Bogus Conspiracy So-Called Photo Experts
The conspiracy books and videos can produce all kinds of "experts" to claim that the photos of Oswald standing in his backyard with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle were faked. The same "experts" will say that the photos and x-rays made at Kennedy's autopsy were forged, and that virtually each and every photo and film of the assassination contains indisputable proof that a conspiracy killed Kennedy.

There is one interesting thing about the conspiracy "experts," however. None of them makes a living analyzing photos. Nobody will pay any of them for their expertise — with the exception of the O.J. Simpson defense which paid Robert Groden to testify that a photo of the defendent was faked. That produced one of the monumental fiascos of American law.

There are, however, talented amateurs in many walks of life, so could it be that the "photo experts" are responsible and competent analysts? Let's look at the evidence.

Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson:
Finding Things that Don't Exist in Photos

The man at right is the late Tom Wilson, an analyst who used computer "enhancements" of photos to discover evidence of a conspiracy. His accomplishments are many. For example, his analysis of the Zapruder film showed a bullet entering Kennedy's body from the front — iron-clad evidence of a shot from the Grassy Knoll. His computer even pinpointed the place in Kennedy's suit jacket where the bullet entered.

Unfortunately for Wilson, Kennedy's jacket is in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. It has no bullet hole in the front.

Jack BrazilWilson was one of the stars of the new edition of The Men Who Killed Kennedy that showed on American TV in 1996. Wilson's analysis of the Moorman Polaroid photo revealed the trajectory of the bullet that struck Kennedy in the head from the front. The shot came from the storm sewer! To the left is a scene from the show. Jack Brazil, long a proponent of the "sewer theory" is pictured in the storm sewer. Unfortunately, the sewer is a terrible shooting location, and Kennedy's head would not have been visible from within the sewer at Zapruder frame 313, when it it seen to explode.

Tom's Tall Tale

Conspiracy-oriented researchers have long claimed that the Kennedy autopsy photos and x-rays, which reside in the National Archives, have been faked, forged, or tampered with. Wilson went a step further. He claimed to have gained special access at the Archives and actually seen the materials used in the photo forgery.

Tom Wilson Goes to Court

The test of any supposed forensic technique is how it fares in court, where lawyers on both sides get to cross-examine "expert" witnesses. As with Bob Groden (see below), when Tom Wilson took his Magic Camera into court, it didn't impress.

Groden and Livingstone:
Don't Like What a Photo Shows? Just Rotate it Ninety Degrees!

That's what "photo experts" like Robert Groden (in The Killing of a President, page 81) and Harrison Livingstone (in High Treason II) do. Wanting to show the back of Kennedy's head blown out — and thus push the notion of a Grassy Knoll shooter — they use a close-up autopsy photo of the inside of Kennedy's skull after the brain was removed. By rotating the photo ninety degrees clockwise, they can make it appear that the photo shows a large defect in the back of Kennedy's head. In actuality, Kennedy was photographed from the front, and the photo shows the top if his head blasted out, as shown in this drawing by Dr. Robert Artwohl. Finally, a large and properly-oriented copy of the head photo.

Groden: Turning a Shotgun into a Rifle

In both his video, The Assassination Films, and in his book The Killing of a President, Robert Groden shows a segment from an amateur film by Charles Mentesana that pictures a policeman holding a gun. He says that the gun is a "second rifle" brought down from the Texas School Book Depository, and says that the gun is "not a Carcano, and has never been placed into evidence."

Sounds spooky, right? Two rifles in the Depository.

When Groden first showed his video at the 1995 COPA convention, Tony Marsh wrote him to correct this mistake:

Several of us in the audience were very troubled by your narration of some films. You are the leading photographic interpreter in the research community and many people will take your word as gospel. So, it is especially important that your video not perpetuate any myths. For example, in the Mentesana footage you state that the policeman is holding a second rifle, found in the TSBD. That is not a rifle; it is a shotgun. The barrel and the bore are too big in diameter for a rifle. Some shotguns have distinctive profiles and magazine caps by which we can identify them at a glance. The shotgun the policeman was holding was his Remington 870. I have enclosed some examples of that model for you to compare to the Mentesana footage. I have reduced a diagram of the Remington 870 to about the same size as an overlay transparency of the Mentesana frame from your book so that you can see for yourself that they have the same profile at the same size. Also, one of the cops in the tramp photos carried a Remington 870. There were at least three different makes and models of shotguns used by the DPD and the Remington 870 is one of the most popular police shotguns.
Interestingly, still photos and films of Dallas cops holding shotguns that are apparently identical to the one in the Mentesana film are plentiful. But Groden neither prints any of them in his book, nor includes any in his video. Needless to say, Groden has not corrected his mistake.

Robert Groden in Court:
Photo of O.J. Simpson Faked

When Bob Groden goes to conspiracy conventions and tells the audience how the autopsy photos and x-rays or the backyard photos of Oswald are faked, he is a big hit. When Groden testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, they listened politely, and said they didn't believe him.

But what happened when Groden testified in an adversarial proceeding, when counsel for the other side had a strong interesting in proving him to be a complete idiot? The carnage was legandary!

The following are portions of transcripts from the O.J. Simpson civil trial. Groden testified for the defense, claiming that a photo of Simpson in Bruno Magli shoes had been forged.

  1. Day One — Groden says photo of Simpson has been altered.
  2. Day Two — Plaintiff's lawyer cross-examines Groden, attacking his credentials, motives, memory, and issue of Groden having stolen photos from the House Select Committee.
  3. Day Three — Further cross-examination. Plaintiff's lawyer shows Groden 30 additional photos of Simpson wearing Bruno Maglis. Asks him whether each is forged.
  4. Day Four — Testimony of E.J. Flammer, freelance photographer who took photos of Simpson. Also, Gerald Richards, a forensic photographic expert.
  5. Day Five — Gerald Richards continued, plus testimony of shoe expert Bodziak, who testifies that shoes in Flammer photos are Bruno Maglis.

Robert Groden:
Seeing a Man in a Photo Who Isn't There

When Lee Oswald passed out leaflets in front of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, a local camerman photographed him. In the background of this film footage is a man who Robert Groden believes is Clay Shaw, supposed conspirator in the assassination. So there is a link between Shaw and Oswald. Unfortunately, a little research would have shown that the man isn't Clay Shaw.

Jack White, James Fetzer, David Mantik:
Mary Moorman Standing in Elm Street

One of the truly outlandish projects of assassination researchers during the past decade has been to prove that the Zapruder film — long claimed to be iron-clad conspiracy evidence — was in fact tampered with and faked by U.S. government agencies. One piece of evidence produced to support this notion was an analysis of "sight lines" in the Moorman Polaroid that supposedly proved that Mary Moorman was standing in Elm Street when she shot the picture. Since the Zapruder film shows her standing on the grass of the Dealey Plaza infield, the Zapruder film was tampered with, and Moorman's position changed. Unfortunately, a careful replication of the analysis by Gary Mack and Josiah Thompson showed Moorman to have been on the grass exactly where the Zapruder film shows her.

Jack White:
"Photogrammetry?" What's That?

Photo "expert" Jack White is convinced that the backyard photos of Oswald holding the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle are faked. Part of his "evidence" for this is supposed discrepancies in the dimensions of various parts of the rifle in different photos. How does one measure the dimensions of objects in photos? Is it as simple as holding a ruler up against the photo? Read on.

Key Concept: Photogrammetry. Defined as the science of making reliable measurements by the use of (usually) aerial photographs in surveying and map making. No one can make any meaningful statements about the relative dimensions of objects in photographs without knowing the basics of photogrammetry. When Jack White gave extensive testimony to the House Select Committee about supposed "discrepancies" in the backyard photos, and various photos of Oswald's rifle, he was grilled about his expertise by HSCA counsel Mickey Goldsmith. The following is from volume II of the House Select Committee.

For a fuller transcript of White's testimony, click here. For the testimony of a bona fide expert in photogrammetry, explaining how the concept matters, click here.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. I see that you have taken a ruler and placed it by Oswald's body and also by his rifle; is that correct?

Mr. WHITE. Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, do you believe that an object photographed can be measured simply by placing a ruler against the image in the photograph?

Mr. WHITE. No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. When you measured the object in this photograph, what did you do beyond using the ruler?

Mr. WHITE. This is strictly a two-dimensional measurement. Obviously I did not take into consideration any perspective which might exist or any other considerations. It is just a mere measurement of the body from the weightbearing foot to the top of the head in each case and of the rifle from the muzzle to the butt.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Without giving any account to other factors?

Mr. WHITE. That is true. I am not a physicist or any sort of a scientist who could determine anything relating to the perspective. We don't know how close the rifle is to his body. We don't know how close the camera is to the subject, so it would be virtually impossible for just a plain citizen like me to interpret the perspective of this photograph.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Have you had any training in analytical photogrammetry?

Mr. WHITE. No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Have you had any formal training in forensic photography?

Mr. WHITE. No.


Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, you have made reference to several points in these photographs that suggest that Oswald's head is disproportionately----

I withdraw the question.

That the body of Oswald is not consistent in the various photographs in light of the head size; is that correct?

Mr. WHITE. Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. To what extent, if any, did you compute photogrammetrically the effect of an object's tilt on its apparent length in the photograph?

Mr. WHITE. As I said, I am not a scientist. I don't indulge in that sort of thing.


Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, I just have one question.

Mr. WHITE. All right.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. When you did this study, did you compute photogrammetrically the effect of tilt on the way that the length of an object appears in a photograph?

Mr. WHITE. I conducted a study by photographing a yardstick from three different-

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, answer my question. Did you compute photogrammetrically----

Mr. WHITE. What is "photogrammetrically"? Describe to me what "photogrammetrically" is.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. I just have one more question Mr. White. Do you know what photogrammetry is?

Mr. WHITE. No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. I have no further questions. Thank you.

What Do People Who Earn Their Living Analyzing Photos Say?

The House Select Committee on Assassinations had its Photographic Evidence Panel analyze a variety of controversal and disputed pieces of evidence. See how they dealt with the backyard photos, and the autopsy photos and x-rays.

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