Oswald was a notoriously bad shot – and his fellow jarheads were the ones who brought that fact to attention. In his first test on the rifle line in 1956, he just managed to attain a “Sharpshooter” degree with a 212 score—two points over the minimum requirement. In his second recorded rifle fire attempt in 1959, he shot just 191 - one point over the minimum needed to qualify as a “Marksman” – the lowest level for rifle-firers in the Marine Corps. Colonel A. G. Folsom denied Oswald’s being a “particularly outstanding shot,” which is what the Warren Commission’s expert test firers all indicated an assassin firing from the 6th floor window of the Depository building would have to be.
Marine Nelson Delgado told the Commission that on the range, Oswald “got a lot of ‘Maggie’s drawers,’ you know, a lot of misses, but he didn’t give a darn.” Delgado’s report was consistent with Folsom’s – but it wasn’t what the FBI wanted to hear. In fact, as Delgado told Mark Lane in an interview, FBI agents tried to get him to change his story: they didn’t like Oswald being known as a bad shot.
Neither did the Commission. It held that Oswald fired three shots in six seconds, two of which fatally struck the President. That’s some sure-footed rapid fire for a guy known for his “complete misses” in rapid fire shooting.
The Hit Was Too Complex
In order to get Kennedy in the “kill zone,” a lot more had to be done than fire a rifle. The killer would have needed the ability to re-route traffic, order secret service agents off the Presidential limousine, and get the driver of Kennedy’s car to come to a complete stop in order to make sure the President was a sitting duck. Oswald had none of those abilities.
Dallas Morning News had reported on the morning of November 22, 1963, the original Presidential motorcade route: the Kennedy parade was to proceed straight down Main Street on its way to the Stemmons Freeway. But Kennedy didn’t stay on Main St. Instead, the route was changed: it took a sharp right on Houston and then an even sharper left onto Elm – slowing the otherwise cruising car to a snail’s pace, perfectly putting Kennedy in the cross-hairs of a sniper on the grassy knoll along Elm Street.
Couple that with the two agents, who should have been on the tail-end wing-boards of Kennedy’s Continental but weren’t—and the fact that Secret Service Agent William Greer brought the limo nearly to a dead halt after shots began to ring out (see the suppressed Orville Nix video) – and the fact that Greer didn’t decide to floor it until Kennedy’s head had been blown clear off (he actually stopped and turned around to see the bullet go through Jack’s skull – not exactly Secret Service protocol), and you’ve suddenly got an armful of details that point everywhere but in Oswald’s direction.
The Grassy Knoll
51 eyewitnesses pointed to shots coming from the North side of Elm Street. That’s 51 of the 121 witnesses whose accounts were noted by the Warren Commission in its 26 volume Report. In other words, almost half of the recorded eyewitnesses on Dealey Plaza stated that they heard shots coming from west of the Book Depository – meaning the grassy knoll. That’s considerably more than those who believed they heard shots coming from the Depository (32 in all).
The first guy to really go after those who did have a role in Kennedy’s assassination. Garrison took Clay Shaw to trial, lost the case, but brought the issue of who-really-killed-Kennedy into the national spotlight. Garrison penned On the Trail of the Assassins - a major source for Oliver Stone’s 1991 landmark film JFK, which made its own impact in the world, inspiring thousands of Americans to urge Congress to establish the Assassination Records Review Board in 1992.
The Warren Commission
When the man that the President had fired from the office of Director of the CIA ends up being on the Commission to investigate the President’s murder, everything becomes questionable. Kennedy fired Allen Dulles in 1961, and two years later Dulles was sitting alongside Warren and Ford as overseers of the assassination investigation. Conflict of interest? Dulles isn’t the only aspect of the Commission that seemed off, though.
Life magazine reported Commission member and future President Gerald Ford as saying, “There is no evidence of a second man, of other shots, of other guns.” How could Ford say such a thing, especially when he didn’t mind changing the evidence to suit the Commission’s purpose, which was to hang it all on Oswald? In the wake of the review performed by the Assassination Records Review Board, Ford was forced to admit to changing the wording of the Commission’s report regarding the bullet that struck Kennedy and supposedly passed through his body to strike Governor Connally riding in front of Kennedy. The original report stated that the bullet entered Kennedy’s back. Ford stuck a note in the Commission draft, which prompted a change in the text, citing the “neck” as the entry wound rather than the “back.” Why? Because a “neck” entry wound might better explain the trajectory of a “magic bullet” – the centerpiece of theory which the Commission successfully floated to the public.
The Magic Bullet
Had the bullet entered Kennedy’s back (as it did), it couldn’t have proceeded to hit Connally, shatter his rib, exit his chest, do a 90 degree turn, hit his wrist, shatter his radius bone, and land in his thigh. That’s what skeptics call a “magic bullet” – and that’s what would have had to have been used had Oswald been the shooter and fired only three shots. Why only three shots? Because that’s how many shells were recovered from the sixth floor of the Book Depository – all lined up in a neat row. It’s suspicious that all the shells would all land in a single line after they had just been sent reeling from a rifle.
The Rifle and The Shells
Deputy Eugene Boone led police to the 6th floor of the Depository building, where he found three rifle shells lined up in just such a neat little row just inside the window from which Oswald allegedly killed the President. A further search led Boone to locate the rifle on the other side of the room. The rifle was a 7.65 Mauser. Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig actually saw “7.65 Mauser” stamped on the side of the rifle. Both Craig and Boone identified the rifle as such and even Walter Cronkite reported that the rifle found was a 7.65 Mauser on CBS news. The problem was the rifle didn’t match the shells; the shells were from a 6.5 Italian Mannlicher Carcano.
In order for any gun to work, the shells that are being blown out fot he rifle have to match it, making this one of the more convincing reasons Oswald didn’t kill John F. Kennedy. Because of that, Cronkite and everybody else had to change their story. Cronkite began insisting that the rifle found by Boone was a Carcano—and Boone did too (in spite of the affidavit he signed swearing that the rifle was a Mauser). The only guy who didn’t change his story?—Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig. He maintained to his dying day that the rifle they found in the Depository on November 22, 1963, was a 7.65 Mauser—a weapon incompatible with shells from a 6.5 Italian Mannlicher Carcano. As a result of his adherence to his testimony, Craig was ostracized, bullied, shot at and nearly blown up. His marriage collapsed and in 1975, he committed suicide.
E. Howard Hunt
So if Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, who did? Obviously nobody really knows, but the general consensus is that E. Howard Hunt might have been the culprit. Hunt was connected to everybody – Dulles, Nixon, Bush, anti-Castro gunrunners, and, according to Mark Lane, was definitely involved in the JFK assassination. Hunt led Nixon’s “plumber’s unit” and went to jail for his role in the Watergate burglary. While behind bars, Hunt demanded $2 million from Nixon in order to keep his mouth shut about certain things he knew—and to make good the threat, he started telling reporters that he was a CIA assassin. Nixon wanted the FBI off Hunt because he feared Hunt might expose the “Bay of Pigs thing” – code for conspirators in the plot to kill JFK. Nixon wanted it so badly that he pushed too hard and was forced to resign over allegations of getting in the FBI’s way. Add to this that Jack Ruby, Oswald’s killer, was working for Congressman Nixon in 1947. And that Hunt actually was in Dallas the day Kennedy died (a fact he somehow forgot in his initial interview with the FBI) – and the case against Oswald looks thinner and thinner.
The motive Ruby gave to the Warren Commission – that he wanted to save “Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial” has more than a ridiculous ring to it, especially when one considers that Ruby confessed to attorney Joe Tonahill that his previous lawyer had told him to say it. Ruby was a Dallas nightclub, dance hall, and strip club owner with friends with names like Candy Barr, a nationally renowned stripper who enjoyed dating men like mobster Mickey Cohen. Aside from that, Jacob Leon Rubenstein (Ruby’s birth name) never struck too many as the sensitive type. He had connections with soldier of fortune Tom Eli Davis III and other CIA Cuban gunrunners, and he also claimed to know who really killed Kennedy. When members of the Warren Commission flew down to see him as he sat rotting behind bars, Ruby promised to tell them the whole truth and nothing but the truth if they would simply move him to DC for safekeeping. They said they couldn’t, demonstrating how little they actually cared. Ruby was claimed to have been injected with cancer cells and died in jail because of it.