Meeting David Belin

Meeting David Belin

My research has taken me all over the country and has brought many interesting facts to my attention. Here is one:

David Belin (Warren Commission Assistant Counsel)- Before he passed away in 1999, I had an opportunity to hear David Belin lecture at the University of Michigan on March 24, 1992. His topic was the Warren Commission and its findings.

I'll admit I wasn't surprised by Belin's spirited defense of this flawed commission, but I was stunned by one admission he made. Belin revealed how the keystone of the entire Warren Commission Report was conceived. The "single bullet theory" (later popularized as the "Magic Bullet Theory") was the supposition that one bullet hit President Kennedy in the back, exited his throat, hit Governor Connally in the back, shattered a rib when it exploded through his chest, smashed into (and broke) the governor's wrist, and wounded the governor's leg. The bullet was considered a "magic" bullet because it caused at least six wounds and yet emerged almost unscathed when it was found later on President Kennedy's discarded hospital gurney.

Everyone that has studied the Warren Commission's findings is familiar with the story. What we're not familiar with is the story behind the theory. Belin reported that the Commission had a tough time reconciling the reported shots, the various wounds, and the timeclock of the Zapruder film. The film showed the sequence of injuries could only have occurred within a certain and short period of time if only one gunman was involved. He admitted that it appeared more than one gunman might have been responsible, which was anathema to their stated goal.

Belin then told the assembled audience that the solution to their problem came to him one night in a dream. He stated he dreamed the wounds to the president and the governor were the result of a single shot. He said he rushed to the commission the next day to tell Arlen Specter what he had conceived while slumbering. Specter immediately recognized the importance of Belin's achievement and proceeded to build the commission's findings around it. David Belin's dream became the foundation for the Report's scientific findings.

Intrigued, I went backstage after the lecture to ask Belin a follow-up question. I was intrigued because my professional background is in financial services, and David Belin's curriculum vitae stated his area of expertise was tax law and estate planning. ( He had authored a few books on the subject.) I told him I was interested in his criminal law background. "Did you have experience in criminal law or forensic science prior to being appointed as an assistant counsel to the Warren Commission?" I asked. He replied, "No, I didn't."

Ponder this: The single bullet theory was literally dreamed up by a tax attorney.

(The complete lecture is available for viewing on this website at "David Belin Lecture.")