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November 22 1963: You Are the Jury [Hardcover]

David W. Belin
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Times Books (Dec 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812903749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812903744
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 16.3 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,548,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars clinical, honest and efficient. 16 Dec 2009
The author served as a lawyer on the much maligned Warren Commission. His area of investigation was that of analysing all of the evidence pertaining to the assassination to determine who killed President Kennedy and Officer Tippit.

Written in 1973, this book still ranks as a classic in assassination literature - at least for those who value physical evidence and witness testimony when seeking to discover truths about events.

Belin was 'hands-on' and, with his colleague Joe Ball, questioned the key witnesses and examined the physical evidence.

For readers who are not already wedded to the fantastical notion that the Warren Commission (and all those who worked on it) was a huge fraud, this book will be a true delight.

Belin doesn't merely reproduce the question and answer format that the official 26 volumes contain; here he adds comment and observation - his own and that of the other lawyers and commissioners.

It provides a rare insight into how the commission actually worked and, ultimately reached the conclusions that it did.

As an authorative work, this ranks as one of the very best.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Jury is Still Out 21 May 2011
As I've said before about David Belin's books, anything written by David Belin should be taken with a grain of salt...maybe the whole salt shaker. He, it is now known, tampered with evidence given by at least two witnesses whom he interviewed, Policeman Roger Craig and Victoria Adams, and completely ignored other witnesses in his own rush to judgement. Belin had a way of interrogating the witnesses. Take for instance Roger Craig, in reference to his testimony: he, Belin, would ask certain questions and, whenever an important question would come up, such as a description of clothing or a time element or something; he had to know what Craig's answer was before hand, and would turn off the tape recorder he was using, and instruct the stenographer present, to stop taking notes. Then Belin would ask for the question, and if the answer satisfied him, he would turn the recorder back on, instruct the stenographer to start writing again, and he would ask Craig a completely differently question. Consider Belin's question if the Rambler car Craig reports as having Oswald away from the area, had out-of-state plates or Texas plates. Craig replied that they were not the same color as Texas plates...in the final testimony, Belin took the word "not" out, so it completely changed that particular sentence. Craig later saw the car in question and it had out-of-state plates. Belin also changed the color of the car, the color of the man's jacket driving the car; he just rearranged everything. Now in 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony, Craig's testimony, was changed 14 times! Is Belin a man who can be believed? For new disclosure on David Belin's interrogation techniques, and how he manipulated what he presented to the Warren Commission, see the book: "The Girl on the Stairs," by Barry Ernest. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book Right After Reading The Warren Report -- Together They Are Bookends Of Rational Thinking And Actual Evidence 22 Nov 2006
By David Von Pein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"November 22, 1963: You Are The Jury" by David W. Belin is a fantastic source of information regarding the facts and the evidence surrounding President John F. Kennedy's assassination, which, as the title indicates, occurred on that grim and never-to-be-forgotten November date in '63.

Mr. Belin, an Iowa lawyer, served as a member of the Warren Commission's Assistant Counsel during the Commission's 1964 investigation into JFK's murder (plus the slayings of Police Officer J.D. Tippit and the President's accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald). Belin did a vast amount of work for the WC, including handling the questioning of many of the primary witnesses connected with the Kennedy case. He is, therefore, eminently qualified to write a book of this nature.

Belin wrote "You Are The Jury" in 1973, ten years after the somber events in Dallas, and these 520-plus pages provide a superb "inside" look at how Belin and the Warren Commission operated during the Commission's nearly 10-month probe into JFK's assassination.

This book could almost be referred to as a "Warren Report Sequel" (of sorts), as Mr. Belin lays out the evidence in massive doses, complete with huge chunks of actual witness testimony, with the reader serving as "the jury", as the title suggests.

After reading these 500+ pages of raw evidence and witness accounts (which are combined with a whole lot of common sense being exhibited by the author as well), a reasonable reader can be left with no doubt whatsoever as to the identity of the real killer of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit.

With respect to the Tippit crime, allow me to quote a passage from page 112 of this book:

"{Fellow WC lawyer} Joe Ball put it succinctly: 'In all of my courtroom experience, I have never seen a more open-and-shut case'."

I couldn't turn these pages fast enough, in wanting to see what Mr. Belin would next offer on the next page in terms of evidence, actual WC witness testimony, and reasoned thinking. And Belin never disappointed this reader at any stage. He verbally KOs Warren Commission critic and assassination buff Mark Lane on numerous occasions, including the complete annihilation of Lane's crazy assertion that Helen Markham, a key witness to the Tippit murder, said that Tippit's killer was "stocky with bushy hair". Markham never said such a thing to Mr. Lane, and Belin (rightly so) hammers Lane hard on this crucial matter.

Another excerpt from the book......

"Our Warren Commission Report will stand the test of the final verdict of the jury of world opinion because it is basically accurate and because there are more than 6,500 footnotes in our 888-page Report, which are grounded in the 26 volumes of testimony and exhibits.

When you examine every one of these footnotes you will find that there is none of the misrepresentation and distortion of the type {Mark} Lane uses when he alleges that {Howard} Brennan could not identify the two Negro men that he saw in the fifth floor window who came out of the building after the assassination.

Nor will you find any distortion of the type used by Lane when he fragments the testimony and omits {Bonnie Ray} Williams' forthright statement about why he did not go to the sixth floor {on 11/22/63, after having heard gunshots from there}, 'Maybe it was just because we were frightened'." -- David Belin; Page 159

Mr. Belin's attack on Mark Lane reaches its spectacular zenith late in this publication, as Belin tells his readers of Mr. Lane's July 1966 letter to Belin, affording Belin an on-camera opportunity to rebut the anti-WC claims made in Lane's soon-to-be-released film, "Rush To Judgment".

Lane tried to ignore Belin's correspondence accepting this unique offer, but Mr. Belin persisted, writing a total of ten letters saying he was willing to take Lane up on his offer to rebut the film on camera.

To get the full (outstanding) effect of this "Lane vs. Belin" episode from 1966, you must read pages 470 to 473 of this book. It's fabulous stuff, with Belin calling Lane's bluff and exposing Lane for the fraud he has proven to be.

After calling Belin a "bit player" in the grand scheme of the Warren Commission and its associated counsel members, here's a portion of what Belin wrote back to Lane......

"True to form, you tried to hide from the person who could best demolish your fabricated case. .... Once again I challenge you, Mark Lane, to thirty minutes on film -- that is all I need to demolish your manufactured case." -- David Belin; 12/23/66

I love it! A tip of my cap goes to David Belin for the above salvo dished up toward Mr. Lane. I was so thrilled with pages 470 through 473, I've already re-read those pages multiple times. :)

"You Are The Jury" also thoroughly trashes virtually every conspiracy theory that had been postulated by the CTers up to the time of Belin's publishing date for this volume (late 1973).

I find it very interesting that Mr. Belin, after a brief "Overview" chapter, begins the book by discussing the murder of Officer Tippit (instead of starting with details of the President's killing). I, like Belin, feel that the Tippit murder is an extremely important part of the overall JFK case, because it is a killing that is tied so closely to the Kennedy murder, which occurred just 45 minutes earlier.

Belin gushes fact after fact regarding the Tippit crime, leaving little to no doubt as to who was responsible for the murder -- with that person being Lee Harvey Oswald (alone), a man who just happened to work in a building (the Texas School Book Depository on Elm Street) from where gunshots came just 45 minutes earlier as the President was driving by that building and as he was being shot in the head and killed.

The raw physical and circumstantial evidence that ties Oswald (and only Oswald) to both the Kennedy and Tippit murders is overwhelming in mass and scope, as Mr. Belin adeptly brings forth in this excellent volume.

Backtracking for a moment to the "Overview" section of this book -- That opening section of "You Are The Jury" is a dandy section too, with Belin systematically demolishing the oft-uttered theory by the conspiracy kooks that the paraffin test given to Lee Oswald on 11/22/63 is virtual proof of his innocence in the JFK murder.

As Belin thoroughly explains, the paraffin test given to Oswald by the Dallas Police is a completely unreliable way to determine whether or not a person has recently fired a gun....in that the nitrates that can show up via such a test can also be present on a person's hands (or elsewhere on the body) if the person has recently come into contact with other substances, like tobacco or ordinary household cleaning products (like Clorox for instance).

Plus (and this is the kicker, which destroys the "Paraffin Tests Are Reliable" claims of many conspiracists) -- Belin points out that a test was done with Oswald's own rifle, where an FBI agent fired LHO's gun and, to quote the text directly from page 18 of this book:

"There were negative reactions on both hands and on the cheek of the FBI agent who fired the assassination weapon. Thus, we had the other side of the coin: A negative reaction from the paraffin test did not prove that a person had not fired a rifle."

Given the above results done by the FBI, how can anyone then continue to tout the paraffin procedure as being at all a convincing test, either in a pro or con manner?

Belin's section concerning the controversial "Single-Bullet Theory" is also very convincing, forthright, and to the point (with heaps of witness testimony being provided, testimony that leaves little to no doubt, IMO, that the SBT is easily the most reasonable and accurate conclusion to explain the wounding of JFK and Governor John Connally).

A question is brought up by Belin on page #329 that goes right to the heart of the matter -- "If a bullet entered the front of President Kennedy's neck, where did that bullet go?"

A perfectly legitimate question, of course....and a question that conspiracy buffs simply cannot answer in a reasonable and believable manner (and without inserting the words "cover-up" or "conspiracy" or "they've doctored the real evidence", etc.).

And, by the same token, Mr. Belin (on the very next page) asks the next logical follow-up question -- "If a bullet exited from President Kennedy's neck at a relatively high velocity, where did it go?" (Page 330)

Mr. Belin then goes on to explain that such an exiting missile would have to do one of two things: either hit the interior of the limousine without striking a human being....or hit the man sitting almost directly in line to be hit by such a bullet, Governor Connally.

Since the automobile was NOT hit by this missile, the only place for the bullet TO go was into the back of Mr. Connally....just at the point where he WAS wounded by gunfire on 11/22/63.

No "magic" involved at all. It's all too obvious where that bullet HAD to go (seeing as how no bullets were found inside the President and no damage was done to the car's interior that can be attributed to such a bullet travelling at approx. 1,775 feet per second after exiting JFK's neck).

So, anyone who researches this murder case has little choice here re. the "SBT" question -- they can either believe that a massive cover-up operation was underway on November 22nd in order to eliminate a bunch of evidence that would expose a conspiracy in the murder of a U.S. President....or they accept the evidence that's on the table in this case with respect to the SBT and admit that the single-bullet conclusion "fits" nearly every last scrap of evidence connected with it -- not the least of which is the "perfect" number of bullets (1) needed to fit the evidence with respect to this one-bullet conclusion.

Whereas, realistically, any anti-SBT scenario that could be substituted for the SBT requires at least THREE separate bullets to do the job of CE399....with ALL THREE of these "other bullets" magically disappearing from view before they could be seen by a single person not connected with the devious "plot".*

* = This "Three Vanishing Missiles" theory pre-supposes that the theorist purporting it believes in the widely-accepted hunk of extraordinarily-unnecessary nonsense that has Bullet CE399 being a "planted" bullet which never hit anyone in the limousine on November 22nd. Virtually all conspiracists I've encountered over the years do, indeed, think that CE399 was planted in Parkland Hospital by some unknown henchman.

Let's have a gander at a few more of Mr. Belin's comments regarding the "SBT" (comments that brim over with common sense and logical thinking)......

"The single-bullet theory is the only possibility consistent with all the facts. .... There was simply no other way for it to have happened, based on the overwhelming weight of the evidence."

Page 347 of this book contains another very impressive segment of Belin text, in the form of these very forthright (and spot-on accurate) comments when discussing the necessity for determining which bullet hit John Connally......

"The plain fact is that it is absolutely necessary to the findings of the Commission to determine whether the same bullet that pierced the President's throat also caused Governor Connally's wounds. Otherwise, where did that first bullet go? .... Governor Connally was simply wrong in his testimony, just as President Johnson was wrong in some of his observations, and just as almost every witness to a sudden and startling event is incapable of being completely accurate."

The above paragraph from David Belin deserves five stars (at least). Belin is certainly not adverse to dishing up criticism aimed at the Commission on which he served (and also occasionally aimed at certain witnesses and Government officials as well), if he feels such criticism is warranted (such as the comments shown above).

This book has proven to my satisfaction that David W. Belin was certainly no boot-licking WC lapdog. If he WAS that type of person when he wrote this book, then he must be a pretty doggone good actor, as well as being a darn good lawyer. But, in my opinion, the text within these pages is no "act".

Another excellent and candid Belin passage, displaying his displeasure with some of the decisions made by people in high places, can be found on page 361......

"My inherent skepticism of governmental authority, be it civilian or military, was intensified as an outgrowth of my service with the Warren Commission. The autopsy physicians were very capable -- but by no means perfect. The FBI and Secret Service were very capable -- but by no means perfect. And although, by and large, Chief Justice Warren and his fellow Commissioners did a creditable job in conducting a fair and impartial investigation, surely errors were made, such as the failure to allow the attorneys conducting the work of the Commission to see the autopsy photographs and X-rays."

I completely agree with Belin regarding the autopsy materials. It was totally ridiculous why the Commission assigned to investigate the President's murder was prohibited from examining some of THE most critical items of evidence in the whole case (the autopsy pictures and X-rays). Absolutely crazy, in fact.

I, too, can understand the Kennedy family's wishes to not have those items published for mass consumption -- but I've always been stumped as to why some kind of compromise couldn't have been reached between the Kennedy family and the Warren Commission.

For example, why on Earth couldn't the Commission have viewed the autopsy materials and then merely agreed to NOT actually print any of the gory photos within its final published report? And a forthright explanation concerning the matter of the photos could have been added to the text of the WC Report for all Americans to read....something like this:

[The Warren Commission was given full access to all of the JFK autopsy photographs and X-rays, and the Commission has examined these materials thoroughly. However, out of deference to the Kennedy family, it was deemed appropriate that the autopsy pictures not be published within the completed Warren Report or within any of the Commission's 26 supporting volumes of testimony and exhibits.]

Why wouldn't the above stipulation have been a suitable compromise? In my view, such an agreement would have been a perfect compromise. And I can't for the life of me understand why such a proposal wasn't considered by anyone in charge of the investigation back in 1964. ~big shrug~

Here are some additional selected passages of interest taken from "November 22, 1963: You Are The Jury"......


"We scheduled the testimony of {assassination eyewitness} Harold Norman on March 24, 1964. Before he testified, we wanted to interview him on the fifth floor of the TSBD Building and check whether these sounds {of the rifle shells hitting the floor above and of the rifle's bolt being worked by the gunman} could be heard.

We had with us the equipment necessary to make the test. A Secret Service agent with the bolt action rifle stood with Joe Ball in the southeast corner window on the sixth floor of the TSBD Building. I stayed with Harold Norman on the fifth floor directly below.

Before giving the signal to conduct the experiment, I waited until a train passed on the nearby railroad overpass so there would be plenty of street noise. In addition, at that time, several large trucks were moving down Elm Street. I then yelled to have the test begin.

I smiled, for I really did not expect to hear anything. Then, with remarkable clarity, I could hear the thump as a cartridge case hit the floor. There were two more thumps as the two other cartridge cases hit the floor above me.

The Secret Service agent then worked the bolt of the rifle back and forth, and this too could be heard with clarity.

When we re-assembled after the re-enactment, I said to my colleague, 'Joe, if I had not heard it myself, I would never have believed it'." -- David Belin; Pages 139-140


DVP -- Harold Norman's testimony of hearing THREE bullet shells hitting the floor above him is compelling evidence (all by itself) with which to satisfactorily dismantle the claims of conspiracy buffs (like Robert J. Groden to name but one) who think that NO SHOTS at all likely came from the Sniper's Nest window on the 6th Floor of the Book Depository.

And the March 1964 re-creation described by Mr. Belin via the above-mentioned text of this book only further buttresses Norman's testimony of him hearing just exactly what he said he heard on 11/22/63 during the shooting of JFK.

So, as I see it, there are three choices for resolving this particular matter:

1.) Either Harold Norman was a very clever liar.

2.) One or more "conspirators" were on the 6th Floor of the TSBD on November 22....and, in an attempt to fool any witnesses who might be nearby, were working the bolt of a rifle back and forth and dropping bullet shells or other metal objects to the floor in "REAL TIME" (i.e., with the shell-dropping corresponding perfectly with the EXACT moment in time when John Kennedy was being shot on Elm Street). And this explanation still fails to reconcile Norman's testimony about actually hearing the sound of the rifle blasts/shots themselves.

3.) Harold Norman was telling the truth and indeed heard a person firing three shots from a bolt-action rifle directly above him on 11/22/63, and also heard three bullet cartridge cases hitting the floorboards of the Sniper's Nest.

Would a reasonable person looking at the evidence in this case choose #1 or #2? No, they wouldn't.


"The incompleteness of FBI investigations and the inaccuracies of some of the FBI reports have been exploited by assassination sensationalists.** The technique is simple: When the FBI was right, as it generally was, sensationalists ignore the reports. When the FBI was wrong, the sensationalists say, 'Look what the FBI said'. Thus, they seek to have it both ways." -- David Belin; Page 271

** = Mr. Belin uses the phrase "assassination sensationalists" many times throughout this volume to describe people like Mark Lane and other hard-boiled conspiracy theorists. While this somewhat low-key term utilized by Belin does indeed have a nice ring to it (and is certainly an accurate description to be sure), I, myself, think the term "conspiracy kooks" is a more fitting (albeit less flattering) description for the type of assassination buffs who NEED a "conspiracy" to exist in the JFK murder case at all costs. Because, without some kind of conspiracy theory to cling to, they'd be akin to a ship without water. And I salute Mr. Belin's repeated efforts in this book to call a spade a spade....or to call an "assassination sensationalist" the same.


"On Jan. 5, 1972, I wrote a letter to Senator Edward Kennedy urging that he 'undertake whatever steps are necessary to make available to the general public the autopsy photographs and X-rays which were taken following the assassination of President Kennedy'.

In the letter I said that although I understand the desire of the family 'to avoid publication of matters of this kind', I nevertheless believed 'that where the death of a President is involved the citizens of the country do have an overriding right to know all of the facts'. Senator Kennedy did not reply to my letter." -- David Belin; Page 362


Re. Mr. Belin's insistence that Jack Ruby take a lie detector test......

"The story behind the polygraph examination of Jack Ruby is further evidence of the fact that we lawyers performed our work with a 'total dedication to the determination of the truth'. This is what we wrote in the foreword to our {Warren} Report. And this is what we did." -- David Belin; Page 443


In examining the events surrounding the assassination from the standpoint of "Pure Happenstance vs. Pre-Planned Conspiracy", the following very illuminating passage can be found near the end of this volume (which involves the topic of Jack Ruby killing Lee Oswald after Ruby had sent a money order to one of his nightclub strippers at 11:17 AM on 11/24/63, a mere four minutes before Oswald was killed)......

"Suppose there had been another customer or two waiting in line at the downtown Western Union office. This in itself could have caused sufficient delay so that Ruby could not have descended the ramp into the basement of the Dallas Police Station in time to kill Oswald. Circumstances of this nature are strong proof of the fact there was no conspiracy." -- David Belin; Page 461


Along the same "happenstance" lines as the above quote from page #461, there's also this interesting observation made by Mr. Belin......

"Although Marina Oswald rebuffed the pleas of her husband {Lee had wanted to make up with Marina on 11/21/63 after a quarrel, but Marina refused}, there was one other person who could have almost single-handedly prevented the assassination. His name was Arnold Rowland, an 18-year-old resident of Dallas, who was in the vicinity of the TSBD Building at least 15 minutes before the motorcade arrived.

Rowland said that he had looked up at the TSBD Building and noticed a man {"holding a rifle"} back away from a window on the southwest corner of the sixth floor.

This is one of the many ironic twists of fate that we discovered during our investigation. .... What would have happened had Arnold and Barbara Rowland called to that policeman 12 feet away and said, 'What's that man doing with a rifle in that building?'?

{Warren Commission member} Senator Cooper asked Rowland that question, {and} Rowland burst into tears, and the Chief Justice called for a recess. Then Earl Warren walked to Rowland, put his arm over the young man's shoulder and sought to comfort him.

It was an unforgettable experience to see the Chief Justice of the United States seeking to console an 18-year-old youth who had obviously confronted himself with the possibility that he might have prevented the assassination." -- David Belin; Pages 453-454


A Final Comment......

Among the large assortment of books that have been published about the John F. Kennedy assassination up through the date of this review in November 2006, David W. Belin's sterling and immensely-convincing effort titled "NOVEMBER 22, 1963: YOU ARE THE JURY" is, in my opinion, one of the very best and most satisfying resources on the Kennedy case I have ever read.

David Von Pein

November 22, 2006
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the JFK assassination! 20 July 2006
By Homer Simpson - Published on Amazon.com
Although most people regard "Case Closed" as the best book on the JFK assassination, I think this little gem from the early 1970s is the best place to start. Belin was a Warren Commission lawyer who lobbied for the Warren Report to be written in the form of a trial transcript, but was outvoted. After becoming disgusted by the rise of the conspiracy literature, he decided to write the kind of Warren Report -- using large chunks of key eyewitness testimony -- that he wanted to see published in the first place. The evidence against Oswald is (of course) overwhelming, and the presentation is eminently readable.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is his argument against Warren's withholding of the autopsy photos and xrays at the request of the Kennedy family. (In fact, Warren himself never got to see them!) His reasoning -- that JFK is a citizen just like the rest of us and that Warren's succumbing to this pressure put JFK on a dangerous pedestal -- is both thought-provoking and ultimately correct IMHO.

Read this one first. Then, if you still want to understand why Oswald did it alone, you will need to understand Oswald. For that DO NOT go to the conspiracy literature, which paints Oswald as a two-dimensional cardboard cutout. No, for that you need a fully-developed bio of this intriguing character. And, although the Warren Report does a great job on Oswald (and Ruby), the book to start with is Posner's "Case Closed."

I cannot recommend the late Mr. Belin's book highly enough!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book on JFK killing 14 Dec 2013
By david tyler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book!!!! Answers and debunks questions and the conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination. Read this and you will read the FACTS. Not what someone makes up!
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warren Commission counsel supports official story 28 July 2013
By TLR - Published on Amazon.com
Belin was the Assistant Counsel for the Warren Commission, and later appointed by President Ford (ex-Warren Commission member) as executive director of the Rockefeller Commission, which did a whitewash investigation of CIA activities inside the US. Belin was one of the most vocal public defenders of the official story of the Kennedy assassination. He called the murder of Tippit "the Rosetta Stone to understanding the assassination," though even John McAdams has admitted that there are plausible scenarios where Oswald could have shot Tippit without being Kennedy's assassin. Belin is a defender of the CIA, which speaks volumes about him: "On the whole, its people are as good as, or perhaps even better than, the people of virtually every other government department or bureau." (Final Disclosure p78)

Belin bragged that this lengthy work would be the "definitive" reply to the WC critics, but it is little more than a re-write of the Warren Report. The book was given a favorable review in November 1973 by George and Priscilla McMillan, who have repeatedly been enlisted to defend the official stories of the JFK and MLK assassinations. Belin (and his supporters, like the late Anthony Lewis) claimed that he knew more about the JFK assassination than anyone else on the planet, and had read every document in existence (a remarkable feat considering there are millions of pages involved).
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Signifying Nothing 29 July 2013
By Baron Wrangle - Published on Amazon.com
When the late Harold Weisberg, author of eight books on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, needed something positive to think about, he reminded himself that the United States was one of the few countries in which a private citizen could expose government dishonesty the way he did. If he needed something else, he could have reminded himself that the late David W. Belin, Esq., author of "November 22, 1963: You Are the Jury," was never a prosecutor. (You can alter this to "David W. Belin was never a prosecutor in [insert your jurisdiction here].") Belin was a stupid, dishonest man with a vicious, authoritarian streak. A dishonest prosecutor, like a Mike Nifong or a Kenny Hulshof, will prosecute the innocent. A stupid prosecutor, like many of those who have worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney, won't be able to convict the guilty. A stupid, dishonest prosecutor gives you the worst of both worlds.

This observation is relevant, because "November 22, 1963" is Belin's fantasy of prosecuting a case. (As far as I know, he never practiced criminal law.) He addresses readers of the book as "members of the jury" too many times to count. A prosecutor takes testimony; the book includes many passages of Warren Commission testimony. This may seem impressive at first, but the Warren Commission published 15 volumes of testimony and 11 volumes of exhibits. (This does not include material that the Commission had, but did not publish, or that agencies such as the FBI had, but did not send to the Commission.) Belin had ample opportunity to cherry pick the evidence.

Chapter 21, which deals with the testimony of four of five photographers who rode in a car in the presidential motorcade, is an excellent example of Belin's viciousness and cherry picking. (The fifth photographer did not testify for the Commission and did not exist for Belin.) Two of the photographers saw a rifle barrel in the window of the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD). He wrote

. . . there is one thing upon which each of the photographers agreed: His duty as a photographer for his employer was more important than his duty as a citizen to contact immediately the first police officer he saw and advice the officer of the source of the shots.

The Chevrolet convertible in which these four photographers were riding came to a stop just as it turned the intersection of Elm and Houston in front of the TSBD Building. Dallas policemen were stationed on the street in front of the TSBD Building, as they were stationed on the street throughout the motorcade route. Had any one of these four photographers contacted any of the nearby policemen, the TSBD Building could have been sealed off within a minute or two after the assassination. Had this been done, perhaps Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit would be alive today.

And the real irony is that one of these four cameramen--Robert Jackson--won a Pulitzer Prize because he wanted a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald as Oswald was being escorted through the basement of the Dallas Police Building and at the time Jackson took the picture, Jack Ruby darted forward and fired a shot into Oswald. For this, Jackson received one of the highest awards that can be bestowed on a member of the press.

But as citizens of the United States, Jackson should share with his three colleagues a last-place award in failing to do first whatever was possible to help catch a gunman firing at their President. [pp. 176-77]

In his prosecutorial zeal, Belin fails to mention this passage from Jackson's testimony:

Representative [Gerald] FORD: After the third shot and as the car hesitated, did you see any law enforcement officials move in any concentrated or concerted direction?

Mr. JACKSON. I saw at least one, there may have been more, run up the School Depository steps, toward the door. That is one of the things I saw in this confusion. [2 WCH 164]

People who live in glass houses . . .

Sometimes, Belin leaves traces of his cherry picking. On p. 231, he quotes a portion of the testimony of Charles Douglas Givens, an employee of the TSBD. He includes Givens's testimony that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald on the sixth floor of the TSBD around 11:55 AM, November 22, 1963. As the testimony appears in Belin's book, it includes ellipsis marks. These marks correspond to over three pages of Givens's testimony, as it appears in the Warren Commission hearings. In the omitted portion, Belin asks Givens if he ever told anyone that he had seen Oswald in the domino room on the first floor of the TSBD around 11:50 AM and Givens responds that he had not. Two FBI agents reported that Givens had done just that. The Commission had their report, but did not publish it.

As for the stupid part, sometimes Belin forgets to cherry pick. He expended a good deal of effort attempting to prove that Governor Connally's recollection that he first heard a shot and then felt a shot hit him was incorrect. (He shucked away this supposed achievement two decades later, but that's another matter.) If Connally had been right, and all of the shots were fired from the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the TSBD with the Mannlicher-Carcano found on the sixth floor, the first shot must have been fired while an oak tree blocked the line of sight between the southeast corner and the limousine. Belin wrote:

Now, jurors, we have major difference in testimony: Governor Connally testified he said 'Oh, no, no, no' after he was hit. Mrs. Connally said this was before the second shot. So did Mrs. Kennedy. [p. 325]

Right before this passage, Belin quotes Mrs. Connally's testimony:

Mrs. CONNALLY. In fact the receptions had been so good every place that I had showed much restraint by not mentioning something about it before.
I could resist no longer. When we got past this area I did turn to the President and said, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."

Then I don't know how soon, it seems to me it was very soon, that I heard a noise, and not being an expert rifleman, I was not aware that it was a rifle. It was just a frightening noise, and it came from the right.

I turned over my right shoulder and looked back, and saw the President as he had both hands at his neck.

Mr. [Arlen] SPECTER. And you are indicating with your own hands, two hands crossing over gripping your own neck?

Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes; and it seemed to me there was--he made no utterance, no cry. I saw no blood, no anything. It was just sort of nothing, the expression on his face, and he just sort of slumped down.

Then very soon there was the second shot that hit John. As the first shot was hit, and I turned to look at the same time, I recall John saying, "Oh, no, no, no." [4 WCH 147]

So, the Connallys agreed that the second shot hit the Governor. They disagreed over when he said "Oh, no, no, no," but witnesses disagree, as Belin often reminds us.

It is essential to Belin's argument that Mesdames Connally and Kennedy heard all of the shots and did not mistake any other sound for a shot. Here is a passage from Mrs. Kennedy's Warren Commission testimony:

Mrs. KENNEDY. I think he [President Kennedy] said--I don't know if I remember it or I have read it, "No, you certainly can't," or something. And you know then the car was very slow and there weren't very many people around.

And then--do you want me to tell you what happened?

Mr. [J. Lee] RANKIN. Yes; if you would, please.

Mrs. KENNEDY. You know, there is always noise in a motorcade and there are always motorcycles beside us, a lot of them backfiring. So I was looking to the left. I guess there was a noise, but it didn't seem like any different noise really because there is so much noise, motorcycles and things. But then Governor Connally was yelling, "Oh, no, no, no." [5 WCH 180]

Here is another passage:

Mr. RANKIN. Do you have any recollection of whether there were one or more shots?

Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, there must have been two because the one that made me turn around was Governor Connally yelling. And it used to confuse me because first I remembered there were three and I used to think my huband [sic] didn't make any sound when he was shot. And Governor Connally screamed. And then I read the other day that it was the same shot that hit them both. But I used to think if I only had been looking to the right I would have seen the first shot hit him, then I could have pulled him down, and the second shot would not have hit him. But I heard Governor Connally yelling and that made me turn around, and as I turned to the right my husband was doing this [indicating with hand at neck]. He was receiving a bullet. And those are the only two I remember.

And I read there was a third shot. But I don't know. [5 WCH 180]

These passages contain all of the references to Governor Connally crying out "Oh, no, no, no" in Mrs. Kennedy's testimony. Mrs. Kennedy did not hear three shots; it seems that she did not hear any shots at all. Belin quoted the first passage on page 8 and pages 116-17 and the second on page 117. They refute his argument, but who cares? To Big Brother Belin, the idea that someone would challenge his assertions was unthinkable.

All of these omissions and distortions are merely reflections of Belin's basic lie. He committed it in his description of the Warren Commission's work:

For organizational purposes, our work was divided into six basic areas: Area I centered on the activities of the President, including the background planning of the trip to Texas, the planning of the motorcade through Dallas, the testimony of the persons in the motorcade, the treatment of the President in Parkland Memorial Hospital, and the autopsy.

Area II, in which Joe Ball and I worked, focused on the determination of who was (or were) the assassin(s) of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit.

Area III assumed the correctness of the preliminary reports of the FBI and Secret Service that Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in the assassination of the President. [p. 14]

On January 11, 1964, while the commission was still assembling its staff, J. Lee Rankin, its general counsel, "a fine lawyer and a man of high integrity" to Belin, sent out a progress report to the members of the commission. (It is reproduced in part on pages 467-72 of Post-Mortem by Harold Weisberg.) The report stated:

I am enclosing as Appendix C a tentative outline prepared by Mr. Rankin which I think will assist in organizing the evaluation of the investigative materials received by the Commission. This outline divides the work into the following six areas: (1) Assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963; (2) Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy; (3) Lee Harvey Oswald; Background and Possible Motive; (4) Oswald's Foreign Activity (Military Excluded); (5) Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack L. Ruby; and (6) Security Precautions to Protect the President.

No, Belin and Ball did not keep their minds open about Oswald's guilt or innocence while the other assistant counsels presumed his guilt: they all worked from a presumption of guilt. Belin couldn't describe his own actions honestly.

Frequently, and with much sound and fury, Belin proclaimed his own integrity and denounced "assassination sensationalists," i.e. those who disagreed with him. By now, you should have some idea of what these proclamations are worth. Harold Weisberg was fond of these lines of Diana in "All's Well That End Well":

'Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vow'd true.

They apply very well to Belin.
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