Eyewitness testimony indicating Lee Harvey Oswald never left the second-floor lunch room of the Texas School Book Depository during the shooting of John F. Kennedy and police reports that the rifle found on the sixth floor was a German Mauser, not the infamous Mannlicher-Carcano, conflict with the Warren Commission Report, says WND senior reporter Jerome Corsi, author of the newly released “Who Really Killed Kennedy? 50 Years Later: Stunning New Revelations about the JFK Assassination.”
It’s that kind of evidence that has prompted Corsi, as WND has reported, to challenge Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly to a debate.
O’Reilly, in his bestselling book “Killing Kennedy,” also neglected evidence of Oswald’s ties to the CIA and FBI, Corsi contends.
Corsi says O’Reilly repeats virtually every detail of the Warren Commission’s account, ignoring 50 years of research that has cast doubt on crucial aspects of the “lone-gun assassin” narrative.
Lacking footnotes, O’Reilly’s book, according to Corsi, “frames Lee Harvey Oswald, every bit as much as the Warren Commission did.”
“Who Really Killed Kennedy,” released this month as the 50th anniversary of the assassination approaches, is bolstered by recently declassified documents that shed new light on the greatest “who-done-it” mystery of the 20th century. Corsi sorted through tens of thousands of documents, all 26 volumes of the Warren Commission’s report, hundreds of books, several films and countless photographs.
A Mauser found
O’Reilly, like the Warren Commission, claims Oswald shot JFK with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. He neglects to explain why the initial television reports, including one broadcast nationally by CBS, said that the rifle found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository was a 7.65 Mauser bolt-action equipped with a scope, not a 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano.
Dallas County Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman, the same police officer who found a piece of JFK’s skull and encountered what he thought was a Secret Service agent in the aftermath of the shooting, was present when the rifle was found. In an affidavit sworn on the day after the assassination, Weitzman described how the rifle was found:
I immediately ran to the Texas Building and started looking inside. At this time Captain Fritz [Dallas Police Department] arrived and ordered all of the sixth floor sealed off and searched. I was working with Deputy S. Boone of the Sheriff’s Department and helping in the search. We were in the northwest corner of the sixth floor when Deputy Boone and myself spotted the rifle about the same time. The rifle was a 7.65 Mauser bolt action equipped with a 4/18 scope, a thick leather brownish-looking sling on it. The rifle was between some boxes near the stairway. The time the rifle was found was 1:22 p.m. Captain Fritz took charge of the rifle and ejected one live round from the chamber. I then went back to the office after this.
In his testimony to the Warren Commission, Weitzman acknowledged he told the FBI the rifle he found was a 7.65 Mauser.
Deputy Eugene Boone, in an investigative report filed with the Dallas County Sheriff’s office on the day of the assassination, reports how he found the 7.65 Mauser:
I proceeded to the sixth floor of the building to search for the rifle. I started on the east end of the building and worked my way to the west end of the building. In the northwest corner of the building approx. three feet from the east wall of the stairwell and behind a row of cases of books I saw the rifle, what appeared to be a 7.65 Mauser with a telescopic site. The rifle had what appeared to be a brownish-black stock and blue steel, metal parts. Capt. Fritz DPD was called to this location and along with an ID man DPD took charge of the rifle.
In his testimony to the Warren Commission on March 25, 1964, Deputy Boone repeated his claim the rifle he discovered on the sixth floor was a 7.65 Mauser:
Mr. Ball: There is one question. Did you hear anybody refer to this rifle as a Mauser that day?
Mr. Boone: Yes, I did. And at last, not knowing what it was, I thought it was a 7.65 Mauser.
Mr. Ball: Who referred to it as a Mauser that day?
Mr. Boone: I believe Captain Fritz. He had knelt down there to look at it, and before he removed it, not knowing what it was, he said that is what it looks like. This is when Lieutenant Day, I believe his name is, the ID man was getting ready to photograph it.
We were just discussing it back and forth. And he said it looks like a 7.65 Mauser.
In a press conference after midnight on the day of the assassination, Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade, in response to a reporter’s question, described the make of the rifle: “It’s a Mauser, I believe.”
Oswald in the lunchroom
Dallas Police Department motorcycle patrolman Marrion L. Baker testified to the Warren Commission on March 25, 1964, that he was trailing the JFK limo in the motorcade by about a block.
He heard the first shot as he was proceeding down Houston, as JFK’s limo was heading down Elm toward the triple underpass. Baker said he recognized the first shot as a rifle shot because he had just returned from deer hunting, where he had heard rifle fire for about a week.
Baker estimated the distance to the corner of Elm and Houston from the point where he had heard the first shot was approximately 180 to 200 feet. He parked his motorcycle approximately 45 feet from the doorway of the Texas School Depository Building.
He ran into the building, thinking the shots came from the roof. Once inside the lobby, he met Roy Truly, the building manager.
Together, they ran to the northwest side of the building and started taking the stairs after they realized waiting for the elevator was going to take too long.
On the second floor, he got a glimpse of a man who later turned out to be Oswald.
Mr. Baker: As I came out to the second floor there, Mr. Truly was ahead of me, and as I came out I was kind of scanning, you know, the rooms, and I caught a glimpse of this man walking away from this – I happened to see him through the window in this door. I don’t know how I came to see him, but I had a glimpse of him coming down here.
Mr. Belin: Where was he coming from, do you know?
Mr. Baker: No, sir. All I seen of him was a glimpse of him go away from me.
Mr. Belin: What did you do then?
Mr. Baker: I ran on over there –
Representative Boggs: You mean where he was?
Mr. Baker: Yes, sir. There is a door with a glass, it seemed to me like about a 2 by 2, something like that, and then there is another door which is 6 foot on over there, and there is a hallway over there and a hallway entering into a lunchroom, and when I got to where I could see him he was walking away from me about 20 feet away from me in the lunchroom.
Baker yelled at the man, “Come here,” and the man turned and walked toward Baker, as instructed. Baker testified he had his revolver in his hand and the man he observed had nothing in his hands.
Representative Boggs: Right. What did you say to him?
Mr. Baker: I didn’t get anything out of him. Mr. Truly had come up my side here, and I turned to Mr. Truly and I says, “Do you know this man, does he work here?” And he said yes, and I turned immediately and went on out up the stairs.
Later that night, when Baker saw Oswald in custody in the homicide office of the Dallas Police Department, he recognized Oswald as the man he saw in the second floor lunchroom within minutes of the shots being fired.
Representative Boggs: When you saw him, was he out of breath, did he appear to have been running or what?
Mr. Baker: It didn’t appear that to me. He appeared normal you know.
Representative Boggs: Was he calm and collected?
Mr. Baker: Yes, sir. He never did say a word or nothing. In fact, he didn’t change his expression one bit.
Mr. Belin: Did he flinch in any way when you put the gun up in his face?
Mr. Baker: No, sir.
Mr. Dulles: There is no testimony that he put the gun up in his face.
Mr. Baker: I had my gun talking to him like this.
Mr. Dulles: Yes.
Mr. Berlin: How close was your gun to him if it wasn’t the face whatever part of the body it was?
Mr. Baker: About as far from me to you.
Mr. Berlin: That would be about how far?
Mr. Baker: Approximately 3 feet.
Mr. Belin: Did you notice, did he say anything or was there any expression after Mr. Truly said he worked here?
Mr. Baker: At that time I never did look back toward him. After he says, “Yes he works here,” I turned immediately and run on up, I halfway turned then when I was talking to Mr. Truly.
Truly’s testimony corroborated Baker’s testimony. Truly told the Warren Commission he and Baker encountered Oswald on the second floor, just inside the lunchroom.
Baker had his gun drawn and pointed toward the middle portion of Oswald’s body.
Mr. Belin: About how long did Officer Baker stand there with Lee Harvey Oswald after you saw them?
Mr. Truly: He left immediately after I told him – after he asked me, does this man work here. I said, yes. The officer left him immediately.
Mr. Belin: Did you hear Lee Harvey Oswald say anything?
Mr. Truly: Not a thing.
Mr. Belin: Did you see any expression on his face? Or weren’t you paying attention?
Mr. Truly. He didn’t seem to be excited or overly afraid or anything. He might have been a bit startled, like I might have been if somebody confronted me. But I cannot recall any change in expression of any kind.
Once Truly vouched for Oswald as an employee, Baker resumed running up the stairs, determined to search the roof.
The Girl in the stairs
Victoria Elizabeth Adams, a 22-year-old employee of textbook publisher Scott Foresman watched the JFK motorcade from the fourth floor of the Texas School Book Depository as it passed by.
After seeing the fatal head shot, Adams and co-worker Sandra Styles ran to the stairwell and raced down the stairs to the first floor, determined to get out the back of the building to see what they could find in the railroad yard behind the fence on the grassy knoll.
The key aspect of her testimony was that the stairway Adams took was the same stairway Lee Harvey Oswald would have had to have taken to get from the sixth floor to the lunchroom, where he was found by Baker and Truly.
Yet, Adams testified she saw and heard nobody else on the stairs at that time. She estimated the time between hearing the shots and leaving the window to head for the stairway was between 15 and 20 seconds. She estimated it took less than a minute to run down the stairs from the fourth floor to the first floor.
The problem was that Adams did not see Oswald passing her on the stairs; she testified she did not hear anyone else on the stairs when she was running down.
Investigative reporter Barry Ernest describes in his book “The Girl on the Stairs” his 35-year search to find and interview Victoria Adams.
When he finally found her in 2002, Adams repeated for him her story in person. She explained how various government officials, including the Dallas Police Department, had harassed her over her testimony.
She produced for Ernest a 1964 letter her attorney had written to L. Lee Rankin, the chief counsel for the Warren Commission, complaining that someone had made changes in her deposition, altering her meaning.
She explained to Ernest that she left Dallas after the assassination because she was seeking to disappear.
“Remember, though, I was a very young woman at the time (22 years old) and believed in my government,” she told Ernest. “Because of the strange circumstances and discounting of my statements, my multiple questioning by various government agencies and the Warren Commission’s conclusions, I lost my starry-eyed beliefs in the integrity of our government. And I was scared, too. I was a young lady alone with no family or friend support at the time.”
Reviewing with Ernest her testimony as published in the Warren Commission volumes, Adams insisted her testimony had been altered.
“The freight elevator had not moved, and I did not see anyone on the stairs,” she insisted to Ernest.
When Ernest asked her why the Warren Commission never called Sandra Styles to testify, Adams speculated, “Looking backwards I think they didn’t want to corroborate any evidence.”
Yet, the record is clear. There is no photograph showing Lee Harvey Oswald on the sixth floor during the JFK shooting, and there is no testimony from anyone who worked in the building to suggest that he was there either.
The Warren Commission dismissed Victoria Adams, saying she must have come down the stairs later than she estimated – enough later that Oswald had already passed by.
But absent the strained explanation, the evidence points to the conclusion that Oswald was in the lunchroom of the Texas School Book Depository when JFK was assassinated, not on the sixth floor in the “sniper’s nest” where the Warren Commission insisted he had to have been.
Eyewitness looking in wrong direction
O’Reilly repeats the Warren Commission assertion that Howard L. Brennan, a 45-year-old steamfitter who watched the motorcade from the retaining wall at the southwest corner of Elm and Houston, across the street from the Texas School Book Depository positively identified Oswald as the shooter.
O’Reilly does so without evidently realizing Brennan was not looking at the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at the time of the shooting.
As WND previously reported, Brennan claimed to have had a clear view of the assassin in the sixth floor corner window of the depository building, directly above his vantage point. He was the only witness to claim to the Warren Commission he saw Oswald fire a rifle at the JFK motorcade.
On March 24, 1964, Brennan testified to the Warren Commission that he had a particularly good look at the shooter firing the third shot:
Well, as it appeared to me, he was standing up and resting against the left window sill, with gun shouldered to his right shoulder, holding the gun with his left hand and taking positive aim and fired his last shot. As I calculate, a couple of seconds. He drew the gun back from the window as though he was drawing it back to his side and maybe paused for another second as though to assure himself that he hit his mark, and then he disappeared.
The Warren Commission published a photograph as Commission Exhibit 479, which appears to be frame 188 of the Zapruder film, showing that Brennan observed the motorcade from the concrete wall at the southwest corner of Houston and Elm as he claimed.
The problem, says Corsi, is that the image clearly shows that as the last shot was being fired, Brennan was watching the motorcade, not looking up at the shooter.
In the image, Brennan is twisted around to his left, supporting his body by bracing his left hand, palm down, on the top of the concrete wall. He appears to be watching JFK as the limousine disappears behind the Stemmons Freeway sign.
Examining the Zapruder film frame by frame, Brennan can be seen in frame 133, the first frame in which the JFK limo appears after it has turned onto Elm from Houston, through frame 208, when the limo is heading down Elm and JFK’s head is all that can be seen above the Stemmons Freeway sign.
In the entire sequence, Corsi notes, never once does Brennan turn his body around to face the Texas School Book Depository squarely. Never once does he look at the sixth-floor window.
With his back turned to the book depository throughout the shooting sequence, it is hard to see how Brennan could have observed as much as he claims to have seen, Corsi concludes. Brennan further testified that at the moment of the third shot, he was “diving off that firewall and to the right for bullet protection of this stone wall that is a little higher on the Houston side.”
Yet, Brennan claims to have seen the shooter shoulder the gun, take aim, fire, draw the gun back, move the gun to his side and pause to make sure he hit his mark.
Failure to positively identify Oswald
The Warren Commission Report considered Brennan’s testimony “as probative in reaching the conclusion the shots came from the sixth floor, southeast corner window of the depository building.” The commission further relied on Brennan’s testimony “that Lee Harvey Oswald, whom he viewed in a police lineup on the night of the assassination, was the man he saw fire the shots from the sixth-floor window of the Depository Building.”
The commission stated Brennan “was in an excellent position to observe anyone in the window,” because he was sitting on a concrete wall on the southwest corner of Elm and Houston Streets, “looking north at the Depository Building which was directly in front of him,” such that the sixth floor window was approximately 120 feet away.
Yet at a police lineup the night of the assassination, Brennan evidently was either unable or unwilling to positively identify Oswald as the shooter, a failure that should have badly damaged his credibility, says Corsi
A memo written by Secret Service Agent Robert C. Dish on the evening of the assassination noted:
BRENNAN advised he later viewed LEE OSWALD in a police lineup, Dallas PD, at which time he failed to positively identify him as the person he had observed standing in the window with a rifle, but that of all the persons in the lineup, he most resembled the man he observed with the rifle.”
In his testimony to the Warren Commission, Brennan admitted that he could not make a positive identification of Oswald at the lineup. In the following exchange, Brennan was questioned by Warren Commission assistant counsel David Belin:
Mr. Belin: All right. Did you see anyone in the lineup you recognized?
Mr. Brennan: Yes.
Mr. Belin: And what did you say?
Mr. Brennan: I told Mr. Sorrels [Secret Service] and Captain Fritz [Dallas Police Department] at that time that Oswald – or the man in the lineup that I identified –looked more like a closest resemblance to the man in the window than anyone in the lineup.
Mr. Belin: Were the other people in the lineup, do you remember – were they all white, or were there some Negroes in there, or what?
Mr. Brennan: I do not remember.
Mr. Belin: As I understand your testimony, then, you said that you told him that this particular person looked the most like the man you saw on the sixth floor of the building there.
Mr. Brennan: Yes, sir.
Mr. Belin: In the meantime, had you seen any pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald on television or in the newspapers?
Mr. Brennan: Yes, on television.
Mr. Belin: About when was that, do you believe?
Mr. Brennan: I believe I reached home quarter to three or something of that, 15 minutes either way, and I saw his picture twice on television before I went down to the police station for the lineup.
Mr. Belin: Now, is there anything else you told the officers at the time of the lineup?
Mr. Brennan: Well, I told them I could not make a positive identification.
Yet, only a few questions later, says Corsi, Brennan insisted he could “with all sincerity” identify Oswald as the man he saw on the sixth floor window, even though he admitted that seeing Oswald on television might have affected his identification.
Brennan later said he hesitated to give a positive description of Oswald at the lineup because it might place him and his family in personal danger. But he did not specify who might do what to him or to his family.
“After Oswald was killed, I was relieved quite a bit that as far as pressure on myself of somebody not wanting me to positively identify anybody, there was no longer that immediate danger,” he explained to counsel Belin in the questioning before the Warren Commission.
Documentary evidence supports Brennan’s claim he did not make a positive identification of Oswald in a lineup.
Commission Exhibit 2003, the Dallas Police Department report on their investigation into the JFK assassination, lists the names of all witnesses who positively identified Oswald in a DPD lineup, and Brennan’s name is not included on the list. If Brennan told Dallas police that Oswald resembled the man he saw in the sixth-floor window, he did so unofficially, off the record.
Historian Gerald McKnight described Brennan as a “self-promoting bystander” driven by a need to be associated with a great tragedy, who pretends knowledge after the fact of events for which he has no information.
A standing shooter?
Brennan further testified that he saw the shooter take his last shot from a standing position and that he could see the shooter from the belt up.
What Brennan did not appreciate was that the bottoms of the windows in the Texas School Book Depository are close to the floor.
Commission Exhibit 887 shows a re-enactment shooter kneeling down at the sixth-floor window.
The photo, along with Commission Exhibits 1310, 1311 and 1312 showing a man with a ruler standing and sitting by the sixth floor window, make it clear that the bottom windowsill is only about one foot above the floor.
The corner window in the so-called “sniper’s nest” was opened only another foot and a half.
Furthermore, the obviously opaque windows would have made it difficult, if not impossible, to identify a standing man with any clarity from his belt up. The shape of a man might have been visible, but the windows would have obscured any details.
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