Reasonable doubts about Lee Harvey Oswald

A Rebuttal of David Van Pein's "Lee Harvey Oswald's Sole Guilt In the Assassination of President Kennedy--Point by Point"

A Rebuttal of David Van Pein's "Lee Harvey Oswald's Sole Guilt In the Assassination of President Kennedy--Point by Point"

How can official supporters accept Lee Harvey Oswald's guilt so easily without regarding all the original facts and evidence? Some do not consider the many official mistakes and breaches of legal procedure and other critical writers appear selective in their criticism. Yet we agree at least that Oswald was involved in a murderous plot, yet the true issue is whether he alone was among those who killed President Kennedy. If he was merely a pawn, what agenda did he unwittingly die serving?

"Lee Harvey Oswald owned the rifle found on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository..." (David Van Pein)
However, a Mannlicher Carcano was not the initially located rifle in the Texas Schoolbook Depository and some responding officers first believed a Mauser 7.65 rifle and scope with three Mannlicher Carcano 6.5 shells were present. The Mauser appeared in original reports and later appeared in interviews with Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade. The weapon officials relied upon is initially suspect, the Mauser days later is amended legally to a Carcano, in time such problems would be more reasonably be explained yet initially official incompetence was rampant.

The Mannlicher Carcano in question was less than standard; authorities noted it was a little rusty because it was manufactured in nineteen forty, the bullets in nineteen forty-eight, and this older weapon and ammunition could further hamper firing precision. How could Lee Harvey Oswald use a World War II rifle and over decade old ammunition, yet perform so well?i If Oswald was the sniper critical writers attest, why can he not select a modern and maintained weapon?

A sniper requires extensive practice, especially to make shots at moving targets with multiple obstructions and Lee Harvey Oswald never had the necessary practice. "Let me tell you what we did at Quantico (FBI Headquarters). We reconstructed the whole thing: the angle, the range, the moving target, the time limit, the obstacles, everything. I don't know how many times we tried it, but we couldn't duplicate what the President's Commission said Oswald did. Again, we are talking about professionals; men who completely outclass Oswald in raw shooting ability. Further, these professional assassins practice their skills almost daily. There is no credible evidence from the time Oswald returned to the USA from Russia that he practiced at all".ii

Oswald in HIS Civil Air Patrol Cadet Uniform

Oswald in HIS Civil Air Patrol Cadet Uniform

Now consider the Federal Bureau of Investigation lab supervisor testing the Carcano found, “...the formations, the ridge formations and characteristics, were insufficient for purposes of either effecting identification or a determination that the print was not identical...Accordingly, my opinion simply was that the latent prints which were there were of no value”.iii What explains this? If Oswald used the gun, the official timeline does not offer extra minutes to disassemble and wipe down the gun. Where are the fingerprints? In a prior round of tests, after Oswald's death, Dallas Police and the Bureau find a single print and partial hand-print. So which test is valid? How can one of the best labs in the nation fail to locate fingerprints that an onsite police officer prior found and is it possible authorities used Oswald's corpse to create fingerprints?

"Oswald was positively identified by witness Howard L. Brennan as the person firing a rifle..." (David Van Pein)
Incorrect, Howard L. Brennan ultimately did identify Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin but repeatedly changed his testimony. Brennan could not even be sure if seeing Oswald on television, or hearing the radio affected his memory. Oswald did not resemble the closest line up suspect Brennan indicated as the sniper to Dallas Police and finally after hours of repeated questioning Brennan relents to officials that Oswald was in the window. He subsequently reverses his statement and blathers about a Communist conspiracy, a conspiracy the Warren Commission found not to exist before he reverts to his first version of events.iv Despite all Van Pein's claims, Brennan did not credibly identify Lee Harvey Oswald and his further conspiracy statements without verification should further discredit Brennan's testimony. Brennan's words seem included almost to fill space given their actual use in supporting the guilt of Oswald and his testimony proves nothing beyond his inability to identify anyone positively.

"Plus: This massive task of removing all non-Oswald wounds and bullets..." (David Van Pein)
Actually, not until the president's body flew to Bethesda Naval hospital could the alteration occur. Not only medical professionals but also officials confirmed the original remaining evidence from Parkland hospital. The vast majority of Parkland Hospital's original medical reports and photography recorded wounds inconsistent with the President's (Warren) Commission findings. Dr. Paul Peters stated observing "the wound of entry in the throat".v Dr. Robert McClelland confirmed a frontal throat wound, "The incision had obliterated it, essentially the skin portion, that is".vi Resident surgeon at Parkland hospital Malcolm Perry described the original wound as "roughly spherical to oval in shape, not a punched out wound".vii After more than twenty witness confirmations, it was not removing non-Oswald bullets, but explaining why no Parkland doctor originally supported the Single Bullet theory.

However, before Parkland doctors could complete further medical investigation the Secret Service forcibly took the president's body from Dallas. The newly born Johnson administration ignored the jurisdiction of the City of Dallas and the State of Texas. "Legally, the assassination of President Kennedy and the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald were within the jurisdiction of the Texas State Authorities".viii In any other case, illegally taking a body or evidence would contaminate the evidence and by this action were later alterations and possible deceptions allowed to occur. Why do executive branch subordinates ignore the legal authorities repeatedly and how can critical writers not consider these basic facts?

"Another key fact surrounding Oswald and his killing of JFK is the Walker murder attempt, as I think any reasonable person looking at the case objectively would concur." (David Van Pein)
Objectively there are multiple problems with Van Pein's assumptions because Oswald officially possessed a single rifle, the Mannlicher Carcano. Yet this once sharpshooter failed to kill his previous target Walker, a man Oswald decried and despised was unharmed because Oswald waited and missed an easy shot. The man who officially performed impressive shots in Dealey Plaza could not kill Edwin Walker and the former general is not in a moving vehicle; he is at home and this provided a far longer duration for Oswald to aim then fire. Based on American government accounts Oswald could not successfully undertake this simple plot, thus how more unlikely are the chances Oswald could successfully construct the entire assassination conspiracy. Yet some believe in Dealey Plaza, Oswald missed, and then made two killing shots. Each struck a moving target, with obstructions, at a greater distance than his attempt on Walker but was assertedly successful under greater pressure and time constraints.

The House Select Committee staff confirmed, attributing the shot to Oswald was "a terribly misleading assumption." The only rifle associated with Lee Harvey is the Carcano and the bullet attributed to the Walker attack was not compatible, similar to earlier problems with the Mauser rifle and Carcano shells. "Oswald's alleged rifle used 6.5-mm ammunition, copper jacketed, while the Walker bullet was a steel jacketed 30.06". This information was unavailable for years to investigators.ix According to the Select Committee, the Carcano did not fire the shot at Edwin Walker and if Oswald owned a more accurate gun, why did he not use it in Dealey Plaza? The question becomes who shot at Edwin Walker, and who gained by the action? Conceivably, it would support Oswald's subversive credentials.

If Lee Harvey Oswald was the true Communist assassin, some claimed he was a poor shot and this lackluster shooting does not support him subsequently firing precision shots to assassinate the President Kennedy. These later shots required a well-practiced and skilled assassin not Lee Harvey Oswald and yet this is unconsidered by most critical writers. If Oswald shot at Walker as Van Pein suggests, he used a second gun and missed and if he did not, someone again is trying to implicate Oswald using incompatible bullets.

Lee Harvey Oswald in the US Marine CorpS

Lee Harvey Oswald in the US Marine CorpS

"Try as the conspiracy books might, the Single Bullet Theory (SBT) has still not been proven to be an impossibility..." (David Van Pein)
Even some religious ideas while utterly impossible by scientific laws are never fully disproved and if someone will not accept gravity because they believe angels hold us down, they have larger problems than comprehending gravitational theory. If a person will not objectively view the situation, reason will not usually persuade him or her and the Single Bullet Theory exists without considering all the available evidence. As critical writers suggest of many research authors, they have chosen a side and most defend it without objectivity. Some authors have not made this mistake; some consider all the evidence despite the problematic implications and possible adjustments required.

This "theory" is set aside by the previously mentioned alleged frontal wound in the president's throat and Kennedy's head wound also based on evidence and medical reports possibly struck him from the front. Original Parkland Hospital reports are the primary evidence despite the later findings of Bethesda military doctors who received President Kennedy and evidence illegally taken from Dallas. So how can alteration later occur without official sanction or tremendous mismanagement?

"Also-if JFK had been shot from the infamous "Grassy Knoll" (which was located to the right-front of Kennedy's car at the time he was shot) why wasn't there any damage to the LEFT side of President Kennedy's head?" (David Van Pein)
First, let me address Van Pein's strange claim of the Grassy Knoll location allowing only damage to the president's left side. Since John F. Kennedy was facing toward the Knoll his right side is most exposed to gunfire not his left. If a shot hit the president from the Grassy Knoll in front, it may create massive rear damage on the right side of his head, not the left. The line of fire is easily observable in many pictures and photographs of the area. A bullet wound of entrance appears small; it expands becoming a larger exit wound, as the bullet expands, it does greater damage piercing all obstructing tissue and fragmentation of the bullet additionally can damage the victim. The back of President Kennedy's head on the right side received extensive damage and this supports the statements of Parkland doctors and staff.

Parkland hospital nurse Diana Bowron had seen the condition of the president's head upon arrival and she explained the "back of his head...Well, it was very bad...I just saw one large hole". Nurse Pat Hutton stated, "Pressure bandage was no use...because of the massive opening on the back of the head".x Both nurses upon first viewing Kennedy noted a large hole on the back right side. Dr. Marion Thomas Jenkins reported "There was a great laceration on the right side of the head (temporal and occipital), causing a great defect in the skull plate so that there was a herniation and laceration of the great areas of the brain, even to the extent that the cerebellum had protruded from the wound. There were also fragmented sections of the brain on the drapes of the emergency room cart. With the institution of adequate cardiac compression, there was a great flow of blood from the cranial cavity, indicating that there was much vascular damage as well as brain tissue damage".xi The temporal and occipital regions of the human skull are located in the rear base and sides and the original description submitted to authorities was the president's wound is located in the back and right side of his skull. This would indicate a large wound of exit, thus a wound of entrance from the front, a shot fired by someone located somewhere besides the Texas Schoolbook Depository.

Dr. William Clark testified to the President's Commission "I then examined the wound in the back of the president's head. There was a large, gaping wound in the right posterior part with cerebral and cerebellar tissue being damaged and exposed".xii Dr. Malcolm Perry concurred, "A large wound of the right posterior cranium".xiii Describing the area Dr. Paul Peters stated, "It seemed to me that in the right occipital parietal area that there was a large defect. There appeared to be bone loss and brain loss in the area"xiv Dr. Charles Crenshaw referred to the wound as "An exit wound the size of my fist in the rear of the head".xv Dr. Gene Akin observed "The back of the right occipital parietal portion of his head was shattered, with brain substance extruding".xvi 

The testimony of Dr. Charles Baxter referred to the damage by stating " a word the - literally the right side of his head had been blown off".xvii Dr. Ronald Jones testified of the head wound, "...and what appeared to be an exit wound in the posterior portion of the skull.'xviii These medical experts affirm the lack of an exit wound in the front of the throat or head and in later autopsy photographs, a ragged incision within the president's throat officially becomes a rear exit wound. Parkland hospital doctors reported medical procedure not exiting bullet damage was responsible and based on repeated testimony, an exit wound is located in the rear of the President Kennedy's skull. Therefore, it was possibly an entrance wound from a frontal shot beyond the ability of Lee Harvey Oswald.

The President's body is subsequently taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital where removal of the president's brain occurs and the brain could define the exact bullet trajectory paths. The president's brain was officially misplaced and later perhaps the most important piece of forensic evidence was lost or taken. This was just one suspicious error in a series of changing statements and vanishing evidence.xix Medical professionals agreed President Kennedy had a massive head wound of exit located in the rear right side and they noted a throat wound of entrance. These facts and statements clearly would indicate shots from the front. Lee Harvey Oswald could not have fired these shots and no immediate consequences occurred from stating the truth.

Did every doctor and medical staff witness at Parkland hospital lie? They gained no benefit and did not have time to invent testimony and if they are trusted in all other cases, why doubt them now? Unlike some conspiracy advocates, I refrain from stating utterly that Parkland was more accurate than Bethesda; instead consider Parkland viewed the original evidence. This happened before any possible alterations to evidence could occur.

Oswald in New Orleans Police Custody

Oswald in New Orleans Police Custody

"It was also proven that Oswald could have indeed traveled in 90 seconds or less, the distance across the sixth floor of the TSBD and descended the floor flights of stairs in time to have been seen by policeman Marion L. Baker on the building's second floor." (David Van Pein)
Perhaps Mr. Van Pein should have read the entire page he cited from the President's (Warren) Commission because the following statements affirms Oswald had more time for his actions than some believe. "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 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."xx If Baker had more time, so did Oswald, thus more than ninety seconds. Therefore, Van Pein's claim is only proven speculation.

"From everything I can see, it's a veritable mountain of "Oswald is Guilty" evidence (both circumstantial and physical) And not a single speck of it has been shown to be refutable with 100% actual certainty." (David Van Pein)
Here again is the pseudo-religious claim that no one can ever disprove critical beliefs without utter certainty. This is ridiculous, if this was a standard for knowledge, no one could ever know anything for an utter certainty. A minority of fringe people dispute everything we know for a scientific certainty, such as the Earth is billions of years old. Some facts change over time; the past truth is not the full truth and without re-inspection, countless facts would be lost or suppressed.

Van Pein's opinions and highly selective use of official records do not prove his ideas. The facts reasonably suggest critical writers should do more research before they make grand claims. The case remains mired in the speculations of both conspiracy advocates and critics and it remains foolish to make any definite claims without allowing for review of the original evidence. Opinions do not carry the day against unpleasant realities.
C.A.A. Savastano
TPAAK Facebook

i. Matthew Smith the Second Plot, p. 41
ii. Kill Zone: A Sniper Looks at Dealey Plaza” by Craig Roberts, Consolidated Press International, January 1994, pp. 7, 89-90
iii. Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Chapter 4, The Mary Ferrell Foundation,, p. 123
iv. Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Chapter 4, pp. 143-147
v. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Volume VI, pp. 69-71

vi. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume VI, pp. 33
vii. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume VI, p. 9
viii. United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect To Intelligence Activities Report, Book 5: Intelligence Agencies, Part IV, Summary and Findings, p. 45
ix. Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the United States House of Representatives, Appendix Volume VI, Comments on the Panel's report by Robert Groden Consultant to the Committee", Section III, the Walker Bullet p. 296
x. Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Appendix Vol. VII, Report on Issues to the authenticity of the autopsy x-rays and photographs of President John F. Kennedy pp. 302-305
xi. President's Commission Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Appendix 8, Statement of Administrator Mr. C.J. Price, p. 530,
xii. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume VI, Testimony of Dr. William Clark p. 20
xiii. "The Warren Commission Report” Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Official Complete and Unabridged), pg. 521, Washington, D.C, Barnes and Noble Books, 2003
xiv. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume VI, Testimony of Dr. Paul Peters p. 71
xv.  “Doctor who saw JFK Wound Disputes Report”, (April 2, 1992), via Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune,
xvi. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President’s Kennedy, Volume VI, Testimony of Dr. Gene Akin p. 65
xvii. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume VI, Testimony of Dr. Charles Baxter p. 41
xiii. Hearings of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume VI, Testimony of Dr. Ronald Jones p. 56
xix. Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, App. Vol. VII, p. 26-33
xx.  Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Chapter IV, part 3, p. 152

Edited: January 2019

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