Single Bullet Theory
Much of the early critiques of the Warren Report focused on the implausibility of the "single bullet theory", wherein the Commission attempted to explain how Oswald had killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally with just three shots. In particular, the Zapruder film showed Connally reacting to being hit too soon after Kennedy for Oswald to have operated the bolt-action Carcano and fired again. Were the two men hit by different bullets fired from two different rifles?
The solution created by Commission counsel Arlen Specter was to posit that both men had been hit by a single shot which entered JFK's upper back, exited his throat, and then struck Connally, breaking a rib and shattering his wrist, and finally coming to rest in his thigh. The "magic bullet" deemed to have done all this was found somewhat mysteriously on a stretcher near an elevator in Parkland Hospital, about an hour after the victims had been brought there.
Some of the problems with the Single Bullet Theory (SBT) which have been pointed out by critics include:
- Timing. The Zapruder film shows Kennedy clearly wounded as much as a second before Connally, and the Commission's idea of a "delayed reaction" by Connally is implausible. Connally himself was certain he had been struck by a separate bullet.
- Trajectory. The Parkland doctors believed the neck wound to be an entrance, not an exit. Further, the location of Kennedy's back wound - as measured by the shirt and jacket holes, medical witnesses, autopsy photos, and other evidence - is too low for a shot fired from the 6th floor of the TSBD to have exited the neck wound where it did. The Warren Commission misrepresented the back wound location in drawings.
- "Pristine" Bullet. Commission Exhibit 399, the bullet found on the stretcher, is virtually undamaged and had no blood or tissue on it. Its appearance is consistent with having been fired through the rifle into water or cotton, recovered, and then planted. Also, there is a serious question as to whether the minimal amount of lead missing from the base of CE-399 can account for the fragments left behind in JFK and Connally.
Recent discoveries in the FBI records have even raised the question of whether the bullet found on the stretcher is actually CE 399.
Defenders of the SBT point out that alternative shooting scenarios require bullets which were never found in bodies or recovered in the limousine, and that the HSCA's Neutron Activitation Analysis (NAA) confirmed the theory.