THE FINAL WORD ON "JFK"|
The New York Times
229 W. 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
To the Editor:
Let this be the final word on the debate surrounding Oliver Stone's preposterous movie, "JFK."
Here are the facts:
1. Lee Harvey Oswald, the man the Warren Commission identified as the only person in the world who could have possibly fired the gun that fired the bullet(s) that killed President John F. Kennedy, fired that gun from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. (Source: The Warren Commission Report to the President, 1964, U.S. Government Printing Office.)
2. According to the records of the Texas Department of Education, the books stored on the sixth floor of the depository at that time were copies of the outdated 12th grade American history text, A History of the United States, edited by Farrel A. Edmunds and Carl Lobo—the same textbook Lee Harvey Oswald would have used in his 12th grade history class seven years earlier. (For more on Oswald's adolescent years, see Young Assassin, Kroeber, 1972, Asylum Press.)
3. President Kennedy was aware, as we now know, of threats coming from groups upset over his rumored Soviet-Cuban compromise, a secret (at the time) non-aggression pact that was part of the agreement to end the Cuban missile crisis. The seriousness with which Kennedy took those threats was evident by the fact that, since September of that year, he was carrying a .38-caliber semi-automatic pistol on his person. (See Crime of the Century, Bemis, St. Martin's Press, 1981.)
4. On the digitally re-mastered tape recordings of radio transmissions from a police motorcycle on the scene at the time, either a fourth gunshot or "the backfire from a nearby automobile" occurs just prior to the sound of "real, identifiable gunfire." (Source: Audiological Analysis of Dallas Police Transmissions made by the engineering firm of Bolt, Beranek, and Newman for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, 1979.)
5. Given what we know today that we didn't know thirty years ago—of threats from pro and anti-Castro groups, of renegade CIA factions, of the Mafia—it's easy to see why the President and the men around him were living "a nervous, hair-trigger kind of existence," where the slightest provocation could "set things off." (Something Waiting to Happen, Murphy and Vogel, 1969, Putnam.)
6. Oswald never expressed, at least publicly, any negative opinions of President John F. Kennedy. In "The Enigma of Lee Harvey Oswald," author Dennis Abbott quoted Oswald as having said he "admired" Kennedy because of his "new perspective," and "would have voted for him," had he been able to. (Oswald was in the Soviet Union at the time of the 1960 elections, according to several sources, including the fascinating Oswald's Russian Odyssey, by Michael Levin, 1977, Bantam.)
7. President Kennedy, at least on the record, never expressed an opinion about, or even acknowledged knowing anyone by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald. He "didn't know him." (Dave Powers, Kennedy family friend, from Jack, We Hardly Knew Ye, Powers, 1965, Pantheon.)
8. According to a detailed analysis of the earliest frames of the Zapruder film, a car's backfire, a gunshot—something!—does startle Kennedy, who then, very briefly, reaches into his coat and pulls out "some kind of" small metallic object. (A Third Look, Burgess, 1991, Dutton.)
9. The reflection of the sun's rays off the wall of the depository building would have made it impossible for Kennedy to actually see Oswald. (How the Weather Affects History, Brandt, 1990, Simon and Schuster.)
10. Kennedy turned and fired at least one round from his semi-automatic pistol in the direction of "where he thinks the sound is coming from." (Lee, We Hardly Knew Ye, Bissel, 1970, Flat Earth Press.)
11. Oswald, nostalgically flipping through his old high school history textbook—reading once more about the likes of Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Lincoln—is suddenly jarred by the whoosh! and ping! of a .38 caliber bullet whizzing past his ear and ricocheting off the wall behind him. An ex-Marine with lightning-quick reflexes and a short temper, Oswald grabs a nearby high-powered rifle, goes to the open window, and fires the fateful shot(s).
Those are the facts.
Now, do I think Kennedy was involved in some kind of plot—or conspiracy—to kill Lee Harvey Oswald?
No, I do not, and anyone who thinks so is crazy. But, this much is clear: Kennedy fired first; and, in all likelihood, Oswald fired back one or more times, in self-defense.
If people like Oliver Stone would leave history to those who respect it, then we can lay these matters to rest, once and for all.
Los, Angeles, California
January 13, 1992
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