John J. McCloy, Warren Commission member writes
to J. Lee Rankin correcting drafts of the final Warren Commission
Report writing, "I think too much effort is expended
on attempting to prove that the first bullet that hit the president
was responsible for all Connally's wounds."
The document below is
part of the Rankin Documents (approximately 40,000 papers) donated
by the Rankin family to the National Archives, through the ARRB,
as part of the JFK Assassination Records Collection.
News Article on this document's
By Michael Dorman. SPECIAL
CORRESPONDENT, Newsday (8/11/97)
A Warren Commission member
expressed serious reservations about one of the panel's more
controversial conclusions, the theory that a single shot wounded
both President John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally,
a long-secret document has revealed. The "magic-bullet"
theory was essential to the commission's conclusion that Lee
Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin.
the released document was a memorandum sent by commission member
John J. McCloy to the commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin.
It was dated June 24, 1964, seven months after Kennedy's assassination
in Dallas, and conveyed McCloy's critique of a draft of the final
Warren Commission report.
"I think too much effort
is expended on attempting to prove that the first bullet, which
hit the president, was also responsible for all of Connally's
wounds," McCloy wrote. (Note: the commas are not in the original.) "The evidence against this
is not fully stated." He added that a section of the report
dealing with the possibility of shots being fired at Kennedy's
motorcade from an overpass was "not well done." Elsewhere,
McCloy questioned the commission's account that a bullet found
on a stretcher at Dallas' Parkland Hospital - where Kennedy and
Connally were treated after being shot - was the "magic
bullet." He wrote: "The statement concerning the bullet
which was found on the stretcher is not particularly persuasive
because there is no indication that the `stretcher bullet' was
in fact the bullet which caused the [Connally] wrist wound."
theory's importance to the conclusion that Oswald alone killed
Kennedy lay in the number and timing of the shots fired at the
president's motorcade. The commission concluded there was time
for Oswald to fire no more than three shots and that he did,
in fact, fire three times. One was said to have missed the presidential
limousine entirely. A second - the fatal bullet - was said to
have struck Kennedy in the back of the head. That left just one
more bullet, but it was known that Kennedy also had been struck
in the lower part of the back of his neck and that Connally had
suffered wounds to his back, right wrist and left thigh.
If the commission had decided
that separate bullets had struck Kennedy and Connally, it would
have been forced to conclude there had been a fourth bullet.
And since there had not been time for Oswald to fire more than
three shots, it would have meant there must have been a second
shooter. The commission responded with the "magic-bullet"
theory - concluding the bullet that struck Kennedy in the neck
passed through his body, hit Connally in the back, emerged from
his chest, then passed through his wrist into his thigh.
It has been perhaps the conclusion
most criticized by conspiracy theorists. The document recently
released by the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board - which
screens Kennedy assassination documents and releases those that
will not endanger national security - also contains many other
suggestions by McCloy on revising the draft report. Some of those
suggestions were adopted by the commission. But the commission
did not revise the sections dealing with the "magic-bullet"
theory. Nor did it revise other sections criticized by McCloy,
dealing with the Kennedy and Connally wounds. He asked at one
point, for example: "Why is there no citation of authority
with regard to the wound in the president's back and its path
through his body?"
McCloy, who died in 1989,
served as Kennedy's disarmament adviser.