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  • Fred Litwin

Did the ARRB Prove a Conspiracy in the JFK Assassination?


Screen shot from JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass


Oliver Stone makes the claim in his so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, that the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) turned conspiracy theory into conspiracy fact. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:06:18)


Oliver Stone: With all the documents declassified by the Review Board, we can see this scene in a new light. In regards to the JFK assassination, conspiracy theories are now conspiracy facts. The forensics show evidence of multiple shooters, with Oswald not even at the sixth floor window at the time of the assassination. And his fingerprints not found on the supposed murder weapon. Still, there was no trial for Lee Harvey Oswald,


James DiEugenio, the writer of JFK Revisited, has also said this on Twitter:


The theme that the ARRB has proved conspiracy in the JFK assassination has been repeated many times by James DiEugenio. For instance:

By creating a smoke and mirrors distraction, Kirchick can sidestep what does exist in the film [JFK Revisited]. That is the revelations of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) which completely overturn the verdict of the Warren Commission.

And here:

What the film does is it exposes the Commission as an utterly corrupt body. And that view was made possible only by the ARRB.

And here:

And here:

Utterly false. Oliver could make much more money doing features. He took a very big pay cut in doing this film. He did it because no one else would tell the public about the ARRB discoveries. Patrick Collins sure as heck is not going to, because they destroy the WR.

The ARRB even proved Jim Garrison was right:

It turned out the ARRB proved he was right about almost everything he said.

And here about CE399:

We know today that CE 399 was worse than a joke: it was a smoke and mirrors illusion. The work of the ARRB—which Litwin avoids like CV-19—has made it superfluous.

And here:

All one needs to know about what happened to the HSCA is that it took the ARRB to show us the depth of the fraud the Magic Bullet was mired in.

The ARRB did some amazing work in seeing that millions of pages of documents were released. But did those documents actually prove conspiracy? Let's quickly look at a few examples from JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass.


John Stringer was the photographer at JFK's autopsy. James DiEugenio wrote in The JFK Assassination that "John Stringer testified that he did not take the pictures of Kennedy's brain that are in the National Archives." (page 165) This allegation was repeated in JFK Revisited at 53:05.


When you read John Stringer's deposition before the ARRB, it is clear that his memory is not the best. For instance, he could not remember if he had used Kodachrome or Ektachrome film for his photographs. And yet JFK Revisited makes a big point about the fact that he did not remember using ANSCO film for the photographs of the brain. Stringer was momentarily confused when he was shown photographs of JFK's brain because there were no identification tags. He also did not remember if identification tags were used at the time the brain was photographed. Stringer never denied that he took the brain photographs of President Kennedy.


But to Oliver Stone and James DiEugenio, that is enough for them to believe that Stringer photographed a different brain.. Now which is more likely? A different brain, or a lack of memory for minor details after 32 years?


There are many other examples of how JFK Revisited uses ARRB documents to make unwarranted conclusions:



It is one thing for Stone and DiEugenio to use ARRB documents to reach their own conclusions; it is quite another thing to mislead people into believing that the ARRB uncovered proof that there was a conspiracy.


This overreach obscured the real mission of the organization. The final report of the ARRB notes:

The JFK Act, however, necessitates that the Review Board's report be different from reports of other assassination-related commissions and committees. Previous assassination-related commissions and committees were established for the purpose of issuing final reports that would draw conclusions about the assassination. Congress did not, however, direct the Review Board to draw conclusions about the assassination, but to release assassination records so that the public could draw its own conclusions. Thus, the Final Report does not offer conclusions about what the assassination records released did or did not prove.

In 1998, Tom Samoluk, Deputy Director of the ARRB, had to reiterate this to James DiEugenio:


Indeed, Judge Tunheim has never claimed that the ARRB proved conspiracy in the JFK assassination. Here is what he had to say in 2017:


Reporter: Based on everything that you’ve read, which is the whole file that has been a secret, do you believe that President Kennedy’s assassination was a conspiracy or done by a lone gunman?


Judge Tunheim: I think, first of all, the only hard evidence supports Oswald. It was his rifle, his prints were all over it, he worked in the building. He was in the building during the assassination. The bullets in the vehicle that hit Kennedy were tied to that gun. This is all evidence that would have convicted Oswald beyond a shadow of a doubt. I think he was the sole shooter that day....


Judge Tunheim: That’s probably the best evidence of a conspiracy is Ruby....


Judge Tunheim: [Kennedy] had a lot of enemies, yeah. But when you actually look at the massive evidence through the years, there’s no evidence of a conspiracy. . . I think everyone should keep an open mind in case there are further disclosures in the future, but up until this point, there’s no real hard evidence of a conspiracy that could convict anyone of a conspiracy....


Judge Tunheim and Tom Samoluk both appear in JFK: Destiny Betrayed to talk about the work of the ARRB. But their segments are sandwiched between allegations that the ARRB proved conspiracy.


For instance, in episode 1 of JFK: Destiny Betrayed, Tunheim and Samoluk discuss the processing of documents for release and the process of purchasing of the Zapruder film for the National Archives. Tunheim calls it "the most important piece of evidence." (47:55) The next scene shows the 'back and to the left' motion of JFK's head. Do viewers think, at least subliminally, that Tunheim and Samoluk are back-and-to-the leftists?


In episode 4, Tunheim and Samoluk discuss the Secret Service destruction of two boxes of domestic survey reports, Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (19:25)


Judge Tunheim: They destroyed a group of records which involved threats to President Kennedy in the fall of 1963. They have what they're called threat sheets and there were many threats made to President Kennedy's life during the year 1963. They fought us on the release of those records. They even enlisted Vice President Gore's wife to help them because she had a very legitimate concern for mental health records. And the idea was that this might disclose the names of people who had mental health problems.


No doubt Tunheim and Samoluk were right to be upset about the destruction of two boxes of records. But right after their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed, the documentary moves to supposed plots against JFK in Chicago and Miami. The juxtaposition is not by accident - since there is no documentary evidence that there was a threat in Chicago, JFK; Destiny Betrayed uses Tunheim and Samoluk to imply that the destroyed records contained valuable information related to the supposed plot.


But the HSCA had already looked at Secret Service documents during that period:

No evidence ever materialized to corroborate the supposed Chicago plot.


The Secret Service wrote a letter to the ARRB noting that "the folder concerning the canceled trip to Chicago would only have contained a preliminary survey report, if any document at all, since final reports are not conducted when a trip is canceled." Preliminary survey reports are just the basic plans for a trip.


The documents released by the ARRB do not prove conspiracy in the JFK assassination.

Unfortunately, James DiEugenio and Oliver Stone both suffer from a "poverty of imagination," in which non-conspiratorial explanations are never considered. For instance, they claim that the refusal of the family of Dr. George Burkley to allow ARRB investigators to go through the papers of his lawyer was sinister. But he was conferring with his lawyer on tax issues and there was no reason to believe he would have any relevant documents.


Issues of memory, decades after events have occurred, were ignored by Stone and DiEugenio. For instance, Saundra Spencer remembered, over thirty years after the fact that she developed autopsy photographs that are not in the collection at NARA. DiEugenio and Stone neglect to inform viewers that she only saw the prints for a total of ten to fifteen seconds.


The ARRB noted:

The deposition transcripts and other medical evidence that were released by the Review Board should be evaluated cautiously by the public. Often the witnesses contradict not only each other, but sometimes themselves. For events that transpired almost 35 years ago, all persons are likely to have failures of memory. It would be more prudent to weigh all of the evidence, with due concern for human error, rather than take single statements as “proof” for one theory or another.

Oliver Stone and James DiEugenio's gullibility extends way beyond "failures of memory." For instance, they both believe Perry Russo's recovered memory of an assassination planning party in September 1963. He was injected with sodium pentothal and was then hypnotized three times. They bought his story hook, line and sinker.


The millions of pages of documents that the ARRB released give James DiEugenio and Oliver Stone a larger playpen. Their documentary proves that it takes adults to actually understand them.


Anna Nelson, one of the historians on the ARRB, concurred with Judge Tunheim that the ARRB did not find evidence of conspiracy: (interview for Patricia Lambert’s documentary on The History Channel, August 29, 2000)

The Review Board found no conspiracy. The review board looked for conspiracy. Very clear looked for conspiracy. It felt that was something we, we had to do. We found no conspiracy inside the government. Whether anyone can ever go through all those records and find conspiracy outside the government, we didn't see it. maybe somebody can. I think that we did not help the conspiracy theories but there are many people who are still using our records to prove their own theories. As will always happen. But I have a great trust that in the long run, once you release documents and you have a number of people looking at them, the truth ultimately will come to the fore, my optimism as a historian.


Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK: Destiny Betrayed


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Admiral George Burkley

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, makes several outrageous allegations about Admiral George Burkley, JFK's personal physician. In addition, an appalling new charge is made.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Autopsy Photographs (Revisited)

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed misleads viewers on JFK autopsy photographs -- making it appear that a White House photographer took additional pictures that are not in the record. I have covered this in the past and now JFK: Destiny Betrayed makes a new tendentious claim - that the Secret Serviced burned autopsy photographs.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on General Curtis LeMay, Part Two

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that General Curtis LeMay was at JFK's autopsy.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on General Curtis LeMay, Part One

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, claims that General Curtis LeMay was ordered by General Zuckert to land at Andrews Air Force Base from his holiday in Canada, and that LeMay then decided to go to National Airport. That is not what happened.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Head Wound, Part Three

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers on the opinions of Parkland Hospital doctors and Bethesda witnesses regarding JFK's head wound.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on David Ferrie and the CIA

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, erroneously claims that David Ferrie was an asset of the CIA and that he also flew missions for the CIA. This is simply not true.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Israel and Nuclear Weapons

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, makes it appear that Israel was about to use nuclear weapons in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. A key important fact was left out.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Dr. Charles Crenshaw

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, features Dr. Charles Crenshaw to bolster its claim that President Kennedy was shot from the front. Viewers are not informed of Dr. Crenshaw's credibility problems


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on the Harper Fragment

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers into thinking the Harper fragment was occipital bone that came from the back of Kennedy's head


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Head Wound, Part Two

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, tries to make the case that because Parkland Hospital doctors saw cerebellum extruding from Kennedy's head wound, that it indicated an exit wound.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Head Wound, Part One

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series JFK: Destiny Betrayed uses a variety of supposed witnesses to allege that the wound in the back of Kennedy's head was one of exit. Audrey Bell is one such witness and she doesn't have much credibility.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Jack Ruby

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers on the motivations of Jack Ruby.


The Enabling of Oliver Stone

An essay on the intellectual monstrosity of JFK: Destiny Betrayed.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Otto Otepka

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers into believing that Otto Otepka uncovered evidence that Oswald was a fake defector.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads by Claiming Jack Ruby was Signaled

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that Jack Ruby was signaled by car horns in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. The evidence clearly shows that there were many horns being sounded in the basement.


"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Supposed Extra Bullet, Part Two

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers by intimating that that there was a through-and-through hole in the windshield. This is simply not true.


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Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass


Oliver Stone Admits "JFK Revisited" is a Flop

Oliver Stone is disappointed that no major movie or TV reviewers have commented on his so-called documentary.


Oliver Stone Claims the Zapruder Film was Altered

Yes, Oliver Stone is an alterationist.


"Guilt by Orientation" - The CIA Strikes Again!

James Kirchick's terrific article on Oliver Stone and homosexuality.


Is the JFK assassination linked to 9/11 and Covid-19?

Just when I thought conspiracy theorists couldn't get any crazier.


Two Important Posts Debunk "JFK Revisited"

Tracy Parnell debunks a series about JFK Revisited on the WhoWhatWhy website, and Andrew Jackson debunks the film on Quora. Both articles are well worth your time.


"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the Autopsy Photographs of JFK, Part Two

Did Saundra Spencer really develop a completely different set of autopsy photographs?


"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Autopsy Photographs of JFK

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Oliver Stone Pulls the Wool over Joe Rogan's Eyes

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"JFK Revisited" Misleads by Putting Words in Kennedy's Mouth...

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JFK Revisited Distorts John Stringer's Testimony

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Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited & JFK: Destiny Betrayed


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Oliver Stone's JFK: Destiny Betrayed Film Never Checked the Facts

Steve Roe finds additional evidence that debunks the allegation in JFK: Destiny Betrayed

that Oswald not paid by the Marines for the 3rd quarter of 1959.


Oliver Stone Disses the Sixth Floor Museum

Stone and DiEugenio falsely accuse the Sixth Floor Museum as openly promoting Oswald as the Assassin.


Oliver Stone's JFK Revisited Screenwriter Reprimanded by ARRB in 1998

An exchange of letters between James DiEugenio and Jeremy Gunn of the ARRB.


Is This How Real Documentaries Are Made? There is some 'interesting' editing in Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.


JFK Revisited Screen Writer Crawfishes on Dallas to Chicago Airmail Overnight Delivery James DiEugenio changes his story on the Klein's money order.


Debunking Another JFK Myth - Overnight Mail from Dallas to Chicago

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JFK Revisited: More Deception and Half-Truths

The truth about Jack Ruby and the FBI.


JFK Revisited: Again, Caught Creating False Mysteries "Stone/DiEugenio hatch another Bogus Mystery with Sinister Strap/Sling Mounts on Oswald's Rifle"


JFK Revisited: Tripping on the Stairs

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Oliver Stone doubles-down on the Looney Frontal Shot to the President

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Oliver Stone - Deceptive Filmmaker?

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A Look at the "JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass" Film by Oliver Stone

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