on October 16, 2005
In his preface McKnight thanks Harold Weisberg, the dean of assassination critics who passed on in 2002. McKnight's volume presents many of the approaches to the evidence established in Weisberg's writings dating back to 1965.
McKnight essentially relies on Warren Commission evidence to devastate the claim---by the Warren Commission---that only LHO was involved in the JFK assassination. In this sense his work is similar to Professor David R. Wrone, Howard Roffman and Sylvia Meagher. All of these authors use mainly the official findings to disprove the official conclusions. For the most part this small group of critics has been ignored by the mainstream media and defenders of the official fiction.
They maintain that there were two conspiracies. One killed Kennedy and the other failed to properly investigate the crime.
There are dozens of gems in this book which destroy the official findings. Most of them are ignored by defenders of the official theory.
Here, I'll list just six:
1. The results of the tests on LHO's cheek and hands are that he fired no rifle on November 22. McKnight takes the reader through all of the available official documentation to support this fact. Those who continue to support the Warren Commission findings must ignore alot of evidence to claim Oswald fired the Mannlicher Carcano.
2. The time reconstructions of Oswald's movements along with the eyewitness evidence shows that LHO cannot have been the shooter and been where we know he was shortly after the assassination. McKnight cites the witnesses who did not see---but should have seen LHO---coming down the stairwell if he was the shooter. Oswald's alibi was first carefully laid out in full detail by Howard Roffman in his excellent Presumed Guilty volume of 1975. This book is usually ignored by supporters of the lone gunman theory---as they must---for it shows, using only official evidence---that LHO cannot have been the 6th floor shooter and been in the second floor lunchroom with a Coke in his hand with a minute and several seconds after the last shot.
3. The Charles Bronson film shows the alleged assassin's lair during the shooting with no Oswald in it.
4. The autopsy document shows that with a bullet entering JFK in the back at the level of the third thoracic vertebra it could not have exited upward through his throat (indeed, above his necktie) and then travelled downward into Gov. Connally, seated in front of the president.
5. The statements and testimonies of the Dallas doctors and those who performed the autopsy are consistent that the bullet which is alleged to have caused seven non fatal wounds in the President and the Governor could NOT have done this damage and remained essentially in pristine condition. Further, FBI ballistics expert Robert Frazier stated there was no blood or tissue on the bullet---it was officially linked to no body. And, McKnight definitely shows that the bullet cannot be linked by a chain of evidence to either Kennedy or Connally or the stretchers that held them.
6. McKnight cites the testimony of Dr. Joseph Dolce who performed scientific experiments showing that the ammunition attributed to Oswald cannot have caused the seven non fatal wounds to Kennedy and Connally. Dolce performed these experiments for the Warren Commission and they did not like his results so he was not called to testify before the Commission.
These results are always ignored by supporters.
McKnight is unable to shed light on one of the key remaining areas of doubt: just who was it who impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City several weeks prior to the assassination? Whoever did this was trying to implicate Cuba in the assassination of JFK. They failed but LBJ and Hoover and Warren failed the nation, truth and justice by not properly investigating the crime.
For those of you familiar with the works of Harold Weisberg, many of the documented claims in this book will not be new.
The work is important in that it takes the passion for truth and the ground breaking (but largely ignored) research of Weisberg and frames it from the viewpoint of the trained historian (...)
on October 9, 2005
Too many books on the JFK assassination get sidetracked by the many false leads there to tempt sober analysis. This remarkable addition to the literature is unique for its restraint, refusal to indulge in speculation, and careful focus on what can be documented, and no more. There were really two conspiracies, that of the Warren commision, and the conspiracy they stumbled on half-consciously but refused to pursue. Since their agenda was fixed in advance, making the 'lone nut' interpretation a foregone conclusion, the whole investigation was bogus. Many previous writers have gotten this far and confused this with the indirect, but very strong evidence of the other conspiracy. But as the author notes there is no smoking gun, only the many discrepancies in the evidence, and the transparnt deceptions in the way the initial investigation was carried out. The author's slow but steady pursuit of the basic deception of the Commission is convincing and manages to avoid the traps that have claimed too many previous efforts in this field. Everytime you think this field has reached its limits another book reopens the whole can of worms. Well done.
on September 28, 2005
This book roots in a majesterial examination of the documentary records of the Warren Commission and the FBI, a product of careful, hard work conducted over the decades of the type seldom met with in most histories today and rarely in the JFK inquiry. In addition it is well written. The results are devatating to the coverup inflicted upon the American people by the Warren Commission. It should be noted that four of the members of the Warren commission did not believe their own Report, nor did LBJ, the District Attorney of Dallas, the Police Chief of DAllas and even the FBI and the Secret Service--as the documentary record shows beyond cavil. Russell and Cooper, members of the WC, did not believe the SBT, for example, and left records to the fact. Further, interviews with the head of the Secret Service and Warren Commission records prove the Commission and its staff saw the X-rays and medical photographs, some as early as December 1963. It is unquestionable that the WC and its chief counsel Rankin early on [January, 1964] worked with this knowledge, e.g. Jan. 22 executive session of the WC. To argue otherwise is blindly to accept and faithfully to reiterate the political devices employed by investigators as they realized late in their investigation that they had to coverup their nefarious actions and leave a pious paper file that to scholars is further affirmation of their failure. Breach of Trust's objective and scholarly presentation will assist the reader to understand the workings of the WC and lead an inquiring mind to the light. McKNight's unique book ought to become the standard reference to the crime for decades to come.
on October 7, 2005
A much-needed addition to the JFK Assassination litterature, and the kind of book that should be required reading for all those who still cling to the "Lone-Nut" theory.
Now this is not your average conspiracy book.You won't find here any confession by an alledged participant in the crime, or any sensational claim by untill-then unknown witness.
The author's specific focus is the Warren Commission, its inner working and its relations with the investigative agencies (mainly the FBI and the Secret Service)and representatives of the Government.
Only in the last 5 pages does the author give us his own interpretation of the wealth of data that he has presented in the book, which focuses exclusively on reconstructing complicated paper trail of apparently innocuous documents and establishing decision making timelines.
And if you think (like I did) that this must make for some quite unexciting read, be prepared for a real surprise...
Though serious researchers will probably not find anything new in the book as far as information is concerned, the specific angle of the author's research has the immense merit to bring new shine to old data. And the facts, as they say, are stubborn.
The political bias that subverted the WC working is dully detailled and exposed. The ominous poker game between the FBI, the CIA and the Commission regarding crucial elements of the assassination record is irrefutably documented and takes on even more sinister undertones.
And the "Journal de Bord" of the day-to-day progress of the investigation does make for interesting reading.
Hard-core Lone Nuttists (yes, everybody can play that game...)might be interested in considering the following facts:
µThe WC, which relied for its investigation on the FBI and the Secret Service, reached a solution to the crime (the single bullet theory) which contradicts the findings of these two agencies (which by the way don't agree either with one another, but that's another story...). This unbelievable and fondamental discrepancy has never been explained (probably because it can not)
*Similarly, the medical staff who attended to JFK and Connally (and who should have known about gunshot wounds, working in one of America's most violent environment)
rejected the single bullet theory
*the crime was declared "solved" (one shooter, no accomplices) by Hoover a couple of hours after Oswald'S arrest. Even surmising that they could have, in such a short time, established beyond doubt that Oswald was the assassin, there is no conceivable way that the FBI could have determined at that point that Oswald had received absolutely no help whatsoever in his endeavour.
And on and on....The detailing of the Mexico City disinformation saga (or "Oswald as a KGB contract killer") is also priceless, and confirms the scenario of the crime on which most serious researchers agree today (even if they would fight one another to death about specific details...): a conspiracy reaching to the highest level of the American power structure, originating from irreversible opposition to Kennedy's foreign policy, a conspiracy which most probably was started by the "Bay of Pigs Thing", as Nixon crytically hinted, and got in full gear after the Missile Crisis and Kennedy direct negociations with Krutschev, in effect putting the US Intelligence apparatus "out of the loop" (except very probably for the NSA...)on a matter considered vital to the country's interests. It is more than evident that some may have considered Kennedy a National Security Threat, and felt entitled to take radical measures "for the good of the country".
Don't miss this one.
on February 19, 2013
Instead of adamantly supporting any particular theory other than LHO was definitely not a loon nut, "Breach of Trust" clearly explains how the Warren Commission began their so called investigation with the pre-determination of finding Lee Harvey Oswald guilty regardless of whatever evidence pointed elsewhere - or could have pointed elsewhere if they bothered looking. Even, for example, if the 19 doctors, nurses and aides at Parkland Hospital were mistaken about JFK's throat wound appearing to be that of an entry bullet, wouldn't a true investigation, at very least, spend some time exploring that possibility? Yet the WC didn't. Anything that was contrary to what the WC wanted to hear was either disregarded or not heard at all. As another example, of the 216 people in Dealey Plaza at the time JFK was murdered, 78 of them were NEVER called to testify before the WC. Some of those 78 witnesses included a couple of Dallas Police Department motorcycle officers who were only a few feet behind JFK's limo when he was shot. Needless to say, those 78 witnesses (not including children, naturally) apparently saw and/or heard something that didn't jive with the "official version". Again, wouldn't a legitimate commission given the task of determining what really happened demand hearing the testimony of every witness?
Members of the WC were not investigators and in fact, of the 56 WC meetings, Earl Warren attended 6 of them. The WC was primarily run by Chief Council J. Lee Rankin - a Hoover surrogate, Allen Dulles the former director of the CIA who JFK fired soon after the Bay of Pigs disaster, and Michigan congressman Gerald Ford who leaked information to one of Hoover's assistant directors regarding whatever was discussed by the WC's members. Other than that, nobody is certain what Ford did as a congressman, member of the WC or as the 38th president of the United States other than admitting he moved the bullet wound in JFK's back roughly 3 ½ inches higher to somewhat correspond with the magic bullet theory. And why not? The clothing JFK wore that day was released from the National Archives in the 1990's while Ford was alive (assuming he ever was) and plainly indicated the bullet holes in JFK's suit jacket and shirt were some 5 ½ inches below his collar. So unless Kennedy was a contortionist, bad back and all, his head would have needed to be between his knees for the bullet to exit his throat - and even that would have been a stretch (no pun intended).
At the time of the assassination FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was 68 years old. He had spent the past 40 years dedicating his life as the director of what became the #1 law enforcement agency in the world. Until 9/11, however, the FBI was generally more of an organization that responded after the fact as opposed to preventing crimes before they happened other than perhaps infiltrating subversive-looking groups or individuals and getting tips from their various paid informants. Nonetheless, Hoover was probably domestically more powerful than any president because of his bureau's wire tapping ability. He undoubtedly uncovered more dirt on politicians, judges and officials in all realms of authority so that his unelected position was always safe and secure. Hoover was likely so entangled in his own web of power and self-importance that when the assassination took him by surprise, not only was he embarrassed that he didn't see it coming, he was horrified that Oswald wasn't on the FBI's Security Index list because of his pro-Castro activities in New Orleans the summer before the assassination, whether real or phony, as well as Oswald's attempted defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 - whether that, too, was genuine or fake. Either way the FBI was remiss and who knows if history might have been different had the Secret Service and the DPD been stationed in and around the TSBD as JFK passed by? On top of that 16 days before the assassination Oswald left a severely threatening note to Special Agent James Hosty of the Dallas FBI office regarding Hosty harassing his (LHO's) wife, Marina - who was still a Russian citizen at that time. When Hoover learned of that note the weekend of the assassination along with an Oswald impostor visiting the Cuban and Russian embassy in Mexico City in late September/early October 1963 he completely hit the roof. The first rule of the bureau was to NEVER embarrass the FBI. He realized if the public ever got wind of any of this, the FBI would be considered responsible for JFK's death by not informing the Secret Service of Oswald's possible danger and the FBI's magnificent reputation would have been irrevocably destroyed. Hoover was therefore willing to sacrifice a potentially innocent man named Oswald in order to prevent that from happening while saving himself from leaving his life-long career on such an incredibly disastrous note. He had even told the new president the day after the assassination that so far their case against Oswald was "very weak". The following day it no longer mattered as Mr. Ruby resolved the problem of requiring a court trial involving The State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald. Once Oswald was dead the FBI had clear sailing to invent or distort anything necessary in order to show he was indeed the loon nut killer of JFK.
The book is replete with other evidence that would have exonerated Oswald in a court of law, all of which are footnoted citing actual testimony to the WC or other government agencies such as the Dallas Police Dept.; House Select Committee on Assassinations and tape recorded interviews. Certain facts never made it that far and would have proved there was more than one shooter in Dealey Plaza. Some of those facts were either suppressed or destroyed. One example that immediately comes to mind is a silent moving film from a man named Charles Bronson (not the late actor). It's a sequence of JFK's limo entering Elm St. from Houston St. where Bronson was standing and the TSBD was in the background. The only minor problem is there wasn't anyone in the window where the "sniper's nest" was found and that wasn't publicly known until a few years later - yet the FBI knew it but never told the Warren Commission.
At no time were the numerous suspicious deaths or other oddities mentioned besides the abnormal ways in which the WC conducted their business. In reality, the WC was basically rubber stamping reports the FBI submitted to them with little prying for possible errors or obvious conflicts of interest. If there was anything missing in "Breach of Trust", it was the author apparently didn't feel LBJ had anything to do with Kennedy's abrupt removal from office or at very least had foreknowledge of when and where it was to happen. On the other hand, if author McKnight didn't have anything to go on other than hearsay from Johnson's former mistress, he's certainly forgiven.
Of the 13 Chapters, the first 6 are devoted to the WC, beginning with how it was created. The remaining chapters are indirectly involved with the WC by discussing JFK's autopsy; the birth of the single bullet fabrication; whether LHO was a government agent; Oswald's trip to Mexico City; how a couple of the WC members had dissenting views from the others which was never made public and finally the author's conclusion that I won't reveal. But if you're a true JFK/Dallas affectionardo, even a loon nutter and want to better understand what the WC was really about, "Breach of Trust" is a must read.
on May 26, 2012
"Breach Of Trust" is an excellent detailed study of the Warren Commission, and this book is a worthy edition to your JFK library. Ironically, my decision to invest in the book sooner was brought about largely by Vincent Bugliosi in "Reclaiming History", where he devotes a footnote lambasting the author Gerald McKnight for the main thesis in BOT (namely, that the WC conclusion was pre-ordained even before the first session sat), and then goes on to show his outrage that McKnight is a professor of history. Generally, if a JFK assassination author gets this kind of spray from VB, it's probably good book that is worth reading, so I gladly paid to get it shipped over from the US to Australia to see why BOT ruffled Vinnie's feathers.
After commencing to read BOT, it was apparent that the comparisons between Bugliosi's WC versus McKnight's WC are poles apart, and it is clearly McKnight's critical analysis that triumphs over Bugliosi's attempt to trade off of the credentials of the commissioners, attempt to patch up the dissent within the WC itself, and attempt to rehabilitate WC counsels like Specter, Belin, Liebeler, Redlich, Ball, etc, which have been completely mauled over the last nearly five decades by the critical community.
Another reason for my purchase is that BOT is highly recommended by Jim DiEugenio, an excellent researcher, and the book is often mentioned on his appearances on Black Op Radio with host Len Osanic.
While I think this is an excellent reinforcement for those who have a strong knowledge of the topic, it is probably going to be of greatest value for someone who has a working knowledge of the events leading up to Dealey Plaza. It was kind of like Edward Jay Epstein's "Inquest" in some aspects, but modernized & with several other topics covered, while some of Epstein's work is not covered. I would probably consider reading it after "Accessories After The Fact" by Sylvia Meagher, but before "Oswald & The CIA" by John Newman. I say this because Meagher's book probably gives the best account of some of the questionable aspects of the case, while BOT gives a more concise overview of what is discussed in the more difficult to absorb Newman book. Thus, Newman's book would serve as a great extension to what the reader learns in BOT.
Reading Meagher's book & BOT essentially skewers the old chestnut about how Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired a shot at General Edwin Walker at his Dallas home in April 1963. Interestingly, McKnight doesn't name the alleged caliber of the bullet fired at Walker as originally reporter (a 30-06 according to the Dallas PD - not the caliber of the so-called Oswald rifle), but he does conclude that it is unlikely that a 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano bullet could damage a window frame & then go on to penetrate a cinder block (ie, Walker's wall). He also reports Walker seeing a vehicle (of which Oswald allegedly couldn't drive & definitely didn't have a car), and of Walker's reaction to seeing the alleged "Walker bullet" during a televised session of the HSCA and complaining to all & sundry that the bullet in evidence was not the one he held in his hand. In BOT, the evidence left is the somewhat dubious "Walker note", and the testimony of Marina Oswald, which has gone into folklore for it's questionable nature (even the WC documented their doubts towards Marina).
A favourite chapter of mine was "Birth Of The Single Bullet Theory Fabrication", simply for the games that WC Counsel Arlen Specter played with which ballistics experts he was going to use. McKnight points out that the most qualified person to give testimony on the viability of the SBT was Dr Joseph Dolce, who was the chairman of the US Army Wound Ballistics Board & part of the Biophysics Division of Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, but when Dolce wouldn't support the SBT, Specter went with Dr Alfred Olivier (a veterinarian at Edgewood Arsenal), and his assistant, Dr Arthur Dzieman (a Ph.D. in physiology), to prop up the SBT. Then Specter called in Dolce's offsider, Dr Frederick Light, who ducked & weaved through his Commission appearance, neither debunking or supporting Olivier/Dzieman. Incredibly, McKnight points out that during the entire testimony, none of them were asked about their experiments on human cadavers !
Another great chapter was "Senatore Russell Dissents", where the Senator, one of the Commissioners, threatens to not commit to the Commission's conclusions, and sneaky way in which Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin duped Russell into believing his disagreements on the single bullet theory would be noted (Rankin later suppressed the transcripts of the Commission showdown on the 18th of September 1964). Russell eventually accepted that his dissent was "noted" in the conclusions of the report in a paragraph that McKnight particularly notes for it's dishonesty.
I am always interested in the medical evidence, and the actions of autopsy doctors Humes/Boswell/Finck are extensively covered, although McKnight's study seems to be limited almost exclusively to JFK's wounds that are related to the single bullet theory. Of particular interest, but covered in other books extensively, is why Humes burned his autopsy notes, and why the neck wound was not dissected. It's a pity that McKnight didn't really go into the head wound as much, as I think it is fascinating, particularly how the autopsy doctors identified the (or at least, one) head wound in the area below & right of the EOP (lump on the back of the head). Years later, the wound was shifted up to the cowlick area by the Church Committee, and agreed to by the HSCA, with many people trying to claim that a smear of dried blood on the cowlick equates to an entrance wound. We therefore have to assume that the autopsy doctors were a trio of boobs that didn't know what they were doing. I think Humes/Boswell/Finck were actually right in that regard, and on the same photo as the cowlick blood smear, there is a darkened patch below & right of the EOP (near the piece of skull fragment or brain matter that is between the EOP & the hairline), however, that wound alone doesn't explain the explosion of JFK's head.
Not that I think BOT necessarily needs this - McKnight's study of Dr Malcolm Perry's claims about the throat wound, the strange absence of Dr Burkley (JFK's personal physician), and the precise location of the rear non-fatal wound (back or neck) is worthwhile reading on it's own. McKnight does briefly go into one area of the rear head wound - namely, that to buy the sole assassin theory, you have to believe that a 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano full metal jacket round broke apart upon hitting JFK's skull, which in itself is bizarre because FMJ rounds are designed specifically not to fragment like that, especially on hitting the relatively weak skull bone. What McKnight doesn't mention about this oddity is that when the round fragmented, it appears only the middle of the round exited, which seems to defy the logic of ballistics.
The chapters on whether Oswald was a government agent was very interesting. Early in the book, McKnight discusses whether the agent numbers that were attributed to Oswald from the CIA & FBI were correct/consistent, and the Commission's rather lame attempts to appear to debunk these "rumors" without a proper investigation into the validity of the claims. Later in the book, McKnight chronicles the movement of Oswald's CIA file, particularly during Oswald's alleged Mexico City trip. The overview to Newman's more technical account shows that the file went to the counter-intelligence wing of the CIA, indicative of an operation being in play at the time.
Interestingly, McKnight writes that the FBI & CIA studies of the Zapruder film confirm his thesis - that JFK & John Connally were struck by separate bullets, something that I have thought since 1988, when I first saw the Z-film on TV, back when I was in junior high school, which subsequently fueled my interest in the case.
McKnight raps his book up with his own conclusions, a thesis that is not unfamiliar when compared to many of the first & second generation readers. The advantage he has over these writers is access to the documents declassified by the ARRB, as well as the autopsy material, and in some cases, the release of the Z-film. If anyone wants to hear McKnight speak about his book, try to get a hold of show #353 of Black Op Radio, which aired in 2007.
on May 19, 2015
The title of this book is the basic definition of "treason". As an amateur student of the assassination I readily admit to feeling of anger for the condemnation of a "lone nut" for the assassination - Lee Harvey Oswald. And even more so because no less a person than the chief justice of the US Supreme Court condemns him, without trial, and without being able to defend himself, as he too was assassinated 2 days after Kennedy's murder. He was indeed a "patsy".
My anger is further stirred by being mystified as to how the commissioners could, in a "conclusion" of about 900 words, blatantly condemn Oswald when 26 volumes of evidence being the real substance of the report say otherwise. I would argue that this provides prima facie evidence for the impeachment of the commissioners. But unlike the commissioners themselves I would not condemn them without the proper procedures being adopted, particularly their being given all the rights that were denied Oswald.
In particular I would considering a case for the impeachment of the chairman - Earl Warren. I would refer readers to "definitions" in the website uslegal.com Go to "abuse of discretion". There is a general article on the subject. At the end there a a series of click-ons.
On the basis of those definitions, what should have happened back then is then that impeachment proceedings should have been considered. But, naturally, no firm action should have been taken against the Chief Justice without the proper procedures of justice being taken.
All of which was denied Lee Harvey Oswald in the report of the Commission chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren.
on September 27, 2005
The sole purpose of my 5-star rating for this book is to provide some balance to the previous (and only) reviewer's bizarre 1-star rating. Having looked at a few of the reviewer's previous reviews, he seems to have both a conservative bias, and a need to rate everything either one star or five stars. How easy it must be to live in a world where everything is so black and white.
Honestly, there are certainly flaws in this book, but it's overall an excellent dissection of the MUCH more flawed Warren Commission report. If you really, truly believe that Lee Oswald was the "lone gunman" in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, well, bless your heart. You're probably one of the gullible little meat puppets who think Saddam was involved with 9/11 and that we did indeed find WMDs in Iraq.
on March 26, 2006
McKnight's book contains little that is "news" those familiar with this case. This is not a book of new disclosures, or examinations of trails gone cold, but perhaps something that will be valued more for it's refusal to move outside it's narrow focus: the conduct of the Warren Commission, and it's relationship with the various investigatory agencies and the handling (and mis-handling) of those who testified and their information. This is a "safe" book, in that there is no speculation (or even examination) of the motives of the WC or possible explanations for the many gaffs pointed out in the committee operations. This is a well documented examination of the flaws in the structure and function of the WC , and ultimately an interesting book for those students of history or government who may be less interested in the results than in the process. This is Meagher or Weisberg without the passion, but very well documented, and of use to those seeking a more recent view of WC activities and participants based on current information.
on May 15, 2012
This book is one of the core books on the JFK assassination, extremely useful to me when I was writing Impossible: The Case Against Lee Harvey Oswald (Volume One). One of the things which I learned in the process of writing my book was that the Warren Commission was absolutely necessary to manufacture the utterly phony case against Lee Harvey Oswald, creating a snowstorm of mostly irrelevant evidence, often inaccurate, and sometimes manufactured, spread out over 26 volumes of testimony and exhibits. This snowstorm is the ultimate bluff, because who is going to read these twenty-six volumes, and it is in fact these tens of thousands of pages which have intimidated people and prevented them from discovering the truth. But don't be fooled.
The Warren Commission is the missing piece, and the ultimate book on their treasonous work, WARRENGATE, has yet to be written. But this one, and mine, will do for now.