A Warren Commission member expressed serious reservations about one of the panel's more controversial conclusions, the theory that a single shot struck both President John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally, a long-secret document has revealed. The "magic bullet" theory was essential to the commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin.
Marked "confidential," the released document was a memorandum sent by commission member John J. McCloy to the commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin. It was dated June 24, 1964.
"I think too much effort is expended on attempting to prove that the first bullet, which hit the president, was also responsible for all of Connally's wounds," McCloy wrote. "The evidence against this is not fully stated."
Elsewhere, McCloy questioned the commission's account that a bullet found on a stretcher at Dallas' Parkland Hospital -- where Kennedy and Connally were treated after being shot -- was the "magic bullet."
The commission concluded that Oswald had time to fire no more than three shots and that he did so. One bullet was said to have missed the presidential limousine entirely. A second -- the fatal bullet -- was said to have struck Kennedy in the back of the head. That left just one more bullet, but it was known that Kennedy also had been struck in the neck and that Connally had suffered wounds.
If the commission had decided that separate bullets had struck Kennedy and Connally, it would have been forced to conclude that a second shooter fired a fourth bullet. The commission responded with the "magic bullet" theory -- concluding that the bullet that struck Kennedy in the neck passed through his body and hit Connally.
Pub Date: 8/11/97