Who’s telling the truth: Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?
Agent’s reports contradict JFK film, autopsy X-rays and other crucial photographs
“In the midst of the mayhem the agents were calm, but ready to react in a millisecond if anything got out of hand.”
—Jerry Blaine, THE KENNEDY DETAIL
According to Jerry Blaine, the author of THE KENNEDY DETAIL (2010), his purpose in writing this book was “to set history straight, to leave a book for [his] grandchildren that they could read and know the truth beyond any measure of doubt.” What Blaine has actually done, however, moves us further toward the truth by revealing that the words of Clint Hill, the only agent to respond during the assassination, contradict his actions as shown in the Zapruder film, in which his efforts to protect Jackie Kennedy are among its most indelible features. They also impeach autopsy X-rays and other photographs. We therefore have in Clint Hill’s own words stunning new proof that the extant film has been faked. The book—and presentations to promote it—thus contributes to “setting history straight”, but not in the sense its author intended.
Clint Hill was not the only agent to attempt to respond after shots rang out. Secret Service agent John Ready, who was on the right running board whereas Clint was on the left, began to respond but was called back by Emory Roberts, Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protection Detail. This is stunning in itself, but is only one of more than fifteen indications that the Secret Service set up JFK for the hit, which include that two agents were left behind at Love Field, that the vehicles were in the wrong order, that the 112th Military Intelligence Unit was ordered to “stand down” rather than provide protection throughout the city, and that the motorcycle escort was reduced to four, who were instructed not to ride forward the rear wheels. Open windows were not covered and the crowd was allowed to spill out into the street.
When I discovered that Jerry and Clint had made presentations at book signings, I sent out a notice to several of my closest collaborators, all of whom contributed to the three JFK books I edited, ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998), MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000), and THE GREAT ZAPRUDER FILM HOAX (2003). I had reported there that we had found multiple indications the film had been reconstructed, where rather important events, such as the driver, William Greer, bringing the limo to a halt, had been removed and the film redone. An expert on special effects, Roderick Ryan, had told Noel Twyman, BLOODY TREASON (1997), that the “blob” of brains exploding to the right/front had been painted in, while, as Doug Horne, INSIDE THE ARRB (2009), has explained, a new group of Hollywood experts has found that a massive defect to the back of JFK’s head had been concealed by being (crudely) painted over in black.
The Costella Response
John Costella, Ph.D., the leading expert on the film in the world today, who earned his doctorate in physics with a specialization in electromagnetism, the properties of light and images of moving objects, responded almost immediately. “Forget about the book”, he wrote. “That YouTube video [of Blaine and Hill at a book signing, which can be found here:
is worth its weight in gold!” A few years ago, after he did a compilation of eyewitness reports from Dealey Plaza
and created a stabilized version of the Zapruder film, in which the limousine does not move vertically within frames
is worth its weight in gold!” A few years ago, after he did a compilation of eyewitness reports from Dealey Plaza
and created a stabilized version of the Zapruder film, in which the limousine does not move vertically within frames
John recognized that what Clint has described from the days after the assassination, to his testimony to the Warren Commission and right up to his last public interviews in the 1970s or 1980s, was consistent but contradicts the film. At the book signing,
24:30: "As I approached the vehicle there was a third shot. It hit the President in the head, upper right rear of the right ear, caused a gaping hole in his head, which caused brain matter, blood, and bone fragments to spew forth out over the car, over myself. At that point Mrs. Kennedy came up out of the back seat onto the trunk of the car. She was trying to retrieve something that had gone off to the right rear. She did not know I was there. At that point I grabbed Mrs. Kennedy, put her in the back seat. The President fell over into her lap, to his left.
His right side of his head was exposed. I could see his eyes were fixed. There was a hole in the upper right rear portion of his head about the size of my palm. Most of the gray matter in that area had been removed, and was scattered throughout the entire car, including on Mrs. Kennedy. I turned and gave the follow-up car crew the thumbs-down, indicating that we were in a very dire situation. The driver accelerated; he got up to the lead car which was driven by Chief Curry, the Dallas Chief of Police . . .”.
This is completely consistent with every account Clint has ever given. He insists that he reached Mrs. Kennedy, pushed her down into the back seat, and was lying over the President, close enough to view the exact wounds, before the driver accelerated away—and certainly before they got to the lead car. The problem is that the extant Zapruder film—together with the less familiar Nix and Muchmore films—has Clint never actually touching Mrs. Kennedy; indeed, the extant Zapruder shows that he never got further than the rear foothold until the time that the limo passed the lead car and went under the Triple Underpass. Instead, it shows him stuck there on the rear foothold. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aBqRB-DsFQ )
According to Clint Hill (shown here on the rear foothold of the limousine as the vehicle is about to enter the Triple Underpass), he had already reached Mrs. Kennedy and pushed her down in the back seat. JFK had fallen to the left into her lap, where the right side of his head was exposed to Clint, who was lying over them. This photo is supposed to have been taken by Ike Altgens and corresponds with late Zapruder frames. Clint’s testimony not only falsifies the Zapruder film, but also shows that this photograph was faked to agree with it.
Lest there be any doubt on this crucial point, in Clint Hill’s written statement dated 30 November 1963, which was published as Commission Exhibit CE 1024, he wrote: “As I lay over the top of the back seat I noticed a portion of the President’s head on the right rear side was missing and he was bleeding profusely. Part of his brain was gone. I saw a part of his skull with hair on it lying on the seat” [18H742]. And in his testimony to the commission on 9 March 1964, “The right rear portion of his head was missing. It was lying in the middle of the car. His brain was exposed.” [2H141]. Since he has told us he made these observations before the limousine had reached the pilot car drive by Chief Curry (shown above), this photo has to have been faked. Clint could not have made these observations from the rear foothold as it represents. (His descriptions of the wound to the right rear of JFK’s head are discussed below.)
The Limo Stop
Not the least fascinating aspect of Clint Hill’s latest remarks is his observation that he was covered with brains and gore as he ran forward from the left running board of the Secret Service Cadillac—called “The Queen Mary”—which, according to Emory Roberts (THE KENNEDY DETAIL, page 215), was 15 feet back. This is consistent with the report of Officer Bobby Hargis riding to the left/rear of the limousine, who was hit so hard by the brains and debris that he thought he himself might have been shot. Agents who saw JFK’s brains splattered across the trunk in Washington, D.C. would be nauseated by the sight, as I explained in HOAX, page 27. But it is not in the film. So John wrote to Clint—and he got it, because John has the signed Registered Mail receipt card—urging him to be certain to record his version of events for posterity. Now he is on the road, participating in book signings and talking publicly again, for the first time in decades. His story is still exactly the same and, most important, still does not agree with his actions as seen in the film. Here is a clip featuring what is represented as Clint Hill's actions in the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aBqRB-DsFQ The film itself thus demonstrates that the Zapruder version of Clint Hill’s actions up to the Triple Underpass contradict Clint Hill’s words describing what he actually did.
John’s collation of eyewitness reports about the assassination includes dozens and dozens about the limo stop. Some reported seeing it slow dramatically and others that it came to a complete stop, which makes sense since, from different positions, different witnesses would have seen it slow dramatically as it came to a complete stop. Among them is Toni Foster, who was interviewed by Debra Conway in 2000. As Daniel Gallup has observed, Foster seems to have no idea that her recollections contradict the official record. Toni told Debra, "For some reason, the car stopped. It did stop for seconds. I don't even know why it stopped and all of a sudden it sped up and they went under the underpass. I could never figure out why the car stopped." “The way she delivers these lines,” Gallup observed, “I doubt Toni had ever seen the extant Z-film, and had no idea her recollections contradicted that film.” He said he was reminded of David Lifton's early (1971) interviews with the Newmans who also said the limo had stopped. “They had no way of knowing at the time that the Z-film showed no such stop. All of this is to say, the earliest recollections of individuals are likely to be the most significant,” he added, “especially if there is evidence of a lack of exposure to contrary viewpoints that might influence memory”. For a few more:
Billy Lovelady (on the steps of the Texas School Book Depository), 19 March 1964: “I recall that following the shooting I ran toward the spot where President Kennedy’s car had stopped.” [FBI statement: 22H662]
Roy Truly (on the north side of Elm Street in front of the building), 24 March 1964: “The car—I saw the President’s car swerve to the left and stop somewhere down in this area” [Later:] (Mr. Belin: “When you saw the President’s car seem to stop, how long did it appear to stop?) Mr. Truly: It would be hard to say, over a second or two, something like that. I didn’t see—I just saw it stop. I don’t know. I didn’t see it start up.” [Warren Commission testimony: 3H221]
Mrs. Earle Cabell (four cars behind the Presidential limousine, at the top of Elm Street at the time of the shots), 13 July 1964: “I was aware that the motorcade stopped dead still. There was no question about that.” [Later:] “As I told you, the motorcade was stopped.” [Later:] (Mr. Hubert: “That was when your car at least had come to a standstill?”) Mrs. Cabell: “Every car in the motorcade had come to a standstill.” [Later:] “… we were dead still for a matter of some seconds—“ [Warren Commission Testimony” 7H486-7]
These reports are significant from multiple points of view. Roy Truly was Oswald’s supervisor in the Book Depository and would reassure Officer Marrion Baker, when he confronted Oswald in the 2nd floor lunch room 90 seconds after the assassination, that he was an employee and belonged there. Billy Lovelady was another employee who looked enough like Oswald to be mistaken for him. And Earle Cabell, the Mayor of Dallas at the time, was the brother of Lt. Gen. Charles Cabell, USAF (ret.), whom JFK removed as a deputy director of the CIA after the disastrous Bay of Pigs fiasco.
The limo stop—during which JFK was hit twice in the head, once from behind and once from in front—was such an obvious indication of Secret Service complicity that it had to be taken out, which is undoubtedly the principal reason for fixing the film. But it had other ramifications. What Clint Hill has consistently described is not in the Zapruder film: he describes several actions in those seconds around the limo stop that were deleted from the extant film. In editing the timeline of the extant film, it was necessary to delete his pushing of Mrs. Kennedy back into the seat—there just wasn't enough time left in the film once the limo stop had been deleted. There is no possible way in which Clint could possibly have seen what he claims to have seen before the car accelerated away and passed the lead car when he was stuck on the back of the speeding limo as he is shown doing in the extant film. And from his initial reports right up to his latest “book signing” interview, he has insisted that that was when he saw those things, that he did reach Mrs. Kennedy and that he did push her down into the car, unlike what the film shows. Which means that the film is a fake.
The Head Wound
Other proofs of the alteration of the film derive from his description of the wound itself and of the debris that was blown over the car. "As I approached the vehicle there was a third shot. It hit the President in the head, upper right rear of the right ear, caused a gaping hole in his head, which caused brain matter, blood, and bone fragments to spew forth out over the car, over myself. . . . His right side of his head was exposed. I could see his eyes were fixed. There was a hole in the upper right rear portion of his head about the size of my palm. Most of the gray matter in that area had been removed, and was scattered throughout the entire car, including on Mrs. Kennedy.” Clint’s description corresponds with the image of the blow out that can be seen in later frames of the film, such as 374:
In the belief that those who were altering the film around the head shot in frame 313 might have overlooked later frames, I began to study later frames and found that the blow-out could be seen in frame 374. The bluish-gray image is brain matter, while the pinkish extension is the back of a skull flap that was blown open by the frangible (or exploding) bullet when it hit. But the blow-out is not seen in frames like 313-316, another proof of fakery.
Even if Clint actually touched Jackie, the films do not show him pushing her into the seat, which is what he has maintained for 47 years. In his formal report dated on 30 November 1963 about the events of 22 November 1963, a copy of which is archived at www.assassinationscience.com/ce-1024-clint-hill.pdf he reports, “As I lay over the top of the back seat I noticed a portion of the President’s head on the right rear side was missing and he was bleed profusel[y]. Part of his brain was gone. I saw a part of his skull with hair on it “, which is consistent with frame 374 but not with frames 313-316. Indeed, since this record was Warren Commission Exhibit CE-1024, at least some of its members and staff had to have been aware of observations of the first person to observe the head wound, apart from Jackie herself. But even THE KENNEDY DETAIL (2010) includes this sentence, "And slumped across the seat, President Kennedy lay unmoving, a bloody, gaping, fist-sized hole clearly visible in the back of his head" (THE KENNEDY DETAIL, p. 217), an observation of enormous significance in relation to the autopsy photographs and X-rays as well as to the authenticity of the Zapruder film.
As I have observed, Doug Horne, INSIDE THE ARRB, Vol. IV (2009), has reported that a new group of Hollywood experts studying the film has found that, in frames 313-316, the blow-out to the back of the head was (crudely) painted over in black. Their finding complements the earlier report by Roderick Ryan, an expert in special effects, that the “blob” of brains and blood that bulges out to the right/front had also been painted in, as Noel Twyman, BLOODY TREASON (1997), explained. (Roderick Ryan would receive the Academy Award for his contributions to cinematography in 2000.) Since the blow-out is visible in frame 374 but not visible in frames 313-316, we have yet another proof of the film has been altered. But these observations also extend to the autopsy photographs and X-rays. Here, for example, are drawings and photographs of the back of the head, which were assumed to be authentic by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) when it reinvestigated the case in 1977-78:
The Witnesses and the X-rays
Clint Hill, moreover, was hardly the only witness to have reported that the President had an enormous blow-out to the right rear of his head. More than forty witnesses from Dealey Plaza, Parkland Hospital, and even Bethsda reported a blow out to the back of his head, including Beverly Oliver, Phillip Willis, Marilyn Willis, Ed Hoffman, Dr. Robert McClellan, Dr. Paul Peters, Dr. Kenneth Salyer, Dr. Charles Carrico, Dr. Richard Dulaney, Dr. Charles Crenshaw, Dr. Ronald Jones, Nurse Audrey Bell, Justice of the Peace Theran Ward, ambulance driver Aubrey Rike, FBI Agent Frank O’Neill, as well as Bethesda Naval medical technicians Jerrol Custer, Paul O’Connor and Floyd Reebe, as Robert Groden, THE KILLING OF A PRESIDENT (1994), pp. 86-88, has recorded, and as Gary Aguilar, M.D., has confirmed (MURDER 2000), pp. 175-217.
The highly consistent and mutually reinforcing testimony of all these eyewitnesses— including the physicians who were present in Trauma Room #1 when JFK’s moribund body was brought to Parkland Hospital and even Special Agents of the FBI who were present to observe the conduct or the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital—were all discounted on the basis of the claim that the autopsy X-rays did not show any such blow-out. This inconsistency would not be resolved until late 1992, when David W. Mantik, M.D. Ph.D., would enter the National Archives to study the X-rays and in the process transform our understanding of the assassination and the cover-up. An M.D. with board certification in radiation oncology, which is the treatment of cancer using radiation therapy because of which he is an expert in the interpretation of X-rays, he drew on his background as a Ph.D. in physics and applied a simple technique known as “optical densitometry”, which enabled him—by measuring the amount of light that passes through an X-ray to determine the relative density of objects whose exposure to radiation had created the image—to discover that lateral cranial X-ray (of the skull taken from the side) had been altered by imposing a kind of patch over the blow out. Here we can see the “official” X-ray on the left and the patch (“Area P”) on the right, which bears a striking correspondence in size and shape to the image in Frame 374:
David’s discoveries and those of Robert B. Livingston, M.D., a world authority on the human brain and an expert on wound ballistics, were the centerpiece of my first of three books on the death of JFK, ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998), where I brought together experts on different aspects of the case. Livingston compared the multiple, consistent reports of qualified and experienced physicians at Parkland Hospital with the diagrams and photographs of the brain in the National Archives. The physicians reported both cerebral and cerebellar tissue extruding from the blow out, while the diagrams and photographs—the brain itself is missing—show a virtually undamaged brain with a complete cerebellum. You or I might have drawn the same conclusions, but it carries more weight when it’s the finding of a world authority on the brain. For those who may not have access to the book, a summary of our findings as well as of the shooting sequence is archived “Dealey Plaza Revisited: What Happened to JFK?”
“Ike” Altgens and Clint Hill
In his comprehensive study of the Zapruder film in HOAX (2003), Costella discusses the ambiguity that Altgens has displayed regarding the photos he allegedly took in Dealey Plaza on 22 November 1963. The identity of the person who took them was important in part because an Oswald look-alike (allegedly Billy Lovelady) can be seen in the photo with which this article begins—published in The Saturday Evening Post following the assassination. So the name of the photographer was widely sought but difficult to come by. Even J. Edgar Hoover skirted the issue. It would not be until 24 May 1964 he was identified by name and then questions arose of why neither the FBI nor the Warren Commission had interviewed him. While his office at the Associated Press was a short walk away from the FBI in Dallas, the FBI only interviewed him on 2 June 1964 and produced a rather garbled report of his actions that day. As Richard Trask, PICTURES OF THE PAIN (1994), reports, Altgens himself would subsequently deny that he had taken all of the photos that had been attributed to him. And that, no doubt, is for a very good reason. No one can have taken a photo that was faked.
Costella is certainly right about the importance of Clint Hill’s book-signing statement in comparison with the book itself, which is rather sketchy and vague relative to the sequence of events of greatest interest here. The video captures more detail and his demeanor in relating his extraordinary experiences. But even THE KENNEDY DETAIL (2010) includes this sentence, stunning in simplicity but pregnant in ramifications:
And slumped across the seat, President Kennedy lay unmoving, a bloody, gaping, fist-sized hole clearly visible in the back of his head. (THE KENNEDY DETAIL, p. 217)
After all, if JFK had a fist-sized hole clearly visible in the back of his head, it follows that (1) the eyewitnesses were right about its location, (2) the HSCA photograph and diagram are fake, (3) the autopsy X-rays were altered, and (4) Zapuder frames that don’t show it when they should were changed, precisely as we have found above. In fact, Clint Hill was far from the only expert who described that wound as “fist-sized”. When I edited ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998), I invited Charles Crenshaw, M.D., to contribute a chapter and asked him to diagram the wounds as he had witnessed them at Parkland Hospital, where he was the last physician to observe them before he closed JFK’s eyelids as he was being wrapped in sheets and placed in the casket:
Charles told me that this defect was the size of a baseball or else the size of your fist when you double it up. The best witnesses and the best studies thus converge on the conclusion that strenuous efforts were made to conceal the true causes of the death of JFK from the American people. For nearly fifty years, Clint has maintained that he pushed Jackie down into her seat and observed the blow out to the head in his report of 22 November 1963,
in this 1975 interview,
and in this 1995 interview, where he describes it all in detail, and not just once but twice:
He and Jerry Blaine have thereby contributed to the resolution of one of the most contentious questions in the history of assassination research with corroborating proof the Zapruder film was altered.
Charles gave more than one interview in which he explained that the bullet that had blown out the back of JFK’s head had entered at the right temple. He suggested that it had taken a tangential trajectory and blown out the back of his skull, whereas Bob Livingston believed that shock waves created by the explosion of the frangible bullet had caused his brains to be blown out the back of his skull, which had already been weakened by the shot that entered the back of his head near the EOP. If Crenshaw was mistaken in detail about the trajectory, he was right that the autopsy photos he was being shown did not resemble the wounds that he had observed, which meant that there had been alteration of the evidence—either by faking photos and films or by the physical alteration of the wounds—both of which appear to have taken place.
Toward the end of this book, which is unintentionally revealing, Blaine relates the story of an exchange between Clint Hill and Mike Wallace for a planned “60 Minutes” segment. Mike asked Clint if he had any doubt that Oswald was the lone gunman, to which Clint replied, “There were only three shots,” Clint shrugged. “And it was one gun. Three shots.” (THE KENNEDY DETAIL, p. 387) What troubles me is that, given his consistent description of the blow-out to the back of the head, it ought to have been obvious that that shot had been fired from the right front. While there was an entry wound in the vicinity of the EOP, as Mantik explains in his masterful synthesis of the medical evidence in MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000), the massive, gaping wound that Clint observed was clearly fired from another location by someone else.
And that is not the only anomaly in Clint’s testimony as it is reported in the pages of this book. In the most puzzling passage of them all, Blaine reports’ “The Zapruder film was being used for Secret Service training and sometimes Clint was called on to comment” (THE KENNEDY DETAIL, p. 375). Given Clint’s consistent depiction of the actions he took which are inconsistent with the extant film, I am taken aback by the ghoulish prospect that the Secret Service may be using the authentic film, while the public has only the fake. Surely Clint would have been unable to miss the difference between his actions as he lived them and those depicted in the fabricated film. But perhaps even this extraordinary possibility cannot be ruled out. It might also help to explain Clint’s consistency in his depiction of the actions he took now nearly 50 years ago, if his memory has been periodically refreshed by seeing the original over again.
So Clint’s descriptions and observations both have significant ramifications for the autopsy X-rays, photos and the Zapruder film. Notice, for example, that the Mafia could not have altered X-rays under the control of medical officers of the US Navy, agents of the Secret Service, or the president’s personal physician. Neither pro- nor anti-Castro Cubans could have substituted another brain for that of JFK. And even if the Soviets had the capacity to fabricate movies comparable to that of the CIA and Hollywood, it would have been unable to get its hands on the Zapruder film. JFK had antagonized many of the most powerful individuals and groups in the USA, as James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable (2008), and Phillip Nelson, LBJ: The Mastermind of JFK's Assassination (2010) have explained. We now have another piece of a puzzle that implicates officials at the highest levels of the American government as complicit in an elaborate cover-up that has to have been planned in detail and in advance of the commission of the crime. It is long past time the truth be known to the public.
Special thanks to John Costella and to David Mantik for their comments and suggestions.
Jim Fetzer [send him mail], a former Marine Corps officer who earned his Ph.D. in the history and the philosophy of science, is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota. He co-edits assassinationresearch.com with John Costella. He is the editor of The Place of Probability in Science.