Book Review: History Will Not Absolve Us (1996)

Orwellian control, public denial, and the murder of President Kennedy
by E. Martin Schotz

1996, Kurtz, Ulmer, and DeLucia , 326 pages
Review by Brian Wright

History Will Not Absolve Us“We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society.  There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.” — Harry S. Truman, from an article entitled “US should hold CIA to intelligence role,” published in the Washington Post, December 21, 1963

Former president Truman’s letter sent from his home in Independence, Missouri, just 30 days after JFK’s assassination, was a highly significant, pointed statement on Constitutional governance. Clearly, the ex-President was concerned that forces within the government—those associated with the intelligence establishment —had had something to do with the assassination of JFK.

Schotz brings up this little known article, which was widely published but essentially buried by lack of comment among the entire journalistic profession of the time, to make a fundamental point. Truman was exceptional.  Even Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General and JFK’s brother, toed the party line that was carefully—yet flagrantly in defiance of (and in withholding of) evidence—laid down through the 26-volume Warren Commission Report (Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy).  History, it seems, repeats itself.[1]

History Will Not Absolve Us is a uniquely configured book, starting with a short introduction and essay by the author (a well-known psychiatrist in Boston), then a letter to one of the leading attorney/journalists disputing the Warren Commission’s findings, followed by a series of appendices by various members of “the committee”[2] that examine key problems with the official theory.

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Official Theory

On November 22, 1963, three and only three bullets were fired from a 6.5 mm bolt-action Carcano rifle with a defective scope.  The time between the first and last bullet striking Kennedy was 4.5 to 5.6 seconds; one bullet missed the passengers; one bullet (the “magic bullet”) entered the president’s right back (six inches down from his collar and two inches to the right of his spinal column), exited the president’s neck near the knot of his tie, entered Governor John Connally’s back, exited the governor’s right nipple, entered his right wrist, exited, then entered the governor’s left thigh (and supposedly fell out of Governor Connally’s thigh onto his hospital stretcher in pristine condition); and the kill bullet struck the president in the right rear of the head.  All bullets were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building.

Why history will not absolve us

I had not previously done any reading on the details of the ballistics claims and “evidence” cited by the Warren Commission.  It’s truly incredible that the Warren Commission actually was able to convince anyone that the official theory was even close to reality.  Vince Salandria performs a thorough analysis of the Commission’s claims and assertions, demonstrating why the trajectory of the single first bullet (the magic bullet) is a logical travesty.  There are several other points made in this appendix on the bullets—concerning differing bullet materials, eyewitness testimony, bullet fragments residing in Connally, the Zapruder film timing, the evidence of right-head entry and left-head exit of the kill bullet, evidence of the bullet material that missed the passengers, etc., etc.—that flatly contradict the official story, indeed that prove it cannot be true… and that other bullets, other shooters from the front and right of the motorcade, are necessary.

We have no need to delve into the plusses and minuses of the Warren Commission and its official story.  It is so transparently a coverup of the CIA’s murder of the president—from the multiple contradictions pointed out by New Orleans DA Jim Garrison in his case against Clay Shaw, and eloquently documented by Oliver Stone in the movie JFK and other investigations—no sane individual would accept the conclusions.  (Indeed, a sane individual might insist the attorney general prosecute members of the commission as accessories to capital murder, after the fact.)

Remember to disprove a theory we need only demonstrate one of its integral claims is false.

Besides the ballistic impossibility of the magic pristine bullet and the evidence drawn from the Zapruder film, other contradictions are manifest: The FBI performed two tests on Oswald the day he was apprehended for gunpowder residue on his cheek.  Both tests—a paraffin cast analysis and a neutron activation analysis—were negative, demonstrating conclusively that Lee Oswald had not fired a rifle on November 22.  To me this finding is analogous to the 9/11/01 free-fall, symmetrical disintegration of World Trade Center 7 without having been struck by an airplane.

Another fact, which bears on the refusal to consider evidence, is the Warren Commission did not consider that Dr. James Humes, who led the Bethesda autopsy on the president, “destroyed by burning preliminary draft notes relating to [the autopsy] and transmitted all other papers related to the autopsy report to higher authority.” Further Dr. Humes turned over to the Secret Service X-rays and photographs relating to the wounds.  This I wasn’t aware of—X-rays and photos were excluded from consideration and that Humes’ notes were destroyed—and, in our day, is analogous to the fact that most of the structural steel from the World Trade Center following 9/11 was removed and destroyed… never subjected to forensic analysis (which would have shown evidence of explosives).

The thrust of History Will Not Absolve Us though is not so much sifting through the considerable evidence in a careful, rational manner, but suggesting that some rather special psychological problems exist for ignoring or willfully dismissing what the slightest logical engagement of the mind would show to be the truth.  The author is especially interested in why key figures on the political left, notably the editors of The Nation and well known academics/writers such as Noam Chomsky and I.F. Stone, represented that the Warren Commission was authoritative and worthy of acceptance:  “It is patently obvious that pigs flew out of that man’s butt… (and anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy nut).”

The same sort of denial is evident in the official realm today wrt 9/11, and too often among our peers on street level.  Schotz speculates that one part of the syndrome is not unlike parents who refuse to see unsavory qualities in their offspring.  “He can’t have thrown a baseball through the neighbor’s window because he’s my boy.”

The book also contains additional speculation as to reasons behind the corporate-banking elites wanting to kill the president.  One of Kennedy’s major initiatives was to work behind the scenes with the USSR to effect real disarmament, not just of nuclear arsenals, but of major weapons systems, redux of personnel, the works.  In particular, the McCloy/Zorin Agreement was initialed on September 20, 1961.  JFK was not only thinking about getting out of Vietnam, ending the CIA, undermining the Fed with a gold-backed dollar, but declaring world peace.  Apparently, not a good career move if you’re sitting on top of a $100 billion defense budget in 1962.

Anyway, well put together, a lot of psychological insights, useful, intelligent addition to the Kennedy Assassination Truth Movement.


[1] I like to refer people to my review of Debunking 9/11 Debunking, because it covers the bases: namely, how Dr. David Ray Griffin, in the most scholarly and definite terms, demolishes each of the official 9/11 story apologetics from the 9/11 Commission Report itself to the much ballyhooed Popular Mechanics articles purporting to debunk the alternative theory of Government compliance/complicity.

[2] The committee was an informal body consisting principally of Vincent J. Salandria, Ray Marcus, Christopher Sharrett, Michael Morrisey, Gaeton Fonzi, Robert C. Dean, and Martin Schotz.  Members were all professionals, many with credentials among the journalistic and legal community, and business men who conscientiously analyzed key claims of the Commission, finding them wholly without merit.

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