Category Archives: Documentary
An interesting documentary concerning the attempt by IBM researchers to create a computer capable of competing on the American game show “Jeopardy!”. As these boffins explain, the ability of computers to play chess was once seen as the pinnacle of computer intelligence. However, the highly formalised and rigid nature of the game of chess was something which computers quickly mastered, even recently being able to defeat chess grandmasters…I Wikid this topic and found some interesting information on this, as well as a link to a documentary on this achievement:
An interesting quote from the first link, above, is:
“Kasparov claimed that several factors weighed against him in this match. In particular, he was denied access to Deep Blue’s recent games, in contrast to the computer’s team, which could study hundreds of Kasparov’s.
After the loss Kasparov said that he sometimes saw deep intelligence and creativity in the machine’s moves, suggesting that during the second game, human chess players, in contravention of the rules, intervened. IBM denied that it cheated, saying the only human intervention occurred between games. The rules provided for the developers to modify the program between games, an opportunity they said they used to shore up weaknesses in the computer’s play revealed during the course of the match. Kasparov requested printouts of the machine’s log files but IBM refused, although the company later published the logs on the Internet. Although Kasparov wanted another rematch, IBM declined and ended their Deep Blue program.
That first paragraph in the quote, above, mirrors something which happens in this current documentary…the computer created to play on “Jeopardy!” improves once it has access to the answers already provided by human contestants in the category currently being played.
For what it’s worth, the computer designed to compete on “Jeopardy!” is called “Watson” by the boffins.
The appeal of this documentary is the insight provided into how a computer of this sort approaches providing answers to the sorts of ‘questions’ given on the game show. It’s the nature of those question (well, the show is sort of bizarro…contestants have to provide a question to the sometimes cryptic ‘answer’ given in the show) which mark out this experiment by IBM as being much more demanding of computer science than building a better chess playing machine. Ordinary language isn’t as rigid and formal as the rules of chess, hence creating a machine capable of competing against the very best players of “Jeopardy!” is a much tougher proposition.
Two approaches to the issue of artificial intelligence are mentioned:
1) Rules approach – this is a kind of “brute force” approach which is suitable for chess programmes. The computer simultaneously thinks through all the possible combinations of moves which made me made by itself or its opponent…a figure of something like 30 moves ahead is mentioned…which absolutely dwarfs what the best human chess grandmasters can manage.
Some of this approach is used on Watson. The computer programmers code millions of items of “common sense” to make the computer able to give logical answers to questions. An example of that would be the distinctions between “child”, “teenager”, “adult” say, and “boy”, “man” etc. If you know the meaning of one of those words, then you can make deductions and inferences based on that knowledge. However, a limitation of this approach is humans aren’t really capable of formalising all these kinds of “common sense” facts which we all take for granted.
2) Machine learning – this is more akin to human learning. The computer is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. When humans can’t code the millions upon millions “common sense” facts which we all take for granted, another approach to make Watson able to compete against the champions of “Jeopardy!” will be required to fast track the process of making it competitive against them.
There are some laughs to be had in this documentary. In trial runs against humans at IBM headquarters, comedian Todd Crain hosts the game show. He often mocks Watson for incorrect answers. For instance, due to computers coming up with answers to questions as found on “Jeopardy!” differently to how humans do this, Watson proposes that “Richard Nixon” is a First Lady of the U.S.A! To a human, it’s obvious that a man cannot be a First Lady, hence Watson’s answer is extremely stupid. Presumably the IBM programmers didn’t add that kind of Rule into Watson’s database!
Before Watson is ready to tackle “Jeopardy!”‘s finest champions for real, on television, some ‘bugs’ must be addressed. Another issue is Watson’s inability to hear contestant’s correct answers to questions in a certain category which would allow it to work out what the ‘question’ is really entailing. Once that data is provided (the human contestants already have this information) Watson will have the ability to “self-correct“. In other words, if Watson is not ‘getting’ the import of a category on “Jeopardy!” and is giving ‘stupid’ answers, then ‘hearing’ correct answers given by the human contestants will allow it to work out what feature of their answer is relevant to the notion of providing a correct answer in that category. For instance, if Watson gives the answer to a question on dates as a particular day – and gets it wrong – and the human contestants give a month as the answer, Watson can self-correct to match a month to two dates given as clues in the ‘question’.
The documentary does mention the computer programme called “Eliza” which is available on the internet now. I’ve interacted with that before and may post my experience of that sometime soon here.
P.S. since posting up this review, the machine at the centre of this documentary (“Watson”) has been in the news again. I.B.M. is looking to incorporate Watson into mobile phones:
A paragraph from that link above reads:
“During a keynote address at Mobile World Congress 2014, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, a global competition to promote the development of mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson”.
A mixed bag. 60%
This documentary was screened on Australia’s flagship current affairs programme “Four corners” recently. Even without having seen the far superior documentary “JFK: The smoking gun” (screened on SBS TV beforehand and reviewed here by me) you can see that even by its own standards it occasionally slips into poor journalism/analysis. It should be noted up front that this documentary seeks to prove that the findings of the Warren Commission are accurate (cf. the SBS TV documentary). That being said, I did find certain aspects of this documentary illuminating and well done and it may even shed new light on the events of that day.
Since I mentioned that this documentary is flawed, I’ll just go straight into the major ones:
(1) Compared to the far superior “JFK: The smoking” gun, this documentary makes the inexeplicable decision to completely disregard the evidence of ballistics and the autopsy report. Extremely shoddy as a result and not definitive as a result.
(02) Whilst doing a great job in arguing for the truth of there being nothing “magic” about the bullet which hit both the President and Governor Connally and for finding plausible/persuasive evidence for the trajectory of Lee Harvey Oswald’s first shot which missed the president, it is a huge oversight not to have gone into the same level of analysis for the 3rd and lethal shot which devastated JFK’s head. E.g. there is great documentary technique in recreating the assassination with a sniper at the actual site with a laser sight attached to their rifle. The visual of the JFK stand-in in the car with a red laser dot on the back of their neck is compelling in how when that stand-in moves out of the way, the laser dot apparently co-incides with the entry wound of the Governor Connally stand-in. Unfortunately the rest of the route of that bullet is not continued – perhaps due to fearing that viewers might consider its path “magic” or something…but I have read crime articles in newspapers where a bullet takes an odd route after entering someone’s body. In any case, assuming that the documentary accurately reflects the entrance wounds for both JFK and Connally, the demonstration is the best yet of the veracity of the “magic bullet” path…as in it buries that cynical phrase for good.
a) Likewise, the reconstruction of events to posit a trajectory for the bullet which LHO missed with on his first shot is excellent work. I’m happy to go with their account of that. In support of their theory they find archival footage which shows the scene after the assassination. In a traffic light which they show to be plausibly between LHO and JFK, there is bullet sized hole in it. That to me is persuasive evidence…for that bullet sized hole to have been caused by LHO’s unsuccessful first attempt at JFK’s life. Perhaps this documentary and the SBS TV one are at odds over this too…going on memory, the SBS docu argues that debris from LHO’s missed show hit JFK, prompting the President to say “My God, I’m hit!”. It’s just my impression that the Four Corners’ documentary doesn’t state that JFK was injured via that missed shot…but I could mistaken on these issues.
b) Anyway, here is the massive oversight of “JFK:TLB”…where is the laser sight experiment or reconstruction for the 3rd, fatal shot? It’s just ASSUMED to have come from LHO. Well, that’s slightly unfair…there is ONE piece of evidence which stands in for something more rigorous…the testimony of a young male African-American, Amos Euins. He testifies to hearing the three shots come from the book depositary where LHO was sniping from. He also testifies that after hearing the first shot (or perhaps the second one), he moved behind cover to avoid being hit from that position. Now, whilst I have no reason to doubt his testimony on the first two shots – which I believe – would not his testimony of where the shot(s) came from after he hid behind cover be more open to doubt? As in he could be mistaken for any number of reasons…position, pandemonium etc. Since “JFK:TSG” now posits another theory about the source of the lethal shot on JFK, then that’s just another obvious reason to go into the same level of analysis of that 3rd shot as was done for the 2nd shot, especially.
(3) The testimony of witness Patricia Ann Donaldson is interesting. She gives a verbal description of the three shots that she heard…describing how there was a pause between the first shot and the second shot and then “bam, bam” (i.e. quick succession) between the second shot and the lethal shot. This possibly implies to me that it would persuasively rule out LHO taking the lethal shot on JFK, insofaras he couldn’t have reloaded his rifle (or whatever…I’m not a gun expert here) in order to take that lethal third shot. Many conspiracy theories draw on the fact that it would be physically impossible to take three shots in the reputed six seconds that it took LHO to take his shots. This is a minor flaw by virtue of people’s perceptions of time being “rubbery”…e.g. “time flies when you’re having fun” and ‘time drags when you’re feeling miserable’…along those kinds of lines. Another reason is that, assuming Donaldson is mistaken, the documentary does posit that LHO had some 11 seconds to take all three shots which he was reputed to have taken. Personally, whilst I think that this helps the Warren Commission finding, I don’t think it hurts the theory presented in “JFK: TSG”…even though that assumes a six second time frame for all three shots which were on target.
(4) This is a really weird aspect of the documentary…the focus on the placement of the empty bullet casings in the book depositary. It’s almost as if the documentary is indirectly tackling some conspiracy theory which they do not wish to address explicitly. I believe that for this section of the documentary they call in a contemporary Secret Service agent of the time, John Joe Howlett. The point of this section seems to confirm the findings of the Warren Commission…that LHO acted alone and took all three shots himself. To explain the ‘wayward’ bullet casing in his nest, Howlett posits that LHO took his first shot (only, I believe) from a standing position, then he knelt (I think) for the other two shots. Now, not being a shooter/hunter/sniper/assassin etc., I found this theory to be implausible…or at least warranting further journalistic work to confirm its plausibility. I.e. interview military trained snipers on how likely any sniper worth their salt would be to go for a kill shot from a standing position. It just seems unlikely to me, from a layperson’s perspective. Having corresponded with someone who claims to have checked out the book depositary, they state that the windows are fixed there, insofaras as they would not allow for someone to take a shot from there in a standing position. I have no idea if that is true, or if it only became true after the event (as in perhaps the fixed windows are a recent feature of the building…I don’t know). Furthermore, the issue of the empty bullet casings in “JFK: TSG” addresses this issue, but from a different perspective…I’m relying on a quote from someone who watched the documentary, so I just hope that it is accurate as far as what is stated in that other documentary: “The third bullet casing was a dud, kept loaded in the breach to stop dust getting in during storage of the rifle. It was expelled before Oswald loaded the first of two bullets”. That for me is a plausible account (I assume…apparently gun users do this kind of stuff) of the ‘wayward’ empty casing…i.e. the other two empty bullet casings fell where they did because they were fried at JFK, whilst the other one was discarded manually (presumably) and landed where it did for reasons other than firing at the President. Also, the person who mentioned being at the book depositary also brought forward the common sense view that the crime scene may have been disturbed or tampered with, thus one can’t read too much into the location of the empty bullet casings. All in all, this whole segment seemed to me to really contort their theory in order to make it confirm the Warren Commission’s findings.
05) I noticed that the final moments of this documentary, the lethal shot is obscured. Not sure if that was the case all the way through…but if it was then that perhaps implies to me that any evidence of the third and lethal shot coming from anywhere other than the book depositary was fudged…perhaps. More on that later.
06) Holland mentions militar ammo and the fact that that is meant to pass through people…thus justifying the trajectory of the so-called “magic bullet”. However, having watched the far superior “JFK:TSG”, it’s odd how this bullet’s behaviour is not contrasted with that of the third, lethal bullet, which basically shattered in JFK’s skull. “JFK:TSG” goes into how there are different types of ammo…and how the “magic bullet” shot is plausible for LHO’s type of ammo but that the lethal third shot is consistent with the kind of ammo the Secret Service was using that day…which was of a smaller caliber and designed to shatter in that way. Even though “JFK:TLB” totally ignores the ballistics and autopsy report, I think that the “JFK:TSG” findings do point to a new “magic bullet” problem for adherents of the Warren Commission…namely, how did LHO’s larger caliber bullet go through an entry wound in JFK’s head which was smaller than it (for the kill shot, I mean) and why did his ammo shatter in that way, when it is not designed to do that? “JFK:TSG” has the superior analysis and answers to these kinds of issues.
Okay, now to the parts of this documentary that seem to warrant some merit:
01) Best of all, the enhanced contemporary footage of the time, including that of the Zapruder home movie…but there other sources of footage too, which is a bonus.
02) The great visual demonstration of the debunking of the “magic bullet” shot which used laser sights and stand-ins for the President and Governor.
03) The reconstruction of the trajectory of LHO’s first, missed shot on JFK.
04) The enhanced home movie images from one source (Nix?) shows fine mist of blood in front of JFK’s head for the lethal shot, which the documentary use for the argument that the lethal shot came from behind JFK (the book depositary) and not from in front of the car as many conspiracy theorists hold…the grassy knoll etc. That bloody mist would be early on in the kill shot. I’ve got the name “Max Holland” in my notes as the person saying that that bloody mist confirms that the lethal shot came from behind JFK. Presumably Holland is the on-screen narrator or journalist/whatever of that documentary. Again, I would just reiterate that the analysis of the origin of that third, lethal shot is far short of the documentary’s own analysis of the first two shot’s origin/likely source.
05) The enhanced footage does rule out a recent conspiracy theory I had come across browsing a conspiracy theory magazine, I believe…that the lethal shot was fired from inside JFK’s car by his own staff. The enhanced footage demonstrates that to be merely a man on the front of the car turning around to look at what was happening. Presumably the conspiracy theory magazine was relying on blurry, grainy footage? I.e. in the gloomy image they claim to see the man in the front holding a gun, pointed at JFK or something. Yuh.
06) During the documentary’s reconstruction of the timeline for the missed shot by LHO, they perhaps plausibly extend the window of those three shots to about 11 seconds. Holland states that the gap between the first and second shots is about 6.3 to 6.4 seconds. The gap between the second and third shot is about 4.9 seconds. Again, this raises the issue of what LHO was capable of doing that day. If the first gap is his ‘rhythm’ then perhaps the shorter second gap between shots would rule out him firing that third, lethal shot?
Okay, laying my cards on the table and stating that I am in the “JFK:TSG” camp, I now wonder whether the use of Secret Service agent John Joe Howlett is part of another Secret Service disinformation campaign. Perhaps not, but odd nonetheless. In other words, if you accept the proposition that the Secret Service accidentally killed the president (which would explain their illegal actions in the wake of that as well as their cover-up of it) then it’s safe to assume that they would to falsely ‘confirm’ the Warren Commission findings or muddy the water with further false conspiracy theories on who killed the president.
Further posts by me on this topic:
Amateurish ‘documentary’ by seemingly jilted French man. 35+%
I got sucked into watching this ‘documentary’ by the promotions on SBS TV here in Australia which implied, I think, that we would hear former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy discuss her experiences after the assassination of her husband, President Kennedy. The promotion mentioned a series of interviews Jackie conducted following that assassination. For those people who are seeking such source material, you will be sorely disappointed. With the aid of having the captions turned on, I saw pretty much only three sentences spoken by Jackie and these were quickly faded out and recycled throughout the ‘documentary’. Actually, I’m not even sure if it was Jackie speaking! Maybe it was an actress? Instead of Jackie in her own words, we get the measured, avuncular tones of the male narrator, who sounds perfectly reasonable but by the end you realise he has just been conducting a character assassination of the former First Lady for the previous 60 minutes.
Now, all this may be well and good (and true)…it’s just that I don’t know if it is! The most scandalous part of this ‘documentary’ is how often you are unsure if what the spiteful narrator is saying is a paraphrase of what Jackie said, or providing the documentary’s own interpretation. For all I know the ‘documentary’ makers could not get their hands on the source material so just conjectured what was in it and put their own nasty spin for their interpretation of it. The entry in The Age’s “Green guide” (a tv lift-out, 07/11/2013) says “acclaimed director Patrick Jeudy” is responsible for the documentary. He seems so ‘acclaimed’ that Wikipedia doesn’t even have an entry for him! IMDB does have a listing for him but I can’t see a listing for a documentary with this title…it sounds similar to the 2003 listing “Jackie Kennedy: What Jackie knew”.
If this ‘documentary’ has one ‘redeeming’ feature, it’s the archival footage of the subjects together. Even though I can’t say how ‘new’ those shots are or whatever, it did provide some interest value. At the risk of perhaps regurgitating unsubstantiated nonsense in this documentary, I’ll just go over some of the claims made as well as my interpretation of them:
01) Jackie’s series of interviews after the assassination was about creating a myth about the president and herself…her account makes her out to be more important in world affairs and her husband’s thinking than was actually the case.
02) It’s asserted that Jackie made a weird comment about finding her husband’s skull fragment at the time of the assassination aesthetically pleasing…’flesh coloured, not bone’ or something of the sort. From my point of view she just isn’t cut any slack here. If she actually said that, then obviously she is transgressing some sort of taboo…in other words, perhaps someone in this situation might actually think that…but you just wouldn’t say it. I can’t imagine being in this situation, but if you loved the person you just saw killed in that way, perhaps an odd thought like that would pop into your head. Who are we to judge?
03) In another nasty attack on her character, the narrator presents Jackie as being selfish and only thinking of herself after her husband is killed…she apparently wonders where she will live. Gosh…her husband has been murdered and she can no longer stay in the White House…yuh…who in their right mind would be thinking “What’s to become of me? Where will I live?”. It just makes you think what arseholes the people behind the documentary are.
04) The narrator uses the adjective “lying” of Jackie insofar as she is alleged to have claimed that she was kicked out of the White House after her husband’s assassination.
05) JFK is asserted to have slept with prostitutes and offered drugs to at least one woman. That woman was called “Mimi”, I think, who was 19 years old at the time. JFK gave her as a ‘gift’, apparently, to one of his supporters or collaborators.
06) It’s suggested that JFK’s brother, Bobby, may have been having an affair with Jackie whilst John was alive…I’m going on memory here, perhaps it was after the assassination…unsure now.
07) It’s suggested that Bobby was okay with the ‘bungled’ autopsy on his brother due to concerns that it would be discovered that John was taking illegal drugs for his physical ailments.
08) The narrator uses the phrase “poor Madame de Gaulle”…since my memory isn’t the best after the gap between seeing the ‘documentary’ and posting my notes into this review, I think this may refer to some alleged unbecoming comments made by Jackie about her, whilst John was still alive. That may be fair enough. I just don’t know. It might depend on whether Jackie said the alleged comments in private or public. If she said it in private, then give the woman a break!
09) Perhaps all this nastiness towards Jackie stems from her allegedly making unkind comments about France or the French after her successful trip there with her husband, a trip where her husband was referred to by some as “Mr. Jackie Kennedy” (or some such!).
From my point of view this ‘documentary’ comes across as an attempt to burn every bridge between Jackie and anyone else she may have been close to or any natural sympathisers. The worst thing about it is that its opinions are pre-digested for you and regurgitated for you to swallow…like sheep…sorry if my metaphors are getting mixed here! Hard to tell whether this ‘documentary’ is a troll, sour grapes or whatever. One to avoid. Or at least wait until a documentary comes out which actually features the subject doing what she is purported to be doing in this ‘documentary’…talking.
No doubt this ‘documentary’ says more about the makers than it does about Jackie.
P.S. I made a note of “Bobo the lobo”…I’m not exactly sure what that was in reference to…maybe it was unrelated to this ‘documentary’?
JFK: The Smoking Gun (2013)
The awful truth is staring you in the face. 10/10
I have had a casual interest in the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy since I was a child and saw the great (as I remember it) documentary/mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald in “On trial: Lee Harvey Oswald” (I’ll call him “LHO” from now on). Even though the details of that documentary now escape me, I do recall my disbelief that the jury assembled for the ‘trial’ of Oswald found that he was solely responsible for the assassination (as per the findings of the Warren Commission). It would be interesting to revisit that documentary in the wake of this seemingly definitive documentary. Lastly, I also remember seeing Oliver Stone’s “JFK” but the details of that escape me too. Yet again, it would be interesting to revisit that drama in the wake of the puzzle seemingly being solved by this current documentary.
So, as a casual observer of this conspiracy theory laden event par excellence, I have to say that “JFK: The smoking gun” is either the starting point or the end point of anyone who wants answers to the mystery of “Who shot JFK?”. For some, definitive proof will never be enough, so this documentary should start as a jumping off point for them…as in they MUST heed the findings here, lest they seem obstinate. For example, I think it was in “On trial: Lee Harvey Oswald” where I first heard of “the magic bullet theory”. The effect of this theory is to lead one to suppose that any scenario where LHO’s bullet is supposed to have hit the targets it was meant to is so ludicrous as to be ruled out of hand. “JFK: The smoking gun” proves that the bullet DID in fact do what it was supposed to have done and it only seems “magic” if the assumptions that you make about the layout of the car are false. So, assuming that the layout presented in “JFK:TSG” is correct, there’s just no way in the world you can credibly dismiss that bullet as having “magic” properties. It’s just ludicrous to assert that it is anymore.
“JFK:TSG” is presented by an Australian former detective Colin McLaren. He treats the assassination as a ‘cold case’ and goes through The Warren Commission’s report, in the wake of reading a theory by Howard Donahue (a ballistics expert) later documented in Bonar Menninger’s book “Mortal error: The shot that killed JFK”. In the wake of JFK’s assassination, Donahue was involved in a television network’s recreation of the assassination to ascertain whether LHO could indeed have fired off three shots in under six seconds. Donahue could…but after three attempts…suggesting that LHO is unlikely to have done so, seeing as he only had one attempt to do this. So, in essence, McLaren’s documentary is basically overkill for those who think ballistics science is inadequate…for whatever reason. McLaren finds testimony to support Donahue’s theory.
The basic findings of this documentary are as follows:
01) LHO fired two shots at JFK. His first missed the target BUT, via a ricochet, JFK was hit by debris, which prompted his comment of “My God, I’m hit”.
02) LHO fires off his last shot. It hits his target and also injures Governor Connally. Due to the seating layout, the ballistics stack up such that there is nothing “magic” about the bullet’s trajectory. It fits the injuries sustained by both occupants of the car.
03) In a car behind JFK, Secret Service agent George Hickey, arming himself with a rifle in the wake of the (potentially) non-lethal shot on JFK picks up an automatic rifle in order to counter-attack the would be assassin but is knocked back by his car accelerating away, accidentally firing off a shot…the shot which impacts with devastating results on JFK’s head.
04) The Secret Service, knowing full well that one of its own killed JFK, systematically covers up this truth at each and every opportunity#.
05) The Warren Commission also is a white wash, with Assistant Counsel Arlen Spector actively derailing any opportunity for the truth to become known about the Secret Service’s involvement.
I would add here that what I outline here ties in neatly with LHO famously claiming “I’m just a patsy”. He’d know full well that the lethal shot was not fired by him. So, he could either claim that the kill shot was not his own…or that he did not in fact fire any shots (which the other documentary on this event which I reviewed after I posted this – “JFK: The lost bullet” – proves to be the case…he was denying all involvement in the assassination).
Where there is scope for the conspiracy theorists, I’m sure, is the extent to which the Secret Service’s killing of JFK was accidental, as well as the usual stuff about who LHO was involved with. This documentary does not answer those questions…it assumes – probably quite rightly – that the lethal shot was accidental and does not delve into who LHO was involved with…perhaps due to that being so murky as far as definitive answers go.
I’m satisfied that the account presented here is accurate and best fits the facts…the ballistics evidence and the testimony of the time all reinforce the account…in ways which the Warren Commission’s findings don’t. It was staggering to read how unprofessional the Secret Service agents were the day before the assassination and it’s an open question as to how justified their cover up was in the wake of this tragedy. # Not raised (conspiracy theory, anyone?) is if the Secret Service themselves orchestrated the assassination of LHO due to his being knowledgeable on the lethal shot not being fired by himself. As a casual follower of this historic event and its aftermath, I’m not sure if that theory is regularly trotted out or not. But given the fact that McLaren finds good evidence to show that the Secret Service actively sabotaged the investigation into JFK’s assassination, they would have the motive to murder LHO as well.
Interestingly, George Hickey waited over two years before suing Menninger over the contents of his book. It was dismissed due to exceeding the statute of limitations. When the book was later re-released in paperback, he sued again. The publisher etc. settled out of court…Hickey had ground out a ‘win’ for himself. I’m not sure that ‘victory’ is good for history. I hope that Jackie Kennedy knew the truth of what happened too and that it was ‘only’ the public who were ‘protected’ from this awful truth.
The review above is pretty much a re-edited version of my IMDB review for this movie, which is, as yet, not up yet (having posted it yesterday, 05/11/2013). Since IMDB has a word limit for reviews (roughly under 1,000 words), I couldn’t include all the comments I made in my notes for this film…so, below, I’ll rectify that:
* As I mentioned earlier, for me, as a non-expert or scientist, I’m happy to take as authoritative Donahue’s findings, ballistics wise, which do settle the matter for me. E.g. his findings that the devastating shot on JFK could not have come from LHO’s rifle. The science behind that is the fact that the entrance wound on the lethal shot was – from memory – around 6mm. A bullet creates an entrance wound slightly larger than its own size. LHO’s bullets were 6.5mm, therefore if they provided the kill shot, the entrance wound in JFK’s head would have been BIGGER than than 6.5mm…therefore LHO did not make the kill shot.
* To expand on my comments about the Secret Service, McLaren provides evidence that they were drinking into the early hours of the morning on the day of the assassination…to 5:00 a.m., I believe. No doubt this would have impaired their ability to react effectively when the attempt was made on JFK’s life. That appalling lack of professionalism also meant that George Hickey (who was not guilty of such ill discipline) was pushed into a role he was not trained for, due to other agents being unable to perform their duties that day.
– Secret Service Agent Sibert O’Neill (edit…looks like I conflated two people here: F.B.I. agents James Sibert and Francis O’Neill) took notes during JFK’s autopsy (hopefully I have the right agent here as my notes aren’t clear to me now) and Assistant Counsel Arlen Spector of the Warren Commission questioned him on this outside the Commission. If I can try and reconstruct my notes here, Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman made sure he got all such notes and medical evidence (as in autopsy photographs from the medical staff). When Spector learned that O’Neill had taken notes, he made sure not to have him testify before the Commission. Kellerman was the last person to be in possession of all that kind of evidence…the medical staff had handed over all pictures etc to him…and those documents and that evidence disappeared from the record after Kellerman took possession of them.
– Whilst Kellerman (?) seems to have been actively involved in derailing the Commission, Warren himself seemed earnest to find the truth…Warren demanded to question Ralph Yarborough, a politician in the motorcade who smelled gunpowder in his vicinity at the time of the shooting (thus putting into doubt the LHO as the lone gunmen scenario). Yarborough never testified, despite Warren’s demand that he appear. Despite this discovery, McLaren does declare that the Warren Commission was not interested in finding the truth. The Yarborough demand though does complicate issues…for me at least…as far as to what extent Warren himself was trying to railroad the findings.
– The Secret Service also broke the law by breaking the chain of evidence in the Dallas hospital, by insisting that JFK’s body be flown to Washington before an autopsy had been performed…even though the doctor at the scene insisted that this law be observed. Later on in the process, one of the doctors, I believe, is told (by the Secret Service?) to fabricate evidence by planting bullet fragments consistent with LHO’s munitions in an x-ray of JFK’s skull…to cover up the fact that the bullet fragments in the original x-ray suggested bullet fragments consistent with the kind of munitions used by the Secret Service detail that day. Unsurprisingly, the Secret Service rifles used that day in Dallas were withdrawn…the implication being that this was done so in order not to tie their weapons to the ones which caused JFK’s fatal injury. McLaren also finds evidence of the Secret Service lying that they did not have that kind of weapon on the day of the assassination.
– The President Bill Clinton era “The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992” required the relevant bodies to provide their records of this era. The Secret Service destroyed their documents one week before this came into force! The Act was intended to reexamine the evidence/crime.
* Amusingly, one of the production companies behind this documentary is “Zapruder”…you see this company listed on a lot of Australian wit Andrew Denton’s productions…as “Zapruder’s other films”…the famous footage of the assassination is, of course, by Abraham Zapruder. Denton finally gets to make a film which ties in with his conceit! Edit in…I’m assuming that this is the case…or perhaps a credit is actually given to the Zapruder who filmed the assassination.
In summary, as a layperson, it seems to me that Donahue’s older work scientifically establishes the basic mechanics of who shot who and when. I.e. it’s maths, it’s science. You can’t argue with it. Donahue’s theory is made out by the maths and science. McLaren just finds evidence of the time which perhaps humanises the evidence for those whom maths and science isn’t a strong point. E.g. he says that the wind was blowing in a certain direction that day at a certain speed. The wind factor was such as to rule out people on the ground smelling gun smoke from LHO’s vantage point. I.e. it is consistent with a Secret Service Agent firing the lethal shot for people to have smelled that Agent’s gun smoke at the time…and there were numerous people who testified to smelling gun smoke near the motorcade.
Further posts on this topic by myself: