DC: What were the top three overlooked leads?
CC: When the category of overlooked leads piles up into the hundreds, I don’t
think you can prioritize the top three. And if you think I’m exaggerating,
let me expound my answer by saying that in my opinion, every unquestioned witness
is an overlooked lead. I could say that we could cite the top three overlooked
thematic leads—all of which were provided by eyewitnesses: evidence of extra
shots (hitting pavement or earth); evidence of smoke (which was not only seen,
but smelled); and the evidentiary value of all of the stills and films taken
in Dealey Plaza.
But I am sure you’re referring to specific leads revealed in eyewitness statements.
But, again, I say that the general lack of questioning protocol, the lack of
centralized eyewitness statements, and the failure to recognize and correct obvious
contradictions within eyewitness’ statements all constitute overlooked leads.
Let’s go by the numbers. An investigator for HSCA—without benefit of any disclosed
source or methodology—put the number of spectators in Dealey Plaza at the time
of the assassination at a definitive 692. All right—for argument’s sake, let’s
go with that number. Of those 692 eyewitnesses, only 57 of them were questioned
by local authorities; only 83 of them were called to give testimony or be deposed
by the Warren Commission; and only 167 of them were questioned by the FBI. (Forty
additional witnesses were never subjected to questioning at all; 37 [mostly police
officers and sheriffs] were allowed to simply submit a report, and another three
to simply forward an affidavit.)
These numbers, of course, taken as is are highly misleading. It is important
to note that my tabulation doesn’t suggest that each agency interviewed different
witnesses, for a total of 307 out of 692…which wouldn’t exactly establish complacency
on the part of investigators.
No—the base number is most likely 167, since there were no instances where an
eyewitness was interviewed by local law enforcement or testified before the Warren
Commission but was not questioned by the FBI. But 167, while still not an unreasonable
number, is still misleading because there are 65 instances where witnesses did
not give or were not asked their opinions about the number or source of the shots.
And I am not including instances where an eyewitness actually declared that s/he
could not remember, did not form an opinion, was not entirely sure, or did not
know. The sixty-five occurrences that I cite are instances where witnesses were
being guided through a questioning process by either law enforcement agents or
lawyers and were specifically not asked about the number or source of shots,
or where law enforcement agents allowed statements without mention of these elements
to stand unchallenged.
So, taken as a whole—the number of unasked questions and the number of unidentified
eyewitnesses—that’s a lot of overlooked leads.