Paul Landis, a former agent of the United States Secret Service who witnessed the killing of the then U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, in 1963, is now contesting a fundamental theory pushed by the Warren Commission, which investigated the incident.
By Executive Order (E.O. 11130) dated November 29, 1963, the incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the ‘President’s Commission on the Assassination of the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, commonly known as the Warren Commission. President Johnson ordered the Commission to investigate the assassination and subsequent killing of the alleged assassin and to submit to him its findings and conclusions. Earl Warren, the then U.S. Chief Justice, former Governor of California, and former Attorney General, was the Chair.
Landis, who is 88 years old, has made new revelations in the wake of the forthcoming publication of his book, “The Final Witness: A Kennedy Secret Service Agent Breaks His Silence After Sixty Years.”
On November 22, 1963, as a young agent, Landis was given the responsibility of ensuring the safety of First Lady Jackie Kennedy as she was on a two-day, five-city tour of Texas. However, he was only a mere feet away when three gunshots rang out in the area.
The first bullet would have hit John F. Kennedy in the throat, which would have been extremely dangerous but not necessarily fatal. The tragic death of John F. Kennedy was brought about by either the second or third shot that was fired at him. Landis recalls hearing the gunshots and ducking to avoid being splattered with the president’s brain tissue as he tried to escape the scene.
A year after the assassination of President Kennedy, the Warren Commission put up the theory of the “Magic Bullet.” It is believed that one of the bullets impacted and exited the president before injuring then-Texas Governor John Connally Jr. in the back, torso, wrist, and thigh. This theory was partially accepted because a bullet was discovered on a gurney believed to have been used in Connally’s aid.
In the chaotic moments following the assassination, Landis says he recalls picking up a near-pristine bullet from the back seat of the presidential limousine behind where Kennedy had been seated. To prevent the bullet from being stolen, he took it to the Parkland Memorial Hospital, where Kennedy was pronounced dead, and deposited it on his stretcher so it could be examined.
Landis stated that no one was present to secure the crime site, which was a significant issue for him. He added that every agent present was fixated on the president.
Landis said this was all happening so rapidly, adding that he was just afraid that — this was something he realised immediately. He noted that he did not want it to disappear or become lost, so he grabbed it.
He believes that the stretchers were pushed together at some stage, and the bullet was shaken onto one of them.
Landis hypothesises that Kennedy was shot in the rear but that the bullet may have been undercharged and popped out of his body when he was removed from the limousine.
People have also questioned whether Lee Harvey Oswald, who was believed to have acted alone in the assassination of the president, actually acted alone. Landis once believed it, but he is now uncertain.
The former agent has shared his accounts with key figures associated with the assassination, including Lewis C. Merletti, a former director of the Secret Service, and James Robenalt, a Cleveland attorney and historian who has written numerous volumes on the subject.
Robenalt reportedly told the New York publication that interviewed Landis that if what Landis claims is accurate, which he is inclined to accept, it is likely to revive the topic of a second shooter, if not more. He said that the core thesis of the Warren Report, the single-bullet scenario, is wrong if the “magic” or “pristine” bullet lodged in the back of President Kennedy.
If a second bullet hit Connally, as Robenalt suggests, and there is no “magic bullet,” then Oswald could not have reloaded his gun quickly enough to inflict those separate wounds.
However, Merletti has doubts about Landis’ story. He can’t say for sure if that story is real. He acknowledged his knowledge of the agents’ long-term suffering due to that day.
He said that errors were made in Landis’ post-murder report. After the occurrence, he was in such a state of shock that he couldn’t sleep and forgot to say where he found the bullet.
Despite a 1979 House investigation finding that two or more gunmen and conspirators were likely involved in the assassination, only Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the murder of former US President John F. Kennedy. Oswald maintained his innocence until mafia-connected nightclub proprietor Jack Ruby assassinated him before his trial.