by Don Thomas
When Jesse Curry retired as police chief of Dallas, Texas, he wrote a book called "JFK Assassination File." In a 1969 interview for the Dallas Morning News around the time of publication, Curry stated,
''We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did.
''Nobody's yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand."
Curry’s statement is as true now as it was then, a problem which would not be obvious to a reader of Warren Commission apologist Vincent Bugliosi’s new book “Reclaiming History.” According to Bugliosi there is...
'“a mountain of evidence conclusively proving that Oswald shot Kennedy,” (p. 832)
and he invokes this assertion whenever he needs an excuse to dismiss evidence to the contrary. The fact is the totality of the evidence that Oswald shot Kennedy amounts to little more than the proverbial molehill. The eyewitness testimony, for what it was worth, indicated that someone other than Oswald did the shooting. In this regard, one of the more shameful aspects of the Warren Commission investigation was its handling of the African-American witnesses. These individuals were among the Book Depository employees closest to Lee Harvey Oswald. Because they often ate lunch with him (Givens: [6WH354], Arce: [6WH364], Jarman: [3WH200]) they had a special perspective on Oswald’s whereabouts during the lunch hour on the day of the assassination. The accounts of these witnesses tended to exculpate Oswald, but the Warren Commission took advantage of their status as second class citizens to ignore or distort, and in some cases, manipulate their statements. Bugliosi argues around, but never comes to grips with these problems, instead preferring to denigrate not the Warren Commission, but the Warren Commission’s critics.
The official mythology holds that during the lunch hour Lee Harvey Oswald was hiding in the sniper’s nest on the sixth floor awaiting the President’s motorcade and was there to shoot the President at 12:30 Dallas time. In his interrogation Oswald insisted that he was on the first floor of the building when the President’s motorcade went by. To counter Oswald’s alibi the Warren Commission and Bugliosi relied on the testimony of Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz who led the interrogation. Fritz was not only underqualified for his job (admitting to the Warren Commission that he had no formal training in forensics [4WH203]) but demonstrably incompetent. His investigation of Kennedy’s murder was a succession of blunders, not the least of which was a failure to protect the crime scene. It was Fritz who was responsible for the misidentification of the murder weapon widely reported in the press as a Mauser rifle. It was Fritz who refused to allow the suspect access to legal counsel. It was Fritz who told Louisiana law enforcement officials that he didn’t need their witnesses because he already knew who killed the President [editor's note: the Rose Cherami incident]. Fritz picked up the evidence cartridges before they could be checked for prints and then pilfered one, apparently for a souvenir, and then returned it damaged. At the time of his testimony to the Warren Commission Fritz was still unaware that the remains of a chicken dinner found in the sniper’s nest belonged to a key witness to that days events, thinking that they were leftovers from days and weeks previous. In testifying to the Warren Commission ''a capella'', that is, without notes, Fritz gave a distorted version of Oswald’s alibi, claiming that Oswald had said that he had eaten lunch with two of the black employees, “Junior” and a “short fellow” [4WH213, 224]. Fritz’ brief handwritten notes, donated to the National Archives thirty years after the fact, do not reflect that version, noting only,
''two negr. came in, one Jr.- + short negro-." [Fritz Notes, p. 1]
The Warren Commission and Bugliosi cite the two employees, Junior Jarman and Harold Norman, as denying that they ate lunch with Oswald, and therefore that Oswald’s alibi was a lie [WR180, 195]. In doing so they ignored the account of the two FBI agents who were present during the interrogation and who, unlike Fritz, had filed a written report on Oswald’s statements. According to the FBI report, Oswald had actually said that he had eaten lunch alone.
''On November 22, 1963, he had eaten lunch in the lunch room alone, but recalled possibly two Negro employees walking through the room during this period. He stated possibly one of these employees was called "Junior" and the other was a short individual whose name he could not recall but whom he would be able to recognize." [WR622]
In fact, during their Warren Commission testimony, Junior Jarman and Harold Norman separately confirmed that they had "walked through" the first floor lounge, known as the domino room, to retrieve their sandwiches, thus independently corroborating Oswald's account. Significantly, Harold Norman testified that usually some of the employees, including himself, would play dominos in this room during the lunch hour, but on this particular day, because of the pending passage of the Presidential motorcade, no one was playing dominos [3WH189]. When asked if anyone else was in the domino room, Norman, who did eat his sandwich in the lounge before joining his friends to watch the motorcade, responded that in fact somebody else was present, but he could not remember who it was [3WH189]. Hence Oswald had somehow correctly guessed not only the people who had been in the lunchroom that day, but their actions, even though they were different from the usual. Thus, the statements by the black employees which actually corroborated Oswald’s alibi, is twisted by Bugliosi to make it appear that Oswald had lied.
Read the full essay at www.maryferrell.org.