Many people know about my 1981 book, "BEST EVIDENCE: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of President Kennedy." It was published by Macmillan, was a Book of the Month Selection, and was on the New York Times best seller list for about four months. The book was number one on the wire service lists--for about a month--and then remained in print for some seventeen years, through a sequence of four different publishers. (My favorite edition is the 1988 Carroll & Graf edition, published in trade paperback). Between January and April, 1981, I traveled all over the country, appearing on many shows, propounding what was a rather complex thesis, but one not only backed by critical evidence, but by videotaped interviews of key people connected with JFK's autopsy. Those video interviews were then compiled and released in 1989 (and again in 1991) as a 37 minute documentary titled "BEST EVIDENCE: The Research Video."
The central thesis of my book--now widely debated on the Internet (see, for example, the London Education Forum, or the JFK Lancer Forum)--is simply this: that the "best evidence" in the JFK case was the President's body, itself, and that the autopsy report in this case--the report relied upon by the Warren Commission as the legal basis for its "two shots struck JFK from behind" conclusions--was falsified by a simple (and rather ugly) mechanism, one that was, I believe, an integral part of the crime itself: the medical alteration of the wounds on the body, shortly after Kenned's death, and prior to the autopsy. (JFK was shot at 12:30 CST in Dallas; after he was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital --at 1 P.M.--his body was brought back to Washington aboard Air Force One, and then to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where an autopsy commenced at 8 P.M. EST). In a nutshell, the central thesis of Best Evidence--which starts with the recognition that the body of the deceased, in a gunshot case, offers a "diagram of the shooting," is that that "diagram" (i.e., the wound pattern on President Kennedy's body)--by 8 P.M. on the evening of 11/22/63--bore little resemblance to the wounds originally on the body immediately after the shooting. In short, by the time of autopsy, JFK's body was tantamount to a medical forgery, it told a false story of the shooting; and that "medical forgery" became the basis for the autopsy report that was accepted as the foundation for the "Oswald did it" version of President Kennedy's murder.
As those who have read my book well know, I do not believe that Oswald was JFK's assassin, and the appearance that he was in fact Kennedy's murderer is the result of a pattern of deliberately falsified evidence. This thorough falsification of a variety of evidence created the appearance not only that Oswald was "the assassin" but, in addition, that JFK was shot "from above and behind" ---and specifically, from the "sniper's nest" located on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository (today, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas).
In 1988, BEST EVIDENCE was published in trade paperback (as stated above) and that edition carried the JFK autopsy photographs--then, and still, under seal at the National Archives. The publication in the 1988 edition of my book marked the first time they were published anywhere in the world. Furthermore, that edition carried an important "Epilogue" reporting not only my own feelings about the necessity of publishing these pictures, but also developments in my own personal investigation relating to this evidence--specifically, what happened when I showed these photographs to various Dallas doctors and nurses who had actually seen JFK 's wounds, at Parkland Hospital, on the day of his death. The general verdict was that these photographs did not show the wounds as the witnesses recalled them. (The 1993 edition of BEST EVIDENCE, published by New American Library, also carries the pictures, and the same AFTERWORD.)
In 1992, in the aftermath of Oliver Stone's movie "JFK," Congress passed the JFK Records Act, mandating the declassification of all records pertaining to this case. The JFK Act created a small Federal Agency called the "Assassination Records Review Board" ("the ARRB") and during their three year life, they had the power to subpoena records, and to call witnesses to "clarify the record." This they did and during the course of their investigation, some 10 depositions were taken from critical witnesses connected with JFK's autopsy, some of whose accounts had appeared, for the first time, in BEST EVIDENCE. Douglas Horne, a former Naval officer, held the title Chief Analyst for Military Records, and played a major role in pursuing all matters pertaining to the medical evidence and the Zapruder film (and many other issues as well). He has just published a massive five volume work "INSIDE THE ARRB" , which I highly recommend, and which strongly endorses the major thesis of BEST EVIDENCE. Several years ago, he posted the following statement on the Internet, from which I now quote--that BEST EVIDENCE "has been validated by the work of the ARRB staff. Our unsworn interviews and depositions of Dallas (Parkland Hospital) medical personnel and Bethesda autopsy participants confirm that the President's body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in a markedly different condition than it was in when seen at Parkland for life-saving treatment. My conclusion is that wounds were indeed altered and bullets were indeed removed prior to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital. This procedure altered the autopsy conclusions and presented a false picture of how the shooting took place. In most essential details, David Lifton "got it right" in his 1981 bestseller." (END QUOTE)
From email and letters, I know that many who have followed my work have wondered what I have been doing since the publication of BEST EVIDENCE. The chief answer is: pursuing my own research on the JFK case, and, most important, writing a book on Oswald.
Since I do not believe Oswald shot Kennedy, the question is not only "who did?"--but also, "Just who was Oswald?" and how did he become entangled in this entire affair? To cast a similarly important question in terms of the physical evidence, the issue is not "who put the bullets INTO President Kennedy's body" but rather "who took them out?" Only by answering the second question can we hope to obtain a "global" picture of just what happened on November 22, 1963. In short, if President Kennedy's body was altered (post-mortem) and the autopsy conclusions falsified, then the answer to "who killed Kennedy?" can only be found by learning how this was accomplished, how was this entire event was arranged, and how such a conglomeration of evidence was falsified, so as to create--after it was over, i.e., in the aftermath of the shooting--the false appearance that Lee Oswald was President Kennedy's assassin.
Because that, I believe, is what happened in this case. That, to use the vernacular, is what "went down" on November 22, 1963. So one way of attempting to get to the bottom of all this is to find the answer(s) to the question: who was Oswald?
This is the question that is primarily addressed in my forthcoming work, FINAL CHARADE: Lee Oswald and the Assassination of President Kennedy.
In my own writing, I view Oswald as "the man who didn't do it", and .the question I address (and answer) is: Who was this "man who didn't do it?"
On a more personal note:
I was born on September 20, 1939, and am just three weeks older than Oswald would have been (had he lived)--so it is very easy for me to relate to someone who was a "child of the fifties" (I was high school "class of '57" and then Cornell "class of '62"). Had he not lost a year, from all the moving around, and then dropped out of school early to join the Marines, Oswald, too, would have been "class of '57." But he joined the Marines (October, 1956), and then--immediately after his discharge (9/11/59)--departed for the Soviet Union, arriving there on October 16, 1959, just two days prior to his 20th birthday. To put this in perspective, I had just begun my junior year at Cornell (in the School of Engineering Physics) and was just beginning my second course in electromagnetic theory, at the time that Oswald was telling the KGB that he would like to live int he Soviet Union for the rest of his life, and--if permitted to do so--had certain radar secrets to ofer. Oswald then remained there for just over two and a half years, returning in mid-June, 1962, about halfway through JFK's "1000 days." Utilizing this chronological correlation between Oswald and myelf helps put a more human face on Oswald, and helps "tell the story" of my investigation of his life, in the first person (just as I narrated my investigation of the medical evidence, in BEST EVIDENCE).
FINAL CHARADE was under contract some years ago (which explains some of the Amazon listings), but has undergone a major redesign, and is not currently under contract. Rest assured it will be published, and will be an important sequel to BEST EVIDENCE; and a very important book when it comes to understanding the events of November 22, 1963.
For the time being, I will keep future readers informed of my activities, via this blog; and address certain other issues as the need arises.
If I don't answer questions, please bear with me, as my time is limited and I am primarily focused on completing my work.
For those who want to know more about BEST EVIDENCE, be aware that 37 minute documentary film, "BEST EVIDENCE: The Research Video" is probably available, as a VHS, and we are trying to get that re-released as a DVD. There you will find some of the key witnesses who appeared in the book--witnesses I interviewed in 1980, when there was far less use of "home video" (and, of course, no Internet, no cell phones, no You Tube, etc.. My video contains the accounts of witnesses filmed "the old fashioned way" (i.e., on 16 mm film, using a professional film crew) and who much later appeared (circa 1996/97) before the ARRB. For those who want to learn more about my work in the area of the Zapruder film, I recommend my essay, "PIG ON A LEASH," which has been posted on the Internet.
Again, just as in the case of the President's body (and the official autopsy), the key issue is authenticity. In my essay, you will find a detailed account of my experiences (and research) concerning this most critical matter. Ultimately at issue is whether the "extant film" --the one which became "the evidence" on which the FBI and the Warren Commission relied for the timing of "the shots"--was in fact the genuine camera original, or an edited version. You will also learn the story of how in 1990, in New York City, I obtained access to an original 35 mm copy of the "original" film (a high quality copy made in 1967 by a private firm, then under contract with LIFE, the putative owner of the Zapruder film at that time); how I then obtained access to an optical printer, and then made extraordinarily clear copies of that 35mm item, one of which I then donated to the Kennedy Collection at the National Archives, when I testified before the ARRB in September, 1996. (A far more complete and extensive analysis addressing Zapruder film authenticity is to be found in Volume 4 of Horne's work, previously mentioned, the fine work of film editor David Healy, and I also refer any interested reader to the work of Australian physicist John Costella, which can also be found on the Internet.)
Ultimately, these matters of "physical evidence" relate to the "Oswald story" because it is via the "official evidence" (i.e., the autopsy, the Zapruder film, etc.) that the official "Oswald story" emerges--and the key issue is whether the evidence is legitimate.
On that score, it is important to remember what Lee Oswald--who had repeatedly and very publicly protested his innocence--said to his older brother Robert, during their brief meeting in the Dallas jail on Saturday, November 23, 1963, the day before he was murdered: "Do not believe the so-called 'evidence'."
The most important evidence in this case was the President's body--and I addressed that in BEST EVIDENCE. I will be covering the rest in FINAL CHARADE.
I wish everyone well, and will try to update this blog as time permits.
David S. Lifton
4/15/2010; 4:45 AM, PDT
West Los Angeles, California