jack white's testimony
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Hearings held before the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations
Excerpt from the testimony of Jack D. White
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[Editor's comments appear in italics and square brackets and are not part of the quoted proceedings.]

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, I have in front of me a pamphlet that you put together for the committee.

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Do you recognize this?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: On page 31 of that pamphlet, I regret that we do not have this in exhibit form. I see that you have it in front of you.

Mr. WHITE: Page what?

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Thirty-one.

Mr. WHITE: Oh, yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: I see that you have taken a ruler and placed it by Oswald's body and also by his rifle; is that correct?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, do you believe that an object photographed can be measured simply by placing a ruler against the image in the photograph?

Mr. WHITE: No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: When you measured the object in this photograph, what did you do beyond using the ruler?

Mr. WHITE: This is strictly a two-dimensional measurement. Obviously I did not take into consideration any perspective which might exist or any other considerations. It is just a mere measurement of the body from the weightbearing foot to the top of the head in each case and of the rifle from the muzzle to the butt.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Without giving any account to other factors?

Mr. WHITE: That is true. I am not a physicist or any sort of a scientist who could determine anything relating to the perspective. We don't know how close the rifle is to his body. We don't know how close the camera is to the subject, so it would be virtually impossible for just a plain citizen like me to interpret the perspective of this photograph.

[The proper understanding of perspective and the effect it has on images of photographed objects is a basic technique of photographic interpretation, without which little quantitative information can be derived by examining photographs. --Clavius]

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Have you had any training in analytical photogrammetry?

Mr. WHITE: No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Have you had any formal training in forensic photography?

Mr. WHITE: No.

[Forensic photography is the science of photography as it relates to questions of law. It includes the study of photographs used as legal evidence, and the techniques of recording other physical evidence photographically. --Clavius.]

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Have you had any formal training in the study of shadows in photographs?

Mr. WHITE: No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, if the picture is authentic, would you expect all the shadows cast by objects in that picture to line up parallel to each other?

Mr. WHITE: I am no expert on that. I wouldn't have any conclusion unless you pointed some specific reference to me.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Are you familiar with the concept known as "vanishing point"?

Mr. WHITE: Oh, yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: When you studied these photographs did you use the vanishing point concept to analyze the shadows?

Mr. WHITE: Not as such. I didn't see any point in using a vanishing point to analyze shadows.

[Shadows also conform to laws of perspective. The consideration of the vanishing point as created by the projection of the scene onto the film is proper when determining whether a shadow is authentic or may have been artificially added. --Clavius]

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, drawing your attention to the right side of photographs 133-A and B, did you detect any retouching there?

Mr. WHITE: I didn't really pay much attention to the marginal edges. I was mostly concerned with things in the center of the picture.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: At this point I would ask that Mr. White be given the original of 133-A and B. Do you have those before you now, Mr. White?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: I would like to refer your attention now to the area to Oswald's left in the two photographs.

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: If you look at the area that I am pointing to at the exhibits, I would ask you to examine that same area in the original photographs.

Mr. WHITE: Yes, I see what you are referring to.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Are those shadows the same in each background?

Mr. WHITE: It appears to be some sort of imperfection. I can't tell whether it is a shadow or not. They don't appear to be the same though.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: I would now like to draw your attention to a rectangle that appears in the picket fence in each photograph, and if you look at the chart, I will point it out to you, here, and right over here.


Mr. GOLDSMITH: Did you ever measure that rectangle in those two photographs to see if the measurements were the same?

Mr. WHITE: No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: When you examined the backyard photographs and used the transparency overlay technique, in addition to that, did you ever actually conduct any measurements?

Mr. WHITE: Of what?

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Of different parts in the background to see if the measurements of those parts correspond to each other?

Mr. WHITE: No. However, I can say that I examined the parts of the photograph in relation to each other, and I recognized that in the darkroom technique employed to make these photographs appear to be shot at different perspectives, that certain darkroom techniques like easel-tilt were used which changed the measurements.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Now I understand that you have examined them, but again you haven't measured them?

Mr. WHITE: That is true, I have not measured them, but there are measurable differences, I would agree. However, this is not necessarily --

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, I would ask you simply to confine your answer to my question, so please wait until my next question, sir. Now you made reference in your testimony earlier to two white portions that appear on the left side of each photograph. I am going to point them out to you now. I believe this is one; is that correct?

Mr. WHITE: Yes. No, it is higher than that, right up there, right there, yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: And up here?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Did you ever measure those parts of the photograph to see if they were consistent with each other or if there were measurable differences?

Mr. WHITE: You mean with a ruler?

Mr. GOLDSMITH: With a ruler or any other technique?

Mr. WHITE: Well, I measured them with an overlay technique in which they appeared to be the same.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Did you measure them by any unit?

Mr. WHITE: No, not with a ruler or any unit of measurement.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, you have made reference to several points in these photographs that suggest that Oswald's head is disproportionately -- I withdraw the question. That the body of Oswald is not consistent in the various photographs in light of the head size; is that correct?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: To what extent, if any, did you compute photogrammetrically the effect of an object's tilt on its apparent length in the photograph?

Mr. WHITE: As I said, I am not a scientist. I don't indulge in that sort of thing.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, I realize you are not a scientist. Do you now whether scientists consider the use of transparency overlays to be a good way of detecting differences between soft edged images?

Mr. WHITE: I have no way of knowing that.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Thank you very much. I have no further questions, Mr. White.

Chairman STOKES: The Chair recognizes Mr. Genzman.

Mr. GENZMAN: Mr. White, have you analyzed any rifle photographs connected with the Kennedy assassination?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GENZMAN: What caused you to do this analysis?

Mr. WHITE: I was led to this through my study of CE-133-A and B. Once I had determined to my satisfaction that these were fabricated photographs, I wanted to see if I could identify the rifle in the photographs as being the rifle in any other photographs in any of the Warren Commission literature.

Mr. GENZMAN: At this time would you please refer to JFK exhibits marked F-208 and F-396? Mr. Chairman, JFK exhibit F-208 was previously introduced into the record. I would ask at this time that JFK exhibit F-396 be introduced into the record.

Chairman STOKES: Without objection, it may be entered into the record at this point.

Mr. GENZMAN: Mr. White, could you go over to the exhibits --

Mr. WHITE: Yes, sir.

Mr. GENZMAN [continuing]: Specifically, JFK exhibit F-208, and explain it.

Mr. WHITE: JFK exhibit F-208 is my very earliest attempt to analyze the rifle in CE-133-A and compare it to other photographs of the rifle.

Mr. GENZMAN: Would you identify the various rifles displayed?

Mr. WHITE: Yes. They are labeled "a" through "g" over on the right-hand side. Photograph "a" is a print from exhibit CE-133-A; photograph "b" is exhibit 139 in the Warren Commission report, which the report tells us is the assassination weapon; "c" is another Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that I wanted to compare with all of these; "d" is erroneously labeled "Oswald's Rifle (Bolt Is Open);" this photograph I took out of the book "Six Seconds in Dallas." I learned later, much later than this exhibit was prepared, that this is not Oswald's rifle, according to the 26 volumes. This is called "Replica of Oswald's Rifle," so therefore this labeling is erroneous. Nevertheless it makes a good comparison with the other rifles because it is another Mannlicher-Carcano. Photograph "e" -- this is Lieutenant Day's hand here, as he walks out on to Elm Street from the school book depository carrying the rifle. Now, this photograph has been reversed photographically by flopping the negative when it was printed just so it would be in the right orientation with the other photographs. You are actually seeing the opposite side of the gun. Photograph "f" -- again this is Lieutenant Day's hand holding the rifle up, on the third floor of the jail the night of the assassination so that the newspaper people could photograph it. Photograph "g" is from Dallas Police Chief Curry's book, and this is the Dallas police file photo of the gun said to be the assassination weapon.

Mr. GENZMAN: Did you line these photographs up end to end?

Mr. WHITE: Yes. The Warren Commission told us that the assassination weapon was 40.2 inches long. In fact there is a tape measure in the picture there. So based on this, I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that all Mannlicher-Carcanos are 40.2 inches long. So in the darkroom, as I printed each of these negatives, I printed them each to an identical length from muzzle to butt.

Mr. GENZMAN: What did you determine from this study?

Mr. WHITE: Well, I determined very little actually. The first thing that I determined, that has not later been proved wrong, is that the gun in photograph 133-A seems identical in every respect to the gun "g" which is the Dallas police file photo. Other than that, I found that most of the reference points through which I extended vertical lines could not be made to line up. So I was really rather baffled by this because I couldn't understand why the various reference points shouldn't line up.

Mr. GENZMAN: Besides your determination that the backyard rifle matched the Dallas police rifle, would you characterize your results as inconclusive?

Mr. WHITE: Yes.

Mr. GENZMAN: Mr. White, what was your next analytical step?

Mr. WHITE: About a year passed between this study and my next one, because I was rather baffled by all this, and I really didn't know where to go from there, until a point in time when a researcher from California named Fred Newcomb furnished me a photograph of the rifle as it existed in the National Archives.

Mr. GENZMAN: Would you briefly describe the exhibit labeled F-396?

Mr. WHITE: OK. Once I received this photo of the Archive rifle and studied it in connection with some of the others, I had what you might call a brainstorm, after hearing some rifle experts talk. When I appeared before Senator Schweiker and the Church committee, I talked to some rifle experts. They said frequently when somebody buys an old war surplus weapon like this, the first thing he does is modify the stock to fit his physique. Therefore the thought dawned on me that the wooden stock is changeable.

Mr. GENZMAN: Did you line up the metal parts?

Mr. WHITE: Yes. I made prints where the metal parts of the rifle, that is, from the muzzle to the trigger guard, were all identical lengths.

Mr. GENZMAN: After lining up the metal parts, what did you determine about these stocks?

Mr. WHITE: I determined that the butts were different lengths after lining up the metal parts.

Mr. GENZMAN: Does the photograph at the bottom demonstrate this discrepancy in the length of the stocks?

Mr. WHITE: Yes. Here we have the Archive rifle printed in brown, the Warren report rifle printed in red; all the way from the muzzle through all the metal parts, in fact all the way to the comb, which is this little notch in the stock of rifle. All of that matches exactly. Only from here back, less than one-fifth length of the rifle, does not match.

Mr. GENZMAN: Briefly what did you determine from your study?

Mr. WHITE: It is my opinion that we have been shown by the authorities more than one gun as being the assassination weapon.

Mr. GENZMAN: Thank you, Mr. White. Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions.

Chairman STOKES: Mr. Goldsmith?

Mr. GOLDSMITH: Mr. White, I just have one question.

Mr. WHITE: All right.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: When you did this study, did you compute photogrammetrically the effect of tilt on the way that the length of an object appears in a photograph?

[When an object is tilted toward or away from a camera, the camera will render the half of the object which is closer to the camera slightly larger, proportionally, than the half which is farther from the camera. Mr. White is unaware of this basic principle of perspective, and did not account for it in his analysis. --Clavius]

Mr. WHITE: I conducted a study by photographing a yardstick from three different-

Mr. GOLDSMITH Mr. White, answer my question. Did you compute photogrammetrically --

Mr. WHITE: What is "photogrammetrically"? Describe to me what "photogrammetrically" is.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: I just have one more question Mr. White. Do you know what photogrammetry is?

Mr. WHITE: No.

Mr. GOLDSMITH: I have no further questions. Thank you.

(Proceedings of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, vol. 2, pp. 338-344.)

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