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David Lifton

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  1. David, in the mid 80s my high school government teacher suggested your book Best Evidence and I read it way back then as a boy.   I have tried to keep amateurish track of you and the overall assassination discussion ever since then.  It's great work you've done and sometimes I think, "Why is there even any serious discussion about the existence of a conspiracy when Lifton documented the whole fiasco with the coffins so thoroughly?"  So thanks.  I am now middle aged and have reached a place in my career where I can take some time off from "real" work. I am a graduate student in the History Department at Arizona State.  I just finished a seminar on archiving - we organized and digitized papers related to Susan B Anthony from her namesake museum.   It was surprisingly fun, even though women's rights is not a particular passion for me.   Anyway, I'll cut it short and say I saw you post once or twice that you've got lots of files and need organizational help.   I need a project to work on in order to graduate.   I can afford to travel and have up to a year to do some work; I can also employ the university's resources if helpful.   Are you interested in free help?

  2. George: To the contrary, it makes plenty of sense--if you know, from the outset, that you are "controlling the body." This issue you have raised is dealt with, in considerable detail, in Chapter 14 of Best Evidence. Title: "Trajectory Reversal: Blueprint for Deception." I cannot afford to spend time "re-litigating" a matter so central to the issue of whether "body alteration" was "planned in advance"--that is, whether it was part of the original scheme (It was). Suffice it to say that all it takes is to punch a shallow hole in the body, and place a bullet either "inside" that defect, or on a stretcher (and then claim that it "fell out'). Surely you are aware that the original FBI reporting states exactly that; that the bullet "fell out". Another matter: its not possible to discuss this without dealing with another closely related issue: that the Dallas medical records--the nurses reports, the medical reports, etc.--make no mention of any back wound. None at all: not in the back, not in the neck, not in the head. The supposed "frontal entry" is not reported --at the Dallas end of the line--until the Dallas doctors were shown the Bethesda autopsy report on December 11, 1963. Further, and this is very important: the first report --from Dallas--that JFK was "shot in the back" was in a Dallas times Herald story--front page--published on Thursday, December 12th. It was written by the paper's science editor, Bill Burrus. In 1978, i hunted down the author--Bill Burrus--and spent several hours with him in New York City, in a taped interview. I'll be publishing this in Final Charade, and there you will learn, for the first time, the backstory of how this front page story --published on 12/12--came to be. Its an account that will curl your hair. Burrus gets a phone call very late on Wed night, from a mysterious high level VIP, who --supposedly--has the results of the Bethesda autopsy, which he wants published in the next day's newspaper. . and so that's how all of this begins--the first time any story is published, anywhere in the U.S., that the bullet entered "above" the shoulder blade. Skipping many intermediate details, let me cut to the chase. IMHO: (a) THe back wound is phony; and (b) a bullet was planted to "match" that wound. (And it didn't matter in which order these two events occurred 2 x 3 = 6; but so does 3 x 2 = 6. In math, one says that the two operations "commute." the same with the planting of that "nearly perfect" bullet, and the shallow wound. The sequence of planting and wound creation is really irrelevant. Again, see Chapter 14. Read it carefully, and understand that what I've laid out there, on the page, is the description of the algorithm--I repeat that word "algorithm"-- that was used to shoot the president,and then, immediately afterwards, alter the body. Of course, "they" are shooting at JFK's head, but the precise complicating details to which you are alluding are not a real problem as long as he is shot from the "opposite side" of the body than the phony sniper's nest. (Again, see ch 14). Yes, its the most "radical" part of Best Evidence, but rest assured, that's the key as to why "body alteration" could be "planned in advance." As a friend of mine used to say, President Kennedy wasn't just shot; he was shot "carefully." DSL 6/1/2017 - 12:30 a.m.PDT Los Angeles, California
  3. Yes, I would like that, too. Unfortunately, all my material (from that period) was recorded on hi 8, and was "pre-digital." So that: (a) I have to dig it out of storage; and. . (b) Do the conversion to digital. . and then. . (c ) Edit it properly, to focus on the relevant excerpt(s). I really do need assistance --financial and human--to embark on this project of how to deal with all my filmed interviews, which took place at a time when the technology was changing rapidly. Meanwhile, I've got to complete Final Charade. Sorry I don't "have a staff," or I'd simply assign the work to someone, and say "Do it." Stay tuned. . I'll try and do something. . DSL
  4. Helicopter at Bethesda

    Ty: Here's what we know about helicopters--or at least, here's what I think I "know" based on a very confusing record: 1. General Wehle, Lt. Lipsey (his assistant) and the casket team flew in a twin-rotor helicopter from Andrews to Bethesda, and landed (per the MDW Report) at (as I recall) 6:45 p.m. 2. Dennis David saw a chopper land (again, "as I recall") in my 1980 filmed interview (and possibly, also, in the 7/2/1979 initial phone interview). He not only saw a chopper land, I believe he said a casket was brought off that chapter. Again, going by recollection. 3. Paul O'Connor, who was inside the morgue (which is at the back of the hospit, on the "basement" level) heard the sound of chopper(s), one (at least) landed, and then the men brought the shipping casket into the morgue. So he (O'Connor) made the "connection" between the sounds he heard (of one or more choppers) and the appearance of the shipping casket, even though we mnow that the shipping casket came out of a black hearse. As far as a dead SS agent is concerned: I doubt very much that if there was such a body, that it would have been brought to Bethesda. First of all, if you're going to deny such a death (and I'm not saying this happened, but if it did), the last place you'd want to take the body would be to Bethesda (which was the focus of so much public attention); or even Walter Reed. lf such a body existed, and had to be disposed of, I'd think it would go to a private funeral home, and the family (assuming there was one) would be given some story about their loved one having "died a hero." Again, this is all speculation. My own conclusion(s): I think its clear, from the account of O'Connor (who was quite strong on what he heard) that one or more choppers landed at the rear of Bethesda, perhaps in the parking lot of the Officer's Club. Further, based on what Dennis David saw, he witnessed a chopper landing supposedly at the front, but I'd have to go back to the original footage to see whether he spelled that out, and whether or not he could e a landing at the rear. DSL 5/31/2017 - 4 p.m. Los Angeles, California
  5. FWIW: 1. Doyle Williams was the FBI agent who was physically attacked--by SS Agent Andrew Berger, I believe--and knocked down and sent sprawling to the floor. 2. I interviewed Doyle Williams, on camera--a fully professionally filmed interview--in June or July 1990. The interview lasted at least an hour. 3. Doyle Williams, imho, was a complete straight arrow. I cannot conceive of him being involved in a plot to harm Kennedy or to participate in a criminal scheme to falsify the facts of JFK's death. Based on the time I spent with him, I find it bizarre that anyone would suggest any such thing. 4. Going by my memory, here are other points I'd like to make: a. Williams went through the whole business of him being assaulted, and knocked to the floor. b. Williams was trained in karate, and made a deliberate decision not to fight back. He could have, and there could have been serious injuries. c. While he was lying on the floor, having just been knocked down by SS Agent Berger, SS Agent Kellerman came over, leaned down, and said to him, quietly, "Perhaps you'd better leave." The way Doyle related this incident to me was was quite graphic, and the impression I got --and has been reinforced by other data--is that Kellerman had ice water in his veins and was a cold blooded individual. The notion that an SS agent would lean down and tell an FBI agent, sprawled out on the floor, "Perhaps you'd better leave," made an indelible impression, and I find it outrageous. d. Everything I have described above is recorded on film. DSL 5/30/2016 - 8:55 PDT Los Angeles, California
  6. Tribute to Dennis David

    David Andrews: I have a slightly different opinion. Yes, Dennis David told me the same thing, back when I first spoke with him (on July 2, 1979). So. . what to make of such a bizarre statement, by one of those delivering the body? IMHO: I think that remark was made by a cynical (and clever) person who was in on the plot (and/or the coverup) and who knew very well what they --whomever "they" were--had done. The person who made that remark knew very well that they were delivering a "hijacked body" to the Bethesda morgue, and now, confronted by some innocent sailors, and asked "to explain," were using those same words to justify their possession of the President's body, and their involvement in delivering it to the morgue. That remark almost has the quality of a hollow joke, or sick black humor. Bottom line: I don't believe for a moment that those who were with the body, in that black hearse, were under the impression that they were "protecting" the body from being "hijacked." How could they? In normal circumstances, the President's body belonged in the Dallas coffin. The "hijacking"--if that's what one wishes to call it--had already occurred, back at Love Field. And that's why the coffin offloaded from Air Force One was empty, and why the naval ambulance--now en route to Bethesda Naval Hospital--was carrying an empty coffin. Remember what Commander Humes said, to avoid discussing any of this under oath when he testifed on March 16, 1964. When asked by Specter "tell us . . .in a general way [who] was present at the time the autopsy was conducted, in addition to you three doctors, please?". . . Humes replied: "This, I must preface by saying it will be somewhat incomplete. My particular interest was on the examination of the President and not of the (means "on the"--dsl) security measures of the other people who were present." N.B.: ". . of the other people who were present." Bottom line: IMHO: Humes was pawning off the peculiar logistic situation he was confronted with that night (e.g., multiple coffin arrivals, etc.) by hiding behind the phrase that there were "security measures of the other people who were present." (FYI: I pointed this out in Best Evidence, chapter 28, as I recall. But just to make sure, I retyped the above quote by consulting Humes' testimony, as it appears in Volume 2 of the 26 volumes). Humes was slick and deceptive, and Specter (I believe) was unsuspecting. One other factoid: Doug Horne, with whom I spoke extensively (almost dayto day, at the time of the ARRB depositions), told me that on a lunch break, or perhaps when his deposition was completed, Humes said words to the effect: "Well, I hope you guys can figure all this out." Yeah. . sure. Thanks so much, Dr. Humes. DSL 5/30/2017 - 2:20 p.m. PDT
  7. Tribute to Dennis David

    Since this was written as a tribute to Dennis David, I would prefer not to get into the matter of Pitzer. The short answer: yes, of course we talked about it, and that was the one thing we had to "agree to disagree" on. Again, without getting sidetracked, I did not believe that Pitzer was murdered; rather, it was a suicide. But Dennis David had an different view, and, out of respect to his memory, let's not debate that here, but you should be aware what it was. Pitzer was his friend. I always believed that it was understanding that friendship that provided the key to this affair: His believing Pitzer's death was not a suicide (but rather a murder) invested that death with greater meaning. This is a very touchy subject, and I didn't dwell on it with Dennis, and I'd prefer not to dwell on it now. (But thanks for asking, and I hope I have made an answer that is both respectful of Dennis David, but also provides my own view as to what was going on here). zd
  8. Tribute to Dennis David

    A TRIBUTE TO DENNIS DAVID (edited 5/29/17 - 2:30 a.m. PDT) With regard to the recent passing of Dennis David. . : Dennis David caused a fundamental change in the nature of my book, Best Evidence, and I’m writing this to pay a tribute to someone who was your “ordinary” person, but who in fact witnessed something extraordinary, and recounted it accurately when I first contacted him by telephone on July 2, 1979 (and then again—on camera—in October 1980). In doing so, Dennis David rendered a great service to history. For those unfamiliar with the story, what follows is how someone with a vital piece of the Kennedy assassination puzzle shared that puzzle piece with the public at large, without worrying about personal consequences, simply because he knew it to be the truth. There was never a question of having to pay Dennis David any money; he simply acted as he did because he knew it was the proper thing to do. THE BACK STORY Its not possible to explain what he did, without telling a bit of the “story of Best Evidence,” and I will try to be brief, keeping in my that my purpose in writing this tribute is to pay homage to a man who changed the nature of my book and, as far as I am concerned, the proper way to view the Kennedy assassination. After years of work, the contract for my manuscript—originally titled Scenario for Treason—was signed with Macmillan publishing in December 1978, just around Christmas time. The book originally had 24 chapters, and then a concluding chapter. The major thesis -- that the President’s body was altered (i.e., bullets removed, and wounds altered) –was identical to what was (later) published in Best Evidence, but the time line was different. In December 1978, I believed that the covert intercept of President Kennedy’s body had occurred after 7 p.m., EST, at the doorstep to Bethesda Naval Hospital; specifically, that the intercept had occurred sometime between the arrival of the Dallas casket in the naval ambulance (along with Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy) at about 6:55 p.m., and the start of the official autopsy, which commenced at 8 p.m. in the morgue of the U.S. Navy Medical School. The final manuscript was due around September 1979, and the president of Macmillan, Jeremiah Kaplan, took a personal interest in the project. “Don’t worry about what anyone tells you around here,” he said to me around December 1978. If you have a problem, just come to me.” This brings us to what happened on July 2, 1979, when I learned about Dennis David, and spoke with him for the very first time. FIRST KNOWLEDGE OF DENNIS DAVID Another JFK researcher—Wallace Milam—had sent me a newspaper clip from a local Illinois newspaper ((TK: Name it)) stating that a Navy man who had been on duty—someone referred to simply as “the Lake County man”—had stated that the President’s body had not arrived in the naval ambulance carrying the Dallas coffin, and Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy. Rather, it had arrived earlier, in a “black” ambulance (by which, I later learned, he meant a hearse). The information reported in this news clip was remarkable: that the large ceremonilal coffin in the naval ambulance (which crowds of people at the front of Bethesda saw arrive) was empty; and that the President’s body had been delivered “earlier” at the rear morgue entrance. Initially, this had the quality of a “loose end” that I should attend to, and I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, or where it would lead. Most important, I did not know the name of this Navy person, and I could not responsibly publish the account without identifying the source. So, I called the local newspaper, managed to speak with the reporter, (Art Petersen) and asked for his assistance. He remember the interview he had conducted, several years before, but couldn’t remember the man’s name—only that he had been a bit shy about having his name used.--but he promised to help. The story had been published about five years earlier, in 1975, and he said he would have to search for, and locate, some old files that were in his attic. A few days later, he had found the file, we spoke again, and provided the man’s name: Dennis David. He did not know Dennis David’s hometown, or where he might then be located. At this point, I turned to a friend, Dr. Bernard Kenton, who had a friend in the military at the Long Beach, California, naval facility, and that peson, who was in the Navy, agreed to help. Within a few days, I had the full name –Dennis David—and a location: a small Illinois town I had never heard of before: Hoopeston, Illinois, about 115 miles south of Chicago. According to Wikipedia, Hoopeston had a population of about 5,000 “was laid out in 1871. It was named for Thomas Hoopes, one of the men who offered land for the crossing of two railroads: the Lafayette, Bloomington and Western Railroad and the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad. The two railroads separated the town into four sections. The latter railroad still exists and is now operated jointly by CSX transportation and Union Pacific Railroad.” It also states that Hoopeston is rather small: that “ [it] has a total area of 3.69 square miles (9.56 km2), all land.[8]” Soon, I had the phone number and on July 2, 1979, I placed the call. I had no idea what might happen next, so as a precaution, I set up a tape recorder, just in case it was significant, and so I would have record of his “first account.” What happened next is described verbatim in Chapter 25 of Best Evidence. Dennis David answered the phone, and I introduced myself as an author who was writing a book, and explained that I had the news clip from the t newspaper, and wanted clarification. Could he help? Yes, he could—and would, and did, and what then happened, in that first phone call, changed my thinking about the Kennedy assassination. DENNIS DAVID’S ACCOUNT. . . Dennis described to me what he believed was completely routine, based on his experience in the military, but which was, in fact, extraordinary. The naval ambulance carrying Jacqueline and Bobby Kennedy, he said, carried an empty coffin. How did he know that? Did he see it was empty? No, he didn’t. He knew it was empty because of what he personally witnessed at the rear morgue entrance, about 20 minutes before. I asked him to go through his experience that night, chronologically. And he did. The President’s body, he explained, was delivered to the rear morgue entrance in a black hearse, driven by a civilian, with some half dozen others—men in suits—inside. He assumed they were all federal agents. He had gotten some sailors to unload the coffin, which was a shipping casket. They brought the casket to the morgue entrance, but never went inside. How did he know that the body was in that casket? Because, the next day, he was told that by one of the autopsy doctors, Dr. Boswell, who he knew reasonably weel. Furthermore, after the shipping casket was brought inside, he (Dennis David) went to the front of the hospital and saw the arrival of the naval ambulance, carrying Mrs. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and the large Dallas (ceremonial) casket. But that was a god twenty minutes later. David told me that he asked someone “why all this rigmarole?” and was told the answer: “security,” in case someone might attempt to ”hijack the body.” The tape I made of this (initial) conversation is crystal clear. Its going to be digitized, and placed in the National Archives, in the Kennedy collection. DENNIS DAVID’S UNDERSTANDING. . . Although Dennis David had knowledge of this subterfuge, he honestly believed it was simply a security measure; he was not a student of the Kennedy assassination, had no particular knowledge of any conspiracy, and had no awareness that he had witnessed the inner works of what was, in effect, a murder plot. Yet by the end of this conversation, his account had a profound effect on my own thinking. Before we said our goodbyes, and realizing the historical importance of what he had related, I asked Dennis he would repeat the account on camera, and he assented. He had no problem with that. I did not want to alarm him so I said nothing about the truly historic significance of what he had witnessed. THE HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE Within an hour of getting off the phone with Dennis, I took out my copy of William Manchester’s Death of a President, and other related “already published” material. By simply drawing time lines, and “running the events backwards in time” (as if David’s account was like a movie, running in reverse), it became obvious that an empty casket at the Bethesda front entrance meant an empty casket upon take-off from Dallas. (The basic reason for this conclusion: that once Air Force One took off from Love Field, Jacqueline was always with the casket). That, perhaps, was the most important consequence of Dennis David’s account: President Kennedy’s body was placed inside the Dallas coffin at Parkland Hospital, it was inside the Dallas coffin when that coffin arrived at Love Field and was placed aboard the aircraft. It was not in the coffin about 30 minutes later, when Air Force One took off for Washington. (INSERT: Added on 5/29/16): If someone were to ask me today, "What about Dennis David? Why does his account matter?" The answer is very simple: Dennis David's account, if true, provides direct evidence that the coffin offloaded from Air Force One was empty. Because he was a witness to the sequence of arrivals at Bethesda, he provides direct evidence that the casket off-loaded from Air Force One --i.e., the "Dallas casket") was empty. END INSERT About two weeks later, the Final Report of the House Committee was issued, and I learned about medical technician Paul O’Connor, who had received the President’s body when the shipping casket that Dennis David saw brought to the morgue was opened. Inside, JFK’s body was in a body bag. Just as had been the case with Dennis David, I now called Paul O’Connor, and got a detailed account of his experience: the arrival of the body in a body bag, inside a shipping casket. MEETING WITH JEREMIAH KAPLAN I then arranged a meeting with Jeremiah Kaplan, the President of Macmillan, who had told me, “If you have a problem, you come to me.” Well, I certainly did have a problem. The entire concept of “when and where” this subterfuge had occurred had changed, from December 1978, when I signed the original contract. I needed more time to flesh out the details. I asked for—and was granted—additional time. I also requested that the title of the book be changed to Best Evidence. APRIL 1, 1980 When the final manuscript was turned in on April 1, 1980, the top executives at Macmillan were astonished with the story they now found in the final seven chapters, starting with Chapter 25, titled “The Lake County Informant,” and which told the story of Dennis David, complete with detailed timelines to illustrate the subterfuge he had witnessed at Bethesda. The book was put on an accelerated production schedule, the goal being to have it in book stores by January 1981. The top executives were on tenterhooks as to what the government reaction might be, and I proposed that, to support the credibility of the witnesses, and to prevent anyone in the media from attempting to misrepresent their stories, that the witnesses be filmed. I was particularly concerned that someone like Dan Rather, who held a top position at Sixty Minutes, might attempt to film and misreport—through slick editing—what these witnesses had told me in telephone interviews. Approval was received for this project, and I telephoned Dennis David and the other key witnesses and asked if we could get his story on film. He agreed. OCTOBER 1980 –FILMING DENNIS DAVID The result was a series of remarkable interviews conducted in the last week of October 1980, when we were just about 10 weeks before the public release of the book. Working with an official at PBS in New York, I outlined a script for a proposed documentary. Our third stop was Chicago, where we rented a van, and drove the 100 miles south to Hoopeston, where I met Dennis David (for the first time) along with his wife, Dot, and filmed him at his home. The filming technology at the time was 16 mm negative film, and that meant a separate sound system, proper synchronization, etc. The sound man was Mark Dichter, the cameraman was David Watts. Filming meant the home was crawling with cables for video, audio, and power. Conducting such an interview at someone’s home could be very intrusive, but Dennis David and his wife were both very accommodating. Dennis David went through the same story he had told me on the telephone on July 2, 1979; and we went over it several times, to make sure every detail was accurately recorded. Also, during this interview, I was required to cross-examine my own witness—that is, I had to show Dennis David photographs of the Dallas coffin being onloaded onto Air Force One, and challenging his account that perhaps he was mistaken as to what he saw that night, that perhaps this was actually the coffin he saw being brought into Bethesda, and that his account was the result of a misunderstanding. Dennis David pushed back hard, defending his original account (which is exactly what I wanted, of course). He also added a fact that I’m not sure was in the original phone interview—that there was still another coffin that arrived at Bethesda, via helicopter. This turned out to be important, in terms of the possibility that there was either a decoy casket also sent by helicopter, or that there was validity to the account that a Secret Service agent had been shot that day. No matter, we recorded what he had to say, and included it in the final edit. (During the interview, Dennis’ dog let out a yelp during one of his answers, and we included that, too!) When it was over, we had to disassemble the equipment and hurriedly leave to drive to Indianapolis for the flight to our next destination. EARLY NOVEMBER, 1980 When we returned to New York several days later, the films were sent to Duart Labs for processing, an editing room was rented, and the process of editing began. The person doing the editing was Arnon Mishkin, who was a news editor from WNET (the PBS station in New York). Mishkin knew Steve Glauber, Dan Rather’s producer, and Glauber visited our editing room, at least once, possibly more than once. “Boy, Dan’s going to love this!” he exclaimed, looking forward to the day when our film could be shown to him, so sure was he that Rather would jump at the chance to air it on 60 Minutes. By mid-December, we had a 40 minute version, and Macmillan’s president, Albert Litewka, the editor in Chief, George Walsh, their General counsel, all met at Sixty Minutes, with Executive Producer Don Hewitt, in a screening room. The lights were dimmed, and the film was shown. Of course, all the witnesses—Dennis David, Paul O’Connor, Aubrey Rike—were important. There was silence when the film was completed. Then Don Hewitt spoke up, or should I say, screamed, rather angrily: “Did you pay these people?!” He was really angry. Here we were, bringing him a story, already filmed! “Yes,” I responded. “A dollar, for the release.” (It is customary to get assigned release for from anyone who is filmed, and I had done so.) There was more angry talk, and Mishkin, who knew Hewitt, said something like, “Oh, come on, Don, calm down.” In fact, Hewitt subsided, and then he warmed to the idea of doing a film. DON HEWITT AND DENNIS DAVID. . . He focused on Dennis David, and how he had been told by Dr. Boswell that the shipping casket contained Kennedy’s body, and Boswell’s recent statement, perhaps it was to me, that the never spoke to Dennis David. Hewitt (always with an eye to the theatrical) talked of getting a film crew over to Bethesda and filming Boswell saying exactly that and then contrasting it with the film we had, of Dennis David, saying the opposite. In fact, Hewitt was considering arranging a filmed confrontation between Dennis David and Dr. Boswell. But, to move forward with any of this, Hewitt needed someone who would agree to be the “segment producer.” So he said he would speak with Rather, and arrange for me to meet with me, and for me to show him the film. Mid December, 1980: THE FILM IS SCREENED (by me, personally) FOR DAN RATHER. . . A few days later, I was back at CBS, this time alone, and I met with Dan Rather (who is eight years my senior) in a screening room. Once again, the lights went out, and the film was shown. About 22 minutes later, the film was over. I turned to Rather—the same person of whom Steve Glauber, his producer, had predicted, “Dan’s going to love this!”--but that was not Rather’s reaction. Not at all. Instead, Rather professed puzzlement, as if he were a child, and what I had just shown him was beyond his comprehension. Really: he behaved in that fashion! He did not understand what the film had conveyed, he said, what it was all about. I had to go through it again, explaining it as if he were a child, that if the body was altered, then autopsy results could be changed; not because “the doctors lied,”: but because the “body lied to the doctors.” Rather responded by saying something rather glib (but important) along these lines: “But since Oswald assassinated the President, there would be no need to alter the body.” (Yes, he actually said that, or something darn near close to it. Of course: exactly the opposite was the case: if Oswald had not assassinated the President, then there would be every reason to alter the body, or falsify the autopsy in some way). I could hardly believe my ears. I went over some of the points made in the film, including Dennis David’s account of the arrival of the black hearse, with the shipping casket, prior to the arrival of the naval ambulance at the front ("a good 20 minutes before," said David); and Paul O’Connor’s account of the body arriving inside the morgue, in a body bag, inside a shipping casket (and with an empty cranium). Rather looked at me blankly and said: “Well, I think you’ve found some witnesses who remember things a bit differently.” Hmmm. . . (Added, 5/29/2017--1 a.m. PDT): I was incredulous. At the time, I remember thinking: How can this guy be the anchorman on the CBS Evening News? He's behaving like an ignorant child. How can he fail to understand what I just showed him, and which was laid out, on the screen, plain as day. It was only some years later that I "got it". Rather knew very well what I was showing him, and what I was talking about (just as he knew which way JFK's head went on the Zapruder film). He just wasn't going to deal with it. At all. Not then, and not ever. (But I don't wish to digress here and get into the "dark side" of Dan Rather. Another time. . . as in "Final Charade.") DSL NOTE, 5/29/2017 - 1 a.m. PDT: For those who wish to see the (nearly) identical film shown to Rather (and to Hewitt) in December 1980, just Google "David Lifton, Best Evidence Research Video". Here's the (current) link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAWFvcrp-ao What you will see there on the screen is the 37 minute video released (as a VHS, by RHINO video, in 1989). Once there, skip the Intro (that was later added for the 1989 release) and go directly to 6 min 30 second. Starting there, and for the next 25 minutes (approx) is the film that I showed to Dan Rather, sitting next to him, in a screening room, at CBS headquarters ("Black Rock") in New York City in December 1980. I am sure he never forgot the experience. (And there's more to come, when Final Charade is published). RETURNING NOW to this London Forum post, as originally drafted. . . BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS. . . That was the bad news. The good news was that because of the foresight I had in creating a filmed record, and the investment made to do this by my publisher, someone like Dan Rather could not now approach the witnesses, film them, and then report to a Sixty Minutes audience that I had misrepresented what they said. The film we created didn’t get us on Sixty Minutes (which of course would have been wonderful); but it prevented someone like Dan Rather from mangling my work, and doing a hit piece on Best Evidence, misrepresenting it, as he did the Zapruder film head snap. January 1981 - DONALD REBENTISCH Comes Forward Sometime in mid-January, I was in Los Angeles, on my book tour, and staying at the Bonaventure Hotel, when the phone rang. It was Jerry Morlock, reporter for the Grand Rapids, Michigan, newspaper. He called to tell me of a witness, Don Rebentisch, who had witnessed the same thing as Dennis David, and who had not yet read the book. I immediately contacted him, and we had a detailed interview. He corroborated Dennis David’s story, and told me that he knew David, because he would, occasionally, play ards with him. He even knew his wife, he said. I’m always careful, and since I had met Dennis’ wife, I asked him a simple question: what’s her first name? “Dottie” (or “Dot”) he replied, and I knew he was “the real deal.” 1988 – KRON-TV (San Francisco) In 1988, former CBS producer Stanhope Gould, and Sylvia Chase--both of whom had been with 20/20, and had moved on to KRON-TV, in San Francisco--arranged to do a major documentary built around Best Evidence. I was a consultant on the show, flew around the country with them on most of the shoots, and arranged for Dennis David to be filmed again. The interview was successful, but Stanhope told me after the broadcast, that nothing compared, for drama, with the original filmed interviews. And the reason was obvious: in October 1980, Dennis was learning, for the first time, the full importance of what he had witnessed. (And the same was true of Rike, O'Connor, and the others). By 1988, they were all quite familiar with the basic material, so it did not have the drama of the original interview, which--through the fine camera work of Dave Watts--captured the impact on their psyche, as each of them had their "moment of truth." July 1989 – With Dennis David, at the Vietnam Wall In 1989, I raised funds by going to numerous family members, and did additional filming of the Best Evidence witnesses. On this occasion, I arranged to have Dennid David flown to Washington, and we went through his story again, only this time “on site”, at Bethesda. We filmed him at the back of the hospital, where the ambulance arrived and then up in the veranda at the front of Bethesda, where he was standing when he saw the naval ambulance arrive. In addition, we went to the Vietnam War memorial, where Dennis David was quite emotional because he was able to find at least one friend of his, who had died in Vietnam, and whose name was inscribed on the wall. The 1989 filming was the last time I saw Dennis David. 1995: THE BOYAJIAN DOCUMENT (is discovered) Around 1995, a JFK researcher discovered a document written by Sgt. Roger Boyajian,who commanded the USMC Security Detail that guarded the morgue. Boyajian said that the body was delivered to the morgue at 18:35 (6: 35 p.m.), which was 20 minutes before the naval ambulance arrived at the front. In our interviews—and particularly in the film interview—Dennis had told me, with considerable force, that the black ambulance he had seen arrive at the back had arrived “a good twenty minutes before" that naval ambulance arrived at the front. Bingo! Here was documentary corroboration for Dennis David’s account!* And it was truly remarkable: in 1980, on camera, Dennis David had specifically mentioned the time lapse as “a good 20 minutes!”. And here was a written document, dated November 1963, which provided corroboration for that exact time lapse: 1835 (6:35) for the arrival of the shipping casket; 6:55 p.m. for the arrival of the naval ambulance. *In a separate post, I will relate the story of the two JFK researchers, opposed to my work, who had this document and withheld it from me for about 18 months, because they knew it would corroborate Dennis David's account, and validate my work. (Some "collegiality" . . eh?) DAN RATHER - - RECONSIDERED. . . I mentioned above the casual way that Dan Rather attempted to dismiss the account of Dennis David (and others) by stating that I had merely found “witnesses who remember things a bit differently.” That was the way Rather brushed off the accounts of Dennis David, and Paul O’Connor. First of all, I resent anyone having the gall to brush off the interview such as the one I had with Dennis David by saying that I had “found a witness who remembered things a bit differently.” Second, when Final Charade is published, the reader will be introduced to some jaw-dropping evidence that suggests that Dan Rather was in fact quite knowledgeable about the body-centric plot that took President Kennedy’s life, and his casual dismissal of a witness as important as Dennis David (blocking my appearance on Sixty Minutes), when joined with the way Rather misreported the JFK headsnap—will take on a new meaning. * * * Dennis David was an ordinary American who happened to be in the right place at the right time. My conversation with him on the night of July 2, 1979 changed the course of my own life, and the nature of the book that I was writing. He was the first witness to provide evidence that led to the conclusion that the coffin off-loaded from Air Force One, in the nationally televised event when Air Force One arrived at Andrews on the night of 11/22/63. was empty. That single fact is simply stunning. On a personal level, I am deeply indebted to the contribution that he made, both to my work, and to history. More important, I would hope that Cleo, the Muse of History, has a special place for someone who performed such a valuable public service, by providing history with an essential “missing piece” of the Kennedy assassination puzzle. Without fully understanding the full implications of what he had seen, Dennis David was one of history's "first responders." And I wish him well. RIP Dennis David. David S. Lifton 5/28/2017 – 7:30 a.m. PDT; edited 5/29/17, 2:30 a.m. PDT Los Angeles, California
  9. The latest from Ruth Paine

    Paul: As someone who has looked at the original FBI 302 report stating what she said on that tapped phone call, it seems clear that the agent making that report was not describing something that was spoken in the spirit of it being a "generic" reference to the general hatred in some quarters in Dallas; and certainly not something spoken in reaction to the Wanter for Treason posters. First of all, I really do believe it was the responsibility of those who conducted the original investigation to question both Paines properly (and aggressively) as to just what they meant. (And remember the original wording: "We" both know who was responsible., That kind of language does not sound like a reference to something that was "generic." Second: this very late arriving "it was only a 'generic' reference, finally stated in the year 2015, does not have the ring of truth. Third, if the Paines really believed that--and believed that at the time--are we to believe that they were implying that the right wing "WANTED FOR TREASON" poster inspired Oswald to shoot JFK? (That makes no sense, and is entirely inconsistent with the Paines' belief that Oswald was, at best, a radical leftist. And was certainly not violent). When you spoke to Ruth Paine, did you press her on her answer? Did you ask any follow-up question(s)? Or did you just sort of "agree," and let the matter go. I really do believe that Ruth Paine owes history a more detailed explanation as to what the FBI reported. A woman as intelligent as she is--remember, she has an IQ of 145 (which was ascertained by another researcher, based on a document)--surely can provide a more detailed explanation than the superficial one that you report. Further, I believe that if you have an ongoing relationship with her, its worth pressing her further on this particular matter. I don't think the issue is "who ordered the phone tap?". The issue is why did she say what she did? And what did she mean by "we" as in "we both know". Sounds like a rather specific reference, to me. DSL 5/28/2017 - 6:55 s.m. PDT Los Angeles, California
  10. Paul Trejo: I hardly have any time to debate these points on the Internet these days, but. . . : Completely aside from new information that I will be offering in Final Charade--let's return to the "old evidence" and take a quick look at 3 factors that should not just "give pause" but make it rather evident that "body alteration" was central to the architecture of the crime--as it was carried out, according to the known historical record--and was therefore "planned in advance". I refer to this as "old" evidence because it is all spelled out in Chapter 14 of Best Evidence: 1. The evidence on the Dallas Police Radio radio, regarding the pinpointing of the sniper's nest. This occurred starting within 3-4 minutes of the shooting of Kennedy. Three cycle officers call attention to "the building" with the third transmission, by DPD Cycle Officer Clyde Haygood, specified the exact location: 6th floor window, SE corner, etc. If the sniper's nest was part of the "set-up,"it is highly unlikely that, as part of the set-up, provision was not made to falsify the autopsy, because the autopsy conclusions, based on the condition of the body, would have to be consistent with the location of the sniper's nest. 2. The "early" planting of bullet 399 This bullet was planted on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital within about 30 minutes of the arrival of JFK at Parkland. In the initial FBI reports, as you surely are aware, the explanation was provided that this bullet "fell out" of a back wound. The problem is: no back wound was observed at Parkland Hospital if you go by the original Parkland Hospital medical records and testimony. Not a single witness saw that wound--and yet, according to the Bethesda autopsy report, it was located "above" the shoulder blade. (I am deliberately ignoring H Livingstone's attempt, somehow, to hoke up a recording the early 1990s, that Diana Bowron saw such a wound. She was asked, under oath, if she saw any wound on JFK's body other than the throat (entry) and the back-of-head exit. She responded: No, no other wound. If the bullet was planted on the stretcher, and the intention was to link it to a shallow back wound--which did not exist--then body alteration must have been planned in advance. Further,as students of the case surely know, a similar incident occurred up in the Connally Operating room. A bullet fell to the floor, and went "clink". Connally described this in his posthumously published memoir. Moreover, those reading this should be aware: one of a quote from Elizabeth Wright, nursing chief at Parkland (and , yes, wife of O P Wright) spoke to a private JFK researcher some years later: " "I wish these people would quit putting these bullets on stretchers." 3. The fact that, according to the arrival sequence of the coffin(s) and JFK's body at Parkland Hospital, the coffin on board AF-1 was empty. I develop this very carefully and with complete timelines, in Best Evidence, Chapters 25 and 28. Bottom line: an empty casket on arrival at the Bethesda front entrance, means an empty casket on take-off from Dallas. If the body was "already" removed from the casket prior to take-off (which was at 2;47 p.m. CST, then the plan "to alter the body" occurred hours earlier than your analysis indicates. Regardless of how you believe the coffin "became"empty--whether it was through chicanery at Parkland or chicanery aboard AF-1, prior to take-off--any plan to get the body out of the coffin that "early" clearly implies a timetable for "altering the body" that is well before 4 pm EST. When #3 joined with items #1 and #2, I think the case if very clear that "body alteration" was not a "4 p.m. (EST)" add-on to the murder. Finally, and as I have said, I will be providing additional significant information that pushes the matter way over the border, and makes clear that autopsy falsification via body alteration is not some kind of conjecture or hypothesis, but is much closer to a historical fact; and that it was part of the original architecture of this murder. DSL 4/30/2017 - 8:30 p.m. PDT Los Angeles, California
  11. 3 hours of never-seen video of Jerrol Custer!

    Karl: I understand your argument, and its possible that you are correct, but. . . : But if you are, there's a second witness to Jacqueline Kennedy's arrival (6:53/6:55 p.m.) and that she was inside the Bethesda lobby, a few minutes later (say, 7 p.m.), and a good 25 minutes after the recorded arrival of the body (per the Boyajian document, at 6:35 p.m. ). Who is that witness? Donald Rebentisch (whose account I first published in the 1982 edition of Best Evidence (a Dell paperback) and whose information is so important that I mad sure to include it in the remaining two editions of Best Eividence: the 1988 Carroll and Graf edition, and the 1993 Signet mass paperback edition, both of which carried the autopsy photographs (which I had obtained in December 1982). This "addendum" is titled "Epilogue to 1982 Edition", and you anyone interested in this subject of "time-sequence" should read it, because it explains who Donald Rebentisch is, how I came to interview him, and what he saw. WHO IS REBENTISCH: One of the sailors who was on duty that night, at Bethesda, and who was called upon to assist in unloading the black hearse which arrived with the shipping casket, "a good 20 minutes before" the arrival of the naval ambulance (carrying RFK, Jackie, and the Dallas casket, at the front). HOW DID I HEAR ABOUT REBENTISCH, AND WHEN DID I NTERVIEW HIM? I learned about Febentisch within a few days of the publication of the TIME story (in the issue dated Jan 19, 1981) which carried a two-page story, in the National News section, about the publication of Best Evidence. The TIME story was titled "Now, a Two Casket Argument," and--I was told--almost made the cover, and TIME was serioiusly considering carrying an excerpt of B.E. in that issue. Rebentisch, who lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called his local newspaper, and volunteered that yes, he knew about the two-casket business, and had been telling his family all about that for years. So the reporter wrote all of that up in a newspaper account, which was published (locally) in the Grand Rapids Press, and then he telephoned my publisher, to reach me, before it appeared. My publisher told him where to reach me--I was on my book tour, in Los Angeles, and was staying at the very posh Bonaventure Hotel. The phone rang in my room, and I got the message. I immediately realized the potential significance of Rebentisch as a witness, and went to considerable trouble to hook up my freshly purchased SONY mini-cassette recorder to the phone in my room, and called Morlock, who then provided me with Rebentisch's phone number; and soon I was on the phone with Rebentisch. It was a remarkable phone call, because I was able to speak with him--at length, and in great detail--before he had read (or even had a copy of) Best Evidence. He went through his entire account with me, and the most important part, from my standpoint, was that he corroborated the account of dennis David, who was Chapter 25 in Best Evidence. Yes, he was asked (by Dennis David) to assist in the unloading of the black hearse, and yes, he helped carry in the shipping casket. And then--get this--he went up to the Bethesda lobby, which was on the first floor, and there he saw Jacqueline Kennedy (and Bobby, as I recall) waiting at the elevator, to take that "upstairs" to the presidential suite (which we now know, was on the 17th floor). THE IMPORTANCE, HISTORICALLY, OF REBENTISCH'S ACCOUNT Rebentisch's account provided strong evidence that the black hearse--which he helped unload--arrived at the back, before the naval ambulance carrying Jacqueline Kennedy (and Bobby, and the Dallas casket) arrived at the front. As the call came to an end, I was searching in my mind for some way to verify his credibility, because that was most important to me. At some point during the call, he mentioned that he often played cards with Dennis David, and had known him well. Just three months before, in October (1980), I had been to Dennis David's home, in a small town in Illinois, to interview him on camera, and had met his wife. And she had a somewhat unusual first name. "By the way," I asked, "Do you know the first name of Dennis David's wife?" Without missing a beat, he replied, and his answer was correct. As far as i was concerned, that estbalished his credibility. THE CBC DOCUMENTARY--THE EMPTY CASKET--AND REBENTISCH'S ACCOUNT Some months later, in the spring of 1980, and after B.E. had been on the national best seller lists for several months (#1 in both AP and UPI, and $4 on the NY Times list), CBC film producer/director Brian McKenna, approached me, and --using the B.E. footage I already had (from Octobner 1980)--Brian produced a major nationally televised documentary broadcast on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). In connection with the production of that program, he arranged for us to fly to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and we interviewed Rebentish on camera. Brian tells me that the program--"The Empty Casket"--was one of the highest rated TV programs ever broadcast on CBC. THE ORIGINAL MICRO-CASSETTE TURNS UP Finally, this footnote. For years after I re-settled myself in Los Angeles (around May 1985), I couldn't locate what had become of the original cassette of the original January 1981 telephone interview. Just a few years ago, I opened a manila file folder (of many that I have) and out flopped that cassette! Pat Valentino made it his project to transfer to the audio to a digital format and spent the hours it took to make a perfectly accurate transcript. So that's the "happy ending" to the Don Rebentisch story. He's an important witness who corroborates the account of Dennis David, and so --if it turns out that Custer's account was incorrect (whatever the reason)--it doesn't matter, because Rebentisch provides quite powerful corroboration, for the sequence of arrivals: i.e., first, the black hearse (with the shpping casket at the back); and then, some 20 minutes later, the naval ambulance arriving with Jacqueline Kennedy, RFK, and the Dallas coffin at the front. Bottom line: The Dallas coffin--the coffin offloaded from Air Force Once, in the nationally televised arrival of AF-1 from Dallas--was empty. More on that another time. DSL 4/26/17 -8 a.m., PDT Los Angeles, California
  12. 3 hours of never-seen video of Jerrol Custer!

    Karl: There is obviously a conflict between Custer's account, and the Ebersole account. Please keep this in mind: 1. When I spoke with Ebersole (8/27/72) he either said (or implied) that the autopsy began at 10 p.m. 2. Custer told me from the beginning (Sept/Oct 1980) of this incident. I didn't lead him on in any way; he simply volunteered it. Whose story is correct? An interesting question which is not easy to analyze. Neither are "perfect" witnesses. DSL
  13. Ray: I sent you a private message some hours ago. I found (I believe) what I was looking for. Then I tried to send you a followup message, saying so. . . But your mailbox is full You can email me privately at dsl74@cornell.edu for further details. DSL
  14. Hi Ray,

    I just read your post re Bowron, and have some questions. I'm hoping you can lend a hand because Bowron is definitely an important witness.  Years ago, someone sent me a tape of a trans-atlantic phone call between Livingstone and Bowron. It was very helpful because it documented the fact that, as of that call, she was not making the claims he later had her making in his book KILLING THE TRUTH. Putting aside the issue of how Harry L. managed to get to that point with her (and I don't have a definitive answer), what I do know is that she was asked by Specter whether she saw any other wound(s) besides the back-of-the-head wound and the throat wound and she responded "no."  That's in WC vol 6.  Here's what I would like to have, from you, if possible:

    (a) Could you tell me what is the source for the HSCA interview of Bowron? (Is that publicly available at NARA?  And if so, could you please provide a link?)

    (b) Could you tell me what is the source for her account of how she was alone with the body, in the room, after he was pronounced dead (I'm writing this from memory, having read you post an hour ago, on my ipad).

    I would like to get both of these documents--whatever the source--and it may be that, given the size of the data in this case, I already have them, but misfiled it.

    Please use this email:  dsl74@Cornell.edu

    But, if you have some document not generally available, and its not convenient to scan, here's my fax (dedicated) number: 310 943 3899

    In reading your post, I was startled by the idea that perhaps you have a transcript of the same tape that was provided to me, some 20 years ago, from someone "inside" Harry L's operation, and who thought that his treatment of me (and B.E.) was simply absurd.  As I said above: I don't know the "final inning" of the game--when he (finally) got Bowron to say what she did, and which he publicized widely in KILLING THE TRUTH, but its clear that that was not her original position.  Any insights you wish to add will be appreciated, and I promise to include you in my acknowledgements.





  15. Chris: No time for any detailed postings, but i don't understand why RP's story doesn't add up or boggles the mind. First of all, Lee was "playing" her. So he writes this deliberately provocative letter, deliberately leaves it out where she can see it, she glimpes the opening line or two, her curiosity is aroused, and she takes the bait. The result: there are three documents created: 1. The LHO original handwritten draft 2. The copy that Ruth Paine made 3. The typed item that LHO wrote, on RP's typewriter, and which was mailed to the SOviet Embassy. Ruth Paine ended up with her own handwritten copy of LHO's copy (and then she filched his "original"--correct?) So: When the assassination occurred, and he stood accused, she was upset--if not horrified--at what she finds herself having been dragged into. So then she turns over both items to the FBI. She wanted nothing further to do with the whole situation. FWIW, and especially from my 1995 (approx) conversation with Arthur Young, Ruth (without question) believed LHO's guilt; but even more important, it deeply affected her psyche and her belief about "the way things work" that such an insignificant twerp and non-entity as Oswald (again, this was her perception) could have murdered a president she much admired. From talking with Arthur Young and with Michael Paine, and with the Paine relative who I got to know pretty well (and who assisted me, and wanted to get to the bottom of all of this), I believe I can state, with considerable confidence, that Ruth Paine never outgrew her almost sophomoric view of Oswald. Why that w the case I do not know, but she could never break through and get beyond that. And BTW, she's a very intelligent woman. Her IQ --I later learned--was up around 145. In the gifted range. In the Feb/March 1963 period, when it became clear that DeM would be leaving for Haiti, it was almost as if there was a "transfer of custody" of Marina and LHO over to Ruth Paine, and I always found that hard to accept as coincidence. But I can easily see that being "arranged" if Dulles asked his former mistress if she new anyone in Dallas who might assist in the "resettling" of a returned defector, and so that's how Ruth Paine was "selected" for that task. So that's what I always believed may have occurred, and nothing more sinister. Oswald's handler was definitely not Ruth Paine, but there was a handler, I am certain of that. Different subject; another tie. DSL 4/25/2017 - 10:35 a.m. PDT