A Physicist Examines the Kennedy Assassination
by Ralph Cinque
October 23, 2010
Head Shot by G. Paul Chambers is aptly titled because the author
hones in on the fatal head shot and proves, through painstaking
application of the laws of physics, that the bullet must have come
from the right-front of Kennedy, specifically the Grassy Knoll. And
Chambers is aptly qualified to make such an assessment, having a
Ph.D. in Physics and Engineering and a career as an experimental
physicist with the US Navy. However, I wish he had done a similar
analysis of the other shots, which he doesn't, and that was a
letdown. However, overall, Head Shot is an excellent treatise by an
intellectual heavyweight. Warren Commission apologists will be quite
rattled by his book, and I expect they will ignore it. I doubt any of
them will want to go mano-o-mano against G. Paul Chambers.
Even though the narrow focus of the book was a little disappointing,
I still think it has many merits. He gives an excellent analysis of
the Warren Commission as to their methods and motives. He explains
the mindset and political group-think that guided and propelled them.
And it was based on the idea that unless they found Oswald guilty as
the lone assassin, the Soviets would be implicated, and World War 3
would result. Then, 45 million Americans would die in a nuclear
holocaust. That is exactly what LBJ told Earl Warren. So, in order to
save the 45 million, they had to incriminate Oswald. And the decision
to incriminate Oswald was definitely made before they began their
investigation. From the start, they assigned a team of investigators
to identify Oswald's motive for killing Kennedy. They hadn't even
determined that he had done it yet!
Chambers points out that everyone appointed to the Warren Commission
was a lifelong political hack. There were no physicists, no other
scientists, no weapons or ballistics experts, no forensic medicine
experts or other technical experts: just lawyers and politicians. And
consider: Gerald Ford arbitrarily changed the location of the back
wound from the back to the neck. He did it openly. And he justified
doing it on the grounds that he wasn't lying but rather "clarifying."
Amazing! He blatantly altered evidence! But, the fact that he could
do it and apparently with the utter conviction that he was acting
properly proves the extent to which American politics warps the
mind and corrupts the soul.
Chambers reviews the attempts to duplicate Oswald's alleged
marksmanship. It has never been done. Most shooters could not get off
3 shots in 5.6 seconds at all never mind hit any targets.
Finally, the WC produced a marksman who got the three shots off in 5
seconds, but he missed all his targets and some by a wide margin.
Also, he was given unlimited time to set up the very first shot (a
luxury Oswald did not have); he was given stationary not moving
targets (again, a luxury Oswald did not have) and he was allowed to
use metal shims to compensate for the inaccuracies in the telescopic
sight (again, a luxury Oswald lacked). It was a grotesque fabrication
the sham of all shams.
Chambers reviews the eyewitness testimony, and you'd be surprised how
many people identified the Grassy Knoll shooter by sight, sound, and
the whir of a bullet flying overhead. We're talking about 50 people.
Of course, the Warren Commission ignored all of their testimony.
Chambers covers the allegations that Kennedy's body was altered,
citing Lifton's work and others, and including relevant photos. In
his coverage of the HSCA hearings, he focused mainly on the
acoustical evidence which pointed to a grassy knoll shooter. The
House Subcommittee concluded that there "probably" was a conspiracy,
and they recommended that the Justice Department pursue it, which of
course never happened. But as an aside, let's examine why.
When the HSCA released its findings and recommendations, the year was
1979, and Jimmy Carter was President. Consider that he was the first
President who was not directly involved with the Kennedy
assassination. LBJ, without a doubt, managed the cover-up, but many
researchers believe he was directly involved in the assassination
itself. I recommend Blood, Money, and Power: How LBJ Killed JFK by
Barr McClellan, who was a law partner of LBJ's attorney, Ed Clark.
Note that Barr McClellan is also the father of Scott McClellan, the
former Press Secretary of George W. Bush. Amazing, isn't it, that W
hired a man to speak for him whose father accuses LBJ of murdering
Kennedy? It goes to show how callous American politics has become.
Ah, it was a long time ago, so who really cares, right? Also consider
reading LBJ: The Mastermind of JFK's Assassination by Phillip F. Nelson.
Following LBJ was Nixon. I can't present all the evidence linking
Nixon to the assassination, but I will point out that it's widely
believed that the whole Watergate scandal stemmed from Nixon's
involvement in the JFK assassination. At the time of the burglary,
Nixon was way ahead of McGovern in the polls. So why did he need to
break into Democratic headquarters? Certainly not to win the
election, which was firmly in the bag. It was because he was
concerned about "that Bay of Pigs thing" (code for the assassination)
and what the Democrats might do out of desperation. Read H.R.
Haldeman's The Ends of Power. Also, do an online search for Dirty
Politics: Nixon, Watergate, and the JFK Assassination by Mark Tracy.
Then came Gerald Ford, who, as I said, blatantly falsified crucial
evidence in the Warren Report in order to support the Single Bullet
Theory. And then came Jimmy Carter who surely played no role in the
assassination, before or afterwards. So why didn't he do something
when the HSCA recommended action? All I can surmise is that although
Carter was a Democrat like Kennedy, he was also a member of the
Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, and he
was keenly aware that the Kennedy assassination was off-limits to
him or any President. And, my own view is that the HSCA was really
just Warren Commission II. They did their work and made their
recommendations, but it was all for show. They just wanted to quell
the unrest and throw the rabble-rousers a bone. Nobody in government
wanted to reveal the truth about Kennedy's murder not then and not
now. It's not a matter of the guilt or innocence of any individuals.
The whole moral authority of the government is at stake, and that's
what they're trying to protect.
But returning to Head Shot, the chapter addressing Vincent Bugliosi's
2500-page tome Reclaiming History was my favorite. Chambers'
scientific rebuttals to Bugliosi's fallacious arguments are decisive.
To my knowledge, Bugliosi has not responded to any of these attacks,
and I doubt that he will. As a lawyer, he knows that sometimes
silence is the best rejoinder. But, it's satisfying to know that
Bugliosi can hardly be comfortable in his own skin, having written
the "last word" on the assassination, self-described as "a book for
the ages" only to have it ripped to shreds by Chambers.
Although Chambers accepts the body alteration hypothesis, he rejects,
categorically, the charge that the Zapruder film was altered. His
arguments are based on the technological limits that existed at the
time and on the timeline, and he says all anomalies can be accounted
for. But, he never accounts for them. For instance, there is the
speed of the limousine. Many witnesses said that it practically
stopped during the shooting, and some said that it did, in fact,
stop. But you don't see anything close to that in the Zapruder film.
Another odd thing is that some of the bystanders seem to be looking
in the wrong direction as if the limo hadn't reached them yet when
it had. To review the anomalies in the Zapruder film, see this video
clip. I don't recall that Chambers addressed any of these anomalies.
The climax of the book is his analysis of the fatal head shot. He
claims to have figured out which weapon was used, a Winchester .220
Swift rifle using small-caliber (.224) frangible bullet. He explains
how this rifle stacks up against the "hard math of momentum
conservation" when analyzing Kennedy's head recoil in the Zapruder
film. The math is rather dizzying, but here is the conclusion:
"It doesn't matter if anyone saw or heard shots coming from the
Grassy Knoll. It doesn't matter if anyone saw a shooter in this
location or not. Application of the incontrovertible Laws of Physics
establishes that the bullet came from the direction of this site. The
angle of recoil of Kennedy's head was 45 degrees with respect to the
axis of the limousine body. The direction of the momentum of the
incoming round must have been the same angle relative to the
limousine body. A bullet fired at an angle of 45 degrees to the limo
axis traces back to the infamous Grassy Knoll. That is where the
fatal head shot originated."
Chambers is less clear about the origin of the other shots. He thinks
the throat wound was an entrance wound, probably fired from the
Grassy Knoll, but perhaps from another forward location. He's not
sure how many shots struck Connally or their origin. He accepts that
one or more shots were fired from the 6th floor window of the Book
Depository, but he did no ballistics analysis like that of Orlando
Martin. And one omission in Chambers work seems inexplicable to me:
He concedes that a bullet entered Kennedy's back at a downward angle
of 45 to 60 degrees (according to the autopsy doctors) but a 6th
floor Depository shooter would have been at an angle of only 17
degrees to the motorcade. So, how does that compute? Doesn't that
rule out such a shooter? Ballistics expert Orlando Martin says so,
but Chambers does not address it,
It seems that Chambers considered his work finished in proving the
origin of the fatal head shot. It proved conspiracy, so the rest
doesn't matter very much. That was my distinct impression of his attitude.
Finally, I wish he would have defended Oswald more vigorously. He did
state that the negative paraffin test proved that Oswald did not fire
a rifle that day, and that such evidence is court-admissable. But
elsewhere, he seemed to equivocate, leaving open the very slight
possibility that Oswald was a shooter. That didn't set well with me.
If you read JFK: Analysis of a Shooting by Orlando Martin and JFK and
the Unspeakable by Jim Douglass, you will be completely convinced of
Oswald's innocence. Of course, nobody knows what Oswald knew. Nobody
knows what his handlers told him. Maybe he did think that something
was going to go down that day. What he told Dallas Police
investigators has never been released; we have only his public
statements. But, if you read the above-mentioned books, you will know
beyond all doubt that Oswald did not kill Kennedy, nor did he kill
Officer Tippit. Oswald was just what he said he was: a patsy.
So, although Head Shot is never going to be my favorite book on the
assassination, it is still a valuable and important work with some
very unique elements. G. Paul Chambers has made a lasting
contribution to the assassination literature.