looks at the same old stuff ad nauseam. Those familiar with the evidence know the truth is that until we have new evidence, Bugliosi's conclusion cannot possibly be reached by a conscientious investigator.

The key fact of the assassination is that the existing evidence is not adequate to convict anyone, and certainly not Oswald. There is of course other evidence in existence which has never been released. The CIA and the FBI have files they have never released.

We know this from many bits of evidence, including references in documents we do have and from situations about which we can positively conclude evidence must exist by the nature of things. A good example of the last is the CIA surveillance photos and recordings of Oswald, or someone pretending to be Oswald, in Mexico City. An obviously incorrect photo was released and the claim was made recordings were erased.

Oswald's connections with the FBI have never been satisfactorily examined. There are many circumstances suggesting his being a paid informant for the FBI, especially during his time in New Orleans. A letter Oswald wrote to a Dallas agent just before the assassination was deliberately and recklessly destroyed by order of the office's senior agent immediately after the assassination with no reasonable explanation.

Oswald had no motive for killing Kennedy, having expressed admiration for the President. Bugliosi cannot get around this fact, only pursuing the typical path of all his forerunners of attacking Oswald's character.

Oswald's being promptly assassinated himself by Jack Ruby, a man associated with the murky world of anti-Castro violence, someone whose past included gun-running to Cuba and enforcer-violence in Chicago, is a gigantic fact that sticks in the throat of any author like Bugliosi. It has never been explained and is not here.

Of course, there is always Bertrand Russell's unanswered questions after he had reviewed an advanced copy of the Warren Report: "If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security?"

Russell's question goes to the heart of the matter, as you would expect from one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 20th century. It has never been answered, and certainly not by Bugliosi.

It must be embarrassing for Bugliosi that Italian authorities recently, near the release of his book, conducted a series of tests with Oswald's ridiculous choice of weapons, a 1940 Mannlicher-Carcano, one of the last rifles in the world a determined assassin would choose.

Army sharpshooters could not come close to Oswald's supposed feat of loading the crude bolt-action rifle and firing it three times.

Moreover, in their tests using animal parts, it was shown impossible for a bullet to emerge from Kennedy virtually intact as the Warren Commission said "the magic bullet" did.

Of course, when we limit ourselves to three times loading and shooting for the rifle, we are already playing the Warren Commission's game. There were in fact at least four shots as a closely-analyzed recording clearly showed.

Recent analysis at Texas A&M University also showed that the ballistics evidence used to rule out a second gunman had been misinterpreted.