This article from CJR's archives is presented as part of our 50th anniversary celebration.
Sprague, myself, and three types of Itek experts—the optical physicists, the aerial reconnaissance experts, and an ex-policeman—reviewed the film. We all saw the shape on the knoll and everyone agreed that it could be a man with a gun. Frank Lindsay insisted that UPI must promise to delay publication of the results, if the shadow proved to be a man, until he had a chance to inform his friends Ted and Bob Kennedy. The stipulation reflected the shared feeling that the shape was more than a shadow.
I spent three days at Itek taking the eight-millimeter film from investigator to investigator. Some worked form stills Hoffman had made; some made color separations from Nix’s film; others fed it into monitors for scanning.
Since Nix had run from one position to another while filming, the Itek experts were able to triangulate and gauge the depth of the figures and of the car on the knoll. I assigned a photographer in Dallas to take detailed pictures of the knoll and then to write on the film the distances from point to point—from Nix to the knoll, from the corner of the wall to the shadowy shape, and so on. The photographer acquired an aerial survey of the area and the original design plans for the pergola atop the knoll. Itek studied the film, free of charge, from January to May of 1967.
None of Itek’s sophisticated techniques, however, could completely clear away the shadows and tell us definitely what was there. But all the approaches led to one conclusion—the shape that could be taken for a man lacked depth, therefore it must be a shadow. As for the car, it was a car alright, but triangulation indicated that it was not directly behind the pergola wall, as it seemed to be, but back in the parking lot, where it ought to be.
Jack Fox and I flew up to Boston. We wrote a story about the Itek findings. There were no headlines. That week—the week of May 26—Time magazine, alone of the news-weeklies, played up the story. Perhaps Time would continue—and pay for—the investigation elsewhere? I mentioned this to Howard Sprague. He thought it unlikely. It was at this point that he let drop the remark that Time Inc. owned a sizeable chunk—60,000 shares, or roughly 5 percent, I later found out—of Itek, then a very hot stock.
Time Inc.’s interest held up. Dick Billings of Life was assigned to create a story by using Itek to analyze several pictures that had been shot in Dealey Plaza both before and after the assassination and some at the moment of impact but not of Kenney himself. The UPI story on the Itek report had at least tried to establish that the Nix film proved nothing. Life’s story didn’t set out to prove or disprove anything.
On December 19, 1967 another and more surprising link came to light. In that day’s issue of The New York Times I read the transcript of an Izvestia interview with Kim Philby, the British counterespionage officer who had defected to Moscow. In the transcript Philby recounted what he considered to be his greatest coup—the foiling of the CIA’s Albania caper. As Philby told it, in 1951, shortly after Tito had broken with the Soviet Union, thus geographically cutting Albania off from the rest of the Communist world, the CIA arranged to airdrop anti-Communist Albanians into the mountains of their home country to lead a counterrevolution. Before the drop, the CIA checked out the operation with the great British and anti-Communist spy Kim Philby. From that moment on, the air drop was, of course, a disaster. According to Philby, the CIA agent in charge of the Albanian operation was named Franklin T. Lindsay.
I called Sprague, who had told me early in the game that he himself had worked for the CIA, and asked whether the Franklin T. Lindsay mentioned by Philby was Itek president Lindsay. Indeed, he was, Sprague said.