Sunday, April 6, 2014


I am not one for conspiracy theories.    I'll take monumental 'cock-up' over conspiracy almost every time.    And so it was with a certain degree of amusement that I heard a retired USAF three star General expound his theory that MH390 was at a 'secret' airfield in Pakistan where it was being prepped for some dastardly mission against mankind (read the US).

It was with that attitude I have just finished reading 'JFK The Smoking Gun' by Colin McLaren, published last November ISBN 978-0-7336-3044-6.    McLaren is touted as one of Australia's finest detectives who travelled the world on high end investigations during the 1980s and 1990s.   He spent four and a half years on his cold case study and forensic analysis of all the testimonies and police reports to uncover the 'truth'.   It is powerful reading.

His thesis is fascinating.  No argument from him that Oswald fired two of the three shots that hit the President.   He concentrates on the third shot, the significance of which was first established by Howard Donohue, a ballistics expert and gunsmith,  and documented in the book 'Mortal Error' released by St Martin's Press in 1882,     Donohue worked for more than two decades in trying to solve the case but gave up after a threat of a lawsuit from the Secret Service.

McLaren takes the investigation to a new level.    He details the forensic analysis that shows that two of the three bullets that struck the President were full metal jacket rounds  while the third was a frangible round with a hollow pointed lead cap designed to explode on impact.     The two full metal jacket rounds were proved to have come from the Carcano rifle fired by Oswald.   McLaren focuses on the third round.  

The follow-up car to the President's vehicle was mainly populated by Secret Service agents.    Among the weapons in that car was a Colt AR15 (more popularly known to many of us who served in Vietnam as the M16 ... I carried one).   This weapon fires a 5.56 frangible round.   It was the first and last day this weapon was to be used by the Secret Service.   It was in the hands of a newbie Agent who had been assigned to the staff as a driver and not as a protection officer.   The reason advanced for this is that the majority of the team had been (and contrary to SOPs) out drinking until late that morning ... in short, many were suffering from hangovers.

McLaren describes in detail (supported by actual photographs) how, after the first shot, the Agent who was sitting on the headrest of the back seat bent down and picked up the AR15 and how, with the pursuit car starting to gather speed, he appeared to have lost balance and fired the rifle.    A telling comment is recorded from Senior Agent Emory Roberts who was riding in the right-hand front seat of the car.   Just after the shooting he turned round and said to the Agent holding the AR15 words to the effect 'be careful with that thing'.   

His thesis is backed by testimony of a myriad of witnesses many of whom (including US Senator Ralph Yarborough who was riding in the third car with Vice-President Johnson) were not called to testify before the Warren commission.    They all spoke of  a third shot coming from ground level and from behind the President's car.   Many recall smoke and the smell of gunpowder.

McLaren goes on to describe at length how the Secret Service ran interference with the investigation designed to protect one of their own.

The two shots fired by Oswald at the President  may or may not have proved fatal.   The third one certainly was, it blew half his brain away.   Who fired it?    McLaren identifies the person as Special Agent George Hickey.   

A cock-up that morphed into a conspiracy?   Read the book and form your own judgement.



Noel said...

Never had much time for retired senior officers. Proven by this dickwit. The chatter was about a plane been repainted. There was nothing to indicate what type of plane but quickly a number of taking heads said it was related to the missing Malaysian airliner simply because of the coincidence of the intercept.
Senior officers have always put their own slant on intelligence crossing their desk as illustrated by 547's sigint prior to Long Tan.

Watcher said...

I love this explanation by another reviewer.

"There’s a saying about quantum physics, that if you think you understand it, you probably don’t.

Ditto for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in Dallas 50 years ago."

The Veteran said...

Watcher ... perhaps that might be rephrased to 'The more you know, the less you really know'.

Fits the bill here.

Ray said...

I first heard this theory a long time ago
To my mind it is a better fit than any of the other theories that have been floated since
Senior Officers, reading the Gallipoli histories at the moment as I often do at this time of year, mostly the more senior you are the stupider you become with a few notable exceptions

The Veteran said...

Ray ... many commentators might agree with you in the context of WW1.

Others would echo that in respect of WW2 commanders where some, per dint of their contribution in the 'lean' years between the two great conflicts, had clearly been promoted beyond their level of competency.

Post WW2 and I think, by and large, Aust and NZL commanders stood out as quality professionals. The one exception might be the Aust CRE in Vietnam who convinced the Task Force Commander to lay the 'Long Green' minefield in total disregard of the principle that it should have been covered by observation and fire.

It is a fact that the VC used that minefield as their back door Ordnance Depot. The mines they 'lifted' from it probably caused more Aust/NZL causalities than those from direct fire.

An Aust classmate of mine from Portsea (Skeeter Hines)was killed by one of those mines at exactly the same moment man first landed on the moon.


Ciaron said...

Vet, have you had a look at William Manchester's book : Death of a President?
Fascinating read, built from early interviews of all the key people.

The Veteran said...

Ciaron ... yes, and it didn't grab me the way this one did.