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British Special Forces typology of assassination: JFK killed direct-positive or…?


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The December 1996 edition (32) of Robin Ramsay’s Lobster contained a book review by John Newsinger, “SAS: the Stiff Memoir,” pp.10-12. Peter Stiff’s See You In November (Alberton, SA: Galago, 1983), charted a career of service first with the official SAS – Borneo, Aden, Thailand/Laos – then with one of its numerous unofficial offshoots, David Stirling’s Watchguard International, and, finally, a Rhodesian intelligence service, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Newsinger noted how routine assassination and terrorism were to such as Stiff, and went on to quote at length the following extract from his book. It was new to me, and continues to impress, for it was/is that rare thing, a brief, lucid, and logical typology of assassination:

“The art of assassination, like anything else, can be taught from a text book as it is in the SAS and other special force units. There are even various set terms used for the exercise, which are built around four words: positive, non-positive, direct and indirect.

The most certain way of killing someone is by a direct positive method. An example would be to walk up to a person, press a gun against his body and pull the trigger.

Direct non-positive is the next most likely method to be successful. This would include hiding on a roof with a rifle and shooting the target as he entered the house opposite. This would be direct because the assassin was actively involved and present when it happened and non-positive because the target was moving and the range didn’t exclude the possibility of a miss.

Next in order comes indirect positive. This method is where the would-be killer waits until his victim is asleep in his bed and then climbs the garden wall and plants a bomb under his car. It is indirect because the man who plants the bomb leaves once he has done so, but it is positive because when the victim detonates the charge with his car, it is a strictly no nonsense goodbye. There remains a possible element of failure though, because someone else might come out the next morning to wash the car and reap the consequences.

The least certain method is the indirect non-positive method. This is when someone poisons the milk on the doorstep in the early morning. It is indirect because the poisoner will not be there to oversee the result…and non-positive because the target might only decide to have black tea and not drink the milk at all,” (pp.129-130).

Both Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X were killed by the most reliable method of all, according to Stiff’s typology, the direct positive. I believe JFK was, too. It would be of interest to know a) how the US Secret Service classified assassination attempts, and B) how it trained to counter them; and c) whether CIA and US Special Forces worked with a similar typology.

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“The art of assassination, like anything else, can be taught from a text book as it is in the SAS and other special force units. There are even various set terms used for the exercise, which are built around four words: positive, non-positive, direct and indirect.

The most certain way of killing someone is by a direct positive method. An example would be to walk up to a person, press a gun against his body and pull the trigger.

Direct non-positive is the next most likely method to be successful. This would include hiding on a roof with a rifle and shooting the target as he entered the house opposite. This would be direct because the assassin was actively involved and present when it happened and non-positive because the target was moving and the range didn’t exclude the possibility of a miss.

Next in order comes indirect positive. This method is where the would-be killer waits until his victim is asleep in his bed and then climbs the garden wall and plants a bomb under his car. It is indirect because the man who plants the bomb leaves once he has done so, but it is positive because when the victim detonates the charge with his car, it is a strictly no nonsense goodbye. There remains a possible element of failure though, because someone else might come out the next morning to wash the car and reap the consequences.

The least certain method is the indirect non-positive method. This is when someone poisons the milk on the doorstep in the early morning. It is indirect because the poisoner will not be there to oversee the result…and non-positive because the target might only decide to have black tea and not drink the milk at all,” (pp.129-130).

Both Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X were killed by the most reliable method of all, according to Stiff’s typology, the direct positive. I believe JFK was, too. It would be of interest to know a) how the US Secret Service classified assassination attempts, and B) how it trained to counter them; and c) whether CIA and US Special Forces worked with a similar typology.

Are you saying President Kennedy was killed by the Secret Service -- Direct-Positive? I certainly blame the Secret Service for deliberately putting him in harm's way. But I don't think they were shooting at him. And what reasons would the Secret Service have to want to bump off the President? I see his Assassination as a "Direct- Non Positive," to use those terms.

Kathy

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Are you saying President Kennedy was killed by the Secret Service -- Direct-Positive? Kathy

Yes, Kathy, I am.

And what reasons would the Secret Service have to want to bump off the President?
This is a question that puzzles me. Whenever the finger is pointed at the SS we are routinely invited to consider the organisation as somehow inured to or exempt from the usual, well-attested, overwhelmingly right-wing bias of US intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies. Why? The SS worked hand-in-glove with both the CIA and the local police forces. (Not so, as I understand it, with Hoover's FBI.) It recruited from the FBI etc. None of these are now, or will ever be, bastions of liberalism, or, indeed, democratic sentiment. Thus the SS was staffed with men of precisely the kind of views and prejudices to be found in these other manifestly right-wing outfits: Ideological/political animus against Kennedy was thus every bit as likely to be found in the SS as in Langley and its myriad offshots.
I see his Assassination as a "Direct- Non Positive," to use those terms.

And that is your prerogative. But I can't help observing that as a rule of thumb, grassy knollers direct far more hostility towards in-car shootists than lone nutters. An odd state of affairs, and one not without significance.

Paul

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\\,,,......

..........It would be of interest to know a) how the US Secret Service classified assassination attempts, and ;) how it trained to counter them; and c) whether CIA and US Special Forces worked with a similar typology.

Paul,

American assassins are only lone-nuts. The USSS doesn't recognize covert operatives as assassination threats.

See: USSS Exceptional Case Study Project.

BK

http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ntac_jfs.pdf

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Paul,

American assassins are only lone-nuts. The USSS doesn't recognize covert operatives as assassination threats.

See: USSS Exceptional Case Study Project.

BK

http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ntac_jfs.pdf

Bill,

Great link, for which thanks. Please reassure me that this is just for public consumption - they really can't believe this claptrap, can they?

Paul

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Both Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X were killed by the most reliable method of all, according to Stiff’s typology, the direct positive.

As, of course, were Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and, very nearly, Reagan, and both Roosevelts. Direct positive is thus the commonest means of killing, or attempting to kill, a US President/ex-President. Not a bad pedigree when trying to understand what happened to JFK.

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Paul,

American assassins are only lone-nuts. The USSS doesn't recognize covert operatives as assassination threats.

See: USSS Exceptional Case Study Project.

BK

http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ntac_jfs.pdf

Bill,

Great link, for which thanks. Please reassure me that this is just for public consumption - they really can't believe this claptrap, can they?

Paul

I don't know Paul. Maybe there's a real Secret Service, who solved the JFK assassination and put coup counter-measures into place, but for some reason, maybe they really are Toody & Muldoon on steroids.

BK

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Whenever the finger is pointed at the SS we are routinely invited to consider the organisation as somehow inured to or exempt from the usual, well-attested, overwhelmingly right-wing bias of US intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies. Why? The SS worked hand-in-glove with both the CIA and the local police forces. (Not so, as I understand it, with Hoover's FBI.) It recruited from the FBI etc. None of these are now, or will ever be, bastions of liberalism, or, indeed, democratic sentiment. Thus the SS was staffed with men of precisely the kind of views and prejudices to be found in these other manifestly right-wing outfits: Ideological/political animus against Kennedy was thus every bit as likely to be found in the SS as in Langley and its myriad offshots.

Then there is the small matter of institutional motivation for wanting JFK dead, recently held elsewhere on this forum to be noticeable only by its absence in the case of the Secret Service. Here again, the truth is quite contrary, as David Talbot makes clear in Brothers, p.22:

“Even before Dallas, Bobby Kennedy seemed to be losing confidence in the ability [more accurately, the will – PR] of the Secret Service to protect his brother…At the time of the assassination, Kennedy was backing a bill, H.R. 4158, which would have given the attorney general the authority to appoint the agents who protected the president, instead of the Secret Service. Rowley, the agency’s chief, acknowledged in his testimony before the Warren Commission that he was adamantly opposed to the bill, asserting that the transfer of authority to RFK’s office would ‘confuse and be a conflict in jurisdiction.’”

Stripped of the task of protecting the president, the Secret Service would have lost budget, and, every bit as importantly, face and clout, not, you understand, with the mere politicians they guarded, or the public they purported to serve also, but with real power: and real power would have lost what was arguably its most important institutional cloak, under which cover Nixon was assisted to destruction, Reagan nearly eliminated, and the anti-Clinton campaign furthered.

On the eve of Dallas, the Secret Service, like the CIA, was fighting to preserve its real raison d’etre. If there was a more powerful motivation for participating in the summary public execution of America's thirty-fifth President, it has yet to be disclosed.

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Whenever the finger is pointed at the SS we are routinely invited to consider the organisation as somehow inured to or exempt from the usual, well-attested, overwhelmingly right-wing bias of US intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies. Why? The SS worked hand-in-glove with both the CIA and the local police forces. (Not so, as I understand it, with Hoover's FBI.) It recruited from the FBI etc. None of these are now, or will ever be, bastions of liberalism, or, indeed, democratic sentiment. Thus the SS was staffed with men of precisely the kind of views and prejudices to be found in these other manifestly right-wing outfits: Ideological/political animus against Kennedy was thus every bit as likely to be found in the SS as in Langley and its myriad offshots.

Then there is the small matter of institutional motivation for wanting JFK dead, recently held elsewhere on this forum to be noticeable only by its absence in the case of the Secret Service. Here again, the truth is quite contrary, as David Talbot makes clear in Brothers, p.22:

"Even before Dallas, Bobby Kennedy seemed to be losing confidence in the ability [more accurately, the will – PR] of the Secret Service to protect his brother…At the time of the assassination, Kennedy was backing a bill, H.R. 4158, which would have given the attorney general the authority to appoint the agents who protected the president, instead of the Secret Service. Rowley, the agency's chief, acknowledged in his testimony before the Warren Commission that he was adamantly opposed to the bill, asserting that the transfer of authority to RFK's office would 'confuse and be a conflict in jurisdiction.'"

Stripped of the task of protecting the president, the Secret Service would have lost budget, and, every bit as importantly, face and clout, not, you understand, with the mere politicians they guarded, or the public they purported to serve also, but with real power: and real power would have lost what was arguably its most important institutional cloak, under which cover Nixon was assisted to destruction, Reagan nearly eliminated, and the anti-Clinton campaign furthered.

On the eve of Dallas, the Secret Service, like the CIA, was fighting to preserve its real raison d'etre. If there was a more powerful motivation for participating in the summary public execution of America's thirty-fifth President, it has yet to be disclosed.

Paul,

I agree. It's not that the SS has to figure out what happened in Dallas to prevent another coup, but rather, the 1963 coup must be protected so real democracy doesn't happen again.

Besides not following normal protective service protocols by covering every open window on the parade route - not an impossible task as they did it in Fort Worth the day before (See: Prologue, Quaerterly of the National Archives and Records Adminsitration, Summer 2000, Vol. 32, No. 2- online somewhere), the SS also destroyed the advance and after-action reports from Houston, Fort Worth - AFTER the JFK Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President.

When JFK Act oversight hearings are eventually held - the records destroyed should be a major focus of their testimony, and we can learn more about how the SS conducted itself before and after the assassination and handled their records before and after the JFK Act and ARRB.

But don't hold your breath 'till then.

BK

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But I can't help observing that as a rule of thumb, grassy knollers direct far more hostility towards in-car shootists than lone nutters. An odd state of affairs, and one not without significance.

Particularly odd given the number of important eyewitnesses to either the execution itself, or the President's lifeless body, who have gone on record expressing views on the subject of a handgun:

Dr. Charles R. Baxter, in Bill Sloan. JFK: Breaking the Silence (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1993), p.92: "Although Dr. Baxter…declined to be interviewed for this book, Baxter did issue a brief comment in October 1992 through the school's public information office in which he described the throat wound as being "very small" and looking as though "it might have come from a handgun."

Dr. Charles Wilbur: “Interpretation of the fatal head wound by several attending surgeons suggested a high velocity handgun bullet fired at close range,” [Robert J. Groden & Harrison Edward Livingstone. High Treason: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy & the New Evidence of Conspiracy (New York: Berkley Books, November 1990), p.215, citing Wilbur’s Medicolegal Investigation of the President John F. Kennedy Murder (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1974), p.249.

Iona Antonov, “On the Trail of the President’s Killers: part 2,” New Times, 1977, pp.26-30: New York Daily News quoted friends of John Rosselli to the effect that Oswald a decoy “while others ambushed” Kennedy from closer range.

For Dr. Akin, “…if the President had been shot with a low-velocity missile, such as fired from a pistol, it was more likely to have been an entrance wound…” Furthermore, he continued, low velocity missiles of small caliber, i.e., .22 to .32, “…are slow moving, and they enter the body and don’t leave it. They usually stay in it…” [6WCH65]McClelland's testimony as reproduced in Hearings volume 6, p.38: "Dr. McClelland judged that the wound in the President's skull could be expected '…from a very high velocity missile…with a heavy calibre bullet, such as a .45 pistol fired at close range…' This would particularly apply to the skull '…where there was a sudden change in density from the brain to the skull cavity, as it entered. As it left the body, it would still have a great deal of force behind it and would blow up a large segment of tissue as it exited.'"

A.J. Millican: “It sounded like a .45 automatic, or a high-powered rifle.” [19WCH486; Crossfire, p.28]

S.M. Holland: “It would be like you’re firing a .38 pistol right beside a shotgun, or a .45 right beside a shotgun.” [Josiah Thompson. Six Seconds in Dallas, p.84]

“Garrison says assassin killed Kennedy from sewer manhole,” New York Times, 11 December 1967, p.28: Report of Garrison claim on WFAA-TV in Dallas – “The man who killed President Kennedy fired a .45 caliber pistol” and that the bullet entered the “right temple.” Gunman located within manhole on north side of Elm Street. Garrison had just taken possession of a set of photos showing cartridge case being retrieved by unidentified man, under noses of two Dallas police officers, on south curb of Elm.

Photo referred to by Garrison contained within Garrison Tapes documentary, timed at 01:22:04:15.

Joachim Joesten. The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson (London: Peter Dawnay, 1968), pp.248-249: Garrison set to release previously unknown set of photos “which saw a federal agent picking up a large caliber bullet from the lawn on the south side of Elm St, at the spot where Kennedy received his mortal wound. The bullet, which was previously identified as .45, was found amidst splotches of dark grey matter which came from Kennedy’s head…” p.249: “clock above TSBD, clearly visible in one of the pictures, reads 12:40.”

LEFT temple, Jim, left.

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LEFT temple, Jim, left.

An interesting piece on the left temple entrance:

Harold Weisberg. Selections from Whitewash (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1994), pp.331-332:

"One of the doctors Specter did not call…Dr. David Stewart. Dr. Stewart would have sworn to exactly what Dr. McClellan [sic] said. At 8:15 a.m. April 10, 1967, he appeared on the Joe Dolan Show, then on KNEW, Oakland, California. Stewart "was in attendance at the time of the treatment rendered" all three assassination patients, but "primarily my time was spent with Governor Connally and later with Lee Oswald." Another group of physicians was taking care of the President on his entry to the emergency room, "But of course I am aware of their findings as such."

Dolan said he was particularly concerned with the "statement about the shot" that killed the President "coming from the front." Stewart said: "Yes, sir. This was the finding of all the physicians who were in attendance. There was a small wound in the left front of the President's head and there was a quite massive wound of exit at the right back side of the head, and it was felt by all of the physicians at the time to be a wound of entry which went in the front. And this was later corroborated, I think, by the films which showed the President with a rather violent lurch backward."

He noted that "blood and brain tissue were found on the one of the policemen riding behind on a motorcycle." This was Patrolman Billy Hargis, who was behind and to the left.

Dr. Stewart interpreted this phenomenon as one that "completely substantiated the finding that this was a left frontal entry wound" and said the other doctors also did .He also declared the obvious that it would be "impossible for a marksman in the sixth floor" window "to have created that kind of a wound, shooting from behind."

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LEFT temple, Jim, left.

An interesting piece on the left temple entrance:

Harold Weisberg. Selections from Whitewash (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1994), pp.331-332:

And another, this time, one perhaps less familiar to US readers:

Dr. ROBERT R.SHAW: "The third bullet struck the President on the left side of the head in the region of the left temporal region and made a large wound of exit on the right side of the head" [Letter from Dr. Shaw to Larry Ross, "Did Two Gunmen Cut Down Kennedy?", Today (British magazine), 15 February 1964, p.4]
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  • 11 months later...
The December 1996 edition (32) of Robin Ramsay’s Lobster contained a book review by John Newsinger, “SAS: the Stiff Memoir,” pp.10-12. Peter Stiff’s See You In November (Alberton, SA: Galago, 1983), charted a career of service first with the official SAS – Borneo, Aden, Thailand/Laos – then with one of its numerous unofficial offshoots, David Stirling’s Watchguard International, and, finally, a Rhodesian intelligence service, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Newsinger noted how routine assassination and terrorism were to such as Stiff, and went on to quote at length the following extract from his book. It was new to me, and continues to impress, for it was/is that rare thing, a brief, lucid, and logical typology of assassination:
“The art of assassination, like anything else, can be taught from a text book as it is in the SAS and other special force units. There are even various set terms used for the exercise, which are built around four words: positive, non-positive, direct and indirect.

The most certain way of killing someone is by a direct positive method. An example would be to walk up to a person, press a gun against his body and pull the trigger.

Direct non-positive is the next most likely method to be successful. This would include hiding on a roof with a rifle and shooting the target as he entered the house opposite. This would be direct because the assassin was actively involved and present when it happened and non-positive because the target was moving and the range didn’t exclude the possibility of a miss.

Next in order comes indirect positive. This method is where the would-be killer waits until his victim is asleep in his bed and then climbs the garden wall and plants a bomb under his car. It is indirect because the man who plants the bomb leaves once he has done so, but it is positive because when the victim detonates the charge with his car, it is a strictly no nonsense goodbye. There remains a possible element of failure though, because someone else might come out the next morning to wash the car and reap the consequences.

The least certain method is the indirect non-positive method. This is when someone poisons the milk on the doorstep in the early morning. It is indirect because the poisoner will not be there to oversee the result…and non-positive because the target might only decide to have black tea and not drink the milk at all,” (pp.129-130).

Both Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X were killed by the most reliable method of all, according to Stiff’s typology, the direct positive. I believe JFK was, too. It would be of interest to know a) how the US Secret Service classified assassination attempts, and B) how it trained to counter them; and c) whether CIA and US Special Forces worked with a similar typology.

Just for Denis Ponticus!

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