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Who really killed President John F. Kennedy?

December 29, 2013

“JFK: the smoking gun” by Colin McLaren took this retired Australian detective 4.5 years to write.  He did a comprehensive cold case study and forensic analysis of all the testimonies and police reports regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963. This is quite a feat, involving more than 10,000 pages, research, and a trip to Dallas.The narrative flowed well, but I felt the author struggled to keep his objectivity – it was quite obvious pretty early on who he thought the culprit was.  The evidence he presents is logically examined – I’m not sure if all the information available is included in this volume though –  and leads you to the seemingly plausible conclusion that McLaren came to himself.

McLaren is absolutely scathing about the Secret Service.  He reports that witnesses said most of the Presidential protection detail spent the previous night out drinking and carousing until the early hours of the morning. Apparently, newspapers had previously reported on the culture of drinking and late night partying evident in tours to Hawaii/Florida.

If you watch the Zapruder film on youtube, you can see the impact of the shots.  48 witnesses said the sequence of shots was “bang …. bang, bang”  with the last two shots being almost simultaneous; along with in-situ tests conducted trying to replicate the shots, this seems to indicate two shooters.  This is the crux of McLaren’s argument.

The first shot from Oswald missed. The second shot from Oswald entered the rear of the President’s upper back and exited at the neck (first shot). The wound is consistent with full metal jacket bullets, the only one’s found in Oswald’s possession. The fatal head shot hit the right back of the skull and caused catastrophic damage; consistent with the use of hollow point bullets.

John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas, Texas, Nov....The John F. Kennedy Assassination

Newcomer Agent George Warren Hickey, was promoted from driver to the sniper role in the follow car (immediately behind the President) that day. He was in charge of a loaded AR-15 submachine gun and this was the first and last day this model weapon was used by the Secret Service. This weapon used frangible hollow point bullets.

After the third shot, 22 witnesses claimed they smelled gunpowder or saw ‘smoke’ at street level – an impossibility if the only shots came from the Texas Book Depository. Others said they were certain the Secret Service had shot back.  The AR-15 rifle is known to emit excessive levels of smoke.

After the President was driven to the hospital, apparently Agent Hickey and the AR-15 were sent back to the plane. The President’s vehicle was washed clean by the Secret Service immediately, destroying any forensic evidence (such as blood spray pattern).

SPOILER ALERT

His conclusion, if you haven’t guessed by now, is that a tragic accident collided with an assassination attempt resulting in an unplanned conspiracy to avoid international embarrassment and instability in the time of the Cold War.  No matter what you believe, it’s still well worth reading this book for the sheer detail offered in his study. I personally feel that this theory doesn’t ring true, although at face value, I can see how he came to this conclusion. Somehow it just seems too simple!   3.5/5

– Natalie

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