Oliver Stone’s “JFK Revisited – Through the Looking ” is a two hour long non-fictional documentary that details much, but not all, of the evidence and witness testimony that supports the idea of a conspiracy behind the murder of the President.
It will premier domestically tomorrow – Friday, on Showtime and is being packaged as a DVD that will be available sometime early next year.
While Jim diEugenio is given credit as the writer, the original title “Destiny Betrayed” has been removed and relegated to the four hour version of this film that is slated to be released in February. Jim’s book is based mainly on the New Orleans angles to the assassination, and this program only touches on that aspect, focusing mainly on why most people believe Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone assassin.
And unlike diEugenio’s usual verbose writing style, this show is a tightly packed, finely edited piece of work that Warren Commission defenders will have a hard time finding something to refute.
Nararated by Donald Sutherland and Whoopie Goldberg, neither of whom make a physical presence in the film but rather provide voice over commentary. Goldberg played the wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Rob Reiner’s movie “Ghosts of Mississippi” while Sutherland portrayed “Mr. X,” the mysterious character in “JFK” who advises Jim Garrison on the deep state responsible for the murder, said to be based on Air Force Colonel Fletecher Prouty.
The first fifteen minutes of this film is primarily original news reports that Lone Nutters will have a hard time arguing with, and in fact, they will have a hard time finding fault with any particular item other than the entire conspiracy oriented premesis of the program. Some will say that it is not objective and doesn’t present both sides of the story, but there aren’t two sides to the story when it comes to basic facts of the case.
There is no debate, just as the Warren Report didn’t include evidence and witness testimony that contradicted its findings. Nor does it include any silly conspiracy theories that lone nut defenders can poke holes in.
As the first news reports clearly indicated, the Dallas Police came out and said, “This is the man who killed the President,” and we are supposed to take their word for it?
Walter Cronkite said it best when he asked the questions, “Who actually fired the shots that killed the President, and was there a conspiracy?”
They are the questions this program tries to answer.
Those who do have talking head time are impressive – Brian Edwards keeping track of the trail of evidence and the chain of custody, Dr. David Mantik on how many shots were fired, Dr. Cyril Wecht on the Single Bullet Theory – “Whatever you want, whatever you need, this bullet (#399) will oblige you.”
DPD motorcycle patrolman Marion Baker seeing Oswald in the second floor lunchroom 90 seconds after the last shot, and Barry Ernest on his book “The Girl on the Steps” – Vickie Adams, whose statement that she left the fourth floor within a minute of the last shot and came down the steps not seeing anyone, corroborated by Sandra Styles, who accompanied her and was not called to testify, as well as their supervisor Dorothy Garner, who followed them to the fourth floor landing and stayed there until she saw or heard Baker and Truly come up from the first floor – three witnesses who didn’t see anyone on the stairs. And they don’t bother to mention Dougherty, the TSBD worker who was on the fifth floor landing and didn’t see anyone come down the stairs.
While Warren Commission apologists say it was a matter of moments when these things happened, and it was a Keystone Cops type of situation where they just missed each other, they even timed how long it would take to go from the sixth floor to the second and it could be done in less than 90 seconds. But not mentioned is the fact that patrolman Baker saw Oswald through the window of the closed second floor door that Oswald would have had to go through if he was the sixth floor sniper, but Truly, seconds and a few steps ahead of Baker didn’t see Oswald go through the door as he would have if he did. Oswald entered the lunchroom through the same door he left by, with a coke.
And the only conclusion is the one expressed in this film – Oswald was not even on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting, and was not the man with a rifle in his hand, with a white shirt (Oswald wore brown) and bald spot on the top of his head, an attribute not shared with Oswald.
The parafin test that proves Oswald did not fire a rifle that day is mentioned, and former New York City prosecutor and HSCA attorney Bob Tannenbaum says, “Oswald would not have been convicted on the evidence provided by the Warren Commission.”
There is a short, too short profile of the basic background of Oswald that jumps quickly to his enlistment in the Marines, Atsugi, U2 base etc., defection, and return home, without a proper debriefing, that former Republican Senator Richard Schweiker says, “Smacks of an intelligence relationship,” and a short note on State Department official Otto Otepka, who kept a list of American defectors, noted the large number of former military personal and asked the CIA which ones were real defectors and which ones fake, including Oswald on his list, before the assassination. He was, as Lisa Pease notes, dismissed November 5, 1963, a few weeks before the assassination.
As Jefferson Morley mentions, “Oswald was of intense interest to high level CIA officers for years before the assassination, even reading his mother’s mail.” And the man who kept track of Oswald’s file, James Jesus Angleton, was assigned to be liaison between the CIA and the Warren Commission.
There’s very little in regards to Oswald’s 1963 summer in New Orleans other than the fact that he tried to infiltrate the DRE – and then got into a fight with them passing out Fair Play for Cuba Committee leaflets – sparking Sen. Schweiker to say that he was working as a “double-agent, playing both sides of the fence.”
There’s a short interview with CIA agent William Gaudet, who said he saw Oswald and former FBI agent Guy Bannister together, but doesn’t bother to fill in the details – Gaudet was editor of the CIA financed Latin America Report publication that was financed by the CIA and was next to Oswald in line getting a visa to Mexico at the same time.
Gaudet’s office was in the Clay Shaw’s World Trade Center, where Oswald handed out leaflets, and Dean Andrews is mentioned as having received a phone call from Clay Bertrand to represent Oswald after his arrest, and the fact that over a dozen witnesses are mentioned in government records as having confirmed that Shaw used the alias Bertand. Then there are the CIA’s reports that indicate Shaw was involed in their QKenchant program, whatever that was.
Jeff Morley describes how the DRE Cubans, who immediately tried to blame Castro for the assassination, were run by CIA official George Joannides, who was later brought out of retirement to serve as CIA liaison to the HSCA. When Morley told this to the second counsel to the HSCA G. Robert Blakey he was astonished, and said, “I’ll never believe the CIA again.”
Federal Judge and former Chairman of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) John Tunheim is seen saying that he showed one document to a CIA official and asked why it should still be withheld, and he responded, “I know there’s reason but I just don’t remember what it is.”
The Secret Service destroyed advance records of the Presidents intended visits to Chicago and Tampa, Florida, and both cases are reviewed and it is discovered an FBI informant named “Lee” correctly said that four Cubans would be in Chicago, and their landlady dropped a dime on them saying they had high powered rifles and map of the parade route. Two were arrested. And another suspect Thomas A. Valle is mentioned, as well as his background that is very similar to Oswald’s that makes one observer conclude “There’s too many they cannot be considered coincidences.”
Former Secret Service Agent Abe Bolden, who was involved in the Chicago investigation, was “railroaded” for trying to blow the whistle on what was going on. And the Tampa plot is also laid out detailing the proposed fall guy who would have been framed as the patsy if the assassination took place there. I arranged for the NARA to obtain the Tampa advance reports from the agent who wrote them.
The Parkland doctors are mentioned in detail, with Dr. Gary Aguilar discussing what doctors Kenp Clark and Malcolm Perry had to say, and nurse Audrey Bell on how Dr. Perry told her he was being pressured by SS agent Elmer Moore into saying the throat wound could have been an exit wound. Moore later admitted he regretted pressuring Perry and said he was ordered to do so by SS Inspector Kelly. And Perry later told a fellow doctor that he regretted changing his testimony.
ARRB investigator Doug Horne mentions his interviews with Autopsy photographers, how the photos that exist today are not recognized by the Parkland doctors or the photographer who allegedly took them, and how photos of the brain show by its color that it had been in formaldehyde jar for weeks before the assassination and could not be JFK’s brain. Dr. Mantik shows a document that says that JFK’s brain weighted in at what a normal brain would be, when in fact much of it was shattered by a bullet.
Former Warren Commissioner and later President Gerald Ford, who moved the back wound to the throat to fit the Single Bullet Theory, is quoted as telling a French president that “There was a conspiracy but we were never able to determine by who.”
David Talbot is given some time and uses it to say how Allen Dulles was a fraud, and that everyone, then and now knows, “that powerful forces did it.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expresses his father’s first impulses were to blame the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans, and how much JFK is loved around the world.
As Oliver Stone concludes, it is “no longer a conspiracy theory, but conspiracy fact.”
And while the film actually tries to convey those facts, my biggest complaint with it is the failure to emphasize the fact that the JFK Act, which owes so much to Oliver Stone and “JFK,” is not being enforced today.
Just as Stone mentioned that the assassination records were still being withheld at the end of his 1992 movie, that stirred up so much public support for the release of the records, he could have done the same thing here, but doesn’t.
Maybe the four hour long version will touch on this but I’m not counting on it.