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,
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.
What the film does is it exposes the Commission as an utterly corrupt body. And that view was made possible only by the ARRB.
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.
It turned out the ARRB proved he was right about almost everything he said.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that General Curtis LeMay was at JFK's autopsy.
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.
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.
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.
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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
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.
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.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers on the motivations of Jack Ruby.
An essay on the intellectual monstrosity of JFK: Destiny Betrayed.
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.
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JFK: Destiny Betrayed needlessly, and unfairly, criticizes the Sixth Floor Museum.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that an extra bullet was found in JFK's limousine the evening of the assassination. This is just not true.
JFK: Destiny Betrayed alleges the CIA was involved in an assassination plot against French President Charles de Gaulle. Scenes from a fictional film are used to buttress the allegation. The truth - the CIA had nothing to do with the supposed plot.
The evidence is clear - Robert Kennedy wanted Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission.
Jim Garrison is AWOL in Oliver Stone's so-called documentary JFK: Destiny Betrayed.
Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass
Oliver Stone is disappointed that no major movie or TV reviewers have commented on his so-called documentary.
Yes, Oliver Stone is an alterationist.
James Kirchick's terrific article on Oliver Stone and homosexuality.
Just when I thought conspiracy theorists couldn't get any crazier.
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.
Did Saundra Spencer really develop a completely different set of autopsy photographs?
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary tries to make the case that a White House photographer took photos at the autopsy. The only problem is that there is no evidence he was actually there.
Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show about JFK's brain.
Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show and I present a challenge to conspiracy theorists.
Tracy Parnell dissects Morley's article on JFK assassination documents and "JFK Revisited"
Did President Kennedy actually say that he was going to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind?
David Talbot claims that JFK told the French Ambassador that he was not in full control of his entire government. There is no evidence he ever said that.
"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Supposed CIA Support of the 1961 Coup Attempt in France Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims the CIA supported the 1961 coup attempt against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961. The only thing missing is evidence.
Max Boot: Oliver Stone just can't stop spreading lies about JFK's assassination.
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Robert Kennedy, Jr. believes in a massive conspiracy regarding Covid and the intelligence agencies.
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The preponderance of the evidence indicates JFK's throat wound was one of exit.
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Gochenaur's writings don't back up his allegations in JFK Revisited.
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Dr. Robert Kirschner's consultation with the ARRB explains a mystery in the documentary.
JFK Revisited makes a big deal about the weight of JFK's brain and ignores a non-conspiratorial explanation.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary makes it sound like the autopsy photographer said that he did not take the photos of JFK's brain that are in the current inventory,
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This post debunks every witness that has ever claimed Shaw was Bertrand.
He cannot imagine any sort of non-conspiratorial explanations for any of the suspicious pieces of evidence in his film.
No, Clay Shaw was not a "contract agent."
Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited & JFK: Destiny Betrayed
Oswald was paid by the Marine Corps, not ONI, CIA or any other Intelligence agency.
JFK: Destiny Betrayed doesn't tell the whole truth about Dr. Malcolm Perry.
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.
Stone and DiEugenio falsely accuse the Sixth Floor Museum as openly promoting Oswald as the Assassin.
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.
Conspiracy theorist James DiEugenio doesn't understand the history of the mail deliver in the United States.
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"
Oliver Stone claims that Oswald could not have been in the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Steve Roe exposes Stone's mistakes.
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Steve Roe presents some examples of Oliver Stone's 'creative' abilities.
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