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CBS Evening News

Subject: Dan Rather and the Zapruder film

Mr. Rather,

Congratulations on your many years of judicious investigative reporting with CBS News. Now that you have announced your upcoming retirement, it offers the ideal chance to rewrite the last 41 years of history. You could help untangle the clustered innuendo and speculation surrounding the assassination of President John F.. Kennedy.

You are one of only a few select people who have seen the original Zapruder film. Your in depth description of this film on CBS Radio back in November of 1963, differs greatly on five separate events when compared to the Zapruder film seen by the rest of the world. Your statement at that time that the film is “exactly 20 seconds in length”, is by itself mystifying, especially when you consider that the extant film in the National Archives is 27 seconds in length, has two splices, and starts several hundred feet past the point where you, Mr. Rather, first saw the limo come into view. The most concise proof of this is to view both films running simultaneously side-by-side.

First let me refresh everyone’s memory on the Zapruder film after it was developed on November 22, 1963. The Secret Service had obtained two copies of the film from Zapruder on the day of the assassination. LIFE had secured the rights to the film the next day and had a copy in the hands of their processors by that night. LIFE had scrapped their previous magazine story for the upcoming issue due out on November 29th and had decided to run frames from the Zapruder film in it’s place.

The official story has you, Mr. Rather, viewing the film in Zapruder’s office. The ground rules laid out to you were that you could only view the film once, without taking notes, and would then have to enter a bid. After viewing the film, you told Zapruder’s lawyer that you would have to consult New York for approval of the bid. You then dashed out of Zapruder’s office and ran the 10 blocks or so to the Dallas CBS affiliate.

The unofficial story also has you viewing the Zapruder film on repeated showings with either the Secret Service or the FBI in the local TV studio. This would account for the extremely detailed CBS Radio interview you then gave..

The following is from your CBS Radio interview with Hughes Rude and Richard (Dick) C. Hotelett. (from Pictures of the Pain, pages 86 to 89)

Hughes: Dick, ah, Dan Rather just came onto the studio, ah Dan we’ve just been discussing this statement

just made by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr about a full and complete investigation that

is going to be carried out and so on ... what do you have that’s new, anything?

Dan: Well I’m not sure that this is the proper context in which to put it ... but as you may know Hughes

I, I ... have just returned from seeing a movie ... which clearly shows in some great detail the exact

moments preceding, the exact moments of, the President’s assassination which clears up some of

the points that have been rather vague up until this time. Now may not be the time or the place to

discuss that, perhaps Dick uh ...

Dick: No I think it is ... uh, Dan ... I think it fits right into the context of what we’ve been saying.

Dan: Well let me tell you then, give you a word picture that we have just seen. The President’s

automobile which was proceeded by only one other car containing Secret Service Agents ... the

President’s open black Lincoln automobile ... made a turn, a left turn off of Houston Street onto

Elm Street, this was right on the fringe area of the downtown area. This left turn was made right

below the window from which the shot was fired ... went on past the building keep in mind the

window was on the sixth floor ... it got about 35 yards from the base of the building that is if you

had dropped a plumb line from the window to the sidewalk to the President’s car was around 35

yards from that spot ... President Kennedy had just put his right hand up to the side of his right

eye, it appeared that he was perhaps brushing back his hair or rubbing his eyebrow. Mrs.

Kennedy was not looking in his direction. In front of them in the jump seat of the Lincoln ...

were Governor and Mrs. Connally. The Governor ,as was the President was on the side of the car

of the building in which the assassin was located. Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Connally were on the

opposite side, two Secret Service men on the front seat. At almost the instant the President put

his hand up to his eyebrow ... on the right side of his face, with Mrs. Kennedy looking away ...

the President lurched forward just a bit, uh, it was obvious he had been hit in the movie but you

had to be looking very closely to see it. Mrs. Kennedy did not appear to be aware that he was hit

but Governor Connally in the seat just in front of the President ... seemly heard the shot ... or

sensed that something was wrong ... Governor Connally whose coat button was opened turned in

such a way to extend his right hand out towards the President and the Governor seemed to have

a look on his face that might say, “What is it? What happened?” and as he turned he exposed his

entire shirt front and chest because his coat was unbuttoned ... at that moment a shot very clearly

hit the part of the Governor. He was wounded once with a chest shot, this we now know ... uh

the Governor fell back in his seat ... Mrs. Connaly immediately fell over the Governor, uh, I say

fell, she threw herself over the Governor ... and at that instant the second shot the third shot total

but the second shot hit President Kennedy and there was no doubt there, his head ... went

forward with considerable violence ... Mrs. Kennedy stood up immediately her mouth wide open

... the President slumped over against Mrs. Kennedy almost toppling her over as she was stand-

ing ... Mrs. Kennedy then threw herself out of the back seat of the car onto the trunk of the car

almost on all fours stretched out over the trunk of the car ... there was a Secret Service man stand

ing on the back bumper ... it would appear that Mrs. Kennedy was either trying to get herself out

of what she knew instinctively was danger or perhaps was trying to grab the Secret Service man

and pull him into the backseat of the car for help at any rate Mrs. Kennedy was prone, uh face

down on the back of the car on the trunk ... the Secret Service man leaned over put his hands on

her shoulders and shoved her back into the car she seemed to be in danger of rolling or falling off

the back. A Secret Service man in the front seat of the car uh was already on the telephone per-

haps he had been on the phone all along it was not clear and the car sped away.

Dick: The car never stopped did it?

Dan: The car never stopped, it never paused.

Hughes: How long did this all take, Dan? In a matter of seconds?

Dan: Well, the complete scene that I just described to you covers exactly 20 seconds that is from the

time the car made the turn until the car disappeared onto an underpass.

Dick: Is it clear, is it that the President was hit twice?

Dan: It was very clear that the President was hit twice. He was hit, Governor Connally was hit and

the Gov ... uh the President was hit again.

Hughes: How long a time did the actual three shots take from the first shot until the final shot, Dan?

Dan: Not more than five seconds and I ... am inclined to think slightly less than that perhaps.

Hughes: There [sic] must have been very grim pictures to watch, especially today.

Dick: What was the source of these pictures, Dan?

Dan: An amateur photographer, had an 8 millimeter color uh camera he had positioned himself up

off the sidewalk on an old street lamp base, he was above the heads of the crowd and was

facing the automobile.

Dick: Of course he was focused on the automobile so there’s no indication of where the shots

came from.

Dan: No, he was focused on the automobile with his back or side to the window from which the shots

came. Only the automobile was shown in the film.

compliments of doug mizzer copied from POTP.. pages 86 89...b

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WITH PERMISSION DOUG'S COMMENTS...

Mr. Rather, you describe 5 different events in this film that do not exist in the extant Zapruder film (stored in the National Archives).

The First Event “The Presidents Lincoln automobile...Made a turn, a left turn off of Houston Street in Dallas onto Elm Street...as the car made the turn, completed the turn went below the window.”

I defy anyone to find the President’s Limo making this turn in the extant film. The film we have now starts with the limo already on Elm Street after it has made this turn.

The Second Event, “it (the Limo) got about 35 yards from the base of the building (TSBD)...President Kennedy had just put his right hand up to the side of his right eye, it appeared that he was perhaps brushing back his hair or rubbing his eyebrow...At almost the instant the President put his hand up to his eyebrow...on the right side of his face...The President lurched forward just a bit, uh, it was obvious he had been hit in the movie.”

In the extant film, the President is hit for the first time while he is obscured by the Stemmons Freeway sign. It’s also interesting, Mr. Rather, that you do not mention anything about the limo being hidden behind this sign as it is in the extant film.

The Third Event, “Mrs. Kennedy did not appear to be aware that he was hit but Governor Connally in the seat just in front of the President...seemly heard the shot..or sensed that something was wrong...Governor Connally whose coat button was open turned in such a way to extend his right hand out towards the President and the Governor seemed to have a look on his face that might say, “what is it? What happened?” and as he turned he exposed his entire shirt front and chest because his coat was unbuttoned...at that moment a shot very clearly hit the part of the Governor. He was wounded once with a chest shot, this we now know....”.

What we now know, and one of the few things not in dispute, is that Connally was struck in the back by a bullet, not in the chest. The exit wound was in the chest. Therefore, what you are describing Mr. Rather, is a shot exiting the chest of Connally as he is turned, facing the President. There can be only one point of origin for this shot. It had to have been fired from in front of the limo, above, and to the left. Again, if you are facing the alleged assassin in the 6th floor window you cannot be struck in the back by one of his bullets. So much for the single bullet theory.

There is a recently released phone transcript between President Johnson and FBI Director Hoover that supports your assessment, Mr. Rather, of Connally’s position at the time he was shot.

From November 29, 1963;

LBJ: “How did it happen they hit Connally?”

JEH: “Connally turned...to the President...when the first shot was fired...and I think in that turning...it was where he got hit.”

LBJ: “If he hadn’t turned..he probably wouldn’t have got hit?”

JEH: “I thing that is very likely.”

LBJ: “Would the President ‘ve got hit the second one?”

JEH: “No, the President wasn’t hit with the second one.”

LBJ: “I say, if Connally hadn’t been in his way?”

JEH: “Oh, yes..yes...the President would no doubt have been hit.”

LBJ: “He would have been hit three times?”

JEH: “He would have been hit three times..”

The Fourth Event, “Mrs. Connally immediately...threw herself over the Governor...and at that instant the second shot, the third shot total but the second shot hit President Kennedy and there was no doubt there, his head...went forward with considerable violence...Mrs. Kennedy stood up immediately...”

We all know now that the extant film shows just the opposite in regards to the movement of the President’s head. It goes violently backwards. Even though you, Mr. Rather have since apologized for this supposed gaff. I believe your original assessment to be the truth, as it is backed up by the Dealey Plaza Eyewitnesses.

The Fifth Event, “Mrs. Kennedy was prone, uh face down on the back of the car on the trunk...the Secret Service man (Clint Hill) leaned over put his hands on her shoulders and shoved her back into the car she seemed to be in danger of perhaps rolling or falling off the back.”

This is corroborated by Secret Service Agent Clint Hills WC testimony, but this is not what we see in the extant film. Clint Hill never touches Mrs. Kennedy.

The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from your narrative, Mr. Rather, is that you were watching a Zapruder film different from the one the rest of us have seen.

If you would broadcast these two films side by side along with your original commentary, you have the ability to stand history on its head. Consider the legacy you could leave behind by taking this dramatic step. Our democracy as a whole would be forever in you debt.

Sincerely

Doug Mizzer ..

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