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Jim DiEugenio's Upcoming appearances and radio Interviews:
October 16-19th Passing the Torch Conference, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
November 21-24, November in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
General Giap Knew
Review of Destiny
Betrayed, 2nd edition
The Bonds of Secrecy, by
Saint John Hunt
Fires the First Salvo
for Fifty Years
The mystery of CE163
Citizen Wilcke Dissents
JFK: The French Connection, by Peter Kross Review by Seamus Coogan
on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012
KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book With A Few Pages of Trouble
Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock's
interesting and unique new book Nexus:
The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work of Chris Matthews on the life and death of President Kennedy, including his latest biography, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive hero".
IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President
The Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
Joseph Green on the late Manning Marable's new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
JFK and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus Coogan
- and -
Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
is Anton Batey?
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner's long
awaited new book on
Inside the ARRB, Vol. 3, by Doug Horne
Reviewed by James DiEugenio
(Jim DiEugenio's review of Volume 3 is the third installment of CTKA's book-by-book review of Douglas Horne's five-volume set Inside the ARRB. Later contributions by Dr. David Mantik and Gary Aguilar will complete the critique of this mammoth series.)
Volume III of Inside the ARRB includes the end of what Doug Horne calls Part 1, and the beginning of Part 2. Horne defines Part 1 as a review of the work of the ARRB, especially the value of the witness depositions. That takes up a little more than a hundred pages of this volume. Then he launches into Part 2 of the book. This is entitled "Fraud in the Evidence". Part 2 will continue into and take up all of Volume 4, which includes his (quite naturally) very long discussion of the Zapruder film. Then Volume 5 is called "The Political Context of the Assassination".
As indicated previously, Horne needed a good and tough editor. If he had one, his series could have easily and logically been divided into three neat volumes of Parts 1, 2, and 3. This would have let him thematically divide up the book into a comprehensible structure. The more accessible structure, plus pruning at least a couple of hundred pages, would have made the book easier to read and understand.
In concluding his review of the ARRB medical depositions, Horne will now first review the testimony of FBI agents Jim Sibert and Frank O'Neill. This takes about 75 pages. Then Chapter 9 reviews Jeremy Gunn's group interview of the Parkland Hospital emergency room doctors. For Horne, this is relatively brief, about 35 pages.
I must comment on a recurring trait of Horne, because, on the second page of this volume, Horne comments on it himself. Although in strictest terms, the book is not an oral history, in many ways and on many pages, it is. Because Horne quotes at length from ARRB depositions. Now, oral history has real value. In fact, one of the better books on the medical evidence in the JFK case is an oral history i.e. William Law's In the Eye of History. There is nothing wrong with an author writing an expository introduction to an interview with one of his oral history subjects: Who is this person, why are they important, who else has interviewed them, what is new in this interview etc.
Horne goes way beyond that. Let me use his own words to describe what he does that is rather unusual: "I have taken the liberty of engaging in lengthy, speculative discussions of the probable importance of various entries in these reports ... Sibert and O'Neill participated in, and witnessed, key events ... It does no good to simply report what they told someone about what they saw ... without giving it context and discussing what it means in relation to what others witnessed that evening. Engaging in open, responsible, and detailed speculation now about the meaning of the observations and recollections of James Sibert and Frank O'Neill ... will considerably streamline the writing (and reading) of Part II when I lay out my conclusions about what I believe really happened during and after the autopsy on President John F. Kennedy." (pgs. 668-69)
Is Horne serious about the last part? The book is over 1,800 pages long. Where did he "streamline" anything? Part 2, which he says he actually did 'streamline', clocks in at 600 pages. What Horne is doing is justifying his frequent interjections into the oral history portions of the book. It is a practice that I have never seen any other author do to the extent he does. And in such a derogatory and, at times, personal way. When Dr. Petty is questioning Jim Humes about when the x-rays were taken, he is "peddling pure bullshit". Horne actually inserts that phrase into the dialogue, like a stage direction. (p. 933) Frank O'Neill also indulges in "bullshit" (p. 724) And, of course, Horne really let's them have it when they contradict Best Evidence. If the FBI agents say they never lost sight of the casket, they must be lying and he wants them to "come clean". But Horne understands why they are lying: it's because they let the conspirators get away with murder. (p. 726) At one point, O'Neill is accused of saying what he does because he hates David Lifton. (p. 719) Ironically, Horne even accuses O'Neill of being in love with the sound of his own voice. (p. 731) This from a guy who wrote a book that is close to 2,000 pages long.
And since I am mentioning a form of editorializing, let me bring up a point that John Costella did. The accepted academic tradition in adding stress, emphasis, or drawing attention to a passage is the use of italics. Again, Horne goes beyond that tradition. He uses both bold italics and underlining. Often in the same passage. I think I get the point Doug.
Let's get back to facts. The testimony of Sibert and O'Neill is quite important for several reasons. First, it shows just how thoroughly compromised Arlen Specter was from the start. Specter talked to the agents informally. He never swore them in for a formal deposition. Why? Because he did not want their testimony in the record. In fact, the Sibert-O'Neill report is not in the Warren Commission volumes. The main reason being that they were told by the doctors that the back wound did not penetrate the body and that it came in at an angle of 45 degrees. Those two observations completely destroy the single bullet theory. Which it was Specter's function to create and uphold. In the memo of his 3/12/64 interview, he writes that Sibert did not take any notes that night, and O'Neill took only a few. Both statements are completely false. (See p. 680) But further, in this memo on the meeting, Specter was careful not to ask the agents about the difference between the "non-transiting" bullet of their report, and the "transiting" bullet in the autopsy report. As Horne notes, "Specter did not want any indication in the official record that he was even aware of any discrepancy between the FBI report ... and the autopsy report in evidence, CE 387." (p. 673) Especially when it undermined the official mythology.
When interviewed by the HSCA, the agents said that they learned that the projectile that caused the back wound ended up on a stretcher at Dallas. They learned this from a phone call that night. (p. 681) They also said that there was no discussion in the morgue that ever considered the throat wound a wound of exit. (ibid)
Both men seriously questioned the back of the head photo. Sibert said he did not recall seeing the skull that intact: "I don't remember seeing anything that was like this photo." (p. 691) He then went on to add that "the hair looks like it's been straightened out and cleaned up more than what it was when we left the autopsy." (ibid) When Jeremy Gunn asked him if he recalled anything like that photo from the night of the autopsy, Sibert said, "No. I don't recall anything like this at all during the autopsy." (p. 692) When O'Neill saw the same picture, his reaction was similar. He said it looked like the photo had been, "...doctored in some way." (ibid) He also did not recall the hair being so neat and clean. As for the depiction of the wound, he said "there was more of a massive wound". (p. 693)
I would be remiss if I did not note two areas that, in reading Horne, he is greatly preoccupied by. From way back when the self-published manuscript Murder from Within was issued (1975), its authors-Fred Newcomb and Perry Adams--have posited a theory of the crime that implicates LBJ and the Secret Service as the prime suspects. David Lifton was close to Newcomb at one time. In fact, he actually once said that this book stole his idea of body alteration. And it does posit that theory.
Newcomb and Adams went way beyond the accepted knowledge of the Secret Service failure to protect Kennedy in Dealey Plaza. They seemed to imply that the Secret Service were the actual assassins, and that Roy Kellerman was actually a "stage manager" of the cover-up. In an interview in 1992, Newcomb stated that "In order to cover-up the shooting of JFK by Greer, the wounds had to be altered to make it appear that he was shot from the rear instead of the front. Control of the president's body was paramount. The Dallas coroner at one point wanted to open the ceremonial coffin to do an autopsy in Dallas. Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman pulled a gun to stop him..." In fact, as one can read from this last linked page, many of Lifton's concepts were clearly shared with Newcomb. Who came up with them first is probably a matter of conjecture. But its fairly clear that the whole Bill Cooper hoax, that is using a very bad copy of the Zapruder film to insinuate that Greer shot Kennedy, most likely originated with that book.
Since Horne is enamored of all things in Best Evidence, Roy Kellerman now becomes a "stage manager" in the cover-up. That is, when certain skullduggery is going on, its Kellerman who is somehow involved in making sure certain people are present in the morgue and certain people are not. Which is odd, since most people believe that the military brass was actually controlling things. But Horne actually goes well beyond that point. In one rather outlandish excerpt, Horne seems to say that Kellerman was actually involved in the pre-autopsy surgery. As far as I could see, this was based upon the memory of a co-pilot on Air Force One who said he recalled that Kellerman had blood on the front of his shirt. (Horne, p. 696. There is no date given for when this interview took place.) So based upon this, Kellerman now joins Humes in pre-autopsy surgery. And he's not even a doctor. Whether or not this memory is accurate, when it was recalled, whether it dovetails with anyone else, these questions are all left suspended. Assumedly, such questions are not to be asked. And the further unspoken corollary is that if this info is accurate, there can be no other way that Kellerman got blood on his shirt.
Hmm. Talk about a hanging judge.
Just let me note one sequence in the book that shows just how "stage managed" Horne wants us to believe the conspiracy was. Let me describe what he projects as about a 40-45 minute time stretch at Bethesda that night. (p. 735) This is what Horne says happened from about 7:17-8:00:
Kellerman must have been one heck of a stage director. In fact, I would say he missed his calling. I mean, he managed all this without any rehearsal time. He should have been on Broadway.
And we are also to believe that no one noticed the before and after difference in the corpse's appearance.
The last chapter in Part 1 is Horne's description of both the attempt to interview the Parkland Hospital doctors and the highlights of this group deposition. For Horne, this is a relatively brief chapter, about 35 pages. But I thought it was interesting because it gave us some insights into the workings of the ARRB and the relationship between Jeremy Gunn and Horne.
The mission of the ARRB was to locate and make public as many hidden records as possible pertaining to the John Kennedy murder case. But there was also a clause written into the legislation which permitted them to explore and clarify certain ambiguities in the evidentiary record. Jeremy Gunn did this in several instances. But, by far, the one instance the Board took the most time and energy to do so was in the medical field. Nothing else was even close. Whether this was a good decision or a bad decision is not really the subject of this book or this review. But it is an unalterable fact.
Now Horne not only wanted to do this, he also wanted it structured in a certain way. He wanted the depositions of the Dallas doctors taken first, and then the autopsy pathologists. (p. 742) Now from what Horne revealed about the temperament of the Board, and the ties that David Marwell had with people like Gus Russo, Max Holland, and Michael Baden, this was not going to be easy to attain. But evidently, at the beginning, Jeremy Gunn had some capital with Marwell and the Board. So Marwell had Gunn's request to interview the pathologists approved. This seemed to me to be a good idea at the time since the examination of the three pathologists by Arlen Specter was pretty much a joke. Clearly, Specter understood something was weird about the autopsy, so his examination of Humes, Boswell, and Finck actually defines the phrase "dog and pony show".
Secondly, although the HSCA had written a report and included a lot of their inquiry into the medical evidence in it, Robert Blakey had classified much of it. Therefore, once this was declassified, there would be more information with which to prepare depositions for the three autopsy doctors.
Third, as I noted in my review of Volume II, there were some Dallas personnel who had not been formally deposed by the Warren Commission. So Gunn and Horne interviewed Nurse Bell, and Doctors Grossman and Crenshaw.
But, by 1995, there had been quite an extensive record established of interviews with the rest of the Dallas treating physicians who were in the Parkland emergency room. In addition to the interviews done by the Warren Commission and the HSCA, these men had agreed to be interviewed both by the press and private researchers. And generally speaking, they had done this often. So the question then became: Could a compelling case be made for 'clarification of the record' with these subjects? I mean, the ARRB never even seriously considered interviewing Ruth and Michael Paine. Even though neither one had been deposed by the HSCA. And much evidence had surfaced in the interim that would seem to warrant a 'clarification of the evidentiary record'.
But Horne urged such a process. Further, he wanted the Dallas doctors interviewed before the Bethesda personnel. This, of course, was in keeping with what he perceives as the "Dallas Lens" vs. the "Bethesda Lens". Which is the way one would probably structure a criminal inquiry, or the presentation of a court case. (Horne, p. 742) But the point to remember is this: The ARRB was not such an inquiry. Not by any means. For Gunn and Marwell to go just as far as they did in this field could have been construed as pushing the envelope.
But something changed that made the Dallas excursion possible. David Marwell stepped down as Executive Director to take another job. (p. 743) Most of the staffers then thought Gunn would be promoted almost automatically. It actually took three weeks. (ibid) Horne notes that this betrays the fact that the Board was never completely comfortable with Gunn as they had been with Marwell. That probably owes to the fact that Marwell was never a critic of the official story. Gunn let it be known at a speech at Stanford University, he was. (See Probe Vol. 5 No. 5) In fact, according to Horne, Gunn had actually applied for the Executive Director's job originally. But the Board was not interested in hiring him for any position. Once Marwell was installed, it was his idea to hire Gunn. (pgs. 743-44) Gunn eventually became General Counsel and in that office he earned the enmity of three Board members. (Horne does not name them. But they most likely are the late Kermit Hall, Henry Graff, and Anna K. Nelson.) But once Marwell left, Gunn did not want to push the issue of deposing the Dallas doctors further with the Board.
So Horne decided to do an end around Gunn. He wrote a memorandum to Gunn and PR officer Tom Samoluk, enclosing five blind copies for the Board members. Understandably, Gunn got angry with Horne. (p. 746) Samoluk and another staffer tried to arrange a peace meeting. This did not work, but Gunn stated something interesting and relevant at the time. He said that Anna Nelson had recommended against hiring Horne because he would try to solve the assassination. (ibid) Which Gunn evidently was beginning to think Horne was trying to do. (I would disagree with Gunn on this score. As Horne wrote in Volume I, he was actually trying to prove or disprove Best Evidence.)
Samoluk's attempt at reconciling the two failed. Horne writes that this was the end of the working relationship with Gunn.
In light of what I already wrote about the prolific public record of the Dallas treating physicians, one really has to wonder why Horne did what he did. Jeremy Gunn went about as far as one could be expected to go in this regard. And if there is a guy I would like to talk to and try to have a candid conversation with on the Board, it is him. I can imagine the book he could write. Horne now has no relationship with the man. (ibid)
Further, shortly after this imbroglio, Gunn decided to quit the ARRB. (p. 748) Horne is not specific about why. He just writes that he heard it was over a matter of principle and he actually tendered his resignation before he had secured another job. To say the least, it would have been interesting to know why Gunn left. As I noted in my review of Volume I, I really wish Horne had filled out this behind the scenes part of the book, because no one else has.
It was decided to go ahead and interview some of the Dallas doctors. But there were three serious problems with the process. First, the-now rudderless-- ARRB agreed to do the interview in Dallas, not Washington. Therefore, approval had to be granted to move the autopsy materials to Texas. The approval was denied. Horne points the figure for the failure at Archivist Steve Tilley who told reporter George Lardner, "I was the one who turned off the transportation of those autopsy photos with Burke Marshall." (p. 741 Marshall is the Kennedy representative on the deed-of-gift who has to approve requests to see the autopsy materials.)
Second, without Gunn at the helm, the ARRB was pretty much adrift at sea the last several months of its existence. There really was no attorney who was familiar enough with the autopsy issues to do the depositions. The new and final executive director, pretty much by default, was Laura Denk. Denk once told Horne that it really didn't matter to her where the hole in Kennedy's skull was located. (ibid) Which pretty much fulfills the original Board intent of hiring people who had no interest or aptitude about the subject.
Third, because the Board had essentially run aground, Gunn had to be recalled to do the interviews. But now it was decided that it would be a group interview of five doctors: Robert McClelland, Paul Peters, Ronald C. Jones, Charles Baxter, and Malcolm Perry. Which is pretty much inexplicable. I mean with all the Board had dug up just about Malcolm Perry, you could have spent hours just interviewing him. But further, Gunn seemed to be just going through the motions now. He did not bring with him the bootleg versions of the autopsy photos and he did not ask the doctors to draw on a skull their version of the head wounds. (p. 755)
But even with all those qualifiers, some interesting observations were recorded. Dr. Jones said he saw no damage on the right side of the head above the ear-which does exist on the autopsy photos. (p. 757) More than one witness saw a left temple wound. (ibid) Peters said he saw lacerated cerebellum through a hole in the rear of the skull. (p. 758-59) McClelland agreed with this blasted cerebellum observation. (p. 762) And Jones made a quite interesting comment. He said he did see a very small wound, which he thought was an entrance wound to the head. (p. 765) As I said, Gunn by now was just going through the motions. He didn't follow up on this important detail in order to pin down the location and appearance.
For me, the most fascinating vignette from this interview was offered up by Jones. Gunn asked the subjects if anyone tried to get them to alter their stories. (p. 769) A question to which Perry should have jumped up at. But it was Jones who gave the interesting answer. He said that during his interview with Arlen Specter, he alluded more than once to the throat wound being a wound of entry. Specter seemed to question his expertise with projectiles. When Jones stepped down, Specter followed him out into the hallway. He then said, "I want to tell you something that I don't want you to say anything about. We have people who will testify that they saw the President shot from the front. You can always get people to testify about something. But we are pretty convinced he was shot from the back." Jones said that the message was that although he may have thought the neck wound was an entrance, it wasn't. And that was that. Jones replied that he was only 31 at the time, so he didn't say anything about this exchange. But he did think it was unusual. (p. 770)
I agree that it was. But he knew he could get away with it.
As Horne notes, the discussion of Gunn's group interview ends Part 1 of the book, i.e. his review of the ARRB testimony. Part 2 is where Horne applies the work of the ARRB to describe as he calls it , "Fraud in the Evidence-A Pattern of Deception". There are three chapters that deal with this in the volume: Chapters 10-12. The first is by far the best. In fact, it may be the highlight of the entire five volumes.
In the summer of 1998, Horne completed a long memorandum at the behest of Jeremy Gunn. In examining the history (and mystery) of the fate of President Kennedy's brain, Horne had come to some rather surprising and startling conclusions. This memo was released to the press and it created a small buzz. What Horne was postulating was two things. First, that there were actually two examinations of the brain, one of Kennedy's actual brain and one with a substitute brain. Second, that the photos of Kennedy's brain in the National Archives today depict this substitute brain, not Kennedy's actual brain after the shooting.
This memorandum gave Vincent Bugliosi an epileptic fit. As I noted in the first part of my review of Reclaiming History, since Bugliosi could come up with almost no new evidence to support the Warren Commission, he resorted to an extraordinary barrage of invective and insults in order to demonize and dehumanize the critics. Nowhere was that litany of belittlement more pronounced than in his discussion of Horne's memo. He called it "obscenely irresponsible" and as Horne notes, that was actually the soft-edged part of the broadside. (Horne, p. 822) The problem with Bugliosi's polemic in this regard is the problem with his entire book: He is wrong. Which is not to say that I agree with the entire Horne memorandum. I don't. But when all is said and done, the weight of the evidence says that the pictures in the National Archives are not what they say they are. And that creates a huge problem for the purveyors of the official story. It's a problem that, combined with David Mantik's work on the x-rays, is fundamentally insurmountable.
First, let me assess what I believe to be the strengths of Horne's work on the subject. Let us begin with something simple to understand. As I just mentioned in my review of the Dallas doctors group interview with Gunn, physicians Jones and McClelland both said the cerebellum was lacerated. FBI agent Frank O'Neill said half the brain was gone. And that a significant portion of the brain was missing from the rear. (Horne, p. 797) Mortician Tom Robinson said that a large percentage of the brain was gone "in the back" and "that the portion of the brain that was missing was about the size of a closed fist. " (Horne, p.. 814) Dr, Boswell, during his ARRB interview, said that about a third of the brain was missing. (David Mantik, "The Medical Evidence Decoded" in Murder In Dealey Plaza, edited by James Fetzer, p. 284) In an interview he gave in 1992 to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Jim Humes said that 2/3 of the right cerebrum was gone. (ibid) Floyd Reibe recalled for the ARRB that he saw the brain removed but there was only about half of it left. (op cit, Fetzer, p. 212, in Gary Aguilar "The Converging Medical Case for Conspiracy") James Sibert commented that "you look at a picture, an anatomical picture of a brain and it's all-there was nothing like that." (William Law, In the Eye of History, p. 257) James Jenkins said the brain was so damaged on the underside that it was hard to introduce needles for perfusion with formalin. (Harrison Livingstone, High Treason II, p. 226))
At Dallas' Parkland Hospital Dr. Robert McClelland said that "probably a third or so, at least, of the brain tissue, posterior cerebral tissue and some of the cerebellar tissue had been blasted out." (Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone, High Treason, p. 42) Dr. Ronald Jones said that "as the president lay on the cart with what appeared to be some brain hanging out this wound with multiple pieces of skull next with the brain and with a tremendous amount of clot and blood." (ibid) Dr. Perry described a gaping wound at the rear of the skull "exposing lacerated brain". Further in his testimony before the Commission he states "there was severe laceration of underlying brain tissue." (ibid, p. 47) Dr. Charles Carrico described an avulsive rear skull wound in which the brain had both cerebral and cerebellar shredded and macerated tissue. And this was exhibited both in the wounds and on the hanging skull fragments. (ibid p. 50) Before the body left, Nurse Diana Bowron packed the head wound with gauze squares at Parkland. She later recalled that much of the brain, about a half total from both sides, was gone. (Harrison Livingstone, Killing the Truth, p. 195)
All the above is consistent with what we see on the Zapruder film: a terrific head explosion with matter ejecting high into the air. It is also consistent with the very first witnesses in and around the car. As we all know, Jackie Kennedy turned over pieces of her husband's skull and brain to a doctor at Parkland Hospital. Motorcycle cops Martin and Hargis recall being splattered with blood and brain. (op cit, Groden and Livingstone, p. 231) As Horne will reveal in Volume 4, a Secret Service agent later recovered a piece of the brain from the car.
Keeping all the above in mind about the extensive damage done, when one looks at the HSCA artist's rendition of the existing brain, it is surprising to view a pretty much intact brain. (See Fetzer, p. 232) Even Earl Rose of the HSCA noted that the underside of this brain does not match the description of the head wound described by the pathologists (ibid. As we will see, there is a real question as to who shot the basilar i.e. underneath, views of this brain) As David Mantik has written, there is minimal impact seen in the extant brain. There is some, but only some, impact seen in the right front. And even Dr. Humes was puzzled by this fact. Before the ARRB, he said, "...the structure which is on the right side of the brain appears to be intact-the cerebrum intact-and that's not right, because it was not." (ibid p. 264) And recall, that is the part of the extant brain that betrays impact. The rest is pretty much intact. So here you have a brain in the record whose appearance simply does not jibe with the evidence listed above i.e. the witness testimony and the Zapruder film.
Neither does its weight. Which is 1500 grams. This is startling. Because the average weight of a brain for a 40-49 year old male is 1350 grams. If one even allows for a period of formalin fixing afterwards, Kennedy's brain actually has more volume to it than a normal brain. Even though it had been blasted away, went flying through the air, and landed on other people in Dealey Plaza. Now, what makes this mystery even more intriguing is that the brain was not weighed the night of the autopsy in Bethesda. (David Mantik and Cyril Wecht, "Paradoxes of the JFK Assassination: The Brian Enigma" in The Assassinations edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, p. 253) As Mantik and Wecht write, this is inexplicable. And in fact, according to Boswell's ARRB testimony, he recalled that it actually was weighed. (ibid) It is hard to gauge which is worse: if it was done and the results eliminated, or if it was not done at all. One wonders if this was part of the annotated record that was later destroyed.
The first date in the record for an actual weight is recorded by Pierre Finck. In a report he wrote for his military superiors in 1965, he wrote that the brain was weighed at 1500 grams on 11/29. (ibid, p. 255) And here another problem surfaces. For Humes said that Admiral George Burkley came out to Bethesda to get all the autopsy materials: "He told me the family wanted to inter the brain with the President 's body ..." (ibid) So what was Finck looking at on 11/29? Humes realized this presented a problem so he changed his story later and said he gave the brain to Burkley within about ten days. (Horne, p. 829)
Further, Humes never tendered any receipts for this transfer to either the Commission or the HSCA. (ibid) And as we all know, Burkley later deposited the brain with White House secretary Evelyn Lincoln, who turned it over to Angie Novello, Robert Kennedy's secretary. So Humes' story about turning over the brain to Burkley sometime before the funeral on 11/25 appears to be problematic. And he seemed to realize this himself. What makes the intrigue deeper is that Burkley wrote in 1978 that he wanted to do further examination of the brain. (ibid, p. 256) Also, if Burkley had retrieved the brain for interment, then how long could the brain have been fixed in formalin? At most, a bit over two days.
Which leads to another problem: the purpose of formalin fixing is to section a brain to trace gunshot trajectories. According to Humes and Boswell this was not done. (Horne, p. 792) Which, again, is incredible in a gunshot to the head case. This may be why Humes first tried to say that Burkley called for the autopsy materials early. He may have thought this could be his excuse for the lack of sectioning, not realizing it created other problems for him.
The other problem is that photographer John Stringer said the brain was sectioned. (ibid) He said he recalled this since he photographed it. The problem is that under examination by the ARRB Stringer just about wrecked the thesis that it was he who took any archival pictures of the brain. First, as mentioned in Part 1, Stringer said he took no basilar views of the brain-but there are such underneath shots in the archives. He also said there were identification tags used in such shots. There are none in these photographs. (Horne, p. 806) Jeremy Gunn then asked him if based on those facts would he be able to identify the photographs before him as photographs of the brain of President Kennedy? Stringer said, "No, I couldn't say that they were President Kennedy's ... All I know is, I gave everything to Jim Humes, and he gave them to Admiral Burkley." (ibid.)
It then got worse. Stringer had identified to Gunn the types of film he used for both black and white and color pictures. The type of film used in the brain photos is Ansco. Stringer was genuinely puzzled when he discovered this because not only was it the wrong film, but it was used in a photographic technique called a press pack, which he did not use. This was betrayed by a series number in the pictures, something which Stringer was almost stunned to see. (Horne, pgs. 807-08) Stringer also did not recognize the film used in the color shots of the brain either. (ibid, p. 809) And, of course, there were no photos of the brain as being sectioned. What is most puzzling about this last is that Stringer remembered photographing the sections using a light box. (p. 810)
To put it mildly, something is rotten in Denmark. When the pictures of an intact brain do not correspond to what the nurse who packed the skull in gauze packages recalled-along with about ten other witnesses-something is up. When Humes' story about when he surrendered the brain to Burkley keeps on changing, something is up. When Humes and Boswell say the brain was not sectioned, but the guy who shot the sections says it was, something is up. And when that photographer who says he shot the photos, denies the photos in the Archives are his, then you have a real problem.
As I said, I don't agree with everything that Horne wrote in this chapter. But I agree with enough of it to grant him his major point: The pictures of the brain in the National Archives are not of President Kennedy's brain. And they therefore do not depict that actual damage done to his skull during the assassination. I believe the evidence for this is so powerful that it could be used in a court of law. And it is a strong indication of a national security cover-up.
The next chapter in his Fraud in the Evidence section is entitled "The Autopsy Report-A Botched Cover Up". In this chapter Horne essentially tries to show something that many people have suspected and even written about. In fact, I wrote about it in Part IV of my Reclaiming History review. Namely that the autopsy report was an evolving document that was not actually supposed to register the findings made at Bethesda that night. It was actually meant to disguise what the actual observations were.
Horne begins by enumerating all the serious problems with the actual autopsy procedure e.g. the hair was not shaved, no proper labeling of pictures, clothing not checked by doctors etc. Even Michael Baden has noted just how bad it was. (pgs. 845-46) Then after noting all this, he writes that the autopsy report in evidence, CE 387, is not the first version of the report. Which, of course, we know through Jeremy Gunn's examination of Humes. For Humes admitted that he burned not just his notes, but also the first draft of the report.
Horne is going to count the Sibert-O'Neill report as his first draft of the autopsy protocol. I guess this will suffice, but there are some problems with doing so. First, the two FBI agents left that evening. So they had no consultation with the doctors afterwards and no consultation with their paperwork. They were also not privy to any of the work done afterwards on the body, like the supplemental report.
But even though it lacks detail and depth and technical expertise, we can grant Horne this step. Simply because whatever the failings of these two FBI agents, they are much more honest men than the pathologists. And we can see from above that they do not go along with either the Single Bullet Theory, or the intact back of the skull photos. At this point in the evolution of the autopsy, the back wound bullet had fallen out through cardiac massage.
This idea, that the back wound was a non-transiting wound was short lived. Horne says it didn't last long because "after the FBI agents left the Bethesda Morgue, the pathologists established communication with Dr. Perry about the bullet wound he observed in the anterior neck..." (p. 851) Horne says that Humes always stated that this did not happen until Saturday, but this is not credible today. I agree. There is just too much testimony today to indicate that this was a cover story. And Horne points it all out. (pgs. 851-854)
Horne makes a kind of odd choice for his second draft of the report. He wants to use the HSCA testimony of Richard Lipsey, aide to General Wehle, as an interim report. This is problematic since Lipsey's testimony is oral testimony many years after the fact. Horne wants to use him because he told the HSCA that Kennedy was shot three times from behind. The FBI report says Kennedy was shot twice. (p. 857) According to Lipsey, the anterior neck wound was never a tracheotomy but known as a bullet wound of exit.
What is interesting about Lipsey's testimony is that he allows for two entrance wounds on the neck. One up high, near the hairline, which exited the throat. A second one very low, or in the upper back. The first trajectory is one which people like Milicent Cranor and Pat Speer have written about as being possible. (See Cranor's article in The Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Summer 1999 issue, entitled "The Third Wound".)
Image courtesy Pat Speer
Lipsey's version was then revised. Why? Horne says that it was because of the news of the hit to James Tague-which would have then given us four bullets. (p. 863) There was no footnote to this. And I found both the mention and the lack of footnoting puzzling. Because the time period the author is talking about is early morning on the 23rd. This is how Horne informs us: by the time the autopsy report was reviewed on the 23rd, "the entire nation, and indeed the world, had become aware one shot had missed, and had wounded bystander James Tague in the cheek, after striking a curb on Main Street In Dealey Plaza." (p. 863 Let me add, that the lack of footnotes in parts of the book where Horne is making a presentation, rather than in quoting ARRB testimony, is a bit of a problem for his book. Just as the book has no index, it has no End Note section either. Horne lists the few he does use on the page, but there are many things that go unnoted and also, at times, he gives us very general references, like to a whole book.)
Now, one of the best pieces of reporting in the critical literature on the Tague hit is Gerald McKnight's sterling volume Breach of Trust. If you read the two parts of that book which deal with the issue, you will see that what Horne is talking about seems highly improbable, if not impossible. (McKnight, pgs 97-98, 228-33) The simple fact being that the Tague bullet strike was kept under wraps by the FBI. In fact, it was not even mentioned in the FBI report of December 9th. As far as media exposure goes, there was one story about it in the Dallas papers over the weekend. So what Horne is describing, "the entire nation and indeed the world" knowing about Tague, this is just plain wrong. Which brings into question his whole line of argument here. Was Lipsey's testimony ever really an autopsy report version? If so, then what is the real reason it was altered? Horne's thesis about Lipsey may or may not be true. Yet Lipsey's bullet above the hairline, at a slightly different place than where the doctors placed it, seems to be an accurate observation. But if this is so, it may be that the location of this wound changed simply to make the head exit wound more viable. As I explained in Part 4 of my review of Reclaiming History, the location of this wound has always been a problem for an exit high on the right side of the head above the ear. This actual location, since it is slightly lower, makes it even more of one. And it may be that the pathologists juggled this location later in order to ameliorate that problem. Because the other two locations for an entrance wound are problematic, since it is difficult to discern an entrance with the naked eye looking at normal sized photos.
Horne then says that the pathologists first tried to explain the throat wound as a fragment from the head shot. (pgs. 864-65) He bases this on a transcript from an executive session hearing of the Commission. This is the quote by J. Lee Rankin, "We have an explanation there in the autopsy that probably a fragment came out the front of the neck ..." This is from a January 27, 1964 meeting, way after all parts of the autopsy protocol had been submitted. And Rankin is talking about other problems in the medical evidence here, like the back wound not lining up with the throat wound. Horne goes on to say that this excerpt of a sentence reveals Rankin's apparent knowledge of "two separate and conflicting autopsy report explanations for the bullet wound in the throat." Again, to me, this is an overstatement. We don't know where Rankin got his "fragment theory" from. Is Horne actually saying that Humes forwarded to the Commission two autopsy protocols and said, "Pick the one you want. And then read parts of the one you discard into the record." Highly unlikely. Rankin's quote is an interesting one. In fact, some people, like Josiah Thompson used this idea. But to say it reveals what Horne says it does is, for me, a stretch.
Horne then slips back onto more solid ground. In his discussion of Humes' testimony before the HSCA about the initial writing of his report and his destruction of it, Horne makes a good case that Humes lied, and the HSCA let him get away with it in public. First, as established by two witnesses, Humes had a report during the day on Saturday, so he could not have composed it on Saturday night as he told the Committee. (Horne, p. 867) Secondly, he told the HSCA that he incinerated only his notes. But he actually burned both the notes and a first draft. (ibid, p. 868)
The timing of this burning appears to be Sunday morning. (See Horne, Volume I, pgs 94-96) Which is interesting. Because the reason for the destruction of the notes and the report may be the killing of Ruby by Oswald. More than one author, including Horne, has made a case for this. Realizing that no sharp defense lawyer was going to check his report against his notes, Humes may have felt free enough to discard both of them. And then to rewrite a document that was not bound by either. Humes also lied here about the reason for the burning. He told the HSCA that he did not want the bloodstained notes to end up in the hands of a meretricious souvenir hunter. The problem is the first draft had no blood on it since he wrote it at his home. (ibid, p. 96) Clearly, Humes was being dodgy about this entire issue. Which usually indicates the witness is concealing something.
For some reason, Horne does not follow the chronology of this revised draft. According to Gerald McKnight, parts of this were rewritten in the office of Admiral Galloway. (McKnight, p. 163) According to the HSCA testimony of Pierre Finck, all three pathologists were in Galloway's office on this occasion. And they all ended up signing the end result. (ibid, p. 410) McKnight notes that the changes made in this version in Galloway's office all align with the official story. For instance, "Three shots were heard and the President fell forward." When we know the Zapruder film depicts Kennedy rocketing backward. But further, the ARRB let Humes get away with the statement that the autopsy report in the record today is based upon the notes also in the record. This cannot be true. As McKnight notes, 70% of the "facts and statements in the final autopsy draft do not appear in any published government records." (Ibid, p. 166) Now the autopsy in evidence was checked in at around 6 PM on the 24th. (ibid, p. 162) On November 26th Admiral Burkley sent it to the Secret Service. The question then becomes: What were these facts based upon if they are not in the extant notes? I was sorry to see that Horne did not address this important point. Because Humes said something interesting in this regard to Jeremy Gunn. When caught in his web of deceit about the burning, he said, "I don't know what was the matter with it, or whether I even ever did that." (ibid, p. 165) Did Humes preserve the notes and burn the draft instead? Realizing that later revisions would need to be based upon them? If so, someone else deep-sixed the notes.
What Horne does with the rest of this is, to me, questionable. In a rather weird argument, he goes back to the Rankin quote and then says that the "head fragment theory" was abandoned because of the Zapruder film. He bases this on Kennedy's hands going to his neck before the head shot. (p. 873) I didn't quite comprehend this argument. First, what was the evidence that the pathologists or Galloway saw the film before the 24th? If such evidence exists, Horne should have produced it. Second, can anyone see the neck wound on Kennedy at this instant in the film? If not, then this probably is not the reason it was abandoned, if it was ever really entertained.
Finally, Horne tries to advance one last argument for saying that two versions of an autopsy report were submitted to the Commission. He says that in addition to the autopsy materials submitted to the National Archives by the Secret Service, there was a memorandum noting another report in the 1966 Kennedy deed of gift. (Horne, p. 875) But this was one of the items not available when the transfer was made. The problem with Horne spending so much time on this is that there is no credible evidence that this was a different version than what the Secret Service had and turned over to the Archives. Admiral Burkley handled the autopsy materials that went to the Secret Service and the Kennedys. Are we to believe that he handed the former group one autopsy report, and then gave the Kennedys a different one? And that before making such a huge faux pas, that he never bothered to check if they were the same?
I agree with Horne that the autopsy protocol was an evolving document that would be very hard to defend in court. In fact, it would be quite vulnerable to attack on the grounds that it changed under special circumstances. I just don't agree with some of the circumstances he adduces.
The last chapter of this volume is Chapter 12. It is entitled "The Autopsy Photographs and X-rays Explained". In this, and the beginning chapter of Volume IV, Horne is going to try and explain what happened at the morgue, and in Dealey Plaza. Whenever someone tries to do this in the detail Horne does, it always puts me off. Simply because, lacking a detailed confession, one has to assume and speculate about certain things; Horne calls it "intelligent speculation". (p. 909) In this day and age, I would prefer an author stick only with things about which he can be either sure, or fairly sure about. But allowing for that, there are three items of value in these last 100 pages.
The first is a topic that has been reviewed by two other writers in the field, namely Pat Speer and David Mantik. In my review of Speer's video, I discussed his pungent comments on a highly controversial photo in the autopsy collection. (Click here.) That photo is sometimes called F8, or the Mystery Photo. Horne here calls it the Open Cranium photo. The reason it's called the Mystery Photo is that it is one of the worst autopsy pictures ever composed or shot. It is shot from such a bad angle and distance that it is hard to figure what one is looking at. But the clear consensus in the critical community today is that the photo depicts the back of Kennedy's skull with the scalp refracted. As Speer well illustrated, Michael Baden of the HSCA lectured the public about this photo by saying it depicted a beveled wound of exit. The problem is that both the original pathologists and the panel appointed by Ramsey Clark both said that there was no wound at the point Baden was talking about. In fact, Baden was so lost in orienting the picture that he placed it upside down on the easel during his lecture.
Horne notes the HSCA's insistence at orienting this photo as frontal bone. Even when autopsy photographer John Stringer told them that Baden had oriented it incorrectly. (Horne, p. 900) Why all this Keystone Kops fumbling about? Because if the picture is oriented properly, that is as the rear of the skull, there goes the official story. Since it depicts external beveling, then the wound was made by a bullet from the front. What makes it even worse for the likes of Baden is that, back in 1966, when pathologists Humes and Boswell were classifying the photos for something called a Military Review, they labeled it as depicting the posterior of Kennedy's skull! So in other words, the photographer and the original pathologists both say it is taken from the rear. But since it clashes with the Krazy Kid Oswald fantasy, this cannot stand.
In Speer's video, he notes about four pieces of photographic evidence that strongly indicates the picture is taken from behind. In Jim Fetzer's Murder in Dealey Plaza, David Mantik uses the Harper fragment, the x-rays, and an anatomic landmark in the color photos, to show the same i.e. the photo is taken from the rear. (Horne, pgs. 917-18) In addition, Admiral Burkley told author Michael Kurtz that the posterior skull wound had all the appearances of an exit. (Horne, p. 927) Today, it seems to me quite difficult to argue Baden's point of view. Baden's insistence shows just how much he had discarded logic and evidence once Bob Tanenbaum had left the HSCA and the Blakey-Cornwell regime was installed.
Horne includes an exchange between Allen Dulles and James Humes to illustrate the paradoxes that this photo holds. Dulles essentially asked Humes if the exit wound in the skull must have originated from the rear, that it could not have come from the front or side. (Horne, p. 922) Humes replied with one of the most bewildering and enigmatic answers in the volumes. He said, "Scientifically, sir, it is impossible for it to have been fired from other than behind. Or to have exited from other than behind."
What on earth does this mean? If taken literally, Humes seems to be saying that the shot came in and exited at the same point. Which is not possible. Does he mean, as many critics suspect, that the exiting point for a frontal shot became an entrance point for a rear shot? If so, that might be an obtuse way of explaining this photo.
A second point developed in this chapter that is worth noting takes us back to Best Evidence country. As the reader will note, in his book, David Lifton postulated that all the shots came from the front. This gave the author a problem, in the sense that he now had to explain the physical evidence for shots from the rear. Lifton came up with the "puncture thesis". That is, holes were battered into the body, including the back wound. In addition to the problem I mentioned in Part One, with the testimony of Dr. Robert Shaw about John Connally's wounds, there is also the inconvenient eyewitness testimony about a back wound. This would include people like Secret Service agent Glen Bennett and Nurse Diana Bowron. In spite of this testimony, Horne stays true to his friend David Lifton. Horne writes that the back wound visible in the photos "could be a man-made puncture, inflicted upon the body after the conclusion of the autopsy to fool the camera." (p. 985)
But this is only the beginning of Horne's puncture trail. The ARRB had the autopsy photos enhanced and digitalized. In gazing at these new reproductions, Horne came to the conclusion that the famous "white spot" at the bottom of the photo, well Horne saw a puncture there also. This is how he explains it: "I believe this puncture was man-made-a deliberate, cynical act of forgery on the body of the President instituted after the formal end of the autopsy..." (p. 911)
And so is the "red spot". This is the place in the upper part of the skull where most people see what they think is a spot of dried blood. The HSCA used this as their new entrance wound, replacing the one at the bottom of the skull that the pathologists designated. Well, Horne sees a puncture up there too: "I think the "Red Spot" in the cowlick is also a man-made puncture ... because the conspirators managing the cover up were trying to solve several problems with one set of photos created after midnight." (ibid. Need I add, Horne also believes Kennedy's had was also battered pre-autopsy.)
Horne believes the actual entrance wound is 2.5 centimeters to the right and only slightly above the external occipital protuberance. According to the author, the punctures were all the result of confusion in the conspiracy. (p. 912) No comment.
I've saved what I think is something of real and lasting value for last. It does not originate with Horne but he wisely chose to include it in this volume. Although I think he erred by not including it in the previous chapter about the evolution of the autopsy report. Author Michael Kurtz interviewed Dr. Robert Canada, the commanding officer at Bethesda, in 1968. Canada told him that he observed a gaping wound in the lower right portion of Kennedy's skull at autopsy. He said it was clearly an exit wound because the bone had exploded outward. Kurtz replied that this was at odds with the official autopsy report, which mentioned only a small entrance wound in the rear of the skull. Dr. Canada told Kurtz that "the document had to be rewritten to conform to the lone assassin thesis ... Dr. Canada insisted that the contents of this interview be kept secret until at least a quarter century after his death." (Horne pgs. 927-28) In keeping with Canada's wishes, Kurtz did not write about it until 2006 in his book The JFK Assassination Debates.
Needless to say, if Canada was telling the truth-which his 25 year embargo strongly indicates was the case-this bombshell revelation tells us just about all we need to know about the autopsy report in our hands today. It is a piece of fiction. And the pictures accompanying it were either altered or posed. And the men involved were intimidated into going along with a cover-up over the death of their Commander-in-Chief.
Canada was loyal to the end, and 25 years beyond that.
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