Lawsuit accuses Feds of hiding JFK film that could prove ‘grassy knoll’ conspiracy

Few conspiracy theories have captivated the minds of more Americans than those surrounding the November 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and according to a potentially-explosive new lawsuit, the federal government has for decades been sitting on a 60-year-old home movie that could finally resolve one of the most pervasive: the great “grassy knoll” debate.

Those who have done deep dives down the JFK rabbit hole are likely familiar with the analog film shot by a Dallas maintenance man by the name of Orville Nix. Shot from the center of Dealey Plaza, Nix’s film is the only one known to provide an unobstructed view of the notorious “grassy knoll,” where many believe Lee Harvey Oswald was assisted by additional snipers.

The original film was seized by the federal government, and for years, Nix’s heirs have been trying to get it back.

According to Jefferson Morley, author of the CIA-themed book, “The Ghost,” with the advances in digital image processing in recent years, a new analysis of Nix’s original footage would be “significant.”

“It would be very significant if the original Nix film surfaced today,” Morley told the New York Post. It would, he said, “essentially be a new piece of evidence.”

“There’s a significant loss in quality between the first and second generation” of an analog film such as Nix’s, Morley explained.

Graphic but “imperfect copies” of Nix’s film such as the one below can be found on YouTube and seen flashed across the screen in Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” but the last time the original was examined was in 1978, when the House Select Committee on Assassinations [HSCA] hired photo experts to take a look at it.


(Video: YouTube)

Reports The Post:

Based in part on that analysis, the panel concluded that Kennedy “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” and that “two gunmen” likely fired at him.

But the technology of the time left the experts in doubt about whether Nix’s movie captured those alleged marksmen — and the complete, original film disappeared without a trace.

The Nixes originally filed a lawsuit to recover the original film in 2015, but it was “dismissed by a different tribunal that lacked jurisdiction in the matter,” according to The Post.

The family has now filed a new, 52-page suit in the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.

Included in the filing are dozens of documents that detail the original film’s journey, from the time Nix shot it to the time it disappeared, and all the “startlingly sloppy” treatment it received by the government in between.

The lawsuit also accuses officials at the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA] of repeatedly lying to the Nixes. According to the suit, NARA has claimed it never had the “out-of-camera original” film in its possession.

The filing contradicts NARA’s claim, offering “newly uncovered evidence that the HSCA’s photo analysts delivered Nix’s original film directly to NARA in 1978, once their work on it was complete,” The Post reports.

Kenneth Castleman was a senior scientist at NASA. Following the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, he analyzed photos of the events for the official investigations. And, in the early 1970s, Castleman studied the Nix film.

He warns that time is not a friend of the Nix footage.

“The Nix film is at or near the end of its lifespan,” Castleman told The Post. “Modern image processing should be done.”

In 1973, the photo expert debunked the belief that Nix’s film revealed a marksman with a raised rifle at the Dealey Plaza pergola, finding that it was, in fact, nothing more than “three bright spots that appear in some frames.”

But the areas at the edge of a retaining wall and behind the picket fence at the top of the grassy knoll remain subjects of interest to many researchers.

“Working directly from the original, assuming it’s still in good shape, might reveal data that is not visible on the copies,” Castleman said. “There are new techniques to bring up detail in an image that might possibly bring out new information that was not visible previously.”

In addition to the release of the original film, the Nixes are seeking $29.7 million in compensatory damages.



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