In this installment of the often excellent “50 Reasons for 50 Years,” Len Osanic says yes. I think the evidence says no. Decide for yourself.
The YouTube episode focuses on the so-called “sniper’s nest,” the area next to the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) from which Lee Oswald allegedly fired a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle wounding Governor John Connally and killing President Kennedy. The piece makes some good and indisputable points — this area was not controlled after the shooting; the photographs that appear in the Warren Commission do not depict the space as it was found after the assassination; the boxes and the bullet shells were rearranged for the purposes of photography.
The most debatable point concerns the alleged discovery of a Mauser rifle in the TSBD. One deputy sheriff, Seymour Weitzman, wrote in his report the next day that he found a 7.65 Mauser and another deputy, Roger Craig, said that is was a Mauser. News footage shows officers handling an Italian-made Mannlicher Carcano rifle and no German-made Mauser was ever introduced as evidence. So the implication is that Dallas law enforcement made the Mauser — and evidence of second gunman — disappear.
But as Osanic’s first day footage makes clear there were a wide variety of TV reports about the type of rifle found. Confusion was obviously the order of the day.
Gary Mack of the 6th Floor Museum, an institution that does not engage the JFK conspiracy debate, says that the Manlicher-Carcano was simply misidentified.
In an email Mack wrote:
“The rifle was misidentified by Sheriff’s deputies as a Mauser while it was still on the floor partly hidden by boxes. One of the two reporters on the floor at the time – Tom Alyea/WFAA-TV and Kent Biffle/Dallas Morning News – and one of them got word out to the newsroom and that’s how the Mauser name first appeared.
“Later, once [another Dallas Police Lieutenant J.C.] Day and then [Dallas Police Captain Will] Fritz got a close look at it, they weren’t sure what it was due to the vague markings which did, however, include the phrase “Made in Italy.: That’s when “Italian weapon” started appearing on the wires.
“After Fritz took it back to the crime lab for further examination, he still wasn’t sure what it was. He was asked to take it to Fritz’ office so, to prevent reporters outside his office from touching it, he held it over his head. Many news people got pictures of that moment including a KRLD-TV camera man. The original video tape is in The Sixth Floor Museum’s collection and the wall clock behind him shows 6:18 as Day told reporters what he knew about the weapon: 6.5mm, made in Italy, 1940. That’s all he said.
“So there were hours of vague information. The important thing to remember is that none of the sheriff’s deputies saw the rifle again and they were not privy to what the Dallas Police were doing. It’s no surprise to me that Weitzman the next day reported it was a Mauser since that is all that he knew, for that is what they thought when he was there.
I asked Osanic, host of Black Op Radio, to respond to the argument that this was a simple case of misidentification. He replied:
“If it was the case of a simple misidentification overheard by a newsman, then one should expect the initial reports to be consistent, much as the erroneous information of discoveries being on the fifth floor was uniformly presented for several hours. Instead, multiple rifles (makes and models) were featured on the airwaves, with the report of a British rifle being just the first of many.
“The Sixth Floor [Musuem] has an agenda to promote the Warren Report. Weitzman was there, he swore an affidavit that it was not only a Mauser, but model 7.65.
David Lifton, author of “Best Evidence,” notes that Seymour Weitzman later said his identification was an honest mistake. You can watch a YouTube of Weitzman’s comments here.
Sorting out the issue
For me, I see no other indication that a Mauser played any other role in the JFK story. For example, the forensic evidence doesn’t indicate a Mauser was used to fire on the presidential motorcade. I know of no other allegation that a Mauser was used on November 22, 1963. Given Weitzman’s explanation, I am inclined to accept this was a case of misidentification, amplified in the chaos of the immediate aftermath of the killing of president.
Watch Osanic’s video here: