Reflections on a grassy knoll

David Powers
David Powers

Those seeking an understanding of the JFK assassination should take note of the framing of Steven Avery, because the Avery case provides a more modern illustration on why false convictions are so often manufactured. It’s not that everyone involved is part of a knowing conspiracy, just that law enforcement runs a straight line once an initial trajectory has been charted. Almost all scientific research papers are tainted by some agenda, which is why so much of today’s science is unreliable. Same thing as science deployed by law enforcement.

The Warren Commission cherry-picked eyewitness testimony to JFK’s murder, and even then, were forced to put tremendous pressure on witnesses to change their stories. It’s well-known FBI agents instructed the witnesses: “If you didn’t see Lee Harvey Oswald alone in the Sixth Floor with a rifle, it’s best you didn’t see anything at all.” Get in line or shut up. And suddenly a few of those who wouldn’t shut up, wound up mysteriously dead.

David F. Powers was JFK’s personal aide and the man who spent the most time with the President outside his own family. He was riding in the car behind Kennedy’s when they drove into the ambush and he never did shut up. Powers was standing up shooting 8 mm film in the backseat as the caravan departed Love Field.

On the way into town, the caravan passed a family holding a sign that begged JFK to stop and shake hands. The plea was so effective Kennedy ordered his driver to pull over. If you watch the film closely, you’ll notice that whenever the limo slows or stops, Secret Service agents immediately position themselves to shield the President from potential harm. Normally, the two primary agents for this duty ride a running board on the back of JFK’s limo, where twin handholds were installed. Strangely, the pair were called off their usual station and moved to running boards on the trailing vehicle, the one Powers was seated in. But whenever JFK’s limo slows, the two agents immediately jump off and run alongside. Unfortunately, Powers film ran out just before the caravan turned left on Elm Street, or he would have obtained the definitive recording of the assassination.

“I was assigned to ride in the Secret Service automobile which proceeded immediately behind the President’s car in the motorcade,” Powers told the Warren Commission. “I sat in the jump seat on the right side of the car and Kenneth O’Donnell sat in the jump seat on the left side of the car.

“At that time we were traveling very slowly, no more than 12 miles an hour…Shortly thereafter the first shot went off and it sounded to me as if it were a firecracker. I noticed then that the President moved quite far to his left after the shot from the extreme right hand side where he had been sitting. There was a second shot and Governor Connally disappeared from sight and then there was a third shot which took off the top of the President’s head and had the sickening sound of a grapefruit splattering against the side of a wall. The total time between the first and third shots was about 5 or 6 seconds. My first impression was that the shots came from the right and overhead, but I also had a fleeting impression that the noise appeared to come from the front in the area of the triple overpass. This may have resulted from my feeling, when I looked forward toward the overpass, that we might have ridden into an ambush.”

Powers delivered this testimony despite intense pressure to reverse and say the shots came from behind. Had these three bullets been whistling over his head, as suggested by the Warren Commission, he would have more likely felt he was riding away from an ambush than into one. Although O’Donnell had the same impression of shots from behind the stockade fence, he completely caved to the pressure and reversed his testimony to satisfy the official story. Both men were experienced veterans familiar with sounds of lethal firearms in action.

Tip O'Neill
Tip O’Neill

Tip O’Neill, who retired after serving five consecutive sessions as Speaker of the House, wrote in his 1987 autobiography, Man of the House, page 178: “I was never one of the people who had doubts or suspicions about the Warren Commission’s report on the president’s death, but five years after Jack died, I was having dinner with Kenny O’Donnell and a few other people at Jimmy’s Harborside Restaurant in Boston, and we got to talking about the assassination. I was surprised to hear O’Donnell say that he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence.

“That’s not what you told the Warren Commission,” I said.

“You’re right,” he replied. “I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn’t have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to.”

“I can’t believe it,” I said. “I wouldn’t have done that in a million years. I would have told the truth.”

Dave Powers was with us at dinner that night, and his recollection of the shots was the same as O’Donnell’s. Kenny O’Donnell is no longer alive, but during the writing of this book I checked with Dave Powers. As they say in the news business, he stands by his story. And so there will always be some skepticism in my mind about the cause of Jack’s death. I used to think that the only people who doubted the conclusions of the Warren Commission were crackpots. Now, however, I’m not so sure.”

So you have two of the nearest witnesses to the scene, located 20 feet behind the President, and both were convinced shots came from behind the fence, and possibly one from inside the triple overpass. And one of the most connected and powerful people in Congress believed they were telling the truth, which means O’Neill also believed the Warren Commissioned tampered with the evidence and made the wrong conclusions for some unknown reason.