Jul 26, 2018

Oswald and the Paraffin Tests

1 comment

Edited: Jul 26, 2018

It has recently become apparent that there is much confusion regarding the paraffin tests done on Oswald - and the main source of that confusion is found in the writings of Pat Speer who seems to be cited often on those tests.


Here is what Speer said in negating what Bugliosi had written in his pro Warren Commission book:


On Page 964 of Reclaiming History, as part of his list of evidence proving Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy, Vincent Bugliosi states:
"Dallas Police performed a paraffin test on Oswald's hands at the time of his interrogation to determine if he had recently fired a revolver, and the results were positive, indicating the presence of nitrates from gunpowder residue on his hands."
This statement is incredibly deceptive. By including this statement in his list, Bugliosi is clearly suggesting that this evidence is indicative of Oswald's guilt, even though he readily admits 800 pages earlier that "the paraffin test is not conclusive...mere handling of a weapon may leave nitrates of the skin, even without firing it." (p. 164) Even worse, when one looks at the results of another test, performed on the paraffin casts of Oswald's cheek, one can only conclude they suggest that Oswald did not fire the shots that killed Kennedy. You see, while the tests of Oswald's hands were positive, the tests for Oswald's cheek were negative. This suggests that he did not fire a rifle on November 22, 1963.
Bugliosi tries to tackle this problem. In a footnote on page 165, Bugliosi states "Predictably, the paraffin cast for Oswald's right cheek showed no reaction." Predictably? He explains by asserting that there is no gap through which residue from a rifle could leak onto the cheek. He then cites the Warren Commission testimony of FBI Special Agent Cortlandt Cunningham to support this supposition. On page 79 of his endnotes (available on a separate cd-rom) he acknowledges that former FBI agent William Turner reported that he'd spoken to Dr. Vincent Guinn about tests performed by Guinn, and that Guinn had found nitrates in abundance on casts of the cheeks of men who'd fired rifles like the one owned by Oswald. Bugliosi dismisses Turner's assertion, however, essentially calling him a liar, by stating "There is simply no way to square this with the testimony and experience of the Dallas Police and FBI." Bugliosi then explains that two Dallas Police officers testified that they didn't think a test of the cheek would read positive for a man firing a rifle, and that Cunningham testified that an FBI agent had fired the rifle three times but that tests for his cheek had come up negative. Bugliosi begs of his readers "Why in the world would these two Dallas officers lie under oath about something like this?" and that "No one could really believe this is perjured testimony, if for no other reason that no professional would lie under oath on a matter that he knows other experts could easily refute him on." (endnotes, p. 80)
But what Bugliosi misses, or simply chooses to ignore, is that these men were discussing the standard paraffin test performed in the 1960's, and that Turner asked Guinn about a different test entirely involving neutron activation analysis of the paraffin casts.
Bugliosi, who elsewhere cites conversations with Guinn, never mentions discussing this with Guinn himself, nor of Guinn denying that he'd conducted such tests. He never mentions that, as exposed in Professor Gerald McKnight's Breach of Trust, Guinn called the FBI in 1964 suggesting they conduct these tests (McKnight, Breach of Trust, p.211) and that, per the testimony of the FBI's John Gallagher-the last testimony taken by the Warren Commission-the FBI had indeed conducted neutron activation analysis on the paraffin cast of Oswald's cheek.
It seems more than a coincidence that Bugliosi keeps the results of this test from his readers Gallagher testified that there was more gunshot residue on the outside of the paraffin cast than on the side exposed to Oswald's cheek and that he could therefore reach no conclusion as to whether Oswald had fired a rifle. He stated furthermore that "I found that there was more barium and antimony on the inside surface of the cast than you would find on the cheek of an individual who had recently washed his cheek" without explaining why anyone should assume Oswald had just washed his cheek. (While the casts had reportedly been washed, nothing was offered to substantiate that rinsing a wax cast would have nearly the effect on the levels of residue as Oswald's washing his face.) (15WH751)
This unexpected result, which suggests that the gunshot residue levels were too low to conclude Oswald had recently fired a rifle, becomes even more intriguing when one considers that researcher Harold Weisberg, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, received the controls for this test and found that gunshot residue was always present on the cheeks of those firing a rifle like Oswald's (Weisberg, Post Mortem, p. 437). These controls, moreover, confirmed what Guinn had told the FBI in his phone call, (the FBI document describing this phone call is listed in McKnight's book as R.M Jevons to Conrad 2/27/64 memo), what Guinn told an August 1964 conference (Lane, Rush to Judgment, p. 153), what Guinn published in an October 1964 article in the Journal of the Forensic Science Society (p. 189), and what Guinn later told Turner (Turner, Invisible Witness, p. 76).
Also of significance is that, unlike the paraffin tests originally performed on Oswald, the Neutron Activation Analysis performed by Gallagher only gained in respectability in the years following the assassination (Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases, 1986, p.255), and is considered to be a reliable indicator of whether a suspect has fired a rifle. Larry Ragle, a retired Director of Forensic Sciences for Santa Ana, California, in his 1995 book Crime Scene, explains: "By design, revolvers can leak...Rifles, depending on their construction and wear, can also leak. There is only one way to determine the leakage capacity of any weapon and that is to collect samples from the hands or face firing the weapon under controlled conditions while using the corresponding ammunition." (Ragle, Crime Scene, p. 172) Of course, this is precisely the kind of test performed by Guinn and Gallagher in 1964.
In sum, the gunshot residue tests conducted by Guinn and Gallagher create real doubt that Oswald fired the rifle found in the Book Depository. Rather than acknowledge this, Bugliosi dismisses these tests as a William Turner pipe dream. That he is outraged that anyone might think FBI agent Cortlandt Cunningham a liar, while simultaneously implying that William Turner-a man who left the FBI after he'd had enough of J. Edgar Hoover's misuse of the agency-is a liar, is outrageous. Perhaps Bugliosi's blind hatred of all suggestions of Oswald's innocence has blinded his thinking. In any event, his research simply can not be trusted.
Jul 27, 2018Edited: Aug 1, 2018

Where Speer's analysis falls down is in claiming that an FBI agent and two Dallas crime lab officers all lied under oath that it would be unusual to find nitrates on the cheek of anyone who has just fired a rifle. He then uses the results of NAA tests to try and demonstrate why this is untrue.


NAA however, dues not test for nitrates (which are contained in the gunpowder) but test for lead, barium and antimony which come from the bullets themselves and from which microscopic amounts may spay out in certain circumstances.


As gun expert Robert Prudhomme explained during an online discussion in 2016, "Even if a worn bolt action chamber is oval shaped, the expanding brass of the cartridge will swell outwards and "fire fit" to this irregular shape, and make an effective seal against escaping gases. ... I can consider trace elements escaping from this seal..."


Trace elements of course, are metal particulates from the rounds, not nitrates from the gunpowder.


While calling FBI agent Cunningham a liar on this very point, the two Dallas detectives who testified to the same thing, barely rate a mention. To address that, here is what one of them said, and has been affirmed by Prudhomme:



Mr. BELIN. All right, now, suppose you were to examine me for firing a rifle such as a bolt-action rifle rather than an automatic or semiautomatic. Would you expect to find nitrate residue on my hands that a paraffin test would show? 

Mr. BARNES. Chances are smaller on a rifle than it would be with a revolver

Mr. BELIN. Why?

Mr. BARNES. Because your chamber is enclosed.

Mr. BELIN. What difference does that make? 

Mr. BARNES. The powder couldn't get out like a pistol where the cylinder is open, and there is no casing around the cylinder of a revolver, and the chamber of a rifle, it is enclosed with the metal all the way around. 

Mr. BELIN. Well, I operate the bolt on the rifle, does that make a difference about letting the gas or residue escape? 

Mr. BARNES. No; all your explosives have already gone down the barrel. It is not coming down the side when you operate the chamber. There is no pressure there. 

Mr. BELIN. What you are saying then is, that it is the pressure at the time of firing in an open chamber that creates the major portion of this residue? 

Mr. BARNES. That's right.


Barnes and his partner Hicks also testified that in nearly 10 years of conducting such tests, Oswald was the only person they had ever been requested to do a cheek test on. They knew it was pointless.


I agree with Bugliosi on this point: to accuse Cunningham Barnes and Hicks of perjury on these matters is ludicrous. I'l take it one step further and say it a result of not understanding the differences between paraffin tests and NAA, or how nitrates escape vs how barium, lead and antimony escape. Beyond that, the claim is also self-serving.


Speer also suggests that the reason the test on the cheek was ordered was as testified to by the head of the crime lab unit who also testified that "I would expect more with a revolver with an open cylinder than I would from a rifle. Actually, for most practical purposes, I would not be surprised if there would be no nitrates from a man firing a rifle." So I guess Speer adds him to his list of perjurers, except when he states "I directed them to make it, and also paraffin casts or just of a piece of paraffin on the left side of the face to see if there were any nitrates there... It was just something that was done to actually keep from someone saying later on, "Why didn't you do it?"


But Speer takes those remarks completely out context to hide the fact that Day is another who states that it is highly unlikely that nitrates could be found on the cheek. So now we are up to 3 cops and one fbi agent all perjuring themselves on this one point - that is if you believe Speer's self-serving interpretations on out-of-context quotes.


Mr. DAY. I directed them to make it, and also paraffin casts or just of a piece of paraffin on the left side of the face to see if there were any nitrates there. Mr. BELIN. On the left side or right side of the face? Mr. DAY. Right side. Mr. BELIN. Do you know what the results of the paraffin tests were? Mr. DAY. The test on the face was negative. Mr. BELIN. Had you ever done a paraffin test on a face before? Mr. DAY. No; actually--had it not been for the particular type of case and this particular situation here we would not have at this time. It was just something that was done to actually keep from someone saying later on, "Why didn't you do it?" Actually, in my experience there, shooting a rifle with a telescopic sight there would be no chance for nitrates to get way back or on the side of the face from a rifle.


Barnes testified that the order to take a test on the cheek came from Captain Fritz. There is no conflict with Day saying he gave the direction to Barnes and Hicks. That direction came from Fritz though Day.


And the singular reason for ordering the cheek being done was to leverage (i.e. "scare") a confession from Oswald. When that failed, the test was /leaked/fed/given/passed to the press who duly reported that the tests proved Oswald had fired a pistol AND a rifle. While it failed in it's primary aim, the secondary aim of prosecuting Oswald through the media was successful.






New Posts
  • gregrparker
    Jan 12

    Cue Joni Mitchell... It just dawned on me that there are areas of the JFK case that both sides are desperate to keep on the table as part of the canonical time-line. Some examples... THE SECOND FLOOR ENCOUNTER THAT NEVER WAS Both sides want to keep the Truly-Baker-Oswald 2nd floor lunchroom encounter. To the Lone-Nutters, it was theoretically possible for Oswald to have shot JFK and gotten to the 2nd floor in time for such an encounter. Keeping it also maintains the integrity of Truly and Baker. The Conspiracists want to keep it because they maintain that it was all but impossible for Oswald to have shot JFK and get to the 2nd floor in time. The fact is that there was no 2nd floor encounter. The evidence clearly shows Oswald was on the 1st floor just after the assassination. THE FOUND OSWALD WALLET THAT NEVER WAS Both sides want to keep the wallet displayed on TV at the Tippit site as belonging to Oswald and holding two sets of ID. Ron Reiland, who provided the commentary for the footage he himself had taken, mistakenly assumed it was Tippit's wallet. To the Lone-Nutters, the wallet is absolute proof that Oswald shot Tippit. To the Conspiracists, the wallet was planted and proof that Oswald was being framed. Both sides have their late witness entries supporting their positions. Ex-FBI Agent Farris Rookstool claims his analysis of the wallet shows it to be Oswald's. Conspiracists have Kenneth Croy, the officer who was first on the scene, stating in a 2002 interview that an unknown witness handed Oswald's wallet to him, but that other witnesses saw no such a wallet on the ground - thus indicating that the witness was introducing fraudulent evidence. The facts are that Rookstool entered the case with a pro-guilty bias against Oswald, and it obviously colors anything and everything he says about the case. Croy on the other hand, testified to the Warren Commission that his sole actions were in passing three witnesses to other police when they arrived (Croy was a Reserve Officer and not authorized to act alone). One of those witnesses was described as a taxi driver. This was William Scoggins who was one of two witnesses who had set off after the killer, taking Tippit's revolver with them. The other man was Ted Calloway. Both Scoggins and Croy assumed Calloway was a detective. Here is what Croy said in testimony: Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you talk with the taxi driver? Mr. CROY. Yes; I did. I talked to the taxi driver. Mr. GRIFFIN. Now, did you talk with him on the scene of the crime? Mr. CROY. Yes. Mr. GRIFFIN. Do you remember what his name was? Mr. CROY. No; I didn't get his name. There was a private detective agency. There was a report that a cabdriver had picked up Tippit's gun and had left, presumably. They don't know whether he was the one that had shot Tippit, or whether the man, I think it was he, brought someone out there , something. Anyway, he saw it and he picked up Tippit's gun and attempted to give chas e or something like that. Mr. GRIFFIN. There was a detective who was an eyewitness? Mr. CROY. No; he brought the taxi driver back to the scene. Mr. GRIFFIN. But the taxicab driver was an eyewitness? Mr. CROY. As far as I know. Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you talk to the taxicab driver? Mr. CROY. No; I took Tippit's gun and several other officers came up, and I turned him over to them and they questioned him. From Scoggins' testimony: Mr. BELIN. What did you see him do? This man came up and picked up the policeman's gun. He picked it up and said, "Let's go see if we can find him?" Mr. SCOGGINS. I thought the man was a kind of police, Secret Service or something, I didn't know, and I take him and we drove around over the neighborhood looking, and I still didn't know what kind--I still thought he was connected with the Police department in some way. Nowhere in his testimony did Croy say anything at all about a witness handing him a wallet of any description - let alone any containing Oswald ID. The most logical explanation using the testimony of Scoggins and Croy, is that other witnesses at the scene assumed Calloway was a detective or a private detective or some other security agent who had commandeered Tippit's weapon, Scoggins and Scoggins' cab to try and catch the murderer. Croy also assumed that Calloway was a private detective. He further assumed he had taken Scoggins into custody as the killer or driver of the killer. In any event, because of the gung-ho actions of Calloway, Scoggins was briefly, a potential suspect. In that light, police would most definitely be checking his wallet for ID. In short, the wallet being checked by police and filmed for for the TV coverage, was not Tippit's, not Owalds and not a throwdown to frame him. It was the wallet of witness and initial suspect, William Scoggins. THE PARAFFIN TEST RED HERRING Both sides are happy to agree that Paraffin tests have been shown to be junk science having no probative value and therefore Oswald's paraffin results can be thrown out. The Lone Nutters want the evidence disregarded because it was negative on the cheek. Conspiracists want it thrown out because it was positive the hands. Some general facts : paraffin tests are never conducted on cheeks because gunpowder residue (mainly nitrates) cannot escape a rifle chamber. Nitrates are found in a range of common materials apart from gunpowder residue and therefore, the presence of nitrates on the hands only means it is possible you fired a handgun - not that you must have. Usually police also test clothing for nitrates. Some specific facts : Oswald was given the Paraffin Test immediately after having palm prints taken with an inkless pad which uses iron trichloride to make the print, leaving very little visible presence on the hand. This was done in Fritz's office on Fritz's orders. There were no handwashing facilities available between the two procedures. This means that the iron trichloride from the pad would give a false positive on the Paraffin Test for the hands. Additionally, Oswald's clothes were not tested. The Atomic Energy Commission later conducted Neutron Activation tests on the paraffin casts. These tests have greater scope for detection of minute metal particle. The NAA (Neutron Activation Analysis) showed traces of barium and antimony on both sides of the cheek cast, indicating contamination. Conclusion : the debate over the validity of the Paraffin tests is a complete Red Herring. The palm print followed immediately by Paraffin tests had a twofold aim. The palm print was planted on the metal part of the barrel which is covered by the wooden stock. It could not be planted in a more visible place because it had already been checked for prints by both DPD and the FBI. The palm print would also ensure a positive result on the hands for the Paraffin test. The now "found" palm print and the positive Paraffin Test would be used to try and scare a confession - and to try Oswald through the media, which was informed that the Paraffin test was positive - without the additional and essential information that nothing had been found on the cheek. This left the impression Oswald had fired a rifle and a pistol. The fact is, he had fired neither - and the police knew it.
  • gregrparker
    Dec 16, 2018

    Back in New Orleans after leaving New York, Lee Oswald joins the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) run by "Captain" Dave Ferrie. One day, Marguerite comes home from work to find Lee dressed in his CAP uniform along with an adult in uniform who tries to talk Marguerite into forging paperwork to get Lee into the Marines prior to the legal age. Marguerite assumes this person is a Marine recruitment officer (or is told that is what he is), but it is known that Dave Ferrie was constantly encouraging his young charges to join the Marines. Since Lee was in his CAP uniform, it stands to reason he had just come back from a CAP meeting and that the adult with him was none other than Dave Ferrie and not a random Marine recruitment officer. The CAP had released details in 1948 of commencing it's own countersubversive programs and operations. In doing so, the CAP requested "permission" from both the FBI and CIA - indicating that their plans involved both domestic and overseas components. Indeed, the plans included teaching recruits into the program, lessons in the Russian language, culture and military tactics. Domestically, the plan was to place recruits into various businesses and given the names of fellow employees suspected of being comsymps to spy and report on. Ferrie started such clandestine groups within his CAP unit (“the Omnipotents”) and soon Oswald would be studying Marx and learning Russian and trying to talk a fellow employee at a dental lab where he worked as a messenger boy, into searching for and joining Communist cells. Sylvia Ludlow Hyde Hoke, the sister of Ruth Paine, worked for the CIA as a psychologist under military cover at the Human Resources Research Office housed at George Washington University. She was part of a team working on recruitment issues regarding maintenance of planes used in the FICON project - a precursor project to the U2 flights. The final report was issued in September 1956. The following month, Lee Oswald joined the Marines, listing Aircraft Maintenance and Repair as his preference, and ultimately working in the radar maintenance unit at Atsugi, Japan - home of the U2. Richard Bissell was head of the CIA U2 program and also Deputy Director of Plans, the section which accounted for more than half of the CIA budget. This also made him responsible for all covert operations. Bissell issued a memo on September 2, 1959 stating that operations against the Soviets were to be increased. Two days later, Oswald, the former U2 base radar operator, applied for his passport with the aim of traveling to the Soviet Union. Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union via Helsinki - the only place at that time that an American could gain quick access to a Soviet entry visa - and this was only because the CIA had spent months lavishing the Chief Soviet Consulate officer, Gregory Golub, with female companions, lunches and dinners. Golub finally agreed that he would issue quick visas to American citizens if they purchased Intourist vouchers and looked "okay" to him. He issued the first two such visas shortly before the arrival of Oswald. Normally the visas would take weeks, but Oswald got his in one to two days. The usually frugal Oswald also purchased 10 expensive Intourist vouches.
  • gregrparker
    Dec 16, 2018

    These are a collection of coincidences we are expected to believe were no more than happenstance. The sheer preponderance of them however, militates against them all being mere innocent happenstance. In fact, evidence shows that some halves of the coincidence coins never actually happened, but were stories meant to falsify background information in a detrimental manner, or to incriminate. These will be flagged. Two liberal presidential hopefuls (Jorge Gaitan and RFK) killed by pistol at close range by lone gunmen (Juan Sierra Roa and Sirhan Sirhan) who were both members of the same religious cult (AMORC), and both practiced self-hypnosis. The two assassinations were separated by 20 years and took place on two different continents. The Gaitan assassination and the JFK assassination were investigated by the respective governments (Colombian government appointed investigators and FBI for the US) . Both of those investigations were then subject to a review (by Scotland Yard detectives and the Warren Commission respectively). Neither review team was allowed to conduct its own investigation, and both were hamstrung by the withholding of documents so that inevitably, each came out rubber stamping the respective investigations. A young Lee Oswald was taken to live in New York at the same time as the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency was in New York gathering evidence regarding truancy and the effects of comic books on young minds. Oswald ended up becoming a truant, spending most of his time reading comics, watching TV and roaming the streets and as a result, ended up in Family Court and spending 2 weeks in Youth House. The Family Court and Youth House were two sources of information for the inquiry. After all the evidence was collected, the subcommittee hearings were finally held in April 1954 - just 3 months after Oswald was taken out of the state by his mother. As above, Oswald spent 2 weeks in Youth House. This was owned and operated by the Lavenburg Foundation which was controlled by members of the Straus Family of Macy Department Store fame. The Lavenburg Foundation also built and operated the apartment building where the Rosenbergs lived. It was built specifically for the influx of immigrants from war-torn Europe. An employee of the Lavenburg Foundation gave Julius Rosenberg a reference to help him get his job in the Army Signal Corps. Later, one member of the Straus family went on to publish pulp fiction by E Howard Hunt and to provide him with a reference for his State Department cover job for the CIA in Europe. Yet another member of this family had a holiday home on Naushon Island owned by the Forbes family. As a member of the Forbes family, Michael Paine and his wife Ruth also had a holiday home on this island. The Paines would later befriend Lee and Marina Oswald. While in New York, Lee and his mother, Marguerite initially stayed with Marguerite's eldest son and Lee's half-brother, John Pic. Pic was working for the Port Security Unit (PSU) at this time. The PSU was the intelligence arm of the Coast Guard, and it was working with the FBI and ONI in ridding the ports of "subversive" elements. The Navy would later admit that more innocent people were hurt in these witch hunts than were hurt by the HUAC or any other Un-American/Loyalty watchdog. Atomic spy, Julius Rosenberg was given a pamphlet at age 15 on a New York Street corner regarding the railroading and imprisonment of a West Coast union leader. He would later recall that this incident led him into Marxism. Lee Oswald was given a pamphlet on a New York street corner at age 15, regarding freeing the Rosenbergs. This incident led him into Marxism. One problem: the incident never happened regarding Oswald. The Rosenbergs were executed in June, 1953. Oswald had not yet even turned 14. Moreover, the information came from an alleged interview with Oswald by Alina Mosby in Moscow, and it was not published in the original story. It only became part of the story after the JFK assassination and has simply been transplanted from the Julius Rosenberg history onto Oswald in an effort to backstop his Marxist credentials. Lee Oswald's truancy ceased at the same time that John Pic moved out of the PSU and back into regular Coast Guard work.
  • Greg R. Parker

©2017 by The New Disease