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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Dr. Joseph Dolce: Another Problematic Witness from "JFK: Destiny Betrayed"

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Our post yesterday looked at Dr. Henry Lee, and showed that he is not quite the esteemed criminalist as portrayed in JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

Dr. Joseph Dolce is another expert whom James DiEugenio has deemed important:

We say flatly, that bullet [CE 399] was not fired that day and we do it by exposing the lies the FBI told about chain of custody and Dolce’s experiments. Period. End of story.

This is completely incorrect. Dr. Dolce's experiments do not prove that CE 399 was not fired on November 22, 1963. In fact, Dr. Dolce, like Dr. Henry Lee, is another problematic specialist.

Here is an excerpt from a transcript from JFK: Destiny Betrayed: (Chapter 2 at 35:30, and page 164 in the Kindle version of JFK Revisited)

Whoopi Goldberg (Narrator): The other problem is the lack of damage to the bullet after going through two men, smashing two bones, and making seven wounds. Dr. Joseph Dolce was a much-honored battlefield surgeon during World War II. He worked for the Warren Commission.

Joseph Dolce archive clip: And so they gave us the original rifle, the Mannlicher-Carcano, plus a hundred bullets, 6.5 millimeters. And we went and we shot at cadaver wrists. And in every instance, the front or the tip of the bullet was smashed. Under no circumstances do I feel that this bullet could hit the wrist and still not be deformed.

Whoopi Goldberg (Narrator): Dolce came to believe that two bullets had struck Connally. Since Arlen Specter prescreened the medical witnesses for the commission, Dolce’s name is not in the Warren Report, and his testimony not in the volumes.

and here: (chapter 3 at 25:30 and page 197)

Whoopi Goldberg (Narrator): Because three shells were found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, the Warren Commission was limited to only three shots. But one of the problems with CE 399 as Joseph Dolce said was its nearly pristine condition. Especially when compared with bullets the commission tested.

Joseph Dolce archive clip: No, it could not have caused all the wounds. Because our experiments showed, beyond any doubt, that merely shooting the wrist deformed the bullet drastically.

Right off the bat, this is somewhat misleading. Dolce's name is in FBI agent Lyndal Shaneyfelt's testimony and he did not give any testimony to the Warren Commission.

So, who was Dr. Joseph Dolce?

Dr. Dolce did not work for the Warren Commission. He was a consultant to the Biophysics Division of the Edgewood Arsenal.

The purpose of the conference was to examine the Zapruder film and determine when the first two bullets struck. Drs. Dolce and Light felt that Connally had been hit by two separate bullets because CE 399 would have "suffered more distortion" from hitting his radius. Dr. Olivier withheld his opinion until more tests with Oswald's rifle could be conducted.

Here are their conclusions:

The tests conducted at the Edgewood Arsenal showed that a direct hit by a pristine bullet on Connally's wrist would have produced both a badly deformed bullet, and much more damage to the wrist:

Cadaver wrist after being shot by a pristine bullet

The bullet fired into the cadaver above.

Dr. Olivier concluded that Connally's wrist was not hit by a pristine bullet.

Clearly, Dr. Dolce's opinion did not win the day.

Some comments on Dr. Dolce's letter:

  • Dolce argues that Dr. Gregory has the wrist wounds all wrong, and that the bullet entered the wrist's palm side. However, the evidence says differently -- fibers from the coat were carried into the wound.

  • Dolce believes that CE 399 is the shot which went through JFK's neck. How is this possible? How did this bullet not hit anything else in the car and then end up on a Parkland Hospital stretcher?

  • Dr. Dolce wonders why he wasn't called to testify before the Warren Commission. He was just a consultant and the three chiefs in charge of the testing (Olivier, Dziemian and Light) testified. They did not agree with Dr. Dolce.

Needless to say, the HSCA also rejected Dr. Dolce's scenario of the shooting.

Here is a good illustration of Dr. Dolce's faulty conclusion about CE 399.

In 1992, Dr. Martin Fackler simulated a lower-velocity bullet strike into a cadaver wrist bone: (Journal of the International Wound Ballistics Association, Volume 2, 1995)

Here is his bullet:

Note that this was not a complete test of the single-bullet theory - Fackler was only testing a lower-velocity bullet strike on a cadaver wrist.

Larry Sturdivan detailed the orientation of CE 399 as it traversed Kennedy and Connally: (The JFK Myths, Page 144)

CE 399 entered Connally’s wrist at much lower velocity than a pristine bullet and it was nearly backwards. Lead was extruded from its core.

Dr. Cyril Wecht has incorporated into his act, I mean his standard lecture, the same arguments as Dr. Dolce. He presents a picture of CE-399 (on the left), then two bullets fired through cotton wadding, a bullet fired through a goat carcass, and finally (on the right) the pristine bullet fired through a cadaver's wrist. (1:10:35)

Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:10:59, Wecht acts like he is talking to a jury)

Dr. Wecht: And so I say to you then, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is there anybody here that has any question, any doubt, a moment's, a moment's concern, at all, about what we, the government have shown you? If a bullet that breaks a rib can look like this, and a bullet that breaks a radius can look like this, is there anybody here amongst you that has the slightest difficulty in understanding and comprehending how a bullet that breaks both a rib and the ulna can look like that? No problem, huh? This is the one thing, God, I take with me to my grave. You can have everything else but I want this picture, this picture alone. That is the government's case, ok.

Surely Dr. Wecht must know that CE 399 started to yaw after it exited JFK's throat, and that it didn't hit Connally's rib head on with full velocity.


Dr. Dolce's judgment in sending a disgruntled letter to the HSCA is wanting. His extreme self-confidence is unwarranted given his errors (like Connally's wrist wound) and his unlikely shooting scenario. Needless to say, the HSCA did not call him to testify.

He must be the only expert in JFK: Destiny Betrayed who believes that Oswald fired the three shots and was the sole assassin.

This information came to our attention because it is the only reference to him in the JFK documents released in 2018. It is a 1989 letter about the "FBI Classification Review of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report on Counterintelligence and Security Countermeasures." We can thank the ARRB and its broad defintion of "assassination-related" documents.

A former civilian weapons analyst pleaded guilty to passing military secrets to South Africa, an act his attorney said was motivated by a misguided sense of patriotism.

Thomas Joseph Dolce, 49, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to one count of espionage, the first such case involving South Africa, prosecutors said. Dolce faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

His attorney, Harold I. Glaser, said the father of three believed the United States should be doing more to help what Dolce considers to be an important U.S. ally fighting communism.

″He did it out of what he considered to be loyalty, but it was of course a gigantic, gigantic mistake,″ said Glaser.

Dolce, a former employee at the Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore admitted mailing a classified document in 1979 to Col. Bernardus Redelinghuys, a defense and armed forces attache at the South African Embassy in Washington.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary P. Jordan, reading from a statement of facts at a hearing, said Dolce ″furnished the South Africans with anything he came across pertaining to Russian equipment. He reasoned that the South Africans were confronted with Soviet equipment in Angola and that the United States should be providing this information to them.″

Jordan said Dolce delivered the document to Redelinghuys because of its potential use for sabotage by South Africa, a staunchly anti-communist country that is ruled by its white minority under a system of racial segregation called apartheid.

Dolce also acknowledged delivering batches of classified documents on 40 or more occasions, by mail and in person, to three military attaches at the embassy and to South African missions in London and Los Angeles between the fall of 1979 and the summer of 1983.

The article above has a typo -- Dolce was 79 years old, not 49.

Dr. Dolce's criminally poor judgment would probably not disqualify him as an expert in most courts. However, a good prosecutor would easily be able to chop him up on the witness stand. Dolce's opinions were not accepted by his colleagues at the Edgewood Arsenal, and they were also rejected by the Warren Commission and the HSCA. A perfect record, you might say.

Over the past several months, I have shown in multiple blog posts how Oliver Stone's documentary series, JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers. In fact, despite months of work, there are still many more misleading segments that need to be addressed. It's no wonder that the fact checkers of Netflix nixed the airing of the films.

There is a choice between four hours of tendentious nonsense (JFK: Destiny Betrayed) and two hours (JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass). As a handy guide for viewers, here are all those posts in order of their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed and JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, preceded by some general critiques.

The Viewer's Guide has now been updated to include the sources from my new book, Oliver Stone's Film-Flam: The Demagogue of Dealey Plaza.


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