ARRB chairman says JFK investigation riddled with ‘too many holes’

John R. Tunheim, the federal judge in Minnesota who served from 1994 to 1998 as the chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), says in a television program to be aired this month that while the Warren Commission “did a thorough job,” the investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 was “somewhat primitive” and riddled with “too many holes.”

The program, “JFK: For the Record,” originally aired on REELZ in 2013 and will be re-aired on November 22, 2014, as part of what the cable and satellite network bills as a “robust lineup of Kennedys-themed originals.”

Some highlights:

On Oliver Stone’s JFK: Tunheim says that Stone’s 1991 film was “absolutely the catalyst” for the creation of the ARRB, which oversaw the review and disclosure of some five million records related to the JFK assassination, and that the board “probably would not have happened were it not for the movie.”

On the CIA: “Overall, I thought that the Central Intelligence Agency was very cooperative with us,” Tunheim says in the interview. But five years ago he told a reporter for the New York Times that the CIA “probably misled” the ARRB about records pertaining to George Joannides, a career CIA agent who was summoned out of retirement in 1978 to serve as the agency’s liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

On Lee Harvey Oswald: “I think clearly Oswald was shooting up in the sixth floor,” Tunheim says. But he adds that he’s “always been open to the fact that there may have been another shooter” and that the “the question of whether the bullet that hit President Kennedy in the head could have come from a different rifle is an interesting question and one that probably wasn’t investigated thoroughly enough in 1963.”

On the Secret Service: Tunheim says the Secret Service “failed to protect the president of the United States” and was “very difficult for us to deal with.” He sharply criticizes the Secret Service’s destruction of official records that were supposed to be turned over to the ARRB.

Tunheim, however, doesn’t always get the facts right in the interview. He says, for example, that the Warren Commission “did not look at the autopsy photographs,” relying instead on “drawings made from the photographs.” In fact, as journalist Philip Shenon points out in his book, A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, the drawings were made at Bethesda Naval Hospital by a Navy sketch artist who “had not seen the autopsy photos or witnessed the autopsy itself.” (The artist, Shenon writes, had to rely on the “imperfect memory” of Dr. James J. Humes, one of the two Navy pathologists who performed the autopsy.)

Tunheim became a U.S. District Court judge in December 1995.

The 1992 JFK Records Act, which established the ARRB, stipulates that all of the files it allowed to remain shielded from public view must be released by October 2017 unless the president specifically grants permission to keep them secret.

As JFK Facts first reported in May 2013, the CIA retains approximately 1,100 assassination-related records that have never been seen by the public.


  1. Jonathan says:

    I’ve read that Tunheim displayed zero interest in the medical records of the assassination and came onto the ARRB with his mind made up that Oswald did it.

  2. GM says:

    I have thought for ages that the fatal shot that struck JFK was from a Dum-dum type bullet. I have never really been able to reconcile the damage that the fairly mediocre Mannlicher Carcano rifle could do, to that horrendous fatal wound we have all saw on the Zapruder film. It looked like a much more powerful rifle was used for that last shot.

    • Paul Turner says:

      Not only a different rifle, but a more experienced sniper than Oswald.

    • Ramon F Herrera says:


      “the fatal shot that struck JFK was from a Dum-dum type bullet.”


      I disagree with your view, GM. If you or I were in charge, we would have insisted the 2 rifles/ammo to be at least similar, if not identical. I am not an expert, but depending on the angle, a dum-dum would probably have left JFK headless.

      Here’s my scenario. Ideally, all the shots were supposed to come from the 6th. floor. The order was this:

      “If Kennedy’s head is still attached to the rest of his body as the car approaches the grassy knoll, only then the front shooter will be allowed to fire”.

      Notice that this guy was THE best shooter, world class, with months of simulated training, since his requirement was extremely precise. All that preparation paid off.

      Consider the angle:

      (a) Too much to the right: the exit would have been in the left side, by the left ear, could have hit Jackie. The Bethesda team would have been handed a homework which was impossible to solve. The Z-film would have never seen the light of day.

      (c) Too much to the left. Would have missed or done minor damage. A crew cut line that the White House barber would have easily repaired.

      (b) The trajectory had to be tangential (mathematically it is a secant), because it can be interpreted as coming from the back.

      The shooter’s job was almost perfect. Our hats should go off to him. He erred on the side or caution, about 1 inch closer to the right as necessary.

      • GM says:


        I know very little about rifles/bullets, so my view is just a response to watching the effects of the fatal shot. Obviously, that perspective lacks scientific knowledge about weaponry, the trajectory of bullets, and sufficient medial knowledge about gunshot wounds. Is it possible for the Mannlicher Carcano rifle to have caused the damage that we see in the Zapruder film? The MC appears to be an aging Second World War rifle, and there must have been far more powerful rifles in use by 1963, possibly ones that could cause the injuries of the fatal shot. As far as I can gather Oswald was not exactly an expert sniper. Sure he passed the tests in the Marines, but his results were not exactly startlingly good.

        • Bill Clarke says:

          GM November 17, 2014 a

          Yes, it was possible for the Carcano to produce the wounds JFK received. While not a barn burner by todays standards the Carcano is quite lethal.

          I agree with Ramon. I don’t believe any dum-dum or special bullet was used in the assassination.

      • Ramon F Herrera says:

        See HSCA drawing below, the bullet trajectory can be reinterpreted as coming from the back with minor instructions to the artist.

  3. Frank says:

    On the one hand “the Warren Commission “did a thorough job”, while on the other hand, “the question of whether the bullet that hit President Kennedy in the head could have come from a different rifle is an interesting question and one that probably wasn’t investigated thoroughly enough in 1963.”

    On the one hand “Overall, I thought that the Central Intelligence Agency was very cooperative with us”, while on the other hand, “he told a reporter for the New York Times that the CIA “probably misled” the ARRB”.

    Then he describes drawings from photographs that were drawings from memory.

    He sounds like he’s confused, but I give him more credit for intelligence than that. He is a judge after all. Perhaps he’s simply reticent to come out and say what his statements imply, so he uses that kind of a code to illustrate what he really thinks while placing it on a ‘plausible deniability’ basis.

  4. Paul Turner says:

    On Mr. Tunheim’s comments regarding Oswald, I would say that if Oswald was shooting on the 6th floor, so were some others, who may have had better angles than Oswald. A few years later, Dallas Police Chief Curry did say that “no one was ever able to put Oswald on the 6th floor with a rifle in his hand”. And as for the head shot that killed JFK, Oswald(or another shooter on the 6th floor)may have fired the shot that hit him in the back of the head, but a grassy knool shooter had to have been the one to fire the shot that hit him in the right front of the head(the ammo with the mercury). This latter shot came at him on a straight line-I can’t see that shot coming from the TSBD.

    • Photon says:

      There is not a single shred of forensic evidence to show that JFK was hit by any bullet coming from the front. To ignore that fact is to ignore reality. Please site just one forensic pathologist aside from Wecht who has reviewed the physical evidence and has stated that JFK had any anatomical evidence of being struck by a bullet coming from the front.
      Just one.
      Not an ophthalmologist .
      Not a radiation oncologist.
      Just one real expert, ie a forensic pathologist.

      • Jonathan says:

        Not a single shred. That’s an apt description of the blow out of JFK’s posterior skull, the missing part, the part that Humes testified to the Warren Commission had to be covered with a rubber dam.

        • Photon says:

          Where did Humes testify to the Warren Commision that the wound was covered with a “rubber dam”? Plaese amplify your quote.And more to the point, exactly what would that prove about the direction of the missile? I am surprised that you haven’t picked up a real quote from Humes-namely that JFK had “knife wounds” in the chest. Obviously another cover-up-I am sure that there are a couple of books that could be written explaining how the stabbing of JFK was covered up, despite the damaged lung pleura and the chest tubes placed in Dallas.
          But back to my original question. Where is that forensic pathologist, Jonathan?

          • Jonathan says:

            Right. Humes’s testimony about the rubber dam was to the ARRB, not the Warren Commission. Good catch.

            It was just a little detail he neglected to tell Arlen Specter. He did tell Specter, though, about the hole in the back of the head. Testifying about the wound in the occiput Humes said:

            “A careful examination of the margins of the large bone defect at that point, however, failed to disclose a portion of the skull bearing again a wound of–a point of impact on the skull of this fragment of the missile, remembering, of course, that this area was devoid of any scalp or skull at this present time. We did not have the bone.”

            Missing scalp? Missing bone? No wonder the rubber dam was needed.

            Didn’t matter much, though. JFK’s body was displayed lying on its back, so the rubber dam didn’t show.

      • Ramon F Herrera says:


        “There is not a single shred of forensic evidence to show that JFK was hit by any bullet coming from the front. ”


        In his final years, SS agent Clint Hill has presumably decided to clean up his reputation, for history. Either that, or make peace with his maker, after a lifetime of loyalty to his employer.

        People are losing their fear.

        See old post of mine below:


        Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 15:42:57 -0600
        From: Ramon F Herrera
        Newsgroups: alt.conspiracy.jfk
        Subject: Clint Hill changed from LN to CT

        In other interviews, Mr. Hill seemed to support the LN tale. I am referring specifically to a documentary about the surviving SS agents.

        I am watching “JFK: The Final Hours”. He just described the moment he jumped into the limo and pushed Jackie.

        Clint Hill clearly described the huge hole in the back of the head in the exact same fashion as about 40 people, unanimously, who were at Parkland.

      • Paul Turner says:

        How about Assistant Press Secretary Kilduff pointing to the area where the mecury bullet hit JFK? Appears to me it would be pretty hard to hit that spot from the TSBD. That means there was another shooter. That shooter was located in front of JFK as the limo was approaching.

  5. Photon says:

    Exactly what defines ” assassination related records”? Who has made that determination? How many of the thousands of previously released “assassination related records” had little or nothing to do with the assassination?
    What are CTers going to do after 2017 when the release of more records will show no evidence that anybody but Oswald was implicated in the assassination? That would certainly fit the pattern of previous releases.

    • Paul Turner says:

      We’ll have to see if that happens, first, Photon. Right? I mean, what would YOU do if the records show Oswald was not alone in all that led up to the assassination, including the assassination itself?

    • Paul M says:

      In 2017 researchers will continue to search through the records that have not been destroyed by government agencies, such as the Secret Service files mentioned in the video, the Naval Intelligence files (also some of which were destroyed), and the redacted and withheld CIA files. If there is nothing to hide, why the efforts to hide and destroy the pertinent documents?

    • Vanessa says:

      Good morning Photon

      And what will you be doing when Weigman and Darnelll show that Oswald is standing in the TSBD doorway?

      • Paul Turner says:

        Hi Vanessa…speaking of Weigman, his “herky-jery” motion filming apparently includes the sight of smoke on the grassy-knoll area by the picket fence. Could Weigman, then, be a real hero for conspiracy buffs, showing two photos to support our claims-apparent proof of a gunman on the grassy knoll, and Oswald standing at the TSBD doorway?

        • Vanessa says:

          Hi Paul
          I’ve looked through Weigman a few times now and I have to say I can’t locate any smoke near the fence. Can you see any yourself? I can see some smoke in Muchmore near the steps with the person in red (apologies I think I said Moorman in my other post on this issue) as per Dusty Rohde’s link.

          If anyone deserves credit for discovering an unidentified man in the TSBD doorway it should be Gerda Dunckel and Sean Murphy. They did the research and the film blow-ups to find this person and demonstrate that it is Oswald. After all these years when we thought there was no-one standing there.

    • Vanessa says:

      In fact Photon, just for you, I offer a one off end of southern hemisphere spring deal. If you discuss Weigman and Darnell with me and you still believe that’s not Oswald in the doorway. Then I promise to discuss the Tippitt ‘evidence’ with you.

      I think you’ll agree, that’s a pretty good deal.

    • Jonathan says:

      “How many of the thousands of previously released “assassination related records” had little or nothing to do with the assassination?”

      What’s the answer?

    • Bill Hogan says:

      Photon asks:

      Exactly what defines ” assassination related records”? Who has made that determination?

      From the National Archives: “The official definition of an assassination-related document was established by the ARRB [Assassination Records Review Board], which was given the responsibility by the Kennedy Act.”

      For much more on this, see Chapter 2 of the ARRB Report:

      A short excerpt:

      “As their definition reflects, the Review Board members ultimately concluded that the term “assassination record” had to encompass records beyond those that mentioned central topics such as one of the assassination investigations, Lee Harvey Oswald, his wife Marina, his mother Marguerite, or Jack Ruby. The Review Board, four of whom were trained historians, recognized that the definition had to encompass records that would enhance the historical understanding of the event.”

    • George Simmons says:

      In response to Photon, Nov 15th 7.15am

      I cannot agree that previous releases “show no evidence that anybody but Oswald was implicated in the assassination”.

      What concerns me are the revelations regarding George Joannides. Despite the HSCA having an agreement with the CIA that the CIA liason officer would have been non-operable in 1963, George Joannides was put forward and his role in 1963, as case officer for the DRE, was not disclosed to them.

      I think that any of us would be shocked by this deception, unless you are not a genuine seeker of the truth, or are hopelessly prejudiced.

      I believe that this deception shows that there is a distinct possibility that Oswald had a relationship with the CIA, and that there is something significant about the assassination which the CIA do not want us to know. Of course, we cannot be sure because the Joannides files, after 51 years, are still being illegally withheld.

      I believe that these files “would enhance the historical understanding of the event”, which another post on this thread states is part of the ARRB definition for an assassination related document.

    • Mariano says:


      You are not in the slightest bit interested in a proper investigation of JFK’s death. You are not interested in knowing why so many entities and individuals were party to covering up and or contaminating evidence pertaining to previous investigations of JFK’s death. You would prefer to preserve a blinkered view of history that is the official record. You are not a supporter of truth or justice, even if it involves the death of a president. You do not offer much in the way of respectful discussion of questions around which there are still many lingering doubts. You seem like an agent of intervention who would spring from the Intelligence community, with a brief to taint the character of anyone who might question the dubious WCR.(Photon, if you were honest enough to disclose your identity and what links you might have to the intelligence community, perhaps it would shed light on what your real agenda here is.)
      This is why any information relevant to the JFK assassination (not a ambiguous term) is required for any valid investigation to take place.

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