(PART 690)


Historians, of all stripes and shapes, operate under the assumption the documents they are studying are written on the day they are dated, and are written by those signing the document. If Vincent Drain, when given the chance, had simply admitted he'd screwed up, and that his superiors had forced him to rewrite an inaccurate report, and that this was the only time this happened, perhaps we might still feel confident this holds true of FBI documents.

Drain's initials, after all, appear on the revised document. But he did not. He either lied or forgot entirely about what would have to be considered a major mistake on his part. As a consequence, we are left to wonder...did the paper sample have the "same observable characteristics" as the bag, or were the paper sample and bag "found not to be identical"?


As is always the case when JFK conspiracy theorists get ahold of something they deem to be suspicious or misleading or conspiratorial, this whole issue about the two different FBI reports (concerning the paper sample that was taken from the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination) is another tiny anthill that conspiracists like Patrick Speer have decided to turn into Mount Everest.

The two documents, which conspiracy theorists believe are totally contradictory documents regarding the sample of paper that the FBI obtained from the Depository on November 22 (not to be confused with the December 1st paper sample, which was used to construct the replica "bag"), are not really "contradictory" at all, in my view.

One of the documents (almost certainly the original report filed by Vincent Drain in late November 1963) states that the sample paper was "found not to be identical" with the paper bag found in the Depository's Sniper's Nest (CE142), while the "corrected" document states that the sample paper exhibits the "same observable characteristics" as CE142.

But those two statements are not really contradictory at all, IMO. The sample paper could very well have had the "same observable characteristics" and yet not be "identical" to the paper in CE142.

To offer up a parallel circumstance -- It's very similar to the situation that occurred with the bullets that were removed from Officer J.D. Tippit's body. The FBI's firearms experts couldn't say that those four bullets had positively been fired from Lee Oswald's revolver, but the FBI's Cortlandt Cunningham did say that "the rifling characteristics of Commission Exhibit 143 [Oswald's revolver] are the same as those present on the four bullets".

So, the "characteristics" are the same, but the word "identical" cannot be used. And I think the same thing applies to the paper sample. There were "characteristics" that were the same in both the sample paper and CE142, but the FBI might have also been correct in stating that the two paper items were not "identical" to one another.*

* Although the FBI's James Cadigan DID refer to the 11/22/63 paper sample as being identical to that of CE142 (the Sniper's-Nest paper bag) when Cadigan said "Yes" when answering the following two questions asked by Melvin Eisenberg of the Warren Commission:

MR. EISENBERG -- "In all these cases, did you make the examination both of the tape and the paper in each of the bag and the sample [referring here to CE677, not CE364]?"

MR. CADIGAN -- "Oh, yes."

MR. EISENBERG -- "And they were all identical?"

MR. CADIGAN -- "Yes."


But in the final analysis, the second version of Vincent Drain's report (Commission Document #5) is probably the most accurate of the two reports, because the specific words that appear in Drain's initial version of the report -- "found not to be identical" -- are too restrictive and a little misleading. And those words are also totally at odds with James Cadigan's testimony that I provided above, as well.

Whereas, the following verbiage that is found in CD5 is probably more accurate verbiage and is not as misleading (which is undoubtedly why the change was made in the first place; but a conspiracy theorist's mileage will, of course, vary on that particular point):

"This paper was examined by the FBI Laboratory and found to have the same observable characteristics as the brown paper bag shaped like a gun case which was found near the scene of the shooting on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building." -- Via Commission Document #5


It is not I who holds that the two conflicting but identical reports on the paper bag are for two different bags, one being for the original bag and one for the bag created 12-1, it is your hero Bugliosi. This is absolutely clear from reading
my article, where I include his thoroughly inaccurate statements regarding this conflict, whereby he tries to pass off the two conflicting documents found by Shaw as references to two different bags.

Take off your Bugliosi-colored glasses for a second, will ya? Your hero screwed up big time, and totally embarrassed himself. (Feel free to add this to your list of his mistakes.)


Vincent Bugliosi might very well have been a bit confused about the two versions of Vincent's Drain's FBI report. But I'm confused by some of Pat Speer's language when discussing this topic myself. Particularly when Pat uses the word "bag" in an incorrect manner.

Bugliosi fully acknowledged in his book that the FBI obtained paper samples from the Book Depository on TWO separate days (11/22/63 and 12/1/63), and Vince is most certainly NOT contending (in the book excerpts reprinted below) that the November 22 paper sample was utilized by the FBI to create the replica "bag". In fact, Vince never mentions the replica BAG at all in these "RH" book excerpts:

"One version [of Vincent Drain's 11/29/63 FBI report] stated that paper samples obtained from the Depository shipping area on November 22 were found to have the same observable characteristics as the brown paper bag recovered from the sixth-floor sniper’s nest. A second version said that the paper samples were found “not to be identical” with the paper gun sack discovered at the scene of the shooting.


The two documents are no doubt examples of a misunderstanding that was cleared up by the Warren Commission in early 1964. In a March 12, 1964, letter [linked here], Warren Commission general counsel J. Lee Rankin asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to settle the two ostensibly contradictory FBI reports. Rankin wrote, “We are in doubt. Please submit a report...as to the tests made and the conclusions drawn.”


A week later, on March 19 [in a letter to Rankin which can be seen in CE2723], Hoover responded that BOTH reports were correct. The first report, dated January 7, 1964, referred to samples obtained from the Depository on December 1, 1963 (nine days after the assassination). By then, the shipping department had replaced its roll of wrapping paper with a fresh roll, since the fall period was its “heavy shipping season.” Consequently, the samples obtained by the FBI in December did not match the characteristics of the paper bag found on the day of the shooting.

The second report, dated January 13, 1964, related to samples taken from the Depository on November 22, the day of the assassination. These samples were found to be “similar in color to [the bag recovered from the sixth floor]” and were “similar in appearance under ultraviolet fluorescence, as well as in microscopic and all other observable physical characteristics.”"
-- Vincent Bugliosi; Pages 405-406 of "Reclaiming History" (Endnotes)


Your suggestion that the two conflicting reports are really not in conflict is ludicrous. While you and I might say that something is not identical, but shared the same observable characteristics, and not be contradicting ourselves...


Yes, exactly. So what's your problem now, Pat? (Let's see...)


...the FBI uses precise wording. "Found not to be identical" indicates that the two bags did not match. "Has the same observable characteristics" is FBI-speak for saying that their tests are not specific like fingerprints or DNA, but that from what they can determine the paper could be from the same source.



Oh I see! If it's you and I talking about the VERY SAME matter, we would "not be contradicting ourselves", but if it's the "FBI" doing the talking, it becomes "FBI-speak" and suddenly the exact same words mean something that IS contradictory in nature.

Brilliant, Pat!

You're REALLY digging deep to try and save yourself from embarrassment now, I see. Maybe you should stop right now, while we can still see the top of your head.

BTW, you're wrong (again) when you keep trying to assert that the "revised" language in the 11/29/63 Vincent Drain report is referring to "the two bags". The November 29th report (BOTH versions) is referring to a small piece of sample paper (which can be seen in CE677) that was taken from the Depository on November 22 (not December 1).

The 11/29/63 document is most certainly NOT referring to the paper sample that was used by the FBI to create the replica "bag", with the replica bag being viewable in CE364.

Pat Speer still seems to think that CE677 and CE364 are the same thing. And Pat evidently also wants to believe that CE677 and CE364 were obtained on the very same DAY too. But they weren't. So Pat is wrong.


BTW, it is not MY subjective impression that the reports are in conflict, and that the first one was officially "inaccurate", it is the determination of the FBI. .... If "not identical" and "same observable characteristics" were just two ways of saying the same thing, don't you think Hoover would know this? Wouldn't Shanklin have known this? .... The FBI changed documents...after the fact...and kept no record of the changes, and made no notations on the documents indicating they'd been changed. Deal with it.


Then how did we ever find out about the change, if no records were kept of the change? Somebody kept the initial Drain document, otherwise we wouldn't even know of its existence.

Which brings up another point -- If the FBI was so determined to HIDE the initial "not identical" version of Vincent Drain's report, then why in the world didn't they see to it that the original document with the words "found not to be identical" on it was destroyed? Were they too lazy to rip up a piece of paper?

In the final analysis, it's quite obvious (to everybody except rabid conspiracy theorists who want the FBI to be involved in a "cover-up" of some kind) that the FBI replaced a poorly worded page of one report with a more accurately worded page of that same report. And James Cadigan's Warren Commission testimony, in essence, confirms this as well.**

In fact, Cadigan even went a step further than the "corrected" FBI/Drain document, because Cadigan said that the 11/22/63 paper sample (not the 12/1/63 sample, keep in mind) was, indeed, "identical" in appearance to CE142 (the paper bag found in the Sniper's Nest):

MR. EISENBERG -- "In all these cases, did you make the examination both of the tape and the paper in each of the bag and the sample [referring here to CE677, not CE364]?"

MR. CADIGAN -- "Oh, yes."

MR. EISENBERG -- "And they were all identical?"

MR. CADIGAN -- "Yes."

** Also see this 12/18/63 FBI Airtel document, which instructs various FBI offices to "replace page 129" of Vincent Drain's 11/29/63 report. Conspiracy theorists, no doubt, believe those instructions were part of a concerted and sinister effort by the FBI to "cover up" the first Drain November 29 report. I, however, choose to believe that the FBI was doing exactly what I speculated about above --- they were replacing an incorrectly worded version of the report with a more accurate version.



If FBI agent Vincent Drain was correct about what he said to Earl Golz in 1980 (with Drain apparently telling Golz that the ORIGINAL document was the version with the words "same observable characteristics" in it, and that the version of his report which said "found not to be identical" was a "fake"), then we are left to believe something that is completely ridiculous on its face -- i.e., we're left to believe that the FBI decided to create a fake version of the document, but they then decided NOT TO USE that "fake" document in their final report.

Via such a ludicrous scenario concerning the musical FBI reports, the FBI decided that Drain's ORIGINAL version of the document (which included the words "same observable characteristics") would then be the FINAL and "official" version of that document after all.

So, if the commonly-held belief of many conspiracy theorists is correct about how the FBI was attempting to paint Lee Harvey Oswald as the sole assassin of President Kennedy, then why in the world would the FBI have wanted to create a FAKE DOCUMENT which said that the sample paper taken from the TSBD was "not identical" to that of the paper bag that the same FBI has linked to Oswald? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Vincent Drain's remarks to Earl Golz in 1980 only serve to demonstrate that Mr. Drain's memory was almost certainly a bit fuzzy and faulty when trying to recall the events from 17 years earlier.

I have no idea why Drain wrote "found not to be identical" in what was quite obviously the "original" version of his 11/29/63 FBI report (and is a conclusion that is completely the opposite of what the FBI's James Cadigan told the Warren Commission about the 11/22/63 paper sample).

I guess that's a mystery that will likely never be solved.


It's also worth noting that on page 4 of a letter (linked HERE) from J. Edgar Hoover to Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry (which is a letter dated November 23, 1963, six days before Vincent Drain filed his report), Hoover said the following to Chief Curry:

"The paper of the wrapping and the tape, Q10 [the bag found in the Sniper's Nest], were found to have the same observable physical characteristics as the known wrapping paper and tape, K2 [the sample taken from the TSBD on 11/22/63], from the Texas Public School Book Depository."

And here's page 1 of the letter (which shows the date: "November 23, 1963").

So, unless some CTers want to believe that Hoover's 11/23/63 letter to Curry is a fake, then we have the proof in writing—SIX DAYS PRIOR TO VINCENT DRAIN'S NOVEMBER 29TH REPORT—that the 11/22/63 paper sample had the "same observable physical characteristics" as the paper bag found on the sixth floor (CE142).


Yes, it seems obvious that, IF Drains' first report was correct, and that the paper bag and sample did not match, then Hoover's letter to Curry was a misrepresentation. This would suggest as well that the decision to misrepresent the evidence took place before Hoover's letter was written.


Which means the FBI had already decided to "misrepresent the evidence" within literally hours of the assassination (since the assassination took place at 12:30 PM CST on 11/22, and Hoover's letter to Curry was sent sometime on 11/23).

Hoover's boys worked fast, didn't they Pat? And while Oswald was still among the living too, keep in mind.

David Von Pein
September 2-7, 2009
March 23, 2017
January 12, 2018

[NOTE FROM DVP: I was definitely wrong about some of the things I originally said in 2009 relating to Vincent Bugliosi's handling of the situation surrounding the conflicting documents written by Vince Drain of the FBI. I can see now that Mr. Bugliosi was incorrect when he tried to reconcile the conflicting FBI reports the way he did in his book. To see the entire discussion I had with Pat Speer in 2009 regarding this matter, including all of my mistakes, GO HERE.]




Hello David,

As Dallas Morning News reporter Earl Golz found out, there was a very simple explanation for Vince Drain's two contradictory notes about the paper bag characteristics. Drain told Earl back in 1980 that he prepared the two notes before knowing the results, then signed and/or initialed the correct one once the FBI lab analysis was available to him.

He was surprised to learn from Earl that the incorrect note was still part of the record, for Vince was under the impression it was thrown away once the test results came back. Apparently his secretary, who typed his notes and letters, kept copies of both versions and that's why they are in the records.

Earl never wrote a story about all this, but he certainly told me at the time and I think a brief mention of what he learned appeared in The Continuing Inquiry sometime that year.

Gary Mack
[October 17, 2014]


That's probably the most ridiculous explanation of them all. Who does that?


Evidently Vince Drain did.

Of course, such an explanation by Drain does not mesh at all with the following comments that I made in 2009. But in light of what Gary Mack told me on October 17, 2014, I'm wondering now if this "fake" remark is accurate....

"If FBI agent Vincent Drain was correct about what he said to Earl Golz in 1980 (with Drain apparently telling Golz that the ORIGINAL document was the version with the words "same observable characteristics" in it, and that the version of his report which said "found not to be identical" was a "fake"), then we are left to believe something that is completely ridiculous on its face -- i.e., we're left to believe that the FBI decided to create a fake version of the document, but they then decided NOT TO USE that "fake" document in their final report."
-- DVP; September 4, 2009

I see now where I got the "fake" quote that was allegedly uttered by Vince Drain. It's in Pat Speer's 2009 article at Mary Ferrell's site.....

"In 1980, after the appearance of Jack White’s article in The Continuing Inquiry, journalist Earl Golz asked the supposed author of these reports, FBI agent Vincent Drain, about the two conflicting reports bearing his name. Now, if Drain’s words were consistent with Baker’s subsequent explanation, one might reasonably conclude that the “mystery” surrounding the conflicting documents had mostly been solved. As reported by Jerry Rose in the March 1985 issue of The Third Decade, however, Drain’s answers were at odds with what Baker told Tatro. While Drain, in order to align with Baker’s subsequent explanation, should have admitted something along the lines of “I screwed up, and was asked to rewrite my report” he instead “expressed shock at seeing” the documents and “said he was as ‘puzzled’ as Golz about them.” Even more problematic, in light of what Baker was to reveal, Drain “expressed certainty that the copy saying the materials tested were the same was the original document,” and speculated that the document discovered by Shaw, and subsequently acknowledged by the FBI’s Assistant Director to be the de facto original document, was a “fake.” "
-- Pat Speer; April 2009



DVP is told by Gary Mack that Earl Golz told him that he heard from Vince Drain.

On the other hand, Speer refers to an article from 1985 by Jerry Rose, who apparently wrote about what Golz allegedly heard from Drain.

What is this, for crying out loud?

Golz telling Mack one thing and Rose another?


Yep. Looks like it. If Pat Speer has got his quotes right, that is.

I can't blame this discrepancy on faulty memory either (except the possible faulty memories of Earl Golz, Jerry Rose, and/or Mr. Mack), because both versions are coming from the same source (Golz) and, I assume, from the exact same interview with Drain in 1980.

~big shrug~

David Von Pein
October 17, 2014



The “fake” claim was first started by Jack White in 1980, who speculated both FBI docs were fabricated so the official story could go “either way.”

My understanding of FBI Special Agent Vince Drain is that he was the “middle man” between the Dallas Police and FBI headquarters. He was the agent who supervised the transfer of the physical evidence from Dallas to Washington. He was not in charge of the FBI lab analysis but merely kept a file with information related to that evidence.

If Drain told anyone the conflicting report was fake, it’s easy to understand why for as far as Drain knew, the “other” report – once the FBI lab results came back – should have been discarded; therefore, the different report had to be a fake created not by the Bureau but by someone else.

[October 20, 2014]



Can you make heads or tails of this? I am struggling to understand what Gary Mack is trying to say here.



I think Gary means that if Drain ever said the word "fake" to anyone in connection with the "other" FBI report (the one that was NOT used by the FBI for any final determination regarding the TSBD paper samples), it means that Drain definitely DID think that HIS second version of the report WAS positively discarded (as he said it should have been)....and therefore, if any "second" report still existed it has to be a "fake" of some kind, because Drain is of the opinion that his second version was thrown away.

Given the above conceivable mindset of Vincent Drain, then Gary Mack's 10/20/14 e-mail to me does make sense.

But it's very likely that Drain was just simply wrong. His second report was not thrown out. Simple as that. Nothing sinister about it at all.

Something like this gets confusing, because we have to ask ourselves constantly:

Who is really saying what, and about whom, and when?

We've got Drain and Golz and Rose and Hurt and White and Mack. The quotes of the first man (Drain) can get garbled by going through so many people.

It's probably something that will be impossible to completely decipher now.


I have great difficulty believing that an FBI agent like Drain would prepare two conflicting versions of a report in advance.


Yes, that does seem strange.

But what would be much stranger would be for somebody to create a FAKE report saying "the paper doesn't match". Why on Earth would even the "evil" FBI do something like that? (And it was suggested by Drain somewhere along the line that any "fake" report must have been the one saying "no match". But that's just plain silly.)

But let me add this important point....

This whole topic of the paper samples being "matches" or "no matches" to the CE142 brown paper bag is not really all that important anyway.

Why, you might ask?


Even if Lee Harvey Oswald didn't utilize the Book Depository's supply of paper and tape, it would only mean that Oswald acquired the brown paper and the tape SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Such a determination that he didn't use the TSBD materials doesn't erase the fact that Oswald WAS seen carrying a long brown bag into the Depository on the morning of the assassination.

And it wouldn't erase the fact that Oswald's own fingerprint and palmprint were found on an EMPTY brown paper bag that is connected to this murder case.

Regardless of WHERE he obtained the paper to construct the bag, it couldn't be any clearer from the testimony and statements of Buell Wesley Frazier and Linnie Mae Randle that Lee Harvey Oswald definitely DID carry a long brown bag into the Depository on November 22nd.

David Von Pein
October 21, 2014