"I have been invited to the Roxie Theater in San Francisco...and explain what Oliver Stone got right and wrong in his monumental film, "JFK". Most of the film is right..." (James Fetzer)
Incorrect, most of the film is speculation, because it is a dramatic film and not a primary source, and it gets more wrong than right, contrary to Fetzer's opinions. This is not a problem because as a dramatization it is fictional, not a documentary, yet those trying to legitimize its contentions ignore the many unproven claims in the film. While official agencies did harass and attempt to influence Jim Garrison's case, his evidence was not sufficient to convict Clay Shaw. The Shaw case fell apart; the New Orleans Oswald connections went unverified and these claims do not substantiate the possibility of assassination conspiracy. However, other evidence is far more compelling and some primary official evidence in my view is required to confirm some of Fetzer's claims.
"But Oliver Stone had three rather important points wrong, which were that he believed...there were only three teams of shooters, when there were actually six, surrounding the "kill zone" and...."
To call this impossible is not strong enough protestation; no group of witnesses in official documents and most independent studies would or could support this claim. Of those witnesses the Commission actually questioned, none substantiated shots from the Daltex building or any but two locations. Repeated evidence affirms gunshots heard near the Texas Schoolbook Depository and the Grassy Knoll area. A few of the hundreds of witnesses present would likely have observed six armed groups. Just attempting a two team assassination and escape would be complex and difficult enough. To orchestrate 1 to 4 additional teams is nearly impossible, and has no large amount of evidence supporting it. These unsubstantiated claims cloud the waters for those seeking unbiased evidence and some on both sides of the debate merely seek to speculate and then demand you regard such theories as the truth.
"He (Stone) did not know that the alleged assassin was "out with Bill Shelley in front", as Lee explained to Homicide Detective Will Fritz during his interrogation, which means there is direct proof of his innocence beyond the circumstantial.
This again is a speculation based on a single witness; it precludes Oswald from being motivated to move his location in the building. Neither Fetzer's photographic contentions, nor assessment of a few witnesses and the suspect, prove anything conclusively. That Oswald is guilty of firing the killing shots at President Kennedy remains contended and yet Oswald's complete innocence does not reflect the evidence. He is connected to a seeming conspiracy; his links and meetings with the FBI and CIA are on the public record. It cannot be both ways; if he was connected, he is not utterly innocent.
Whether Oswald was a dupe or assassin is the enduring debate. As the dupe, he is innocent of the President's murder, as the Assassin he deserved his eventual fate. Yet reasonable doubt exists for him and I support that it was not just Oswald based on substantial evidence. For instance his lack of regular practice cited in the President's (Warren) Commission: "During one of his leaves from the Marines, Oswald hunted with his brother Robert, using a .22 caliber bolt-action rifle belonging either to Robert or Robert's in-laws." "After he left the Marines and before departing for Russia, Oswald, his brother, and a third companion went hunting for squirrels and rabbits. On that occasion Oswald again used a bolt-action .22 caliber rifle; and according to Robert, Lee Oswald exhibited an average amount of proficiency with that weapon."
"While in Russia, Oswald obtained a hunting license, joined a hunting club and went hunting about six times, as discussed more fully in chapter VI." "Soon after Oswald returned from the Soviet Union he again went hunting with his brother, Robert, and used a borrowed .22 caliber bolt-action rifle. After Oswald purchased the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, he told his wife that he practiced with it." "Marina Oswald testified that on one occasion she saw him take the rifle, concealed in a raincoat, from the house on Neely Street. Oswald told her he was going to practice with it." "According to George De Mohrenschildt, Oswald said that he went target shooting with that rifle" "Marina Oswald testified that in New Orleans in May of 1963, she observed Oswald sitting with the rifle on their screened porch at night, sighting with the telescopic lens and operating the bolt."i
The Presidents (Warren) Commission also stated: "For 10 days prior to the eve of the assassination Oswald had not been present at Ruth Paine's house in Irving, Tex., where the rifle was kept. Moreover, the Commission found no reliable evidence that Oswald used the rifle at any time between September 23, when it was transported from New Orleans, and November 22, the day of the assassination. The fact that on the morning of the assassination Oswald was wearing the shirt from which these relatively fresh fibers most probably originated, provides some evidence that they were placed on the rifle that day since there was limited, if any, opportunity for Oswald to handle the weapon during the 2 months prior to November 22."ii
He officially practiced nine times outside the military, a majority of this practice is with shotguns and evidence supports that Oswald practiced a single time dry firing in the months before the assassination. The minimum requirement to hit a target successfully at a distance requires at least regular practice. So two months of no substantiated practice based on the official report and this unpracticed official assassin still was able to fire with precision according to officials.
"But even serious students of the assassination still balk at the suggestion that Lee Oswald was out in front of the Book Depository with Bill Shelly and others, straining to catch a glimpse of JFK and Jackie--just like almost everyone else who worked there. We know from testimony by co-workers that he was in and around the lunchroom on the 2nd floor at 11:50, Noon, 12:15 and as late as 12:25, where the assassination took place at 12:30. He was then confronted by a motorcycle patrolman named "Marion Baker" within 90 seconds of the shooting, where Baker held him in his sights until Roy Truly, his supervisor, came over to assure him that the man was an employee who belonged there. This should by now be well-known to every serious student of the death of JFK. "
Yes, anyone who seriously regards the matter should balk at such claims if unsupported by additional evidence. A more important item of actual evidence contends Fetzer's assertion: "The time actually required by Baker and Truly to reach the second floor on November 22 was probably longer than in the test runs..."." No allowance was made for the special conditions which existed on the day of the assassination, possible delayed reaction...to the shot, jostling with the crowd of people". Officer Baker said "We simulated the shots and by the time we got there, we did everything that I did that day, and this would be the minimum, because I am sure that I, you know, it took me longer."iii
Oswald may have slightly more time and verifiable evidence is required to prove a conspiracy, photographic verification by neutral experts is necessary. If evidence does not support it, the idea remains speculation. Could it be Oswald? I do not claim to be a photographic expert so I shall let the experts review the technical claims. I attempt to state only what I have evidence to support, and we all can be in error.
"Oswald could not have meant he was “out with Bill Shelly in front” after the shooting, because Bill Shelly had left immediately with Billy Lovelady and walked down to the railroad tracks to look around."
This again is speculation, not all roads lead to the assumptions made by Fetzer, and interpreting the words allows for misinterpretation. Instead of what they should have said or could have meant, it is always more credible to state the exact words. Commentary alone is not evidence. Yet this interpretation ignores the testimony of all the witnesses on the stairs and Oswald himself.
"So, Bill Shelly was definitely not out in front when Oswald was leaving... What could make more sense than that, when his co-workers were outside watching the motorcade of the two most famous people in the world, that Lee would not have joined them? It would have been unbelievably remiss of Detective Fritz, moreover, not to have asked Lee Oswald" where he was at the time of the shooting--that is the most pertinent question Will Fritz would have needed to ask."
This claim additionally disregards Oswald's connection to the death of President Kennedy in any manner and is in my view remains unproven. Oswald is connected; he may have even fired a weapon or been a spotter for a practiced assassin and to claim he was not even in the building is unsupported by verified evidence. I agree with Fetzer that official mistakes and conflict of interest was rampant, but we cannot just mold the evidence to our preconceived notions, we must have a basis of primary evidence and build upon it. Much proof comes from the original investigations and later declassified documentation. Using merely photographs and terms like the Door Man and expanding the thriving legends is not helpful. Doing so damages the credibility of those who attempt to use evidence and not speculate upon it.
"That led me (Jim Fetzer) to revisit the Doorman question, even though it had long been written off, not only by "lone-nutters" but by most conspiracy theorists."
I would also include myself among those who do not support Fetzer's contentions, however, I do not call those critical of me lone nutters, nor do I appreciate being called a kook or conspiracy theorist. All those insults merely detract from the reasonable debate that can occur and some in both groups seek self-affirmation more than actual solutions. No single piece of evidence is conclusive and everything requires supporting facts to prove their narrative.
"And that led to discussions with Dr. Ralph Cinque about the remarkable match in the clothing of Oswald and Doorman. The uniqueness of Oswald’s clothing had never been seriously addressed before. When you compare the clothing of Lee Oswald and Doorman in detail, however, you realize it has to be the same clothing, which means it had to be the same man. The chance that Billy Lovelady just happened to dress himself exactly the same way as Lee Oswald that particular day, after all, is preposterous and has to have a probability of approximately zero."
People can dress in a similar and even identical manner without it proving a conspiracy and it does not have to be Oswald in the photo. This conclusive determination before repeated experts not aligned with Fetzer verify the item is not evidence. Further verification and testing is required before such a grand claim can be accurate. Which returns us to the article's title "...Oswald wasn't even a shooter!" Based on the offered ideas without substantiation, the article fails to prove its claims.
i. Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Chapter 4 the Assassin, Oswald's rifle practice outside the Marines, p. 192
ii. Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Chapter 4 the Assassin, Ownership and possession of assassination weapon, p. 125
iii. Report of the President's Commission, Chapter 4, part 3, p. 152
Edited: March 2018