Jim Garrison: The Warren Commission thought they had an open-and-shut case. Three bullets, one assassin. But two unpredictable things happened that day that made it virtually impossible. One, the eight-millimeter home movie taken by Abraham Zapruder while standing by the grassy knoll. Two, the third wounded man, James Tague, who was knicked by a fragment, standing near the triple underpass. The time frame, five point six seconds, determined by the Zapruder film, left no possibility of a fourth shot. So the shot or fragment that left a superficial wound on Tague's cheek had to come from the three shots fired from the sixth floor depository. That leaves just two bullets. And we know one of them was the fatal head shot that killed Kennedy. So now a single bullet remains. A single bullet now has to account for the remaining seven wounds in Kennedy and Connelly. But rather than admit to a conspiracy or investigate further, the Warren Commission chose to endorse the theory put forth by an ambitious junior counselor, Arlen Spector, one of the grossest lies ever forced on the American people. We've come to know it as the "Magic Bullet Theory." This single-bullet explanation is the foundation of the Warren Commission's claim of a lone assassin. Once you conclude the magic bullet could not create all seven of those wounds, you'd have to conclude that there was a fourth shot and a second rifle. And if there was a second rifleman, then by definition, there had to be a conspiracy.
Jim Garrison: And who killed the President?
David Ferrie: Oh man, why don't you fuckin' stop it? Shit, this is too fuckin' big for you, you know that? Who did the president, who killed Kennedy, fuck man! It's a mystery! It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma! The fuckin' shooters don't even know! Don't you get it?
X: The organizing principle of any society, Mr. Garrison, is for war. The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers. Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War in his second term. He wanted to call off the moon race and cooperate with the Soviets. He signed a treaty to ban nuclear testing. He refused to invade Cuba in 1962. He set out to withdraw from Vietnam. But all that ended on the 22nd of November, 1963.
Jim Garrison: Back, and to the left... back, and to the left... back, and to the left.
Jim Garrison: "One may smile and smile and be a villain."
Jim Garrison: "Treason doth never prosper," wrote an English poet, "What's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."
X: That's the real question isn't it: why? The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, The Mafia, keeps 'em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents 'em from asking the most important question: why? Why was Kennedy Killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?
Jim Garrison: "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."
Jim Garrison: So what really happened that day? Let's just for a moment speculate shall we? We have the epileptic seizure around 12:15, p.m. distracting the police making it easier for the shooters to move into their places. The epileptic later vanished, never checking into a hospital. The A-Team gets on the sixth floor of the depository. They were refurbishing the floors that week, which allowed unknown workmen access to the building. They move quickly into position just minutes before the shooting. The spotter on the radio talking to the other two teams has the best overall view, the God spot. B-Team one shooter and one spotter with radio gear and access to the building, moves into the lower floor of the Dal-Tex building. The third team, the C-Team moves into the picket fence behind the Grassy Knoll, where the shooter and the spotter are first spotted by the late Lee Bowers in the watch tower of the rail yard. They have the best position of all. Kennedy is close and on a flat low trajectory. Part of this team is a coordinator who has flashed security credentials at people chasing them out of the parking lot. Probably 2-3 more men are in the crowd on Elm. 10-12 men. Three shooters. Three spotters. The triangulation of fire that Clay Shaw and David Ferrie discussed two months before. They have walked the plaza. They know every inch. They have calibrated their sight. They have practiced on moving targets. They are ready. Kennedy's motorcade makes the turn from Main onto Houston. It's gonna be a turkey shoot. They don't shoot him coming up Houston, which is the easiest shot for a single shot from the Book Depository. They Wait. They wait until he gets in the killing zone, between three rifles. Kennedy makes the final turn from Houston onto Elm, slowing down to some 11 miles an hour. The shooters across Dealy Plaza tighten, taking their aim, waiting for the radio to say "Green! Green!" or "Abort! Abort!". The first shot rings out, sounding like a backfire it misses the car completely. Frame 161, Kennedy stops waiving as he hears something. Connaly's head turns slightly to the right. Frame 193, the second shot hits Kennedy in the throat from the front. Frame 225, the President emerging from behind the road sign, you can see that he's obviously been hit, raising his arms to his throat. The third shot, frame 232, takes Kennedy in the back pulling him downward and forward. Connaly you'll notice shows no signs at all of being hit. He is visibly holding his Stetson, which is impossiable if his wrist has been shattered. Connaly is turning here now, frame 238 the fourth shot. It misses Kennedy and takes Connaly in the back. This is the shot that proves there were two rifles. Connaly yells out "My God! They are going to kill us all." Somewhere around this time another shot that misses the car completely, strikes James Tague down by the underpass. The car brakes. The sixth and fatal shot, frame 313 takes Kennedy in the head from the front. This is the key shot. The President going back and to his left. Shot from the front and right. Totally inconstant with the shot from the Book Depository. So what happens then? Pandemonium.
Dean Andrews: Kennedy's as dead as that crab meat, the government's alive and breathing. You gonna line up with a dead man, Jimbo?
Willie O'Keefe: You don't know shit 'cause you've never been fucked in the ass!
Jim Garrison: The war is the biggest business in America, worth $ 80 billion a year.
Jim Garrison: Yes.
X: [Shaking Garrison's hand] I'm glad you came. Sorry about the precautions.
Jim Garrison: I just hope it was worth my while, Mr...?
X: [Chuckling] I could give you a false name, but I won't. Just call me "X".
Bill Brousard: This is Louisiana, chief! I mean, how do you know who your daddy is? Because your mama told you so?
Jim Garrison: All these documents are yours. The people's property, you pay for it! But because the government considers you children who might be too disturbed or distressed to face this reality, or because you might possibly lynch those involved, you cannot see these documents for another seventy-five years. I'm in my early 40s, so I'll have shuffled off this mortal coil by then, but I'm already telling my eight-year-old son to keep himself physically fit, so that one glorious September morning, in the year 2038, he can walk into the National Archives and find out what the CIA and the FBI knew! They might even push it back then, hell it may become a generational affair, with questions passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, but someday, somewhere, somebody will find out the damn truth.
David Ferrie: Hey, Willie. I want you to meet Leon Oswald.
Willie O'Keefe: Hey, man! How you doin'?
Lee Harvey Oswald: What the fuck's he doin' here?
Willie O'Keefe: Fuck you, motherfucker!
Jim Garrison: They killed Robert F. Kennedy. He won, and they killed him. They shot him down.
Liz Garrison: Oh, God. Both of them? Both brothers? You were right.
X: We would have arrived days ahead, studied the route, checked all the buildings. Never would have allowed all those wide-open windows overlooking Dealy Plaza, never! We would have had our own snipers covering the area the minute a window went up! They would have been on the radio. We would have been watching the building, checking for baggage, coat under the arms... Never would have allowed a man to open an umbrella along the way! Never would have allowed the car to slow down to 11 miles an hour, much less take that unusual curve at Houston and Elm! You would have felt an army presence on the streets that day. But none of this happened. It was a violation of the most basic protection code we have, and it's an indication of a massive plot based in Dallas.
Jim Garrison: We were told that you took a trip to Texas shortly after the assassination on Friday.
David Ferrie: Yeah, now that's true. I drove to Houston.
Jim Garrison: What was so appealing about Houston?
David Ferrie: I hadn't been there ice skating in many years, and I was with a couple of young friends, and we decided we wanted to go ice skating.
Jim Garrison: Dave, may I ask you why the urge to go ice skating in Texas happened to strike you during one of the most violent thunder storms in recent memory?
David Ferrie: Uh, spur of the moment thing. The storm wasn't that bad.
Jim Garrison: I see. And where did you drive?
David Ferrie: Uh, we went to Houston, and Saturday night, we drove to Galveston, and stayed over there.
Jim Garrison: And then Sunday?
David Ferrie: In the morning, we went goose hunting.
Jim Garrison: You bag any geese on this trip?
David Ferrie: I believe the boys got a couple.
Jim Garrison: But the boys told us they didn't get any.
David Ferrie: Come to think of it, they're right. We got out there where the geese were, and there were thousands of them all over the place, but you couldn't approach them. Wise bunch of birds!
Jim Garrison: Your young friends also told us you had no weapons in the car, Dave. Isn't it a bit difficult to hunt for geese without a shotgun?
David Ferrie: Yes, I remember now. I'm sorry, Mr. Garrison. I got confused. We got out near the geese, and only then did we realized we had forgotten our shotguns! Stupid, right? Uh, so of course we didn't get any geese.
Jim Garrison: I see, Dave. Well, thank you for your time. I'm sorry that this has to end inconveniently for you, but I am going to have to detain you for further questioning by the FBI.
David Ferrie: Why, what's wrong?
Jim Garrison: David, I find your story simply not believable.
David Ferrie: Really? What part?
title card: "To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men." - Ella Wheeler Wilcox
President Eisenhower: ...We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. And to do this three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishement. We annually spend on military security alone...
Narrator: January, 1961. President Dwight D. Eisenhowers's Farewell Address to the Nation.
President Eisenhower: ...This conjunction of an immense military establishment and arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office in the federal government. We must guard against the aquisition of unwarranted influence - whether sought or unsought - by the military-industrial complex. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
M. L. King, Jr.: ...that "All men are created equal."
JFK: Every degree of mind and spirit that I possess will be devoted to the cause of freedom around the world.
X: Fundamentally, people are suckers for the truth. And the truth is on your side, Bubba.
Senator Long: One pristine bullet? That dog don't hunt!
Man at Firing Range: [Approaches Lee Harvey Oswald after Lee shoots at his target] I didn't pay two bits for a target just to have someone else shoot at it!
Oswald Imposter: Hey, I'm sorry buddy- I thought I was, uh, shooting at that son-of-a-bitch Kennedy.
Jim Garrison: Could the Mob change the parade route, Bill, or eliminate the protection for the President? Could the Mob send Oswald to Russia and get him back? Could the Mob get the FBI the CIA, and the Dallas Police to make a mess of the investigation? Could the Mob appoint the Warren Commission to cover it up? could the Mob wreck the autopsy? Could the Mob influence the national media to go to sleep? And since when has the Mob used anything but .38's for hits, up close. The Mob wouldn't have the guts or the power for something of this magnitude. Assassins need payrolls, orders, times, schedules. This was a military-style ambush from start to finish... a coup d'etat with Lyndon Johnson waiting in the wings.
Jim Garrison: The FBI says they can prove it through physics in a nuclear laboratory. Of course they can prove it. Theoretical physics can also prove that an elephant can hang off a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy! But use your eyes, your common sense.
Jim Garrison: Who grieves for Lee Harvey Oswald? Buried in a cheap grave under the name "Oswald"? Nobody.
X: As early as 1961, they knew Kennedy was not going to go to war in South-East Asia. Like Caesar, he is surrounded by enemies, and something's underway, but it has no face, yet everybody in the loop knows.
David Ferrie: Man, you don't leave the Agency. Once you're in they got you for life!
Jim Garrison: Telling the truth can be a scary thing sometimes.
Willie O'Keefe: You're not a bad-looking man, Mr. Garrison. When I get out, I'm gonna come visit you. Have some real fun!
[On David Ferrie's scheme to assassinate JFK]
Willie O'Keefe: I didn't think much about it at the time. Just bullshit, y'know, everybody likes to make themselves out to be something more than they are. 'Specially in the homosexual underworld. But when they got him I got real scared. And that's when I got popped.
Jim Garrison: I don't, I can't... I can't believe they killed him because he wanted to change things. In our time. In our country.
X: Well they've been doing it all through history. Kings are killed, Mr. Garrison, politics is power, nothing more! Oh, don't take my word for it, don't believe me. Do your own work, your own thinking.
Jim Garrison: I can't. The size of this is... beyond me. Testify?
Jim Garrison: Testify.
X: Ha ha. No chance in hell. No, I'd be arrested and gagged, maybe sent to an institution, maybe worse, you too. Now I can give you the background, but you have to find the foreground, the little things. Keep digging. Remember, you're the only person to bring a trial in the murder of John Kennedy. That's important, it's historic.
Jim Garrison: I haven't yet. I don't have much of a case.
X: You don't have a choice anymore. You've become a significant threat to the national security structure. They would have killed you already but you got a lot of light on you. Instead they're trying to destroy your credibility. They already have in many circles in this town. Be honest, your only chance is to come up with a case. Something, anything. Make arrests, stir the shit storm, hope to reach a point of critical mass that'll start a chain reaction of people coming forward, then the government will crack. Remember, fundamentally, people are suckers for the truth - and the truth is on your side, Bubba. I just hope you get a break.
Jim Garrison: What I need to know is why. Why are you telling us this?
Willie O'Keefe: 'Cause that motherfucker Kennedy stole that motherfuckin' election, that's why. Nixon was gonna be one of the great presidents 'till Kennedy wrecked it up. Got niggas running around askin' for their damn rights. Why do you think we got all this crime nowadays? He promised those motherfuckers too goddamn much you ask me.
title card: A Congressional Investigation from 1976-1979 found a "probable conspiracy" in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recommended the Justice Department investigate further. As of 1991, the Justice Department has done nothing.
Dean Andrews: You as crazy as your mama. Goes to show it's in the genes.
Jim Garrison: I never realized Kennedy was so dangerous to the establishment. Is that why?
X: Well that's the real question, isn't it? Why? The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia. Keeps 'em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents 'em from asking the most important question, why? Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?
Jim Garrison: Under the guise of a patriotic club-owner out to spare Jackie Kennedy from having to testify at trial, Jack Ruby is shown his way into an underground parking garage by one of his inside men on the Dallas Police Force, and when he is ready Lee Harvey Oswald is brought out like a sacrificial lamb and nicely disposed of as an enemy of the people.
Jim Garrison: Mr. Shaw, have you ever been a contract agent with the Central Intelligence Agency?
Clay Shaw aka Clay Bertrand: [smiles politely] And if I was, Mr. Garrison... do you think I would be here today... talking to somebody like you?
White House Man: You can forget about your combat troops. He told McNamara he's gonna pull out the goddamn advisors! He fucked us in Laos and now he is gonna fuck us in Goddamn Vietnam!
Numa Bertel: There's a lot of smoke there, but there's some fire.
Jim Garrison: About as subtle as a cockroach crawlin' across a white rug!
Oswald Imposter: No honest working man can afford to buy a car in this goddamn country anymore. Maybe I'll have to go to Russia and buy a car!
X: No one has said 'he must die'. There's been no vote, nothing on paper, it's as old as the crucifixion. A military firing squad; five bullets, one blank, no one's guilty.
Lee Harvey Oswald: I am not resisting arrest! I am not resisting arrest!
Jim Garrison: If you let yourself be too scared then you let the bad guys take over the country, don't you? And then everybody gets scared.
Beverly Oliver: Oh, yeah. One time I came in, Jack introduces me to these two guys. He said, "Beverly, this is my friend Lee..." and I didn't catch the other guy's name. He was a weird-looking guy with those funny little eyebrows. The other guy, Lee, didn't make much of an impression either. He wasn't good-looking or nothin', he didn't look like he had any money, and he was in a bad mood, so I didn't pay him much mind. Well, I might not remember a name, but I always remember a face. When I saw him two weeks later on the television, I screamed, "Oh, my God. That's him! That's Jack's friend!" I knew right then it had something to do with the Mafia.
Jim Garrison: A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
White House Man: We have to control the intelligence from Saigon.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well don't let McNamara start sticking his damn nose in this thing! Every time he goes over to Saigon on some fuckin' fact-finding mission, he comes back and just scares the shit out of the President! Now I want Max Taylor on him night and day, like a fly on shit. Now you control McNamara, and you control Kennedy.
[after watching a damning NBC special report]
Jim Garrison: At least my reputation is still fine with people watching "Laugh In".
Lyndon B. Johnson: You just get me elected, and I'll give you your damned war.
Willie O'Keefe: They can't buy me, you can't buy me... it means fuck all to me!
Jim Garrison: It's gonna be OK, Dave. You just talk to us on the record, we'll protect you. I guarantee it.
David Ferrie: They'll get to you too. They'll destroy you. They're untouchable, man.
Jim Garrison: Of course, when he had realized that something had gone wrong, and that the President had been killed, he knew there was a problem. He may have even known he was the Patsy. An intuition, maybe. The President killed in spite of his warning. The phone call that never came. Perhaps fear now came to Oswald for the very first time.
Senator Long: The way those hippies look, you can't tell the boys from the girls!
Senator Long: I saw a girl yesterday, she was pregnant. Had her whole belly showin' and ya know what she had painted on it? "Love Child"!
Bill Brousard: You're way out there, boss, taking a crap in the wind, and I for one am not going along on this ride!
Bill Brousard: None of their testimony is gonna hold up in court, Chief. Hell all three of them have reputations as low as crocodile piss.
Jim Garrison: That bother you, Bill? I always wonder why it is in court if a woman's a prostitute she has to have bad eyesight. Now go around the Quarter start snoopin around see if we can find out who this guy Bertrand is.
Bill Brousard: The six of us with no money and in private are gonna solve a conspiracy that the Warren Commission couldn't solve?
Jim Garrison: I didn't pick you because of your legal skills you know?
Bill Brousard: Gee thanks, boss.
Jim Garrison: Because you're a fighter. I like a man who isn't afraid of bad odds.
Lee Bowers: At the time of the shooting there seemed to be some commotion... I just am unable to describe - a flash of light or smoke or something which caused me to feel that something out of the ordinary had occurred there on the embankment...
Jack Ruby: My life is in danger! If you request that I go back to Washington with you- that is if you want to hear further testimony from me... Can you do that? Can you take me with you?
Earl Warren: No, that cannot be done. There will be no safe place for you. We're not law-enforcement officers.
X: After I came back, I asked myself, why was I, the chief special officer, selected to travel to the South Pole at that time that any number of others could have done? And I wondered if it was because one of my routine duties if I had been in Washington would have been to arrange for additional security in Texas, so I decided to check it out. And sure enough, someone had told the 112th Military Intelligence Group at Fourth Army Headquarters at Fort Sam Houston in Texas to stand down that day, over the protests of the Unit Commander, Colonal Rike. This is significant because it is standard operating procedure, especially in a lnown hostile city like Dallas.
Jerry Johnson: You know, I must say, we have heard some strange things coming out of your office in New Orleans. First, we heard that the Cuban exiles killed the President. Then the mob. Now your latest theory seems to be that the CIA, the FBI, and the Pentagon, and the White House, all combined in some elaborate conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. Let me ask you, is there anyone besides Lee Harvey Oswald who you think *didn't* conspire to kill the president?
Jim Garrison: [while reading Bowers testimony] Ask the question, ask the question!
Lyndon B. Johnson: [to the Chiefs of Staff in the White House] Just get me the election; I'll give you your damn war.
Jim Garrison: I submit to you that what took place on November 22, 1963 was a coup d'état. Its most direct and tragic result. was the reversal of Kennedy's decision to withdraw from Vietnam. The war is the biggest business in America worth $80 billion a year. President Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy planned at the highest levels of our government, carried out by fanatical and disciplined cold warriors in the Pentagon and CIA's covert-operation apparatus. Among them, Clay Shaw, here before you. It was a public execution, and it was covered up by like-minded people in the Dallas Police, the Secret Service, the FBl, and the White House up to and including J. Edgar Hoover, and Lyndon Johnson, whom I submit were accomplices after the fact. The assassination reduced the President to a transient official. His job is to speak as often as possible of the nation's desire for peace while he acts as a business agent in the Congress for the military and their contractors. Some people say I'm crazy.
[jury laughs; Jim smiles]
Jim Garrison: Southern caricature seeking higher office. There's a simple way to determine if I am paranoid. Ask the two men who profited most from the assassination former President Johnson and your new President, Richard Nixon to release the 51 CIA documents pertaining to Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby. Or the secret CIA memo on Oswald's activities in Russia that was destroyed while being photocopied. These documents are yours. The people's property. You pay for it. But because the government sees you as children who might be too disturbed to face this reality or because you might lynch those involved... you cannot see these documents for another 75 years. I'm in my 40's so I'll have "shuffled off this mortal coil" by then. But I'm telling my eight-year-old son to keep himself physically fit. so that one glorious September morning, in 2038, he can go to the National Archives and find out what the CIA and FBI knew. They may push it back then. Hell, it may become a generational affair. Questions passed from parent to child, from father to son. But someday, somewhere, someone may find out the damn truth. We better. Or we might just as well build ourselves another government like the Declaration of Independence says to, when the old one don't work. Just a bit farther out West. An American naturalist wrote: "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country... against its government." I'd hate to be in your shoes today. You have a lot to think about. You've seen evidence the public hasn't seen. You know, going back to when we were children, I think most of us in this courtroom thought justice came automatically; that virtue was its own reward, that good triumphs over evil. But as we get older we know this just isn't true. Individual human beings have to create justice, and this is not easy because the truth often poses a threat to power and one often has to fight power at great risk to themselves. People like S.M. Holland... Lee Bowers... Jean Hill, Willie O'Keefe have all taken that risk and they've all come forward.
[Garrison holds up envelopes of money]
Jim Garrison: I have here some $8,000 in these letters sent from all over the country. Quarters, dimes, dollars from housewives... plumbers, car salesmen, teachers, invalids.
Jim Garrison: These are people who cannot afford to send money but do. People who drive cabs, who nurse in hospitals, who see their kids go to Vietnam. Why? Because they care. Because they want to know the truth. Because they want their country back. Because it still belongs to us... as long as the people have the guts to fight for what they believe in. The truth is the most important value we have because if it doesn't endure... if the government murders truth... if we cannot respect these people... then this is not the country I was born in, nor is it the country I want to die in. Tennyson wrote: "Authority forgets a dying king." This was never more true than for John F. Kennedy, whose murder was probably one of the most terrible moments in the history of our country. We, the people, the jury system sitting in judgment on Clay Shaw represent the hope of humanity against government power. In discharging your duty... to bring a first conviction in this house of cards against Clay Shaw... "... ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." Do not forget... your dying king. Show this world that this is still a government "of the people, for the people and by the people." Nothing as long as you live will ever be more important.
[looks directly into camera]
Jim Garrison: It's up to you.