Testimony of Wesley Liebeler

Los Angeles, California -- September 17, 1996
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Next we would like to hear from Wesley Liebeler. Mr. Liebeler is a Former Assistant Counsel to the Warren Commission and currently a Professor of Law at UCLA. Welcome Mr. Liebeler.


Former Assistant Counsel to the Warren Commission

Currently a Professor of Law at UCLA

MR. LIEBELER: Thank you. When Tom Samoluk called me and asked me to come out here and testify, my first question was what in heaven's name about. But in talking with him I told him that I had in my own possession two documents that might be of interest. One if a report of a study that was done by a member of the faculty of the UCLA Physics Department back in 1965 or 1966, by the name of Brian Jones. And what happened was David Lifton raised some questions about the head jerk and shoulder buckle in the President's body just after he was struck by the final bullet in the Zapruder film frame 312 or 313. The questions were raised about the apparent backward movements of the President's body after the Zapruder film 313. Even though Mr. Lifton was apparently aware of the fact, they didn't tell me this, the frames -- the President's body apparently moved forward right at frame 312, between 312 and 313. But, whatever, I just started teaching at UCLA and I've talked to some people at Life Magazine and made arrangements to them to make a set of the Zapruder slides available in their office in Beverly Hills. I called the Chairman of the Physics Department at UCLA and told him who I was and asked him if there would be anybody over there in the physics department who would be interested at these frames in the offices of Life Magazine and writing a report on this particular question what happened, what kind of motion was exhibited by the President's body right around frames 312, 313 and thereafter of the Zapruder film. And this young fellow Brian Jones walked into my office several days later I never heard back from them until Jones walked into my office -- and I must say, he was very dubious about me since I had, as you have heard from two witnesses this morning, was associated with the notorious institution called the Warren Commission. But Jones went over and went through these frames with a fine tooth comb and eventually wrote a report and I have three copies of it here which I would like made available to the Commission.

His conclusions were that the movement of the President's body speaks for itself. I won't address it. But it was not inconsistent with a shot -- movement was not inconsistent from a shot from the rear.

Mr. Stone's movie did produce some things. There's no question about that. My wife told me that I had to go to it and I said I absolutely refused. I said, I'm not going to pay five cents to go and see that piece of crap. Well, she said, you have to go you owe it to yourself and presumably to prosperity. And she said, I'll pay. That's the only time she's ever taken me to the movies in the entire time we've known each other. So she paid and I went to the movie. I was quite frankly interested in a lot of it because a lot of it was said in New Orleans and many of the people that were portrayed fictitiously for the most part in the movie were people whose names I was familiar with because I was the staff lawyer who was basically responsible for deciding which of these people in New Orleans who were associated with Oswald, or might have been associated with Oswald, which of them to depose, to ask questions of ourselves. And that decision was basically made by going through the FBI Secret Service reports to see what had already developed. So David Ferrie, and many of these people associated with him, I read the reports on them and decided it wasn't useful to take their deposition because the information developed by the agency was adequate to the event. We did take Cossman and Gears' testimony. I think I took his testimony and Odio's testimony as well in Dallas.

What I did was, after I saw the movie I went down to the stacks in the library in the law school of UCLA and I dug out the work of the House Committee. I am sort of I guess should be ashamed to say I never looked at it before. It had been laying down there covered with dust and I started to look at it and I was pleased to find my friend -- who later became my friend -- Bob Blakey is not here to hear this compliment, I think some of the work was extraordinarily good. Particularly their theory of the single bullet theory. Their analysis of the alignment and the trajectory problems that they studied and came up with a completely different approach than the Warren Commission did. The Commission worked from the window down. The House as you know started down in the car and worked back up. The results were essentially the same. The work of the House Committee confirmed the work of the Warren Commission. And the medical work.

I was pleased to become a friend of Mike Boden. He and I fell in love almost instantly. I offered him a deal. I said, Michael will you do my autopsy and I reported that to my wife. And she said you better tell Doctor Boden that I'm not going to have you autopsied. So I told Mike to make damn sure that I was autopsied under those circumstances. But I haven't done his will and so far he hasn't done my autopsy.

But in any event I sat down and started going through the House materials, and decided for about the third time that I was going to write a book about this. And I did a lot of stuff and of course lost interest in it and had basically forgotten about it until I was talking to Tom Samoluk earlier this summer. And I told him about this material that I had that was so far just on computer disks that were here in my office at UCLA and he said that he thought the Committee ought to have it so I came out a few days early and dug it out and ran it off and did a little bit of work on it. And have -- this is the typescript that I have and it has to be copied from that, which I'm going to copyright stamp. I'm not giving it to you but it's for your use as you see fit.

The first six chapters of that I talk about the shots that hit the President, Governor Connally's wound, the force of the shots, who fired the shots, the single bullet theory and the question of trajectory, alignment and the single bullet theory, on which issues the House Committee and the Warren Commission were almost 100 percent in agreement. There are discrepancies as to the autopsy and the next chapter is entitled "evaluation of the autopsy," which wasn't as we all know the best in the world. And also I make reference to the fact of what I regard as the failure or the remissness, if you will, of the Warren Commission in not using the autopsy photographs and x-rays to make sure that the drawings that these doctors made were right. And it turned out they weren't. But that's unfortunate and water over the dam. I also have a chapter on the President's backward movement at the time of the head shot. And then two chapters on acoustical evidence and evaluation of the acoustical evidence. And that's what I want to focus on primarily in terms of what I think -- if you haven't done this, would be a good thing for you to do.

The House Committee on the basis of acoustical evidence appeared on a tape recording, or a dictabelt, or whatever the recording of the Channel One of the Dallas Police Department. These were studied by both Bolt, Barak and Newman in Cambridge and then again by Weiss and Askenazi for the House Committee, later by a Committee set up by the -- at the request of the Justice Department which found that this was all nonsense, which I believe it was. But the last chapter of material here is the evaluation of the acoustical evidence. And it's really strange if you just -- Sheriff Bowles is not a sheriff in Dallas. I'm sure you've talked to him in Dallas. I hope at least Bowles testified before you or you got Bowles' materials. If you haven't got Bowles materials then by all means get them. He wrote a piece of this and went through the tape and listened to it and put together a time line, which is in the materials that I'm giving you. With respect to the movement of this motorcycle that had the open microphone through which this recording was made. For about five and a half minutes this microphone was stuck open while this motorcycle was doing something. Part of the time it was moving, part of the time it was sitting. But of course this is extremely important as to what exactly that motorcycle was doing during this period of time. For about two minutes, right in the middle of this -- for the first two minutes, 132 seconds, there's the sound of motorcycle engine noise running. It's a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. I've listened to the tape. Perhaps you have too. You can't miss it, okay, here's this old Harley chugging along at a regular constant speed for 132 seconds, during which time the motorcycle is supposed to be accompanying the motorcade right down main street in Dallas where the crowds are pressing in on the motorcycle -- on the motorcade to where the President's car has to stop. The motorcycle doesn't stop it chugs right along. People are screaming and waiving and yelling at the President in the motorcade, this microphone is wide open, there isn't a single iota of sound crowd noise on that tape, not one. Just 132 seconds chug, chug, chug, chug while the motorcade is coming down the main street of Dallas with all of these people shouting and screaming. The motorcade is stopping, the people are -- the Secret Service people are jumping off of the back of the car running up to protect the President is barely moving, but the motorcycle is going along happily for 132 seconds without slowing down. That creates a rather serious problem. Of course it suggests the motorcycle wasn't in the motorcade at all, which is quite clear. Then the motorcycle slowed down. And the theory was it slowed down to make the turn into Houston Street and then Bolt, Barak and the House Committee, which I think is an extraordinary failure, they tell us that the motorcycle's noise didn't increase. That the engine noise didn't increase for 13 seconds. Thirteen seconds is relevant because by that time that 13 second period had stopped, ended after the first 132 seconds, the so-called shots had been fired. The impulses, or whatever, wave forms on these tapes, were on the tape at that time. So all the House Committee tells us is that the motorcycle noise didn't increase for 13 seconds. Well there's still another two minutes of tape where it's open. The very interesting question is, what in heaven's name was on the tape. And Bowles goes through this in great detail. The motorcycle engine is at very slow idle. It revs up at a little bit then it starts to move, it slows down again, maybe another motorcycle comes up, it slows to idle. Somebody's whistling in the background. This is during the time that the motorcade is racing off to Parkland Hospital with the sirens screaming including the siren of McClain's motorcycle, which was supposed to be the one from which this tape was recorded.

Then, most interestingly, about 121 seconds after the motorcycle engine noise has slowed down, all of a sudden we hear sirens. What we hear is the sound of sirens approaching very faint, then they grow loud, then they become very loud and then they fade away again. This was supposedly recorded on a motorcycle that was in the motorcade. Obviously, it was not in the motorcade. It was never in Dealey Plaza.

I think that this acoustical evidence and the conclusions of the House Committee, as to the possible fourth shot from the grassy knoll and the possible conspiracy has been thoroughly discredited. But it doesn't seem to make much difference what the facts are, and I think in that sense you do have a hopeless task. Because no matter what the facts are, people like the fellow who spoke here before, and Mr. Lifton, and people like that will still not be satisfied as to what the actual facts appear to be.

So, I would think that -- I would get whatever Bowles had of materials. I would get whatever materials Bowles, Barak and Newman has on this. And then of course the -- I apparently left it in my briefcase -- but the Ballistic Acoustics Committee that had studied this, at the request of the Justice Department, may also have some material. I'm pretty sure they do. And I would think it would be useful to get all of this stuff together so that if someone wants to analyze this stuff later on they can do it. I think that's basically the purpose of this group is to get this stuff together so it is there for history, because I'm sure we will never be through with this, unfortunately. There's nothing you can do that the Warren Commission and the House Assassination Committee can do. You are not anymore superhuman than the rest of us. But get this material on the acoustic evidence that's my primary recommendation. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Members of the Board, are there any questions for Mr. Liebeler?

DR. NELSON: Well I think he made an interesting point and that is that it is our task to find out the documents and the facts in them. And a great many other people will have to deal with the truth, whatever that is. Thank you very much.

MR. LIEBELER: Thank you.

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