Another JFK motorcade reconstruction and the limits of forensic evidence

While reviewing Mark Tyler’s Motorcade 63, I thought of Dale Myers’ 3D animation reconstruction of President Kennedy’s motorcade on November 22, 1963. Myer’s work is the most sophisticated effort to update the official story of the Warren Commission that a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, killed the president for no reason.

While visually elegant, Myer’s presentation still suffers from a fundamental defect. As a forensic presentation, it cannot answer why the president was killed. But its conclusive claims that Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman are part and parcel of the argument that nature of the gunfire in Dealey Plaza had nothing do with the subsequent murder of Oswald, the FBI’s destruction of evidence, the FBI’s twisting of eyewitness testimony, and the CIA cover-up of just how much certain senior operations officers knew about Oswald’s travels, politics, and contacts in the weeks before JFK was killed. That strikes me as highly improbable.

If the case was so simple forensically, why so much duplicity? Compared to a truly forensically simple case like the attempted assassination of Presidennt Ronald Reagan, the JFK’s assassination is quite complex. The desire to simplify it, while understandable emotionally and politically, needs to be resisted for factual reasons.

If Oswald truly acted alone, any one of those things might have happened–The fact that they all happened–and that the CIA is still withholding thousands of JFK files–strike me as a pretty strong indicator that the government has something to hide about the gunfire in Dealey Plaza. If the government has nothing to hide, why is it they hiding so much decades later?

Myer’s reconstruction, while visually elegant, does not quite explain the physical or the eyewitness evidence. The claim that wounds in the two men lined up in a way that makes the dubious “single bullet theory” theoretically possible is presented as scientific fact. It isn’t. The reconstruction shows it is possible that the wounds were caused by one bullet. But the bullet that allegedly caused seven wounds in the two men was hardly damaged. And Texas Governor John Connally and his wife were both quite certain that the two men were hit by two different bullets. In other words, it’s possible that Myer’s reconstruction of the gunfire is wrong.

Tyler’s 2D presentation–while I think it scants the evidence of a shot from a front (such as the testimony of the late Dr. Robert McClelland)–makes more modest claims and leaves room for different interpretations.

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