Friday, 10 February 2023 08:57

Fred's Flim-Flam

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Matt Douthit reviews Fred Litwin's new “book” titled Oliver Stone's Film-Flam and shows how he gets even the basic facts of the Kennedy case wrong.

Fred Litwin’s latest book is not really a book. This “book” is mainly just a copy and paste of his blog posts. So he actually didn’t write a book. But nonetheless, fundamentally, Fred Litwin still can’t debunk JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed. So he made up lone nut excuses...he transferred them from his blog to the pages of what he calls a book.

JOHN STRINGER—“Which is more likely? A different brain, or a lack of memory for minor details after 32 years?” (11/24/21 blog; Chapter 17)

BRAIN WEIGHT—“Here is an excerpt from Vincent Bugliosi's book, Reclaiming History...” (11/30/21 blog; Chapter 15)

BRAIN PHOTOS—“Which is more likely? That the powers that be switched out another brain to fool the pathologists, or that they just used a higher concentration of formaldehyde?” (12/1/21 blog; Chapter 16)

JAMES GOCHENAUR—“How much he [Elmer Moore] pressured Perry is not exactly known.” (12/5/21 blog; Chapter 8)

THROAT WOUND—“Dr. Perry...wasn't performing an autopsy, he was frantically trying to save the life of President Kennedy...No forensic pathologist who has examined the autopsy X-rays and photographs believes the throat wound to be one of entrance.” (12/10/21 blog; Chapter 7)

BACK WOUND—“Gerald Ford made a reasonable and purely editorial change.” (12/12/21 blog; Chapter 21)

VALERY GISCARD D’ESTAING—“This all could have [just] been misinterpreted.” (12/15/21 blog; Chapter 34)

AUTOPSY PHOTOGRAPHS—“JFK Revisited ignores the issue of memory.” (1/14/22 blog; Chapter 18) “One possibility, raised by Vincent Bugliosi...” (1/18/22 blog; Chapter 19)

HEAD WOUND—“The doctors at Parkland Hospital were frantically trying to save the life of President Kennedy. They were extremely busy and no one had the time to examine his wounds in detail. Dr. Michael Baden explained this to Gerald Posner…” (3/22/22 blog; Chapter 14) “We are dealing with human beings and their imperfect memories.” (3/27/22 blog; Chapter 10)

MISSING AUTOPSY PHOTOGRAPHS—“Memory is a tricky thing...Here is what Vincent Bugliosi wrote about this issue...” (4/8/22 blog; Chapter 20)

JFK’S AUTOPSY—“Every single forensic pathologist who has examined JFK's autopsy x-rays and photographs has come to the same conclusion: that JFK was hit from behind.” (5/12/22 blog; Chapter 22)

The problem with doing such a thing is simple: a blog is not a book. And the above are just a series of excuses for the powerful evidence presented in Oliver Stone’s films, JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

To show just how weak they are—and also how fundamentally flawed this cut and paste job is as a book—consider the first three. These all concern the forensic case of President Kennedy’s brain. Since the fatal shot was through JFK’s skull, this is quite important forensically. One of the strongest parts of Stone’s film is the case made for the pictures and illustrations of Kennedy’s brain not being genuine. In fact, the evidence dictates that they simply cannot represent Kennedy’s brain. In the film, this case is made on three different planes of evidence.

  1. The sworn testimony of the official autopsy photographer John Stringer made before the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB).
  2. The Dutch medical study testing average weights for the human brain.
  3. The pictures and films of Kennedy’s skull exploding and the tissue, brain matter and blood deposited all over the car, into the air, and even on the cyclists riding behind and to his left.

A fourth plane would be the eyewitness testimony of those who saw Kennedy’s brain after he was pronounced dead. Stringer denied the pictures at the Archives were his due to—among others—two major issues. He did not use the type of film these pictures were taken with, and the technical process that produced the film, a press pack, was not used by him.

Now look back at what Litwin says about Stringer. Is he really saying what I think he is? That Stringer would have forgotten how he worked as a photographer over a period of decades, and on this the most important case of his life? One of the most compelling interviews the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) did was with Stringer, and it is described in Doug Horne’s book, Inside the ARRB. According to Horne, Stringer was both surprised and excited when he saw the pictures. So much so that he walked over to the holders to examine them closely, he actually held them in his hands. (Horne, p. 807). He then said this was not Ektachrome film and it was from a press pack, neither of which he used in this case. So as far as he knew he did not take the pictures. (ibid, p. 809)

The second plane of evidence is the famous Dutch study that measured average brain weight—which came out to be about 1350 grams (The Assassinations, edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, p.253) Oddly, Kennedy’s brain was not weighed the night of the autopsy. About a week later, when it was weighed, it came in at 1500 grams. How could that be considering the massive head explosion depicted in the Zapruder film with a jet stream of blood and tissue exiting the top of the skull, with all the blood and tissue all over the back of the car, on Jackie Kennedy’s clothes, brain matter hurled with such force backwards that the cyclists thought they had been hit by a projectile. It was not a projectile; it turned out to be Kennedy’s brain and skull bone. (Josiah Thompson, Last Second in Dallas, pp. 56,57) We will never know how much of Kennedy’s brain was in the back seat of the car because it appears the Secret Service was sponging out the car while Kennedy was in the emergency room; there is a photo to denote this.

The above matches up with the plentiful witness testimony, all attesting to see a brain that was severely damaged to the point that a large part of it was missing. After all, witness Marilyn Sitzman said, “I saw his head open up and brains coming out.” (David Mantik, JFK Assassination Paradoxes p. 265) In his book, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, Jim DiEugenio collects 12 witnesses from both Parkland and Bethesda who recalled a large part of the brain being lacerated and missing. (p. 161) Which is not at all what one sees in the pictures, or the HSCA illustration drawn by artist Ida Dox.

Litwin’s argument about using too much formaldehyde shows a shocking ignorance of what happened that night during the autopsy at Bethesda Medical Center. He might ask himself why Kennedy’s brain was not weighed that night at Bethesda. James Curtis Jenkins, a morgue assistant, said the brain was so vitiated it was difficult to induce needles into the blood vessels in order to perfuse the specimen with formalin solution. (DiEugenio and Pease, p. 251) Pathologist Thornton Boswell said the brain was so torn up it might not have even shown a bullet track. (ARRB Deposition, p. 193).

Which leads to the final question: Why was the brain not dissected? As neurologist Mike Chesser said on camera during the filming of Oliver Stone’s documentary, this is necessary in order to determine the bullet path (paths) through the skull. (James DiEugenio, JFK Revisited, p. 298) As Cyril Wecht says in the film, the excuse given in the supplementary autopsy report for not doing it was “in the interest of preserving the specimen”. (Warren Report, p. 544) As Wecht declared: preserving the specimen for who and for what? Of course, Boswell’s description might explain why there was no dissection. It also explains why the photos and illustrations cannot be Kennedy’s.

Taking all of this evidence into consideration, as Doug Horne says in the film, these pictures would not be admitted into court. But further, if a defense lawyer can prove fraud or bad faith—which one could—the attorney can move for a mistrial and also to have the charges dismissed. That is undoubtedly what would have happened here.

This is Fred Litwin at work. Having demonstrated the (non-existent) quality of his labors in depth and at length, one can guess the value of the rest of those blog posts. And one would be correct; they are something less than zero.


Slip sliding along, Litwin actually claims that John Connally’s account of the shooting “is all consistent with the single bullet theory.” (11/21/21 blog) Oh really Fred? Connally stated, in the clearest terms, that the first bullet which hit Kennedy did not strike him. (Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. 4, pp. 135-36) His wife, sitting right next to him in front of JFK, completely agreed. She said that she turned at the sound of that shot and Kennedy “had both hands at his neck….very soon there was the second shot that hit John.” (ibid, p. 147) If one only allows for three shots, as Litwin has to do, then Connally does not agree with the centerpiece of the Commission, the single bullet theory. Because the other two shots consisted of one that missed the car completely, and the bullet that struck Kennedy in the skull. So if Connally is saying that he and JFK were hit by separate shots he contradicts the whole Magic Bullet concept: its four bullets. Moreover, he testified: “There were either two or three people involved or more in this or someone was shooting with an automatic rifle.” (Ibid, p. 133) He later went beyond that in private and said he never believed the findings of the Warren Commission for one second. (Joseph McBride, Into the Nightmare, p. 418). This is being consistent with the single bullet theory?

Litwin got offended and hurt about the straight-talk in the film—“I must question whether there was any need for Dr. Cyril Wecht to add that comment in about Gerald Ford. It's nasty.” (12/12/21 blog; Chapter 21) Wecht says in the film, “As I recall, they said about Gerald Ford that he could not chew gum and walk at the same time.”

Why does Wecht say this? Because in the next sentence he decries the fact that it was Ford who moved the bullet wound in Kennedy’s back (its true location) up into his neck for the final draft of the Warren Report. So the forensic pathologist asked: on what professional grounds did Ford have the standing to do this? Was he a forensic pathologist? Was he an expert photographer? Was he a criminalist? If he had none of those skills then how did he know how and why to do such a thing?

What makes Fred look all the worse is this. The man who originally made the unflattering remark about Ford was Lyndon Johnson. He actually said Ford could not fart and chew gum at the same time. And you can find the remark at Brainy Quote. So the real question Litwin will not ask is this: If LBJ thought so little about Ford’s mental acuity, why did he ask him to serve on the Warren Commission?

Litwin exhibited the same faux outrage when the film “dissed” the Sixth Floor Museum. (3/13/22 blog). No objective person can deny that this institution is dedicated to preserving the myths in the Warren Report. In fact, while offering a prominent position there to a researcher, the management told him he would have to support the Warren Report in public. (See JFK: Inside the Target Car Pt. 3 by James DiEugenio)

Litwin claimed Nurse Audrey Bell “did not see the wound in Kennedy's throat despite being there for the tracheotomy.” (3/21/22 blog) This is incorrect! She made clear on NOVA in 1988 that she DID see it: “It looked small and round like an entry wound.”

I don’t get angry easily, but I did when Litwin actually said Clint Hill “was rather busy trying to help Jackie Kennedy back to her seat, it seems clear that Hill didn't have time to do a forensic examination.” (3/27/22 blog; Chapter 10) Which is another nonsensical argument. JFK was face down in the car and Hill could see the hole in the back of the head for several minutes until they reached the hospital. It has nothing to do with a “forensic examination”, it’s what the man saw. (See David Mantik, JFK Assassination Paradoxes, p. 281; Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. 2 p. 138)

Litwin cherry-picked certain witness statements to try to put the skull defect solely on the right side of the head. (3/27/22 blog; Chapter 10) He uses John Stringer’s later 1996 words to the ARRB saying the wound was “in the right side of his head above his ear”—but ignored Stringer’s original 1972 account: “In the occipital part, in the back there, up above the neck.” (ARRB MD 84, p. 5) He uses Ed Reed’s later 1997 ARRB testimony saying he saw no wound on the back of the head—but ignored Reed’s original 1978 account: “Very large and located in the right hemisphere in the occipital region.” (ARRB MD 194, p. 2)

Litwin uses an FBI report to say that Darrel Tomlinson and O. P. Wright seemed to identify the bullet, CE 399, to agent Bardwell Odum. (4/9/22 blog; Chapter 29) But as the film series plainly addressed—and which Litwin ignored—Odum was shown this report by Gary Aguilar, and he adamantly said that he never had or showed any bullet to anyone. In fact, he told Gary Aguilar that, “I didn’t show it to anybody at Parkland. I didn’t have any bullet. I don’t think I ever saw it, ever.” (Mantik, p. 192)

Litwin next, and rather incredibly, states that Wright “never said or implied that CE 399 was not the bullet [he] found.” Yet again, the film series addressed that very point. Wright adamantly told Josiah Thompson way back in 1966 that the bullet he handled had a pointed tip. And Thompson has a dramatic photo comparison of the two bullets in his Six Seconds in Dallas on page 175. In fact, if one talks to Thompson, or reads Last Second in Dallas, Wright actually followed him out of his office and incredulously asked him this direct question: Was that exhibit the bullet they said I turned over? How could Litwin have missed all this?


Clearly, Litwin was unnerved by the two speeches that Dr. Henry Lee and Brian Edwards gave in Stone’s documentary about inadmissibility of evidence in court. This is why he brings up these above points about CE 399. No documentary had ever made this issue as strongly as those two men did, with as much backing as this documentary did. So, striking out with Odum and Wright, Litwin tries to extend this issue by saying that the so-called mystery of the 7:30 bullet in Robert Frazier’s notes is actually not that mysterious.

Let us be clear, Litwin is obfuscatory.. Writer researcher John Hunt notes that there seems to be documents missing from ballistics technician Robert Frazier’s files from that day.

But still, in two places in his work product, Frazier noted that he was in receipt of the stretcher bullet at 7:30 PM on the day of the assassination. (“The Mystery of the 7:30 Bullet” by John Hunt, at JFK Which makes for a serious problem in chain of possession. Why? Because the stretcher bullet had not arrived at FBI HQ at 7:30 PM. In fact, the best estimate would be that it would not arrive until probably after 9:20 PM. And the FBI was waiting for this bullet from the Secret Service. (See Figures 6 and 7 in Hunt’s essay.) The FBI memo from Alan Belmont clearly denotes two bullets will be arriving, as he writes “and we are arranging to get both of these.” That memo was signed off on by seven men in the FBI hierarchy, including the number two man, Clyde Tolson.

What does Litwin now manufacture to get around this information indicating two bullets? He actually writes that Frazier wrote down 7:30 because that was the time that O. P. Wright at Parkland Hospital gave the bullet to Secret Service agent Richard Johnsen! I am not kidding. Can you imagine the spectacle in court on this one? An FBI agent is making chain of possession notes for a private security officer (Wright) and a Secret Service agent (Johnsen)—while they were in Dallas! Which is over 1,300 miles away from where he is. Two men he had no direct contact with and likely did not even know!

All of this nonsense to disguise the question: How could Frazier be getting the stretcher bullet from Todd when he already had the stretcher bullet?


Litwin nonchalantly said the autopsy doctors “identified the entry and the exit wounds in JFK's head and they saw the beveling that told them which wound was entry and which wound was exit. The evidence was pretty clear.” (5/12/22 blog; Chapter 22) No. As Dr. Boswell explained, a semicircle of one of the late arriving bone fragments kind of looked like an entry wound. And a notch in one of the other bone fragments might have been an exit. Nothing was for sure.

Litiwn incredibly states about the back wound: “...the autopsy photographs that shows its exact location, which is totally consistent with the single-bullet theory.” (Chapter 21) Simply not true! The HSCA said that in order for it to work, JFK would have to be leaning WAY forward (HSCA Vol. 7, p.100)—which he was not. (Warren Commission Hearings Vol.18, p.26) The bullet also would’ve smashed the first rib had it traversed where the measurements place it.

In relation to the testimony of the secretaries on the fourth floor i.e. Sandra Styles and Victoria Adams, the author says “Oswald just simply beat Adams and Styles down the stairs.” (Chapter 23) I simply respond to this presupposing statement with, “How do you know there was anyone running down the stairs from the 6th floor in that time frame?” Litwin might say, “The rifle seen in the window and the rifle being found!” To which I will say, “That just means there was a shooter up there. But again, how do you know there was anyone running down the stairs from the 6th floor in that time frame?” Crickets.

Litwin parrots the lone nut talking point that “of course there was no evidence of the [palm] print being lifted, because the dusting powder on the print is totally lifted off.” (Chapter 27) But that’s impossible, because there was powder found “all over the gun.” (Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. 4 , p.81) Litwin says “Oliver Stone would have you believe that there is no evidence the print was even lifted.” (Chapter 27) Hmm...has Litwin not read this sentence from the Warren Report itself? “Nor was there any indication that the lift had been performed.” (WR, p. 123) Litwin also never gets to the real crux of the issue. That is this: the palm print didn’t appear for a week. (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. 4, pp. 24-25). And also, that the only person to see this alleged print said it was an old print. (Gary Savage, First Day Evidence, p. 108)

Let us mention the Chicago Plot. Litwin says: “Now, of course memories fade over time…Might Bolden have been conflating the Vallee story with [a 1963] rumor?” (7/20/22 blog; Chapter 39) As Edwin Black (Chicago Independent, 11/75) and Jim Douglass (JFK and the Unspeakable, Chapter 5) have proven, at length and in depth, the Chicago plot was no rumor. But I will say this…when basically all you have left is the old shibboleth, “memories are unreliable” excuse—which is Litwin’s and many lone nutters’ constant M.O.—then you have no case.


As bad as Litwin is on the forensic side, he is just as bad on the historical angle. Which is a major part of JFK: Destiny Betrayed. He refuses to confront the fact that Kennedy was looking for a way to get out of Vietnam in 1961. In the 14 pages he devotes to the Indochina episode the reader will not detect the name of John Kenneth Galbraith. Which, for today, is astonishing. Because right after the White House debates over Vietnam in the fall of 1961, Kennedy sent Galbraith to Saigon.

Why did he do so? Because, as his son told Oliver Stone, Kennedy did not like the advice he was getting from his rather hawkish advisors in Washington. In fact, as Jamie Galbraith told Stone about his father:

He admitted many times in the years following, he said Kennedy sent me to Vietnam, because he knew I did not have an open mind. Kennedy knew what he wanted and he knew my father would deliver what he did. (James DiEugenio, JFK Revisited, p. 316)

The second reason this is an inexcusable lacunae is this: Galbraith’s report was the beginning of Kennedy’s withdrawal program. This is another aspect which Litwin actually turns upside down and backwards. If one can comprehend it: Litwin tries to say the withdrawal plan was Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s idea! (p. 365) Which is pretty much impossible. For the simple reason that McNamara was a steady and strong proponent of inserting combat troops throughout 1961. He actually wanted to send anywhere from 6-8 divisions in late 1961. If you do the arithmetic that is about 120,000 men. (Gordon Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster, pp. 56-59)

So how did McNamara get turned around on the issue? Through Kennedy and Galbraith, and in two steps. At the end of the debates of November 1961, Kennedy was extremely frustrated that he had to fight so hard to get his ‘no combat troops’ decree through his advisors. He called a meeting for November 27, 1961. He said words to the effect: Look, when policy is decided, those on the spot carry it out or they get out. He then asked: Now who is going to implement my Vietnam policy? McNamara said he would. (John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, Second edition, p. 146) That was step one.

With that established, in April, Galbraith was in town. He and Kennedy discussed a neutralist solution—something Litwin says Kennedy would not do— through the India ambassador’s relations with Nehru. (Newman, pp. 234-36; Litwin p. 367) At this meeting, Kennedy said “he wished us to be prepared to seize upon any favorable moment to reduce our commitment.” Kennedy then sent the ambassador to see McNamara, and according to Galbraith, the defense secretary got the message. This point is double sourced since McNamara’s deputy, Roswell Gilpatric, said that his boss told him ”the withdrawal plan was part of a plan the president asked him to develop in order to unwind this whole thing.” (Virtual JFK, by James Blight, p. 129: p. 371).

There is a third source for McNamara getting Kennedy’s drift. At the May, 1962 SecDef meeting in Saigon, McNamara asked the overall commander, General Harkins, to stay after. McNamara then asked him when he thought the army of South Vietnam would be able to take over the war effort completely. As someone who was there noted, “Harkin’s chin nearly hit the table.” (JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass, p. 120) McNamara said the American effort would be dismantled and Harkins had responsibility to prepare a plan to do so.

In the light of the above facts, for Litwin to say that the withdrawal plan was McNamara’s idea is utter malarkey.

Stone’s film then supplies the two major pieces of evidence which show that Kennedy was getting out, without any questions about it. First, the declassified minutes of the May 1963 SecDef meeting in Hawaii where Harkins handed in all the withdrawal schedules for each department. McNamara leafed through them and said the overall plan was too slow, we were getting out faster.(Newman, p. 324-25) The second piece of clinching evidence was McNamara’s exit briefing which John Newman listened to. There, the Secretary said he and Kennedy had decided that America was getting out once the training mission was over. And this was unequivocal; it did not matter if they were winning or losing. (Vietnam: The Early Decisions, edited by Lloyd C. Gardner and Ted Gittinger,p. 166). It does not get any more clear than that. Which is probably why Litwin ignores not just those two instances, but everything else in the above.

Fred Litwin is not an author. He is an agitprop artist.


by James DiEugenio

This will be the last article Kennedysandking will ever publish on Fred Litwin. As the reader can see from the above, Litwin has nothing to contribute to the subject that has any value or insight. On top of that, he has a penchant for the smear. For instance, he heads his chapter on Vietnam by labeling it as “politics”.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed had the finest array of historians ever assembled in a documentary on the subject: Robert Rakove of Stanford, Philip Muehlenbeck of George Washington, Richard Mahoney of North Carolina State, John Newman of James Madison, Bradley Simpson of Connecticut. There was no better roster to review Kennedy’s policies in the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, and Indochina. This rivaled the luminaries the film had on the forensic side. (For a demonstration of just how unique Kennedy’s foreign policy was, click here)

Broadly speaking, history is the collection of the best sources with the most relevant information from the most reliable scholars. Politics should have nothing to do with it. And the viewer can read the works of these authors and they will see that they are not at all political in nature; they are factually based.

Litwin quotes David Talbot from the film saying that there is a thread between 1963 and the horror show of American politics today. (Litwin, p. 363) That is not Talbot saying that about himself. This is what the American public feels. And one can check author Larry Sabato’s book, The Kennedy Half-Century to certify it. In the focus groups he conducted, adults of all ages agreed that the assassination “changed America.” An astonishing 61% said Kennedy’s murder “changed the nation “a great deal’. Sabato observed that those alive at the time, testified to the “deep depression that set in across the country. Because the optimism that prevailed since WW2 seemed to evaporate”. (Sabato, p. 416) Kevin Phillips revealed the same in his book Arrogant Capital. In his introductory chapter he depicted a chart which showed the collapse of the public’s belief in the government. The percentage went from over 70% in 1960 to the teens by the nineties. And the collapse began in 1964, the issuance of the Warren Report.

So this is not, in any way, politics. This is simply social science. If Litwin wishes to deny it then he should speak to Sabato or Phillips. If he does not, then that proves it is Litwin who is being political. It seems to indicate that either psychologically or politically he cannot accept these facts. To be kind, maybe it is because he is Canadian and does not live here?

The second reason we will now ignore Litwin is the fact that there is a real question of who is the Confidence Man here. Oliver Stone’s life has been laid out by biographers, and by himself in the first volume of an autobiography called Chasing the Light. He makes no bones about who he is.

But this is not the case with Litwin or his soul brother Steve Roe. In his first book, I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak, Litwin states that 1.) He used to be a strong believer in a conspiracy in the JFK case, and 2.) He had been a left winger who turned into a conservative. He has never been able to convincingly prove either one of these claims. Therefore it seems he may have adopted them to mimic his role model David Horowitz. As per Roe, no one has been able to certify a business entity known as “roeconsulting”, which is the rubric he used to post his criticisms of Stone’s film.

If a writer cannot remove these kinds of fundamental doubts about who they are, why should anyone pay any attention to his work product?

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 February 2023 01:43
Matt Douthit

Matt Douthit became interested in Kennedy's assassination and history in 2008 at the age of 12. He is the author of the upcoming book "JFK: The Missing Witnesses", and runs the largest JFK assassination group on Facebook. He is an audio-visual specialist, and resides in Dallas, Texas.

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