2005-02-18 21:16:35 UTC
In the hour after the assassination of the President, on November 22, 1963,
Dallas Morning News reporter Kent Biffle was inside the Texas School Book
Depository, where he gleaned information which might have cleared Lee Oswald of
all shooting in Dealey Plaza, information which would have established that
Oswald was well away from the sixth-floor "sniper's nest" at 12:30pm.
Astonishing as it may seem, he got to tell his story, although in a most
circuitous manner--not all at the same time, that is, or in the same place, or
quite completely. Biffle & the Morning News had the Scoop of the Century, and
wound up with half a scoop. How? We may never know for sure, but Biffle's
original story was compromised--split in two, with both the identity of his
principal source & the time at which he heard from this source camouflaged, so
successfully that the greater story has gone unrecognized for over four decades.
The Great Biffle Scavenger Hunt begins, uneventfully enough, with the half of
the story which appeared in Section 4 of the 11/23/63 Morning News, then
continues, more eventfully, with the other half, in Section 1. Section 4,
"Assassin Crouched & Took Deadly Aim," read, in part, "Homicide Capt. Will Fritz
led police on a floor-by-floor search of the building." Although he does not
come out & say it, Biffle was part of that search. (Pictures of the Pain pp521,
552/JFK: Secrets from the Sixth Floor Window p39) But, already, here, he seems
to be detaching, for some reason, story from sources, times, & places. Although
elsewhere in the article he mentions both Fritz & superintendent Roy Truly, the
well-known meeting between the two, upstairs, becomes an exercise in the
An employe of the textbook firm walked up: "I don't know if you're interested
in this... but one of the fellows who work here is gone. Can't find him
anywhere." The police were interested. "He's 23, about five-foot-nine & weighs
around 150 pounds.... His name is Lee Oswald."
Truly, although named earlier, here becomes, oddly--three short paragraphs
later--"an employe of the textbook firm," as if this latter were another person;
Fritz becomes "the police," of which, certainly, he was a member. And the
setting--an upstairs floor--is not specified. Easy enough, however--despite the
vagueness--to plug the above data into the testimony of both Fritz & Truly.
The Morning Noose. The other, more significant part of the story, "Suspected
Killer Defected to Russia in '59," appeared in Section 1, in which Biffle wrote,
"In a storage room on the first floor, the officer [Marrion Baker], gun drawn,
spotted Oswald. 'Does this man work here?' the officer reportedly asked Truly."
It's unclear here whether Biffle's source was Truly, Baker, building veep O.V.
Campbell, or a little bird. As will be seen, the lack of specificity may have
been intentional--it certainly helped defuse the bomb which the phrase "in a
storage room on the first floor" might have become. But, yes, still, to his
credit, Biffle pulled off a curious half-coup: He specified the "storage room"
setting, instead of the accepted site, the second-floor lunchroom; creative
editing, however, allowed all involved deniability. Thus was this two-part,
crazy quilt version of the incident both published &--at the same time--angled
to get lost & forgotten, rendered innocuous.... But everything Biffle wrote on
11/23 was apparently true. The facts are still there, scattered about the
Morning News, waiting to be coordinated. And it's a peculiar follow-up to his
two 11/23 stories which furnishes the key to coordination: The Section 1
article provided deniability for the principals; the follow-up, deniability for
Biffle. The former story covered up the *who* behind the phrase "storage room
on the first floor"; the latter, the *when*.