Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Kennedy assassination questions

I've never been much of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory fan. It has generally seemed to me that Oswald as the lone assassin was as good a theory as most of the others that whirled around the tragedy, fitting most of the known facts.

However, this story is enough at least to make me wonder. Former FBI lab metallurgist William Tobin and a couple of Texas A&M researchers have raised the possibility of a third bullet, which would likely mean a second shooter, though they didn't weigh in on that.

The background. After retiringTobin questioned the science that had been used by the FBI to match bullets to crime suspects through their lead content. The National Academy of Sciences reviewed the topic and agreed in 2003 that the long-time FBI methodology was flawed. The FBI agreed and adopted the new recommended methodology. Tobin and the othefs then used the new methodology to analyze the five Kennedy bullet fragments, and concluded that they could have come from three bullets.

This doesn't strike me as conclusive yet, but as worthy of further scientific investigation.

4 comments:

Robert said...

The recent metellurgic analysis of lead fragments is not conclusive at all. According to its own criteria the study simply indicates the lead content of the bullet can neither confirm nor eliminate the possibilty of a second shooter. The problem with lead analysis is munitions companies use the cheapest raw material they can get for military bullets so the mineral content is anything but consistent.

Bullets from the same box can even be different based on chemical impurities. As one researcher remarked, it may be possible to pick up a bullet on a Civil War battlefield that matches the lead content of one of these fragments.

This study is not exactly a new revelation. In the early 1990s a ballistics expert came to the conclusion lead analysis alone would not be significant enough to solve this mystery. However, he did say analysis of shards from the copper jacket would be determinate, if and when they can be metallurgically tested. This should be done without delay.

There is a very important reason for testing the minute jacket shards. What most people don't know is there were two rifles involved in the shooting incident on Elm Street during the presidential parade Novemebr 22, 1963. The more well known weapon has received much attention and scutiny while the other rifle has been completely ignored.

The second rifle was carried by a bodyguard in the vehicle behind the presidential limousin. It is standard procedure when there has been a shooting incident for all law enforcement personnel to double check their weapons afterward. Often times there can be an accidental discharge of weapons, or in the excitement some participants don't remember firing their own sidearm. A post event examination of all weapons is a required procedure for most departments. There is no evidence this happened after the Kennedy assassination.

There is a distinct possiblity President Kennedy might have been accidently killed by a bodyguard who was trying to protect him. One way to know for sure is scientific analysis of the metallic jacket properties which are far more uniform and determinate than lead particles. Hopefully Texas A&M and Forensic Engineering International will conduct further testing as a follow up to the recently announced test results.

Alan Bock said...

As I mentioned, I haven't been much of a buff, but that is a possibility I hadn't seriously considered. By all means, let's see some analysis of the copper jacket shards.

Robert said...

Alan,

I stand corrected. There were actually 4 rifles known to be in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. As mentioned there was a rifle in the car directly behind the presidential limousin. To my surprise, there were 2 rifles discovered in the TSDB, one on the sixth floor and one on the roof.

The 4th rifle was on top a building overlooking Dealey Plaza:

"Deputy Sheriff and crack shot Harry Weatherford was on the roof of the Dallas County Jail (Records Building) with a rifle during the assassination. Weatherford received a custom-made silencer for his rifle several weeks before the assassination. He is ordered to the roof of the building by Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker."

All the more reason for TAMU and FEI to continue testing both lead content and jacket shards to hopefully reach a scientific conclusion.

Robert said...

Alan,

I stand corrected. There were actually 4 rifles known to be in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. As mentioned there was a rifle in the car directly behind the presidential limousin. To my surprise, there were 2 rifles discovered in the TSDB, one on the sixth floor and one on the roof.

The 4th rifle was on top a building overlooking Dealey Plaza:

"Deputy Sheriff and crack shot Harry Weatherford was on the roof of the Dallas County Jail (Records Building) with a rifle during the assassination. Weatherford received a custom-made silencer for his rifle several weeks before the assassination. He is ordered to the roof of the building by Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker."

All the more reason for TAMU and FEI to continue testing both lead content and jacket shards to hopefully reach a scientific conclusion.