Ron Rosenbaum

The New JFK Footage: Huh?

There are several remarkable things about the disclosure that a new 40 second film of JFK’s pre assassination motorcade has just surfaced.

I have to say I didn’t know what to make of the following Reuters dispatch:

By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters) – Previously unreleased footage of John F. Kennedy’s fateful motorcade in Dallas moments before he was gunned down was released on Monday, a surprising new detail in a saga that has gripped the United States for four decades.

The silent 8-mm film shows a beaming Jacqueline Kennedy close up in vivid color waving to the crowd.

A group of excited bystanders — women sporting big 1960s hairstyles — waves to the cameraman shortly before the motorcade sweeps past.

The president’s coat is clearly if briefly seen bunched up on his back — a detail that will be scrutinized by conspiracy theorists who see evidence of a plot in, among other things, the fact the bullet wounds on his jacket and body did not appear to match.

The film was donated to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas by amateur photographer George Jefferies and his son-in-law, Wayne Graham. It was released to coincide with the Presidents Day federal holiday.

Museum curator Gary Mack said he was not surprised Jefferies took so long to come forward.

“Everyone who captured the motorcade before the assassination thinks their pictures are unimportant. But to historians, all photos and home movies are important to possibly answer questions that will be asked in the future,” he said.

Located in the former Texas School Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from a sixth-floor window on November 22, 1963, the museum is devoted to Kennedy’s presidency and the events surrounding his assassination.

The footage was taken less than 90 seconds before the fatal shots were fired. The 40-second film also shows the scene of the crime the following day.

The footage is sure to be new fodder for conspiracy buffs who have long maintained Kennedy was the victim of a sinister plot orchestrated by shadowy elements in either the government, the “military-industrial complex,” the Mafia or communist Cuba.

“I’ve already seen the footage on a conspiracy Web site — it’s interesting for the conspiracy researchers to study Kennedy’s coat which appears to be bunched up on his back,” Mack said.

This raises intriguing questions. Why now? The psyche of the whole country had been in a twist for 45 years now and you have film of the motorcade just before the killing and you wait all this time and release it on President’s day like a commemorative stamp? What if there were something ,well, evidentiary, in the background? Or not–important as well, either way.

And that bunched up collar. it sounds like a parody of conspiracy theory evidence, but if my memory serves establishing that the collar was bunched-up is anti-conspiracy evidence.

I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong–but the bunched up collar helps explain an apparent anomaly in the evidence: that the bullet hole in the back of the suit indicated a different trajectory than the one indicated by the position of the bullet hole in the back of JFK’s neck. An evidentiary contradiction that has been used to question whether the bullet could have been fired from Oswald’s alleged “sniper’s nest” in the Texas Book Depository Building.

My thoughts on JFK conspiracies have undergone a long and winding trajectory. Initially I wanted to believe in a conspiracy—so much more interesting. And the initial investigation was a botched rush to judgment. But that doesn’t mean the initial judgment was necessarily wrong.

Then as I began to study the investigation and the re investigation I began to think that there was sketchy evidence for a dozen different conspiracies but nothing dead certain, and it might well be possible Oswald acted alone (if you don’t count the demons in his head) or at least was the “lone gunman”.

But even if he was the lone gunman it didn’t mean there was no conspiracy. Others could have influenced him, helped him plan it, paid him off. Years of investigation have shown him with connections to pro and anti-Castro types, pro and anti-Communist types; there was the defection to the Soviet Union, and the re-defection to the U.S., all of it suspicious. I leaned for a long time toward the Mafia connection, certainly to Ruby, less directly to Oswald.

And even if there were no co-conspirators there was still a mystery. What was going on inside his head, what was his motive, was it ideological, or just psycho? (Spooky the way the resemblance to Tony Perkins in Psycho influenced the way a lot of people came to see Oswald, I believe) .Or was he just cunning enough to make himself seem crazy as a cover up?

The closest anyone’s come to getting inside Oswald”s head was Don DeLillo’s Oswald in Libra, one of the great American novels of the past half century. DeLilllo’s rendition of Oswald’s inner voice is a tour de force. If you haven’t read it, drop everything, it’s pitch-perfect brilliant.

But convincing as DeLillo’s’s ventriloquism is, we can’t really know. We still don’t know. There may not have been a gunman on the “grassy knoll”; the real grassy knoll was inside Oswald’s head.