A Review of Oliver Stone’s JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Chapter 2)

In 1966, when I was nine years old, my dad brought home Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane. My dad was never a believer that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy and the book by Lane surely amplified that belief of his, as well as mine.

In 1991, I went to visit my parents one afternoon and my mom told me that dad had gone to see JFK, the Oliver Stone film. When dad came home, he told me that I really needed to go out and see this film. The next day I did. To both of us, the film further increased our belief that the JFK assassination was indeed a conspiracy.

While dad and I both thought the film was very insightful and informative about who may have murdered JFK and why he had created so many enemies within the United States government, many in the mainstream media gave the movie bad reviews. Like large media outlets like CBSNBC and The New York Times, who had all endorsed the Warren Report, which has been largely discredited in 58 years since it first came out in 1964.

Which takes me to a new Oliver Stone documentary called JFK: Destiny Betrayed. It’s a four-part film that lasts approximately four hours that can be seen on Prime Video and Apple. I had the opportunity to see the film and I thought it was outstanding. The film was directed by Stone and produced by Rob Wilson. The film was written by long time JFK assassination researcher and author Jim DiEugenio. The film is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland.

If you truly care about what really occurred in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, please watch this film. Yes, I know, we now live in an era of disinformation, via the mainstream media, as well as social media. Unlike that fabricated rhetoric, this film puts out real evidence, much of which was hidden for 30-plus years. This documented information comes from witnesses, physicians, historians, researchers and ballistics specialists.

Chapter 2:

This chapter begins by focusing on JFK’s autopsy at the Bethesda Naval Hospital on the evening of the assassination after Kennedy was flown back to Washington D.C. from Dallas.

Oliver Stone asks forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht if Dr. Milton Helpern would have been a good choice to do the autopsy, since he was considered one of the best forensic pathologists in the country.

“”I know this directly from Milton, this is not hearsay,” Wecht said. “He had his bag packed. And he had already contacted two other top forensic pathologists to see if they would be available. All of the top forensic pathologists in the United States were within a one-hour drive or flying time from D.C. and not one of them was called upon.

“The autopsy should have been done legally speaking, in Dallas. And there was a forensic pathologist, Earl Rose. He was there to assume jurisdiction and to do the autopsy. He was pushed up against the wall and threatened with hands on guns and a lot of expletives and so on. He followed them out the driveway and they took the body illegally out of Dallas in violation of the laws in Dallas and the state of Texas.”

The men who did perform the autopsy were Dr. James Humes and Dr. J. Thornton Boswell. Wecht also commented about the selection of these men to do the autopsy.

“These two military pathologists, who had never done a single gunshot wound autopsy in their entire careers,” Wecht said. “This is something that really needs to be emphasized to every American…Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative…this is your President. And you have multiple gunshot wounds to determine angle, trajectory, range, sequence, and then you have to correlate that with the multiple gunshot wounds of [John] Connally. This is a formidable task that would have required two or three major forensic pathologists to undertake.”

Dr. Gary Aguilar, who is an ophthalmologist, explained what happened next.

“They [Humes and Boswell] realized they were over their heads,” Aguilar said. “They called in an expert from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, a guy named Pierre Finck. Dr. Humes and Boswell started the autopsy before the forensic consultant got there and they took the brain out. Obviously, some key clues were lost by doing this.

“But they realized they were over their heads, and they asked to have a medical examiner because Dr. Finck, who was a forensic pathologist, wasn’t doing autopsies and he hadn’t done one in more than two years. So, they asked for permission to bring in someone who knew what they were doing and permission was denied.”

After Air Force One flew out of Dallas, two of the key doctors who tried to save JFK’s life at Parkland Hospital in Dallas held a press conference. They were Dr. Kemp Clark and Dr. Malcolm Perry.

Dr. Aguilar explained what Clark and Perry did while trying to save Kennedy’s life.

“Dr. Perry performed the tracheotomy to help Kennedy breathe,” Aguilar said. “At the press conference right after the failed resuscitation effort in Dallas, he was asked where was the bullet. He said it looked like the bullet was coming at him and was an entrance wound in the throat.”

Douglas Horne, who was the Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board (the ARRB), said this about what Dr. Clark found after looking at JFK’s head wound.

“Kemp Clark, who was the head of neurosurgery at Parkland, he said that the President had a gaping wound in the occipital-parietal area, the right rear of the head,” Horne said. “So, the description he gave of that was highly consistent with that of an exit wound and he made that clear at the press conference.”

Based on what Perry and Clark had said at their press conferences certainly indicated that there was at least one shooter from in front of JFK’s limousine based on Kennedy’s wounds. At another press conference at Parkland, Assistant White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff said this as he pointed to his right temple, “Dr. Burkley told me it was a simple matter of a bullet right through the head.”

Horne also noted that there is a White House transcript of the press conference that Dr. Perry and Dr. Clark held, which is a very important historical document. Why? The Secret Service confiscated the film of that press conference from a local television station.

The Secret Service also lied to the Warren Commission about there not being any recordings or transcripts of that press conference. There is a surviving clip of Dr. Perry recorded not long after the press conference, as he described JFK’s head wound.

“And arriving at the emergency room, Dr. Carrico had placed a tube in the president’s trachea to assist his breathing, but there was a neck wound anteriorly (front), and a large wound of his head, in the right posterior (rear) area.”

A day after the shooting, Dr. Perry was seen by nurse Audrey Bell, who had been with him in the operating room. Bell testified to the ARRB that Perry told her that he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before because of all the calls he had received from Bethesda the night before. They kept asking him if the neck wound was an entrance wound or an exit wound and they were trying to change his mind, according to Perry.

Aguilar then noted that in his testimony to the Warren Commission, Perry recanted his earlier statement about the throat wound and said it was consistent with an exit wound as he was intimidated by Arlen Specter.

In 1975, Dr. Donald Miller, got to know Dr. Perry, as they both worked at the University of Washington Medical Center. They assisted each other in complex surgeries. Miller was very interested in Perry’s knowledge regarding the JFK assassination, but Miller said that Perry categorically refused to talk about the assassination. However, one night after a multi-hour medical procedure that both had participated in, Miller said that Perry told him as they sat in the doctor’s lounge drinking coffee, that JFK’s neck wound was indeed an entrance wound.

But a year later, Perry testified to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (the HSCA) that the neck wound was an exit wound, which helped to enhance Specter’s single-bullet theory. Miller said that the main reason Perry changed his testimony was due to the pressure he was getting from Secret Service agent Elmer Moore. According to Miller, Moore also pressured the other doctors at Parkland to change their testimony as well.

Miller also noted that Moore was the head of the Secret Service office in Seattle. A graduate student named Jim Gochenaur from the University of Washington became friends with Moore. In one of the conversations that they had, Moore told Gochenaur that he regretted putting pressure on Dr. Perry. Moore said that he was ordered to do so.

Dr. Charles Crenshaw was also at Parkland Hospital in the emergency room as doctors were trying to save JFK’s life. Crenshaw said this regarding JFK’s head wound, “I looked at the wound again. I wanted to know and to remember this for the rest of my life. And for the rest of my life, I will always know that he was shot from the front.”

Secret Service agent Clint Hill was the only Secret Service agent to run to JFK’s limousine after the shooting. Hill jumped on the rear of the car, and he later said that he saw blood and brain tissue on the trunk of the limo. Hill also said that there was a large wound in the rear of JFK’s skull that he could see through with no brain there.

At JFK’s autopsy, there were two FBI agents on hand. They were Frank O’Neill and James Sibert. They reported what they heard at the autopsy. They were interviewed by Specter in early 1964 and he wrote very unfavorable comments about O’Neill and Sibert in a summary report to the Warren Commission. There was a reason for this. Specter knew that O’Neill and Sibert were providing evidence that the single-bullet theory could not be true.

Neither O’Neill nor Sibert testified to the Warren Commission and their written notes were classified. But in 1997, both O’Neill and Sibert gave depositions to the ARRB. They were shown the autopsy photographs of JFK’s head. They both said that they did not see anything like that at the autopsy.

Sibert drew a head wound diagram for the ARRB and said this about the wound in the back of JFK’s head, “There was a piece about the size of a 3×5 card that was missing.”

The HSCA completely misrepresented what those present at Bethesda saw regarding JFK’s head wound, compared to those at Parkland saw.

Dr. David Mantik explains, “Not only were we allowed to see their statements, but we were allowed to see the sketches where they had drawn the big hole in the back of the head. This was totally opposite of what of what the HSCA had told us.”

In addition to that, a piece of skull bone was found in Dealey Plaza by Billy Harper the day after the assassination. Harper found the skull bone to the left to where JFK was assassinated. Harper, who was a medical student, showed the bone to his professor who said it appeared to be an occipital bone from the back of the head. The bone measured 3×2 inches. The bone was given to the FBI on November 25th after the autopsy report had been written by Dr. Humes. The FBI gave it to JFK’s personal physician Dr. Burkley, which at that point it disappeared. All we have today are the photos taken of the bone.

Also in Chapter 2, we also learn that Congressman John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts decided to take a trip to the Mideast and Asia in 1951, accompanied by his sister Patricia and his brother Bobby. The knowledge that JFK learned from this trip would definitely impact his decisions that he made as President in regard to what was going on in Vietnam.

In 1951, France had troops in Vietnam and 80 percent of the military material came from the United States. Kennedy wanted to learn more about this brutal colonial war being brought on by France. The French generals told Kennedy that the war was going well. But after talking to Edmond Gullion, who held senior positions at the American Embassy in Saigon, JFK gained valuable insight.

Guillon told JFK that the French were losing the war and if the United States replaced the French, the same thing would happen. Kennedy’s conversations with Gullion enacted a six-year crusade to formulate an alternative foreign policy, which was opposite of that of then President Harry S. Truman. Unlike President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had cooperated with the Soviet Union, Truman was much more confrontational versus the Soviet Union, which created the Cold War. That same strategy was utilized by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.

In 1953, JFK sent a letter to John Foster Dulles asking him 47 questions on why the United States should support France in the war in Vietnam. One of those questions was, what specific evidence is there that France is winning this war?

Foster Dulles’ eventual answer to this letter was codenamed Operation Vulture. Vice-President Richard Nixon was the main lobbyist for the air operation, in which planes and bombers from the U.S. were going to be used to support the French position in Vietnam. Operation Vulture also included the possibility of using the atomic bomb. Even France would not support a plan with the possibility of atomic bomb use. When Eisenhower could not get Great Britain to sign on with Operation Vulture, he rejected the plan. And as Gullion predicted, France lost the war in Vietnam.

Although JFK supported Adlai Stevenson who ran against Eisenhower for the presidency in 1952 and 1956, he differed with Stevenson in terms of his approach to foreign policy. In 1957, Kennedy also took on Eisenhower, Nixon and Foster Dulles in that particular policy regarding Algeria. France again was doing what it did in Vietnam, in terms of trying to have colonial control of Algeria. Like he realized in Vietnam, JFK knew that Algeria would eventually be free of that type of a colonial environment. And once again, JFK was correct.

Kennedy’s interest in self-determination in the “Third World”, led him to become chairman of the African Affairs subcommittee in the Senate in 1958. JFK became associated with a delegate from Kenya named Thomas Odhiambo Mboya. That association led to scholarships for people from Kenya in the United States. One of those scholarships went to Barack Obama Sr. in 1959. In 2008, Barack Obama Jr. became the 44th President of the United States.

In terms of JFK’s assassination, the version of what went down according to the Warren Commission, differed with both the FBI and CIA. Although it never specified the order of the shots, the Warren Report said that one shot hit Kennedy and Connally, another shot missed the car and the final shot hit JFK in the head.

The FBI analysis said that that all three bullets hit inside the car. Two hitting Kennedy and one hitting Connally. The CIA analysis said that the first shot did not come from behind, but from the front. They also concluded that two shooters were involved. Their analysis came from what they saw on the Zapruder film. Records show that the CIA analysis only went to CIA Director John McCone. Like the FBI analysis, the Warren Commision either never received that information or just ignored it.

The Warren Commission put itself in a corner by saying only three shots were fired by the so-called assassin Lee Harvey Oswald from the Texas School Book Depository. Because one of the shots missed the car and one of shots was the fatal head shot to JFK, that meant that the other shot hit both Kennedy and Connally and created seven wounds between the two men.

The problem for the Warren Commission was that the Zapruder film showed that Connaly was hit 1.5 seconds after JFK was hit by the first shot. The best any sharpshooter could do with Oswald’s so-called assassination weapon, the Mannlicher Carcano, was to fire two consecutive shots in 2.3 seconds. That meant the Warren Commision had to come up with something magical. Enter Arlen Specter and the single-bullet theory.

The Specter theory said one bullet hit JFK in the back and then went out his neck. The same bullet hit Connally in the back and went out the front of his chest into his right wrist and then into his left thigh.

CE 399 is considered the magic bullet. Look at the pristine condition of a bullet that caused seven wounds in two people.

This bullet is foundational to the theory that one lone gunman (Lee Harvey Oswald) killed President Kennedy. There are multiple problems with this synopsis.

The biggest problem with this theory is the lack of damage to the bullet after going through two men, smashing through two bones and causing seven wounds. The Warren Commission hired Dr. Joseph Dolce, an honored battlefield surgeon during World War II, to test whether or not the bullets from Oswald’s reported weapon could do that type of damage and stay relatively unscathed.

Here was what Dolce said regarding that analysis, “So they gave us the original rifle, the Mannlicher Carcano, plus 100 bullets, 6.5 millimeters. So, we went and we shot what was available to us and in every instance, the front of the tip of the bullet was smashed. Under no circumstances do I feel this bullet could hit the wrist and still not be deformed.”

Dolce believed that two bullets hit Connally, which is why his testimony was not in the Warren Report. In 1978, the HSCA tried to revive the single-bullet theory, using a technique called neutron activation analysis. That faulty interpretation is now disregarded by the FBI.

The Warren Commission also did tests using the Mannlicher Carcano firing into 10 human skulls from behind. All 10 of the skulls moved away from the rifle shot, not back and to the left when JFK was hit with his fatal head shot. In addition, the trajectory from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository would have led to a blow out through the face, which was confirmed by the tests done. This did not happen with JFK, as his face was intact after the shooting.

In addition to this, there are also the issues with the Mannlicher Carcano that Oswald supposedly ordered, as well as the chain of custody situation with the so-called magic bullet.

In terms of the Mannlicher Carcano rifle matter, Stone asked Brian Edwards, who is an Instructor in Criminal Justice at Washburn University, whether or not the rifle in evidence today is the same rifle that was ordered through the mail.

“The rifle that Lee Oswald allegedly ordered under an alias of Alex Hidell was obtained from Klein’s Sporting Goods Store in Chicago,” Edwards said. “It’s a mail order. He got it out of American Rifleman magazine. He wrote on the coupon that he wanted a 36-inch model, a Mannlicher Carcano, 6.5 millimeter, for $19.95.

“Robert Frazier was one of the examiners and he was a firearms expert for the FBI. He testified that he did measure it and the measurement was 40.2-inches in length from barrel to stock. There’s a 4.2-inch difference in the one he ordered versus what they found in the book depository.”

There are other anomalies regarding the rifle. For instance, the rifle that Oswald allegedly ordered had strap attachments on the bottom of the rifle. If you look at the rifle brought out of the Texas School Book Depository, you see the strap attachments on the side of the rifle, not the bottom.

Plus, there are the backyard photos of Oswald holding the rifle and there you can see the strap attachments on the bottom, not the side. In addition to that, there is the question of how Oswald could have even received the rifle.

Edwards explains. “If the rifle was sent by Klein’s to the Post Office box rented under the name Lee Harvey Oswald, using the alias of A.J. Hidell on the coupon, it would have been sent back immediately. Because Oswald’s name is the only one on the Post Office box. He was the only one authorized to receive mail. Marina’s name wasn’t even on it. So that rifle was addressed to a person who didn’t have the authority to have any mail received at that box. It should have been sent back.”

Also, why would anyone order a rifle to use in an assassination and leave a paper trail that would lead directly back to that person?

In addition to that, Sebastian Latona of the FBI said this to the Warren Commission in his testimony, “I was not successful in developing any prints at all on the weapon.”

Stone also asked Edwards how important chain of custody is in regarding evidence. “Chain of custody basically refers to the integrity of evidence,” Edwards said. “If I pick up a piece of evidence and I transfer it to someone else for holding or processing, my name is the first name on this list. The second person who touches this and takes possession of it is next. And if you don’t do that, there is no way to prove that the evidence you collected on Day 1 was the same one on Day 25 when you go to court.”

Which takes us to the chain of evidence for the so-called magic bullet.

Stone asks Dr. Mantik to go over the chain of custody regarding that bullet. “Well, the magic bullet was supposedly found on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital,” Mantik said. “It went through several hands before it got to the Secret Service. Richard Johnson was the first Secret Service agent to handle it and bring it back to Washinton D.C. When he got back to Washington D.C., he gave it to the Chief of the Secret Service, who is James Rowley. And at the White House, James Rowley gave it to Elmer Lee Todd. Todd then took it to the FBI lab and gave it to Robert Frazier.”

Here is where some great investigative work done by a private citizen named John Hunt came into play. Hunt went to the National Archives a number of times to track down the real story about the magic bullet chain of custody. Working with the FBI and Warren Commission documents, Hunt asked a key question. Is CE 399 the same bullet which was found on the stretcher at Parkland Hospital?

There appears to be some real discrepancy here. Robert Frazier said he received the bullet at 7:30pm the evening of the assassination, which is documented a number of times. However, Elmer Lee Todd noted that he received the bullet at the White House from James Rowley at 8:50pm. So, how could Todd have received the bullet more than an hour after he supposedly gave it to Frazier?

Also, in 1966, author Josiah Thompson (Six Seconds in Dallas) showed a photo of the magic bullet with a rounded tip to O.P. Wright, who was the head of maintenance at Parkland Hospital. Wright told Thompson that the bullet that was found at Parkland didn’t look like that. The one that was found had a pointed tip, not a rounded tip like the magic bullet.

Bottom line, anytime the chain of evidence is broken, that evidence is inadmissible in court.

Finally, Chapter 2 delves into the murder of Oswald on November 24, 1963. Before then, while he was in custody and interrogated, Oswald proclaimed his innocence and confessed to nothing. During his questioning, there was not a stenographer present, plus the police said that there was no tape recording of the interrogation either.

Before Oswald was to be transferred to the County Jail on Sunday, the FBI alerted the Dallas police on both Saturday and Sunday about threats to kill the alleged assassin of President Kennedy. But the police didn’t heed that warning and went ahead with the transfer.

There are two car horns that you can hear on the video when Jack Ruby shoots Oswald in the police basement where the transfer is supposed to take place. One when Oswald emerges and one just before Ruby shoots Oswald.

Because of that shocking murder, the FBI took complete control of the investigation from the Dallas police. That evening, J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI wrote a memo to the newly sworn-in President Lyndon Johnson, saying, “The thing I’m concerned about is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”

The next day, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach wrote a memo that said this, “The public must be satisfied that Oswald did not have confederates who are still at large and that the evidence is such that he would have been convicted at trial.”

With those two memos, the FBI became the main investigative arm for the Warren Commission. There was never any serious discussion about bringing in an independent investigating source.

The day after he was murdered, The New York Times pronounced Oswald as the killer of JFK. The Warren Commission concluded that Ruby shot Oswald acting alone. They said the murder of Oswald was not premediated or planned and that Ruby had no help entering the building.

Yet later on when Ruby talked to the press while awaiting a retrial, he said this, “The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive, to put me in the position I’m in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world.”

Two months after being granted a new trial, Ruby was found to be riddled with cancer. One month before his new trial was to begin, Ruby died. The Warren Commission never exposed Ruby’s connection to the mafia, FBI and the gun-running and gambling connections he had in Miami and Cuba.

Oswald was never given any legal representation while he was alive and in custody. Attorney Mark Lane tried to do that later, as he said, “The commission has functioned in a way which totally disregards the rights of the accused.”

Robert Tanenbaum, who was the former Deputy Chief Council for the HSCA said this, “I can tell you from my experience having tried several hundred cases of murder and being responsible for thousands of cases in the criminal courts and running a homicide bureau, that I don’t believe there is any court in America where Oswald would have been convicted on the evidence that was presented by the Warren Commission.”

You can see my review of Chapter 1 of JFK: Destiny Betrayed here.

Look for my review of Chapter 3 of JFK: Destiny Betrayed in the near future.

2 thoughts on “A Review of Oliver Stone’s JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Chapter 2)

  1. I always thought that the Warren Report was based on slanted mistruths to appease the American public. The facts are what they are… My question is, what good will it do know? Especially in these times of such devision in our country? What I’m confused about is, what and why did it have to come to a kill?


  2. Pingback: A Review of Oliver Stone’s JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Chapter 3) | Bob Fox

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