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Whitewashes R U.S.

by William Marvel Saturday, Nov. 29, 2003 at 9:15 PM

The Warren Report was, in fact, too badly botched to have resulted from mere error. Somewhere along the way evidence had to have been suppressed, or manufactured. We will probably never know who, besides Oswald, was behind the assassination, but the popularity of even the wildest conspiracy theories arises from the obvious implausibility of the official account of that day's events.

Whitewashes R U.S.

Date Thursday, November 27 @ 16:38:38

Topic Commentary

Excluding public scrutiny, presidential commissions and military tribunals are excellent tools for cover-ups furthering the impression that government is corrupt.

By William Marvel

I was nineteen years old when I took my first airplane ride. It landed me at Love Field, outside Dallas, Texas, on my way to basic training. The army liked to disorient its recruits by inducting them in the middle of the night, so I had a layover of eight or ten hours before boarding a propeller-driven Frontier Airlines hop to Fort Polk, Louisiana. The assassination of Jack Kennedy lay only a few years behind, and that was the only association Dallas offered for me, so in the bright afternoon sunlight I boarded a bus heading downtown and started asking for a certain infamous book depository on Houston Street.

An hour or so later I stood on the street beneath the window where Lee Harvey Oswald was alleged to have single-handedly killed our thirty-fifth president. A window on the fourth floor (I think it was) still bore a red circle several inches in diameter, which I supposed had been painted there during the investigation. For perhaps an hour I meandered the vicinity, pacing off the distances covered by a convertible Lincoln that drove directly toward the book depository and then veered left before ducking under an overpass. I noted the juxtaposition of features that seemed much different from the impressions I had drawn from televised footage of the assassination, and several times I counted off the seconds of a home movie that my generation had memorized.

Nineteen-year-old boys generally know a lot less than they think they do, and I was no exception. One subject that I did know very well, though, was firearms. Between the ages of ten and sixteen I had spent most of my spare daylight hours shooting the assortment of rifles and pistols that I had collected. I owned automatic rifles, lever-action rifles, and bolt-action rifles, both with open sights and with a telescope. One of the few boasts that I could honestly make was that I was an excellent marksman, and a few weeks later I proved it by outscoring every man in my company during our rifle-range qualification.

My youthful experience with weapons convinced me that there was something fundamentally wrong with the Warren Report on Kennedy’s assassination. Given the angle between that window in the book warehouse and the position of Kennedy's limousine, the best sharpshooter in the world would not have had sufficient time to fire one well-aimed shot from a bolt-action rifle, jack another round into the chamber, find his target again through the scope, and squeeze of another well-aimed round before the car disappeared from view. Never mind that the trajectories of the bullets came nowhere near matching the line of sight from the warehouse window; never mind abundant eyewitness testimony of a third shot; never mind all the other inconsistencies of the official report. From a mechanical perspective alone, the scenario posed by the seven-politician commission seemed impossible.

The Warren Report was, in fact, too badly botched to have resulted from mere error. Somewhere along the way evidence had to have been suppressed, or manufactured. We will probably never know who, besides Oswald, was behind the assassination, but the popularity of even the wildest conspiracy theories arises from the obvious implausibility of the official account of that day's events.

It was somewhat disconcerting to conclude, on my way into the army, that our political leaders had deceived us on a matter of such momentous importance, but a few years later I learned that those same leaders had lied substantively about a certain incident in the Tonkin Gulf. Then came Watergate, which showed us just how devious our politicians can be in covering up crimes.

The official coverup is not a new phenomenon, even in American history. At the end of the Civil War a ruthless secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, controlled the prosecution of a Confederate prison-camp commandant who was charged with deliberate attrition against Union prisoners. Stanton insisted on a military tribunal that the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional. He denied the defendant all but the shadow of a defense, shamelessly manipulating the process to assure a conviction, for he desperately wished to distract from his own hard-line policy against prisoner exchanges. It had been Stanton’s policy, after all, that caused most of the mortality among Union prisoners of war.

Presidential commissions and military tribunals, such as those proposed by the Bush Administration, provide the perfect environment for a coverup. If they were not designed specifically to distract from and disguise the real causes and culprits in a particular misdeed, they at least lack none of the requirements to achieve those ends. Since they exist outside the restrictions of a civil courtroom, and often in complete secrecy, they can offer the most preposterous evidence and arrive at the most absurd determinations without fear of objection or appeal. They also remove the ingredient of an objective jury composed of common citizens, who can reject an improbable conclusion‹just as I (and, apparently, a solid majority of other Americans) reject the Warren Report. Their overall effect is to enhance and corroborate the growing impression of a government that has grown inherently and incorrigibly corrupt.

William Marvel is a freelance writer in New Hampshire and served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971. His many books include the award-winning Andersonville: The Last Depot and Lee's Last Retreat: The Flight to Appomattox.

Posted Thursday, November 27, 2003

This article comes from Intervention Magazine

The URL for this story is:

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 19 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Oswald was innocent Sheepdog Saturday, Nov. 29, 2003 at 9:47 PM
We'll never know BJP Saturday, Nov. 29, 2003 at 10:02 PM
"Oswald was innocent" Max Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 7:31 AM
"The paraffin test showed that he hadn't fired a rifle that day. " Max Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 7:37 AM
empty Sheepdog Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 8:24 AM
Other tidbits Watching Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 8:50 AM
"firing a rifle will leave nitrates on your cheek" Max Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 1:23 PM
Patsy shmatsy. 60 years ago. Get over it. Max Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 1:32 PM
toeing the line < ! > Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 2:55 PM
You're right! Max Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 4:08 PM
why do we care? Sheepdog Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 5:02 PM
whoa, there monkeyboy Sheepdog Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at 7:13 PM
"wierd and stupid." Max Monday, Dec. 01, 2003 at 8:59 AM
To my little weasels Sheepdog Monday, Dec. 01, 2003 at 10:09 AM
owns his own business... Max Monday, Dec. 01, 2003 at 12:23 PM
good one Sheepdog laughing @ Trolls Monday, Dec. 01, 2003 at 1:51 PM
Please reply to this post, thanks. Max Monday, Dec. 01, 2003 at 2:03 PM

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