David W MantikArticles and Research on the JFK Asassination by David W. Mantik M.D., Ph.D.


David W. Mantik, MD, PhD, is a radiation oncologist from Rancho Mirage, CA, USA. He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Wisconsin, and then did a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University. Next came a tenure-track faculty position in physics at the University of Michigan, after which he left for medical school at the same institution. After internship and residency in radiation oncology at the LAC/USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, he joined the faculty at the Loma Linda University, where he held a fellowship from the American Cancer Society. For over 35 years he has treated cancer patients with X-rays, electrons, and protons. This requires meticulous knowledge of both external and internal anatomy—in the only medical specialty in which this is critical (or else tumors will be missed).

Here are quotes from Dr. Mantik.

In 1993 I visited the National Archives on four separate days to examine the autopsy X-rays and photographs. (Altogether I have visited nine times over multiple years.) While there I used a technique called optical densitometry - to study the X-rays. This technique has been available for many years but had never been applied to the JFK autopsy X-rays. It measures the transmission of ordinary light through selected points of the X-ray film. If I had measured thousands of points I could have constructed a three dimensional topographic map of the X-rays. The higher points on this map would represent the blackest areas of the X-ray film and would correspond to areas in the body where the most X-rays had penetrated to the film. In a way, therefore, the information contained in the X-ray film is converted from two dimensions into three dimensions and is that much richer in detail. The range of peaks and valleys on such a topographic map would be expected to fall within a well-defined range for a normal human skull. Any values that were outside of this range - and especially those that lay unnaturally far outside would therefore raise questions of authenticity. Based on three powerful clues from the extant autopsy X-rays at NARA, we now know that the three skull X-rays are copies, and that each one has been critically altered. One change was done quite specifically to incriminate Oswald. It clear now that three shots struck the head, as discussed in my e-book, JFK’s Head Wounds.

And here are his comments about historians.

Between 1994 and 1998, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) processed for release approximately 60,000 JFK assassination documents. Its staff also conducted new depositions and interviews with many medical witnesses, some completely new to the case. This wide panorama of fresh sources amassed a compelling case for a post-assassination cover-up in the medical evidence, an area heretofore almost totally ignored by historians. Inasmuch as the assassination is a major event of the twentieth century, and may well represent a turning point in American history, it is incumbent upon historians to understand and explain this event - as well as those that surround it. To date, however, a deafening silence has reigned on these matters, as historians have preferred to tolerate the harvest of The Warren Report rather than to cultivate their own fields.

Possibly inquisitive historians, naturally enough, have no craving to be tainted as balmy by the media paintbrushes, as well might befall them were they to admit publicly to such curiosity. The plain fact, though, is that this controversial issue frightens historians: most genuinely fear for their own professional prestige, and many fear subconsciously at what would gaze back at them from the subterranean depths of this case were they to peer too intently into the well of history. Given the unique nature of these events, and their profound impact on America, this fear is understandable. Ultimately, however, these issues must be faced honestly and responsibly. It is no longer sufficient merely to quote a lawyer turned journalist on these serious questions, nor can the matter be left to the most amateur of professions - the media.

Given the manipulation of the autopsy materials (which were controlled by the Secret Service), the post-assassination cover-up necessarily required the assistance of key government personnel, probably at a high level, possibly even the highest. The growing body of evidence for this conclusion is now simply too great to ignore. Heretofore, the historians' tacitly donned mantle of innocence radiated an aura of genteel credibility, but that mantle has become threadbare. If historians continue to deny the deceitful reality underlying the post-assassination cover-up, they risk becoming accessories after the fact. The bar of history is even now calling them to the stand. The time for a response has come.


The reason for the JFK Records Act was not to minimize government secrecy or to increase government transparency, but rather to “tamp down some of the assassination conspiracy theories.”

It is always astonishing to see one's fundamental beliefs corrected by the media. Here

Malcolm Perry lied to the Commission about the throat wound - From a newly released file: Here

Furthur Update on Malcolm Perry's lie (about the throat wound) to the Commission...

Of course the throat wound was an entry (perhaps a glass shard from the windshield?):

The loyalists' persistent claim that ER doctors consistently misinterpret wounds (e.g., entrance vs. exit) cleverly evades these facts:

1. Such a tiny wound could not be duplicated in experiments by the Commission;

2. Milton Helpern, who had done 60,000 autopsies, had never seen an exit wound that small;

3. Before political leverage was exerted, the NPIC's first scenario included a throat shot at Z-190;

4. During a Commission Executive Session (December 18, 1963), John McCloy, Hale Boggs, and Gerald Ford actually discussed a possible frontal shot from the overpass.

For further details, see my discussion under the paragraph, "The Throat Wound," Here

The link to my intended Mock Trail presentation is Here

The Assassination of JFK: Perspectives Half A Century Later (2016) by Robert A. Wagner This is a review of Wagner’s 2016 book.- Another Assassination of JFK Research: A Mystified Review by David W. Mantik, MD, PhD December 4, 2017

"If you are not a ‘conspiracy theorist’ ...then you are an ‘idiot’ in the Greek sense of the word." -Charles Pigden (New Zealand Professor of Philosophy)1

“The reality unknown to the public and to most members of Congress and the press is that secrets that would be of the greatest import to many of them can be kept from them reliably for decades by the executive branch, even though they are known to thousands of insiders.” -Daniel Ellsberg (who gave the Pentagon Papers to the NY Times)2

“…naturally, Oswald was the subject of great interest to both the CIA and the FBI even before the assassination. CIA would have explored every available asset abroad to establish his motives and activities.” -Jane Roman letter, undated but sometime in 1994 (in possession of Bill Simpich, JD)3

“These files are not in compliance with the law no matter what the main stream media says. They are an in-your-face flipped bird to the American public. They basically tell us that the CIA is saying that they don't have to comply with the law of the land and that they will not tell us their secrets and that there is nothing we can do about it. I've been here before. It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978. I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of Johnny Roselli. Scott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files. They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated. They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it. The Angleton strategy still worked. It is still working today.” -Dan L. Hardway (former counsel for the HSCA)4

“Preliminary reports indicated more than one person was involved in the shooting. The electric chair is too good for the killers.” -Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade (6 PM, November 22, 1963)

“I’d almost bet on the (anti-Castro) Cubans” being in on the assassination.-Nicholas Katzenbach, Deputy DA under JFK (shortly before his death in 2012)5

"We know the CIA was involved, and the Mafia. We all know that." -Richard Goodwin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs5

“It is inconceivable that a secret intelligence arm of the government has to comply with all the overt orders of government.” -James Jesus Angleton.7

The purpose of the 1992 JFK Act was to “tamp down some of the assassination conspiracy theories.” -Rachel Maddow (MSNBC, October 25, 2017)8


During the Mock Trial of Oswald (November 16-17, 2017) at the South Texas College of Law—Houston, Wagner sat at the prosecution’s bench, where he advised that side. I had never seen his name before (except in Hollywood movies), so I was mystified by the persistent image of his book cover on the overhead screen.

When I first walked into the lobby for the Mock Trial, Wagner (a well-attired, youthful, albeit middle-aged man) politely introduced himself to me, but then just before departing on the second day, I asked him several pointed questions:

1. Did he know which doctors had seen JFK’s forehead entry wound at Parkland? He did not know; in fact, his book states unequivocally (and falsely) that “…no Parkland doctor reported observing a wound above the right eye.” Unfortunately for Wagner, I have listed ten supporting witnesses for such a wound, including Quentin Schwinn (a photographic expert for the US government), who saw this wound in an apparent original autopsy photograph.9 I also own a video of Charles Crenshaw, MD, pointing to his high right forehead.10

2. Did he have an explanation for the 6.5 mm object on JFK’s AP skull X-ray—the one that no one saw at the autopsy? He had none, although I have published just such an explanation in the professional literature.11

3. Did he really believe that Humes had merely made an innocent mistake in locating the metal fragment trail on the X-rays—as opposed to deliberately misplacing it? He opted for the mistake, to which I advised him that even my son—now in medical school—would never have made such a disastrous blunder, even at age 7. I know this because I had discussed this case with him when he was 7.

During my cross examination by Gus Pappas (the prosecutor) he asked if I believed in a Grassy Knoll shot. Pappas obviously expected me to deny this. He would have prized such an answer, because it would have sown dissension among the defense. After all, other defense witnesses had supported such a shot. However, the prosecution was surprised when I supported such a shot. This question promptly disclosed a critical prosecution oversight—they had not done their homework. In particular, the prosecution had not read my e-book (published the year before Wagner’s book). In that book I had clarified, in tedious detail (with images), my conclusions about such a successful Grassy Knoll shot. Prior to that I had expressed some doubt about the success of such a shot, although I had long suspected that a shot had been fired from the Knoll.

Wagner’s incongruous ignorance (about truly critical facts), in the face of his obvious advisory role, perplexed me. Why would the prosecution rely on someone with such apparent flaws? It was therefore with some fear and apprehension that I began to read Wagner’s book: fear—because I strongly suspected that ignorance would prevail, and apprehension—because this case has already seen far too many deceptive and naïve books. My fear and apprehension were justified—in spades, as I outline below. Here I list only 20 issues, although that number could easily have been multiplied several times over.

Twenty Serious Issues(12)

1. WAGNER: “… did he [Perry] actually have all the medical and forensic evidence to make unequivocal statements about the direction [of the bullet] …? The answer to that question certainly is no.”

MANTIK: Unfortunately for Wagner, he had played his hand too soon. The recent JFK releases include a statement from Perry’s surgical colleague at the University of Washington. Perry had admitted to Dr. Donald Miller, Jr., that he had told the truth on November 22, 1963 (it was an entry wound), but then later (under pressure) he had lied to the Warren Commission (WC): To make matters even worse, my colleague, Mike Chesser, MD,13 at that same Mock Trial, served as an expert witness and Chesser related what another of Perry’s medical friends had told him. Just one month before the Trial, Dr. Austin Griner told Dr. Chesser14 that federal agents had threatened Perry (born in Allen, Texas) with deportation if he did not reverse his initial report of an entrance wound. Astonishingly, after hearing this, the prosecutor aggressively belittled Dr. Chesser’s report.

Of course, it was already well known that James Gochenaur (in 1970) had spoken to SS agent Elmer Moore (later a special agent to Earl Warren).15 Moore admitted that he had strong-armed Perry; Moore later apologized for this action, but he insisted that Kennedy was a “traitor” for being soft on the Russians, and he added that it was too bad people had to die but maybe it was a good thing for the U.S. (sic).

Wagner also overlooks the fact that Parkland was a tertiary trauma center, so their physicians saw zillions of gunshot wounds. Not a single physician at Parkland (before sensing political pressure) described the throat wound as an exit wound. Only a WC lawyer (Arlen Specter) was deemed qualified enough to identify it as an exit wound.

I have analyzed the throat wound—showing via a CT scan how unlikely such a penetrating trajectory must be (in the absence of corresponding injury to the intervening vertebra or lung).16 Wagner also mocks the critics for their supposed inability to explain where that bullet went—but this is merely another blunder. Randy Robertson, MD, has just discovered the original notes of Dr. James Young (a White House physician), who had found a misshapen, but intact bullet inside the limousine that night.17 This bullet had gone unreported for all these 54 years. Wagner will surely find this discovery a bit disconcerting, especially because he had enjoyed claiming that no one knew where that frontal bullet had gone.

I have also proposed that the throat wound might have derived, not from a bullet, but rather from a glass shard from the penetrating hole in the windshield. Multiple witnesses at Parkland (including a policeman and a physician) saw a through and through hole in the windshield. It is also striking that JFK had three tiny holes in his cheek that leaked embalming fluid (as noted by Tom Robinson, the mortician). The professional literature on such windshield shots clearly describes the scattering cone as a very small angle, which means that no one else in the limousine would have been struck. Glass shards from this shot could well have struck JFK in the throat. The missing bullet may be the one that Dr. John Young discovered in the limousine that night. Furthermore, tiny shards from this shot are also a viable explanation, not just for the throat wound, but also for the tiny holes in JFK’s cheek.

That the windshield was replaced (and the original one trashed) is well documented by the recollections of a Ford Motor Company supervisor (George Whitaker) from Dearborn, Michigan, who saw the penetrating windshield hole.18 A close relative (who had worked for the Ford Motor Company) of my University of Michigan Medical School roommate had also reported similar suspicions to his family. Furthermore, my good friend and colleague, Robert Livingston, MD,19 told me that he had heard about an order for a replacement windshield (i.e., the one now at the Archives, not the one that was newly placed into the limousine). For pertinent images and further details about the windshield and the throat wound trajectory see my online essay (also not cited by Wagner):

Livingston had also phoned Humes before the autopsy to tell him about the entry wound in the throat; therefore, the pathologists—despite their denials—did know about this wound during the autopsy. In 1963, Livingston was the Scientific Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness. These two facilities are located just across the Rockville Pike from the National Naval Medical Center.

Finally, WC loyalists' persistent claim that ER doctors often misinterpret wounds (e.g., confusing exit for entrance) cleverly evades these facts (as does Wagner):

A. Such a tiny exit wound could not be duplicated in experiments by the WC;

B. Milton Helpern, who had done 60,000 autopsies, had never seen an exit wound that small;

C. Before political leverage was exerted, the first scenario by NPIC included a throat shot at Z-190;

D. During a WC Executive Session (December 18, 1963), John McCloy, Hale Boggs, and Gerald Ford discussed a possible frontal shot from the overpass.

2. WAGNER: “A ragged appearance is typically associated with an exit wound. Never, to my knowledge, is this contemporaneous note mentioned by those conspiracy researchers who cite later Parkland doctor statements that the throat wound was small and circular.”

MANTIK: Wagner should now be delighted to hear that I am the first to accept this possibility. After all, if a glass shard caused this wound, it may well have been a bit ragged.

3. WAGNER: “Dr. Aguilar, a pathologist…”

MANTIK: This is a remarkable display of ignorance. Gary Aguilar, a good friend and fellow traveler in this JFK case since 1992, is well known in the JFK research community as an ophthalmologist. Dr. Aguilar was an expert witness at the Mock Trial—and he publicly announced his specialty there.

4. WAGNER: “Doubters of the lone-gunman thesis could always suggest a murky and suspicious chain of possession, nursing their claims with the fact that the president’s brain,20 eventually disappeared.”

MANTIK: This is another display of ignorance. The anthology, The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X (2003), included an article by Cyril Wecht and me, which was solely devoted to JFK’s brain. The article included a detailed analysis of the chain of possession, as well as the likely current location of the brain. This unique article was not cited by Wagner—nor did he cite the anthology (edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease).

Moreover, Douglas Horne, and his superior, Jeremy Gunn, had both concluded (during the ARRB) that two separate brain examinations had been done—of two different brains.21 Furthermore, the photographer, John Stringer, did not recognize the official brain photographs (not just based on the images, but also based on the photographic paper).22

To really clinch this case, however, my optical density data (directly from the extant X-rays at the Archives) prove a near total absence of brain in a large frontal area—on both sides. Because the photographs show no such major absence of brain tissue in this large frontal area, this is one of the most shocking (but often overlooked) paradoxes in the entire JFK case. One is forced to choose: either the photographs are not authentic, or the X-rays are not authentic. One cannot have it both ways. As we would now expect though, Wagner ignores this incredible conundrum, which I wrote about years ago.

5. WAGNER: “What is the evidence of tampering? If it can be shown that the autopsy X-rays are authentic, can this explain away the inaccuracy of all the witnesses?”

MANTIK: My essay, “Twenty Conclusions after Nine Visits” [at the Archives]23 addresses most of these issues. But there is no need to malign the eyewitnesses; these were mostly professionals who promptly reported salient features—conditions that make accuracy very likely. Review the essential criteria for such accuracy, as reported in Eyewitness Testimony (1992) by Elizabeth Loftus of the University of Washington. My e-book contains a detailed analysis of these false claims about unreliable JFK eyewitnesses. I also demonstrate conclusively that the X-rays are indeed those of JFK (except where critical and identifiable alterations have been inserted).

Furthermore, the X-rays are consistent with the eyewitnesses’ recall of an occipital defect. Although there was some initial justification for this confusion, it has been a major (and totally unnecessary) typhoon in a thimble. This denigration of eyewitnesses has continued for far too long. Wagner ignores the compelling and consistent agreement of the eyewitnesses (with one another), and also seems ingenuously uninformed of what the X-rays actually show, as I illustrate in detail in my e-book. He also forgets that the sole radiologist at the autopsy, John Ebersole, MD,24 described a large right occipital hole despite seeing the X-rays that nigh. So, despite what Wagner claims, there is no problem here, i.e., the witnesses and X-rays agree.

6.(A) WAGNER: “I believe it is clear that the autopsy doctors were not participating in a cover-up during the autopsy.”

(B) WAGNER: “Unbelievably, unlike millions of American, the three pathologists who made up the official autopsy team were unaware of statements from the Dallas medical team informing the rest of the world at a press conference that there was a gunshot wound in Kennedy’s throat.”

MANTIK: On the contrary, they assisted the cover-up! No layman co-opted off the street would so drastically have misplaced the metal fragment trail (in the official autopsy report) on the X-rays. Nonetheless, Wagner truly believes that three experienced pathologists made the same 4-inch “mistake”! According to Doug Horne, when Humes testified under oath before the ARRB, he was totally flustered when asked about this “mistake,” and Humes almost walked out of the room. In fact, during that critical night the pathologists had no choice. They had seen (and palpated) an entry hole low on the posterior skull, but they also saw a fragment trail more than 4 inches superior to this! Such an enormous gap is totally inconsistent with a single shot. Rather, it can only mean two headshots—which they well knew was not a tolerable scenario. After all, before they started their work, they had been told that three shots had been fired and that JFK had fallen forward. So, if Wagner and I cannot agree that this was an overt cover-up (and not an innocent mistake), then we live in two different logical universes—and all hope of meaningful discourse promptly dissolves. Mere semantics cannot resolve this fundamental dilemma.

Of course, Humes (but not his sidekick Boswell) persistently denied knowledge of the throat wound during the autopsy. In fact, Humes did know about this wound (for many reasons, as Kathy (Cunningham) Evans25 has outlined—and as Wagner has ignored), not the least because Robert Livingston had told him.26 Humes instead, in order to support the cover-up, chose to lie about his knowledge. Of course, Wagner also evades this issue. These pathologists, in his mind, only wore white coats.

7. WAGNER: “Dr. Gerald McDonnell… reported that an alteration of the [X-ray] images… should be readily discernable in a number of ways:

A. Observation of a difference in density of the images.

B. Discontinuity of anatomical structures.

C. Alteration of continuity of an abnormal pattern.

D. Production of an image which is not anatomical or an image if an impossible pathologic process.”27

MANTIK: Wagner has now walked right into my study, to which I warmly welcome him. For several decades now, I have emphasized points A and D, e.g., how the optical densities of the White Patch and the 6.5 mm object are pure paradoxes. In particular, these densities are not anatomical—and they are both impossible. To put a truly fine point on this, my entire planned presentation for this Mock Trial was an overview (with many pertinent images) of the three clues to alteration of the JFK autopsy X-rays. To save time, the reader may simply visit the online website for my presentation:

Wagner was quite oblivious to these conclusions. Furthermore, he has never visited the Archives himself—nor has he done any original research (so far as I know), nor even interviewed a single witness! For Wagner to quote McDonnell and then simultaneously remain oblivious of my directly relevant conclusions is more than stunning; it implies a certain recklessness of tactics. Furthermore, my public presentation of these issues is not recent; my complete visual essay for JFK Lancer from 2009 is still visible online,28 so no excuses can be offered for Wagner’s 8 years of innumeracy.

8. WAGNER: “The doctors said they saw cerebellum tissue, which the autopsy photographs and X-rays indicate would have been impossible.”

MANTIK: “Indicator 15” in my e-book (which Wagner has not read) analyzes this statement in detail. Up to nine Parkland physicians saw cerebellar tissue that day, including at least two neurosurgeons. If a neurosurgeon made that kind of mistake, I would never let him operate on me.29 (The difference between cerebellar and cerebral tissue could easily be demonstrated to a grammar school child.) On the contrary, all nine of these doctors were correct. See the anatomic diagrams in my e-book, which show how trivial it was to see cerebellum through the Harper fragment defect in the posterior skull.

9. WAGNER: “We know the president’s body was not altered prior to the autopsy…”

MANTIK: Where does one even begin with this leviathan? At this same Mock Trial, the new documentary, “The Parkland Doctors,” was screened. It was palpably obvious that these seven Parkland doctors, sitting in a semicircle, totally agreed that the autopsy photographs did not agree (at all) with their Parkland recollections. So, how does Wagner explain this? We can now anticipate the same monologue: they all made the same mistake! (How many times now have we heard that?),

Moreover, Doug Horne has addressed the issue of body alteration in extraordinary detail—and with disquieting documentary proof; something happened to the body before the official autopsy began. Furthermore, how does Wagner explain the bag of bullet and bone fragments that James Jenkins saw lying next to JFK’s head that night? And how does he explain the statement (about bullet fragments from JFK’s head) that Dennis David typed? These questions could go on endlessly, but do not expect Wagner to touch any of them with anything shorter than a flag pole.

10. WAGNER: “Something else is apparent in Zapruder frame 313 that does not get a lot of mention in the conspiracy books: human tissue is clearly projected forward.”

MANTIK: It certainly has been mentioned by me. I discussed these spatter issues in detail in my critique of Sherry Fiester’s book at;

However, the far deeper problem here (totally unnoticed by Wagner) is this: JFK’s head cannot possibly be in the correct orientation) at Z-313 to match the metallic trail across the top of the skull X-rays (it is tilted way too far forward). The trajectory of this metallic trail matches neither a frontal shot at Z-313 nor a posterior shot (unless it came from behind in a balloon hovering far above Dealey Plaza). This profoundly troubling issue is addressed meticulously (with images) in the foregoing review. Since first posing this conundrum in the 1990s, it remains one of the all-time great paradoxes in the JFK case (although still widely unappreciated). No one has even attempted to explain it, so it is expected that Wagner would know nothing about it. In any case, the logical conclusion is truly terrifying for Wagner’s case: Z-313 profoundly disagrees with the X-rays. One of them must be inauthentic. In this case, my choice is to rely on the X-rays, which then points a gleaming accusatory finger at Z-313. Of course, this paradox was almost inevitable; after all, the felons who altered the Z-film had no access to the X-rays.

11. WAGNER: “The autopsy doctors never wavered in confirming the authenticity of that photograph.”

MANTIK: This is misleading. The pathologists refused to identify the “red spot” on the back of the head (Wagner’s Figure 4.2).30 So desperate was Pierre Finck that he inquired whether this was a photograph of JFK! And, of course, when Humes was asked about the entry site on the back of the skull X-rays (for the HSCA) he finally buckled and went along with the high entry site on the skull. On my video of this event, I can see him point to this site. But this was the only time he did so. Before and after that, he always insisted on the lower entry site. So much for consistency by the pathologists.

12. WAGNER: “The same problem occurs when researchers—like Lifton, Horne, Aguilar, Fetzer, and Mantik—promote analyses that ignore the abundant evidence of Oswald’s guilt.”

MANTIK: I disagree with this. In fact, I told Wagner explicitly that Oswald was likely a patsy—just as he said he was. When Oswald made this claim (just before his death) he immediately cited his time in Soviet Union, which Wagner promptly seized upon as Oswald’s sole reason for his role as patsy. But the truth is much more troubling—and Wagner ignores all these issues:

A. In the summer of 1963, anti-Castro Cuban terrorist Antonio Veciana (an Alpha 66 collaborator with the CIA) spotted Oswald for about 15 minutes in downtown Dallas (at the Southland Center) in the company of master CIA spy David Phillips.31

B. In a military training film, Robert Tanenbaum recalls seeing Oswald in the company of anti-Castro Cubans.32 In the past month, I reviewed Tanenbaum’s recollection with him. Tanenbaum also played defense attorney at the Mock Trial.

C. Several witnesses were positive they saw Jack Ruby and Oswald together.

D. During the summer of 1963, multiple witnesses in Clinton, Louisiana linked Oswald to Clay Shaw (and possibly also to David Ferrie).

E. Oswald was undeniably seen in a photograph with Ferrie at a 1955 Civil Air Patrol cookout.33

F. Between Oswald’s October 1959 defection and his death in 1963, James Angleton controlled Oswald’s file. Furthermore, Angleton forever hid this fact—from the WC and from the HSCA—until his own death in 1988.

G. John Newman and Malcolm Blunt reported (at the November in Dallas Conference, November 17-18, 2017) that, according to CIA documents, internal communications about Oswald were only to be sent to counterintelligence. But here is the coup de grâce: this CIA request occurred before Oswald defected!34

H. Malcolm Blunt interviewed Pete Bagley (of the CIA), who was described by many observers as the best counterintelligence analyst of the Cold War era. Blunt displayed to Bagley the documents that captured Oswald’s paper trail, as collected by the Security Research Staff (SRS) after Oswald’s defection. When Blunt proposed that Oswald was “unwitting,” Bagley promptly replied, “OH NO—HE HAD TO BE WITTING.”35

13. WAGNER: “… Mantik’s thesis, developed by unquestionably painstaking analysis, is felled by internal and external contradictions. In the bargain, Mantik lays waste to the notion of a head shot from the Grassy Knoll.”

MANTIK: First off, I only initially doubted that the Grassy Knoll shot was successful—not that it was fired. In my e-book I describe why I now believe that it was successful. (It is related to the precise angle of the shot—as well as the exact site of entry.) More importantly, though, in my initial article36 on the optical density (OD) data I meticulously describe how the authentic fragments are totally consistent with one another, whereas the fake fragments are grossly inconsistent. But Wagner ignores all these (many) internal comparisons; remarkably enough, he does not even cite Assassination Science, so most likely he has never read this seminal article. Furthermore, and quite stunningly, the phrase “optical density” does not appear anywhere in his book! No one can honestly omit that phrase in any such discussion, or fail to read that initial essay,and then peremptorily reject the entire OD opus. It is therefore highly presumptuous, and a display of ingenuous hubris, for Wagner to claim that the OD analysis has been “felled.”

If I knew why Wagner concludes that the OD case has been “felled” I would reply on point. Unfortunately, I cannot ascertain his meanin g. I am not aware of any inconsistencies, nor has anyone else—over several decades—brought them to my attention. In fact, it would be quite extraordinary if Wagner has stumbled onto something that everyone else has missed. It is now time for Wagner to speak up. Moreover, many of these OD findings have now been confirmed (at the Archives, and now also at the Boston JFK library) by Mike Chesser, MD. I can only conclude that Wagner is quite mistaken about this.

14. WAGNER: “If this claim of pre-autopsy alteration …were true, why would the supposed non-conspirator Bethesda witnesses…not report the enlarged wound extending to the top of the head?

MANTIK: Wagner clearly does not appreciate the size of the initial skull wound. In fact, it did not solely involve the occipital area. As the official autopsy report states, it involved the temporal and parietal and occipital areas. The physicians in “The Parkland Doctors” agreed with that, and I accept that, too. If that is not accepted, one falls into a huge black hole, where witnesses disagree with one another left and right—and center, too. Most Parkland witnesses could not appreciate the magnitude of this hole, partly because they focused on only part of the skull (or could only see part of it), but also because JFK’s hair obscured much of the defect. Wagner even cites witnesses for this latter point. This nonsense is a needless distraction—we should simply accept the large defect. See my e-book for further discussion of this issue. So, again despite what Wagner claims, no problem exists here either.

15. WAGNER: “…Mantik’s analysis … is flawed and there is no credible evidence of alteration to the Zapruder film.”

MANTIK: Wagner is here leaping way outside of his expertise—and he cannot possibly make his case with such meagre words. He first needs to develop some serious skills in physics to address the overwhelming case for film alteration made by theoretical (and optical) physicist John Costella.37 And surely one must read The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK38 before trashing arguments against the film, but Wagner does not even cite this book! Wagner might instead want to think deeply about Ludwig Wittgenstein’s advice: “That whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent.”

Furthermore, by baldly making this claim, Wagner belittles the recollections of many independent observers: Greg Burnham, Millicent Cranor, Scott Myers, Dan Rather, Cartha DeLoach, William Reymond, William Manchester, Homer McMahon, Dino Brugioni, Erwin Schwartz, Rich Delarosa,39 and others. Each one of these, without conferring with anyone else, has seen a version of the Zapruder film that contradicts the extant one. Surely, we should not again hear this: “They all just made the same mistake.”40

Wagner has not seen high resolution, early generation copies of the Zapruder film, nor has he studied (at the Archives, as I have) the anomalies of the SS copies, nor has he evaluated the film maps of the extant film and the SS copies. The Black Patch over the back of JFK’s head is grossly (even preposterously) apparent in a copy obtained directly from the Archives by Sydney Wilkinson. This is a US government authorized and certified, third generation, 35 mm, dupe neg of the “forensic version” of the Zapruder film. Here is an image (from Z-317), which is of course even further removed (in resolution) from what Wilkinson and I saw (as supplied here by Thom Whitehead, Wilkinson’s husband):41

frame z-317

The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas received first generation copies of the Z-film from the Archives.42 In 2009, Wilkinson and I (sitting at the same table) viewed these MPI images at the Museum. The Black Patch was even more grossly (and ludicrously) apparent then.

Finally, Wagner surely did not appreciate the comments (at the banquet during the Mock Trial), by Alec Baldwin. He reported that the Kennedy family believes that the Zapruder film has been altered. As a participant, is it possible that Jackie knew what really happened? In my work, I discuss one of her chief recollections—which is totally inconsistent with the extant film, but which agrees with another witness (William Manchester) who had seen the original film 75 times.43

16. WAGNER: “No, a government-wide conspiracy was not responsible for President Kennedy’s assassination.” MANTIK: In that case, I want to know exactly how Oswald altered the skull X-rays. And then there is Admiral Burkley, MD, who refused to agree with the WC on the number of shots that hit JFK.44 Does Wagner truly know more about this than Burkley? Furthermore, Wagner’s conclusion heedlessly disagrees with the following individuals, all of whom accept conspiracy:45

Lyndon Baines Johnson, President of the United States Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States John B. Connally, Governor of Texas J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI Clyde Tolson, Associate Director of the FBI Cartha DeLoach, Assistant Director of the FBI William Sullivan, FBI Domestic Intelligence Chief John McCone, Director of CIA David Atlee Phillips, CIA disinformation specialist Chief of Covert Actions, Mexico City in 1963 Stanley Watson, CIA, Chief of Station The Kennedy family Admiral George Burkley, MD, White House physician James J. Rowley, Chief of the Secret Service Robert Knudsen, White House photographer (who saw autopsy photos) Jesse Curry, Chief of Police, Dallas Police Department Roy Kellerman (heard JFK speak after supposed magic bullet) William Greer (the driver of the Lincoln limousine) Abraham Bolden, Secret Service, White House detail & Chicago office John Norris, Secret Service (worked for LBJ; researched case for decades) Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s secretary Richard Goodwin, speechwriter for JFK Abraham Zapruder, famous home movie photographer James Tague, struck by a bullet fragment in Dealey Plaza Hugh Huggins, CIA operative, conducted private investigation for RFK Sen. Richard Russell, member of the Warren Commission John J. McCloy, member of the Warren Commission Bertrand Russell, British mathematician and philosopher Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University Michael Foot, British MP Senator Richard Schweiker, assassinations subcommittee (Church Committee) Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the House (he assumed JFK’s congressional seat) Rep. Henry Gonzalez (introduced bill to establish HSCA) Rep. Don Edwards, chaired HSCA hearings (former FBI agent) Frank Ragano, attorney for Trafficante, Marcello, Hoffa Marty Underwood, advance man for Dallas trip Riders in follow-up car: JFK aides Kenny O’Donnell and Dave Powers Sam Kinney, Secret Service driver of follow-up car Paul Landis, passenger in Secret Service follow-up car Maurice G. Marineau, Secret Service, Chicago office John Marshall, Secret Service John Norris, Secret Service Bobby Hargis, Dealey Plaza motorcycle man Mary Woodward, Dallas Morning News (and eyewitness in Dealey Plaza) H.L. Hunt, right-wing oil baron John Curington, H.L. Hunt’s top aide Bill Alexander, Assistant Dallas District Attorney Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel for the HSCA Robert Tanenbaum, Chief Counsel for the HSCA Richard A. Sprague, Chief Counsel for the HSCA Gary Cornwell, Deputy Chief Counsel for the HSCA Parkland doctors: McClelland, Crenshaw, Stewart, Seldin, Goldstrich, Zedlitz, Jones, Akin, et al.46 Bethesda witnesses: virtually all the paramedical personnel All the jurors in Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw Most of the American public Most of the world’s citizens, but not Robert Wagner

17. WAGNER: “…no one saw an assassin in the area of the Grassy Knoll, and there has been no physical evidence of such an assassin—including audio evidence…”

MANTIK: Wagner has obviously not read Beyond the Fence Line (2016) by Brian Edwards and Casey Quinlan. Edwards was one of the expert (and very able) witnesses at the Mock Trial. And Donald Thomas was an expert witness at the Mock Trial for the audio evidence from the Dictabelt. In my opinion, it is acceptable to disagree with evidence, but it is not acceptable to deny the existence of possible evidence. Robert Tanenbaum explicitly addressed this ethical issue during the Mock Trial. Unfortunately, Wagner has here chosen the latter (unacceptable) approach.

18. WAGNER: “Let’s be realistic. The discovered rifle [MANTIK: actually, a carbine] was Oswald’s gun.”

MANTIK: Again, it is hard to know where to begin. Almost certainly Oswald did not fire a weapon that day, and it is most unlikely that he owned the Mannlicher-Carcano. The truly diverse arguments for this conclusion are dazzling and overpowering. The reader is referred to the exhaustive work (Harvey and Lee) by John Armstrong. Wagner does not even cite Armstrong’s outsized and extraordinary book, which any serious researcher must read. An easier way to begin though is with Reclaiming Parkland (2013) by James DiEugenio. In yet one more oversight, DiEugenio’s uniquely incisive and essential book is not cited. And then there is David Josephs,47 who has also done heroic work on these issues. But Wagner cites only DiEugenio among these authors.

19. WAGNER: “If Oswald fired three shots, as evidenced by many witnesses and buttressed by the appearance of three spent cartridges near the depository’s sixth-floor window, what became of the third bullet?”

MANTIK: Unfortunately, for Wagner, Commission Exhibit 510 shows only two (not three) spent cartridges, and one live (i.e., unfired) round.48 In his End Notes (p. 419), Vincent Bugliosi49 admits this even though Wagner does not. Based on WC documents, Bugliosi argues that Will Fritz kept one cartridge (not seen in the photographs!) for further study—even though the FBI was supposedly doing the definitive study at the same time. The mortal blow for Wagner, though, is that one of these cartridges was dented. Howard Donahue (a gun expert) believed that this dented shell could not have been fired. The gun simply would not have functioned properly.50 That leaves only two viable pieces of ammunition (including Fritz’s cartridge) for the three purported shots. Wagner evades these issues entirely; nonetheless, his case lives or dies, based on this one defective cartridge.

20. WAGNER: “The autopsy photographs and X-rays are thus shown to be authentic….”

MANTIK: Surely this cannot be true. I have already briefly referenced some problems with the X-rays, but the photographs also pose paradoxes. I have previously listed at least 15 Parkland physicians who explicitly did not recognize the back of the head photograph. In fact, no Parkland physician recognized that image. The seven doctors in the new documentary used words like “altered” and “manipulated” to explain this startling discrepancy. Moreover, the three pathologists did not recognize the “red spot.” And they swore that they had taken photographs of the posterior skull wound—but it was not there.

FBI witness Francis O’Neill, under oath, suggested to the ARRB that an autopsy image had been “doctored.” And Saundra Spencer, who developed some of the original autopsy photographs, stated that the extant prints are not on the type of photographic paper that she had used. She had even brought with her (to the deposition) a photograph on the type of paper that she had used in that era—so that a direct comparison could be made.51

More to the point, at the Archives, Robert Groden and I have both been struck by the lack of a stereo effect for the back of JFK’s head—precisely where the witnesses saw the large occipital defect. This can only mean that the exact same image appears in that location on both stereo photographs, but this can only occur if the identical image was deliberately imprinted into that same anatomic site on both photographic partners. After all, it could not occur by chance. Furthermore, Groden and I did not see such a bizarre effect anywhere else in the autopsy collection—only there, where the huge defect was located.52 How likely then is it that such an image (of an intact posterior skull) is authentic—an image that no Parkland doctor recalled?

But to finally wrap up the proof, here it is. While at the Archives, I spotted what everyone else had missed on JFK’s back (of the torso): two supposedly partner photographs of JFK’s back are distinctly different.53 In Wagner’s Figure P.3, identify the left-sided spot, near the ruler, at the level of the scapular spine. This spot is distinctly different in the two partner photographs54 at the Archives. For discussion of these images, see my online lecture for JFK Lancer in 2009.55 In the real world, that can never occur. After all, these paired photographs were supposedly taken within seconds of one another. The universe does not play such visual tricks on innocent bystanders without human interference. In fact, this discrepancy meets a criterion from Gerald McDonnel’s list—something impossible has happened. The bottom line is this: if such different images (of this dark spot) exist in the official collection, then someone deliberately altered one of those photographs (it is not the publicly available one)—and that means that the other autopsy photographs now also become suspect. Almost certainly therefore, the intact back of the head photograph must be one of those altered images.56 After all, leaving it in its original state would have screamed conspiracy. For the US government in 1963, that was intolerable.


Wagner’s book left me almost breathless, as well as thoroughly mystified—for its naivety, for its somber witlessness, for its colossal logical flaws, and for its conspicuous omissions. The author reports no original research, and he admits to no witness interviews. Rather, he assumes that armchair speculation alone (a la Mycroft Holmes, but without the mental agility) is sufficient to unveil the Truth. For the most complex and bewildering case in history, that is truly guileless. The entire landscape in this case is everywhere littered with manipulated evidence, lost evidence, altered evidence, and misleading clues. If this rubbish dump goes unrecognized (as it does in Wagner’s book), accurate conclusions will remain forever locked inside one of Hawking’s black holes. Wagner has thus unintentionally offered an example nonpareil of precisely what won’t work in this case. In the interest of halting public deception, this book should be banned from the market—or else placed in the fiction section of the library, along with the Warren Report. I only wish I could be kinder, but I do believe in second chances. Perhaps Wagner wishes to re-study the case for a few years, with a little less gullibility, and write a more accurate book?



I took a look at the Wagner review and would make the following comments on the bit quoting me. The encounter with Pete Bagley was not an interview. We met on a regular basis over five or so years, more a series of conversations based on mutual respect and understanding. I had mentioned to Pete that his Soviet Division was cut out of the original Oswald defection dissemination, and he asked me for the documents on that. These documents were NOT collected by the SRS. They were put together by me over a number of years and consisted of CIA memos, HSCA researcher notes, and the handwritten notes taken from Office of Security Chief Gambino's testimony to the HSCA. When this material is put together it's clear that the Security Office subverted the Oswald documents coming into CIA from other government agencies (State, ONI, OSI, et al.) so that the Oswald information was kept close to the Security Research Staff and their linked component CI/SIG.

After viewing the documentation, Pete suddenly said "OK, was he (meaning Oswald) witting or unwitting?" This statement came as a surprise and I was flummoxed, and I said to Pete, “You can't ask me that question. How would I know?" But he insisted, “No, you have to know." When I guessed at "unwitting," Pete's response was, "Oh no, he would have to be witting." At the time it seemed no big deal to me. I think I felt that Pete was speaking hypothetically, although he did not qualify his statement. Thereafter we moved on to other subject matter. It's also important to know that in order to exclude the Soviet Division from the Oswald defection material the SRS (Security Research Staff) would have to request what was ostensibly single channel dissemination from Mail Logistics. They were part of the OCR, Office of Central Reference, which was within the DDI (Directorate of Intelligence) at that time. In other words, you had to make your request to the dissemination component, fill up a form (1604 or similar). In order to capture the Oswald information, the request had to be made prior to defection.

With apologies for the technical stuff, best regards,

Malcolm [Blunt]


1. The Greek sense refers to “…someone so politically purblind as to have no opinions about either history or public affairs.” This is not a specific reference to the JFK case.For usage over time of that absurd phrase, “conspiracy theorist,” see Also search on “lone nut.” We should also recognize that special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, as now self-enrolled as a conspiracy theorist—after all, he has cited Paul Manafort for conspiracy.


3. Cf. State Secrets, by Bill Simpich, Chapter 5. Simpich helped to organize the Mock Trial, and played a leading role in it. Jane Roman was a career counterintelligence (CI) officer for CIA, in fact, the CI liaison for James Angleton. In 1963 she wrote critical cables about Oswald, which she later acknowledged were false. Cf.

4. “The Intelligence Community Flips Off America” This was written on November 3, 2017, about the (missing) JFK record releases:

5. Brothers (2007) by David Talbot, p. 290. Cf.

6. Talbot, p. 303. Goodwin joined JFK's speech writing staff in 1959. In August 1961, he met secretly with Che Guevara in Uruguay. His wife, Doris Kearns Goodwin, helped LBJ draft his memoirs. She was also the first female journalist to enter the Boston Red Sox locker room.

7. Angleton was testifying before the 1975 US Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (the Church Committee). Cf. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2008) by Tim Weiner, p. 390.

8. This phrase appears nowhere in the JFK Act; even the well-educated Maddow (PhD from Oxford) revealed her bias here. The purpose of the Act, of course, was to increase governmental transparency. Douglas Horne reports that during the ARRB, his superior (Jeremy Gunn) often heard similar biased comments during various government meetings. When Gunn corrected such a speaker on the spot, it was never appreciated. Also note Maddow’s curious use of “some,” rather than “all.” Did she therefore mean that some conspiracy theories were acceptable? Douglas Horne and I volunteered to appear on her show, but she never replied, so she must not like our conclusions either. See Jim DiEugenio’s discussion of Maddow’s madness here:

9. See my e-book, JFK’s Head Wounds (2015), Figure 37. The ten witnesses are listed in the book.

10. My video antedates any extant YouTube videos of Charles Crenshaw. In any case, the forehead wound is discussed in JFK: A Conspiracy of Silence (1992) by Charles Crenshaw, Jens Hansen, and J. Gary Shaw. Furthermore, Boswell gave the store away when he described this forehead site as an incised wound! With this statement he implied two separate and critical facts:

(a) A wound was indeed located at the (high) forehead;

(b) An incision (via scalpel) had been made directly through the wound.

No such incision had been made at Parkland, but the autopsy photograph clearly shows precisely such an incision at that very site. Boswell’s statement is here: The autopsy image (with forehead incision) is here (the second image):

11. My article on this profound paradox (THE JOHN F. KENNEDY AUTOPSY X-RAYS: THE SAGA OF THE LARGEST “METALLIC FRAGMENT”) was published in a peer-reviewed journal. It is exceedingly rare for any JFK assassination paper to be professionally published. As expected, Wagner does not cite this article.

12. I used Wagner’s Kindle version, which means that I am unable to cite page numbers.

13. Dr. Chesser reported the most critical new evidence at the Mock Trial. While viewing the extant JFK X-rays at the Archives he had seen myriads of tiny metallic particles in the high forehead (consistent with that forehead entry site). These tiny particles were located adjacent to a hole (possibly from a bullet) through the forehead bone. Such tiny particles clustered near the surface can only imply a bullet entry at that site. It would have been interesting to get Wagner’s reaction to this hard evidence. We know what the prosecution’s reaction was—total indifference. A Chesser lecture is here:

My follow-up comments are here:

14. On the first day of the Mock Trial, Dr. Chesser telephoned Dr. Griner, who agreed that Chesser could disclose his name during the Trial.


16. Assassination Science (1998), edited by James Fetzer, p. 153. Cf. The CT image is here: Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), edited by James Fetzer, p. 3. Cf. A color image may be seen in Cover-up (1998) by Stewart Galanor. Wagner never cites this troubling and evocative CT scan.


18. Fetzer 2000, p. 129. Douglas Weldon, JD, interviewed Whitaker, who said, "It was a good clean bullet hole, right straight through, from the front. And you can tell, when the bullet hits the windshield, like when you hit a rock or anything, what happens. The back chips out and the front may just have a pinhole in it... This had a clean round hole in the front and fragmented in the back...” Weldon concluded the interview by asking how certain Whitaker was that the bullet hole he saw in the windshield came from the front. Whitaker: "I worked in the industry for forty years and I've seen all kinds of testing on glass and I know it came from the front.":

Weldon: "So you're 100% certain."

Whitaker: 'Tm 100% positive that it came from the front!"


21. Fetzer 2000, p. 299.

22. Here is a more comprehensive report by Horne: My review of Horne’s five-volume work is here:


24. I called Ebersole (and spoke to him), and then later he returned my call. This latter conversation was recorded, and is available online: The original recording is at the Archives. The transcript is at Fetzer 2000, p. 433.


26. During the JAMA lawsuit brought by Charles Crenshaw, Livingston confirmed this under oath.

27. Wagner quotes McDonnell for this itemized list. These are the criteria that McDonnell had offered for his verdict that the X-rays were unaltered. Unfortunately for him, his conclusion was wrong. After all, he had not been trained as a medical physicist.

28. For a correction, see

29. Ironically, until several years ago, my nephew was a neurosurgeon at Parkland.

30. James Humes: “I can assure you that as we reflected the scalp to get to this point, there was no defect corresponding to this [red spot] in the skull at any point. I don't know what that [red spot] is. It could be to me clotted blood. I don't, I just don't know what it is, but is certainly was not a wound of entrance” (7HSCA 254). A color image of the red spot is in Figure 22 here:

31. Phillips’s career included CIA chief of station and CIA chief of Western Hemisphere operations. Veciana stated: “I have no doubt that President Kennedy’s assassination was a conspiracy... Castro was not involved…. The President was killed by other people for other reasons.” Cf.




35. Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume II (2017) by John Newman, pp. 29-30. Also see the Appendix below.

36. Fetzer 1998, p. 120.

37. and Before Costella’s elegant analyses, mathematician Daryll Weatherly made astute observations that cast serious doubt on the Z-film. For his work, see the JFK books by Harrison Livingstone.

38. Published in 2003, and edited by James Fetzer.

39. Della’Rosa offers his personal descriptions of the action here:

40. David Lifton will suggest (in his forthcoming book) that Robert S. McNamara approved the Z-film alteration:

41.Whitehead: “It’s the same 3rd gen dupe neg film element we’ve always had; however, we scanned it at 4k with 16-bit color depth to show more color differential.”

42. The so-called original film is generation zero, so what Wilkinson and I saw in Dallas was only one step removed from the extant film, i.e., the images we saw were copied directly from the extant film. I use “extant” because we now know that the current film in the Archives cannot be the original. Whether the original still exists is unknown.

43. The Manchester Affair (1967) by John Corry, p. 45.

44. MCHUGH: I see. Do you agree with the Warren Report on the number of bullets that entered the President’s body?

BURKLEY: I would not care to be quoted on that.

45. Fetzer 2000, p. 404. Also see

46. The documentary, “The Parkland Doctors,” was shown at the Mock Trial. More than ever before, these physicians finally divulged what they really thought about the autopsy photographs—surely to Wagner’s chagrin.



49. Reclaiming History was published in 2007. Wagner admires this book, but my highly unfavorable review is here: Soon after my review appeared, Bugliosi telephoned to lecture me for nearly an hour. He finished by telling me that I was the only reviewer (of many) whom he had called, and he advised me to write my own book. Unfortunately, that book appeared just months after his death. In 2011, I also wrote a rather devastating review of his puerile Divinity of Doubt (2011):

50. Mortal Error (1992), by Bonar Menninger, p. 114. I had the pleasure of interviewing Donahue at his home after of one my nine visits to the Archives.

51. Cf

52. While at the Archives, I performed stereo viewing of the transparencies, the color prints, and the black and white prints—in all sorts of combinations. They all yielded the same results.

53. In one photograph, this dark spot appears as in Wagner’s Figure P.3, while in the partner photograph the spot is much, much lighter, and has a horizontal line drawn through it! Of course, the latter image is not in the public domain.

54.The original generation consists of 4 x 5-inch transparencies. Each autopsy view includes at least two nearly identical photographs, typically taken seconds (and inches) apart. Such a pair permits stereo viewing. At the Archives, I used my own stereo viewer.


56. It is also striking that the camera used in the morgue on November 22, 1963 is not consistent with the autopsy photographs:

This is a critical review of the NOVA production (November 14, 2013) – "Cold Case JFK."

Taken from a review on the CTKA Website

CG. Robert Blakey (as quoted on "Cold Case JFK"): "...the need that led to the Warren Commission was not to find out what happened but to assure the American people what didn't happen."

John McCloy (Warren Commission): [It was of paramount importance to] "show the world that America is not a banana republic, where a government can be changed by conspiracy."

Jim Marrs (Crossfire 2013, p. 441): "Allen Dulles told author Edward Jay Epstein that since an atmosphere of rumors and suspicion interferes with the functioning of the government, especially abroad, one of the Commission's main tasks was to dispel rumors."

This was a remarkably disingenuous program, with many erroneous assumptions, misleading statements, and crucial omissions. I label these accordingly below. I also list several correct statements and provide additional comments.

Assumption: Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) owned the Mannlicher-Carcano (MC) Comment: The weapon in evidence is not the one ordered by LHO. The Warren Commission (WC) states that he used a coupon from the February 1963 issue of The American Rifleman (but this ad does not appear in the WC). The ad is for a 36" Carcano carbine weighing 5.5#. The weapon in evidence is supposedly a 40" short rifle and weighs 8# (with sling and gun sight).

Further, when the HSCA interviewed the gunsmith at Klein's, he said he placed scopes on the 36-inch model but not the 40-inch model. Yet this rifle had a scope on it. How did it get there? No one addressed these problems on this program. Or even acknowledged they existed. The first weapon reported in the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) was actually a 7.65 German Mauser; Eugene Boone filed two separate reports to this effect, and Seymour Weitzman filed a confirming affidavit.

Boone later testified that Captain Fritz and Lt. Day also identified it as a Mauser. The weapon in evidence, however, clearly reads, "Made in Italy" and "Cal, 6.5"."

Therefore, how could those affidavits be filed if the police could read properly? Furthermore, no one has explained why a wannabe assassin would purchase a weapon by money order through the mail – instead of paying cash locally (with no trace of ownership). In addition, on the supposed purchase date (March 12), LHO was at work from 8 AM to 12:15 PM (see Harvey and Lee by John Armstrong for company employee records). If the post office records can be believed, LHO walked 11 blocks to the General Post Office, purchased a money order, but then did not mail it from there. Instead, he walked many bocks out of his way (eventually using a mailbox) before returning to work, where his absence was not noted. This order then arrived the very next day at Klein's (in Chicago) – and was already deposited at the bank that same day! Unfortunately, the bank deposit actually reads February 15, 1963 – not March 13 1963. Of course, if the date really had been February, then the serial number C2766 could not apply to the weapon in the backyard photographs. For even more anomalies on the MC see Reclaiming Parkland by Jim DiEugenio. (Especially Chapter 4, pages 56-63)

Omission: The witnesses pointed to the TSBD.

Comment: The narrator fails to say that most witnesses ran to the overpass and to the Grassy Knoll.

Misleading: John McAdams claims that the ballistics evidence would have been admissible in court.

Comment: The palm print on the weapon was not initially discovered by the Dallas Police Department, but only turned up later, after the FBI apparently fingerprinted LHO at the morgue (according to the mortician). In addition, fingerprint evidence can be surprisingly subjective (see my CTKA review of McAdams' book). Although CE-399 (the Magic Bullet) was supposedly matched to the MC (see Jerry McLeer's website for this controversy), that does not prove that LHO fired the gun on 11/22/1963, or even that LHO handled it that day. After all, the paraffin test on his cheeks was negative.

And then there is the fundamental question of whether LHO actually owned the MC – as well as where the bullets were obtained.

Correct: The FBI did not stock MC bullets.

Comment: Nor did most gun shops in Dallas. Nor were any extra bullets found anywhere in LHO's possessions. In fact, the only MC shells in the case were in the sniper's nest. But the FBI did find a Mauser shell in Dealey Plaza, which they kept secret for 30 years. Therefore, if LHO had actually purchased these bullets, he bought only a few, which is quite remarkable – or perhaps he did not buy any at all.

Although the FBI did not have MC samples, the CIA likely did. In the 1950's, the Marine Corps purchased four million rounds – even though these bullets do not fit into any Corps weapons. This leads one to wonder if the purchase was for the CIA, since they often prefer weapons (and bullets) that cannot be traced.

Assumption: LHO was a communist.

Comment: This statement is made without any introduction or any context, almost as if it were a fundamental theory of physics. This is the most overt clue to NOVA's inexorable bias. James Jesus Angleton, who was CIA Chief of Counter-intelligence, would have been amused to hear this. After all, according to John Newman, Angleton controlled the Oswald files at Langley. (2013 edition of John Newman's Oswald and the CIA.)

Further, there is evidence from two FBI employees, Carver Gayton and William Walter, that Oswald was an FBI informant. It is even conceivable that LHO ordered a MC at the request of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agency, in order to assist with federal efforts to trace gun purchases.

Misleading: John McAdams speaks of an "entrance" for a bullet hole in JFK's back.

Comment: The pathologists clearly stated that this site could be probed only superficially. No bullet was ever discovered at that site (or at an exit site). The abrasion collar surrounding the wound suggested that the projectile (whatever it was) was traveling upward (not downward, as would be required for a shot from the TSBD). That this projectile penetrated to any real depth is nothing but sheer speculation. Furthermore, an entry into the back would have caused a lung puncture, but this was not reported at the autopsy.

Misleading: The pathologists did not know about the throat wound while at the autopsy.

Comment: My good friend, Dr. Robert Livingston (now deceased), had advised Dr. James Humes, the lead pathologist; about this apparent entry wound during a telephone call before the autopsy began. He repeated this recollection during the depositions for Charles Crenshaw's suit against the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many other witnesses attest to Humes knowledge of this wound while the autopsy proceeded. These include the autopsy radiologist, Dr. John Ebersole, with whom I had two separate telephone calls. It also includes pathologist Dr. J. Thornton Boswell, who confirmed this directly to the Baltimore Sun (Richard H. Levine, 25 November 1966, front page article).

He later repeated this to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). Finally, tissue samples were taken of the tracheotomy site – and several autopsy witnesses saw probes passing through the tracheotomy. Neither of these items makes any sense unless the tracheotomy site harbored a forensically meaningful wound; it also implies that the pathologists understood that very fact during the autopsy.

Misleading: The shirt collar and tie show evidence of an exit.

Comment: Although both were damaged, such damage is mostly silent about the direction of a projectile. The nurses claimed that scalpels (used to remove JFK's clothing) caused this damage. Neither the front of the shirt nor the tie showed any scientific evidence (low energy X-ray scattering) of metal from a bullet passage, although the bullet holes in the back of JFK's jacket and shirt did show such evidence. Furthermore, the relevant witnesses described the throat wound as lying above the collar and tie. While before the WC, Dr. Charles Carrico clearly implied that the wound was above the neck-tie and above the shirt collar (3H361-362). To leave no doubt about what Carrico had seen, Harold Weisberg reports his own confirmatory interview with Carrico (Post-Mortem 1969, pp. 357-358 and 375-376).

And then there is nurse Diana Bowron, who saw the throat wound while JFK was still in the limousine – before the shirt and tie had been removed. But here is the problem: the lacerations in the shirt lie well inferior to the top of the collar – and therefore well inferior to the throat wound. Moreover, I have seen the clothing at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The shirt does not exhibit any missing material, but such missing material would be expected for a real bullet. And the lacerations in the shirt do look like the work of a scalpel.

Misleading: The final shot (a head shot) occurred just an instant before Z-313 (where the bloody spray is seen).

Comment: The skull X-rays show a trail of metallic debris across the top of the skull. Using JFK's orientation in Z-312 (at the instant of impact), this trail lies at an angle of 34° from horizontal (proceeding downward from the rear). But the angle from the "sniper's nest" in the TSBD to JFK's head at this moment is only 16°, according to Thomas Canning, the rocket scientist for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Therefore, in order for LHO to reproduce this particle trail in the X-rays (at Z-312) he must have been hovering above Dealey Plaza in a hot air balloon. Furthermore, there is much evidence (including WC documents) for a shot well after Z-313. See this writer's review of Sherry Fiester's book at this website.

There is also evidence for this in overviews of Dealey Plaza (published in Newsweek, November 22, 1993) and in Secret Service photographs (right after the event). In the latter, a traffic cone clearly marks a final shot well after Z-313. Curiously, NOVA's own interviewee, the famous author Josiah Thompson, at the recent Pittsburgh conference (October 17-19, 2013), announced his own new conviction that the final shot came well after Z-313.

Omission: NOVA failed to ask Thompson (their own interviewee!) for his opinion on this critical issue of when the final shot occurred.

Comment: While in Pittsburgh, Thompson shared with me the steps that led to his conclusion, which I found extremely interesting – since I had independently arrived at the same endpoint.

Misleading: CE-399 was quite deformed.

Comment: Not at all the case... For a truly deformed bullet, see Commission Exhibit 856, a bullet fired through a cadaver's wrist (See Cover-Up by Stewart Galanor, Document 23).

Misleading: Luke Haag, NOVA's ballistics expert, claims to see "bullet wipe" around the hole in the back of JFK's jacket. (This is superficial debris transferred from the bullet surface to the jacket.)

Comment: This critical observation was not demonstrated visually at this point in the show (although the bullet wipe from the experiment was clearly shown). Oddly, the hole in the jacket had been shown earlier, so it could easily have been shown again. When I rewound the recorded show to examine the jacket hole, I saw no bullet wipe. I also carefully inspected close-up and high-resolution images of this hole from other sources (e.g., Galanor, Document 6) and still could see no bullet wipe. Finally, I have personally inspected the jacket at NARA.

I recall no bullet wipe from that visit either. Curiously, Haag describes the jacket hole as showing a "small, round hole." Although Galanor's image agrees with Haag's description, the hole shown by NOVA is very elongated and quite irregular (obviously different from Galanor's image). In fact, about ½ of the circumference had been removed by the FBI, but Haag seems unaware of this. If samples had been taken, then whatever evidence initially existed for "bullet wipe" has been severely compromised.

Correct: The MC bullet traversed 36" of pine board in a straight trajectory and emerged undeformed.

Comment: This is very old news, as John Lattimer and John Nichols performed similar experiments many decades ago. They found that the bullet penetrated two feet of tough elm or through four feet of Ponderosa pine.

Correct: But a misleading omission: The exit hole (in soap) was larger than the entrance wound.

Comment: In fact, the images show that Haag's thumb would likely have fit into the exit hole. All of this, of course, is grossly inconsistent with JFK's throat wound, which was often described as the size of a pencil. And JFK's throat wound, of course, was also smaller than the purported entry wound in the back. Of course, NOVA avoids any discussion of these gross paradoxes.

Misleading: The bullet yaws (its axis of rotation varies) after leaving JFK and then strikes Connally's (JBC) back sideways, leaving an elliptical hole in his jacket and an elongated wound on his back.

Comment: Dr. Cyril Wecht testified to the HSCA that an elongated wound might well result if the bullet had struck at an oblique angle. In fact, since no one really knows where the bullet (that struck Connally's back) originated, such an oblique strike must logically remain on the list of possibilities. (NOVA merely assumes that the SBT is true, thus creating a circular argument.) Even worse though, the size of the JBC's back wound has often been misrepresented. In particular, Millicent Cranor stated that "Connally's back wound was only as long as the wound in the back of Kennedy's head: 1.5 centimeters. No one has suggested Kennedy was hit in the head with a tumbling bullet." She adds that "The head wound was 1.5 x 0.6 centimeters, and the back wound, 1.5 x 0.8 centimeters, as documented on at least four occasions by the governor's thoracic surgeon, Dr. Robert Shaw (4WCH104, 107; 6WCH85, 86). The holes in the back of Connally's shirt and jacket were as small as his back wound (5WCH64)." JBC's back wound became 3 cm (exactly the length of the MC bullet) when it was surgically enlarged, as Shaw explained.

Dr. Charles Gregory, who operated on JBC's wrist, also doubted that the bullet (that hit JBC's chest) had struck anything before JBC. He even speculated that a fragment from JFK's head wound had caused JBC's wrist wounds. Finally, John Hunt has argued that Connally was likely turned to the right when struck; that would, of course, produce a tangential strike and therefore an elongated wound. In particular, Hunt states that if JBC had been rotated by 43°, and the bullet was approaching at 10.2° (right to left), then a yaw of merely 6° is enough to yield the 1.5 cm wound.

Misleading: Luke Haag states that there is no reason not to believe in the single bullet theory (SBT).

Comment: This is a breathtaking, almost staggering statement. Because it fails to take into account – in any way – the entry and exit points in either man, nor does it require any knowledge of cross sectional anatomy! A CT scan, with a cross section through the area of interest (that I presented long ago – see Galanor, Document 45) still remains an effective demolition of the SBT. The trajectory for the SBT would either have shattered a vertebra body or it would have punctured the apex of the lung – but neither was seen at the autopsy. NOVA did not address this profound conundrum. With simplistic conclusions such as this one by Haag, forensic pathologists could be spared much serious work.

Correct: Jefferson Morley points out that the acoustics evidence is not decisive.

Comment: It is not even relevant. See my review of Don Thomas's book at the CTKA website.

Correct: Based on a meticulous reconstruction of Dealey Plaza, using detailed laser data, a shot from the top of the stockade fence to JFK's head is possible; the distance is 105 feet, with a downward trajectory of 4°.

Comment: Hmm, I cannot add anything to that.

Correct: Connally and his wife both strongly disagreed with the SBT – for their entire lives.

Comment: Furthermore, while in the hospital, JBC referred to shooters (in the plural). He later told a reporter that he never for one second believed the conclusions of the Warren Commission. (Joseph McBride, Into the Nightmare, p. 418)

Misleading omission: The skull X-rays show no shot from the front, but they do show a posterior entry.

Comment: This contradicts the experts for the ARRB, none of whom could identify an entry. Nor could I, via detailed optical density (OD) measurements at NARA. To rule out a frontal entry requires a good measure of hubris: e.g., it assumes that Humes and Boswell did not tamper with the skull before the official autopsy began. There is now serious evidence that this did occur. One line of evidence for such tampering is the major absence of brain in the anterior skull (on both sides) on the skull X-rays, as the OD data clearly demonstrate. Why is this evidence of tampering? The answer is that multiple witnesses at Parkland described a major loss of posterior brain tissue. Dr. Robert McClelland recently confirmed this during his videotaped presentation at the Cyril Wecht Duquesne conference. This is a major paradox, because the brain is not likely to have fallen backward while en route to Bethesda.

However, if the major moorings of the brain (the falx) had been severed shortly before the official autopsy (e.g., illicitly by Humes), then the brain would indeed have fallen backwards. (On the other hand, if the falx had been severed before Parkland, the brain should already have fallen to the rear, thus leaving little significant brain tissue loss for McClelland to see.) Moreover, NOVA assumes only one head shot NOVA's participants, of course, fail to point out this fundamental assumption. After all, following a second shot, the evidence of the first shot may no longer have existed.

Misleading: No shot came from the (right) side.

Comment: My recent detailed discussion of the Harper fragment (presented at Duquesne, and soon to be posted at the CTKA website) clearly demonstrates, from multiple lines of evidence (especially including intrinsic information from the skull X-rays) that it arose largely from the occipital bone. In that case, the trigger for such an ejection most likely was a frontal shot (e.g., entering near to the right ear). Furthermore, there is strong eyewitness testimony (from the closest witnesses) that JFK was struck near the right ear. Even Kemp Clark, the neurosurgeon, described just such a tangential shot. As further corroboration for a tangential shot, at the recent JFK Lancer Conference (November 22, 2013), the autopsy technician James Jenkins recalled an apparent entry hole near Kennedy's right ear that was surrounded by a gray border; even the pathologist Finck commented on this (off the record) during the autopsy.

(Also see my review of Sherry Fiester's book at the CTKA website). And G. Paul Chambers (a Ph.D. physicist, who worked for NASA), in Head shot (p. 136) agrees that a shot "...striking Kennedy's head from the right front side was possible, even probable."

Misleading: Fracture lines on the JFK skull X-rays begin at the rear and go forward. (In general, these typically begin at the point of entry and very quickly extend outward from that point.)

Comment: In Enemy of the Truth, (p. 212) Sherry Fiester, a forensic specialist, reaches the opposite conclusion: she concludes that the fractures radiate from the front of the head, which would imply a frontal shot. More importantly, though, if two head-shots occurred (especially one from the rear and one from the front, as is quite likely – based on witnesses, the X-rays, and pathologic evidence), then this entire argument becomes moot.

Assumption: The JFK autopsy photographs of the brain are authentic.

Comment: Again, this is breathtaking. The experts seem oblivious to the serious doubt cast about this issue by the ARRB. Because, under oath before that body, official photographer John Stringer did not recognize the film or the process which took them, because he did not use either. They also seem unaware of Douglas Horne's essays on the two brain examinations, which was well publicized in the media. My own OD data on the skull X-rays show virtually no brain (on either side) in a fist-sized area at the front of the skull. This is radically inconsistent with the autopsy photographs, which show a completely intact left side and a nearly intact right side. In principle, one can accept as authentic either the skull X-rays or the brain photographs, but not both.

Misleading: Larry Sturdivan interjects his now-hoary explanation for the posterior head snap – the neuromuscular reaction.

Comment: This has been refuted so many times that I leave this for the reader to pursue.

Misleading: Josiah Thompson states that Humes was not very competent.

Comment: Humes conducted the weekly brain cutting seminars at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. All his life he had the respect of his peers. Although more experienced forensic pathologists would have done better, Humes's chief problem was that he was boxed into a corner, where he often had no choice but to lie. The best example of this is his barefaced misplacement of the metallic trail of particles on the skull X-rays. (He became greatly embarrassed about this during his ARRB deposition.)

Even my son at age six would not have done that. This was not a mistake by Humes. After all, consider the consequences: if he had reported the truth about the superior location of this particle trail it would have directly implied a second gunman, which he knew was not (politically) allowed.

Misleading: NOVA's illustrations for the SBT demonstrate the trajectory going through JFK's collar.

Comment: This is incredible, inasmuch as the hole in the jacket (shown earlier in the program) is about six inches inferior to the collar. So is the hole in the shirt. No one in NOVA even comments about this bizarre discrepancy.

Misleading: Jim Lehrer and John McAdams both believe that LHO did it – and that he fired three shots.

Comment: Among other things, Lehrer is a prolific novelist, and may say whatever he likes. Regarding McAdams, I have critiqued the SBT thoroughly (and with detailed anatomic models) in my review of his book at the CTKA website (this also includes the aforementioned CT scan). I have never seen any response from him about this. Until one is forthcoming, he really should cease to pontificate. Furthermore, the media have no cause to listen to someone (especially on human anatomy) who is solely a professor of "American politics, public opinion, and voter behavior." In fact, NOVA should be mortified to quote such slender sources. Surely the American public deserves better.

Correct: But a misleading omission: Most witnesses heard three shots.

Comment: Many, many witnesses heard two final shots in very quick succession (much too close for the MC), which could well imply two, near-simultaneous headshots. Further, there was never any systematic interviewing of witnesses either on the grassy knoll or in the Texas School Book Depository. Therefore, this database is sorely incomplete.

Misleading omission: NOVA seems to refer to the Edgewood Arsenal skull shooting experiments, and then implies that these supports the Commission's theory.

Comment: Dr. Gary Aguilar and Kathleen Cunningham have discussed these in detail. In particular, they point out that these experiments (supposedly using the official entry site) actually destroyed the faces of the skulls. Furthermore, the actual movies shown on NOVA (of exploding skulls) also show destruction of the anterior skull. Of course, since JFK's face was intact, we (not surprisingly) have another paradox.

Misleading: CE-399 entered JBC's thigh and then fell out, but not before depositing a small metal fragment. (On the X-ray, the fragment is 3.5 mm x 1.3 mm.)

Comment: The wound was no more than 1 cm deep, while the bullet was 3 cm long. The only site from the bullet for lead to extrude into the wound is from the tail. (NOVA shows the bullet entering the thigh nose first.) So how does the lead get under the skin, when the tail of the bullet is at least 2 cm outside of the skin? Dr. Tom Shires, who worked on the thigh wound, claimed that it looked like a tangential hit – or else a large fragment had stopped in the skin and then had subsequently fallen out. Dr. Malcolm Perry told Harold Weisberg that the hole in Connally's skin was too small to be caused by a bullet. Arlen Specter shrewdly avoided this entire issue.

Misleading omission: NOVA assumes, without any proof – or even any discussion – that CE-399 actually flew over Dealey Plaza that day.

Comment: Their own interviewee Josiah Thompson is the reigning 'expert on this question, but NOVA did not discuss the chain of possession of CE-399 with him. (Thompson confirmed to me, via e-mail, that he was not asked.) If CE-399 is the wrong bullet, then the entire program immediately becomes hapless and hopeless. In fact, Thompson's original pursuit of this issue (in Six Seconds in Dallas) was more recently renewed with the assistance of Dr. Gary Aguilar.

The critical witness at Parkland Hospital (who actually handled the bullet) clearly did not recognize CE-399. On the contrary, the bullet he saw had a pointed nose, like the four bullets from World Wars one and two that NOVA displayed. John Hunt has also incisively highlighted serious problems with the timeline for receipt of this bullet (or perhaps even two different bullets) in Washington, DC. If the producers knew that Thompson had shattered the provenance of CE-399, and they nonetheless deliberately avoided this issue, then they are hypocrites. On the other hand, if they did not know this fundamental fact, then they are amazingly ignorant.

In the lead up to this program, both McAdams and the director Rush DeNooyer proclaimed that their program would prove with modern forensic science that Lee Oswald alone shot John Kennedy. (See Los Angeles Times, August 7 2013.) If that was their intent from the outset, then they were being unprofessional. But even with that inherent bias, they have failed ignominiously.

The John F. Kennedy Autopsy X-Rays Link and Conclusion

The Saga of the Largest "Metallic Fragment"


The 6.5 mm object was not described in the autopsy report nor was it seen (by anyone) on the original autopsy X-rays. Among the many (dozens) of individuals at the autopsy, no one saw it, even though the X-rays were on public display during the autopsy. Nor has anyone at the autopsy ever recalled a single conversation about it. This peculiar object simply materialized in the public record, for the first time (four years later) with the 1968 Clark Panel report.

This artifact was added to the JFK AP skull X-ray (in the darkroom) via a double exposure of a 6.5 mm aperture (e.g., via a 6.5 mm hole in a piece of cardboard). In this process, the first step was to imprint the image from the original X-ray onto a duplicate film (via a light box in the dark room). The second step was another exposure that imprinted the 6.5 mm image onto the duplicate film (i.e., superimposing it over the image of the original X-ray). This duplicate film was then developed to yield the image seen in Figure 1. This process inevitably produces a phantom effect, whereby objects (e.g., bullet fragments in this case) on the original film are seen separately from the superimposed 6.5 mm image. On JFK's AP skull X-ray, the original metal fragment (that lay at the back of the skull) can be seen separately through the 6.5 mm image (Figure 7). Furthermore, the double exposure was unprofessional: it produced a significant overexposure of the 6.5 mm image, so much so that the resulting OD implies a very long section of metal (from front to back—Table 1).

There is, of course, no such partner image on the lateral X-ray, which immediately exposes this object as an artifact.

On JFK's lateral X-ray, high resolution OD scans of the posterior skull fragment (Figure 2), and comparison of these ODs to a control experiment using an authentic bullet cross section (Figures 9 and 10) also (perhaps even immediately) after November 22, 1963. Its proximate purpose could only have been to implicate the 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano carbine (supposedly owned by Oswald) in the assassination. Its ultimate purpose, however, awaits resolution by professional historians, who have been remarkably reticent about accepting responsibility for their task.

The Silence of the Historians

[Editor's note: In this essay, David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., the most qualified student to ever study the death of JFK, reflects upon the apparent incapacity, unwillingness, or even cowardice of professional historians to come to grips with what, given its domestic and international consequences, surely qualifies as among the most important events in recent American history, perhaps even in recent world history.

Another essay that should be read on this subject is Ronald F. White, Ph.D., "Apologists and Critics of the Lone Gunman Theory: Assassination Science and Experts in Post-Modem America," Assassination Science (1998).]

The most dangerous and vicious of all forgeries are those committed in behalf of a cause—the cause of a nation, of an institution, or of a leader—and intended to bring about a permanent falsification of history.1 —Allan Nevins

Between 1994 and 1998, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) processed for release approximately 60,000 JFK assassination documents. Its staff also conducted new depositions and interviews with many medical witnesses, some completely new to the case. This wide panorama of fresh sources amassed a compelling case for a post-assassination cover-up in the medical evidence, an area heretofore almost totally ignored by historians. Inasmuch as the assassination is a major event of the twentieth century, and may well represent a turning point in American history, it is incumbent upon historians to understand and explain this event—as well as those that surround it. To date, however, a deafening silence has reigned on these matters, as historians have preferred to tolerate the harvest of The Warren Report rather than to cultivate their own fields.

Possibly inquisitive historians, naturally enough, have no craving to be tainted as balmy by the media paintbrushes, as well might befall them were they to admit publicly to such curiosity. The plain fact, though, is that this controversial issue frightens historians: most genuinely fear for their own professional prestige, and many fear subconsciously at what would gaze back at them from the subterranean depths of this case were they to peer too intently into the well of history. Given the unique nature of these events, and their profound impact on America, this fear is understandable. Ultimately, however, these issues must be faced honestly and responsibly. It is no longer sufficient merely to quote a lawyer turned journalist on these serious questions, nor can the matter be left to the most amateur of professions—the media.

Given the manipulation of the autopsy materials (which were controlled by the Secret Service), the post-assassination cover-up necessarily required the assistance of key government personnel, probably at a high level, possibly even the highest. The growing body of evidence for this conclusion is now simply too great to ignore. Heretofore, the historians' tacitly donned mantle of innocence radiated an aura of genteel credibility, but that mantle has become threadbare. If historians continue to deny the deceitful reality underlying the post-assassination cover-up, they, too, risk becoming accessories after the fact. The bar of history is even now calling them to the stand. The time for a response has come.


In the summer of 1993, shortly before a visit to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, I was called to consult on Patricia Lake, an elderly patient with lung cancer. She communicated to me a goal that no other patient—before or since— has ever disclosed: she was writing an autobiography that she hoped to turn into a movie or a play. From a colleague, I soon learned that she was the only child of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), the newspaper magnate and jingoist for the Spanish-American War, who had been immortalized by Orson Welles in the movie, Citizen Kane (1941). The striking fact, though, is that Patricia Lake had lived most of her life without knowing who her true father and mother were, which was why she had started writing her autobiography so late. This extraordinary story was recounted in her obituary (The Los Angeles Times 31 October 1993, p. 14).

Like my patient who had a secret personal history, countries also have hidden histories, as David W. Belin learned with some distaste in 1975, when he served as Executive Director of the Rockefeller Commission. On 22 December 1974, Seymour Hersh had written a front-page story for The New York Times that alleged illegal CIA activities in the US. The next month, President Gerald Ford chose Nelson Rockefeller to lead an investigation of the CIA. Belin, a former counsel to the Warren Commission, was selected by Ford 3 (who had also served on the Warren Commission) to be its Executive Director. During his tenure, Belin learned about the "family jewels," a secret record of CIA activities. 4 He would later write: The family jewels contained references to CIA consideration of plots to assassinate Cuban premier Fidel Castro, Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, and possibly Premier Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. (Belin, Final Disclosure 1988, p. 93)

Ford subsequently initiated new legislation that made it illegal for an American to "… engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination" (Belin 1988, p. 128). A similar law was passed (regarding the assassination of US presidents) after the death of JFK. Prior to his murder, it was not federal crime to kill a US president. When a Pandora's box such as this is opened, life becomes unpredictable; the publication of these revelations altered most Americans' view of their own history, particularly since these discoveries came close upon the heels of the Watergate fiasco. Now that another treasure trove has been opened—the new JFK documents and interviews released by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB)—our view of American history must inevitably change once again.


For nearly four decades, historians have chosen to hide from the thorny issues posed by the JFK assassination. Their silence—actually a near abdication 5—has permitted the media to set the agenda for one of the major events of the twentieth century. When forced to offer an opinion on this matter, historians have chosen, with few exceptions, to recite the Warren Commission version at face value. Given this straitjacket, they have therefore assumed that Oswald did it. That era of innocence has been dying for some time, however, and, by any reasonable measure, is now irrevocably moribund.

Historians are faced with a troubling new challenge—how to write an accurate and responsible history of 22 November 1963, one that takes into account a great deal of new evidence, but also one that cannot avoid turning previous views thoroughly upside down. Since he also served as a board member for the ARRB, Henry F. Graff, Emeritus Professor of History at Columbia University, is a particularly illustrative example of this dying paradigm. Graff chose a remarkably hagiographic title for his high school textbook in American history, in which he stated unequivocally: "He [Oswald] denied any knowledge of the shootings, but the evidence against him was overwhelming" (Graff, America: the Glorious Republic 1988, p. 787). 6 A similar attitude toward Oswald was portrayed in an early post-assassination textbook:

[JFK] was shot in the head by an assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald... [Who] had fired upon the President with a rifle from the window of a distant warehouse. No one actually saw him pull the trigger. He was apprehended largely because, in his demented state, he killed a policeman later in the day… He denied his guilt, but a mass of evidence connected him with the crime… foreign countries [were convinced] that some nefarious conspiracy laid at the root of the tragedy. Oswald, the argument ran, was a pawn, his murder designed to keep him from exposing the masterminds who had engineered the assassination. No shred of evidence supported this theory. (John A. Garraty, The American Nation: A History of the United States 1966, emphasis added)

A later textbook opened the door to conspiracy just a crack: "However, many questions remained unanswered. Private citizens have launched their own investigations. Many still believe that Oswald was part of a conspiracy. Still, no convincing evidence exists" (Thomas V. DiBacco, History of the United States 1991, pp. 698–699). A fourth text pushed the door open just a bit more: "In subsequent years, however, questions arose about the assassination; and new investigations—including one commissioned by a committee of the House of Representatives in 1979 7—cast doubt on the Warren Commission's findings" (Carol Berkin, A History of the United States: American Voices 1992, p. 790)


The historians' fear of ridicule has surely been a dominant motive for their silence. Merely by waving their denigrating paintbrushes over all lone gunman critics, the media has succeeded in painting any potentially curious historian into a corner where he can expect to be labeled as either a "conspiracy theorist" or an "assassination buff." This is a patently absurd situation, inasmuch as historians who study the Lincoln assassination 8 are never called "conspiracy theorists," and those who study the Garfield or McKinley assassinations are not called "assassination buffs." It is only about the Kennedy assassination 9 that the media have persisted in launching these ad hominem attacks 10 Moreover, those who favor the single gunman theory are not correspondingly called "lone gunman theorists" nor are they (Gerald Posner, for example) ever called "assassination buffs." This campaign of denigration has been entirely one- sided and it has been very powerful—essentially cutting off all intelligent debate. It is rare in contemporary American society to see an issue so censored—by both the political right and the political left—that snide remarks are often deemed acceptable 11 Let us be quite honest about this: because of the media's predictable fusillade of tar and feathers, historians are visibly embarrassed at the mere mention of the JFK assassination. This embarrassment is often covered up with curious knowing asides, as if only the cognoscenti could understand what all the smirking was about. Regarding this fear of ridicule, Thomas Spencer Jerome has captured the problem exceptionally well:

[The historian] finds furthermore that there are various sorts of obligations laid upon him to refrain from truth telling under diverse penalties. He is a member of a state, a church, a party, a class, a clique, a family, and in all these relations he is virtually obliged to see things as they are not, and to speak that which is false, under penalties varying from execution down to mere inarticulate unpopularity, most difficult to be borne. ("The Case of the Eyewitnesses," in Robin Winks, editor, The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence, 1968, p. 190) 12

Here is the heart of the matter. It is not that historians (or their de facto stage managers —in this case, the media) have settled on the lone gunman theory after a thorough review of the evidence. Merely listening to one of them for several minutes is often sufficient to reveal his (or her) primitive grasp of the case. In fact, the real problem lies elsewhere. It is this man's (or woman's) fear of embarrassment before his (or her) peers—the dreaded "inarticulate unpopularity," described by Jerome, that has led to the historians' present tongue-tied silence. The media have been able to abort nearly any serious discussion merely by ad hominem attacks, no matter the expertise of the lone assassin critic in question. They have argued by not arguing. They have won by not fighting. It would be difficult to find a better illustration of the dictum, "who controls the present controls the past" (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four 1949, p. 32).


The power of the media has served its masters well; with one exception, no well-known historian has yet publicly entertained an alternate scenario in the JFK assassination. That exception is Michael R. Beschloss:

Richard Helms found Lyndon Johnson distracted well into 1964 by his worry that Kennedy had been assassinated by conspiracy. As Helms recalled, the Agency was "very helpful to Johnson on this" and met the new President's request for an independent CIA study. Motion pictures of the Dallas motorcade and autopsy photographs were sent over to the Agency. (Beschloss, The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 1991, p. 682)

Why the American public was expected to believe the lone assassin theory of The Warren Report (September 1964), when LBJ himself did not, has never been explained, nor have the contents or conclusions of this CIA study ever been released to the public. Beschloss concludes, "We will probably never know beyond a shadow of a doubt who caused John Kennedy to be murdered and why" (Beschloss 1991, p. 687).

Dissenting from this conspiracy view and probably speaking for most historians, Stephen Ambrose 13 praised Gerald Posner's much-ballyhooed book, Case Closed (1991):

Posner has done a great service, in the process proving that a single researcher, working alone, is always preferable to a committee. This is a model of historical research. It should be required reading for anyone reviewing any book on the Kennedy assassination. Beyond the outstanding job of research, Posner is a dramatic storyteller. The recreation of Oswald and Jack Ruby's, personalities is wonderfully well done. This case has indeed been closed by Mr. Posner's work.

However, several sources patently admired by Posner—those whom he actually cites—have not been kind to Posner, as can be seen from the following three examples:

Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), regarding Posner's Case Closed, wrote: "Posner often distorts the evidence by selective citation and by striking omissions... he picks and chooses his witnesses on the basis of their consistency with the thesis he wants to prove." ("The Mafia and JFK's Murder—Thirty years later, the question remains: Did Oswald act alone?" The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 15-21 November 1993, p. 23.)

Historian David Wrone (of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) stated in a peer reviewed journal: "…his book is so theory driven, so rife with speculation, and so frequently unable to conform his text with the factual content in his sources that it stands as one of the stellar instances of irresponsible publishing on this subject. Massive numbers of factual errors suffuse his book, which make it a veritable minefield" (Journal of Southern History 61 (February 1995), p. 186) 14 Roger McCarthy, President of Failure Analysis Associates (FaAA), the company that provided the scientific material for the mock trial of Oswald performed by the American Bar Association in 1992, executed a sworn affidavit stating that:

a) Posner had requested his company's prosecution material but not the defense's material.

b) Posner failed to declare in his book that FaAA had also prepared a case for the defense.

c) The jury, after hearing both sides, could not reach a verdict.

d) Posner failed to acknowledge the role of the American Bar Association in the trial. Finally, McCarthy added that during Posner's early television interviews, he left the clear impression that the prosecution work in question had been done at his (Posner's) specific request and he did not acknowledge the role of FaAA. (See Addendum 1) 15

Both Ambrose (in history) and I (in physics) completed our doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin. We were both born and raised in Wisconsin (see Ambrose, Comrades 1999). I had hoped, partly for these reasons, to be able to open a conversation with him, but all of my correspondence has been met with silence. In this, he is probably no different from his colleagues. Jacob Cohen 16 has responded similarly to my attempts to engage him in dialogue. Moreover, when I submitted a letter to the editor in response to Max Holland, "The Docudrama That is JFK," The Nation (7 December 1998), it was ignored. Holland offered no informal response either, but Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who is often cited in Holland's article, after reading my letter, offered his opinion that I might reasonably have expected at least a personal reply from Holland. (See Addendum 2.),

But this silence over Dealey Plaza cannot last forever. Inevitably, this deliberate evasion must break down; even now, it can be maintained only by ignoring a treasure trove of new evidence. Some day a (probably young) historian will catch the sunlight glistening from this newly found repository, will gradually recognize its worth, and begin to turn it over, piece by piece. After he has done so, the weight of the evidence will force his colleagues to follow, albeit with some heavy foot dragging. After the prolonged silence of the historians, this pioneering historian will recognize the impossible paradoxes and contaminated evidence in this case, and will thereby forever alter all subsequent discussion. But so long as historians accept the evidence at face value, our history books will continue to mislead yet more generations of school children, as I unfortunately discovered last year in the case of my own daughter, who was in the fifth grade at the time, where she heard a talk that incriminated Oswald as the lone gunman.


Powerful evidence now exists for forgery or, at the very least, a highly deceptive depiction of the most critical forensic evidence. This includes misleading or seriously altered autopsy photographs, forged skull X-rays, and the substitution of a different brain. Compared to this seemingly radical interpretation, however, all other explanations pale in explanatory power, so much so that they strain credulity far more. The evidence for forgery within the X-rays is particularly strong. My quantitative measurements of the skull X-rays at the National Archives (using, for the first time, an optical densitometer) have been presented in multiple graphs (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 120–137). By eight distinct and consistent lines of evidence, these objective and reproducible data led to a clear cut prediction, namely: that the largest metal-like object (6.5 mm across and nearly round) on the extant skull X-rays was not present on the original X-rays. Astonishingly enough, this is entirely consistent with the historical record, since no one at the autopsy ever reported such an object. (As in the case of other forged evidence, foul play was suspected early on by Harrison Livingston, High Treason 1989, p. 81.) A short time later, quite independently of my own work, Larry Sturdivan, the ballistics expert for the HSCA, also concluded—based on his ballistics expertise—that this same bullet-like image could not possibly represent a real bullet fragment. (He is quoted in the companion medical essay.) Therefore, two separate lines of evidence from two quite different disciplines agreed that something was very wrong with these X-rays. To put this question finally to bed, I asked the ARRB to interrogate all three pathologists about this most flagrant— and noteworthy—object on the X-rays. Under oath, not one of the three could recall seeing this object on the X-rays during the evening of the autopsy, despite the fact that the primary purpose of the X-rays was to locate and remove precisely such major pieces of forensic evidence. Moreover, when I asked him about this object, John Ebersole, the radiologist, abruptly and forever terminated our entire conversation. Quite independent of possibly imperfect human memories, no such object had been removed during the autopsy, as I could judge for myself at the National Archives. The two fragments removed during the autopsy are still housed there (CE-843). Neither is remotely like the 6.5mm object; both are much smaller. Nor can studies performed on them in the interval explain this enormous discrepancy. The negative responses from the three pathologists—as well as fragment evidence in the National Archives—therefore led directly to two major conclusions:

a) My hypothesis that this 6.5 mm bullet-like object was not visible on the original X-rays was validated, 18

b) A critical prop for the HSCA's high bullet entry (on the back of the head) was abruptly shattered 19

After all of this, the only residual evidence for a shot to the top rear of the head was photographic. At this critical juncture none of the three pathologists could be called upon to resuscitate the HSCA's hypothesis of a single successful assassin. That was because each of them had strongly disagreed with the HSCA's proposal of a shot high to the back of the head, as the HSCA itself embarrassingly understood (and admitted in print) during its own investigation in 1977-78 (7 HSCA 115). Moreover, the ARRB discovered previously buried information about the autopsy camera. The HSCA had actually examined the only camera that could have been used to take the autopsy photographs, and had found that it did not match the current films in the Archives. The HSCA then buried its own discovery.

But now the tension heightened, for these photographs, too, were called into question on yet other grounds. The ARRB heard from several, independent, new witnesses who had seen (and handled) actual autopsy photographs that no longer exist. Other evidence makes it painfully clear that multiple autopsy photographs are indeed missing, photographs that undeniably conflict with the extant photographs (of the back of the head) and that also bear directly on the question of a frontal head shot. As a result, the accuracy (possibly even the authenticity) of the existing photographs (of the back of the head) has fallen under the deepest suspicion. Since the now-dubious shot to the (high) back of the head was the sine qua non for the HSCA's sole successful gunman (apart from a second gunman who missed)—and for virtually all subsequent lone gunman theories—the case for the lone assassin has been severely, if not irreparably, damaged. [Author's note: These issues are all discussed in much greater detail in the companion medical essay, where I introduce further evidence from the X-rays and even from the pathologists themselves, which corroborates all of the above statements.] 20

The evidence for substitution of a different brain is also remarkably strong, based on a myriad of disparate, but consistent, pieces of data compiled by Douglas Horne of the ARRB (and supported by Jeremy Gunn, the Executive Director). Furthermore, my direct comparison of the skull X-rays (using quantitative data) to the brain photographs (work I had actually completed prior to the ARRB), has provided ideal corroboration for Horne's proposal of two separate brain examinations of two different brains on two different dates. [Editor's note: Horne's study and Mantik's medical essay appear elsewhere in this volume.]

By all that is reasonable, these new discoveries ought to reverse the judgment of history. Heretofore, dozens of experts who never saw the body itself, on seeing the posterior head photographs, have had no choice but to conclude that JFK was shot in the head from the rear. Virtually all the eyewitnesses, on the other hand, dispute the photographs of the back of the head. If these images have been fabricated (or even merely designed to mislead), as now seems indisputable, then the fundamental question stands open, almost as if the murder had occurred only yesterday. And the evidence presented in the companion medical essay—derived from an astonishing variety of sources—makes precisely such a case for falsification or, at the very least, for intentional obfuscation. Moreover, if Oswald really did it by himself, as the official accounts proclaim, why were such extensive—and dangerous—projects of alteration undertaken at all? Why would it have been necessary to frame a guilty man?

This essay, based solely as it is on the medical evidence, can say nothing about whether Oswald pulled a trigger on that sunny November day. It can, however, conclude that the photographs of the posterior scalp have been critically manipulated; that the X-rays of the head have been critically altered; and that the brain was replaced following its removal from the skull at the original autopsy. The purpose of all this activity must have been to tie the alleged assassin to a posterior headshot. After all, the forged 6.5 mm fragment (on the X- ray) had been placed at the back of the skull to match Oswald's location—and the Mannlicher-Carcano does fire 6.5 mm caliber bullets. Moreover, these deceptions could have had no other objective than to mislead and confuse subsequent investigations. That information, by itself, goes some way toward deciding just what Oswald may, or may not, have been doing on that particular Friday in November.

As Allan Nevins stated (in the opening quotation), the most vicious forgeries are those committed in behalf of a cause, specifically those that are intended to bring about a permanent falsification of history. The forgeries (or, at least, gross deceptions) in this case clearly fall into the category that Nevins described; in fact, it is likely that they are the best possible demonstration in history of what he had in mind. Since the result of the forgeries was to implicate a single gunman (Oswald) and thereby to exclude all other suspects, they have, in effect, altered history. If there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, then all of those involved have been given a pass to freedom, merely by virtue of the altered medical evidence. And if the conspiracy was a domestic one, especially if it involved elements of the American government, then surely it ought to be a matter of interest to American historians.

If the photographs and X-rays were altered, who did it? And who substituted a different brain for the real one? Surely not the Mafia, who could not have gained access to such guarded items. Nor, for similar reasons, could the anti- Castro Cubans, or the Texas oilmen, or any other non-government group hijack such physical evidence. Only key individuals of the American government (the Secret Service, in particular) had access to these critical items. By itself, this conclusion forces us to take yet another look at the situation. Were key individuals, probably high-level government officials, and accessories after the fact? Yet it is inescapable. No one, save critically placed government officials, could have permitted this alteration to occur. Indeed, to minimize the risk of subsequent leaks, it is likely that individuals within the government performed the very deceptions in question, even though collaboration with individuals outside the government cannot be excluded, based merely on the present discussion.

John Kaplan (Winks 1968, p. 402) has disparaged the Warren Commission critics (Mark Lane, in particular) because they attacked the lone gunman theory on one isolated issue after another, rather than offering a single coherent critical theory. But what would Kaplan say now? Kaplan's request, although initially a severe challenge to the critics, was intrinsically reasonable. Kaplan had concluded: "It has only rarely been argued that... the physical exhibits were altered" (Winks 1968, p. 373). He would not now be able to make that statement. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. It is now possible to construct a kind of unified field theory of the medical evidence in the JFK assassination—the medical evidence is simply not trustworthy. This is just the kind of self- consistent counter-case that Kaplan had demanded. If the medical evidence—the most fundamental evidence in the entire case—has been altered, then this proposal of highly misleading, or even altered, evidence is exactly the type of coherent criticism that Kaplan had required—though perhaps not exactly what he had desired.


The great divide that separates the partisans in this case is now complete. Those who accept the medical evidence at face value stand on one side, while those who hold suspect most of the medical evidence stands on the opposite side of a yawning chasm. Kaplan, like most of his contemporaries—whether critics or loyalists—could not have foreseen this outcome. Too much information still lay hidden at that early date. By analogy, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. ("The Problem of Hope," reprinted in Winks 1968, p. 533), has commented on how difficult it would have been in early 1940 for a futurist to forecast the next three American presidents. He would hardly have named the first of these as an obscure senator from Missouri, who anticipated an election loss to the Missouri governor in the 1940 Democratic primaries. Nor would he have considered an unknown lieutenant colonel in the US Army. Nor, finally, would he ever have considered a young man still at Harvard as the third.

As historians begin to review the evidence for a post-assassination cover-up in the medical evidence—one that can no longer be written off as merely benign—they will face major obstacles. Much of this evidence, by its very nature, is medical and scientific and therefore lies outside the customary domain of historians. To analyze it, they must master some basic concepts in anatomy, ballistics, forensic science, radiology, and even some basic physics. 21 To ignore these areas will result in their being entirely at the mercy of the traditional experts, a situation that has already persisted far too long. It is long past time for these authorities to have the last word; each wave of new information in this case has successively shown the reigning authorities to be, not so much wrong, as merely irrelevant.

When close examination of the primary evidence in a case proves it to have been so fundamentally flawed, it is unreasonable to expect traditional experts to be of much value. After all, their life long habit has been to accept these data at face value and then to use their specialized training to make acceptable inferences.

Forensic pathologists rarely review cases without the body and the related physical evidence. But that is exactly what happened in the several official reviews of this case—no body, no brain, or even tissue slides were available. The evidence for a single posterior headshot rested almost solely on photographs, and to a lesser extent on X-rays, the same photographs and X-rays that have now been challenged on nearly every imaginable ground and that have also raised serious questions (such as the location of the wounds) in the minds of all three autopsy pathologists.


During a four-hour meeting in Monterey, California, on 19 February 2000 (attended by several independent investigators, including a private detective 22), I obtained responses to several critical questions, specifically and independently, both from Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., and from Michael M. Baden, M.D. Both had previously served on the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, which Baden chaired. Both men are internationally respected in forensic science; many readers will recall seeing Baden on the stand during the O.J. Simpson trial. 23

Their responses are contained in the following statements. To review a case based solely on photographic and X-ray evidence—without the body or the brain—as was repeatedly done in this case, is distinctly unusual in forensic pathology. Furthermore, these experts do not receive special training in the identification of altered photographs or of altered X-rays, nor are they typically asked to determine whether a brain is authentic (by DNA analysis, for example) before deriving conclusions from it.

In any case, for the subsequent forensic reviews of the JFK evidence, the brain, which is the most important evidence of all, had been missing since at least October 1966. In summary, doubts about authenticity are almost inconceivable during the lifetime of an ordinary forensic specialist. But for the JFK case, these issues of authenticity are absolutely central. In fact, it is quite probable that there is no other case as extreme as this in the annals of forensic medicine. A modern democracy has never had to confront a potentially explosive situation quite like this before. I have described what havoc a much simpler case of forged documents played in the national history of France (Addendum 3).

So historians, to their enormous discomfiture, confront a truly alien situation; they must not only become familiar with fields quite foreign to their training, but, in order to recognize forgeries, they must, in a sense, become even more expert than the experts themselves. It is surely no small surprise that no well-known historian has stepped forward to volunteer for such a daunting task. Much easier, and much more common, has been the path of authors such as John Kaplan, Professor at the Stanford University Law School, who accepted the evidence in this case at face value ("The Case of the Grassy Knoll: the Romance of Conspiracy," in Winks 1968, pp. 371–419).

Although Kaplan's article is inevitably dated (written years before the HSCA), it is still an instructive example. Out of curiosity, I carefully combed his essay for items in dispute at present. Confining myself strictly to the medical and scientific evidence (although many Oswald evidence items are also in dispute), I counted no fewer than twenty to thirty medical statements—depending on the selection criteria employed, which have no credibility today. In view of this, it is scarcely a surprise that agreement has been impossible to obtain in this case. Kaplan and I would not even know where to begin a conversation.


History has generously provided analogous cases in which new evidence has dramatically reversed the earlier verdict of history. Previous authors 24 have cited the French character assassination of Alfred Dreyfus (between 1894 and 1906) for its similarity to the JFK assassination. Indeed, because of its many lessons, I have summarized this case in Addendum 3. Based on forged documents, Dreyfus was convicted of passing French military secrets to the Germans. The most obvious feature of both controversies was their stubborn unwillingness to die. Each was a chronic, festering wound in the body politic, though the Dreyfus affair was settled much more quickly.

The three successive Dreyfus trials are paralleled by the three American inquiries into Kennedy's murder: the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), and the ARRB. 25 In the Dreyfus case there was a proven patsy, while in the JFK case; Oswald claimed to be a patsy, a claim that is accepted by many independent investigators today. The silencing of witnesses in the JFK case (often at perspicuous moments) was paralleled by the silencing of Picquart, furthermore, just as Oswald was probably framed 26 by (or at the behest of) government agents, so also government operatives framed Dreyfus.

In both cases, the resistance of the governments to opening their secret files was exceptional. This astonishing tenacity—even after 35 years in the JFK matter—persisted during the ARRB's attempts to obtain records, first by the CIA and the FBI, 27 but later by the US Air Force, the Secret Service, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). 28 [Editor's note: The Secret Service even destroyed Presidential protection survey reports after the ARRB requested them; see the Prolog, "Smoking Gun #14".] Some investigators believe that Oswald had worked for ONI; that ONI was extremely interested in Oswald is not in doubt. 29 In the French case, public sentiment against the Jews deflected suspicion from the real offenders, whereas, in the American case, public fear of communism threw suspicion upon Oswald. Dreyfus was convicted without due process of law (his attorney could not see the evidence), whereas Oswald had no effective legal representation, and was ultimately convicted (after his death) by the Warren Commission's prosecutorial brief.

Another such example is the affair of the destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin (1964), which led to what was, in effect, an American declaration of war on Vietnam. 30 It was only later widely recognized that no shots had been fired at the Maddox, and that the radar operators had panicked after seeing ghosts on their screens. Kenneth Davis quotes Stanley Karnow (Vietnam: A History 1983): "Even Johnson privately expressed doubts only a few days after the second attack supposedly took place, confiding to an aide, 'Hell, those dumb stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish.'" (Davis, Don't Know Much About History 1995, p. 371). It was eventually discovered that the Tonkin Gulf resolution itself had been prepared two months before the Maddox affair (Davis 1995, p. 371; Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States 1999, pp. 476–477). As Walt Rostow admitted after the Congressional vote on the resolution, "We don't know what happened, but it had the desired result" (Davis 1995, p. 372).

A third example of the power of new evidence—scientific in this case—is the Sally Heming's affair. For nearly two centuries, historians flatly denied that Thomas Jefferson could have engaged in an affair with a slave. Dumas Malone, who spent forty years writing a multivolume biography, had even denounced this story as "filth" and "virtually unthinkable in a man of Jefferson's moral standards" (Malone, Jefferson, the Virginian, 1948). But new evidence ("Jefferson fathered slave's last child," Nature 396: 27; 5 November 1998) has led to a dramatically different view, even by mainstream historians. That this turnabout could occur after totally opposite statements from the authorities shows once again the fallibility of historians, or for that matter, any human disagreement in which the evidence is limited. (A)

Even physicists have had to recant some theories of their own in the face of new evidence, while Stephen Jay Gould regales us with stories of paleontologists who still find surprises in the fossil record. An example is the recent discovery that bees appeared at least 100 million years before flowering plants (Dinosaur in a Haystack 1995. p. 105). In history, especially, new evidence may emerge at any time, but particularly so on matters within the memory of those still living, and such evidence may totally reverse the previous judgments of history. The limited view of the past still available to us in surviving documents, recollections, artifacts, and inscriptions has been strongly emphasized by historians Carl L. Becker ("What is Evidence? The Relativist View—'Everyman His Own Historian,'" in Winks 1968, pp. 6-7) and R. G. Collingwood ("The Pleasures of Doubt: Re-enacting the Crime—'The Limits of Historical Knowledge,'" in Winks 1968, pp. 514–517).

A fourth example—one that again demonstrates the power of collective human memory (analogous to Thomas Jefferson's black descendants)—was presented on public television by Nova (WGBN of Boston) on 23 February 2000: "Are the Lembas of southern Africa one of the 'The Lost Tribes of Israel'?" New DNA analysis has demonstrated that males from Jewish families named Cohen (or Cohane), by Jewish tradition descended from the priestly line of Aaron (the brother of Moses), have a greater than 50% incidence of a particular Y-chromosome marker (the Cohen modal haplotype) that only 10% of the general Jewish male population possesses. The black Lemba tribe of Zimbabwe, a tribe with long traditions as Jews (proscription of pork, circumcision, yarmulkes, prayer shawls, Semitic names, and ritual slaughter with knives that boys keep for life-long use) also demonstrate about the same 10% incidence of these same Y-chromosome markers as layman (non-Cohen) Jews, a figure that is much higher than for non-Jewish groups. Particularly striking, though, was the unusually high (nearly 50%) incidence of the Cohen model haplotype in an elite subclan of the Lemba, known as the Buba. This new scientific evidence requires a reassessment of these traditional—and initially incredible—claims of the Lemba as descendants of the lost tribes. (Lemba traditions also recall that their ancestors founded the "Great Zimbabwe," built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries A.D.) These new scientific data provide more support for the validity of collective human memory and also furnish additional support for the reliability of eyewitnesses' recall of specific kinds of events. In a more general sense, though, this episode raises questions about the possible historical roots of other so-called myths. Other examples of myths turning into reality include the work of Heinrich Schliemann (Troy), Sir Leonard Wooley (Ur), and Sir Arthur Evans (Minos).

New evidence from World War II, for example, includes the probable murder of Hitler by his own staff (Hugh Thomas, 31 The Murder of Adolph Hitler: the Truth about the Bodies in the Bunker 1995) and FDR's foreknowledge (and perhaps even deliberate provocation) of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit 2000). 32 The latter is based on numerous, recently released documents under the Freedom of Information Act that Stinnett dug out, and also by new interviews that he conducted with still-living protagonists in this matter. If the JFK controversy is considered to be long-lived, though, then it might usefully be compared to the Pearl Harbor controversy, which has already occasioned nine official investigations. Although the final judgment of history is still open on these issues from World War II, this new information will require further serious debate and has thepotential again to alter our view of history. (B)

In the realm of literature, Richard Altick ("The Scholar Adventurers," 1950, reprinted in Winks 1968, pp. 108-126) has reminded us of how much new material has emerged in the history of English literature and in the biographies of many of its principals, even in the recent past. In this sense, the past, at least as we view it from the present, is not fixed but rather is ever changing. In fact, the closer to the present an event lies, the more likely it is to change (in interpretation, and even in its basic facts) at some future date. Furthermore, the full implications of a given event may take years, decades, or even longer, to be fully evident. The American Declaration of Independence (whose writing Jefferson deemed less important at the time than his work on the Virginia constitution) is surely a good example of this, its full implications becoming clear only as the decades passed. Consider, for example, the Confederacy's view of this document during the Civil War. These may well be reasons why standard textbooks ignore so much recent American history, an issue that is discussed immediately below.

My former field of physics is crammed with similar examples of new evidence that overturned old theories. For example, classical physics had predicted that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by a black body (an object that absorbs all of the radiation that strikes it) would be infinite at higher frequencies, an absurd result that was appropriately dubbed the "ultraviolet catastrophe." This seemingly simple phenomenon could not be explained by classical physics. Max Planck initiated a thoroughly radical revolution, quantum physics in October 1900 when he derived the correct formula for this effect. It still remains curious that such a seemingly simple effect was the catalyst for twentieth century physics.


Any future historian who risks discussing the assassination, or any of the issues that surround it, without mastering the core evidence of the assassination—including these issues of authenticity—will hazard gross error and distortion. Yet these events are essential to our understanding of 20th Century; lists of the century's major events typically include the JFK assassination. If this is indeed a major event, but our history textbooks will not offer even a reasoned hypothesis on who killed an American President, then what purpose do they serve? And if assassination related issues are simply avoided, even including those related to the proximate causes of the war in Vietnam, then a black hole has invaded our own history.

For example, both John M. Newman (Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power 1992) and Robert McNamara (McNamara, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam 1995, pp. 95–96) argue strongly that JFK would not have involved the US in such a war. Even John Connally, one of LBJ's oldest and closest friends, supports this interpretation (Connally, In History's Shadow: An American Odyssey 1993 p. 358). Comments by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (in Robert Brent Toplin, ed., "Nixon," Oliver Stones' USA: Film, History, and Controversy) and documents released by the ARRB also support this conclusion (Probe, March/April 1998). 33 Finally, a new book by David Kaiser (American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000) describes the war as a pivotal event in American history and as the greatest policy miscalculation in the history of American foreign relations. Kaiser also emphasizes that JFK, often alone, resisted the policies he had inherited from Eisenhower and that he especially resisted involvement in Southeast Asia. This evasion of the JFK assassination, and its aftermath, by historians cannot last forever. Like the physical universe, history also abhors a vacuum.

James Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me 1995, pp. 233–247) has pointed out the distinction made by many African societies between the remote past (the zamani) and the recent past (the sasha). The former lies beyond the memory of anyone still alive, whereas the latter lies within the memory of the living. One of Loewen's charges is that history textbooks, in general, leave a huge gap in the recent past. Loewen suggests that the authors simply lack the courage to discuss controversial subjects—subjects on whom their adult readers, who lived through the events, might well have strong views of their own. For the JFK assassination, this concern is more powerful than for any other subject; in fact, not even Loewen discusses it! In another history book that is somewhat outside the mainstream (Davis 1995, pp. 364–367), supporters of the lone gunman theory are given serious credibility, while critics are given, at most, a demeaning pat on the rear. Yet another history tome that is somewhat off the beaten path (Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States 1999) solves this entire problem with ease. Although Zinn 34 provides a refreshing review of too often neglected, albeit important, events in American history, when it comes to the JFK assassination—one of the twentieth century's major events and one of history's greatest mysteries—the admirable Zinn opts for total silence.


C. S. Lewis 35 relates the tale of the woman who saw a ghost but who still refused to believe in the immortal soul (Miracles: A Preliminary Study 1947, p. 7). Arnold Toynbee (A Study of History 1973, p. 486) has articulated a similar concept: "Facts, then, cannot come into existence without the good offices of an hypothesis." These two British authors have proposed the same idea: if one's worldview does not have room for a specific concept then the evidence for that concept remains invisible. This same theme runs through several works in historiography such as those by Barbara Tuchman (Practicing History: Selected Essays 1982, pp. 13–32), Ernst Breisart (Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern, 1983 pp. 326–336), and David Hackett Fischer (Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought 1970, p. 4).

Fischer describes this issue as the Baconian fallacy, to wit, the idea that an historian can work without preconceived hypotheses: "He is supposed to go a- wandering in the dark forest of the past, gathering facts like nuts and berries, until he has enough to make a general truth." 36 For the most definitive statement of this principle, however, I can do no better than to quote Carl Becker:

Left to themselves, the facts do not speak; left to themselves they do not exist, not really, since for all practical purposes there are no facts until someone affirms it. The least the historian can do with any historical fact is to select and affirm it. To select and affirm even the simplest complex of facts is to give them a certain place in a certain pattern of ideas, and this alone is sufficient to give them a special meaning... It is thus not the undiscriminated fact, but the perceiving mind of the historian that speaks ("What is Evidence?" in Winks 1968, pp. 18–19).

Preceding Lewis, Toynbee, Fischer, and Becker in identifying this logical concept, though, were two other giants of intellectual history, Charles Darwin and Immanuel Kant. Stephen Jay Gould quotes Darwin as follows:

About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize; I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel pit and count the pebbles and describe the colors. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service! (Gould 1995, p. 148)

Even before Darwin's quotation, Kant, in a famous quip cited by Gould (p. 148), noted that concepts without percepts are empty, whereas percepts without concepts are blind. I have therefore re-labeled this fundamental insight as "The Law of Facts and Frameworks." All of these writers have recognized the same idea, namely: that information cannot function as evidence when it lies beyond a conceptual framework.

If data speak most clearly when they lie within a specific framework (and are correspondingly silent when they do not), then the example par excellence—of how to employ highly selected data and simultaneously to disregard all discordant data—must be The Warren Report. As a corollary, data that did not lie within the framework of the Commission's preordained conclusions were buried. Such data must now, almost literally, be dug up from the ground to see the light of day. My companion medical essay provides an alternative model, one that encompasses a much greater range of evidence in this case. Long silent data ignored by the Commission (often without explanation) begin, at last, to find their voices.


Regarding the death throes of old theories, such as (in my view) The Warren Report, Gould has offered a deep insight:

We say, in our mythology, that old theories die when new observations derail them. But too often—I would say usually— theories act as straitjackets to channel observations toward their support and to forestall potentially refuting data. Such theories cannot be rejected from within, 37 for we will not conceptualize the disproving observations… We escape by importing a new theory and by making the different kinds of observations that any novel outlook must suggest. (Gould 1995, p. 151)

Gould then illustrates his insight with Luis and 'Walter Alvarez's 38 proposal (1979) that an asteroid or comet caused the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs. As Gould notes, this proposal has won increasing support in the intervening two decades.

Warren Commission supporters have generously illustrated Gould's concept of a theory in decline—these devotees have been remarkably creative at bending any disagreeable fact to fit the framework of The Warren Report. Blakey and Wrone (cited above) have caustically assented to this conclusion, viewing these writers as tied up in straitjackets. The critiques by Weisberg and Scott (also cited below)—and of other authors not cited here—illustrate many more examples of such Procrustean fact bending. Even worse, though, sometimes these disciples are so committed to their hypothesis that evidence that grossly violates their worldview cannot even be seen, such as when Posner describes the limousine stop, a conclusion that would immediately prove alteration of the Zapruder film (Posner 1993, p. 234). 39 Most assuredly, this conclusion would be quickly denied with revulsion by 'Posner himself were it brought to his attention.

The JFK assassination may also be the best historical example of disparate facts that make no sense at all within a particular logical structure (the one erected by the Warren Commission), but which suddenly become luminous when seen through the lens of an alternate hypothesis. Examples are the bullets that several witnesses either saw or heard strike Elm Street. Their reports are included in the Warren Commission's 26 volumes of supporting evidence, but are totally ignored and never explained in the 888-page report itself. Other examples are the 6.5 mm "bullet" cross section at the back of the head on the JFK skull X-rays, an object that no one reported until 1968, or the very long list of apparently disparate facts that suddenly fell into place when Douglas P. Horne proposed two separate examinations of two different brains on two different dates.40 The explanatory power of the new paradigm is striking, embarrassingly so when compared to the old one (The Warren Report). The number of old, previously ignored, facts that suddenly come alive, like Pinocchio, is astonishing. The examples cited in this paragraph are merely a small cross section of the entire case.

The reverse situation—that of a previously missing concept (and the supporting facts that were overlooked)—is Jared Diamond's recent Pulitzer Prize winning opus, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) in which he brilliantly proposes a general theory, based largely on evolutionary biology, of the rise and fall of human societies. The facts that support his proposal have been known for some time, but the disparate nature of the evidence—much of it lying outside of the traditional boundaries of historical research—meant that these facts were invisible until the proper hypothesis was advanced.

Detective fiction provides many similar illustrations: the critical forensic facts cannot be recognized until the correct hypothesis is advanced (R. G. Collingwood, "Who Killed John Doe? The Problem of Testimony from The Idea of History" in Winks 1968 pp. 39–60) in a very real sense, Toynbee is correct: if facts have no meaning within a larger context, there is a sense in which these facts do not exist at all. Until they fall into place within a logical structure (a theory or hypothesis) they have no life of their own and eventually they may disappear completely.

Historians will have trouble with this case for the above reasons as well— there is simply no historical precedent of this magnitude, i.e., a case in which so much of the physical evidence has either been altered or deliberately made deceptive. Although cases of forged documents, occasionally of forged physical evidence, or even of photographs, 41 can be cited, there is no comparable case in which such extensive suspicion is warranted, let alone proved. In this sense, too, historians will be entering strange waters. They will find themselves almost rudderless. If this were some obscure area of history it would be one matter, but this is different; like downtown Manhattan, the entire area has already been thoroughly explored—and staked out. Historians are much more accustomed to entering a virgin terra incognito where their footsteps are the only fresh ones (or nearly the only fresh ones). How different this will be for them; it is likely that this thought, too, has frightened them from entering the fray. Scores of self-designated experts lurk behind the nearest shrubs with glee, eagerly hoping to throw daggers into the backs of these newly arriving historians or to catch them in some unsuspecting trap. Such a stimulating setting will seem like an extraterrestrial encounter to the historian, who is, more often than not, a civilized explorer, not an adventurer into well traveled territories that contain heavily armed and warring factions.


Perhaps, though, this ancient glacier of silence (about the post-assassination cover-up) is beginning to melt a bit. For his recent book, Michael Parenti (History as Mystery 2000), drawing extensively from the synthesis of Gary L. Aguilar, M.D., has described the misrepresentations of Gerald Posner. (See also Harrison Livingston, Killing Kennedy 1995, Chapter 7.) That this discussion occurs in a book that is not solely devoted to the JFK assassination is also a good sign. Heretofore, virtually all discussions of the JFK murder have occurred in a kind of vacuum, almost as if the events had transpired on Mars. But the more the assassination and the attendant cover-up are seen as merely another chapter in American history, the better we shall all understand it, not to mention related historical events, and the more likely it is to appear in standard history textbooks. By writing about it in this fashion, Parenti has done us a great service.

Historian David Wrone has also entered the arena. He has written about the Zapruder film ("The Zapruder Film. A Brief History with Comments," 1997) and co-authored The Assassination of JFK: Comprehensive Historical and Legal Bibliography (1980). He has also described the waywardness of Gerald Posner. Regarding Posner's misdeeds, in particular, the media have been astonishingly silent. But this is not hard to understand. Since the death of David Belin, a fervent believer in the lone gunman theory, the media, like the ancient Philistines, have had no comparable champion to match up against the David's (there are literally many) on the other side in this case.

Michael L. Kurtz, a professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University, has taught a course on the assassination for several decades, and has published peer-reviewed articles, such as "The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: A Historical Perspective," The Historian 45 (1992), pp. 1–19, as well as a thoughtful and detailed book in several editions (Crime of the Century: the Kennedy Assassination from a Historian's Perspective 1993). Kurtz himself is also proof that the medical and scientific evidence is well within the grasp of the historian who makes a serious effort to master it. His book also provides a great deal of historical background for the probable forces at work in the assassination. His book deserves to be widely read by historians.

Three more books should be added to this short list: (1) Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1985); (2) John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (1995); and (3) Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993). 42 Although Hurt initially expected to find convincing evidence that Oswald had acted alone, his research forced him to conclude that the evidence actually pointed away from Oswald. He now believes that the assassination led to a pervasive transfer of power and brought about profound changes in America.

Newman is both an historian 43 and a twenty-year former military intelligence officer with the National Security Agency. He employs new interviews with highly placed officials and newly released documents to show Oswald through the eyes of the intelligence community. The Oswald connection takes Newman into the agency's most secret elements, including the Soviet Russia Division, Angleton's ultra-secret Counterintelligence Special Investigation Group, and the Special Affairs Staff's anti-Cuban operations.

Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and current professor of English at U.C Berkeley, believes that JFK's death was not just an isolated case, but was rather a symptom of hidden and deeper processes in domestic and international policies. He goes on to identify the "structural defects" within the US government that first permitted the crime to occur and then to go unpunished. He argues that the JFK assassination has enduring relevance even today because these deep structural defects have still not been corrected. Mainstream historians never cite any of these books, if they have even read them.


A traditional view has it that history cannot be predicted (Barbara Tuchman, Practicing History: Selected Essays 1981, p. 249), that historians find it difficult enough to explain events after the fact, let alone before it. Jared Diamond, however, has challenged that view, at least for certain situations. He has amassed an amazing quantity and variety of evidence, largely from evolutionary biology, to explain the fates of human societies, beginning with the rise of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent. He has furthermore challenged historians to "…develop human history as a science, on a par with the acknowledged historical sciences such as astronomy, geology, and evolutionary biology." (Guns, Germs, and Steel 1997, p. 408). At the same time, however, Diamond acknowledges that individual events—and their subsequent impact on history—cannot be predicted. For example: If Churchill had been killed as a pedestrian in 1931 by a New York taxi driver (Robert Cowley, Editor, What If: the World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been 1999, pp. 306–307) or if Hitler had been killed during a 1930 traffic accident (Diamond 1997, pp. 419–420), history would have followed a different path. Similarly, if the peace loving Kaiser Frederick III of Prussia had not smoked cigars 44 (Alfred Jay Bollet, "Smoking and Cancer in the 19th Century," Resident and Staff Physician, August 1997, pp. 45–47) he might have ruled longer than 99 days in 1888, thus preventing his arrogant and militaristic son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, from aggravating tensions before World War I. Curiously, Wilhelm II had his own encounter with a cigar in 1889 (the year of Hitler's birth), when Annie Oakley came to Berlin. Annie was stunned when the Kaiser publicly volunteered to puff on a cigar while she shot it with her Colt. Not daring to risk a major loss of face, and wishing that she had had less alcohol the night before, she took aim and blew his ashes away (Cowley 1999, pp. 290-291). After World War I began, Annie began to realize that she had made a mistake; after the war was over she wrote to the Kaiser, asking for a second shot, but he never replied!

My own analogy is that evolutionary biology, which Diamond used to make his astonishing predictions, is like statistical mechanics. Based on physical interactions among large numbers of submicroscopic particles, powerful predictions can be made, but about a unique atom or an individual molecule— like a single human being—nothing useful can be predicted. Likewise, if Diamond is correct, successful predictions are sometimes possible for selected human societies, just as they are for large collections of particles.

For the prediction of post-assassination cover-ups, however, by analogy to individual atoms and molecules, the historian is quite helpless, unless he just happens to interview one of the perpetrators at the right moment and this individual is willing to talk! For the JFK assassination, no one (possibly excepting the initial perpetrators) could have predicted the turns and twists through which this case would pass before finally reaching its present denouement. It is only within the past several years, and especially since the new releases by the ARRB, that the contours of this unique case have arisen, like the Sphinx, from the sands of history.

It may be, however, that Diamond would wish to suggest more work for the historians—for example, that certain historical milieus predict for certain outcomes. At the time of the JFK assassination, for example, the climate in America was one of fear of international communism; in retrospect, the moral environment within the government condoned the overthrow of foreign leaders, or even their assassination; and the intelligence establishment was becoming autonomous. Regarding this last point, Arthur Krock, 45 the Washington correspondent for The New York Times, had written:

The CIA's growth was "likened to a malignancy" which even the "very high official was not sure even the White House could control any longer. If the United States ever experiences [an attempt at a coup to overthrow the Government] (sic) it will come from the CIA and not the Pentagon." The agency "represents a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone." ("In the Nation: The Intra- Administration War in Viet Nam," 3 October 1963, p. 34.)

Does a constellation of symptoms such as this, perhaps with several others added to the mix, predict that a nation is ripe for either an assassination or some other major violation of its traditional ethical norms? Not being a historian, it is not my place to make this argument, but perhaps historians should examine such issues. 46


The French have long been famous for their Gallic sense of superiority, which they so disastrously demonstrated during the Franco-Prussian war—by wearing their traditional pantaloons rouge (for the last time). Fischer (1970, p. 6) reviews the work of the distinguished French historian, Fustel de Coulanges (1830-1889), whose students applauded him after a lecture, to which he responded with the famous line: "Do not applaud me. It is not I who speaks to you, but history which speaks through my mouth." According to Fischer, Fustel was convinced that he had diminished the national French bias that had so marred the writing of his chauvinistic colleagues—but (according to Fischer) he had merely disguised it. In his major work, written immediately after the Franco-Prussian war, his (Fustel's) main point was to minimize the Teutonic influence that other scholars had discovered in the development of French and English institutions. But just as Fischer named a historical disease (Carr's disease) after an English scholar, so also Germany does not escape his sarcasm. He censures German historicism (Fischer 1970, p. 156), especially the "nasty idea that whatever was becoming, is right." Given this view, he notes that Germany's downward descent into Nazism was a natural evolution. But Fischer does not stop there—he aims a barb at the more modern notion of "Top Nations," of whom the US is now foremost:

Something of the fallacy of ethical historicism appears in the absurd and dangerous idea that America's rise to power and prosperity is a measure of its moral excellence—that the history of the Republic can be seen, in short, as a system of morality. How many of us have not, at some time, silently slipped into this error. 47

Indeed, the adjective, "glorious," in the title of Graff's history text—America: The Glorious Republic—is an illustration of this error. A prior expression of this superior American attitude was manifest destiny (Norman Graebner, editor, Manifest Destiny 1968), an attitude usually attributed to the 1840's, but which was presaged by the European-American treatment of its native peoples almost as soon as Columbus met the Arawak's, carried on at Acoma, New Mexico (1599), continued by slave trading Pilgrims of New England, maintained during the Pequot War of 1636-37, and particularly polished during the subjugation of the civilized Cherokees by Andrew Jackson and Chief Justice John Marshall (Loewen 1995, pp. 91–129). C

The 1840's saw the annexation of California and the western territories after the Mexican-American War, a war opposed by Abraham Lincoln (then in Congress) and by Henry David Thoreau. This expansionist attitude culminated with American tacit assent to the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii in 1893 (followed by American annexation), and the (still controversial) sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor (February 1898), which ignited the Spanish-American War. 48 This latter led directly to the Philippine incursion, including massive American strikes against civilians, while Filipinos fought back against America's unwanted hegemony, in the process killing 5000 Americans, an episode all but forgotten by Americans today. All of these episodes personify the American arrogance of power—an arrogance that derived at least in part from America's fundamental presumption of moral superiority. More recent American excursions, partly based on this same historical tradition, include Vietnam, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Iraq, Grenada, Africa, Cuba, the Balkans, and others all too familiar.

The JFK assassination is yet one more example of America's sense of moral superiority. In Europe, especially, this tragedy was immediately recognized as a probable conspiracy; indeed, a domestic conspiracy was quickly suspected. Two of the most outspoken of these foreign observers were Hugh Trevor-Roper and Bertrand Russell, certainly no dim intellectual lights. [Editors' note: Russell's essay on this subject appears elsewhere in this volume.] Meanwhile in France, Leo Sauvage, a reporter for Le Figaro, published The Oswald Affair in March 1965, only six months after The Warren Report. (In fact, Sauvage had completed his book a year earlier, but his New York publisher reneged on its signed contract after The Warren Report was published.) Europeans have a much longer sense of history, having seen all too many powerful leaders toppled in one country after another, often by conspiracy. 49

If the American media are to be believed, only in America do such things not happen. In fact, this attitude toward the JFK assassination is one of the best examples of America's sense of moral superiority, 50 an attitude held primarily now by the ruling elite, and often seen at both the left and right ends of the political spectrum. Thomas Sowell has captured the sense of moral superiority felt by the left:

What a vision may offer, and what the prevailing vision of our time emphatically does offer, is a special state of grace for those who believe in it. Those who accept this vision are deemed to be not merely factually correct but morally on a higher plane. Put differently, those who disagree with the prevailing vision are seen as being not merely in error, but in sin. (The Vision of the Anointed 1995, pp. 1–6)

Joseph Epstein adds: "Disagree with someone on the left and he is more likely to think you selfish, a sell-out, insensitive, possibly evil" ("True Virtue," New York Times Magazine, 24 November 1985, p. 95). On the other hand, the deep- rooted moral superiority felt by the right against the left scarcely needs to be noted. Gary North summarizes this position:

They [the conspirators of the left] "breathe together" against God and God's law, and also against all those who are faithful to God... Thus, the conspirators are at war against Western Civilization. It outrages them. (Larry Abraham, Call It Conspiracy 1985, p. xi)

The plebeians are expected to accept the pronouncements of the anointed— namely that America has been granted a special exemption from the devious misdeeds of other nations—such that the conspiracies of other countries cannot possibly infect America. A short list of such foreign examples (in modern times) includes the unsuccessful attempts on Hitler and DE Gaulle, and the successful assassinations of Rajiv Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, Luis Colosio, 51 and Salvador Allende. The plot against FDR 52 and the assassination attempt on Truman 53 are, of course, never mentioned. Ironically, this iconoclastic attitude persists despite the fact that America is one of the easiest places in the world to be murdered. Moreover, the rest of the world ridicules this fallacy of American moral superiority.

The notion that America is stamped from a special mold—one that imparts a nearly indestructible guarantee against political assassinations on its own turf— is perceived as preposterous elsewhere. This parochial attitude among Americans has recently leaped to the fore again—in archeology of all places. As the JFK assassination did for its warring factions, so also the question of the earliest known New World sites of humans has recently raised the emotions of archeologists around the world (to a fever pitch in some places) and has deeply divided them. Americans insist that their sites in North America (usually with Clovis, New Mexico, brands of stone tools) are the oldest, while specialists in Europe tend to side with South American researchers who claim distinctly older sites on their own continent.


Becker suggested (Winks 1968, p. 7): "History is the memory of things said and done," while Carr stated: "History is the record of what happened." If these are reasonable definitions, then history cannot be the story of what did not occur. Such accounts do not belong in the nonfiction section of our libraries, but should be consigned to the fiction section, as some wags have proposed for The Warren Report. Winks has also noted: "There have always been many historians who were more concerned that truth should be on their side than that they should be on the side of truth"—a dictum that might reasonably have been applied to Gerald Ford at the moment that he elevated JFK's back wound into the neck (in order to resuscitate the single bullet theory)—without any supporting medical data and without prior consent from the pathologists.

Fischer (1970, p. 315) affirms that a primary purpose of historical scholarship is to help a people (or a nation) achieve self-knowledge, in the way that a psychoanalyst seeks to help a patient. Surely part of that goal is the stripping away of unrealistic illusions. But what shall we say about those historians, such as those whom Winks cites above, who do not try to strip away our national illusions? If these illusions persist, how then shall we address the pervasive and deeply structural problems of America—for example, illusions about the morality of our involvement in certain foreign wars and in many foreign interventions, illusions about our treatment of native Americans and of our black citizens, illusions about our treatment of our underclass in general, illusions about the myth of upward mobility, and illusions about the pervasive nature of bribery and corruption at most levels of American society?

If historians will not address the JFK assassination, not only do they abort the self-understanding that Fischer had wanted for them, but also something even more significant follows. According to Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt (1985), a pervasive transfer of power occurred after the assassination, while Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), advises us that these deep "structural defects" still persist within the American government. John Newman, JFK and Vietnam (1992), makes a powerful case that the US could have escaped the war in Vietnam had JFK not been killed. All of these are deeply serious charges—charges that historians have largely ignored. By preserving their silence, historians risk becoming culpable in these charges. Such culpability, if granted, would go well beyond a mere evasion of self-understanding.

If key individuals in the US government, including some in very high positions, participated in the subsequent cover-up (in altering the medical evidence, for example)—then these silent historians have, in effect, functioned as accessories after the fact. This is a very serious charge, but the historians' abandonment of this matter can hardly lead to any other conclusion. A defense for they're past behavior, however, may reasonably be offered, one to which I am not unsympathetic. Previously, the available information for conspiracy, though strong, was still growing and the pronouncements of the media made it difficult for historians to Part Company from The Warren Report. But that era is long gone. It is now time for historians to distance themselves from the journalists, and from the remainder of the media, as well.

The journalists—in fact, the entire media—must relinquish their stranglehold on this case. Regarding these primary guardians of the lone gunman theory, Barbie Zelizer 54 has indicted them:

…Journalism has not required the trappings of professionalism: many journalists do not readily read journalism textbooks, attend journalism schools, or enroll in training programs (J. Johnstone, E. Slawski, and W. Bowman, The News People 1976). Codes of journalistic behavior are not written down, codes of ethics remain largely nonexistent, and most journalists reject licensing procedures (Clement Jones, Mass Media Codes of Ethics and Councils 1980; Robert Schmuhl, The Responsibilities of Journalism 1984). Journalists are also indifferent to professional associations, and the largest professional association—the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Chi—claims as members only 17% of American journalists. Journalists act as members of a professional association in only a limited sense. (Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory 1992, p. 6)

Ronald F. White, 55 who holds a Ph.D. in history, concurs with this narrow view of journalism as a profession:

…By Kuhnian standards, journalism does not necessarily possess the institutional foundations necessary for the cultivation of expertise… Even more serious is the fact that journalism lacks a subject matter upon which expertise can be attributed. (Assassination Science 1998, p. 403)

The role of the media in contemporary American society has been well summarized by Paul Weaver:

The media are less a window on reality than a stage on which officials and journalists perform self-scripted, self-serving fictions. ("Selling the Story," The York Times, 29 July 1994, p. A13)

Two other authors on my bookshelves who are extremely critical of the role of the media in contemporary American society are:

a) Pulitzer Prize winning author, Ben H. Bagdikian (The Media Monopoly 1992)

b) Noam Chomsky (Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies 1989).

Bagdikian has warned about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising, while Chomsky argues that the press no longer serves as advocates of free speech and democracy but rather are the servants of the moneyed corporations. Most importantly, for our understanding of media coverage of the JFK assassination (in my view), Chomsky claims that journalists entering the system cannot make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures. [Editor's note: Yet Chomsky persists in regarding conspiracy theories as romantic illusions in the case of JFK, which allows him as well to disregard the serious obligations that an understanding of this event poses.]

The judgments of the media about the JFK case—almost the sole opinions currently accepted on the American scene—implicitly include conclusions on highly technical and professional subjects, including anatomy, medicine, radiology, ballistics, forensic science, trajectories, neutron activation analysis and more. When have journalists mastered all of this expertise? Furthermore, what knowledge do journalists have of altered or misleading photographs, forged X-rays, and substituted brains?

Have any of them read any of the thousands of pages of new releases from the ARRB, or even The Warren Report itself, let alone the twelve HSCA volumes? These critical questions cannot simply be left to one of the most amateur of professions in America 56—but for nearly forty years that is precisely what has happened. On the contrary, historians, who belong to a long-standing profession with an authentic knowledge base, must now begin their own research. They can no longer rely on amateurs. Amateur hour is over.

After all, on what other historical matter would historians offer obeisance to the media? For example, would Stephen Ambrose have permitted Dan Rather (a frequent commentator on the JFK assassination) to set the agenda for his compelling account of D-Day or for his engaging chronicle of Lewis and Clark? Or would David Herbert Donald have allowed even Walter Cronkite (a pundit on Oswald's supposedly miraculous hit) to outline his insightful biography of Lincoln? These are transparently absurd notions, even for historians, yet this is exactly what has happened in the JFK assassination. These remarkable new ARRB revelations—particularly in the medical evidence, but also those that pertain to Oswald—now leave historians with no legitimate excuses. These matters lie beyond the capability of anchormen on the evening news, to say nothing of the common journalist. It is time for the JFK assassination to be taken seriously by historians. One of the greatest events of the 20th century deserves more than snide remarks and sly snickers, or the culpable acquiescence of portentous silence. Historians have some serious work to do.


After I had written the above passage, I began to browse through my personal collection of history books looking for further historical insights into this case. Within a few seconds, to my complete amazement, my eyes alighted upon several paragraphs by Herbert Butterfield in a paperback that I had purchased before the assassination. I was astonished by how perfectly Butterfield had captured the essence of the historians' present plight. It was as though he had seen into the future and had written these words explicitly for the present essay—and especially to describe the workings of the Warren Commission. The words are timeless, though they were first delivered at the request of the Divinity Faculty at the University of Cambridge in Michaelmas term 1948, as follows:

The only appropriate analogy to the authentic work of historical reconstruction is the case of the detective working out the solution of a crime problem in a conventional work of fiction. At the first stage you have the stupid inspector from Scotland Yard who sees all the obvious clues, falls into all the traps, makes all the common sense inferences, and lo! The criminal is self-evident. The whole story of the crime in fact is immediately made clear to us; there is a plausible role in that story for each of the characters concerned; the solution satisfies the mind, or at any rate the mind at a given level; and indeed for this poor Scotland Yard inspector one would say that the study of history ought to be the easiest occupation in the world.

Detective stories may not in other ways be true, but it is the case in human affairs that the same set of clues, envisaged at a higher level of thought, with or without additional evidence—the same set of clues reshaped into a new synthesis by a Sherlock Holmes 57—may produce a new map of the whole affair, an utterly unexpected story to narrate, 58 and possibly even a criminal where in the first place we had never thought to look for one. And the same thing is liable to happen when an historical episode is reconsidered and reconstructed after, say, a century of learned controversy.

In other words, the development of the scientific method in nineteenth century historiography did not merely mean that this or that fact could be corrected, or the story told in greater detail, or the narrative amended at marginal points. It meant that total reconstructions proved to be necessary, as in the detective stories, where a single new fact might turn out to be a pivotal one; and what had been thought to be an accident might transform itself into an entirely different story of murder. 59 In these circumstances, evidence, which had seemed to mean one thing, might prove to be capable of an entirely different construction. 60 (Herbert Butterfield, Christianity and History 1960, pp. 25–27)

Besides the almost frightening prescience and pertinence of these insights for this case, there was another striking feature of these words for me. Butterfield had captured the essence of my own experience. How often—over many years and often deep into the night—had I wrestled with these discordant and prickly facts. At rare intervals, after puzzling over clues that simply would not fit, I would be granted a new hint (perhaps from a colleague who did not appreciate its value) or I might stumble around a corner and unexpectedly alight upon a new vantage point.

On these occasions, I would quickly run back to the primary evidence yet one more time to test a new hypothesis. And sometimes— unexpectedly, and to my great amazement—the pieces finally fit, and I could only wonder how I had missed that particular insight for so long. The fact though is that this case has been so utterly muddled from the beginning (because of the misleading evidence) that it was possible to take only one small step at a time for fear of shortly ending up in a ditch or in a blind alley. I would like to believe that my missteps over the years now permit me—when the cobblestones on the path fit together like old friends—to jog on ahead at times as I survey new evidence.

I cannot leave Butterfield behind though without also offering his opinion on the authors of history textbooks—comments that are directly relevant to our present predicament. These lines appear on Butterfield's very next page:

If historical education gets into the hands of heavy pedagogues, who teach a hard story in a rigid framework and expect it to be memorized, then new depths of unimaginativeness will have been reached, not possible of attainment without an education in history. If men at twenty learn to see events of history in a certain framework, and learn that framework so thoroughly that it remains on their minds in after-years—if they learn it without acquiring imagination and elasticity of mind—then we can say… that by the study of history, a merely probable national disaster can be converted into a one hundred per cent certainty.

That is exactly what has happened in this case. Whereas initially even the media had some doubt 61 about Oswald's guilt, there is now none at all—a one hundred per cent certainty now reigns among the mainstream media and among mainstream historians. 62 Particularly illuminating is the case of one eastern historian, whose early essays seemed to appreciate some paradoxes in this case. His more recent attitude, on the other hand, has been strident and mocking—a contrast to his initial outlook. He has forgotten how, as a younger man, he himself felt about the fundamental uncertainties in this case. In his now hardened position, he is the model of the historian whose mental elasticity has vanished and whose framework has long since been frozen in concrete.

For such elasticity of thought, our only hope would now appear to be a new generation of historians whose eyes have not yet been covered by "the hands of heavy pedagogues." This is not necessarily a severe criticism of this historian, nor is he especially unusual; even Einstein could never accept the full implications of quantum theory. Ironically, it was not for his new theory of relativity, but as a reward for his 1905 groundbreaking work on the photoelectric effect (in quantum mechanics) that he won a Nobel Prize in physics.


Two books from an earlier period of my life are particularly interesting for the light that they shed on a superficially innocent time, but one that, in fact, had a more ominous underlying reality:

a) Fred J. Cook, 63 The Corrupted Land: the Social Morality of Modern America (1966)

b) Walter Goodman, All Honorable Men: Corruption and Compromise in American Life (1963).

Both volumes review the quiz shows of that era. This sorry episode of American history provides a profound, even frightening, insight into the morality of the common man.

In addition, Richard N. Goodwin (the husband of the LBJ biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin) has described his personal conversations, as a Congressional investigator, with Herbie Stempel and with Charles Van Doren. Goodwin recalls a single, chilling episode (regarding a quiz show participant) that may shed more light on the probable state of mind of the post-assassination accomplices in the JFK murder than any other incident I have ever known:

A young, impoverished, poorly briefed, Greenwich Village poet realized, in the middle of his appearance, that he was being asked the identical questions put to him during an earlier private session with a producer. On air, watched by millions of people, he felt compelled to answer, but immediately afterward he accused the production team of fraud and angrily refused to return for his next appearance. He wanted no part of their phony quiz show. The producers were stunned. And they had a right to be. For in my entire investigation, I found no other individual who refused to participate. A man of principle, or a fool [ed.—literally, a Village idiot], he alone sailed against the wind. I don't even remember his name, but I owe him a debt of gratitude, living proof that at least one man could cling to moral principle amid the wonderland of fantasy and greed. (Richard N. Goodwin, Remembering America 1988, pp. 58-59)

What can we expect next in the JFK case? If one thing is certain, it is that the media will not inform the public. Their recent behavior—after a jury reached a conspiracy verdict in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.—only clinches the point. This somewhat surprising verdict received only scant mention in the media. America's newspaper of record, The New York Times (10 December 1999), buried it deep inside that day's edition—on page 25—while the front page carried a story about a new weight loss method used by Chinese women. In the JFK case, a major breakthrough would be just one American history textbook that merely mentioned the possibility of a post-assassination cover-up in the medical evidence. Given the past record of the publishers, though, that is not likely to occur anytime soon.

Nor does the publishers' primary motive of profit provide grounds for optimism. Most likely this troubling new view of history will unfold in books and articles of limited circulation. Eventually, a critical mass of published material will accumulate, sufficient to bring about a thorough transformation of the textbooks and even (this will surely be the last step) the recognition by the media that something went thoroughly wrong in America, not just on 22 November 1963, but also in the tragic days that followed. Perhaps I can even hope that some day my grandchildren, as yet unborn, will no longer be required to listen to such myths in school, but may instead learn authentic American history from those troubling days and nights. I would not even mind if other similar myths were barred from the classroom. Perhaps I, too, am not yet too old to dream.


I, Roger L. McCarthy, having been duly sworn, declare as follows:

1. I am Chief Executive Officer of Failure Analysis, Associates, Inc., (FaAA) which is headquartered in Menlo Park California FaAA, founded in 1967, is the largest engineering firm in the nation dedicated primarily to the analysis and prevention of failures of an engineering or scientific nature. FaAA is a wholly owned subsidiary and the largest operating unit of The Failure Group, Inc., (Failure). Failure employs almost 500 full time staff, including almost 300 degreed professionals, more than 90 of who hold doctorates in their fields. We maintain nine offices in the U.S., three in Europe, and one in Canada. I am also Chief Executive Officer of The Failure Group, Inc. The Failure Group, Incorporated is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange, under the symbol "FAIL."

2. I hold five academic degrees:

a) A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Michigan,

b) A Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan,

c) An S.M. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

d) The professional degree of Mechanical Engineer (Mech. E.) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

e) A Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I graduated from the University of Michigan Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, the Outstanding Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering in 1972, and a National Science Foundation Fellow.

3. I am a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer in the states of California (#M20040) and Arizona (#13684). I have authored several dozen scientific papers, and currently serve on the Visiting Committee of MIT's Mechanical Engineering Department. In 1992 President Bush appointed me to two-year term on the President's Commission on the National Medal of Science. I have attached my current resume with a listing of my publications as exhibit 1.

4. In early 1992 Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. (FaAA) was approached by the representatives of the American Bar Association (ABA) to assist in putting together a "courtroom of the 21st century" instructional session, in the form of a mock trial, for the Annual ABA meeting, which was to be held that summer in San Francisco, California. FaAA was involved in the process of selecting the topic of the trial, which was eventually decided to be the trial of Lee Harvey Oswald for first-degree murder for the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. To simplify the task in coordinating the extensive computer analysis and evidence, FaAA agreed to provide the expert witness analysis, and the testifying experts themselves, for both the prosecution and defense. Separate teams were assembled to assist each side.

5. While FaAA was not funded for the investigation or evidence developed for either side, we applied the best techniques available to some, but certainly not all, of the questions that have remained concerning the assassination, and Lee Harvey Oswald's role in it. The "Courtroom of the 21st Century" theme required the most modern computerized animation and video presentation. There was not a conclusion reached by FaAA as a company concerning the issues of the assassination. Each of our teams did its best within the factual, time and resource constraints to assist the two eminent trial lawyer teams to resolve the key issues for their respective sides. In the end, after two days of trial, the mock jury, selected by the jury analysis firm Decision Quest, was split 7 for conviction and 5 for acquittal of Lee Harvey Oswald on the first degree murder charge.

6. Each of our teams sought to find sufficient information in the extensive investigation records of the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee proceedings, that, when combined with the unparalleled technical analysis skills of our organization, would produce incontrovertible scientific findings that would resolve some of the outstanding issues one way or another. I believe the jury's inability to resolve Oswald's guilt in light of FaAA's investigation, and state-of-the-art visualization, stems from the fact that 1) FaAA did not have the time or resources to completely analyze the whole investigatory record, and 2) there are gaps in the factual record that our analysis was unable to bridge. For example, if the National Archives could locate the brain of President Kennedy, which was sent to them and not buried with his body, we believe the direction of the fatal bullet could be incontrovertibly resolved.

7. Subsequent to our presentation one Gerald Posner contacted Dr. Robert Piziali, the leader of the prosecution team, and requested copies of the prosecution material, but not defense material, which we provided. Eventually Random House published a book by Mr. Posner entitled Case Closed. While Mr. Posner acknowledges in the book the material from Failure Analysis Associates he does not mention or acknowledge the ABA, or mention or acknowledge that there was additional material prepared by FaAA for the defense. Incredibly, Mr. Posner makes no mention of the fact that the mock jury that heard and saw the technical material that he believes is so persuasive and "closed" the case, but which also saw the FaAA material prepared for the defense, could not reach a verdict.

8. In early televised interviews of Mr. Posner that were witnessed by FaAA staff, Mr. Posner made no attempt to correct any supposition by a questioner that the FaAA analytical work was performed at his request for him, and certainly left quite the opposite impression.

Further the affiant sayth not.

This affidavit was signed by Roger L. McCarthy and notarized on 6 December 1993.


In The Nation (7 December 1998) Max Holland claimed that there was only an armful of books of lasting value on the assassination, which he listed. Given Holland's bias, it was hardly surprising that none of these books makes a serious case for conspiracy. Each book, in my view, either is seriously flawed (Holland even admits this about one), riddled with errors of fact, or grossly biased. All are now hopelessly out of date. Serious—even devastating—critiques of these books have appeared elsewhere; it is outside the scope of this essay to itemize these critiques. Surprisingly, though, during Holland's rather long discussion, he scarcely mentioned the medical evidence—the primarily decisive evidence—so I thought it wise to remind him of this. My letter appears below. It was never published and Holland has never acknowledged it. A friendly note from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., suggested that a reply from Holland, even if informal, would have been appropriate. To date only silence has reigned. Such silence, particularly when preceded by embarrassing, but authentic, questions about this case, has become the signature trademark of the historians (and the journalists, too).

13 December 1998

Letters to the Editor, The Nation

13 Irving Place

New York, 10003

Re: "The Docudrama That Is JFK" by Max Holland

Dear Editor:

Mr. Holland's (JFK) opus meanders intoxicatingly from piccolo to contra bassoon but only fleetingly sounds the leitmotiv of the assassination. For those who are not tonally deaf, that central theme is heard in the medical evidence.

From the new medical depositions taken by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), we now know that the only recognized autopsy photographer, John Stringer, did not take the autopsy photographs of the brain. A memorandum issued by the ARRB strongly suggests that two different brains were autopsied and that the brain photographs in the National Archives most likely are not those of JFK. My personal, detailed studies of the autopsy skull X- rays, including an original use of optical densitometry, show virtually no brain tissue in a fist-sized area at the front of the skull, just where the photographs (paradoxically) show nearly intact brain. My measurements are not only consistent with the conclusions of the ARRB, but actually anticipated them by several years.

The shot (or shots) to the head pose even worse conundrums for Holland. If he agrees with the pathologists that JFK was struck low on the right rear of the skull, he then has no explanation for the obvious trail of metallic debris that lies more than 4 inches higher. Alternately, if he concludes that a bullet entered much higher, he must then believe that all three qualified pathologists were wrong by 4 inches, and that an absurdly unique event occurred in the history of ballistics— namely that an internal 6.5 mm cross section of a bullet was sliced out and then migrated 1 cm lower and stayed there. In addition, and after all this, he must also believe that the trail of metallic debris still lies well above his proposed entry site. No ballistics expert has ever testified to seeing so much nonsense from one bullet.

Even worse for Holland, just within the past year, Larry Sturdivan, the ballistics expert for the 1977–78 Congressional investigation, has insisted that this 6.5 mm cross section cannot represent a metallic fragment at all—thus crippling the central basis for the conclusions reached in prior official inquiries. My own research on the X-rays over the past 5 years (performed at the National Archives and now published in Assassination Science, edited by James Fetzer) agrees with Sturdivan that this object cannot be a real piece of metal. I have, in addition, shown how simple it was in that era deliberately to manufacture an altered X-ray with a 6.5 mm metallic image added to it (so that Oswald's rifle would be incriminated). Finally, at my request the ARRB specifically asked each of the autopsy pathologists under oath if they recalled seeing this flagrantly obvious, 6.5 mm object on the X-rays during the autopsy. Just as I had predicted, none of them could recall this artifact—one that my 7-year-old (non-radiologist) son instantly spotted on the extant anterior skull X-ray.

It is past time for Holland to transport his opus from the baroque era into the modern era. The new themes composed by the ARRB must now be played for a younger audience whose ear canals are not yet encrusted by decades of earwax. The baroque era is over.

Sincerely yours,

David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.

Assoc. Prof. of Radiation Sciences, School of Medicine, Loma Linda University,

Loma Linda, CA

Ph.D., Physics, University of Wisconsin, 1967 M.D., University of Michigan, 1976

Board Certified by the American College of Radiology, 1980


On 9 October 1859, Alfred Dreyfus was born into a prosperous Jewish family in Mulhausen, Upper Alsace, France. Following the unification efforts of Otto von Bismarck, the Germans took possession of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In 1874, Dreyfus left Alsace to live in France. He became a French army officer at age 21 and by 1894 (age 34) he was assigned to the general staff. Although the French feared Germany, hope of recovering the lost provinces was still high; the French looked to the army for leadership, contrasting the officers to the politicians who were too often seen as corrupt and ineffective.

In September 1894, a memorandum ("bordereau") was found in the wastebasket of the German military attaché in Paris. 'It was an unsigned letter promising information about secret military matters. Because his handwriting was similar to the memorandum—and also possibly because he was a Jew 64 and had lived in Alsace, where he still had connections—Dreyfus was arrested on 15 October 1894.

Despite his claims of innocence, Dreyfus was convicted by a court martial, which met in secret. He was deported to Devil's Island in French Guiana. At the trial, his own lawyer was not permitted to see the evidence against him.

The attitude of French high society toward this case is apparent from its veneration of General August Mercier, the Minister of War (in 1894), who had first ordered the arrest. At parties of the haut monde, ladies rose to their feet when Mercier entered the room.

In May 1896, new evidence suggested that another French officer, Major Marie Charles Esterhazy, was communicating with the German military attaché. The counterespionage unit had a new head, Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, who found that Esterhazy's handwriting was a remarkable match to that of the memorandum. Rather than investigating further, however, Picquart's superiors reassigned him to Tunisia on a dangerous expedition to silence him, but not before he had confided his discovery to a legal advisor.

Alfred's brother, Mathieu, then took up the cause. By October 1897, Esterhazy's name was mentioned publicly and a trial seemed inevitable. Military officials, however, resisted this attempt; more incriminating material was probably added to the secret file against Dreyfus during this time and, in January 1898, Esterhazy was acquitted during a court marital held behind closed doors.

Emilie Zola, the great novelist, then immediately published a newspaper article entitled "J'accuse" ("I accuse") which charged the authorities with conspiring to imprison an innocent man and also to permit a guilty man to remain free, an action that astonished the world. Queen Victoria was stupefied, and negative reactions arrived from around the world, including Berlin, Chicago, and Melbourne. Zola was shortly thereafter convicted of libel and had to flee the country. Many thought that a Jewish conspiracy was out to humiliate the French army; while others thought that the military was arrogant, evading an admission of error and resisting civil authority. The Catholic Church opposed a retrial, thus reviving the old issue of separation of church and state.

On 31 August 1898, Major Hubert J. Henry, an intelligence officer, committed suicide while under arrest at Mont Valerien, but not before admitting that he had forged one of the 'secret Dreyfus documents. Esterhazy promptly fled France and Dreyfus was returned to Rennes for a new trial, which began on 7 August 1899 (one year after the suicide). Dreyfus, although his innocence was now scarcely in doubt, was again found guilty—but under extenuating circumstances—and he was persuaded to accept a pardon from the French President.

In 1904, more forgeries were discovered in the files and on 12 July 1906, the Cour du Cassation, after a lengthy review, declared unanimously that Dreyfus had been innocent all along—and reinstated him in the army. Esterhazy and Henry were now considered to be the true culprits, who had supplied secrets to the Germans. They had used anti-Semitic sentiment to throw suspicion on Dreyfus—who was thereafter awarded the Legion of Honor. Picquart was also restored to the army—with a rank of general of the brigade—and within three months Clemenceau appointed him minister of war. And Zola, whose letter had been so critical in the whole process, was given a last resting place in the Pantheon on 4 June 1908. During the procession to the Pantheon, a journalist, Gregori, twice shot at Dreyfus, causing a minor injury to his forearm. He was later acquitted of a murder charge, his plea being that he had merely intended a "demonstration."

The Dreyfus affair had been a French nightmare for twelve years. An unintended consequence was the official separation of church and state. Dreyfus went on to serve in World War I, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. On July 12, 1935, at the age of 74, he died in Paris. Today his statue still stands in Paris at Boulevard Raspail and Boulevard Montparnasse near the Luxembourg Gardens and the great Balzac by Rodin.


1. The Encyclopedia Britannica (sic), 11th edition, volume 2, pp. 143-145 (1910). Cambridge, England.

2. The Encyclopedia Britannica (sic), 11th edition, volume 8, p. 579 (1910). Cambridge, England.

3. The Proud Tower, A Portrait of the World Before the War: 1890-1914, Barbara Tuchman (1966). The Macmillan Company, New York, New York.

4. The Dreyfus Case, Louis Snyder (1973). Rutgers University Press.

5. The Diary of Captain A.F. Dreyfus, Beekman (1977); a reprint of the 1901 edition.

6. The Affair, Jean-Denis Bredin; tr. by Jeffrey Mehlman (1986). Braziller.

7. The Dreyfus Affair: Art, Truth, and Justice, Norman Kleeblart, ed. (1987). University of California Press.

8. Encyclopedia Americana, volume 9, p. 395-396 (1997). Grolier, Inc., Danbury, CT.


The Social Contract is nothing more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and humbug themselves and one another for the general Good. Lies are the mortar that binds the savage individual man into the social masonry. —Herbert G. Wells

Conspire: L. conspirare, to breathe together. 1. To plan and act together secretly, esp. in order to commit a crime.


• Franz Ferdinand

• Rajiv Gandhi

• Louis Mountbatten

• Pancho Villa

• Czar Nicholas II

• Adolf Hitler

• Rafael Trujillo

• Ngo Dinh Nhu

• Salvador Allende

• Charles DE Gaulle

• Benigno Aquin

• Pancho Villa

• Anwar Sadat

• Luis Colosio

• Leon Trotsky

• Ngo Dinh Diem

• Rene Schneider

• Grigorii Rasputin

• Mohammed Mossadegh

• Fidel Castro

• Walter Reuther65

• G Patrice Lumumba

• Malcolm X

• Leon Trotsky

• Jacobo Arbenz

• Pope John Paul II66


• Stephen (1135-54): attacked in battle by his own wife and his wife's uncle. Henry II (1154-89): Thomas a Becket is assassinated.

• Richard I (1189-99): Richard and King Philip of France defeat Richard's father, Henry II, in battle, after which Henry II dies.

•John (1199-1216): he betrays his father, Henry II, in his last days, then battles his brother, Richard, in a clash over Aquitaine.

Henry III (1216-72): overthrown in battle at Lewes by Simon de Monfort. Edward I (1272-1307): William Wallace leads Scots in revolt & victory at Sterling Bridge.

• Edward II (1307-27): Edward's best friend, Gaviston, is captured and murdered by his enemies. The King's first cousin, Thomas of Lancaster, plots against him. After defeat of English at Bannockburn, Thomas controls the strings. Later, his Queen, and her consort, invades England, and the King retires. His jailer's later thrust a red-hot spit into his bowels, in order not to leave a mark on him.

• Richard II (1377-99): revolt of peasants led by Walt Tyler. Gloucester, Arundel, the Earl of Warwick lead attack against the King. The Merciless Parliament of 1388 leads a full-scale attack on the King's household. Bolingbroke sails from Boulogne and Richard's troops desert. Richard is later secretly murdered in Pontefract Castle, leaving Bolingbroke (Henry IV) haunted by guilt.

• Henry IV: (1399-1413): see prior paragraph.

• Henry VI (1422–71): York's oldest son enters London in triumph, while the King and Queen escape over the border to Scotland. Henry regains the throne nine years later, but then loses it again and spends his last years as a wandering fugitive. He is eventually executed.

• Edward IV (1461-83): Warwick leads a revolt against the King.

• Richard III 1483-85): Buckingham, with the assistance of the Woodville's and the exiled Henry Tudor, revolts against the King. Henry wins the final battle and Richard's dead body is thrown over a packhorse for burial.

• Henry VIII (1509-47): Norfolk and Gardiner conspire against Essex.

• Charles I (1625-49): He loses his head in the Revolution, making a short king even shorter.

• Charles II (1660-85): Coleman and the Jesuits are killed in the matter of the Popish plot. The word, "cabal," enters the English language.

• James II (1685-88): William of Orange lands in England and displaces the King, who was allowed to hunt and philander until a stroke took him away at age 66. Perhaps he had the better of the deal, after all.

• George I (1714-27): South Sea bubble leads to huge financial losses for some. Walpole becomes England's first prime minister. A succession of Jacobite plots follow—most notably one led by Bishop Attbury's conspiracy.

• George III (1760-1820): Americans conspire against Parliament and Crown. The King is also the target of several assassination attempts. Mother Nature, via porphyria, conspires against the King.

• George IV (1910-36): forged Zinoviev letter leads to downfall of government. George VI (1936-52): Real Indians, led by Gandhi, conspire against British rule.

• Elizabeth II (1952-): death of Princess Diana (?) 68


• Lyndon Baines Johnson President of the United States 69

• Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States 70

• John B. Connally, Governor of Texas 71

• J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI

• Clyde Tolson, Associate Director of the FBI 72

• Cartha DeLoach, Assistant Director of the FBI

• William Sullivan, FBI Domestic Intelligence

• Chief John McCone, Director of the CIA

• David Atlee Phillips, CIA disinformation specialist (Chief of Covert Actions, Mexico City, 1963)

• Stanley Watson, CIA, Chief of Station

• The Kennedy family 73

• Admiral (Dr.) George Burkley, White House physician

• James J. Rowley, Chief of the Secret Service 74

• Robert Knudsen, White House photographer (who saw autopsy photos) Jesse Curry, Chief of Police, 75

• Dallas Police Department

• Roy Kellerman (heard JFK speak after supposed magic bullet)

• William Greer (the driver of the Lincoln limousine)

• Abraham Bolden, Secret Service, White House detail & Chicago office

• John Norris, Secret Service (worked for LBJ; researched case for decades)

• Evelyn Lincoln, JFK's secretary

• Abraham Zapruder, most famous home movie photographer in history

• James Tague, struck by a bullet fragment in Dealey Plaza

• Hugh Huggins, CIA operative, conducted private investigation for RFK

• Sen. Richard Russell, member of the Warren Commission

• John J. McCloy, member of the Warren Commission

• Bertrand Russell, British mathematician and philosopher

• Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University

• Michael Foot, British MP

• Senator Richard Schweiker, assassinations subcommittee (Church Committee)

• Tip O'Neill, Speaker of the House (he assumed JFK's congressional seat)

• Rep. Henry Gonzalez (introduced bill to establish HSCA)

• Rep. Don Edwards, chaired HSCA hearings (former FBI agent)

• Frank Ragano, attorney for Trafficante, Marcello, Hoffa

• Marty Underwood, advance man for Dallas trip Riders in follow-up car:

• JFK aides Kenny O'Donnell and Dave Powers Sam Kinney, Secret Service driver of follow-up car

• Paul Landis, passenger in Secret Service follow-up car

• John Marshall, Secret Service

• H.L. Hunt, right-wing oil baron

• John Curington, H.L. Hunt's top aide

• Bill Alexander, Assistant Dallas District Attorney

• Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel for the HSCA

• Robert Tanenbaum, Chief Counsel for the HSCA

• Richard A. Sprague, Chief Counsel for the HSCA

• Gary Cornwell, Deputy Chief Counsel for the HSCA

• Parkland doctors: McClelland, Crenshaw, Stewart, Seldin, Goldstrich, Zedlitz, Jones, Akin, and others

• Bethesda witnesses: virtually all of the paramedical personnel All of the jurors in Garrison's trial of Clay Shaw 76

• Bobby Hargis, Dealey Plaza motorcycle man

• Mary Woodward, Dallas Morning News (and eyewitness in Dealey Plaza)

• Maurice G. Marineau, Secret Service, Chicago office

• Most of the American public

• Most of the world's citizens


• Gary L. Aguilar has contributed greatly to this piece with several critical suggestions.

• Michael Parenti's bibliography on historiography was a passport to new lands for me.

• John Newman

• Douglas Horne

• Roger Peterson

• Jim DiEugenio

• Dennis Bartholome

• Walt Brown

• Michael Kurtz

• Patricia L. James

• Harry Livingstone

• John and Sherry Szabo

They have all provided useful reviews and vital suggestions.

It is especially gratifying to thank my own son, Christopher (now 14), for his unique insights. I especially recall our discussion over dinner in San Diego, after viewing the film, 1984. In addition, we have had pleasant discussions about many books cited here that he has also read.

I also thank my daughter, Meredith (now 12), and my wife, Patricia, for tolerating my preoccupation with this case.


1. "The Case of the Cheating Documents: False Authority and the Problem of Surmise," The Gateway to History (1938). Nevins wrote the Foreword to John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage (1956)

2. For a deeper understanding of this article, the companion medical essay (which also appears in this volume) is required reading: David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., "Paradoxes of the JFK Autopsy: The Medical Evidence Decoded."

3. In a curious coincidence, Ford, Belin, and I all earned professional degrees from the University of Michigan. Even more curiously, Ford (the last surviving member of the Warren Commission) and I have both chosen to live in the same desert community, within walking distance of one another.

4. On 2 November 1975, Ford fired William E. Colby, CIA Director, who had disclosed the family jewels. The next day the Church Committee considered a letter from Ford demanding that its assassination report be held secret (Daniel Schorr, Clearing the Air 1977, p. 159).

5. After I had used the word "abdication," I discovered that Max Holland ("Making Sense of the Assassination," Reviews in American History 22: 191–209 (1994)) had preceded me with this descriptor. Holland also agrees that historians have steered well clear of this controversy. Historian Michael Kurtz has also observed: "However, few journalists and virtually no scholars have conducted any serious research into the assassination, and their criticisms of the advocates of a conspiracy have generally assumed the guise of name-calling and innuendo rather than legitimate scholarly dissent," in Robert Brent Toplin, ed., "Oliver Stone, JFK, and History," Oliver Stone's USA: Film, History, and Controversy (2000), p. 173.

6. Graff was nominated for the ARRB by the White House staff. That anyone with such an outspoken and longstanding bias against Oswald was chosen for the ARRB is striking. During the lifetime of the ARRB, at its final press conference, and during an interview with Dan Rather on the 35th observance, Graff repeatedly insisted that his attitude toward Oswald had not changed. Several other board members, particularly Kermit Hall, followed his example, noting their persistent support for the lone assassin theory. Curiously, however, these members never discussed the medical evidence with the media. Both Graff and Hall are former Army intelligence officers and Graff has long been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Although Graff was conspicuous during ARRB media events, he was noticeably absent from public (working) meetings of the ARRB, so much so that rumors began to circulate about his health. Regarding Hall, when he was an administrator at the University of Tulsa, he gave the game away when he fell into a trap laid for him by fellow Oklahoma resident, John Armstrong. For more details on these matters see Jim DiEugenio, "Media Watch: Graff & Posner Spin the Final Report," Probe (January-February, 1999).

7. Although the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) issued its report in 1979, it was actually established by Congress in 1976. Graff (1988, p. 793) made the same error.

8. William A. Tidwell, Come Retribution: the Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln (1988), makes a compelling case for the complicity of the Confederacy in the plot to kidnap Lincoln.

9. An occasional exception is the Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination, which a jury recently found to be a conspiracy (The New York Times, December 10, 1999, p. 25).

10. David Hackett Fischer has critiqued such ad hominem attacks: "But an ad hominem debate is unlike tennis in one respect—it is a match which everybody loses: players, referees, spectators and all" (Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought, 1970, p. 293). Also see The American Historical Review 73: 996,1710 (1968).

11. Examples of this genre are:

a) Jacob Cohen, "Yes, Oswald Alone Killed Kennedy," Commentary, June 1992;

b) Nick Gerlich, "Tragedy on Elm Street: Facts and Fictions in the JFK Assassination," Skeptic, Volume 6, Number 4, 1998;

c) Max Holland, "The Docudrama That Is JFK," The Nation, December 7, 1998.

12. The problem noted by Jerome is, unfortunately, not confined to historians—it infests our entire culture, as John Ralston Saul has observed: "…never have so few people been willing to speak out on important questions. Their fear is tied not to physical threats, but to standing apart from fellow experts or risking a career or entering an area of non-expertise. Not since the etiquette-ridden courts of the eighteenth century has public debate been so locked into fixed positions, fixed formulas and fixed elites expert in rhetoric" (Voltaire's Bastards: the Dictatorship of Reason in the West 1992, p. 29).

13. Despite their opposite views of the JFK assassination, Ambrose has offered glowing dust cover reviews for both Posner and Beschloss. Also see Stephen Ambrose, "Writers on the Grassy Knoll: A Reader's Guide," New York Times Book Review, 2 February 1992, pp. 23-25.

14. My own impression of Posner is similar to Wrone's: Case Closed is the only book I have ever stopped reading because I came to doubt the integrity of its author.

15. Several other writers have offered devastating critiques of Posner. Two major examples are

a) Harold Weisberg, Case Open: The Omissions, Distortions and Falsifications of Case Closed (1994);

b) Peter Dale Scott, "Case Closed? Or Oswald Framed? A Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK," Peter Dale Scott (1993). The media have steadfastly ignored these critiques.

16. For further insight into Cohen's role, see E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy (1996), pp. 226–229. Schotz is a psychiatrist.

17. Earlier writers on the medical evidence were David Lifton (Best Evidence 1980) and Harrison Livingstone (High Treason 1989—co-authored with Robert Groden; High Treason 2 1992; Killing the Truth, 1993; and Killing Kennedy 1995). I owe both a personal debt of gratitude for their pioneering research and for their generous assistance.

18. By way of explanation, I have described—and have easily been able to reproduce—how this bullet-like image was a subsequent double exposure, superimposed (in the darkroom) onto the now lost original X-ray during the production of the (one) remaining frontal skull X-ray. There is surprising eyewitness support for this activity, so that the time of this forgery can be dated with some certainty. There is reason to believe that the photographic manipulations occurred at about the same time.

19. In a suspiciously conspicuous oversight, the HSCA never identified the proposed entry site for this bullet on the frontal skull X-ray. In retrospect, the reason for this is obvious—there is no visible entry site. This conclusion was verified by precise optical density measurements (of the area in question) at the National Archives.

20. The pathologists' alternate proposal (for a headshot from a sole assassin) is even more absurd—so flagrantly absurd, in fact, that current lone gunman advocates have long since abandoned it. The disproof of the pathologists' proposal is embarrassingly simple, as is demonstrated in the companion medical essay.

21. Douglas P. Horne (ARRB staff member) and Jeremy Gunn (Executive Director), who deposed the medical witnesses, have proved that this is nonetheless possible. Though they arrived with no specific medical training, their work, by far, surpassed that of their predecessors on the HSCA and on the Warren Commission.

22. This was Josiah Thompson, well known for his early work on the case (Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967).

23. Baden has recalled his own professional experiences (Confessions of a Medical Examiner 1989), while Cyril Wecht has also described his adventures (Grave Secrets: A Leading Forensic Expert Reveals the Startling Truth About O.J. Simpson, David Koresh, Vincent Foster, and Other Sensational Cases 1996).

24. After I had summarized the Dreyfus case, I discovered that other writers had noted this analogy before me. Examples are

a. Leo Sauvage, The Oswald Affair: An Examination of the Contradictions and Omissions of the Warren Report 1966, pp. 330-331;

b. Art and Margaret Snyder, "Case Still Open: Skepticism and the Assassination of JFK," Skeptic, Volume 6, No. 4, 1998;

c. E. Martin Schotz 1996, p. 247.

25. This pales, however, in comparison to the nine official investigations of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit: the Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor 2000).

26. The m dical evidence for this frame-up is summarized in the companion essay cited in footnote 2.

27. Probe (July 22, 1995 and September 22, 1995), front-page articles.

28. Douglas P. Horne volunteered this information in a letter to me (February 26, 2000); Horne served as Chief Analyst for Military Records while at the ARRB. Most of this information is also contained in the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (US Government Printing Office, 1998), although a close reading is required to arrive at the same conclusion.

29. For ONI references, see the index in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA 1995.

30. America's last declaration of war was in 1941, immediately after Pearl Harbor—now 59 years ago.

[Author's note: the following note was added on 20 February 2002.] The debate on Sally Heming's may not be over. "Three Perspectives on America's Jefferson Fixation," by Andrew Burstein, Nancy Isenberg, and Annette Gordon-Reed appeared as a Selected Book Review in The Nation (1998) and can be found on-line at: HERE

Other sites may also be found on-line.

31. The dust cover describes Thomas as an internationally respected surgeon who is also an authority on gunshot wounds and their forensic interpretation. He is the author of The Murder of Rudolph Hess, which exposed critical evidence about the Spandau prisoner.

32. Charles Beard, who wrote one of the most famous monographs in American history (An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution 1913), also charged that FDR and his accomplices had secretly manipulated American policy to bring about World War II (Charles Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War 1941: A Study in Appearances and Realities 1948). Beard would undoubtedly find some vindication in Stinnett's new book. B [Author: The following note was added on 20 February 2002.] My sense that the Pearl Harbor debate was far from over has already been amply confirmed. While visiting in Hawaii (August 2001), I discovered that bookstores still carried paperback versions of Infamy, by John Toland (1982), which suggests that FDR knew in advance about the attack. Almost by chance the following items have also fallen into my path:

a) "Pearl Harbor: What Really Happened," American Heritage, July/August 2001;

b) "Opposing Views: Pearl Harbor Commanders' Culpability," by Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr., and Frederic L. Borch III, MHQ, the Quarterly Journal of Military History, Winter 2002; Joseph Persico, Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage 2001; and Michael Gannon, Pearl Harbor Betrayed: The True Story of a Man and a Nation under Attack. Finally, an incisive and highly uncomplimentary judgment of Stinnett's book appeared in The New York Review of Books (November 2, 2000): "Did Roosevelt Know" by David Kahn.

33. The ARRB released a highly pertinent document—regarding the SECDEF conference of 6 May 1963, held in Hawaii, during which McNamara met with top military brass at CINPAC HQ in Camp Smith. The withdrawal of 1000 US troops by December 1963 was specifically advised—and endorsed by McNamara. Furthermore, McNamara subsequently advised that this phase-out program was too slow. Also see Jim DiEugenio, "The Review Board Releases JFK Vietnam Documents," Probe, January-February, 1998 and Jim DiEugenio, "McNamara's Secret," Probe, March/April 2000.

34. Schotz (1996, p. 249) has described Zinn's previous interest in the JFK case.

35. C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley, too, died on 22 November 1963.

36. This theme is also reviewed by 'Peter Novick (That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and The American Historical Profession 1988, pp. 33-37) who notes that it is actually the vulgarizations of Francis Bacon's work that are the chief concern in this context. To Novick's credit, he also uses the same quote from Darwin that appears immediately below.

37. Michael Baden, M.D., apparently still accepts the authenticity of the autopsy photographs, despite all of the evidence that has accumulated against them. I suspect that his view of the autopsy X-rays is similar. Jim DiEugenio reminds us (Probe, July/August 1996 and November/December 1998), however, that when Baden served under Chief Counsel Robert Tanenbaum, who favored conspiracy, Baden seemed open to the possibility of conspiracy, but when Robert Blakey replaced Tanenbaum, Baden became a supporter of the single gunman theory. During a telephone conversation with me (7 April 2000), Tanenbaum confirmed that Baden had indeed initially been open to the possibility of conspiracy. Tanenbaum also confirmed to me a remarkable confession by Dan Rather in 1993 (DiEugenio, Probe, January-February, 1999, p. 3): "We really blew it on the Kennedy assassination." According to Tanenbaum, Rather had admitted what he has never hinted at on television— namely that the journalists' investigation of the JFK assassination has been inadequate. Like Robert Blakey, Tanenbaum, too, is still a believer in conspiracy; he has even written a fictionalized account of his experiences while on the HSCA (Corruption of Blood, 1995).

38. Luis Alvarez, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, proposed the jet effect as an explanation for JFK's head snap (seen in the Zapruder film); this time, however, Alvarez was wrong. See the next footnote.

39. David W. Mantik, "Paradoxes of the JFK Assassination: The Zapruder Film Controversy," in this volume.

40. George Lardner, Jr, "Archive Photos Not of JFK's Brain, Concludes Aide to Review Board; Staff Member Concludes 2 Different Specimens Were Examined," Washington Post, 10 November 1998; Deb Reichmann, "Newly Released JFK Documents Raise Questions About Medical Evidence," Associated Press, 9 November 1998.

41. On the very day that I wrote this paragraph, the front page of the Los Angeles Times quoted Rafael Perez, who described multiple shootings in which LA police officers doctored photographs of shooting scenes to conceal their mistakes. In one case, ketchup was splattered around to mimic blood, according to the transcripts (Los Angeles Times, 15 February 2000). Also see Time (6 March 2000) pp. 30–34.

42. Max Holland ("Making Sense of the Assassination," Reviews in American History 22: 191–209 (1994)) reminds his readers that Scott's book, published by the University of California Press, was approved for publication by twenty U.C professors, including four senior historians.

43. Newman holds a Ph.D. in history from George Washington University and is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland.

44. Long before Europeans smoked cigars, Columbus found the Arawak's smoking them. In 1555, for the first time, tobacco arrived in Spain and, three years later, the Portuguese introduced Europeans to snuff (Davis 1990, p. 4). Little did Columbus know that he was sowing one seed (tobacco) in preparation for World War I. Besides Kaiser Frederick III, it is likely that two American presidents died as a result of cigar smoking: U.S. Grant, who was given fine cigars after an early Civil War victory, and Grover Cleveland, who developed a cancer of the palate (Bollet 1997, pp. 45–47).

45. Since 1935, Krock had been a family intimate of Joseph P. Kennedy, who was the US Ambassador to the court of St. James before World War II. Krock assisted JFK (Thomas C. Reeves, A Question of Character, A Life of John F. Kennedy 1991, p. 49) in the writing of his 150 page undergraduate thesis: Why England Slept, which was submitted on 15 March 1940. JFK's father purchased 30,000 to 40,000 copies to help make the book a best seller. In view of Krock's assistance, and JFK's cultivation of journalists in general, was the "very high official," whom Krock cites, actually JFK himself?

46. A similar question is raised by Fischer (1970, p. 315), who suggests that history can be useful for questions of an "if, then" sort. He wonders what conditions have made social stability, social freedom, and social equality maximally coexistent, and then suggests that it may be time for more historians to address such problems.

47. Fischer offers the delightful and pertinent tale of the character in an English academic novel who answers the phone with the line: "History speaking!"

C The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center near Mystic, Connecticut, is described in "Pride of the Pequot's," by Louis Porter, Discover (December 2001). The author notes that in 1638, most of the 1500 surviving Pequot's were parceled out as slaves between the English and two tribes allied with the European.

48. Admiral Dewey, after his victory at Manila Bay, was quoted as saying (Louis Coolidge, An Old-Fashioned Senator: Orville H. Platt 1910, p. 302): "If I were a religious man, and I hope I am, I should say that the hand of God was in it." Richard Hofstadter (The Paranoid Style in American Politics 1965, p. 176) quotes the Christian and Missionary Alliance as saying that the victory "read almost like the stories of the ancient battles of the Lord in the times of Joshua, David, and Jehosophat (sic)."

49. I have just finished reading The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England (Antonia Fraser 2000). Although I knew many of these stories before, to be reminded once again of so many sordid events (often internecine conspiracies) still provoked a certain degree of shock, especially as I contemplated events in America. See Addendum 4.

50. Since Hofstadter, apparently based on a unique source that he has never disclosed, already knew that the JFK assassination was not a conspiracy, he was able to conclude (Hofstadter 1965, pp. 6–7): "One need only think of the response to President Kennedy's assassination in Europe to be reminded that Americans have no monopoly of the gift for paranoid improvisation."

51. Alex Cox, "The Colosio Assassination," Probe, January/February 2000.

52. A U.S. House committee, chaired by John McCormack and Samuel Dickstein, stated in its final report that it found credible evidence of a plot to overthrow the American government with a military coup (US House of Representatives, Public Statement of Special Committee on Un-American Activities, Seventy-third Congress, Second Session, 24 November 1934). Also see Barbara LA Monica, "The Attempted Coup Against FDR," Probe, March/April, 1999 and Oliver Stone, "On Nixon and JFK," in Toplin 2000, pp. 289-290. The most detailed monograph, however, is by Jules Archer (The Plot to Seize the White House 1973). Archer recounts how the plotters tried unsuccessfully to enlist two-time Medal of Honor winner, ex-Marine, Major General Smedley Darlington Butler in the plot that he helped to expose. Archer also interviewed McCormack (who was once Speaker of the House). McCormack still had no question but that Butler's testimony had been entirely credible; moreover, McCormack believed that if Butler had cooperated, the plot might have succeeded. I would emphasize that Butler's name is difficult to find in the indices of history textbooks—or even in the memories of American historians.

53. Alfred Steinberg, The Man from Missouri: the Life and Times of Harry S. Truman 1962, pp. 390–391.

54. Zelizer was an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Temple University. She is currently at the University of Pennsylvania.

55. White is an Associate Professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, and holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Kentucky

56. Although the vast majority of the media still believes that Oswald did it, this is not the first time that they have played the roles of lemmings. In the summer of 1948, reporters were about 8-1 in their belief that Dewey would win the election (Steinberg 1962, p. 328). The Chicago Tribune's headline, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN, is still a classic in American history. Curiously, Dewey's running mate was Earl Warren; their campaign manager was Allen Dulles, who would become another member of the Warren Commission.

57. Immediately after the assassination, J. Edgar Hoover also invoked the image of Sherlock Holmes. When Thomas Mann, the US ambassador to Mexico, promptly began to investigate the supposed Oswald visits to the Mexican embassy (apparently because Mann suspected an Oswald double—an issue that is still very much on the front burner today), Hoover told him bluntly, in a note from SOG, to stop trying to play Sherlock Holmes—and Mann unfortunately obliged.

58. Max Planck's discovery of the formula for black body radiation is the perfect illustration of such a radical revolution.

59. At some risk of badgering the reader, I shall point out that the Scotland Yard inspector plays the role of the Warren Commission; Oswald, however, does not play the role of the criminal in question. Finally, the "entirely different story of murder" implies suspects other than Oswald.

60. Fischer (1970, p. 5) concurs with this view of history. He uses the analogy of a master architect who draws a sketch in the sand (e.g., for pyramids), following which laborers cut their stones to fit this monument. But then another architect arrives on the scene and he says that pyramids are out and obelisks are in. Unfortunately, however, most of the old stones are unusable for this purpose. The Warren Report (and its so-called facts) is an analogue to the pyramid (and its unusable stones), whereas the obelisk (a monument to conspiracy) must be largely constructed with new stones (i.e., new evidence).

61. The cover of Life (25 November 1966) read: "Did Oswald Act Alone? A Matter of Reasonable Doubt." The article itself concluded that the case should be reopened.

62. Even Barbara Tuchman fell into this trap; without any discussion, and with no analysis, she unequivocally named Oswald as JFK's murderer (Tuchman 1981, p. 255). A more recent, and more egregious, example is Paul Johnson (A History of the American People 1997), whose work, like Tuchman's, I generally admire. He claims (pp. 868–869): "In more than thirty years since the crime took place, however, no further evidence of any significance has emerged, and virtually all historians now accept that Oswald alone was responsible." What is so ironic about this statement is that its immediate source (citation 64) is not an historian, after all, but rather a lawyer turned journalist (Posner). For the tens of thousands of historians who are caricaturized by this statement, not a single historian is actually cited. An even worse irony is that, only two footnotes earlier (citation 62), a genuine historian is cited—it is Beschloss, who believes in conspiracy, but Johnson does not inform his readers of Beschloss's belief. Johnson also ignores the work of Kurtz, Newman, Wrone, Hurt, Scott, Weisberg, and all other serious writers. To complete the debacle, Johnson also overlooks the ARRB, which had actually begun its real work by early 1995, whereas Johnson's book was not published until 1997.

63. It is probably no accident that Cook was one of the earliest critics of The Warren Report; see Schotz (1996, pp. 217–233) for Cook's illuminating anecdotes about his encounters in this case.

64. On 25 April 1895, the "Jewish Peril" had been violently debated in the Chamber of Deputies; at the same time, the Rothschild bank in Paris had also been bombed.

65. Robert F. Kennedy, The Enemy Within (1960).

66. Claire Sterling, The Time of the Assassins: Anatomy of an Investigation (1983).

67. Antonia Fraser, The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England (2000).

68. To my amateur historian's mind, it would appear that the rise of Parliamentary government, and the subsequent decline of royal power, correlates with a decrease in conspiracies against the king, especially those triggered by interfamilial feuds. A statistical analysis of this question would be welcome.

69. Harrison E. Livingstone, High Treason (1989), pp. 8, 68, 344, and 422

70. In his series of television interviews with David Frost, Nixon, seemingly without thinking, referred to JFK's conspirators in the plural—before quickly and consciously reversing himself.

71. Although Connally has given verbal assent to The Warren Report, he has said much indirectly to malign it. He and Nellie both told the Commission that their own recollection of the shots did not support the SBT—and that, furthermore, they could never be persuaded to believe it. At the instant of shooting, he said, "My God, they're going to get us all." As an inpatient at Parkland, he said: "They also got the President." Finally, just before he died, he was quoted in Time (28 June 1993): "Here we are, I thought, 30 years later, still speculating about what did or did not happen. And no one will ever know the complete truth."

72. Internal FBI memorandum, 4 April 1967.

73. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot 1997, p. 451: "He [Robert Kennedy] and Jacqueline Kennedy were convinced that the president had been struck down not by communists, as J. Edgar Hoover and many others believed, but by a domestic conspiracy..." Although Hersh is probably wrong about Hoover's true opinion, it is nonetheless striking that he lists Hoover, whose massive FBI tomes provided the basis for The Warren Report, as a believer in conspiracy.

74. James Hepburn, Farewell America (1968), p. 59.

75. F. Peter Model and Robert J. Groden, JFK: the Case for Conspiracy (1976), p. 53.

76.Oliver Stone, "On Nixon and JFK," in Toplin (2000), p. 277.

* Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), pp. 371-411 (expanded).

(©) 2002 David W. Mantik

The JFK Autopsy Materials:Twenty Conclusions after Nine Visits

(Click images to enlarge)

[Editor's note: This is an expanded and revised version of a presentation for "Solving the Great American Murder Mystery" Symposium, which was held at Duquesne University 20-23 November 2003. The speaker, who is the leading student of the death of JFK in the world today, has elaborated on the formal paper that he submitted on that occasion for its appearance in this journal, while preserving the sequence of figures and photographs. The formal paper appears following this informal version as an appendix.] "If you want to understand the present, study the past." —Baruch Spinoza Over a doorway to National Archives is this quote: "The past is prologue." Although the source is not identified, the quote is actually from The Tempest by William Shakespeare. I passed through this doorway in 1993, when I first examined the JFK autopsy materials with Cyril Wecht. The quote reminds us why history might matter.


I examined the JFK autopsy materials at the National Archives (NARA) on four separate days in 1993, on two days in 1994, and on two days in 1995. This review included the photographs, X-rays, clothing, magic bullet, and two metal fragments removed from the skull. My last visit was on 12 April 2001. Nearly six years had passed since my eighth visit, during which time the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) had come and gone. During this six- year hiatus my initial findings had been published in two books: Assassination Science (1998) and Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), both edited by James Fetzer. Since then another book, The Assassinations (2003), edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, has carried one article (co-authored by Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D.) on the JFK brain. In this article, I shall focus on the most important findings from these visits and especially emphasize the remarkable discoveries made during the last visit. Almost each one of these findings, standing along, makes a powerful case against The Warren Report. The two most crucial conclusions are:

1. That the three remaining autopsy skull X-rays are almost certainly copies rather than originals—which leaves wide open the possibility of alteration.

2. That grave doubt is cast on the authenticity of several of the autopsy photographs. Both of these results seriously undermine the conclusions of prior official investigations. On this fortieth observance, I shall close with some personal reflections.

The White Patch at the Back of the Skull… In books, the posterior part JFK's skull X- rays (the lateral ones) looks very white, especially when compared to the pre- mortem X- ray (Figure 1).

Lateral Skull X-raay


The circled white patch was almost certainly added in the dark room. Its purpose was to emphasize the resulting dark area in front, which suggested that a bullet had exited from the front.

The best evidence for an anomaly comes from optical density (OD) measurements at the National Archives (NARA). According to these data, JFK's skull is nearly solid bone— from left to right—at this site, as if JFK were a bonehead. As I have previously shown and discussed, this patch could easily have been added in the darkroom. It misleads viewers into thinking that tissue was missing from the front of the skull, thus suggesting that a bullet had exited from the front, not the rear. Even the chief pathologist, James J Humes, in his sworn deposition before the ARRB, repeatedly expressed his bewilderment at the lateral X-rays. He was especially puzzled by the dark area, which he did not recall at all, perhaps because of the subconscious confusion created by the white patch.

The Faked 6.5 mm Bullet Fragment This infamous 6.5 mm white object, lying within the right orbit, first emerged in the Clark Panel report, several years after The Warren Report (Figure 2).

Skull X-ray


The infamous 6.5 mm, nearly circular, faked object lies within the right orbit. This must have been added in the darkroom. Though no one at the autopsy saw it, it played a central role for the HSCA. Its (authentic) image is visible on the lateral X-ray, at the back of the skull.

No one saw it at the autopsy. Larry Sturdivan, the HSCA ballistics expert, agrees that this object cannot be a piece of metal. Powerful evidence of its origin as a double exposure in the darkroom derives from the OD measurements made at NARA. I made literally hundreds of point-like measurements at tiny intervals across this small object. To compare these data, I obtained an authentic human skull. Then I sawed off a cross section from a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano bullet, which I taped to the human skull. This is the skull X-ray that resulted (Figure 3)

Authentic metal fragment


I obtained this image by using a real human skull and a section of a real 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano bullet. I then performed similar OD measurements on this X-ray. The remarkable differences between these data sets (Figure 4)

Data Graphs Diagram


These two graphs are totally inconsistent with one another. The actual piece of metal on JFK's posterior skull was tiny, not at all large. A large piece would be expected from the 6.5 mm object seen on the AP skull X-ray.

They clearly show that the 6.5 mm object cannot be an authentic piece of metal. This conclusion is actually supported by eight different arguments. In the interests of time, only a simple one will be noted today: the measured transparency of this fake 6.5 mm artifact on the frontal X-ray is greater than that of all of the metal work in JFK's teeth, shown here (Figure 5)

JFK Dental X-rays


These pre-mortem films were retrieved by the HSCA to authenticate the autopsy X-rays. I agree that they look the same as the teeth in the autopsy X-rays.

These OD data of the 6.5 mm object, assuming they are authentic, describe a piece of metal that is longer (from front to back) than all of the metal (from front to back) in JFK's teeth. That's obviously nonsense. We can see for ourselves on the lateral X-ray that the object in question is tiny (Figure 6).

Right Lateral skull


Notice the very dark area at the front; this implies no brain tissue on either side. This conclusion directly contradicts the brain photographs (see sketch in Figure 8).

This metal fragment on the lateral is probably authentic. Nonetheless, this fragment, especially as seen on the AP X-ray, was a central pillar for the HSCA, which concluded that it marked a rear bullet entry. Astonishingly enough, none of the three pathologists agreed with this. If this pillar is taken away from the HSCA, as it should be, their case is mortally wounded. The other pillar for their case was the "Red Spot" on the photo of the back of the head. That pillar has also since been pulled out, as we shall soon see. That X- rays could be copied convincingly onto ordinary X-ray film, using specific recipes actually printed in textbooks, was stand ard practice in the early 1960s. Here is an illustration from a 1961 radiology textbook (Figure 7).

Duplicate X-rays


This is taken from a 1961 radiology textbook, which implies that the two images could not be distinguished from one another.

If X-rays can be copied, then it is almost trivial to alter them in simple ways, such as adding a 6.5 mm object. I have previously published multiple fake X-rays showing a scissors, a pteranodon, and bullet fragments added to a skull X-ray. That was all very easy to do. I conclude therefore that this 6.5 mm artifact should play no role in this case. It certainly played no role in the deliberations of JFK's autopsy pathologists.

The Dark Frontal Area on the Lateral X-rays… Surrounding the skull is a dark halo, which represents air (Figure 6). A dark frontal area, inside the skull, looks nearly the same, suggesting virtually no tissue in this area. In direct conflict with this, the official brain photographs show little brain is missing in front (Figure 8).

Sketch of Brain


Ida Dox prepared this sketch. It is the only image in the public record.

Therefore, on the lateral X-rays, this area should look fairly white (or transparent). But, as you can see, the X-rays are not at all white here; on the contrary, they are extremely dark! In fact the OD measurements suggest virtually no brain at all in front—on either left or right! By itself, this paradox is extremely powerful. It makes a remarkable case for tampering: either the X-rays are wrong or the photos are wrong. Both cannot be right.

Missing Left Brain. Most likely the X-rays are telling the truth about the missing frontal brain. If so, a good deal of left-brain was missing as well. This directly contradicts the brain photos. In fact, one of the nurses at Parkland, who helped to clean JFK, actually reported missing left-brain.

Missing Frontal Bone. Witnesses agree that JFK's face looked nearly normal. The X- rays show that the large open area in the skull (i.e., missing bone) extended all the way to the hairline in front. Not only could I see this with my naked eyes, but I also confirmed it with OD measurements. Here is my sketch, just as previously published (Figure 9).

Missing Bone Sketch


This sketch previously appeared in one of Livingstone's books. It is based on naked eye viewing of the X-rays and confirmed by OD measurements.

Notice the slight notch in the bone just above the right eye, in the hairline. This notch is probably where the frontal bullet entered; indeed the 'notch might well have been produced by the entering bullet. Even Boswell, in 1996 (33 years later), recalled this change in bone contour in his drawing for the ARRB. Note that he also drew the bone defect as extending almost exactly as far forward as I have shown, based on the X-rays (Figure 10).

Boswells Frontal Sketch


This is based on Doug Horne's 2D sketch, taken directly from t he skull on which Boswell made his original sketch for the Assassination Records Review Board.

Such a forehead entry site is also consistent with the recollections of the autopsy technician (Tom Robinson), with the photographer Joe O'Donnell, with Dr. Charles Crenshaw at Parkland (when interviewed on TV by Geraldo Rivera) and others (Figures 11-13).

Malcolm Kilduff Image


Acting press secretary Kilduff points to the fatal wound during the Parkland press conference, November 22 1963.

Rydberg Drawing


Quite unexpectedly on a Friday afternoon, Rydberg was asked to draw this sketch—solely based on verbal descriptions—the only time in his entire career that words alone were used for a sketch.

Skull defect sketch


The presence of bone anterior to the coronal suture directly contradicts the X- rays. Even the HSCA anthropology expert, Lawrence Angel, knew better.

In these figures, Malcolm Kilduff, during the Parkland press conference, points to the fatal wound. The drawing prepared by Rydberg for the Warren Commission, under the direct supervision of the pathologists, also shows the bone defect extending well into the frontal bone. The HSCA sketch, by contrast, is easily shown to be wrong, though time does not permit that demonstration today. The HSCA sketch shows frontal bone present, where actually there was none. This was a flagrant blunder. The Shirt and Coat. When the shirt is buttoned, the two slits just below the collar overlap (Figure 14).

JFK Shirt Collar Image


I buttoned the shirt and saw that the two vertical slits overlapped very well. This is consistent with a scalpel removal of the shirt, but not with a bullet hole. No metal could be found at this site either, whereas it was identified at the hole in the back of the shirt.

No fabric is missing—meaning that a scalpel could have produced these slits. That's exactly what the nurses, who cut off the clothing, have said. The appearance of these slits is not at all consistent with the passage of a bullet, to say nothing of a magic bullet.

Furthermore, no tests ever showed the presence of metal at this site, as they did for the hole at the back of the shirt.

When a live model at NARA modeled JFK's coat for me, the hole in the coat lay about ten centimeters (four inches) inferior to the superior border of the should blade (scapula). This is grossly consistent with the autopsy photograph of the back wound, which lies much higher. When Steven Tilley, JFK Liaison at NARA, simulated (at my request) the natural alignment of the shirt and coat on a tabletop, I could see that the hole in the shirt lay 1.5 cm inferior to the hole in the coat. In order to explain the low- lyinghole in the coat, partisans of the single bullet theory have necessarily had to argue that the top of the coat was bunched up (by more than four inches) according to the measurement noted just above. On the other hand, they have been oddly silent about the hole in the shirt. Since this hole appears to lie even lower, they must argue that the shirt was also bunched up, perhaps eve n more than the coat—despite the fact that there is no evidence at all that the shirt was bunched up—and despite the fact that JFK was wearing a corset that reached at least as high as his low lumbar area.

CE-843. These two fragments were supposedly removed from JFK's brain (Figure 15).

Photo of C-843


This is one of the most shocking contradictions in the entire case. The shape of the larger piece of metal is nothing like the supposedly identical piece seen on the X- rays. No measurements taken on this piece can explain its bizarre transformation in shape. Most likely, it is not the piece taken from the skull. Its origin is unknown.

John Hunt has much better quality images, obtained from NARA. Incidentally, I saw only two, not three, fragments at NARA. The largest, however, bears no resemblance to the corresponding image on the X-rays. The larger piece shown here is pancake shaped and was 107 mg. On the other hand, the X-rays show a club shaped object—on both X-ray views (see Figures 2 and 6 above).

The studies done by the FBI on this object— spectrographic analysis and neutron activation analysis—required only a tiny amount at most, about 1 mg, according to one of the FBI experts. At this meeting, John Hunt will report further on these issues. No one has ever offered an explanation for this flagrant discrepancy in shape of the largest piece. Sampling of the material is not an explanation. The possibility of substitution of fragments, an issue actually raised by the neutron activation expert (Dr. Vincent Guinn), remains wide open.

Many Tiny Fragments! There are remarkably many, tiny metal fragments widely scattered on the skull X-rays (see Figure 2). Some are on the left side, including an obvious one near the top of the skull and even some on the inferior skull—at least four near the chin, on both left and right sides, on the frontal X-ray. These are however, not easy to see in the attached images and are best seen on the X-rays at NARA, This remarkable, and heretofore ignored, observation is hardly compatible with the passage of a metal-jacketed bullet near the top of the skull, an event that was suggested by the HSCA. On the other hand, shrapnel from a bullet that was ignored by prior investigations might have caused this these many widely scattered fragments. Many eyewitnesses report a bullet, or bullets, striking the street. Some even saw sparks fly up from the pavement.

A MERCURY BULLET… All three-skull X-rays show a spatially consistent, fuzzy, gray cloud (about 4 x 1 cm) near the center of the fragment trail that extends across the top of the skull (Figure 16).

Close-up Lateral X-ray


This fuzzy gray cloud can best be seen on the X-rays at NARA. It does not look like metallic lead (or copper) debris, but might have been caused by a mercury bullet.

This fuzzy cloud might be more consistent with mercury (extruded from a bullet) rather than lead. An attempt to kill DeGaulle with a mercury bullet occurs in The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. Amazingly enough, this plot occurs in the summer of 1963

Forsyths Book Cover


The Day of the Jackal describes a plot to kill General DeGaulle in the summer of 1963. The assassin is given a few mercury bullets for the job.

Forsyths Quote


Forsyth's descriptions of the effect of mercury bullets seem to fit the JFK skull wounds remarkably well.

Harper Fragment. John Hunt will speak at length about this fragment. Careful study of all three skull X-rays permitted my reconstruction of the autopsy skull, as shown here (Figure 19).


In a step-by-step process, I used lead wire to outline on a real human skull where the bone fragments lay on JFK's skull X-rays. I then took a sequence of X-rays, first using fluoroscopy to obtain the correct orientation, to corroborate their exact locations. Even the mystery photo F8 (taken from the rear) was useful in this process and found to be remarkably consistent with the X-rays. After this I could finally identify a hole near the midline in the occipital area that matched the size and shape of the Harper bone fragment uncannily well. Even more remarkable, though, the lead smudge ended up precisely where the pathologists said the bullet had entered the rear of the skull.

Most likely the Harper fragment lay at the rear, as is shown here… The only other possible location, was offered by Dr. Lawrence Angel the anthropology expert for the HSCA who placed it into the parietal area, close to the site shown here (Figure 20)

Mantik vertex reconstruction of JFK Skull


Here is an overhead view of my reconstruction. The Harper fragment probably could have fit into the parietal site selected by Angel but the lead smudge—seen on the outside—was ignored by Angel and is not supported by any other data as a parietal entry site.

However, he did not know that occipital bone was missing so this site at the top of the head was his only option. The large bone fragment that arrived late at the autopsy arose immediately anterior to the coronal suture, which is faintly seen here. Both Angel and I agree on this. The HSCA version is hopelessly wrong. My reconstruction suggests that this parietal area of the skull was indeed missing, so Angel made a reasonable guess.

The chief argument against his placement though is that the lead smudge on the Harper fragment (seen on the photograph and actually described by the Dallas pathologists who first saw it) lies on the outside, not on the inside (Figure 21)

Harper fragment image


These photos were taken in Dallas. The lead smudge can be seen at one edge.

This external location suggests an entry, not an exit at this site. The multiple, sequential steps that led to my placement of the Harper fragment yielded—quite coincidentally—a location for the lead smudge that exactly matched the entry site described by the autopsy pathologists! To this day, that remains one of the most extraordinary eve nts of my journey. That remarkable match was not an independent assumption. On the other hand, Angel's site implies a parietal entry (because the lead smudge is on the outside), an option that virtually no one would support.

So why does any of this matter? If the Harper fragment derives from the rear, this suggests a large exit hole at the rear—consistent with a shot from the front. Most eyewitnesses apparently did not see this defect, however, as it was probably covered by scalp. Instead, most described an immediately adjacent hole, just to the right of the Harper defect. This latter one was sketched for McClelland (and gained his approval). Ironically, as can be seen on the X-rays, the bone was not missing here. Rather, a bone flap on a hinge (it could swing in or out)—located in the occipital area, as I have previously discussed—gave the impression of a hole if the flap was out. In fact, at Parkland it had swung out; on the X-rays it is closed, which has given some the impression that bone was not missing at the rear. (Robert McClelland stated: "…some of the occipital bone being fractured in its lateral half, and this sprang open the bones….")

To further emphasize the accuracy of these conclusions, John Hunt has advised me, as he will soon demonstrate in his own talk, that he has discovered X-ray images of the Harper fragment at NARA. A sequence of different X-ray exposures clearly and consistently shows lead (or at least metal) at a specific site in these images.

Astonishingly, though, the metal appears at exactly the same site as the dark smudge (that looked like lead) on photographs of the Harper fragment! Even the Dallas pathologists, who first examined it, described a probable site of lead. In particular, Dr. Noteboom, who spoke on a talk show with me in 1993, also confirmed his lasting impression of a small amount of lead on the Harper fragment. This leads to an amazing conclusion: if John Hunt's discoveries and my reconstruction are accepted, this is then the first time that objective evidence has eme rged to support the pathologists' low occipital entry site. This means, of course that the much higher site selected by the HSCA is grossly wrong.

Starched Scalp Hair… Dr. Doug DeSalles located a large format stereo viewer for me. With this device, I could view any of the seven autopsy poses in 3D. The only image that looked bizarre and flat, as though it were frozen in space in a 2D image, but still surrounded by a normal 3D image (Figure 22).

Color photo of posterior hair


In the stereo viewer the hair appears starched and two dimensional, as if glued into position. This is what would be expected if the same image had been inserted into two (slightly) different photos. The "red spot" is visible here, much higher than the entry wound described by the pathologists. In fact, they refused to identify this "red spot" as the entry wound, but the HSCA ignored them.

If the same image of hair had been inserted—e.g., via a soft matte process—into multiple photos, that's how it would look. That's exactly what you see when you view two exactly identical photos through the stereo viewer—you see a 2D image. None of the other autopsy poses (there are only seven in all) displayed such a peculiar image. Even more to the point, of course, this 2D image precisely covers the large hole that literally dozens of eyewitnesses recall, both at Parkland and at Bethesda.

The Curious "Red Spot." This was the central focus of the HSCA investigation—the second pillar of the HSCA, as I have called it. Note the red spot near the cowlick area in Figure 22. Dr. Michael Baden has often emphasized its central role in the HSCA deliberations. Even though all three-autopsy pathologists always vigorously denied that this was the entry wound, the HSCA nonetheless ignored them and chose this as the entry wound. No one at Parkland or at Bethesda ever saw this. This observation is so critical that I should repeat it: No one at Parkland saw this! No one at Bethesda ever saw this!

The HSCA literally based its case on a piece of paper—photographic paper. Furthermore, the black and white photograph of this spot does not look like the color image. Even Humes the chief autopsy pathologist insisted on an obvious difference between the two photos. To make matters even worse, when Ida Dox sketched this wound for the HSCA, she accentuated it (Figure 23).

Sketch of hair


The sketch significantly enhances the "red spot," making it look much more like an entry wound. (John Hunt displayed a note from Michael Baden to Ida Dox, telling her that she could do a better sketch, i.e., make it look more like a real wound.)

(John Hunt has regaled me with anecdotes about his curious encounters with Ida Dox. ) This "Red Spot" is a simple fake. It never existed on the body. It should not play a role in this case.

The Inconsistent Dark Spot on the Back Photo… Here is the back wound, as suggested by the pathologists' sheet and also by the hole in the coat (Figures 24-25).

Autopsy Sheet Image


This was prepared at the autopsy and includes Boswell's placement of the back wound (not "back of the neck," as Gerald Ford would later describe it).

JFK Coat Image


When a male model wore this coat for me at NARA, I measured the hole as 4 inches below the superior border of the should blade (scapula), meaning that WC supporters had to claim that the coat was bunched up by 4 inches—and still produce only one hole—a well nigh impossible feat.

The original photos of the body are large format transparencies (4 x 5 inches), so I focused on these. They usually come in pairs that look very similar but are in fact slightly different. In the photographs of the back, on the left side is a small, well-circumscribed, dark spot (perhaps a bloodstain) just above and to the left of the fourth knuckle (Figure 26).

JFK Back Image


Note the small dark area (possibly a blood stain) near the fourth knuckle of the left hand. This object is absent from one of the (presumably) authentic transparencies I viewed at NARA.

To my amazement, when I examined this site closely in the pair of color transparencies, the dark area was absent from one of them! What I saw instead, precisely at this same site, was a light-colored spot, with a thin, dark, horizontal line through the center! (Figure 27)

Geneology Back photos


This is a pictorial display of the lineage of the back photos. One transparency cannot be authentic and one color print is an orphan. Something is clearly amiss with the official collection.

Since the only color films exposed at the autopsy (of the body) were transparencies, the color prints must have been prepared later—from the transparencies. Since both color prints do show this identical dark spot (as do the black and white images), the next question was obvious: Do both color prints derive from the sole color transparency with the dark area?

To answer this question, I looked at the two color prints with the stereo viewer. I saw a typical 3D image. That can only happen if the two color prints are at least slightly different from one another—they cannot be identical. Therefore, there are two, slightly different color prints. Each must derive from a different color transparency—and each of these two transparencies must display the dark spot. But since only one colortransparency shows such a dark area, one of these color prints is an orphan—it has no parent! Its parent is missing!

Only two possibilities exist: either the body was altered at the autopsy at this specific site in the short time interval between these two exposures (obvious nonsense) or a now-missing color transparency (that contained the dark spot) was first used to produce the second color print. After all, the image had to come from somewhere. Finally, for reasons that remain unknown, the transparency was then photographically altered so as to appear as it now does—showing a light colored spot with a horizontal line passing through its center. The original has vanished.

So why does any of this matter? The dark area does not look like a wound, so it's probably not intrinsically important to the case. I'm not even sure why it was changed. What is important though is that it was changed—it cannot be an original! Let me say that again: this transparency cannot be an original! Yet the official view, confirmed in a follow-up letter to me by Steve Tilley is that the autopsy photos—and the X-rays, too, for that matter—are all originals (Figure 28).

Steven Tilley Letter


After my discoveries of the inauthentic photo and the copy of the left lateral X-ray (made while Tilley observed me), I sent him a short letter, merely inquiring whether NARA still regarded all of these items as authentic. This is his reply.

But now we know better; at least one photo is a copy. Once that point is conceded, then what guarantee do we have that the other transparencies are originals? With this new, and rather startling, revelation it is relatively undemanding now to accept that the odd 2D hairpiece seen in the stereo viewing is a fake. In summary here are the crucial photographic conclusions:

• One transparency cannot be authentic.

• One color print is an orphan.

The Strange Inscription on the Left Lateral X-ray… This is the most important evidence to emerge from my nine visits. This image is not in the public record, so I am showing a patient X-ray. On the JFK left lateral skull X-ray, just in front of the spine is an apparently hand drawn inscription, not previously discussed by me—or by anyone else (Figure 29).

Lateral patient X-ray


Since the left lateral JFK X-ray is not in the public record, I show instead an anonymous patient X-ray here. The T-shaped inscription, lying on its side, lies just in front of the spine on the X-ray as seen at NARA. The appearance of this inscription—i.e., no missing emulsion—proves that this X-ray is a copy. The original is nowhere to be found. In fact, all three extant skull X-rays are most likely copies, based on both quantitative and qualitative observations.

It looks like a capital letter T, lying on its side. It is the only hand drawn symbol that I could find on any of the three extant skull X-rays. This inscription is quite transparent, as if emulsion had been removed from the film. Consistent with this, small black traces, suggesting residual islands of emulsion, are still visible.

For comparison, at one edge of this same film, the emulsion has indeed peeled up from one side; I could easily see tiny, isolated fragments of emulsion. Furthermore, where emulsion was missing, the shiny plastic film base was easy to see. As would be expected, light transmission is greater through such single emulsion sites. I could also see that emulsion was still present on the other side of the film. Now, why does any of this matter? If emulsion were truly missing (like paint scraped off an oil painting) from one side of this inscription, then it should be trivial to see. Here then is the chief discovery of this ninth visit: no emulsion is missing! Even when I looked very closely—using reflected light at a wide range of angles—the emulsion appears entirely intact over this site. And this was true on both sides of the film. Both surfaces are as slick and smooth as a freshly iced hockey rink. Emulsion is neither missing nor disrupted in any way.

How can this be? There can be only one explanation—the left, lateral skull X-ray is a copy. The reason, of course, is that the emulsion of a duplicate film would be fully intact, as is the case here, but it would still faithfully record any areas of increased transmission (i.e., missing emulsion) from the original. A simpler—or more straightforward—proof of film copying is unimaginable. This film is a copy! I prepared, and brought with me, several small X-ray samples to illustrate this point. Anyone can see this grossly obvious difference between an original and a copy. It does not take an expert.

There are two other odd features of this X-ray:

1. There are no Kodak identification numbers anywhere on it.

2. This film has never appeared in any publication. It can only be seen at NARA.


To put all of this in context; here are the chief points of this talk:

• A white patch was added to the lateral X-rays, near the rear.

• A 6.5 mm bullet fragment was faked onto the frontal X-ray.

• On the lateral X-rays, the dark frontal area contains no brain—on either side.

• Frontal bone is missing all the way to the hairline.

• CE 843 (the large metal fragment) is totally inconsistent with the X-rays.

• A fuzzy white cloud in the metal fragment trail might be mercury.

• The Harper fragment derives from the rear of the skull, is mostly occipital.

• The starched hair and "red spot" are both faked.

• The dark spot on the left back proves that one transparency is not authentic.

• The left lateral X-ray is a copy; the original is missing (in fact, all originals of the skull are missing).


That's enough about the autopsy materials. I would like now to offer some personal reflections on this case.

In 1959 the BBC filmed the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (Figure 30).

Carl Jung Image


Carl Jung (1875-1961) is shown here in his study. His attached comments are worth reading.

During the on- film interview, he was asked an amazing question: "Dr. Jung, do you believe in God?"

Jung's reply astonished me. He said: "No, I don't believe in God. I know there is a God."

Likewise now, whe n I am asked if I believe in a conspiracy to kill JFK, I say: "No, I don't believe in a conspiracy. I know there was a conspiracy!" [Editor's note: Except that Jung used the word "know" in the weak sense of a sincere belief he could not deny, while Mantik uses it as an empirical claim that has been established beyond reasonable doubt.]


Harold Rydberg, who drew the WC diagrams— based merely on verbal descriptions—and who was a friend of Humes, employs the metaphor of a chess game: on November 22, 1963, Humes was checkmated. However, Humes was never happy "that he had to knuckle under," according to Rydberg.

This snapshot of the pathologists is entirely consistent with my own picture of them. These were competent (at least in general pathology), honorable men, who earned respect throughout their lives, but on this one occasion they were thoroughly boxed into a corner—checkmated, as Rydberg says. Their only other option was to throw away all they had earned during a lifetime in the military. Few individuals would so rashly risk all they had achieved. The pathologists told the truth when they could, but when trapped they went along. Boswell raised the back wound from where he had placed it on his autopsy diagram. Humes radically lowered the trail of metallic debris on the lateral skull X-ray; after all, a correct placement at the top of the skull, coexisting with an entry wound low on the skull (which the pathologists saw and felt) would unambiguously have meant two shots to the head—and unmistakable conspiracy.

That was not ignorance or incompetence. Even my son, at age seven, would not have made that mistake. Two shots to the head was an intolerable conclusion—radically inconsistent with the developing official view. Therefore Humes had no choice but to displace the bullet trail downward by over 10 cm. When asked under oath by the ARRB about this incredible deception in his autopsy report (with the disagreeable X-rays staring him in the face), Humes had no explanation whatsoever. In fact, Doug Horne, who was present, advised me that Humes nearly walked out of the interview, so frustrated had he become by that point.

I am not without sympathy for these unfortunate doctors. But they hardly stand alone in infamy. The Parkland doctors, too, changed their statements about the throat wound—this without seeing any new evidence. After merely being told that the official autopsy reported an exit (not an entrance) in the throat they, too, went along. To compound their complicity, however, they had the audacity to malign Dr. Charles Crenshaw to our Journal of the American Medical Association merely for telling the truth, based on observations that closely coincided with their own. By January 1933, before Hitler rose to power, 6% of Germany's doctors had joined the Nazi party. By 1942, about half were members. F. A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom 1944) adds others to this embarrassing roster: "The way in which … with few exceptions, her [Germany's] scholars and scientists put themselves readily at the service of the new rulers is one of the most depressing and shameful spectacles…."

Perhaps the lesson is merely one that applies to all of us: we humans are at amazing risk for social pressure. This is no longer speculation.

Stanley Milgram. In 1963, the results of a startling psychological experiment offered proof of this conjecture (Figure 31).

Stanley Milgram Image


Milgram's (1933-1984) work revolutionized social psychology but 'is still little appreciated by the general public, perhaps because it is so contrary to what we would like to believe.

A headline in The New York Times (October 26, 1963) read: "Sixty- five Percent in Test Blindly Obey Order to Inflict Pain." Stanley Milgram's research at Yale University had shown that the majority of participants willingly inflicted electric shocks up to 450 volts on presumably real (but actually sham) participants who made mistakes on word- matching tests. These participants obeyed only because they were told to do so, not because they were under any specific threats (Figures 32-34).

Milgram Graaph Image



Adolf Eichmann

Director of Nazi Deportation of Jews to Concentration Camps

Cartoon Image


An upper class notion of obedience to authority.

Later, at the University of San Diego, 23 of 24 law students told a client (who was only an actress, but the law students did not know this) to perjure herself, merely because law professor Steven Hartwell suggested this presumably authentic legal advice as the only hope for the client. Milgram's experiments demonstrated with frightening lucidity that ordinary humans can be led to act immorally—even without physical threats—and, furthermore, that these humans need not be innately evil to act reprehensibly. While most of us prefer to believe that we would not mislead or distort, as Kennedy's pathologists certainly did, the fact is that Milgram was right: when powerful social constraints enter the scene, our common moral senses become overwhelmed.

Milgram's work has had both recreational and serious repercussions. In 1973, British playwright Dannie Abse produced a play, "The Dogs of Pavlov," based on Milgram's work. In 1976, CBS aired "The Tenth Level," starring William Shatner as a Milgram facsimile. In 1985, the U.S. Military Academy introduced two new mandatory psychology courses based on Milgram's work. In 1986, musician Peter Gabriel recorded a song, "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)." Interested parties may want to consult Psychology Today, March/April 2002 or or the book by Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (Figure 34).

Milgram Book Cover Image


This is the cover of Milgram's most well known book (1974), which summarizes his shocking conclusions on obedience to authority.

M. Scott Peck echoes the same theme heard in Milgram's work in his own book (Figure 35):

Whenever the roles of individuals within a group become specialized, it becomes both possible and easy for the individual to pass the moral buck to some other part of the group. In this way, not only does the individual forsake his conscience but the conscience of the group as a whole can become so fragmented and diluted as to be nonexistent…. any group will remain inevitably potentially conscienceless and evil until such time each and every individual holds himself or herself directly responsible for the behavior of the whole group—the organism—of which he or she is a part. We have not yet begun to arrive at that point (M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie: Hope for Healing Human Evil 1983, p. 218; see Figure 35).

M.Scott Pecks Book Cover Image


This is the cover of M. Scott Peck's profoundly disturbing book on human evil.

I would add one final, personal observation: the higher in the hierarchy someone stands, the more susceptible he or she is to social pressure. The more this individual has to lose—both in prestige, money, and future success—the less likely he or she is to risk such a loss.

This case now lies before the bar of history. If we can seek truth in advertising, why can we not have truth in history? Surely our children deserve no less.

I close with a short quote from William Cullen Bryant. One of my patients, Betty Martin, who is also a former schoolteacher and who was born on November 22, gave this to me just a few days ago.

"Truth, crushed to the earth, shall rise again; the eternal years of God are hers;

But Error, wounded, writhes in pain, and dies among his worshippers."

--The Battlefield (1839), Stanza 9


The JFK Autopsy Materials: Twenty Conclusions after Nine Visits

David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D


I examined the JFK autopsy materials at the National Archives (NARA) on four separate days in 1993, on two days in 1994, and on two days in 1995. This review included the photographs, X-rays, clothing, magic bullet, and two metal fragments removed from the skull. My most recent visit (day # 9) was on 12 April 2001. Nearly six years had passed since my eighth visit, during which time the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) had come and gone. During this six -year time interval my initial findings had been published in two books:

1. Assassination Science (1998)

2. Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000)

Both edited by James Fetzer.

To place the significant discoveries of this ninth and last visit in context, the major conclusions from my initial eight visits are first summarized. It is important to note that this succinct account is primarily intended for those readers who are already familiar with these issues. Newcomers will find supporting details in the aforementioned books. All readers should note that additional conclusions of somewhat lesser importance either have been or shall be summarized elsewhere. Visits # 1– 8 (1993-1995)

1. Shortly after the autopsy, a large white (i.e., relatively transparent) patch was superimposed (in the darkroom—not on a physical skull) over the posterior portion of both lateral skull X-rays during the production of altered copies. These are now part of the official collection at NARA. This left unaltered a large, dark area at the front of the skull, which made it appear that a posterior bullet had blown out the front. Even Humes, during his ARRB deposition, repeatedly expressed his bewilderment at this dark area, most likely because the white patch subconsciously confused him. An obvious corollary to this conclusion is that both original, lateral skull X-rays have vanished—without a trace.

2. Shortly after the autopsy--by using a simple, double exposure technique in the dark room—a 6.5 mm, metal-like object was superimposed over an authentic, but smaller, metal fragment (within the right orbit) on the original, frontal X-ray during the production of a copy film. This is now part of the official collection. The evidence for this conclusion derives from eight separate lines of evidence, most based on optical density (OD) measurements of the X-rays. During their ARRB depositions, the autopsy pathologists did not recall seeing this object on 22 November 1963—nor for that matter did anyone else (including the radiologist). This X-ray forgery was done with a single purpose: to incriminate Oswald via the 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano carbine. Within the past several years, Larry Sturdivan, the ballistics expert for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), has also stated his absolute conviction that this 6.5 mm object cannot be a bullet fragment. This new interpretation of the 6.5 mm object (as an irrelevant artifact) totally contradicts the Clark Panel (1968) and the HSCA (1978), both of whom interpreted this object as an authentic bullet fragment. Even more to the point, this object played a crucial role in their conclusions —which have now been thoroughly undermined. The extant frontal X-ray, therefore, also cannot be an original but must be a copy. The original has vanished without a trace. Therefore, no original unaltered skull X-ray remains.

3. At the front of both lateral skull X-rays is a fist-sized dark area that is devoid of brain tissue. This is in dramatic disagreement with the brain photographs, which show nearly intact brain on both sides of midline. On the other hand, it is remarkably consistent with the substitute brain hypothesis, as advanced by Douglas Horne, and which multiple lines of evidence support. Furthermore, the autopsy photographer, John Stringer, told the ARRB that the photographic film that he used for the brain photographs was different from the extant film that shows the brain—which would also be consistent with the substitute brain scenario.

4. Based on OD measurements of all three skull X-rays, more brain is missing on the right side, but a substantial amount is also missing on the left. This latter conclusion, especially, is in serious disagreement with the brain photographs. On the other hand, one of the Parkland nurses, who looked inside the skull while preparing the body for departure, actually noted that a significant volume of the left brain was also missing.

5. Based on both OD measurements and on intense light observations of the X-rays, the right skull is missing anteriorly to the forehead, very near the hairline. This is consistent with both the face sheet from the autopsy and with Boswell's drawings on a skull for the ARRB.

6. The black and white prints of the X-rays, listed in Burkley's Memorandum of Transfer (26 April 1963), no longer exist. Nothing is known about their disappearance or their present location.

7. Based on 3D viewing of the autopsy photographs with a large format stereo viewer, the scalp hair on the posterior head photographs (Black and White # 15, 16 and color # 42, 43) appears starched and flat, i.e., not naturally 3D. (Also see comments below from day # 9.)

8. On the posterior photographs of the head, the famous "red spot," identified by the HSCA as a bullet entry, is remarkably difficult to see in both Black and White photographs (# 15, 16). Furthermore, several hairs emerge directly from this so-called wound in the Black and White images; oddly, such hairs are not as obvious on the color views (# 42, 43). On the Black and White images, this site does not look at all like a bullet entry wound. These observations were made with a magnifying lens that incorporated two different powers. During his HSCA testimony, chief pathologist, James J. Humes, made similar denigrating comments about the supposed entry site on the Black and White images.

9. When the anatomic landmarks from the skull X-rays are integrated with similar landmarks from 3D viewing of the mystery photographs of the large skull defect a clear conclusion emerges: the large skull defect must lie at the right rear—in striking agreement with virtually all of the Parkland and Bethesda medical personnel. (Because the Black and White images (# 17, 18) are cropped, the color images (# 44, 45) are essential for this exercise.)

10. There are only seven distinctly different autopsy poses of the body; all of these can be seen in popular books. Likewise, the re are seven color images of the brain, none of which is in the public record. Only a sketch of one view was published by the HSCA.

11. When the shirt is buttoned, the two slits just below the collar overlap. No fabric appears to be missing—meaning that a scalpel might well have produced these slits (as has been recounted by the nurses, who cut off the clothing). The appearance of these slits is not at all consistent with the passage of a bullet (and no tests ever showed the presence of metal at this site). When a live model at NARA modeled the coat for me, the hole in the coat lay about ten centimeters (four inches) inferior to the scapular spine. This is not consistent with the autopsy photograph of the back wound, which lies much higher. When Steven Tilley, JFK Liaison at NARA, aligned the top of the shirt and top of the coat (at my request), I could see that the hole in the shirt lay 1.5 cm inferior to the hole in the coat. In order to explain the low-lying hole in the coat, partisans of the single bullet theory have necessarily had to argue that the top of the coat was bunched up (by more than four inches) according to the measurement noted just above. On the other hand, they have been oddly silent about the hole in the shirt. Since this hole appears to lie even lower, they must argue that the shirt was also bunched up, perhaps even more than the coat—despite the fact that there is no evidence that the shirt was bunched up at all.

12. CE 399 (the magic bullet) contains only four grooves, which is the expected number for a Mannlicher-Carcano bullet. On this question, the available photographs are misleading. An accurate count of the grooves can only be done at NARA.

13. As viewed at NARA, CE 843, the larger metal fragment supposedly removed from the skull, is pancake shaped and 3 x 2 x 2 mm. This is in conspicuous contrast to its appearance on the skull X-rays --where it is more nearly linear at 7 x 2 x 2 mm. No tests performed on this fragment can explain its odd transformation in shape and size, nor has any official explanation ever been advanced for its current, and dramatically different, shape.

Visit # 9 (12 April 2001)

None of the prior conclusions are changed; on the contrary, they are reinforced.

14. There are remarkably many, tiny metal fragments widely scattered on the skull X-rays, even on the left side and on the inferior skull, including at least four near the chin on the frontal X-ray. This remarkable, and heretofore ignored, observation is hardly compatible with the passage of a single, full metal-jacketed, Mannlicher-Carcano bullet near the top of the skull, but might more easily have resulted from a hollow point or mercury bullet—or perhaps even from shrapnel from a bullet that was not counted by the Warren Commission.

15. All three-skull X-rays show a (spatially consistent) fuzzy, gray cloud within the fragment trail that extends across the top of the skull; this fuzzy cloud seems more consistent with mercury (extruded from a bullet) rather than lead. I am, however, unaware of any existing experiment with mercury bullets shot into skulls that could test this conclusion; this should therefore be viewed instead as a hypothesis ripe for experiment.

16. There are 20 color transparencies (this was the only color format exposed during the autopsy) of the body, and 18 Black and White negatives, yielding a total of 38 images of the body. There are 7 color negatives and 7 Black and White negatives of the brain. Altogether then, the NARA set once included 38 + 14 = 52 independent images. On 19 May 1969, however, pathologists Humes and Boswell noted that one color negative of the brain (#49) was missing. It has never been located, which now leaves only 51 images. There are 14 X-ray films; these include 11 of the body and three of the late arriving bone fragments. [In a New York Times report (November 1, 1966), Fred Graham quoted the Justice department, as saying that there were 14 X-rays, 25 Black and White negatives, and 26 four-by-five color transparencies. My review agrees with this.]

17. There is no photograph of the Harper fragment, nor is there any documentation of it at NARA. This evidence, previously held by the FBI, has vanished into thin air. [Since this was originally written, however, John Hunt has discovered evidence for X-rays of this fragment at NARA.]

18. No matter how the stereo viewer is employed, the upper scalp hair on the posterior head photographs looks starched and flat, i.e., two-dimensional. This is how two precisely identical photographs appear when viewed in stereo. In a bizarre image over the left top of the head, the hair extends well out into space, looking as if it had been glued into position. When the paired photographs are reversed (left for right), or even when they are each rotated by ninety degrees, this odd appearance of the hair persists. This is true both of the color transparencies and of the color prints. Such a 2D effect would occur if the same photograph (of extraneous hair) had been inserted (as in a soft matte technique) into two slightly different views of the same pose. This conclusion that the upper scalp hair (just where there should be a large hole, according to the score or more of witnesses assembled by Gary Aguilar, M.D.) forms an unnatural 2D image in the stereo viewer is strikingly at odds with the HSCA, which implied that the stereo images appeared normally 3D. By contrast, stereo viewing of the hair on other photographic pairs in the autopsy collection seems normal.

19. One photograph of the back (color transparency #38) cannot be an original, but must rather be a copy. As a corollary, one of the related color prints must be an orphan— it has no obvious parent.

20. The most important conclusion from day # 9 is this: the left, lateral skull X-ray must be a copy. The supporting evidence for this is totally new, simple, and straightforward. Since we now know, beyond any doubt, that at least this one extant skull X-ray must be a copy, several elementary questions immediately arise:

(a) Where is the original?

(b) Why is there no documentation for the missing original?

(c) Why was the film copied at all?

(d) Why is there no record of its copying?

(e) Who copied it? (f) Why have all of the official panels, and NARA, too, insisted to the present day that all of the X-rays are originals and that none are copies?

(g) Finally, and most importantly, was it copied in order to alter the image?


21. These fragments are obvious to the unaided eye on close inspection. Since direct copying from the X-rays is not permitted, I employed an alternate technique to locate and to sketch all of these metal fragments. I first placed a transparent piece of graph paper over an X-ray; immediately adjacent to this (on a light box) I placed an identical, but opaque, piece of graph paper. I then located each metal fragment in two dimensions on the transparent graph paper overlying the X-ray; after finding the same site on the opaque graph paper, I outlined each fragment's size and shape with good precision.

22. This fuzzy cloud looks quite different from the obviously metallic fragments:

a. It appears translucent rather than transparent

b. It is very large compared to the fragments

c. It has ill-defined, sometimes almost invisible, borders.

23. I examined and counted each of these.

24. This is based on Steven Tilley's answer to my query.

25. I brought my own large format, stereo viewer to NARA. Each pose of the body is represented by at least two, nearly identical, photographs —slight differences between each member of a pair are the necessary condition for 3D viewing. Such viewing was particularly useful for the mystery photographs with the large skull defect (Black and White # 17, 18 and color # 44, 45).

26. In the photographs of the back (Black and White # 11, 12 and color # 38, 39), on the left side, there is a small, well-circumscribed, dark area (perhaps a blood stain—or maybe even a wound) just above and to the left of the fourth knuckle. Because of the controversy over the superior-inferior level of the back wound, I had pondered whether this dark area might be the authentic back wound (moved to the left side by the simple expedient of turning the negatives over in the dark room and then making a print). To my amazement, when I examined this site closely in the pair of color transparencies, the dark area was absent from one of them. Instead, in one transparency, precisely this same site was hypopigmented, with a thin, dark, horizontal line traversing its center—the dark area had been transformed!

Since the only color films exposed at the autopsy (of the body) were transparencies, the color prints must have been prepared later from the transparencies. Since the color prints of this particular pose of the back display the identical dark area on the left side of the back (as do the Black and White images), the next question was obvious: do the color prints derive from the sole color transparency that contains the dark area? To answer this question, the color prints were examined simultaneously with the stereo viewer—from which a typical 3D image emerged. Such a stereo image can occur only if the two color prints are at least slightly different—they cannot be identical.

Therefore, there are two, slightly different, color prints, each of which must derive from a different color transparency--and each of these two transparencies must display the dark area.

But since only one color transparency shows such a dark area, one of these color prints is an orphan—i.e., there is no second color transparency with a dark area to serve as a parent for the second print. Only two reasonable possibilities exist: either:

a. The body was altered at the autopsy at this specific site in the short time interval between these two exposures (besides seeming totally pointless, if not downright deceptive, no one has recalled such an event)

b. A second color transparency (that originally contained the dark area) was first used to produce the second color print, after which this transparency was photographically altered to appear as it now does.

In any case, the odd color transparency with the hypo-pigmented area really does exist—and so does the orphaned color print. (The Black and White images show no such paradoxes.) The probability is therefore very high that at least this one transparency is not an original, yet it survives today in a set of twenty images of the body, all of which are officially regarded as originals.1 But if even one of these is not an original, what certainty can there now be that the other nineteen color transparencies are originals? Even more to the point, what certainty remains that none of these other nineteen has also been altered? Or, in view of already noted evidence for photo-alteration (i.e., the odd 2D hairpiece seen in stereo images of #42, 43), perhaps this question should instead be limited to the remaining eighteen.

27. On the left, lateral skull X-ray, just anterior to the cervical spine (see enclosed image) is an apparently hand drawn inscription, not previously discussed by me —or by anyone else. It looks like an upper case letter T, lying on its side, with a slight separation between the two perpendicular strokes. It is the only hand drawn symbol that I could find on any of the three-skull extent X-rays. This inscription is quite transparent, as if emulsion had been removed from one side of the film. In fact, small black traces, suggesting residual islands of emulsion in a sea of gray, are still visible. OD measurements support this conclusion of missing emulsion from one side: ODs inside the inscription are 1.05, 1.44, 1.42, 0.92, and 1.42, yielding an average value of 1.25; ODs just outside are 2.29, 2.44, 2.37, 2.44, and 2.43, yielding an average value of 2.39. The ratio of 2.39/1.25 = 1.91, being a little less than two, is precisely what would be expected for emulsion missing from one side.

By way of comparison, at one edge of this same film, emulsion has obviously peeled up from one side of the film; short segments of this detached layer are obvious to the unaided eye. Furthermore, where emulsion has completely separated, the shiny plastic film base is easy to see. As would be expected, light transmission is greater through this single emulsion site. That the emulsion is still intact at this same site on the other side of this double emulsion film is also obvious.

Now if emulsion is truly missing from one side where this hand drawn inscription appears, then the interruption of the emulsion surface should be easily visible to the unaided eye (like paint scraped off an oil painting). Here then is the chief discovery of this ninth visit: no emulsion is missing! Even when the emulsion is closely inspected—using reflected light glancing off the surface at a wide range of angles--the emulsion appears entirely intact over this site on both sides of the film. Both surfaces are as slick and smooth as a freshly iced hockey rink. Emulsion is neither missing nor disrupted in any way.2

Only one explanation is possible --this left, lateral skull X-ray is a copy. The reason, of course, is that the emulsion of a copy film would be fully intact, yet at the same time it would faithfully record any areas of increased transmission (i.e., missing emulsion) from the original. A simpler--or more straightforward--proof of film copying is unimaginable.3

One final comment seems pertinent. Two other odd features of this particular left, lateral skull X-ray is:

a. There are no Kodak identification numbers anywhere on it.

b. This film has never appeared in any publication. It can only be seen at NARA.

1After my visit, I sent a specific letter of inquiry on this point to Steven Tilley. His letter of response is makes it clear that NARA considers all of the extant X-rays to be originals. None are copies.

2 It is essential to note at this point that the X-rays are stored inside transparent plastic sheets and that viewing is virtually always done with the X-rays inside of these sheets. For this particular inspection, however, it was critical that the X-ray film be viewed directly, with no intervening reflections. Steven Tilley was gracious enough to remove the X-ray from its protective sleeve so that the naked surfaces of the film could be viewed directly.

3Any significant new discovery in this JFK case is often measured against a single standard—i.e, is it a smoking gun? Well before all of the 60,000 new documents had been released by the ARRB (and surely before she had read all of them), one board member (Anna Kasten Nelson) assumed the garb of a Biblical prophet: she proclaimed in print that there would be no smoking guns in this case. In view of the new evidence described here, however, I would propose a somewhat different metaphor. To summon up an image of Moses rather than one of the prophets, this new discovery is rather less like a smoking gun than it is like a burning bush.

©2003 David W. Mantik

A Conversation with John Ebersole M.D.

Edited by David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D

[Editor's note: John Ebersole, M.D., was the Navy medical officer in charge of radiology during the autopsy of JFK, though the actual X-rays were taken by Jerrol Custer, an enlisted medical technician. Having discovered that the X-rays have been fabricated by imposing a patch over a massive blowout in the back of the head (in the case of the lateral) and by adding a 6.5 mm metallic object (in the case of the anterior/posterior), David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., was eager to discuss the X-rays with Ebersole. Fortunately, Ebersole was willing to talk with him… up to a point… and Mantik has transcribed their extremely interesting conversation, which occurred but a few months prior to his death.]

On 2 November 1992, in response to my letter to John Ebersole, the autopsy radiologist, Ebersole phoned me at my office and we discussed the JFK autopsy for about 10 to 15 minutes, at most. I promised that I would phone him back, which I did on 2 December 1992 (at his home). This second conversation was recorded; the entire conversation is transcribed here. I donated a copy of this tape to the ARRB.

Female voice (Mrs. Ebersole?): Hello.

Mantik: Hi. This is Dr. Mantik calling for Dr. Ebersole.

Female voice: Just a moment, please. (Pause)

Ebersole: Hello.

Mantik: Hi. This is Dr. Mantik.

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to call sooner. We've gotten really busy out here.

Ebersole: Uh-huh.

Mantik: All these snowbirds keep coming over here and trying to see us. You probably never had that problem over there. [Mantik note: Ebersole and I shared the same specialty of radiation oncology. He was practicing in Lancaster, PA, at that time.]

Ebersole: No.

Mantik: Yeah. Well, I thought I'd follow up on my letter and see if there was a chance that we could get together sometime soon.

Ebersole: Ah, I don't think so. I would really like to drop this whole subject.

Mantik: Oh, I'm a little surprised. OK.

Ebersole: Yeah, I think everything you need to know is contained in the two articles in JAMA, the articles by Boswell and Hume (sic) and the one by Finck. [Mantik note: These were actually written by Dennis Breo.]

Mantik: OK, OK, so you basically support what they said there?

Ebersole: Yeah, absolutely, across the board. I think they've got everything there. After all, they are pathologists, and they were carrying out the specialty of pathology. As a radiologist, I was there only to help them, not to perform the thing. But I don't, I don't really care to carry this on, you know, any further.

Mantik: Oh, OK, I…

Ebersole: Everything's been said that's…

Mantik: I understand then.

Ebersole: …been said. Ah, unfortunately, I wish Jim and J. Boswell had published much earlier.

Mantik: Oh, it would have been wonderful. I've always wanted to talk to somebody who was there. That's why I was so excited about being able to talk to you a little bit.

Ebersole: I would think that I would have very little to add, if any, really nothing to add to what you can get from those articles.

Mantik: Uh-hmm. So your impression, too, when you saw that head wound was that the shot was from the back.

Ebersole: Oh yes.

Mantik: Yeah.

Ebersole: Back and above…

Mantik: Back and above, uh-huh. And the back wound…

Ebersole: I had Pierre Finck as an instructor at AFIP.

Mantik: Did you?

Ebersole: And he was, you know, adamant about that, because [garbled] was always on the side of the wound of entrance.

Mantik: So when you looked at the back of the head, what did you see there?

Ebersole: Saw a wound…

Mantik: Yeah.

Ebersole: …saw a big wound.

Mantik: It was pretty big on the back?

Ebersole: Well, the exit (sic) wound was big. They… it had chopped up the skull.

Mantik: Yeah, in the occipital…

Ebersole: The wound was a single beveled wound.

Mantik: If you looked at him from the back, like if he was standing in front of you, could you see the big exit wound?

Ebersole: Yeah...

Mantik: Uh-hmm…

Ebersole: Sure...

Mantik: How wide was it? That's what I've always wanted to ask somebody.

Ebersole: Ah, I can't remember.

Mantik: You just don't remember. The other thing you mentioned last time, about the back wound, was about T4… That about right…

Ebersole: Ah, T4, yeah.

Mantik: Yeah. Did you use a radio-opaque marker to identify that?

Ebersole: No.

Mantik: Oh, just clinical…

Ebersole: That was a clinical impression.

Mantik: …a clinical observation… About the level of the scapular spine or so…

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: Yeah. That sounds about what I would have guessed from that, too. So, oh, I know, there was one question I was really hoping I could ask you. You say that there was five or six skull X-rays that were taken? [Mantik note: The official collection contains only three; Ebersole had recalled five or six in our first telephone conversation, also. Curiously enough, this is also the (independent) recollection of Jerrol Custer, the technologist. He has confirmed that to me directly.]

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: Ah, do you remember if any X-rays were taken right after they removed the brain from the skull?

Ebersole: No, I don't.

Mantik: Just don't remember.

Ebersole: …don't remember, and I doubt if any were.

Mantik: Uh-hmm.

Ebersole: X-rays were taken, in general, whole body X-rays were taken before the autopsy…

Mantik: Um-hmm.

Ebersole: …you know, right away.

Mantik: Right, that's what I understood.

Ebersole: And a chest was taken again after the autopsy was complete.

Mantik: Right, OK. The head wasn't manipulated at all between, I mean, just, even moving it up in any direction, like when you put the cassette in there behind, there was not much movement of the head, was there?

Ebersole: Umm, there was the usual movement…

Mantik: Nothing unusual.

Ebersole: …Lateral position versus the AP…

Mantik: Yeah, no major movement of fragments or tissue?

Ebersole: No.

Mantik: Yeah, that's what I wanted to know. Yeah, that's what I assumed. You didn't take any X-rays of bullet fragments that night or the next day, did you?

Ebersole: I took an X-ray of a large bone fragment that was sent up from Dallas.

Mantik: That was on the evening of the 22nd?

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: And anything the next day, at all, that happened?

Ebersole: What's that?

Mantik: Did anything happen at all the next day?

Ebersole: [Slight pause] No, not really.

Mantik: Nothing at all, no more X-rays?

Ebersole: [Mantik note: Inaudible; my impression at the time was that he had clearly implied that the answer was, "No."]

Mantik: Did you use some metal on the skull for magnification? Do you remember that?

Ebersole: No, did not. [Mantik note: There is a visible metal strip that Custer, the technologist, recalled, but it does not contain identifiable marks that could be used for determining magnification.]

Mantik: Did not use any, huh?

Ebersole: Did not...

Mantik: And you saw…

Ebersole: …and that presented a problem because I could not remember the type of the source to film distance, and so on. [Mantik note: He is describing his later trip to the White House to review the X-rays, in which the question of magnification arose. This odd escapade is described in my essay in Assassination Science.]

Mantik: You saw the posterior wound in the skull yourself?

Ebersole: Yes.

Mantik: Yeah, so you could see the beveling yourself, or was that the pathologists' impression?

Ebersole: You could feel it.

Mantik: You could actually feel it?

Ebersole: Oh, yeah.

Mantik: Yeah. OK. The thing that puzzled me about that, you know, was that Boswell said in his testimony that they got these three [bone] fragments late in the autopsy and then they put this back together, and it was only then that he could see that entrance wound, and that's caused a lot of…

Ebersole: …could have been.

Mantik: Yeah, that's caused a lot of confusion. So you think that could have happened that way then?

Ebersole: Ah, could have.

Mantik: Yeah, OK. Jeez…

Ebersole: I don't remember after what…

Mantik: That's, that's what I keep saying to myself: gee, why, why didn't somebody write this all down within a year or two?

Ebersole: Humes had his notes [Mantik note: which have never appeared anywhere in the record], and ah…

Mantik: Yeah, did he take notes at the autopsy?

Ebersole: Yes.

Mantik: Yeah, did he have a diagram there, too?

Ebersole: I don't know, I…

Mantik: …don't know, huh? (Pause) Hmm, do you have any photographs of these X-rays yet?

Ebersole: No.

Mantik: So you don't even have those, huh?

Ebersole: They were turned over immediately after processing, turned immediately over to Secret Service.

Mantik: Uh-hmm. Uh-hmm.

Ebersole: Or what I assumed to have been Secret Service.

Mantik: Interesting. You saw the tracheostomy, too, didn't you?

Ebersole: (pause) I saw, yeah…

Mantik: What did that actually look like? There seem to be some differing opinions on that…

Ebersole: Well, it looked like an explosive (sic) type of wound, with lipping, ah, but clean, you know, we assumed that it was a surgical wound.

Mantik: Looked like a scalpel incision?

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: Uh-huh. Was it the size you would expect for a tracheostomy?

Ebersole: Yeah, except it was, you know, too transverse. I wouldn't want to do a tracheotomy like that (said with some feeling).

Mantik: Um-hmm. OK, that's an interesting comment. Was it open when you first saw it, or was it sutured?

Ebersole: It was open.

Mantik: It was open, not sutured. Uh-hmm. OK. Fascinating. Burkley was there, too, at the autopsy, wasn't he? (Pause) Admiral Burkley?

Ebersole: I don't remember…

Mantik: …don't remember him.

Ebersole: I don't remember him being there.

Mantik: Let me tell you what puzzles me about him. He was the only doctor who was at Dallas and also at the autopsy and he certainly must have known about that anterior neck wound, and I just can't understand why he didn't tell Humes about that.

Ebersole: I don't, frankly… I don't remember his being there.

Mantik: You don't actually remember him…

Ebersole: I wouldn't say he wasn't…

Mantik: OK.

Ebersole: …but I don't remember his being there.

Mantik: Yeah.

Ebersole: And it was, oh, 10:30 at night before we got the communication from Dallas [Mantik note: Ebersole had told me during our first conversation that they had learned about the throat wound from Dallas that night. In prior conversations, he had also stated that he had learned of the projectile wound to the throat during the autopsy… that, in fact, he had stopped taking X-rays after that intelligence had arrived, because the mystery of the exit wound… …corresponding to the back entrance wound… was solved.]

Mantik: Uh-hmm. Uh-hmm.

Ebersole: I think Burkley may well have been with the President's wife.

Mantik: Yeah, that could be, couldn't it? Your job was mainly to look for the bullets, as I understand it, on the X-rays?

Ebersole: Yes, because for a while everyone, investigating officers and so on, felt there was an entry wound, i.e., in the back, and no exit wound…

Mantik: Sure.

Ebersole: …ah, but that was later proven to be wrong.

Mantik: Yeah, so you, ah, you really didn't see any big fragments on the X-ray, then, I gather… on the skull X-ray?

Ebersole: Any what?

Mantik: Did you see any big bullet fragments at all on the skull X-ray?

Ebersole: No. No.

Mantik: Nothing, nothing big at all?

Ebersole: The bullet did a typical thing, it smashed into, ah, and you know, ah, hundreds of pieces…

Mantik: Uh-hmm. Uh-hmm.

Ebersole: …once inside the skull…

Mantik: Yeah. Where, where was that track? That was the other curious thing, I wasn't quite sure.

Ebersole: Oh, roughly, it was from the occiput up forward.

[Mantik note: This is also what Humes said in his official report, but the trail is actually more than 10cm higher than this on the X-rays. Ebersole recalled drawing straight lines on the X-rays with a pencil during his visit to the White House. While at the National Archives, I was able to confirm that these two pencil lines are still present… and that they are located on only one side of the lateral X-ray film. In other words, the current X-rays are not copies of those that Ebersole saw at the White House; such copies would not show pencil markings on only one side. We can be confident, therefore, that the current X-rays are the same ones that Ebersole viewed at the White House. An entirely separate question, though, is whether the current X-rays are identical to those at the autopsy. In this very interview, Ebersole denies seeing any large metal-like fragments on the X-rays, but that cannot be true of the current X-rays. Since the 6.5 mm object is a (nearly complete) cross section of a (purported Mannlicher-Carcano) bullet, it must considered to be a large fragment. The eyewitness evidence suggests that the X-rays were altered promptly after the assassination (similar to the photographs). Most likely, Ebersole was recalled to the White House for the sole purpose of verifying that he would not dispute the altered X-rays. The cover story… of needing measurements for a bust… is absurd; pre-mortem X-rays existed for this purpose, as if anyone would ever use X-rays at all for such a purpose.]

Mantik: ...From the external occipital protuberance…

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik:  It was down that far, huh?

Ebersole: Well, I don't want to say that for sure.

Mantik: OK.

Ebersole: It was, basically, from occiput, looking at the lateral view, as I remember, from occiput up toward the right forehead.

Mantik: Yeah, yeah, that's what Humes said, too, exactly what he said.

Ebersole: In fact, there was a little ecchymosis over the right, ah, right eye.

Mantik: Uh-hmm, yeah, I remember his saying that, too.

Ebersole: Otherwise, everything was intact, except for the tremendous wound.

Mantik: Yeah, now that big wound that we mentioned before, that went well behind the ear, didn't it?

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: Over the parietal, parietal area behind the ear, didn't it?

Ebersole: (garbled) it was multi-wound fragments.

Mantik: Uh-hmm, was that very close to that entry wound? Do you remember? (Pause) the big one and the little one…

Ebersole: Yeah, it was fairly close. Its most posterior margin was probably oh two, two and a half centimeters lateral to the entry wound. [Mantik note: This is a critical observation; he has just placed the large hole directly in the occipital bone… just where the photograph shows well-groomed hair.]

Mantik: Oh, OK, that's interesting, yeah. Would it be close to the labroid suture… the junction of the occiput and parietal bones?

Ebersole: I wouldn't want to say.

Mantik: Just not sure about that one. Yeah, fascinating. Boy, I wish you guys had all written a book about this. This would have been fascinating.

Ebersole: Yeah, what fascinates me is why people are so fascinated by it.

Mantik: Because there are so many contradictory pieces of evidence. It's like a murder mystery.

Ebersole: Yeah, you can find that in the Borden case, in the Lindberg case, doctor, you can find it in any one of hundreds of criminal cases. [Mantik note: If I recall correctly, Ebersole had taken courses on writing detective stories and actually did write these as a hobby. I have never tried to determine if he was published.]

Mantik: Yeah, well, maybe you're right, yeah.

Ebersole: Why this particular thing should become an obsession with people, I have no idea.

Mantik: Uh-huh.

Ebersole: It was a nut that decided to kill a man, and you can do it.

Mantik: Uh-hmm. Uh-hmm. Now, that wound, that big wound we were talking about, would that have gone far enough back, in the back of the head that you could even have seen the cerebellum?

Ebersole: I, I wouldn't want to say. I could not identify any cerebellum as such from what I saw.

Mantik: But the 'hole itself, would it have been low enough to see it?

Ebersole: I, I don't know. I don't want to say.

Mantik: OK.

Ebersole: That would have to be from the photographs, I would think, the stuff that's in the Archives.

Mantik: Oh yeah, you saw the photographs, didn't you?

Ebersole: Not entirely, no…

Mantik: Oh, I'm surprised; I'd thought you'd have seen those. You don't remember those, then?

Ebersole: No, I knew John, who took the photographs, an excellent civilian Yeah,

Mantik:  John Stringer, yeah…

Ebersole: …but I didn't see the finished product.

Mantik:  You never saw those. I thought you might have seen those, ah, when you went back there to testify.

Ebersole: No, and I went back to test the X-rays were, in fact, the X-rays taken. [Mantik note: This curious episode is recounted in my essay in Assassination Science.]

Mantik:  Yeah, what did you think about that?

Ebersole: Hell, they were the X-rays I took.

Mantik: Yeah, OK. But you know what puzzles me about that, that…

Ebersole: A lot of things puzzle you, doctor.

Mantik:  …that, that Clark Panel report saw that 6.5 mm fragment.

Ebersole: Yeah (change in tone of voice… almost like resignation, then a pause). Well, I tell you, I, ah, I don't know if you realize it or not, but I have a bronchogenic carcinoma with a metastases to the cerebellum. [Mantik note: I have always found it striking that Ebersole chose this particular question at which to stop the interview. The question remained, of course, forever unanswered. The list of suspects for X-ray alteration is very short, with Ebersole at the top of the list. His activities in the radiology department, on Saturday, November 23rd (as recalled by Custer, the technologist) as well as Ebersole's subsequent, curious visit to the White House (to view the X-rays), is consistent with such illegal behavior.]

Mantik: Oh, gosh. [Mantik note: At our national, specialty meetings in San Diego (between these two telephone calls), I had learned from a Pennsylvania technologist that Ebersole was receiving radiation treatment for lung cancer, but I had not known that he had developed brain metastases.]

Ebersole: And I'm not doing well at all.

Mantik: Oh, jeez.

Ebersole: And I would really like to close out this discussion.

Mantik: Oh, we can stop anytime you like.

Ebersole: OK.

Mantik: Surely. Listen, thank you so much.

Ebersole: I know. Bye.

Mantik: Bye.

[Mantik note: John Ebersole died several months later. I believe that I was the last person to interview him about his role at the JFK autopsy.]

The Medical Evidence Decoded

(Click images to enlarge)

[Editor's note: After securing permission from the Kennedy attorney, Burke Marshall, Dr. Mantik visited the National Archives on at least seven occasions to review (and take measurements on) the autopsy photographs, the autopsy X-rays, JFK's clothing, and the ballistic evidence. Mantik's background as a radiation oncologist (certified by the American College of Radiology), together with his Ph.D. in physics (with a thesis in X-ray scattering) from the University of Wisconsin, make him uniquely qualified to address the conundrums of this exceptional case. No other individual with such credentials has ever reviewed this data. For the X-ray work, in particular, a background in medical physics (with an emphasis on X-rays) is essential. These skills would not be found in the ordinary radiologist, nor would a medical physicist, by himself, be competent to address the decisive medical issues that proliferate in this case. These talents-of physician and physicist-must be combined in a single individual, as fortuitously occurs with David W. Mantik. This case has long been waiting for such a synthesis.]

I found the minions of the law-the agents of the FBI-to be men who proved themselves not only fully capable, but also utterly willing to manufacture evidence, to conceal crucial evidence and even to change the rules that governed life and death if, in the prosecution of the accused, it seemed expedient to do so. -Gerry Spence


Allegations of missing, mysterious, or even manipulated autopsy photographs, burned drafts of the autopsy report, altered X-rays, and the media to the conspiracy fringes usually ascribes a substituted brain. However, these admissions and intimations have recently emerged from an official review of the JFK assassination. Repeat depositions of the three autopsy pathologists and interviews with the two autopsy photographers (and many other medical personnel besides) offer fresh insights into anomalous events following 22 November 1963. In particular, a new interview with a darkroom technician who developed autopsy photographs, and new revelations from JFK's White House photographer, his family, and a close colleague, all offer further glimpses into irregular activities (related to the autopsy) immediately after the assassination.

All of these reports derive from the Congressionally mandated Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which was created by Congress in the surge of public interest generated by Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, and which ceased its operations on 30 September 1998. It is noteworthy that the ARRB itself cited ongoing doubts about the Warren Commission:

Doubts about the Warren Commission's findings were not restricted to ordinary Americans. Well before 1978, President Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and four of the seven members of the Warren Commission all articulated, if sometimes off the record, some level of skepticism about the Commission's findings (Final Report of the ARRB, 1998, p. 11).

This essay focuses on the new medical evidence. Based on remarkable paradoxes in multiple areas, it is apparent that a series of extraordinary events many illegal-occurred in the immediate aftermath of the death of JFK.

This study relies partially on two essays in the present volume, one by Gary L. Aguilar, M.D., and one by Douglas P. Horne. Horne worked at the ARRB for its entire lifetime (under then-Executive Director Jeremy Gunn) and was the primary staff member (apart from Gunn) responsible for the medical evidence. Since these authors provide details not repeated here, their essays should also be read.

The Chasm that Divides the Partisans

Ever since the early years of this case, partisans have argued fiercely for their own views, some insisting that Oswald was the sole protagonist, while others insisted that a wide conspiracy implicated the CIA, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cubans, and possibly even wealthy Texas oilmen. With the passing of the years, and especially with the new releases of the ARRB, the wide chasm that divides the partisans is now easy to identify: it is the credibility of the evidence, not just the medical evidence, but also the evidence against Oswald. The present essay, however, is confined solely to the medical and scientific arena and shall say nothing useful about the Oswald evidence. [Editor's note: See, however, the study of Jesse Curry's JFK Assassination File elsewhere in this volume.] A strong argument can now be made that the medical evidence cannot be taken at face value and that prior conclusions based upon it are not reliable. In a very real sense, the discussion must begin anew, almost as if the crime had been committed last week.

In the opening quotation, Gerry Spence (From Freedom to Slavery 1995, p. 27) describes his own experiences with the FBI in the matter of Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The JFK case often seems hauntingly similar to Spence's own experiences. For example, in the Ruby Ridge affair Spence even notes a second "magic" bullet (1995, p. 50).

If the evidence in the JFK case is merely accepted at face value, then the conclusions are rather trivial. The rookie Scotland Yard inspector can easily solve this case-it was Oswald alone. The real challenge is to assess the credibility of the evidence. Vincent Bugliosi, 1 the former Los Angeles County prosecutor of Charles Manson (and winner of virtually all of his other cases) still maintains that Oswald did it. He is even writing a book that will attempt to prove this. I have advised him that if he ignores this fundamental issue of evidence reliability then real communication between partisans across this chasm is unlikely to be advanced.

In analogy to Gerry Spence's own experiences with the FBI, many private investigators, based on diverse lines of detailed research, believe that something is deeply, and tragically, wrong with the JFK evidence. My own analysis of the autopsy skull X-rays, based on hundreds of point-by-point measurements performed at the National Archives over multiple visits, indict the X-rays regarding several critical features-in a way that no prior investigation could do (James Fetzer, Assassination Science 1998, pp. 120-137). Short of X-ray alteration, these findings remain a deep, and probably insoluble, mystery, a matter to which I shall later return.

Oswald's post-mortem conviction by the Warren Commission relied rather little on the medical evidence. In their final report, the pathologists merely repeated what they had been told before the autopsy: namely that the fatal shots had come from the rear and that the sole assassin was already in custody. Based on the autopsy alone, they could not possibly have known who had fired the shots, nor, short of reviewing the photographic evidence from Dealey Plaza (which they did not do), could they have speculated meaningfully about the origin of the shots. This essay, being likewise largely confined to the medical evidence, can reach no meaningful conclusion about Oswald's ultimate guilt or innocence. It can, however, demonstrate in several significant ways how the medical evidence was used to frame Oswald. It can also strongly suggest that two successful shots came from the front.

Posterior Head image

Figure 1. Posterior Head Photograph from the Autopsy. No eyewitness reported what is seen here. Eyewitnesses recalled an orange-sized hole at the right rear. No one saw the red spot (the supposed entry wound) near the top of the ruler, and no one knew what the white spot (near the bottom, just above the hairline) represented. Unlike the Ida Dox drawing (right}, the actual wound is not visible in this photograph (left), and no other photographs show it either.

The pathologists concluded that only two shots struck JFK, both from the rear. They claimed that one struck the back of the head just above the right hairline) and that the only other successful shot hit the upper back. They insisted on this again when interviewed by Dennis L. Breo ("JFK's death-the plain truth from the MDs who did the autopsy," Journal of the American Medical Association, May 1992, pp. 2794-2803). Their conclusion of two successful shots from the rear was reasserted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (1977-1979), albeit with one highly significant change: the headshot was moved up by 10 cm so that it now coincided with the "entry" wound on the photograph (Figure 1). (Author's note: I shall use quotation marks around "entry," regarding this specific site, because it is not an authentic wound; the evidence for this is presented below.)

Although the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that there had been a probable conspiracy (based on acoustic data that arrived at the end of its work), in their view this additional shot from the grassy knoll had missed, thus leaving it beyond the purview of the medical evidence. The HSCA's primary conclusion of one headshot at a higher location was based critically on posterior head photographs.  Although the lateral X-ray was proposed as a supporting pillar for this conclusion, I shall demonstrate later how the new evidence has shattered this pillar to bits. So, although Oswald's accusers agreed that he had hit JFK's head, they nevertheless have disagreed by 10 cm (four inches) on where that bullet entered-an astonishing discrepancy of over half the width of the skull. It is as though a surgeon, operating on a melanoma of the eye, had removed the right eye instead of the left-his error in distance would have been less than that supposedly made by not one, but by three, qualified pathologists.


This was the state of the medical evidence when the ARRB took center stage in 1994. Contrary to prior inquiries, the ARRB was not charged with reaching any conclusions. Its mandate was merely to locate and to release evidence. Fortunately, the ARRB also deposed witnesses-those newly discovered as well as some previously deposed. It is largely these new interviews (along with some releases of previously secret interviews) that have radically altered the complexion of this case. Indeed, the weight of these new findings strongly points toward a conspiracy in the cover-up, one that involved elements of the government itself. The ARRB, however, did not leave the impression-either in its final report (Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, US Government Printing Office, 1998), in its press releases, or in its occasional media interviews-that the medical evidence had thrown a live hand grenade into this case. In fact, rather little was said about the medical evidence. It is important to recognize, however, that there is an explanation for this peculiar silence, as Horne explains. He routinely prepared questions for the medical witnesses and assisted with the interviews and depositions. In view of the panorama of new (and often unexpected) medical evidence, of which both he and Jeremy Gunn were acutely aware, Horne proposed detailed briefings for the five Board members. According to Horne, 2 this was never done in more than a perfunctory manner. The primary reason for this disregard was that the Board had little patience with the medical evidence. As a result, they remained largely ignorant of the surprising evidence uncovered by their own staff. Their final summary, which says rather little about the medical evidence (especially those issues discussed here), bears clear witness to this state of affairs.

It should not surprise us that a Board with little medical background adopted an aloof attitude toward the medical evidence. The Board was, after all, not under any mandate to assess this evidence nor to draw any conclusions from it. Indeed, during their tenure, more progress was made in the medical evidence than in both of the preceding investigations, i.e., those performed by the Warren Commission and by the HSCA. As Harrison Livingstone has pointed out, a major reason for this improved performance was that both Gunn and Horne took seriously the possibility that the medical evidence had been altered. Furthermore, there is little doubt that serious effort is required to master the medical evidence. In fact, most Board members had full time positions elsewhere and the Board met only once or twice per month. At these meetings, there was much new evidence to review beyond the medical area. It is quite likely therefore that the Board did not have detailed knowledge of these matters.

To obtain further insight into the Board's knowledge of and attitude toward the medical evidence, I drafted a two-page questionnaire (of 25 questions) on the medical evidence. These questionnaires were sent to the former Chairman of the ARRB, John Tunheim, who agreed to act as intermediary, first by forwarding the questionnaires to the individual members and then by returning their responses to me. These questions sought to assess (to a limited degree) the Board's knowledge of and interest in the medical arena. It also directly asked them to assess the overall importance of the medical evidence for the JFK assassination. At the time of publication, some months later, no responses had been received, despite the fact that a deadline had been imposed. 3 This lack of response, from all five Board members, is, prima facie, a fair reflection of their attitude toward the medical evidence.

The Predicament of Prior Official Reviewers

In a very real sense, the case made by the pathologists, resting as it did on an actual examination of the body, brain, and authentic X-rays, was based on more solid ground than subsequent forensic reviews, which had no access to any of this fundamental data. Later reviewers were confined solely to photographs, second-hand pathologic data, and, as I shall argue, X-rays that were altered in critical respects. Despite this patently unorthodox database-virtually no other forensic case is so limited 4 advocates of the lone gunman theory have recited (in almost mantra-like fashion): "X forensic pathologists and Y radiologists have reviewed this material over Z years and every one of them [save for Cyril Wecht, M.D., J.D] agrees with two shots from the rear."

The proper response to this ritual is to emphasize that it takes no great skill to reach this conclusion based on the available photographs of the back of the head… they really leave no other option. Shown these photographs, the man on the street could do just as well… and at much less expense! Even he can see the famous red spot on the photographs of the back of the head (Figure 1). But in this case, an additional question needs to be asked: if these particular pieces of photographic paper were lost, would the evidence for a high, posterior headshot then be merely paper-thin?

On the other hand, if lost photographs (which are well substantiated by the newly interviewed protagonists) that display a large hole in the back of the head were suddenly discovered-how would the argument proceed then, and what would the traditional experts then conclude? In fact, several, critical, new witnesses report having seen precisely such photographs and, as I argue in the Postscript, one of these photographs even exists in the current collection. New evidence now permits a surprisingly thorough analysis of all of these questions, as explored below.

Ultimately, the argument from the medical evidence must rely on the autopsy findings (of the body and the brain), the photographs, and the X-rays. The single gunman theory can be effectively challenged only if this database is defective. [Editor's note: The single gunman theory is merely a hypothesis, which appears less and less plausible with each new piece of medical or scientific evidence. It is long past time to stop denigrating proponents of conspiracy as "conspiracy theorists," as though they were devising fictions. It is the supporters of The Warren Report (1964) who now appear preoccupied with Procrustean fact bending.] The primary goal of this essay is to summarize the overwhelming evidence that this is the situation that faces us today. I shall argue that none of the fundamental medical evidence-neither the brain photographs, nor the photographs of the back of the head, or the autopsy X-rays-is entirely reliable. It is finally possible now to explain precisely how this evidence has led us astray.

Although this situation is unique in the annals of forensic medicine, nonetheless, the evidence for this view is now extremely robust, particularly with the new releases. Furthermore, due to a modest stroke of serendipity in timing, my own work with the X-rays, which was performed immediately prior to the advent of the ARRB, has now been shown to be thoroughly consistent with (and even predictive of) the ARRB's new evidence. This X-ray work led to a list of critical questions about the medical evidence-questions that were actually put to all three pathologists while under oath by the ARRB-with replies that were sometimes embarrassing (for the pathologists) and sometimes unexpected (for lone gunman advocates). [Editor's note: Interviews with Boswell and Humes are excerpted in Appendix F and Appendix G.]

After the medical evidence has been reviewed, one question still remains: what role did the pathologists play in this escapade? Were they merely incompetent, or did they knowingly cover-up (or even lie) at critical points along the way? The new evidence now permits us, at last, to answer these questions. The pathologists can now be seen in a new light, one that only minimally disparages their professional competence but one that exposes them to more sinister charges. Their behavior over the years is entirely consistent with this new view. In fact, my own prior perspective on them (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 104-1 07) has changed considerably over the past several years. I now believe that they were far more competent than has been supposed. The new evidence for this altered judgment is compelling. (As just one example of their competence, James J. Humes, the chief pathologist, admitted in a personal interview with Kathleen Cunningham ("'The Plain Truth' and the Autopsy of John F. Kennedy," 1995) that he had supervised the weekly brain cutting conferences at Bethesda before the assassination.)

Missing Photographs

The evidence for missing photographs derives from a rather long list of witnesses, including Humes, Finck, Kamei (three physicians at the autopsy), Stringer, Riebe (two autopsy photographers), Knudsen, O'Donnell (two additional photographers), and Spencer (a darkroom technician). It is not merely that one, or even two, images are missing: a wide variety of views has simply disappeared, including whole body views, a close-up of the beveled wound in the skull, the interior views of the chest cavity, the bullet entry hole over the right eye, a view of the body with the brain lying beside it, views of probes passing through the body, as well as (probably several views of) the large hole at the right rear of the head.

Why is it important to know that photographs are missing? If true, then gaping holes are immediately opened in the entire case. What if the missing photographs showed an orange-sized hole at the right rear of the head-as so many witnesses have consistently recalled? In fact, since such a photograph currently exists in the official collection (as I demonstrate in the Postscript), it is most likely that additional photographs once also showed such a large posterior hole. If such photographs once existed, then the conclusions of prior experts, over multiple investigations, become immediately irrelevant. In view of this new evidence, the posterior photographs showing the red spot (which was taken to be the skull entry wound by the HSCA, and by almost all subsequent lone gunman supporters) now lie under the deepest suspicion.

Indeed, the HSCA's conclusion of a high, posterior, skull entry rested almost solely on these posterior head photographs, which never gained the full endorsement of any of the three autopsy pathologists or, for that matter, anyone else at the autopsy either. Even the two autopsy photographers (Stringer and Riebe) and the autopsy radiologist (John Ebersole) agree with the pathologists that this red spot was not an entry wound. Furthermore, even if these peculiar photographs (of the red spot) were authentic, they still could not tell us what is most important… i.e., whether the skull underlying the scalp was intact. Until that is certain, no serious conclusions can be drawn. Yet the HSCA ignored this simple guideline and chose to declare a conclusion anyway: namely that:

1. The red spot was the entry wound.

2. The skull bone at the back of the head was intact.

This is all quite simple: if photographs are missing-and there can be scant doubt of this now-then no final conclusion can be drawn about the status of the right rear skull. That question must be answered by the X-rays (discussed in a separate section below) and by the eyewitnesses. These two clues to the puzzle are completely consistent with one another, and they indicate… convincingly that there was, indeed, a large hole at the right rear of the skull. Its variable appearance on 22 November 1963, however, proved to be a source of major confusion, as I have previously explained (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 331-332). Also see the notation "McC" (McClelland) in Figure 2C, which identifies the hinge on a posterior bone flap that occasioned much confusion. The recognition of this variable appearance of the posterior skull (depending on whether the flap was open or closed) permits this confusion finally to be laid to rest.

It might even be possible to believe in both an intact posterior scalp and a large hole in the occipital bone. Such a view strains credulity, however, in view of the major trauma to the posterior skull, as reported by so many witnesses and as actually seen on the X-rays. It might even be possible to accept the intact scalp as authentic and simultaneously to interpret the red spot as a bloodspot (as Stringer suggested) or as an undefined artifact (as Dr. Humes suggested). But all of this reeks of sophistry to no useful end. That the photographic evidence was deliberately altered to mislead, in one-way or another, is inescapable.

Posterior Head image

Figure 2A. The Harper Fragment (Exterior View) In the text, this fragment is divided into three sections: (E) the left parietal bone, (F) the right parietal bone (G) the occipital bone

Posterior Head image

Figure 2B. The Harper Fragment (Interior View) Vascular markings and foramina are consistent with both parietal bone and high occipital bone.

Posterior Head image

Figure 2C. As Situated in the Occiput H is the Harper fragment C and D are bone fragments seen on the skull X-ray and in Boswell's diagram. L is the site of lead on H. The 6.5 mm object is seen at about the 2 o'clock direction from the right upper edge of H. McC identifies the fracture line (which acted as a hinge) that McClelland described.

Posterior Head image

Figure 2D As Placed into the Frontal Skull X-ray, the lambda point (the junction of the two lambdoid sutures and the saggital suture) lies just inferior to the upper edge of the Harper fragment (H). L denotes lead on H. The EOP lies very near the inferior edge of the black border (at the bottom of the entire image)

For those who would argue that no photographs have been altered but instead that:

JFK's scalp has merely been photographed with a toupee (even though no one recalls such an event), or that:

The back of the head belongs to someone else; consider the following argument, which is based on Figure 3 (the back of the torso).

If the image of the scalp in Figure 1 did result from either (1) or (2), how then did JFK's (presumably authentic) back (of torso) become attached to the image of either (1) or (2) unless it was via photographic alteration? Or did the back of the torso also belong to someone else?

Posterior Head image

Figure 3. Official autopsy photograph of the back wound

I would also ask which is simpler to believe:

1. That a few photographs were physically altered.

2. That no photographs were altered.

But rather that such a curiously odd set of posterior photographs naturally existed in the original set so as to lend them to the present deception? For option (2) to be viable, there had to be more than one photograph that fit such a deception, and these photographs had to be consistent with one another. When the statements of Knudsen, Kamei, Stringer, Riebe, Humes, Boswell, Finck, Spencer, and the autopsy technicians are taken into account, the first alternative appears inescapable. And when the nearly uniform statements of the Parkland Hospital personnel (who describe a large, right, posterior hole in the skull) are added to the equation, the case for photo tampering becomes virtually irrefutable.

Indeed, Spencer (the NPC darkroom technician) and Knudsen (the White House photographer) saw photographs that showed the large hole at the back of the head. Moreover, James K. Fox (the Secret Service photographer) told Mark Crouch of a bum party (on approximately 6 or 7 December 1963) at which Robert Bouck (chief of the Protective Research Section of the Secret Service) deliberately destroyed photographs and X-rays (Harrison Livingstone, High Treason 2 1992, pp. 322-323). Even the family of Robert Knudsen understood from Knudsen himself that such items had been destroyed. The simplest hypothesis is the one with the least clutter, although initially the most difficult psychologically is that of photographic alteration. 5 In the end, though, it is ultimately not essential that agreement be reached on the question of how the deception occurred. It is enough to know that the photographic evidence has been deliberately manipulated to mislead-a deception that has radically altered the entire history of this case.

The Skull Wound

The official autopsy report affirms [Editor's note: This report appears in Assassination Science 1998, pp. 430-437]:

There is a large, irregular defect of the scalp and skull on the right involving chiefly the parietal bone but extending somewhat into the temporal and occipital regions. In this region there is an actual absence of scalp and bone producing a defect, which measures 13 cm in greatest diameter.

This distance of 13 cm is from front to back, as becomes apparent in Boswell's autopsy diagram (Figure 4A). Since the length of a typical skull is about 20 cm, this is truly an enormous hole, occupying well over one half its length. Furthermore, the word, "occipital," is actually employed here by Humes.

Posterior Head image

Figure 4A. Autopsy Diagram of the Skull by Boswell Letters C and D (added by the author) identify two bone fragments on the top-rear of the skull. Also see Figures 2C, 2D, and Appendix F.

The notch, discussed below, is circled.

The drawing (Figure 5) that Dr. Humes supervised in preparation for the Warren Commission (actually drawn by H. A. Rydberg, a Navy artist) is consistent with the above described size and location. The hole clearly extended into the occipital area. (For comparison, see standard skull anatomy in Figure 6.)

Posterior Head image

Figure 4B. Autopsy Diagram of the Back by Boswell After Gerald Ford elevated the back wound into the neck (to make the single bullet theory possible) Boswell agreed that he had placed the wound too low in this diagram.

The HSCA, however, shifted the wound out of the occipital area (thus nullifying three autopsy pathologists, two autopsy photographers, and the sole autopsy radiologist, as well as the medical personnel) into the parietal and frontal area (Figure 7) This large displacement was based primarily on the posterior head photographs, which showed intact scalp at the rear but also (the HSCA claimed) on the skull X-rays. With this translation from the back to the top of the head, the disagreement with virtually all of the eyewitnesses was complete-a strange incongruity that troubled even the HSCA.

The accuracy of the photographs, most especially those of the posterior head (Figure 1), seemed suspicious when they first became public in the 1970's. The fact that not a single eyewitness-at either Parkland Hospital in Dallas or at the autopsy at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland-described an entry wound high on the back of the head (the red spot in the color photographs) was quite arresting. In fact, virtually every eyewitness described something quite different-not a small entry hole high on the back of the head, but rather a large (orange-sized) hole at the right rear of the head, much lower down, just above the hairline.

No such orange-sized hole is anywhere evident in the photographs. Instead, the scalp is entirely intact in this area and the hair is remarkably well groomed at exactly the same site where nearly all of the eyewitnesses recalled seeing a large hole. Such a groomed appearance is especially striking for someone who has been fatally shot in the head, whose head has literally exploded, and whose hair was not cleaned (as the questioned witnesses all agreed). The HSCA, however, hoped that it had buried this paradox:

Drs. Ebersole [the radiologist], Finck, and Boswell offered no explanation for the upper wound [the red spot], while Dr. Humes first suggested that it might represent an extension of a more anterior scalp laceration, incident to the exit wound, in spite of the fact that within the photograph the margins of the wound appear to be intact around the entire circumference. Dr. Finck believed strongly that the observations of the autopsy pathologists were more valid than those of individuals who might subsequently examine photographs. (7HSCA115). [Editor's note: This is page 115 of Volume 7 of the 12 HSCA evidence volumes.]

Posterior Head image

Figure 5. Rydberg (and Humes) Drawing of Skull Wound for the Warren Commission

Posterior Head image

Figure 6.. Normal skull anatomy illustration by Julie Foont, The Fundamentals of Operative Neurosurgery (1999)

Posterior Head image

Figure 7. Skull Wound, as Interpreted by the HSCA. In disagreement with virtually every eyewitness, the HSCA moved the large hole from the back to the top of the head.

The panel continued to be concerned about the persistent disparity [of four inches] between its findings and those of the autopsy pathologists and the rigid tenacity with which the prosecutors maintained that the entrance wound was at or near the external occipital protuberance.

Subsequently, however, in his testimony before the select committee, Dr. Humes agreed that the defect was in fact in the "cowlick" area and not in the area of the brain tissue [just above the hairline]. [Author's note: Humes's indisputable admission-vis-a-vis his bona fide opinion-is discussed further below.]

The HSCA concluded its findings on the large posterior hole in the skull as follows:

In disagreement with the observations of the Parkland doctors are the 26 people present at the autopsy. All of those interviewed who attended the autopsy corroborated the general location of the wounds as depicted in the photographs; none had differing accounts... it appears more probable that the observations of the Parkland doctors are incorrect (7HSCA 37-38).

Dr. Earl F. Rose was a member of the Forensic Pathology Panel. He had performed Oswald's autopsy, one that is widely recognized as a model, especially when compared to JFK's. Rose (7HSCA 115-the same page as the first quotation above) offered his opinion on another critical issue: the brain was not consistent with the wound described by the pathologists. In particular, the relatively intact inferior brain (Figure 8) would not have been expected, given the pathologists' low entry wound just above the hairline). On the contrary, the under surface of the brain should have suffered major trauma from a bullet that entered just above the hairline. This conclusion by Rose was eminently sensible and, at the time, seemed to provide strong support for the HSCA's much higher entry site. In retrospect, however, it is quite certain that Rose was viewing a substitute brain, not the brain of JFK. If true, his critique would be quite beside the point.

Posterior Head image

Figure 8. Drawing of the Brain by Ida Dox for the HSCA. Based on one of several photographs at the Archives, it almost certainly represents the substituted brain.

(For more details on the substitute brain, see my section on the two-brain proposal or the separate paper by Horne.)

The enduring paradox about the photographs (of the back of the head) led Harrison Livingstone in 1979 (just after the HSCA's final report) to do what both the Warren Commission and the HSCA should promptly have done. In a trip paid for by Steve Parks of The Baltimore Sun (Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone, High Treason 1980, p. 38), Livingstone traveled to Dallas and showed these images (actually copies of drawings of the back of the head, based on the work of the HSCA)-for the first time-to the Parkland medical witnesses. What he discovered was truly astonishing-the Parkland personnel radically disagreed with their authenticity. Livingstone reports:

Since then, Livingstone, The Baltimore Sun, and Ben Bradlee, Jr., of the Boston Globe, have compiled the testimony of a number of additional witnesses, and the startling conclusion of their work is clear: the autopsy pictures a re-fake, and hold the key to the true nature of the plot which took the life of the President. (The research conducted by the Globe and the Sun was subsequently turned over to Livingstone and placed in the JFK Library in Boston.) (Groden and Livingstone 1980, p. 38.) 68), four Parkland physicians (Robert McClelland, Richard Delaney, Paul Peters, and Marion Jenkins) traveled to the National Archives to view the autopsy materials. On leaving, they were asked by Nova if their recollections disagreed with the photographs. This time many investigators expected that they would disagree, but now-another kind of surprise-these physicians seemed to imply that they had seen no discrepancies. Nonetheless, on subsequent careful questioning, they later complained that the Nova program had either misquoted or misinterpreted their comments (Harrison Livingstone, Killing the Truth 1993, p. 305), meaning that the paradox was still alive. In particular, as Livingstone clarifies, all that these doctors had meant was that the pictures they saw in the Archives were the same as the pictures that had been publicly published.

The doctors had made no claim that the pictures accurately portrayed their recollections of 22 November 1963. Groden, subsequently, laid this matter conclusively to rest (Robert Groden, The Killing of a President 1993, pp. 86-88). He published photographs of these doctors, as well as similar photographs of other physician eyewitnesses and medical personnel, that show them clearly demonstrating (on their own heads) that the large hole was indeed at the right rear (and was usually quite low)-in gross disparity with the photographs. 7 [Editor's note: A composite of the responses of these witnesses, based on Groden (1993), may be found elsewhere in this volume.]

The virtual uniformity of their demonstrations (with the notable exception of Marion Jenkins, who changed his opinion sometime after 1978) was remarkably compelling. The paradox between the witnesses and the photographs therefore still persisted. Moreover, those physicians who had entered the National Archives had not been queried about the obvious "entry" wound in the photographs (the red spot). In fact, in their detailed medical notes of 22 November 1963, none of these doctors had mentioned such a small entry site, a truly astonishing oversight, if indeed, this "entry" site had existed at all that day.

Even Jeremy Gunn (by then an ex-Executive Director for the ARRB), commented during his deposition of five Parkland doctors on 27 August 1998, in Dallas, Texas: "In my very lay sense… and I am not a doctor …there seems to be a fair degree of coherence among the testimony that you offered about the (rearward) location of the (skull) wound." Moreover, now that the ARRB has concluded its work, we know that the witnesses still disagree-and disagree dramatically with the photographs. Due to the efforts of Gary L. Aguilar, M.D., we now know what happened to the missing interviews with the Bethesda witnesses: they were sequestered until the year 2029.

After these interviews (and wound diagrams by the witnesses) were finally released in 1993 by the National Archives. Aguilar reviewed them, and was forced to an amazing conclusion: the HSCA's summary statement was patently wrong. In fact, essentially all of these Bethesda witnesses agreed that there had been a large hole low on the right rear of the skull. In 1995, Aguilar presented this startling discrepancy at a Washington, D.C., conference whose audience included Michael Baden, M.D., Chairman of the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel and Andy Purdy, an HSCA staff member (for the medical evidence). I was also present. During this historic denouement, Baden denied any knowledge of this fundamental conflict, and Purdy denied writing the misleading conclusion.

So what had gone wrong? Although no one has y et acknowledged this egregious error …Dr. deliberate deception… after 1 January 1979, only three individuals could have written this misleading HSCA conclusion. They were the only three staff members left: Robert Blakey, the Chief Counsel; Gary Cornwell, Deputy Chief Counsel; and Richard Billings, who had been hired to assist with the writing of the report. 8 When Aguilar queried each of them about this gross inconsistency on an absolutely pivotal facet of the case, each of these principals denied writing this statement. Seeking final confirmation on this crucial issue, I sent each of them certified letters (receiving appropriate receipts in each case), with the following responses:

1. G. Robert Blakey-no reply;

2. Gary Cornwell-no reply;

3. Richard N. Billings-no reply 9

Two unlikely authors… since they both left the HSCA before 1 January 1979 are Andy Purdy and Mark Flanagan, who both worked with the medical witnesses. When Aguilar wrote to inquire of Flanagan, he never replied, while Andy Purdy not only denied writing the misleading summary, but also added that he was quite displeased with the misleading summary. To date, he is the only HSCA staff member to express such displeasure. This remarkable (and all too convenient) loss of memory by the probable participants-particularly on a matter of such central importance… duly raises questions about the integrity (or the sincerity, or the competence) of those involved.

The pathologists themselves, although not openly describing these photographs as forgeries, have nonetheless been at some pains to intimate that something was very wrong. When asked about this flagrant "entry" wound (the red spot) high on the back of the head, Humes put the Forensic Pathology Panel on notice:

I can assure you that as we reflected the scalp to get to this point, there was no defect corresponding to this [red spot] in the skull at any point. I don't know what that [red spot] is. It could be to me clotted blood. I don't, I just don't know what it is, but is certainly was not a wound of entrance (7HSCA 254).

Without actually labeling these photographs as forgeries, Humes could go no further without exposing the entire affair.

Pierre Finck, the third pathologist (on loan from the AFIP), when questioned by the HSCA in 1978, was somewhat more forthcoming. What was particularly striking was that:

He specifically requested one more day with his questioners to review the photographs.

His testimony, like so many others, had been sealed until the year 2029.

This latter decision of what to seal and what to release could only have been made after 1 January 1979 by the skeleton three people HSCA staff led by Chief Counsel Robert Blakey. (The records were sequestered for 50 years, as was typical for such Congressional investigations: 1979 +50= 2029.)

Finck said that he did not know what either the white or the red spot were, but that the actual wound was much closer to the white spot (seen very near the hairline in Figure 1). At the autopsy, the pathologists had identified this wound by both:

1. A perforating wound in the scalp.

2. A matching beveled entry site on the skull.

Since Finck had previously stated that the skull entry site showed only a portion of a crater (i.e., it was not completely circumferential), the implication was obvious: bone near this site was missing (independent of the scalp's photographic appearance). By implication, based on Finck's testimony, the photograph that had played such a critical role for the HSCA was worse than useless: it not only failed to portray the actual entry hole but, even worse, it showed an entry hole that was wrong.

Posterior Head image

Figure 9A. Horne's rendition of Boswell's drawing of the back of the skull (#1 of 4).

Posterior Head image

Figure 9B. Horne's rendition of Boswell's drawing of the side of the skull (#2 of 4)

Posterior Head image

Figure 9C. Horne's rendition of Boswell's drawing of the front of the skull (#3 of 4).

Posterior Head image

Figure 9D. Horne's rendition of Boswell's drawing of the front of the skull (#4 of 4).

Only one diagram remains from the autopsy itself: a crude sketch made by Boswell (Figure 4A) that shows a huge bone deficit, as described above (13 cm). Such a large size, by itself, would require that the large hole extend into the occipital area. In fact, Boswell clarified this for the ARRB by actually drawing this large hole on a skull. (Figure 9 is Horne's 2D reproduction of Boswell's drawing on a 3D skull.) In this sketch, a large hole does in fact extend far into the occiput, well into the region where the scalp appears to be intact in the photograph.

Although Humes, in his ARRB testimony, stated, for the very first time, that the occipital bone was intact under the scalp, saying that the entry hole was completely circumferential, that is not at all what he had stated previously. In fact, like both Boswell and Finck, he had previously reported that the entry wound was only partially circumferential, meaning that some bone was necessarily missing under the visible scalp in the famous photograph. By telling this unexpectedly new story to the ARRB, Humes contradicted both:

1. His own Warren Commission diagram.

2. Also the actual word "occipital" in the official autopsy report that he himself had written.

In summary, then, none of the three pathologists could explain:

1. Why the scalp (at the right rear) appeared so intact in the photograph (despite the absence of cleaning on, which they agreed)

2. What the red spot represented.

3. What the white spot represented.

4. Why the supposed entry site was not centered in the photograph.

In fact, in view of all of these points the photographs (of the back of the head) actually served no purpose at all. Worse than that, though, these photographs were misleading, and showed an "entry wound" that no one could recall. Although Boswell did not recall the red spot, nor could he see (in the photograph) the actual entry wound, when asked by the ARRB if the photograph had been altered, he evaded the question. Instead, he merely suggested that, on technical grounds, he doubted that a photograph could be so altered. The primary question-of whether the photographs actually looked altered… remained forever unanswered. This question was not put to Humes. [Editor's note: See the diagram of different descriptions of the head wound-at Parkland, at Bethesda, and by the HSCA--elsewhere in this volume.]

The three pathologists were hardly alone in their skeptical opinions of these (back of the head) photographs. When John T. Stringer, the chief autopsy photographer, was deposed, he also agreed that the entry site had been low on the back of the head-and that it was not the red spot in the photographs. I personally interviewed the one autopsy physician, John Ebersole, in my own specialty (radiation oncology). He, too, concurred with the low entry site. In fact, it is quite striking that no one at the autopsy (or at Parkland, either, for that matter) ever recalled the red spot. It was this site on which the HSCA and all subsequent, lone assassin advocates have established their case. This point is so critical that it needs to be restated: the most critical piece of evidence for the HSCA's case-the red spot-was never reported by any witness, at either Parkland or at Bethesda. The HSCA literally based its case on a piece of paper.

In view of the HSCA's misleading summary statement (7HSCA37-38, cited above), this now known consistency between the Parkland and the Bethesda witnesses (that there had been a large hole at the right rear) was quite unanticipated. Aguilar then displayed these (approximately 40) witness statements in a remarkable table (see Aguilar's article). Of these, all but one witness agreed that there had been a large hole at the right rear of the skull. (The one exception recalled a similar wound, but on the left side.) Faced with this astounding near unanimity between Dallas and Bethesda, advocates of authenticity (of the posterior head photographs) now had only one 'recourse, and they repeated it almost as a mystic incantation-eyewitnesses are not reliable! Of course, even these devotees could say nothing at all about the status of the posterior skull, which was; after all, the primary issue-the problem was that the scalp covered the area of the skull in question. The proper conclusion of the HSCA regarding the status of the skull should have been agnosticism, but they willingly crossed this line.

To this now hoary myth of eyewitness unreliability, the work of Marshall, et al., has given us a wholly new perspective. The eyewitness evidence from this study is presented in detail elsewhere. [Editor's note: See Dr. Mantik's essay on the Zapruder film in Part V.] Although eyewitnesses may be unreliable when asked to recall (especially much later, as in criminal trials) specific details of a complex sequence of events, or the exact features of a stranger's face only briefly glimpsed (such as those witnesses who thought they saw Oswald on November 22), under the right circumstances they can be remarkably accurate. These requirements are straightforward: the events in question must be simple and salient, and the events must be promptly recalled. When these conditions are met, eyewitnesses are often 90% accurate, and sometimes even 98% accurate, as the Marshall study showed. And when many witnesses independently recall such an event in just the same way, such as a hole in the back of the head, then the final conclusion is as certain as most events in life can be.

As Aguilar has often emphasized in his public presentations, if these witnesses had made merely random errors of recall, then the entries in his table should be randomly scattered between the two columns. Obviously, they are not the witnesses are in remarkable agreement that there was a large hole at the right rear of the head (and that it was closer to the bottom than to the top of the head). When it is further recalled that many of these witnesses were trained professionals, physicians accustomed to seeing daily trauma in the ER (including the chief of neurosurgery whose observations of the brain were critical to resuscitation efforts), and that they all recalled the posterior head in the same way, the evidence for such a large hole begins to seem incontrovertible. It surely cannot be argued that this large hole was not both simple and salient. Furthermore, the contemporaneous notes of the Parkland physicians were published in The Warren Report, and are still easily obtainable at most local bookstores and libraries. Their depictions in these notes are undeniable. [Editor's note: Curiously, many of these published notes were handwritten, making them difficult to read, which may now be understandable. See The Warren Report 1964, pp. 485-491.]

Those who argue that these photographs of the scalp accurately portray the posterior skull (two clearly different anatomic areas, for which two different sets of data are required) have necessarily insisted that the physicians, since they were primarily trying to save a life, were too hurried to make accurate observations. However, both Drs. Giesecke and McClelland give the lie to this version they recall using a flashlight to peer inside the skull for some time. McClelland described the back of the head in some detail:

As I took the position at the head of the table... I was in such a position that I could very closely examine the head wound, and I noted that the right posterior portion of the skull had been blasted. It had been shattered, apparently, by the force of the shot so that the parietal bone was protruded up through the scalp and seemed to be fractured almost along its posterior half, as well as some of the occipital bone being fractured in its lateral half, and this sprung open the bones that I mentioned in such a way that you could actually look down into the skull cavity itself, and see 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 ( 6H33 ). [Editor's note: This is page 33 of Volume 6 of the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission Hearings.]

McClelland's description is remarkably consistent with the X-rays, as I explain below. It also explains why the Zapruder film shows no obvious hole in the back of the head after the final headshot (traditionally, at about frame 313), which I have previously discussed (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 263-342).

On another occasion, after noting that one-third of the brain had been blasted out, McClelland added the following comments:

…There was not only a horrible gaping wound but that it was (sic) a cavity that extended down into the head. And as I stood there holding the retractor, I was looking down into it all the time. I was no more than eighteen inches away from the wound all the time, standing just above it, 'which was ten to fifteen minutes at the least. And during that time I had a continuing impression of that gaping cavity. And during that time I had a strong impression that a portion of what appeared to be the cerebellum fell backward through the wound onto the scalp and hair that was hanging back from the head... There was a great deal of matted hair and blood around the edges of [the wound]. ...At the National Archives [for the Nova show] it was my assumption-and it was just an assumption-that there was enough of the flap left to pull up over the back portion of the wound and to hide the ...wound ...One might be led to believe that this was intact head back here. That's not the case. It wasn't. The skull was missing underneath the scalp (Livingstone 1992, pp. 288-289.).

When the ARRB interviewed (21 March 1997) a second neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert G. Grossman, who had assisted at in Trauma Room One, he also recalled that he and Kemp Clark (chief of neurosurgery) had to lift the head in order to see the large hole, which clearly implied that it was not at the top of the head where the HSCA had placed it. His more detailed anatomic description confirmed a low right posterior hole in the skull, so low that the cerebellum could be seen.

These photographs (of the back of the head) are, at the very least, not an accurate portrayal of the real condition of the head. Several witnesses-Riebe, O'Neill, Kenneth Salyer, M.D., Fouad Bashour, M.D., Jackie Hansen Hunt, M.D., as well as several Bethesda medical personnel-have either disagreed forcefully with the official photographs or have overtly charged photographic alteration.

This section is appropriately closed with a list of physicians who, at some time, stated that the photograph of the back of the head was (at least) distinctly different from what they had seen at Parkland:

• Kemp Clark

• Marion Jenkins

• Joe Goldstrich

• Jim Carrico

• Gene Akin

• Paul Peters

• Richard Delaney

• Fouad Bashour

• Jackie Hunt

• Ronald Jones

• Charles Baxter

• Kenneth Salyer

• Malcolm Perry

• Robert McClelland

• Charles Crenshaw

• Adolph Giesecke.

In case the reader is waiting for a companion list-those who saw this photograph and immediately recognized it as authentic-there is none. No Parkland physician, on first seeing the posterior photograph of the skull, recognized that image as authentic!

The Autopsy Photographs

If these eyewitnesses to the state of JFK's skull are correct, how then are these photographs to be explained? It is here that the ARRB's new evidence is particularly arresting. The ARRB discovered witnesses previously unknown to the public who provide remarkable substantiation, each in his or her own way (and with no apparent personal agendas), for either highly misleading photographs or possibly even for photographic alteration. Although they suggest no reasons for such alteration, their evidence, when taken collectively, is unprecedented in the annals of forensic science.

Saundra Spencer, NPC photo technician

Saundra Spencer, a photographic technician who worked at the secretive Naval Photographic Center (NPC) in Anacostia, Maryland, recalled, under oath, that she had processed and handled JFK autopsy films. 10A Secret Service agent, whom she thought was James K. Fox, had brought to her about four or five duplex film holders (containing eight to ten individual films) for processing, probably on Sunday morning, November 24. It is critical to note that these were color negatives, not transparencies. She is sure of this because her division did not handle color transparencies.

Three features immediately leap out as anomalous in her account:

The use of Anacostia, when Bethesda had its own photo lab and where autopsy photographers always did their own processing…

The rather limited number of films (far too few to represent the entire autopsy)…

The presence of color negatives, rather than color transparencies.

According to Stringer, the autopsy photographer, the only color photographs exposed were color transparencies, not color negatives. Furthermore, only color transparencies exist in the Archives today, there are no color negatives.

What Spencer added next was even more striking. She had retained, and brought with her to the deposition, a photograph of JFK that had been developed about ten days before the assassination. It had been taken at an event that she was able to identify and to date. By comparing the identifying marks on this film to the autopsy films, she was able to conclude that she had developed none of the extant autopsy films. In addition, after reviewing the autopsy films, she stated that none of the images were like those she had developed and printed. (She had printed at least one view of the face, so she was sure that it was JFK.)

She recalled that the images she had seen in 1963 were clean and free of blood, not at all like other autopsies she had seen. This blood-free characteristic is similar to the extant posterior head photographs (Figure 1) but not like the blood-spattered untidiness that virtually all of the eyewitnesses have recalled. There were no measuring devices, as she would ordinarily have expected, and no identification tags. She saw a small throat wound, about the diameter of thumb or a finger, about half an inch across, by her description (much smaller than that seen in the extant autopsy photographs). Most important of all, however, she saw a photograph of the back of the head with a 2 or 2 1/2-inch hole-just about where all of the eyewitnesses placed it.

Robert Knudsen, White House photographer

Robert Knudsen was deposed by the HSCA, but, since he died in 1989, he could not be deposed by the ARRB. For the HSCA, he recalled seeing photographs with multiple probes in the body, showing the points of entry and exit, with the point in the back lower than the point in the front, an obvious violation of the single bullet theory (SBT). Knudsen was one of several witnesses who recalled probes in the body (including several witnesses who saw them in photographs). Such probes were also described in a CBS memorandum (10 January 1967) from Robert Richter to Les Midgley, 11 in which a conversation with Humes himself was recalled by Jim Snyder of the CBS bureau in Washington, D.C. Snyder went to the same church as Humes, but also knew Humes's boss, who lived right across the street from Snyder. Humes implied that one X-ray, apparently with a probe in it, would answer many questions about the [supposed] bullet trajectory from the back to the throat.

The Knudsen family added further, astonishing details when interviewed by the ARRB. Mr. Knudsen had told his wife that the Secret Service had destroyed autopsy films. He had also told her that he knew who was probably responsible for the disappearance of some of the autopsy films, but that he was not going to stick his neck out because he had a family to protect. 12 Secret Service agent, James K. Fox, had also told Mark Crouch a similar story about destruction of autopsy photographs and X-rays (Livingstone 1992, p. 245). Mrs. Knudsen telephoned a former Navy colleague who recalled one photograph that showed the back of the head "blown out." On follow-up, she confirmed that this was indeed the back (not the top) of the head.

Shortly after her husband had testified to the HSCA, moreover, there had been a burglary of her own house; she still wondered if there was a connection. All available family members agreed that Mr. Knudsen had photographed the autopsy and that it was the hardest thing he had ever had to do. Furthermore, he had told them that he was the only one in the morgue with a camera. (Paradoxically, however, no one actually in the morgue recalls his presence.) All three interviewed family members did not see him at home for three days after he left to meet Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.

After his HSCA appearance, he told his family that four or five pictures that he was shown were not consistent with the autopsy, and that one of the photographs had been altered. His son, Bob, said, "hair had been drawn in," on one photograph to conceal a missing portion of the top-back of the head.

All three family members agreed that Mr. Knudsen had appeared before an official government body in 1988, about six months before he died in January 1989. They all believed that he had testified on Capitol Hill, and that it may have been a Congressional inquiry. All were unanimous that he had returned from this encounter feeling very disturbed, saying that four photographs were missing and one was badly altered. Mrs. Knudsen actually used the phrase, "severely altered," several times. She confirmed that the photographs he saw in 1988 were not consistent with what he had seen at the autopsy. He had also added that the details in the background of the room were wrong (the autopsy medical personnel agree with this). He concluded that this encounter had been a waste of time, because as soon as he would answer a question he would immediately be challenged and contradicted by those who had already reached their own (different) conclusions.

Joe O'Donnell, USIA photographer

Joe O'Donnell, friend and occasional colleague of Robert Knudsen, was deposed by the ARRB. Within a short time after the assassination-in fact on two different occasions, Knudsen had shown him autopsy photographs. On the first of these, he saw a hole (about the size of a grapefruit) in the back of the head, about two inches above the hairline. This hole penetrated the skull and was very deep. Another photograph showed a hole in the forehead, above the right eye; this wound was round and about 3/8 inch in diameter.

On the second occasion the back of the head photograph was intact, and the hair was neatly combed, looking slightly damp or wet (reminiscent of Figure 1). On this second occasion, the wound over the right eye had disappeared. He also recalled an image of JFK lying on his back, with a metal probe emerging from his right side (no probes are visible in the current collection).

During a second interview, he again recalled a gaping wound at the right rear of the head, big enough to put his fist through; there was a total absence of hair and bone. He repeated that there was an apparent entry hole above the right eye, which he interpreted as the bullet that had caused the large hole at the right rear of the head. (This photograph no longer exists.)

He also recalled showing the Zapruder film to Jackie Kennedy, who said that she never wanted to see it again. O'Donnell interpreted this to mean that he was to remove the headshot images-so he took out about ten feet! He believes that this was the original film. The reason he is certain that this was the original film (I listened to this repeatedly on the audiotape) is that the Zapruder film that he has since seen (on multiple occasions on television) is quite unlike the one that he saw. He specifically mentioned a very obvious halo around JFK's head after a headshot that he no longer sees on the current film. 13

Robert Karnei, M.D.

Karnei, pathology resident at Bethesda (and later chief at the AFIP), would have performed the autopsy had it been a routine one. He recalls repeated attempts by Finck to probe the wound in the right shoulder. One of his certain memories is that photographs were taken of the probe in the wound (no such photograph exists). He recalled that Humes twice had asked for permission to enlarge the scope of the autopsy, first for the chest, then later for the abdomen. (Humes has adamantly claimed that he was solely in charge.) Karnei said that the control at the autopsy was so tight that he was surprised that the pathologists were allowed to take their notes out of the morgue. (Finck never did find his… see Aguilar's essay.) He recalled that the embalmers were putting some wax into a tear or a laceration near the eye. (This may be corroboration for a shot to the right temple/forehead. An embalmer, Tom Robinson, has also recalled his work at this site; his recollections are introduced later.) Karnei had heard a story that Dr. Humes had called Dallas to talk to a surgeon later in the evening, before the body left the morgue, from which they had learned that the tracheotomy had been made through a bullet wound in the throat. (The pathologists, especially Humes, have claimed that they were entirely ignorant of this wound until the following day, Saturday, 23 November.)

John Stringer, the Photographer

Stringer admitted that, contrary to his usual practice, most photographs taken on 22 November 1963 had no identification cards. He had used a large format, Graphic View camera, which required duplex film holders. He listened to a tape recording he had made with David Lifton in 1972, in which he located the large head wound at the rear. With the ARRB, however, he claimed that the back of the head photograph was authentic and that his earlier recording with Lifton was wrong. Despite using the word "occiput" in the Lifton interview, he was now unable to explain why he had used that word!

Despite seeing no new physical evidence, he had changed his mind about the location of the large hole. After seeing the posterior photograph, he no longer believed that the large hole was at the back of the head. Nonetheless, he did not accept the red spot as an entry hole, claiming instead that it was an insignificant blood clot. Although he saw, in the photograph, that the scalp was entirely intact, he nonetheless insisted that the bone beneath it was disrupted, but he was uncertain about whether all of the occipital bone was present.

He recalled taking photographs of the skull interior, which he no longer saw in the collection. Most importantly, however, he recalled photographing the brain and brain sections. None of these photographs exist today, as he was able to prove by examining the type of film used for the extant photographs; the film he had used was a different type.

When asked about the document that he had signed (which said that all of the photographs were present), he said that he knew the document was false, but that he had been ordered to sign it. He agreed with the pathologists about the location of the entry hole, which was near the white spot. He concluded by saying that a shot from above and behind would not fit with the wounds he saw, which was in obvious contradiction to the SBT.

John W. Sibert, FBI note taker

Sibert recalled for the ARRB that the massive skull wound was at rear and that the hair was all matted, blood-soaked, and stuck together. The wound in the back as well below the shoulders… even below the scapula… The largest metal fragment in the skull was behind the right frontal sinus (not at the back of the skull, where the 6.5 mm object is located today on the skull X-rays). Like O'Neill, he still recalled that Humes had described surgery to the head (consistent with Lifton's thesis that the body had been altered). Furthermore, he recalled that Humes had never retracted that statement at the autopsy. He recalled a chrome probe placed into the back wound. Very near the end of the autopsy, Humes had concluded that the back bullet had fallen out during cardiac resuscitation. Like virtually everyone else who was asked, he did not recall the stirrup under JFK's head. Most importantly, the photograph of the back of the head did not look at all like what he saw at the autopsy. He even questioned whether the skull had been reconstructed (no one at the autopsy saw any reconstruction). On the contrary, just where the scalp is entirely intact in the photograph, he had seen a large wound at the autopsy. Like O'Neill, he disputed many significant points in Specter's statement to the Warren Commission (related to their own FBI report about the autopsy). He concluded by admitting that he was unsure about conspiracy, but that he was certain about one thing-the SBT could not possibly be true, because he saw exactly how low the back wound had been.

Francis X. O'Neill, FBI note taker

During the evening of the assassination, O'Neill interviewed Roy Kellerman (who had occupied the right front seat of the limousine). Kellerman was certain that he heard JFK speak after the first shot, meaning that the bullet could not have passed through his throat. (This would invalidate the SBT, since that bullet would have rendered JFK speechless.) He severely criticized Specter for ignoring this part of his report (which is understandable since Specter wanted no contradictions to his SBT). He regarded Specter as a flunky for the Warren Commission. He was extremely surprised that the Warren Commission had interviewed neither him nor Sibert. Furthermore, their FBI report of the autopsy had been left out of both The Warren Report as well as the 26 volumes of the Hearings. He also recalled that the back wound was at least two inches down from the shoulder.

He recalled that much of the brain was missing, definitely inconsistent with the brain images in the Archives, which he was shown. His best estimate was that more than one half of the brain was missing. As further confirmation of this, he recalled seeing a great deal of brain tissue on the jackets of Kellerman and Greer. [Authors note: The extant brain photographs, which I have seen on multiple visits, show rather little brain tissue missing.] He recalled looking at the X-rays as long as the pathologists did, and he did not recall the 6.5 mm object. Perhaps even more importantly, however, he did not recall any discussion of such an object at the autopsy.

He severely disagreed with Boswell's upward relocation of the back wound in 1977; in fact, he ridiculed Boswell for changing this location. [Authors note: Boswell had disagreed with his own autopsy diagram! He had probably been enticed to do so in order to support the SBT, which was de rigueur by then.] He recalled that the brain was weighed! [Authors note: The pathologists have never actually denied this-they have simply claimed not to know why the weight was missing from the record.] Like everyone else who was asked, he did not recall the stirrup under the head either. He remarked that the eyes were open at the autopsy, but in the photographs the appearance of the eyes was not consistent. At one point, he described the back of the head photographs as "doctored," although later he seemed to want to retract this. In any case, the photographs looked nothing like the head at the autopsy. He specifically did not recall the hair as being so clean.

Weighing the Evidence

If this case were straightforward, none of these recollections should exist. By themselves, these accounts of Spencer, Knudsen (and his family), O'Donnell, Karnei, Stringer, Sibert, and O'Neill provide striking evidence for photographic alteration. However, the narrative does not end there. In view of the now conspicuous agreement between witnesses at Parkland and Bethesda (that there was a large occipital hole) and the relentless disagreement of the pathologists with the HSCA (about the level of the rear entry wound in the head), the testimony (many under oath) of these newly found witnesses greatly increases the probability of photographic alteration and calls into question the accuracy of the extant photographs (of the back of the head).

Since these photographs do not accurately portray the wounds, that, by 'itself, is quite enough to severely challenge the conclusions of prior investigations. The extant autopsy photographs have been described… even within the ARRB as doing more to conceal than to reveal the actual nature of the skull wounds. Moreover, because the pathologists have repeatedly insisted that they carefully documented all of the critical features with photographs (they had stated to JAMA 14 that these wounds were obvious), the conclusion is inescapable-the photographic collection has been deliberately manipulated to mislead.

The presence of a left lateral skull photograph, and the simultaneous absence of the potentially much more pertinent right lateral, suggests deliberate culling of the collection. Furthermore, Earl McDonald, an autopsy photographer trained by Stringer, described how photographs were usually taken-with stepwise closer views and with thorough labeling. This was, in fact, Stringer's usual practice, according to McDonald, but none of these features are seen in the present collection. Suspicions are only aroused when it is recalled that Stringer was known to be a very meticulous and widely respected photographer.

If the photographs had shown the true state of JFK's head, according to the witnesses who saw such photographs of a large hole (to say nothing of the many witnesses who saw the actual hole), it is highly unlikely that the HSCA would have concluded that the fatal shot had come from the rear. In fact, the exact opposite is far more likely -faced with such a large hole in the back of the head and with no apparent entry site for a posterior bullet, they would have concluded that JFK had been shot from the front. In view of the statements of far too many witnesses-Humes, Boswell, Karnei, Stringer, Riebe, Knudsen, O'Donnell, and Spencer--critical photographs are indeed missing. Furthermore, Saundra Spencer, Robert Knudsen, and Joe O'Donnell specifically recalled seeing-and handling- photographs that did show a large hole at the rear.

Not a single eyewitness-at either Parkland or at Bethesda (certainly not the pathologists) has endorsed the red spot as an "entry" site-surely a unique state of affairs. How is it possible for literally no one to have seen an entry site that Humes (according to JAMA) found "blatantly" obvious? On the contrary, the fact that the true entry wound is not visible at all strongly suggests that something is profoundly wrong with this picture. Moreover, all medical witnesses at the autopsy who have expressed an opinion including all three pathologists, the radiologist, and the two medical photographers-have endorsed a much lower entry wound, just above the hairline at the right rear of the head.

An entirely independent kind of evidence for photo-alteration is contained in the remarkably wide range of witnesses who did not see the stirrup (under the head) at the autopsy, but rather saw a block or chock under the head. These include the autopsy technicians, the FBI note takers, the photographers, and the embalmers. McDonald, who photographed the ARRB board members and who also worked at the morgue after 1963, recalled that he had never seen such a device used at a Bethesda autopsy. The autopsy personnel agreed with this. [Editor's note: Harrison Livingstone had made this point in 1992.]

The invisibility in the photographs of this lower entry wound, and the protests of the pathologists that it was originally obvious, only add to the probability that the photographic collection has been deliberately manipulated so as to eliminate this entry site. However, the matter does not end there. Even if this lower site were accepted, it would lead to impossible dilemmas for lone gunman advocates. The trail of metallic debris, lying more than 10 cm higher on the skull X-ray, would then immediately demand a second headshot, a conclusion that would deliver a mortal blow to the lone gunman theory. But for any conspirator who wished to change the verdict of history, such photographic manipulation would have provided an easy solution.

Moving the headshot up by 10 cm immediately circumvented the embarrassingly low entry site proposed by the pathologists, thus avoiding the insoluble dilemma of a second headshot. The difficulties of this new proposal, however, are discussed extensively below. Because they did not review the X-rays, this discrepancy-between the high bullet trail and the low entry site-did not trouble the Warren Commission. It first surfaced with the Clark Panel in 1968, when the X-rays were reviewed, and the problem persisted with the HSCA, which spent a good deal of time with the X-rays and much time trying to purge history of this alarming paradox. Nonetheless, the pathologists have stubbornly persisted, insisting that they got it right at the autopsy, seemingly unconcerned with the insoluble dilemmas that they generated by their stubbornness. This apparent lack of concern, however, came back to haunt them when they were deposed by the ARRB. (See the depositions of Drs. Boswell and Humes in the addenda.)

Dr. Boswell sketched the location of the large hole at the rear of the head on a skull for the ARRB. Douglas P. Horne has transcribed these as accurately as possible onto 2D views from several directions (Figure 9). These images speak for themselves: the large hole clearly extended deep into the occipital area. During my two conversations with Ebersole, after he described the entry wound just above the posterior hairline, I asked him where the large hole began. In remarkable agreement with Boswell's recent sketch (and also in agreement with Boswell's autopsy diagram), Ebersole located it at about one inch from the entry hole clearly in the occiput. A detailed optical density study of this same area on the frontal skull X-ray is also consistent with this conclusion. Finally, Finck, in his "Personal notes on the Assassination of President Kennedy" (1 February 1965) to his AFIP superior, Brig. Gen. J. M. Blumberg, clearly stated that the wound did extend into both the frontal and the occipital areas.

Although a large hole was present at the right rear of the skull at both Parkland and at Bethesda, another question can be asked (as Lifton has done for decades): were the wounds the same at both hospitals? In there ARRB interviews, Sibert and O'Neill still insisted that Humes had asked about surgery to the head-and had never retracted this question while at the autopsy. Furthermore, the ARRB queried several Parkland witnesses about the V-shaped wound in the right forehead and none recalled this. Parkland physicians who have denied seeing such a V-shaped wound include Jackie Hunt, Ronald Jones, Malcolm Perry, Paul Peters, Don Curtis, Richard Delaney, and Adolph Giesecke. This "wound" is visible in the photograph of the throat wound (Figure 16), but a better view is the Groden superior profile (Livingstone 1992, photographs between pp. 432-433). The ARRB even asked Humes if he had made such an incision-but he denied it. This mysterious wound strongly supports Lifton's thesis that the body was altered between Dallas and Bethesda. Furthermore, witnesses such as Robinson (discussed elsewhere here), recalled seeing multiple, small, metal fragments in a container at the autopsy, reportedly taken from JFK. These fragments, of course, are no longer in evidence. For detailed photographs of partial bullets said to be from JFK, see Livingstone (1998, p. 562). Lifton has advanced other compelling arguments for such an illegal interception of the body between Dallas and Bethesda, which are not addressed here.

Conclusions: The Skull Wounds

Not a single witness-at either Parkland or at Bethesda-ever reported the red spot seen in the posterior photograph of the head (Figure 1), the same site that the HSCA selected for the entry wound. Furthermore, the pathologists have stubbornly refused to authenticate this site, saying that it was far too high. Therefore, whether this red spot was subsequently inserted into the photographs (in the darkroom) or was rather some bizarre artifact, this "entry wound" is irrelevant to the case.

Virtually all witnesses recalled a large hole at the right rear of the skull, where the photographs show only well combed, slightly wet, hair, with intact scalp. In fact, no Parkland physician, on first seeing these photographs recognized 'them as authentic. Indeed, if the entire collection had been re-photographed, such alteration might not be detectable by photographic experts.

The skull sketch (Figure 5) that Humes prepared for the Warren Commission (with Harold A. Rydberg as artist) showed the large hole extending far posteriorly, into the occiput just as the pathologists and virtually all of the eyewitnesses have reported. The X-rays are also consistent with this interpretation, particularly when it is recognized that a flap of bone at the rear of the skull could move in and out like a trap door, so that the back of the skull could take on varying appearances, depending on exactly how far this bone flap had swung open. This bone flap was actually described by McClelland, and can be seen on the frontal X-ray, where the hinge appears as a complete fracture line (see McClelland in Figure 2C). [Editor's note: For more discussion of this issue, see Assassination Science 1998, pp. 331-332.]

The location and size of the scalp defect is less certain. No additional photographs exist to resolve this issue. I tend to side with the morticians, who, because of the nature of their work, would have known the real state of affairs. They report that the scalp could not be closed in this area. In his ARRB deposition, Humes also recalled that several centimeters of posterior scalp remained open. Since no scalp fragments were later recovered, this seems a reasonable conclusion.

By utilizing the skull X-rays, the previously mysterious F8 photograph (see the Postscript) can now be interpreted as the back of the head. This should be no surprise because the pathologists' initial inventories actually described this view as posterior skull. This analysis is consistent with the eyewitnesses and is also remarkably consistent with the X-rays.

The above interpretation of F8, in tum, suggests a site of origin for the Harper fragment (Figures 2A-2D), an unexpected bonus not likely to result from a false interpretation of F8. When the Harper fragment is placed into this site, an astonishing event occurs. The Dallas pathologists (who actually called it occipital bone) identified a probable lead deposit on this bone. After my placement of the Harper fragment, this site of lead lay eerily close to the Bethesda pathologists' rear entry wound.

In agreement with Lifton's thesis, the body was probably altered between Dallas and Bethesda. The bizarre tracheotomy seen at Bethesda seems to me the strongest argument for such unlawful activity, but the evidence from the head is also persuasive, as discussed above.

Did a Bullet Strike the Skull from the Right Front?

At the news conference at Parkland Hospital immediately after the assassination, Malcolm Kilduff, the assistant press secretary (Pierre Salinger was over the Pacific with several cabinet members, leaving Hawaii for Japan), was asked about the cause of death. He stated: " Dr. Burkley told me, it is a simple matter …of a bullet right through the head." The' striking feature of his response, however, was the non-verbal portion: as he made this statement, he pointed toward his right forehead, indicating the entry site. A photograph (Figure 10) captured this gesture at the critical moment. A follow-up question asked: "Can you say where the bullet entered his head, Mac?" To this Kilduff replied: "It is my understanding that it entered in the temple, the right temple." Later that day, Chet Huntley repeated this: "President Kennedy, we are now informed, was shot in the right temple. 'It was a simple matter of a bullet right through the head,' said Dr. George Burkley, the White House medical officer." (Vincent Palamara, JFK: The Medical Evidence Reference 1998, p. 44.)

Posterior Head image

Figure 10. Whitehouse acting press secretary, Malcolm Kilduff, points to his right temple in response to a reporter's question as to where the President was hit.

Others corroborate this location, such as Seth Kantor (20H353), 15 a Scripps Howard reporter whose notes stated: "interred (sic) right temple." Charles Crenshaw, M.D., 16 one of the treating physicians in Trauma Room One, demonstrated on live television for Geraldo Rivera ("Now It Can Be Told," 2 April 1992) just where this shot entered: near the hairline, just above the lateral border of the right eye socket. [Editor's Note: This video clip is included in my video, "JFK: The Assassination, The Cover-up, and Beyond."]

David Stewart, a physician not called before the Warren Commission, perhaps because he had given public talks about the frontal shots, had been present for the treatment of all three of JFK, Connally, and Oswald. When asked about the fatal shot to JFK, Stewart responded:

Yes, sir. This was the finding of all the physicians who were in attendance. There was a small wound in the left front 17 of the President's head and there was a quite massive wound of exit at the right backside of the head and it was felt by all of the physicians at the time to be a wound of entry which went in the front ... (Harold Weisberg, Post-Mortem 1969, pp. 60-61.)

Other Parkland physicians who clearly support a frontal headshot include Robert McClelland, Ronald Jones, Donald Seldin, and Gene Akin (Vincent Palamara, JFK: The Medical Evidence Reference, 1998).

Tom Robinson, the funeral home employee who restored JFK's head, described a wound, about 1/4 inch across, above the right eye, near the hairline, where he had to place wax to disguise it. He added that this wound was so close to the hairline that the hair could easily cover it, which may explain why more witnesses did not see it. And Joe O'Donnell, who viewed autopsy photographs within the first week, witnessed an obvious wound above the right eye in a photograph, which he interpreted as the entry for the bullet that had caused the large hole at the right rear.

But the most objective evidence for precisely such a frontal shot lies on the skull X-rays. It should first be noted that the trail of debris obviously does not match a bullet entry near the external occipital protuberance (EOP), the site preferred by the pathologists. Essentially no one, except for the three pathologists, (and the photographers and the radiologist) believed in a single headshot that entered at such a low site. (My own view is that one headshot did enter near the EOP, just as the pathologists said, but that there was also a subsequent, frontal shot.) Instead current, lone gunman advocates now necessarily support the HSCA's much higher entry wound (the red spot).

But this does not work, either. First, the lateral X-ray (Figure 11) shows the 6.5 mm fragment lying one centimeter below the "entry" site (which lies where the skull has been fractured), but the trail of debris is noticeably higher than even this "entry" site and even higher than the 6.5 mm object. No lone gunman supporter has ever explained this discrepancy: it is simply ignored. Even worse, though, the Warren Commission claimed (17H257) that the nose and tail of this bullet were found inside the limousine, meaning that this supposed bullet cross section must have come from inside the bullet (sic). Although no ballistics expert has ever seen a cross section from the outside of a bullet deposited at an entry site, the Warren Commission has done better than that. By placing an internal cross section not at the entry site (but one centimeter inferior to the entry site), they have surpassed all prior case in two separate measures at the same time-a truly remarkable achievement. (See Bonar Menninger and Howard Donahue, Mortal Error 1992, p. 68.)

Posterior Head image

Figure 11A. Lateral autopsy X-ray Note the trail of metallic debris across the top of the skull, at least 10 cm above the occipital wound that the pathologists identified.

Posterior Head image

Figure 11B. Lateral autopsy X-ray, showing direction of X-ray beam used for frontal X-ray.

Although no proposed, posterior entry site matches this trail of metallic debris, on the other hand, a bullet that entered the right forehead, near the hairline, directly over the outer edge of the right eye socket, would match this bullet trail with remarkable precision. Furthermore, a close look at the frontal view on the diagram that Boswell drew for the ARRB (Figure 9A-D) shows a notch in the frontal bone at just this site (where the bullet entered). As further confirmation that this notch is no accident, examine Boswell's sketch from the night of the autopsy (Figure 4A). The notch is also there!

When I examined the frontal X-ray, I used a bright light to highlight the outside of the skull. I could then easily see the top edge of the remaining frontal bone (high in the forehead). Furthermore, with the optical densitometer, I measured the transmission of light above and below this edge over a long distance.

The area above the (supposed) bone edge was darker (and the optical density values higher), implying less bone, whereas the area below it was lighter (the optical density values were lower), which implied residual frontal bone. These measurements therefore verified what I had seen with my naked eyes with the bright light-I had identified the edge of the frontal bone. I could now trace the remaining frontal bone with good accuracy. This sketch is shown in Figure 12 the same sketch that was published in 1995 (Livingstone 1995, p. 101), well before Boswell made his sketch for the ARRB. The same notch is also shown in my X-ray based sketch. This notch is therefore a critical piece of evidence: the frontal bullet knocked out a small fragment of bone here.

Posterior Head image

Figure 12. Residual frontal bone: Mantik's analysis of the skull

In summary, the X-rays, especially in conjunction with Boswell's sketches, provide powerful confirmation of a shot from the front. Five lines of evidence support such a frontal shot, near the hairline, above the outer border of the right orbit:

1. A wound was seen in the scalp (attested to by Kilduff, Crenshaw, Stewart, McClelland, Akin, Kantor, and O'Donnell)

2. The notch in the frontal bone was still recalled by Boswell for the ARRB.

3. The notch is actually seen on the X-rays.

4. The trail of metallic debris on the X-rays is more consistent with such a frontal shot than with it is with any posterior shot proposed to date.

5, Close examination of fragments in this debris strongly suggests that, overall; the larger ones are located closer to the rear. This would be expected for a shot from the front (but not for a shot from the rear) because the larger ones initially contained more energy (energy is proportional to mass), they should have traveled farther.

One other point should be emphasized. Boswell's unprompted recall of this subtle detail (of the notch) for the ARRB, after so many years, raises the question of whether he understood, at the autopsy, just what this site represented. If O'Donnell's recall of such a wound is correct (he saw this wound in an autopsy photograph), then Boswell very likely recognized (tacitly) evidence for a second headshot. Unfortunately, this question was never put to any of the pathologists or to any other eyewitness, for that matter, not even by the ARRB.

One more question should be asked. Where could a frontal shot to the right forehead/temple-have originated? The traditional answer of the grassy knoll does not fit well, because such a trajectory should have traversed the left-brain. (Whether a shot missed from the grassy knoll is a separate issue, not discussed here, because it is outside the purview of the medical evidence.) However, a shot from the north storm drain at the top of the overpass is far more feasible (Grant Leitma, "Where Did the Front Shot come from?" Fourth Decade, November 1993, p. 31). For such a bullet to exit through the right rear of the skull, however, an additional sideways deflection on striking the skull would appear necessary. Such a deflection may be reasonable, however, especially since the skull surface is sloping where this bullet entered, and this slope would lend itself to such a sideways deflection.

The Back Wound

It was Commission member Gerald Ford who initially elevated this wound to the back of the neck-in order to salvage the SBT. (See Assassination Science 1998, p. 177.) Supporting a wound in the back of the torso (rather than the back of the neck) were the following: the pathologists' official autopsy report, the Sibert and O'Neill report, Boswell's autopsy diagram, the autopsy photographs, and the eyewitnesses. All of these agreed that the back wound (Figure 2) was in the, back of the torso, not the back of the neck. The one exception to this remarkable agreement is Boswell's second opinion: after he was asked to reconsider his original autopsy drawing (Figure 4B), he agreed to elevate the back wound. By doing so, he denied the accuracy of his own autopsy diagram! On seeing this change, Francis O'Neill, one of the FBI agents at the autopsy, ridiculed Boswell for this convenient after-the-fact change of mind. It should also be noted that Admiral Burkley initialed Boswell's diagram as approved (see his signature in Figure 4B), so if Boswell indeed had grossly misrepresented the back wound in his own diagram, then Burkley, too, had been gravely mistaken. That both physicians would have made such a grievous error seems unlikely. When Boswell was first questioned by the ARRB, he first said that this wound lay at a cervical level, but when shown the autopsy photograph he opted for T2!

Admiral George Burkley's death certificate (dated 23 November 1963) placed this wound at T3 (the third thoracic vertebra). Burkley's choice of T3 raises a serious question. It is not likely that he would merely have glanced at the body and made this correlation by himself. More likely, he obtained this information from the pathologists, either at the autopsy, or during the next day when the autopsy report was being written. Ebersole, in my conversation with him, actually placed the wound at T4. Ebersole's comments must be taken seriously because his specialty (like mine) was radiation oncology. This is the sole specialty in which correlation of internal anatomy with external anatomy is essential, if this is not done correctly, the tumor will be missed by the therapeutic X-ray beam. The levels of T3 and T4, although noticeably lower than the top of the scapula, do receive surprising support from other sources. Of these sources, the shirt and coat are the most intriguing. According to Robert Frazier of the FBI (The Warren Report 1964, p. 92), the hole in the shirt was 5 3/8 inches (13.65 cm) below the top of the collar; the hole in the coat was 5 3/4 inches (13.8 em) below the top of the collar. My own measurements at the Archives agreed closely with these. An excellent photograph of the shirt can be seen in Weisberg's Post-Mortem (1975, p. 597); for the coat, see Livingstone (1998, pp. 24-25) or Groden (1993, p. 78). While at the Archives I had a 6' 4" live, male model (S. M.) put the coat on. I was struck at how low this hole actually was-by both palpation and visual inspection, the hole was about 10 cm (four inches) below the scapular spine! There is a horizontal seam in the coat across the top of the back; I could feel the top of the scapula at 2-3 cm above the seam, whereas the hole laid an additional 7-8 cm below the seam. Additional evidence for such a low back wound has been previously compiled. (See Assassination Science 1998, pp. 110-111.) If this evidence is correct, then the photograph of the back wound has been altered.

Several witnesses, however, including Humes, place the back wound much higher than this-at the top of the scapula-which would be consistent with the photograph (Figure 2). To correlate this level with a particular vertebral body, normal anatomy is shown in Figure 13. In this photograph, the top of the scapula would lie between T1 and T2. Standard anatomy textbooks place the scapular spine (the visible horizontal portion near the top) at about T2 (Carmine Clemente, Anatomy, A Regional Atlas of the Human Body 1987, Figure 140). Anatomy textbooks (Clemente 1987, Figure 591, and J. C. Boileau Grant, Grant's Atlas of Anatomy 1972, Figure 458), place the 3rd or 4th tracheal ring (the level of the throat wound) 18 at about C7. So even when coupled with a back wound at the higher level of T1 or T2, however, the level of C7 for the throat wound is devastating to the SBT- the back wound is then obviously lower than the throat wound! For these two wounds to connect, Oswald would have had to shoot from the trunk of the limousine. It is not difficult to imagine why Ford felt compelled to give the SBT a modest assist. The upward direction (from back to front) of a line connecting the back wound to the throat wound was apparently demonstrated by transit probes at the autopsy-for which photographs no longer exist, but which so many observers recall. So even if the photographs of the back wound are accepted as authentic (and the wound were at Tl or at T2), there is still a very serious problem for the SBT. However, if the evidence listed above for an even lower back wound (i.e., T3 or T4) were correct, then the SBT would be flagrantly ridiculous.

Posterior Head image

Figure 13. Normal anatomy of the back (D. W McKears and R.H. Owen, Surface Anatomy for Radiographers. (1979), p. 41)

The above arguments apply within a vertical plane, but equally powerful arguments against the SBT apply within a horizontal plane. The first individual to recognize this paradox was John Nichols, M.D., A pathologist at the University of Kansas, (John Nichols, ''The Wounding of Governor John Connally of Texas," The Maryland State Medical Journal, October 1977). He drew a model cross section of anatomy, and concluded that a bullet fired from the lateral angle of the sniper's nest simply could not exit at the midline of the throat without striking bone. And since the X-rays at this level show at most minor trauma to the transverse process of T1, this trajectory could be ruled out, according to Nichols.

Posterior Head image

Figure 14. Frontal Autopsy X-ray… The largest "metal" fragment, a 6. 5 mm object that lies inside the right orbit (circled) was added later in the darkroom.

The ideal test would be a CT scan of JFK's body, but CTs were not yet available. A set of frontal and lateral X-rays might have done almost as well, but no lateral autopsy X-ray exists. So I did the next best thing. I took detailed measurements from the frontal X-rays (at the Archives) through the upper back and lower neck. Then I located a real CT scan of a patient similar in overall size to JFK. When these measurements were integrated with this CT scan, it was obvious that the HSCA trajectory was highly unlikely. [Editor's note: This experiment is reproduced elsewhere in this volume.]

If the bullet had transited at mid-Tl or above it would have struck bone (the lateral processes of the vertebrae) and caused major fractures (that are clearly not seen on the chest X-ray). On the other hand, if it had transited at a lower level, it would have passed through the lung, causing air to escape into the chest cavity (i.e., a pneumothorax). Although the pathologists saw a bruise at the top of the lung, they saw no penetrating wound in the lung itself. The bullet, therefore, did not pass through the lung. Additional arguments against the SBT, based on the location of the back wound at five centimeters from midline, have previously been described (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 102-103), and will not be repeated here.  In summary, then, powerful arguments, in both the vertical and horizontal planes show how the SBT violates both common sense as well as basic anatomy. These issues were never addressed, let alone explored, by the Warren Commission, or even by the HSCA.

What caused the (non-penetrating) back wound? There is fairly compelling evidence that it was either the first shot fired, or the first shot to hit JFK. Roy Kellerman (Palamara 1998, pp. 105-108) recalls that when he turned around he saw JFK put his hand up (on his back) and that he also heard JFK say: "My God, I am hit!" O'Neill included this comment by Kellerman in his FBI report. He later recognized how important it was because it violated the SBT. O'Neill therefore considered this to be a crucial remark by JFK. The whereabouts of this bullet, or whether it was ever recovered, is still debated. Years later a sabot was found on the roof of an adjacent office building (Sloan 1993, pp. 111-112), thus raising the possibility that an attempt had been made (with an underpowered round) to plant a Mannlicher-Carcano bullet on JFK. Other possible causes for the back wound include:

1. Shrapnel from a bullet that struck the street or sidewalk.

2. A piece of the pavement that was launched by a bullet that struck the street or the sidewalk (Palamara 1998, pp. 213-214)

3. A bullet that first struck the seat back of the limousine and then shattered or exploded.

(Ed O'Hagan is currently doing a photographic analysis of this latter possibility, while Roy Schaeffer had previously pointed out a possible bullet hole in the seat back (behind JFK) in photographs taken of the limousine at the White House garage.) If the spectroscopic evidence is accepted, then:

1. The projectile that entered the back was metallic (copper residue was found on the clothing)

2. The projectile that entered the throat was not metallic (no copper residue was found on the clothing).

According to The Warren Report, the nose and tail of this bullet were found inside the limousine; therefore this cross section must have come from inside the bullet, which is an undeniably preposterous proposal. The situation is even worse than this, however. One of the bullet fragments found in the limousine (and still in the Archives) has its copper jacket peeled back by almost 180 degrees. How this could happen, merely by striking skull, is almost miraculous. On the other hand, if the bullet had first struck pavement, then such a peeling back might occur, but that would mean one additional bullet. The Commission could consider none of these options because any one of them would have meant conspiracy (too many bullets).

The Throat Wound

Malcolm Perry, M.D., the ENT surgeon at Parkland, thrice described this small, smooth, round wound as an entry wound during the press conference at Parkland on 22 November 1963. (See Assassination Science 1998, Appendix C.) Within the week after the assassination, virtually all of the Parkland doctors agreed that this had been an entrance wound. Margaret Henchcliffe (6H141-143), one of the E.R. nurses, said that she had never seen an exit wound that looked like this. However, according to Charles Crenshaw, M.D., after a visit by the Secret Service following the assassination, the doctors seldom discussed the assassination among themselves. Moreover, their testimony before the Warren Commission changed drastically, even though they had seen no new evidence with their own eyes.

At the autopsy, the pathologists did not describe this wound, even though Perry maintained that he had left the wound "inviolate," i.e., still readily visible. It seems quite certain now that this ignorance of the bullet wound by the pathologists was merely feigned, because the pathologists knew that the lone assassin theory was in vogue and that such an obvious entry wound would contradict it. Also, even if they had wanted to connect an entering bullet from the back to the throat wound (as a supposed exit site), they knew well enough (from everything they had seen at the autopsy) that the back wound was far too low for this to work.

Humes claimed that he first learned of the throat wound from Perry, when they spoke by telephone after 8 AM Saturday morning, November 23. It is curious, however, that Perry, in his subsequent Commission testimony (6H16), seemed uncertain about the timing of this call, first recalling that it was Friday afternoon! It was only after he was prompted that he agreed to the Saturday morning scenario. Perry may also have been subjected to pressure to change his conclusion about a bullet entry into the throat. Graduate student James Gouchenaur (HSCA File# 180-10109), on 1 June 1977, recalled a conversation with Secret Service agent Elmer Moore, who expressed remorse for badgering Perry into changing his testimony about the entrance wound in the throat. Audrey Bell also told Livingstone that Perry had received calls during the night from Bethesda (Livingstone 1995, p. 192)

The list of autopsy witnesses who knew of the throat wound is surprisingly long and has been meticulously assembled by Kathy Cunningham, L.P.N. Now, however, after Boswell's admission to the ARRB that he did know of this projectile wound while at the autopsy (it is clear that he was not merely referring to the tracheotomy), the evidence of all of these witnesses is scarcely needed any more.

Based on a telephone call during the autopsy, Ebersole, the radiologist, told me (see Appendix E) that the projectile wound to the throat was already known at the autopsy. It is noteworthy that tissue samples were taken of the tracheotomy wound, a procedure that makes no sense at all for a simple tracheotomy.

Many witnesses have described seeing probes in the body during the autopsy (or sometimes in photographs of the body), and that these probes passed through the tracheotomy. For a simple tracheotomy to be probed also makes no sense, but if a bullet wound were located there, then both a probe and tissue samples would make sense. I shall say no more about this feigned ignorance of the pathologists, because the evidence contrary to this charade is now simply overwhelming.

Instead, the relevant question is: what caused the wound and where did the bullet go (if there was one)? The traditional scenario for why the X-rays showed no metal debris (in the throat) is that the bullet (or fragments) was removed surreptitiously. That the tracheotomy wound changed dramatically between Parkland and Bethesda seems likely. When first asked about this by David Lifton, Perry replied that the tracheotomy was only about 2-3 cm across, but when pushed on this question, Perry successively increased the width until now he seems unwilling to deny that the gaping, irregular wound in the photographs is entirely his work (Lifton 1988, Chapter 11). In his Afterward, Lifton listed medical eyewitnesses from Parkland who agreed that the tracheotomy wound was not at all what they remembered (others could now be added). Perry's own, initial, surprised reaction on seeing the photograph of his (supposed) tracheotomy is especially noteworthy (see Lifton's Afterward). Now, however, he seems not to care anymore, as he wrote to James H. Fetzer (16 February 1998):

I don't wish to relive that tragic weekend, and I avoid reading about it (sic)... I don't believe there is credible evidence of a "cover-up," nor does anyone I know think so... Most of us view the conspiracy theories as mainly self-serving, usually based on distortions and selected interviews with people who had little or nothing to do with the actual events, and invariably coupled with an ignorance of medicine and trauma. I find that I really don't care anymore because I know what the truth is and that's sufficient.

Charles Crenshaw has strongly insisted that the tracheotomy in Parkland was much smaller, not at all like the one in the photographs. (Boswell's autopsy diagram clearly states the diameter as 6.5 cm; see Figure 4B.) Crenshaw also reminded the ARRB that the flange on the tube was 5 cm and that the wound was, it almost necessarily had to be smaller than that. David Lifton's own research (1988, Chapter 11) has suggested that the flange was even smaller than this, possibly 4 cm or even as small as 3 cm. The wound in the photographs is certainly much larger than that. For the Commission, Humes even described it as large as 7 to 8 cm although for JAMA he described it as only half that size.

A new witness to this question has recently emerged, someone who was in Trauma Room One, a medical student at the time, Joe D. Goldstrich, M.D., 19 more recently from San Diego, California. When he was asked about this specifically (Sloan 1993, p.8 9), he recalled his initial impressions on seeing the autopsy photographs: confusion and consternation. He said: "The whole front of his neck was wide open. It had simply been filleted." Ebersole also expressed to me his near horror at seeing such a large and irregular tracheotomy.

The widened and ragged appearance at the autopsy of this supposed mere incision strongly suggests that the tracheotomy was enlarged, perhaps during a search for bullets or for metal debris prior to the autopsy. There is, however, no certain way of knowing what, if anything, was found. Curiously, Livingstone (1998, p. 562) reproduced detailed photographs (including some documentation for them) of partial bullets, 'said to have been removed from JFK. Nothing is said, however, about whether these were from the skull or from the throat.

The primary argument against such a frontal bullet to the throat is the minimal trauma seen in the spine (on the X-rays), as well as the absence of a corresponding exit wound in the back. Although there is a probable (tiny) fracture to the right lateral process of T1 on the X-rays, that is all. It is not even certain whether this fracture was present before the shooting. The direction of such a proposed shot also poses serious difficulties-the autopsy evidence strongly suggests that it was traveling diagonally from left to right, consistent with a shot from the left front. Even worse, though, its remarkably limited range is puzzling, because most ordinary bullets would, without striking bone, easily have passed through the chest and exited from the back. This one apparently did not.

As I contemplated this paradox some years ago, I realized that any radiolucent object (i.e., something invisible on the X-rays) would be consistent with all of the evidence. And then I wondered, if there really had been a complete hole in the windshield (Larry Sneed, No More Silence 1998, pp. 147-148), was it possible that a fragment of glass had caused the throat wound? It met all of the requirements: it was radiolucent, it had a limited range, the pathologists (probably) would not have seen it, and, furthermore, the bullet might even have come from the right front. In particular, spray of glass particles, diverging in a cone (even from a right front shot) might have permitted some of them to strike JFK in a left to right direction. 20

A close examination of the Altgens photograph (taken at about Zapruder frame 255) shows that a path from the windshield to JFK's throat was entirely unobstructed. This seemed an uncanny corroboration for this proposal. Furthermore, some versions of this photograph show a mark (resembling a spiral nebula with a dark hole in the center) in the windshield that could be a through and through hole. [Editor's note: Roy Schaeffer detected this feature in this photograph (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 143-144). Schaeffer has also summarized his conclusions in an unpublished manuscript, The Slaying of Camelot.] It was only recently, however, on re-reading the comments of Tom Robinson (from Gawler's funeral home), that I became conscious of possible additional evidence for this proposal.

Robinson described three tiny holes in the right cheek, near the right eye. I had previously ignored these, because I could not relate them to anything else. The reason that Robinson recalled these at all is because the fixative solution was leaking from them. Such wounds could hardly have been caused by debris coming from inside the cheek: the distance from sites of major trauma in the brain was too remote. Furthermore, bone would have obstructed such a path from the brain. Instead, something must have struck JFK's cheek from the outside. But no other limousine occupants had suffered similar injuries, so why just JFK?

If tiny fragments of glass had been emitted in a small cone of scattering (a small cone is the likely scenario, because of the bullet's initial high speed), then it is possible that JFK, and no one else, would have been hit. This conclusion is based on JFK's position in the Altgens photograph, and also on the presumed angle of incidence of the bullet. Douglas Weldon, J.D., has recently informed me that he is aware of further, current research on this very question. [Editor's note: Weldon reviews windshield evidence elsewhere in this volume, listing several, independent witnesses who recalled a through and through hole in the windshield.]

Moreover, witnesses to the windshield hole (Palamara 1998, p. 63) often described a specific and consistent site that matches the site seen in the Altgens photograph. In the present volume, Weldon introduces the Ford Motor Company employee (whose audiotape I have heard) who saw the windshield-and the hole-before the windshield was destroyed. Based on his inspection, this employee concluded that the shot had come from the front. As further corroboration of his veracity (he was not versed in the assassination literature), he placed the hole at the proper site. Weldon also reviews the seemingly inconsistent testimony of government employees who examined the windshield at different times, which suggests that they were examining different windshields. Robert Livingston, M.D., has advised me (and others, too) that when he worked at the National Institutes of Health in 1963, he had heard of orders for multiple windshields. Like Weldon, he, too, has wondered if the original windshield was (illicitly) substituted. [Editor's note: See Assassination Science 1998, pp. 165-166.] The windshield currently stored in the Archives does not contain a through and through hole.

Weldon lists several witnesses who recalled a shot from the left front, probably from the storm drain on the south overpass. At present, that drain has been covered over, but in 1963 it was open. Its location mirrors a similar drain site on the north overpass, the one that I have proposed for the origin of the shot to the right forehead. Furthermore, Weldon adds that the image in the Cancellare photograph seems to show someone holding a rifle at this site. None of this information ever came to the attention of any government inquiry.

Weldon's proposal has more than one attractive feature. First, it may explain the odd, almost unique, fireworks like sound of the first shot that so many witnesses recalled. Weldon has learned that a shot passing through a windshield sounds just like fireworks going off. Furthermore, such a shot would have the proper left to right trajectory, although it could still not explain the limited range of such a bullet, as implied by the autopsy findings of non-transit. In addition, if a shooter really had fired from the left front it might explain the odd reports of several witnesses who described a left temple entry wound. These include physicians McClelland, Jenkins, Giesecke, the priest Oscar Huber, photographers Altgens and Similas, and recently, Hugh Huggins (aka Hugh Howell)-Robert Kennedy's emissary to the autopsy (Sloan 1993, p. 183). One more witness is Lito Porto, a neurosurgery resident under Kemp Clark (Palamara 1998, p. 75). For a discussion of the left entry wound, see Lifton (1988, pp. 45-47).

Crenshaw had recalled that the left temple, after removal of a blood clot, had shown no underlying wound. I had found this to be persuasive evidence against such a left temple shot and had therefore discarded this possibility. But now I am less certain. On the other hand, knowing how easy it is to reverse left for right (as I have done many times in this case, as also did Robert Blakey, on national television), I naturally wonder if some of these witnesses merely reversed left for right and that most of them had actually seen a shot to the right temple/forehead.

Such a shot from the left front, however, might explain marks found on the north sidewalk along Elm Street, as Weldon notes. A successful shot to the left temple would actually match the large hole at the right rear better than a shot from the right front, although the metallic debris on the X-rays would still strongly support a right frontal shot. But perhaps the question should be changed. Is it possible that yet a third shot struck JFK's head? It is difficult for me to believe that three shots struck the head in such a short time interval, but I admit that, with the available evidence, I cannot totally rule out this possibility. If the current X-rays could be thoroughly scanned in great detail, it is possible that a third shot could be excluded or perhaps even confirmed.

For the throat wound, therefore, some uncertainties remain. Was it caused by a bullet (of remarkably limited range) or instead by a glass fragment? Was this shot fired from the left front (consistent with the observed trajectory), or from the right front (which might have ejected a glass fragment with the required trajectory, the observed short range and the requisite invisibility to X-rays)? It is not likely, short of exhumation, which might or might not be sufficient, that these issues can ever be entirely resolved.

There is one final question, however. If a glass fragment caused the wound, then where did the bullet go? There are two possibilities: either:

1. It struck somewhere inside the limousine (either staying inside or possibly exiting)

2. It struck somewhere outside the limousine.

The available evidence may be consistent with either interpretation. Many witnesses, reported by the Warren Commission (also see Menninger 1992, pp. 68-74, for a discussion of such ricochet bullets and the witnesses who saw them) either saw or heard bullets strike the street and the surrounding turf, some in front of the limousine and some in back. 21 The Commission ignored these witnesses, but their testimonies were nonetheless included in the volumes of its Hearings.

Alternately, the bullet could have struck inside the limousine. Roy Schaeffer, using an enlargement of a photograph of the inside of the limousine (taken at the White House garage), believes that he has identified a bullet hole in the rear seat, near Jackie's elbow. Could this hole conceivably represent a left frontal shot that was deflected after striking the windshield?

Whether such a bullet stayed inside the limousine or exited and (possibly) struck the street remains uncertain. What is known, without any doubt, is that the Secret Service was astonishingly protective of the limousine in Dallas after the shooting. Several witnesses even saw them tear the film from a young boy's movie camera after he had photographed the limousine interior at Parkland Hospital. The premature disappearance of the limousine, in the immediately subsequent days (as discussed by Weldon), is also suspicious. It would seem that a more determined attempt was made to destroy evidence than to preserve it. If the limousine did contain evidence of conspiracy (either from bullet holes in the upholstery or even in the windshield, or from physical bullets or fragments), then such efforts would have been expedient (as part of the cover-up).

The Brain(s)

Initially, I did not know whether the skull contained any brain tissue at all at the autopsy, partly because of the comments of several autopsy personnel, but also because of surprising evidence that the skull may have been (illegally) explored before the autopsy (Lifton 1988). After reflecting on this question, however, I eventually recognized that the X-rays might hold the answer. In due course I was able to address this question both by means of an experiment and also by repeated measurements of optical density (OD) performed on the X-rays at the National Archives. The conclusions were quite straightforward:

There really is a brain within the skull as seen on the X-rays.

It is totally incompatible with the photographs of the brain (I have repeatedly viewed these photographs myself, even using a stereo viewer at the National Archives);

The amount of residual brain, along a measured line of sight, varies in different parts of the X-rays from as low as 25% to as high as 90%, but on the right side (which shows the least brain tissue) is often between 30 and 60%.

The most surprising result, though, was the loss of brain tissue on the left side (only 2/3 to 3/4 remains), and the virtually total absence of brain in a large bilateral area at the front-the large void that Humes describes in his excerpted testimony (see the addendum). In addition, I was able to demonstrate that the area of the right cerebellum showed only about 25-30% of the expected amount for a totally intact brain, thus confirming the descriptions of the Dallas physicians that this area had been severely traumatized. These X-ray observations of the cerebellum also disagreed radically with the photographs, which showed an almost normal cerebellum. In the laboratory, using a real skull and simulated brain material (used in departments of radiation oncology), I was able to explore these issues in more detail and at some leisure. By taking X-rays of skulls variously filled with simulated brain tissue, and then taking measurements on these X-rays, the resulting OD data provided strong confirmation for the conclusions I had reached from the extant JFK X-rays.

While at the National Archives, I answered one additional question: was it possible that much of the brain was actually present, but had been displaced to the outside of the skull? By passing a bright light over the entire circumference of the skull, I was able to see even small amounts of soft tissue that would otherwise have been invisible. Since, except for scalp, I saw essentially no such soft tissue here, the conclusion was obvious-the missing brain was not outside of the skull. During his ARRB interview, Humes also agreed that brain was not visible outside of the skull. Therefore, the chief paradox persisted: a truly huge amount of brain was missing, in gross contradiction with the photographs of the brain. I could only conclude that the brain photographs were not those of JFK. Indeed, after examining all of the eyewitness evidence-from Parkland and from Bethesda-and surveying the publicly available image of the brain, Robert B. Livingston, M.D., a world authority on the brain and founder of the Department of Neuroscience at U.C-San Diego, came to the same conclusion. (See Assassination Science 1998, pp. 161-166).

Although Livingstone (1995, p. 261) had proposed that the brain had been switched, what no one had yet considered-perhaps because it seemed so disgraceful, was the possibility that there had been two different brain examinations, of two different brains, on two different occasions. However, on reviewing the new evidence uncovered by the ARRB and integrating this with previously available information, Douglas P. Home, Senior Military Analyst for the ARRB, proposed precisely that. He assembled a large number of disparate pieces of evidence, all of which were strikingly consistent with this proposal. He offered three separate lines of evidence for his stunning conclusion:

Timeline conflicts

1. The visible appearance of the brain at the two different dates.

2. Discrepancies in the film and photographic techniques employed. [Editor's note: Home's study may be found elsewhere in this volume.]

Evidence from the X-rays that I had obtained prior to the activities of the ARRB constituted yet a fourth pillar for this surprising discovery. In view of Home's accessible study (in this volume), I present here only the tables (Tables 1-4) that summarize all of this evidence. When viewed in this fashion, the case for two brains is quite remarkable. It is difficult, in retrospect, to imagine an alternate explanation that can reasonably explain so many odd details.

Table 1: Time line Conflicts

Evidence for an early brain exam (c. 11/25/63)

Boswell to HSCA: the exam was 2-3 days after 11/22

Stringer to HSCA: the exam was 2-3 days after 11/22

Boswell: Finck was absent

Stringer: Finck was absent, but Boswell and Humes were present

Boyers to HSCA: body tissues processed by 11/24

Benson to HSCA: more tissue processed on 11/25

Boswell to ARRB: all tissue slides examined by 11/24

Humes to JAMA: RFK wanted brain buried with body (interment was 11/25)

Evidence for a later brain exam (c. 12/2/63)

Finck's written report to Gen. Blumberg notified on 11/29 re, a later exam.

Finck to ARRB: exam could not have occurred in 2-3 days

Boyers to HSCA: 6 paraffin blocks, 8 sections processed on 12/2 (brain tissue)

Clossen typed report closer to 12/2 than to 11/25

Humes to Specter: all 3 pathologists at brain exam (stated with B&F present)

Hand written date on final report is 12/6

It should also be noted that Humes initially told the ARRB that the brain examination occurred 1-2 days after 11/22/63 (which seems far too early, since brains usually require 10-14 days to fix in formalin). But, as the deposition proceeded, Humes kept moving the date farther away from 11/22. Home observed that Humes's attitude during this discussion was both defensive and flippant.

Table 2: The Appearance of the Brain at the Examinations

Appearance at the Earlier Exam (c. 11/25/63)

Humes to JAMA: 213 of right cerebrum missing

Boswell to HSCA: brain too tom up to show a track

All 3 pathologists saw an entry wound near the EOP (Which would imply cerebellar trauma)

X-rays show 30-35 tiny metal particles

Appearance at the Later Exam (c. 12/2/63)

Finck to Blumberg: brain surface looked different from 11/22

Brain mass: 1500 gm. (inconsistent with major tissue loss)

Photographs: most of brain present

Robert Kischner, M.D., to ARRB: brain in photo was fixed for 2 weeks

Boyers to HSCA: he saw a bullet track, pre-saggital laceration described Parasagittal laceration 4-5 cm inferior to vertex, no cerebellar trauma

Finck's personal notes: no metal fragments

Humes: he does not note any metal fragments either

Table 3: Conflicts in Film and Photographic Techniques

Photographic Evidence at the Earlier Exam (c. 11/25/63)

Stringer to ARRB: photos of sections, including sections on a light box

Stringer to ARRB: no views of the inferior (basilar) surface

Stringer to ARRB (re. B&W): negatives on Kodak portrait pan in duplex holders (no numbers on film)

Stringer to ARRB (re. color): Kodak Ektachrome positive transparencies

Photographic Evidence at the Later Exam (c. 12/2/63)

Photographs: no sections in official record

H&B: no sections taken

H&F: describe basilar views

Photographs: basilar views in the official record

Archives negatives: on Ansco film from a numbered 12-pack

Archives films: on Ansco film (with notches), per Stringer

Richard Davis, a neuropathologist at the AFIP, could think of no reason forever omitting brain sections in a gunshot wound case. (He was not asked if a cover-up might be one reason). Boswell told the ARRB the same thing, but could not explain why this fundamental rule had (apparently) been violated in the case of JFK.

Table 4: The Skull X-rays vs. the Brain Photographs

Skull X-rays (11/22/63)

Lateral X-ray: black bi-frontal area-implies brain missing on both left and right

Lateral X-ray: black bi-frontal area-implies 114 to 113, at least, of total brain (in addition, more brain is missing from other parts of the X-ray)

Frontal X-ray: right infra-orbital transverse black band shows only 30% of total brain

Frontal X-ray: just below this, 80% of the brain is present

Frontal X-ray: fracture line above left orbit shows only 60-65% of total brain

Brain Photographs (c. 12/2/63)

Left-brain intact

Right brain mostly intact

Minimal cerebellar trauma

The point of Table 4 is to illustrate the impossible conflicts between the X-rays (taken at the original autopsy) versus the photographs (most likely taken on about Monday, 2 December 1963) of what must be two different brains. These discrepancies, especially in both frontal areas, are otherwise impossible to resolve. The case for conspiracy could be solidly based on this single discrepancy alone.

During his deposition before the ARRB, Humes came very close to revealing the truth about the brain (while viewing a photograph of it), as shown in the following monologue:

Boy, I have trouble with this. I don't know which end is up. What happened here? Looking at this photograph, which is labeled #46, 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. And, and (sic) the structure which is all distorted (pause), let me see (pause), well (pause), well, I guess this; (sic) is the left side of the brain, more or less intact.

The Skull X-Rays

In their autopsy report, the pathologists described the trail of metallic debris as beginning near their proposed entry site (near the EOP) and extending to just above the right eye (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 430-437). The FBI report of Sibert and O'Neill (Warren Commission Document CD-7, reproduced by Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas 1967, Appendix G), which they compiled as eyewitnesses at the autopsy, placed the largest metal fragment above the right eye and the next largest at the rear of the skull. The pathologists' report does not provide any detailed description of these metal fragments.

The 6.5 mm "Metal" Object

In 1968, a panel of physicians appointed by then Attorney General Ramsey Clark described, for the first time in history, a 6.5 mm "metal" cross section of a bullet fragment (see Figure 14) that lay at the rear of the skull. I have used quotation marks around the word "metal" because its authenticity is dubious. The evidence for this conclusion has previously been described. [Editor's note: See Assassination Science 1998, pp. 120-137.] The evidence for forgery is based upon hundreds of point-like measurements of optical density on the X-rays at the National Archives. Optical density is merely a quantitative means of representing the lightness or darkness of a given point on the X-ray film.

The reasons for my conclusion that this object could not have been on the original X-rays, aside from its striking historical absence, were eightfold, as follows.

On the lateral X-ray, the transparency of the 6.5 mm object is much less (less light gets through) than for a real 6.5 mm metal slice from an actual Mannlicher-Carcano bullet (as I showed by X-raying a section from such a bullet taped to a real human skull). In other words, a real 6.5 mm piece of metal looks much lighter than the object on the lateral X-ray.

On the frontal view, a superposition of images inside this 6.5 mm object can be seen with the naked (myopic) eye; a small hand held magnifying lens works well, too. The original bullet fragment described by Sibert and O'Neill can be seen inside (partially overlapping) the 6.5 mm object. The 6.5 mm object itself is a phantom that was later introduced in a darkroom laboratory. Such phantom effects have been described in books on special effects in photography, as I discussed in my earlier study (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 120-137).

On the frontal X-ray, a transmission scan (taken at intervals of 0.1 mm) of the 6.5 mm object, is entirely consistent with the impression offered by the naked (myopic) eye-most of the metal lies on the right side of the object. (Right and left are oriented with respect to JFK's skull.) It represents the authentic shrapnel described by Sibert and O'Neill.

On the lateral X-ray, the transmission measurements (actually OD data) imply more metal at the bottom of this 6.5 mm object than at the center. To the naked eye (see Figure 14), however, on the frontal X-ray a sector at 4 to 6 o'clock is missing, so the data (from the lateral X-ray) should have shown less metal at the bottom. On the frontal X-ray, however, I could actually see with my myopic eyes the original, small piece of shrapnel that was originally located there (described by Sibert and O'Neill). What I saw with my naked eyes was totally consistent with the OD data. The authentic shrapnel was thicker at the bottom than at the top.

The teeth are easily visible at the Archives, although they do not appear in any publicly available images. On the frontal X-ray, the 6.5 mm object is very transparent, very definitely lighter (from front to back) than all of the dental amalgams superimposed on one another. This was repeatedly confirmed with OD measurements. This implies that the front-to-hack thickness of this 6.5 mm object should be greater than all of the dental amalgams (mercury and silver) stacked on top of one other. In fact, the measurements imply that the front-to-hack thickness of this 6.5 mm object should be nearly 10 times larger than it actually is on the lateral X-ray!

On the lateral X-ray, the transmission measurements imply that the 6.5 mm object is much thinner (from left to right) than one dental amalgam. This is to be expected since the lateral measurements of transparency provide an authentic estimate of this object while the frontal view has been altered. Furthermore, we already know that the left-to-right thickness of the authentic shrapnel on the original X-ray (as seen with the naked eye and as reported by Sibert and O'Neill) was only 2-3 mm across. All of this data is consistent.

On the lateral X-ray, the transmission of this 6.5 mm object and the transmission of the 7 x 2 mm object (above the right eye) are similar, as they should be for fragments of about the same authentic thickness (about 2 mm). This is consistent with the FBI report, but it is wholly inconsistent with the visible (and inauthentic) 6.5 mm object on the frontal view-because the forgers increased its width in the darkroom.

On the frontal view, the 6.5 mm object is astonishingly thicker from front to back (by the transmission measurements) than the 7 x 2 mm fragment, even though the naked eye can see (on the lateral X-ray) that they are actually about the same thickness. Again, this is because the forgers widened the 6.5 mm object in the darkroom.

In summary:

1. This evidence is self-consistent

2. It is consistent with Sibert and O'Neill

3. It is consistent with the historical record, from which this 6.5 mm object was totally absent until 1968, five years after the autopsy.

In my prior essay, I described how easy it would have been in 1963 to add a phantom object of this kind to an X-ray. On modem duplicating X-ray film, I also found this rather simple do to in the darkroom. For example, a real scissors was placed over the original X-ray film in the darkroom. The scissors blocked out the light and resulted in a dark image on the copy film. Then shrapnel was added by placing a cardboard template with holes over the first X-ray film. Where the light passed through the holes the image became lighter at the site of the holes on the copy film. In another case, my daughter's plastic template for pterosaur was superimposed in the darkroom over a real skull X-ray film.

Since the publication of my prior essay, Larry Sturdivan, the HSCA ballistics expert, has also stated his unequivocal opinion that this 6.5 mm cross-section cannot possibly represent a piece of metal. In an e-mail conversation with Stuart Wexler, Sturdivan responded as follows (9 March 1998), regarding the 6.5 mm object:

I'm not sure just what that 6.5 mm fragment is. One thing I'm sure it is NOT is a cross-section from the interior of a bullet. I have seen literally thousands of bullets, deformed and undeformed, after penetrating tissue and tissue simulants. Some were bent; some tom in two or more pieces, but to have a cross-section sheared out is physically impossible. That fragment has a lot of mystery associated with it. Some have said it was a piece of the jacket, sheared off by the bone and left on the outside of the skull. I've never seen a perfectly round piece of bullet jacket in any wound. Furthermore, the fragment seems to have greater optical density thin-face on [the frontal X-ray] than it does edgewise [the lateral X-ray]. ...The only thing I can think is that it is an artifact.

The sole purpose of taking X-rays at the autopsy was to locate-and then to remove (for forensic purposes)-bullets, or large bullet fragments. That this (apparently largest) object in the X-rays was neither described nor removed at the autopsy has been simply inexplicable. In view of the mysterious absence of this 6.5 mm object from the historical record (until 1968), it would seem inevitable that the pathologists should have clarified this central issue as soon as possible. Nonetheless, the question remained unasked and unresolved, both by the HSCA and then later by JAMA. It was finally asked by the ARRB, when all three pathologists, under oath, finally came face to face with this unique paradox. Their independent answers were at times both astonishing and embarrassing. Excerpts of Boswell and Hume's depositions may be found in Appendix F and Appendix G.  

In these new depositions, all three pathologists denied seeing the 6.5 mm object at the autopsy. Boswell and Humes, in particular, were quite emphatic that they had not seen it, and that they had not removed anything of that size. Ebersole's comments to me also agreed with them. Humes, like Sturdivan, raised the possibility that it may have been an artifact. My response to this is straightforward. Until Humes knew otherwise at the autopsy, it was clearly his responsibility to remove any large object that looked even remotely like a bullet fragment. There is absolutely nothing in the historical record to suggest any discussion about an artifact on the X-ray films during the autopsy. No pathologist nor Ebersole, nor any autopsy personnel-has ever suggested or even hinted at such a possibility. Nor has any official investigation ever intimated that this 6.5 mm object might be an artifact. That it was a random artifact (as Sturdivan wants to believe) is most unlikely, after all, the images of the 6.5 mm object are spatially compatible on the two views (the frontal and the lateral). How likely is it that a supposedly random artifact would have agreed in this striking fashion? The only sensible explanation is that it is indeed an artifact, but one intelligently placed at exactly the right site.

This entire subject lies well outside of the official record. If Humes indeed had seen this object on the autopsy X-rays while at the autopsy-even if he thought it was an artifact-he was under the greatest obligation to describe and discuss it or, better yet, simply to search that portion of the skull to confirm whether or not a bullet fragment was there. Not finding it, he could then have concluded that it was an artifact. But nothing like this exists in the record: nothing like this ever happened. Sibert and O'Neill describe nothing of this sort in their FBI report, nor does the autopsy report, nor do the pathologists in their ARRB depositions (or in any prior deposition), nor do any other Bethesda witnesses recall any discussion of such an object.

Instead, there is only an eerie silence, exactly what would be expected if this object had been added later (in the darkroom) as I have proposed. In fact, as I have previously explained, this was really quite simple to do. Contemporaneous radiology textbooks (e.g., John B. Cahoon, Jr., Formulating X-ray Techniques 1961) contain detailed recipes that were routinely used in that era for the copying of X-ray films. That these led to copies with remarkably good fidelity is also stated in the textbooks of that era, an original and a copy published side by side can be impossible to distinguish, as even the above author noted (p. 42).

The Trail of Metallic Debris on the Lateral X-ray

Humes and Boswell had great trouble with the trail of metallic debris as well (Figure 11). [Editor's note: See the discussion of Smoking Gun #4 in the Prologue.]

In the autopsy report, it is described as extending from the EOP (the entry site for their posterior skull bullet) to a site above the right frontal sinus. Unfortunately for them, the trail of debris lies 10 cm higher at the back of the head-an extraordinary paradox that I have pointed out on numerous occasions (e.g., Letter to the Editor, Vanity Fair, February 1995, p. 34), but which neither the HSCA nor JAMA ever seemed curious about. (Cornwell's account is one exception). It is here, more than anywhere else, that Humes has tipped his hand. Shortly before he was asked about this trail in his ARRB testimony, Humes had laid claim to a good memory (supposedly demonstrated by his recall of three late arriving bone fragments). Furthermore, he wrote the autopsy report within 24 hours of the event itself, so that he had no excuse for not recalling this trail correctly. Moreover, it is the only such trail on the X-rays and necessarily must relate closely to the path of a projectile. There can therefore be no excuse for misallocating this trail, especially by more than half the width of the skull. Finally, Humes was aware of this trail at the autopsy, while simultaneously observing his EOP entry site. These were not sequential events. (See the addenda for the astonishing responses of both Humes and Boswell to questions about this trail.)

Ebersole's role in altering the X-rays is suspicious. He was called to the White House by the Secret Service on Saturday, 23 November (according to Custer, the X-ray technologist). Immediately after this (again according to Custer) that same Saturday morning, Ebersole directed Custer in the taking of X-rays of skull fragments and bullet fragments taped to skull fragments. I believe, like Custer, that these were initial, exploratory steps in the alteration of the autopsy X-rays. Sometime later, most likely within the first month, but probably even earlier, Ebersole, in a bizarre episode involving "Aunt Margaret's skirts" (HSCA Record No. 180-10102-010409), was recalled to the White House to review the skull X-rays. This is when he drew the straight pencil lines on the skull X-rays (that are still there). The cover story for this visit is that his input was being requested for a bust of JFK, unabashedly based upon a skull that was quite thoroughly shattered. Most likely, however, he was simply being monitored for his reaction to the (now altered) X-rays.

It is noteworthy that the Secret Service was involved in this caper, just as they were also involved in the processing and development (and probable alteration) of the autopsy photographs. The chief of the Secret Service, James J. Rowley, apparently was a friend of J. Edgar Hoover and had briefly served in the FBI (under Hoover). Rowley was also the first person to shake LBJ's hand when he stepped off the plane at Andrews Air Force Base. Rowley continued to serve in the Johnson administration, as did both Admiral Burkley and Robert Knudsen, both of whom worked directly out of the White House.

The Burned Drafts

Humes finally admitted to JAMA that he had prepared a diagram at the autopsy, a diagram that never surfaced anywhere. This is in striking agreement with Boswell's comments to Josiah Thompson: "Yes, I'm sure there was another sheet, which had that measurement on it, and which had height, weight [perhaps even the missing fresh brain weight], and some other information. I'm sure of it." (Lifton 1988, Chapter 18.) Humes had also informed JAMA and the HSCA (7HSCA257) that he faithfully copied everything that he had burned in his fireplace; if so, where is this diagram? Humes repeatedly regaled the Warren Commission and the HSCA with his anecdote about burning his autopsy notes: he did not want them to become an object of veneration, as he thought he had seen occur in the case of Lincoln's chair at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. In his ARRB deposition of Humes, Jeremy Gunn sets out, with remarkable tenacity, and to Humes's considerable exacerbation-to clarify this record, as follows:

Gunn: How many pages of notes did you take, approximately?

Humes: Oh, I can't tell you now. Maybe two or three... [None of these have ever appeared in any official record.]

Gunn: Have you ever observed that [Boswell's autopsy diagram] appears to have bloodstains on it as well?

Humes: Yes, I do notice it now...

Gunn: Did you ever have any concern about the President's blood being on the document that's now marked Exhibit 1?

Humes: I can't recall, telling you the truth...

Gunn: I'd like to show you the testimony that you offered before the Warren

Commission... I'd like you to take a look at pages 372 to the top of 373, and then I'll ask you a question... Mr. Specter asked [a] question... "Answer [by Humes]: In the privacy of my own home, early in the morning of Sunday, November 24, I made a draft of this report, which I later revised and of which this represents the revision. That draft I personally burned in the fireplace of my recreation room."... Does that help refresh your recollection of what was burned in your home?

Humes: Whatever I had, as far as I know, what was burned was everything exclusive of the finished draft that you have...

Gunn: My question [is] whether it was a draft of the report that was burned… or whether it was handwritten notes.

Humes: It was handwritten notes and the first draft that was burned.

Gunn: Do you mean to use the expression "handwritten notes" as being the equivalent of draft of the report?

Humes: I don't know. Again, it's a hair-splitting affair that I can't understand. Everything that I personally prepared until I got to the status of the handwritten document that later was transcribed was destroyed. You can call it anything you want, whether it was the notes or what, I don't know. But whatever I had, I didn't want anything else to remain, period.

Gunn: …Now, again, the question would be: Did you copy the notes so that you would have a version of the notes without the blood on them but still notes rather than a draft report?

Humes: Yes, precisely. Yes… and from that I made a first draft, and then I destroyed the first draft and the notes. [This is the great admission-for the first time in thirty three years, Humes finally admits to burning more than one item.]

Gunn: So there were, then, two sorts of documents that were burned: one the draft notes, and, two, a draft report?

Humes: Right...

Gunn: Why did you burn the draft report as opposed to the draft notes?

Humes: I don't recall. I don't know. There was no reason… see, we're splitting hairs here, and I'll tell you, it's getting to me a little bit, as you may be able to detect. The only thing I wanted to finish to hand over to whomever, in this case, Admiral Burkley, was my completed version...

Gunn: When I first asked the question, you explained that the reason that you had destroyed it was that it had the blood of the President on it.

Humes: Right…

Gunn: The draft report, of course, would not have had the blood of Humes:

Humes: Well, it may have had errors in spelling or I don't know what was the matter with it, or whether I even ever did that. I don't know. I can't recall. I absolutely can't recall, and I apologize for that. But that's the way the cookie crumbles. I didn't want anything to remain that some squirrel would grab on and make whatever use they might...

Although Humes goes on to insist that the final draft differed in no significant way from the earlier draft, the Sibert and O'Neill report is quite different from the final autopsy report. Their FBI report was based on notes taken at the autopsy; furthermore, these two men had stayed until the official autopsy was over. Most likely, based on their report, JAMA had reported on 4 January 1964 that a bullet had been removed from deep in JFK's right shoulder. [Note again, contrary to Gerald Ford's interference, that the neck was not the site of the wound, even in this early report.] As late as 26 January 1964, The New York Times also reported that a bullet had lodged in JFK's right shoulder. A similar report appeared in The Washington Post of 18 December 1963. The Post reaffirmed its report several years later, on 29 May 1966, even recalling that the initial story had been confirmed with the FBI before publication. The only possible conclusion from all of this is that Humes drastically revised his conclusions after the FBI had left, which was after the autopsy had officially concluded. Humes has always attributed this change to learning (supposedly on Saturday morning, after speaking to Dr. Perry in Dallas) that the tracheotomy had been performed through the bullet wound. However, the autopsy witnesses, who saw a probe pass through the tracheotomy site, leave little doubt that this explanation is disingenuous.

If the first draft did differ from the final version, what items might have changed? There are many possibilities. The first draft may have contained:

'The fresh brain weight'

A description of a residual brain so shattered and so small that no possible trail could be seen (quite different from the brain photographs in the Archives), which would hardly have been consistent with a single headshot

A description of seriously disrupted cerebellum, which would have corroborated the reports of the Parkland doctors and would have implied a large occipital skull wound (hardly consistent with the photographs that show an intact scalp and the red spot)

An accurate description of the trail of metallic debris, going across the top of the skull, where it would have been grossly inconsistent with the much lower occipital entry wound that the pathologists discovered on the inner skull surface.

A forthcoming description of the large hole at the rear of the skull, as opposed to the (probably deliberately) imprecise wording of the autopsy report.

A description of their attempts to find a bullet path between the back wound and the throat wound (which would obviously have implied knowledge of the bullet wound in the throat)

A transit wound, determined by through and through probes (and also by an abrasion collar), that went upward from back to front, in striking disagreement with the SBT

A frontal wound in the high, right, forehead/temple near the hairline, where the frontal bullet probably entered (see the section on the frontal headshot).

Since Humes expired in 1999, we will probably never know how these different drafts evolved. In some ways, though, it no longer matters, because so many other clues now exist to the actual state of affairs at the autopsy. Humes's state of mind on that particular weekend is no longer material to the medical evidence, although I shall comment below on the pathologists' behavior, insofar as it affords liberty for speculation on their impact on other medical aspects of the case.

The Autopsy Protocol: Is It Authentic?

Is the current autopsy protocol (CE-387) the same as the one that was signed on Sunday, November 24? Although at first sight this question seems radical, it has previously been discussed by Lifton (1988, chapters 17 and 18) and was again raised by Douglas P. Home at the ARRB ("Chain-of-Custody Discrepancy Regarding Original Copy of JFK Autopsy Protocol, 2 August 1996). Lifton had obtained, under the Freedom of Information Act, a Secret Service memorandum (dated 12 February 1969) of a meeting that included Secret Service Inspector Kelley. As Harry R. Van Cleve, Jr., of the General Services Administration explained, although the Secret Service had transferred autopsy items 1 through 9 to the Kennedy family on 26 April 1965, they, in tum, had not transferred all of these items to the Archives. In particular, important autopsy materials from 9 were missing; this had been discovered on 29 October 1966, at the time of the original donation. These items included tissue slides and a stainless steel container (most likely a brain). But Kelley noted yet another problem: item 9 had also included the original autopsy protocol and seven copies! These, too, were gone. But the problem was even stranger than this: on 3 October 1967 (the following year) the Secret Service sent the (supposed) original autopsy protocol to the Archives! Even more interesting was that James J. Rowley, Chief of the Secret Service, signed out this transfer. Home even discovered a receipt dated the next day, which was signed for by an Archives official named Simmons. As Kelley wrote: "This could raise the question about two original autopsy protocols. We, of course, were unable to resolve this discrepancy since we do not have access to the paper referred to in Dr. Burkley 's inventory. We can speculate... " As Lifton concludes, this matter was never resolved.

Horne's memo notes several other serious problems. The (supposed) original protocol transferred by the Burkley inventory reads: " ...An original signed by Dr. Humes, pathologist." 'However the extant protocol' (CE-387 see Assassination Science 1998, pp. 430-437) is signed by all three pathologists. Horne adds that this apparent discrepancy is especially peculiar because the inventory is, in all respects, quite precise. (Author's note: these problems are thoroughly confounded by the absence of a typewritten date on both the extant autopsy protocol and on the supplementary examination of the brain. Were these omissions deliberate?)

Horne then lists one of the great lingering mysteries about the medical evidence, a transcript from an Executive Session of the Warren Commission (27 January 1964), quoting J. Lee Rankin, the Chief Counsel:

We have an explanation there in the autopsy that probably a fragment came out the front of the neck, but with the elevation the shot must have come from, and the angle, it seems quite apparent now, since we have the picture of where the bullet entered in the back, that the bullet entered below the shoulder blade to the right of the backbone, which is below the place where the picture shows the bullet came out in the neck band of the shirt in front, and the bullet, according to the autopsy didn't strike any bone at all... (Weisberg 197 5, p. 307.)

Since no known version of an autopsy report-not CE-387, nor the Sibert and O'Neill report, nor any subsequent FBI report-describes a bullet emerging from the throat, this is a completely inexplicable mystery, still unresolved to this very day.

Horne also notes that Burkley's death certificate, completed on 23 November 1963 (Saturday), describes the back wound at the level of T3. It seems unlikely that Burkley, without consultation, would have reached such a detailed anatomic conclusion. The obvious question is: did Burkley obtain this from an earlier version of the autopsy protocol, one that has since vanished?

Horne adds that an FBI summary report (9 December 1963) concluded that a bullet had lodged in JFK's back. This may have served as the source for the various media (and JAMA) reports with the same information. The extant protocol (CE-387) was not formally transmitted to the FBI until 23 December 1963. Therefore, there was time for changes in the protocol of which the FBI might have remained ignorant.

Horne believes it likely that the autopsy protocol was revised between 24 November and 11 December 1963. This would explain:

1. The media reports of a bullet in the back.

2. The FBI reports, including that of Sibert and O'Neill that differed from the extant protocol.

3. The strange content of the extant protocol.

4. The appearance, probably on 11 December, of Secret Service agents (including Elmer Moore) at Parkland Hospital.

Their apparent purpose was to show the (extant) protocol to the Parkland physicians, to get them to agree to the official story. Horne also notes that the viewing of the Zapruder film in this critical interval may have raised insoluble timing problems: the throat wound clearly could not have occurred at the same time as the headshot. Horne concludes with one strange fact: the first known media report of a transiting bullet (one that exited the throat) appeared in the Dallas Times-Herald on 12 December 1963, just one day after the Secret Service visit to Dallas!

For this scenario to work, Horne notes that the original protocol (presumably dated November 24) had to be suppressed, and then later replaced by one written shortly afterward. He speculates that this substitution could have occurred during the transfer from Burkley/Secret Service to the Kennedy family in April 1965. The Navy letters of transmittal (24 November) and the receipts (24 and 25 November) could have remained in place even though the autopsy protocol was no longer the same. Only Burkley and a few Secret Service officials need have been privy to this deception.

Horne notes that Humes and Boswell persistently claimed that there was only one autopsy protocol and Humes claimed that it was signed on Sunday, November 24. If the above arguments are correct, however, then both Humes and Boswell have committed perjury.

The remaining mystery is how Rankin saw a copy of the earlier protocol. Careful reading of the transcript does not prove that Rankin actually held such a copy in his hands at that moment. Perhaps, by accident, he had seen one of the copies of the original. What is known is that the extant protocol (CE-387) was transmitted by the Secret Service to the Warren Commission on 20 December 1963. Therefore, since the Commission already had this protocol on 27 January 1964 (the date of the Executive Session), another mystery is why Rankin was not quoting from it rather than from some other version.

The following items are also suspicious:

1. None of the seven copies exists today

2. Humes's handwritten protocol (Weisberg 1975, pp. 509-523) does not contain a date.

3. The extant protocol was not publicly available until it appeared in The Warren Report.

4. Boswell's diagram did not appear in The Warren Report.

5. The Sibert and O'Neill report was omitted from The Warren Report.

Rankin's quote raises another question: was the back wound truly below the shoulder blade? Rankin specifically refers to a "picture" as his reason for so describing it. If it were that low, it would be consistent with the above discussion of a wound at T3 (Berkley's death certificate) or T4 (Ebersole's description to me). Such a low site would also be consistent with other evidence (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 110-111), most especially with the holes in the coat and shirt. If that were the true location, it would mean that the photograph of the back (Figure 2) was altered to elevate the wound, but it would also suggest that Rankin himself was complicit in later accepting the SBT in face of a back wound that he knew was too low (as he himself stated in the above quote).

The role of Admiral George Gregory Burkley in all of this is most curious. Although initially he was quite emphatic that there had been no conspiracy, in 1982 he told Henry Hurt (Reasonable Doubt 1985, p. 49) that he did believe in a conspiracy. He had previously admitted similar sentiments on tape (Oral History, JFK Library, 17 October 1967); when asked about the number of bullets that had entered JFK's body, he responded: "I would not care to be quoted on that." Burkley's attorney, William F. Illig, also told Chief Counsel Richard A. Sprague (Palamara 1998, p. 46) that Burkley had entertained the possibility of conspiracy.  According to Illig, Burkley did not even rule out the possibility of two headshots. It is curious, but true, that Burkley did not testify before the Warren Commission, despite the fact that he was the only individual present at both Parkland and at Bethesda. When David Lifton tried to interview him, he refused to cooperate (Lifton 1988, pp. 401-402). James Folliard ("Blaming the Victims: Kennedy Family Control over the Bethesda Autopsy," The Fourth Decade, May 1995, p. 5) extensively explored Burkley 's role at the autopsy. According to The New York Times (11 January 1969), Burkley remained LBJ's personal physician from 12:30 PM, 22 November 1963 until January 1969, when Johnson retired. If I could choose one witness to depose under oath it would be George Burkley. Unfortunately, Burkley died before the ARRB legislation was passed, thus leaving many interesting questions unasked. His daughter Nancy Denlea, refused to donate his personal papers to the ARRB.

Altered Photographs: How Was It Done?

[Authors note: Although this section is necessarily speculative, what I propose here seems the simplest explanation for the current evidence. Nonetheless, new evidence could modify this proposal, which reflects the fallibility of scientific reasoning.]

The images that Spencer saw are a key to the puzzle. There are too many odd features in her recollection-the photo collection was too limited, the images were on color negatives (instead of on transparencies), and the wrong lab was used. The central clue lies in the nature of the images: they are almost bloodless, which is oddly similar to the extant views of the back of the head. Spencer's activity at the Anacostia lab was probably an intermediate step in the alteration process. Although at least one photograph showed JFK's face, this view might have been included merely to misdirect Spencer into believing that the entire set of photographs that she saw was authentic.

The fact that they were on color negatives is prima facie proof that they were not originals. That Spencer saw autopsy photographs only once is also evidence that this entire operation (of film alteration, in my view) was compartmentalized. As further evidence, Knudsen and Fox both recall that they traveled more than once to Anacostia, on errands with these photographs, while Spencer-by her own testimony-was involved only once. Furthermore, Spencer's recollection of the date of her work differs from that of Knudsen and Fox.

An additional clue is the presence of a small throat wound, only about half an inch across (according to Spencer). This image can only be of someone else's throat or possibly a photographic alteration of an original autopsy photograph. But why would this have been included in the set at all?

If the tracheotomy had been altered (e.g., in a search for a bullet), then the inclusion of a small throat wound in the set (perhaps designed to mimic the throat wound in Dallas) would have permitted the subsequent photographic restoration of the throat wound to its Parkland Hospital status. That this was ultimately not done, of course, is a separate issue; perhaps the forgers decided that such a transformation was too risky, especially since so many individuals had seen a much larger, and much more irregular, wound at the autopsy (Figure 15).

Posterior Head image

Figure 15. Photograph of the Throat Wound Malcolm Perry, who performed the tracheotomy, was never asked to demonstrate his technique by submitting a photographic collection of his own work.

What were the prior and subsequent steps in this process and where did they occur? Although this cannot be answered with certainty, the preparation of composite photographs may have involved processes such as soft matte insertions (Groden 1993, p. 85). The existence of color negatives (as seen by Spencer) is proof that the original color transparencies had already been re-photographed, probably with a view to forming composites as the next step. Spencer may also have seen photographs of another body, as suggested by the small tracheotomy wound.

Although an image of someone else's hair could have been used to cover the large hole in the posterior head, another possibility is the use of (the image of) the left side of JFK's own posterior scalp (by turning the negative over in a double exposure), so as to cover the wound on the right-assuming that an appropriate image existed in the original collection. Once these composite photographs were deemed satisfactory, then the images had to be converted, once again, to color transparency format, which is what currently exists in the Archives. No existing evidence pinpoints where this work was done, other than the frequent visits to the NPC.

An official statement (HSCA Record# 180-10109-10368), signed in February 1967 (three years and three months after the event) by Roy Kellerman, Robert Bouck, Edith Duncan, James K. Fox, and Thomas Kelly, attempts to reconstruct the whereabouts of the autopsy films. Bouck gave the films to 'Fox on November 27 (Wednesday) and then Fox took them to NPC that same day. B&W negatives were developed, and color positives were made from the colored film. Color transparencies are not mentioned. Lt. V Madonia did the processing and development. Fox then returned these materials to Bouck at about 2:30 P.M. the same day. Several days later, Fox made B&W prints at the SS lab (in the Old Executive Office Building, which could only handle B&W). On about December 9 (Monday), Fox took the color positives to NPC and made color prints. These were returned to Bouck by 6 P.M. the same day.

What is curious about this sequence is that both Spencer and Knudsen are missing and that Spencer did not see autopsy photographs on any of the cited dates. Furthermore, Spencer handled color negatives, not transparencies. In addition, Madonia had independently claimed he could not have done this work since he was the supervisor and his laboratory skills had atrophied. So what can be concluded? Most likely, the procedures followed were more complex than most participants recognized, or perhaps memories had faded in the rather long interval. Nonetheless, one person is present in all of these stories-it is James K. Fox, the Secret Service photographer. It is likely that (under Bouck's direction) he played the major role, at least as a liaison. Whether he actually constructed composite photographs, however, we cannot determine based on the available evidence.

It is likely, however (since he processed JFK films, probably on several occasions), that he understood the whole sequence of events. If Fox knew, then Bouck (his immediate superior) and James J. Rowley (Chief of the Secret Service) should also have known. Beyond that it is impossible to see with any clarity into the hierarchy. (Rowley's superior was the Secretary of the Treasury, Douglas Dillon.)

The witnesses tell us that the NPC could have handled all of the photographic formats discussed. We do not know, however, whether work was done at some other government lab (possibly motivated by the enhanced secrecy offered by compartmentalization). The Knudsen family does recall occasional encounters with other government photographers. Although it is likely that the secretive NSA had extensive photographic facilities at that time, there is no evidence to suggest their involvement. On the other hand, both James Fetzer and I have received anonymous letters claiming that the AFIP was involved, but this has never been pursued. At the present time, nothing in the record indicates that the films went anywhere but the NPC and the Secret Service laboratory (in the Executive Office Building). In fact, in an ARRB interview, Velma Reumann (Vogler) recalled:

...A strong, independent recollection of NPC personnel boxing up all photographic materials... related to the assassination on the orders of Robert Kennedy and sending them to the Smithsonian Museum for permanent storage sometime within 6 months or so after the assassination...

…She said she was certain of this because she, herself, was required to call an official at the Smithsonian to discuss the imminent transfer, and recalls the individual to whom she spoke was as surprised by the selection of the Smithsonian as she was. (Also see Livingstone 1998, pp. 441-442.)

Any list of prime suspects (whether witting or unwitting) for the alteration of the photographs must include Robert Knudsen. He told his family (who apparently believed him) that he had photographed the autopsy, a story that was almost certainly false, in any literal interpretation, because no one recalls his presence at the autopsy. Why he found it necessary to recount this misleading story to his family (and to maintain it until death) is curious, but it is also a clue particularly since one personal trait that his wife voluntarily recalled was his honesty.  She also recalled that he was quite reliable about keeping secrets, voluntarily adding that sometimes military people must "take secrets to the grave" with them, especially when ordered to do so. It should be noted that Knudsen implied to the HSCA that he first encountered the photographs on the morning after the assassination, when Burkley handed them over in a paper bag. But even though he was quite certainly not at the autopsy, Knudsen also recalled that he had been up all night! Was Knudsen already working with the photographs, perhaps even during the autopsy, thus lending some truth to the story that he told his family? Curiously, the Associated Press ran a story (31 July 1998) by Deb Reichmann:

New testimony released Friday about the autopsy on John F. Kennedy says a second set of pictures (sic) taken of Kennedy's wounds pictures never made public. The existence of additional photographs believed taken by Robert L. Knudsen during or after the autopsy... raised new questions... But the new evidence sheds no light on the whereabouts of the second set of pictures.

George Lardner (The Washington Post, 2 August 1998) also reported on photographs 'believed to have been taken' at Bethesda, by Robert Knudsen. Perhaps Knudsen did photograph the autopsy, after all, by the indirect process of taking pictures of autopsy pictures. This, by itself though, would be an odd state of affairs, which no investigation ever addressed. Within a few days of the assassination, according to Joe O'Donnell (Knudsen's colleague), Knudsen showed him photographs that first showed a hole at the right rear of the head, and then, several days later in a similar view, the hole was gone. This disclosure by Knudsen inevitably suggests some knowledge of abnormal activities; furthermore, given the unavoidable compartmentalization of such nefarious behavior (assuming that it actually occurred), Knudsen's knowledge of it is striking. Either he, or someone very close to him, had to be involved.

Given his ability to keep a secret (according to his wife), it is difficult to believe that he would have chosen this moment to give away someone else's secret, especially for such a highly covert project. More likely, he himself had performed, or had assisted in, these very alterations. As the White House photographer, Knudsen clearly possessed darkroom skills-in his own HSCA testimony he recounts processing films at Anacostia during the initial weekend. Furthermore, his position as White House photographer had two important advantages for conspirators:

1. His subsequent loyalty (and silence) could easily be monitored by powerful figures close to the White House.

2. He had access to, and often used, the White House section of the secretive Naval Photographic Center at Anacostia.

Was Knudsen asked to re-photograph the autopsy photographs, perhaps after being given a cover story, one that he either believed, or decided that he must accept (e.g., perhaps that the Kennedy family needed a sanitized version of the autopsy)? If so, he might even have claimed some innocence in the matter, particularly if he did not know how the photographs would later be used. Perhaps guilt and exasperation, which were recalled by his wife, later emerged at the 1988 hearing, as he became fully aware of how his own work had contributed to the cover-up. The only other known candidates for an alteration role are James K. Fox (Secret Service photographer) and Vincent Madonia (supervisor of the NPC color laboratory). Knudsen's possession of original and altered photographs within the first week, his curious busyness during the first night, and his own self-admitted hectic schedule, provide some corroboration for such illicit activity. When his subsequent, official appearance in 1988 and the earlier burglary at his home (shortly after his HSCA deposition) are added to the riddle, his own participation becomes even more suspect. That he never confessed to his family that he had really not photographed the autopsy only adds to the suspicious character of his story.

In his own interview, Madonia also recalled being extremely busy for the first three days (precisely the time interval described by Knudsen), beginning, strangely enough, the very evening of the autopsy. He also recalled additional, smaller projects over the succeeding days. Although Knudsen described Madonia's personal processing and development of some of the autopsy photographs on one occasion, Madonia implied that he (Madonia) was primarily a supervisor during these busy days and that he probably could not even have functioned well in the darkroom. If true, he would be left mostly outside the net of conspiracy. (I have listened to his deposition on audiotapes and that is my impression from the tapes as well.)

Knudsen also recalled for the HSCA that he saw photographs that showed probes in JFK's back. But if he was not at the autopsy, how could he have seen such probes-unless he saw photographs with probes? And if he saw such photographs, why were they made available to him, particularly since he played no official role in the autopsy? Why was his presence necessary at all when he and Fox took the duplex holders to Anacostia? Wasn't one courier enough on such a busy weekend? Given the corroboration of such probes by many witnesses Karnei, O'Donnell, Sibert, O'Neill, autopsy technicians, and others, it is likely that Knudsen did see such probes. If so, these photographs have disappeared. Moreover, if his recall of the probes were wrong, why would so many other witnesses all invent the same odd story of seeing such probes?

Douglas Horne was present when Kodak digitized the autopsy photographs for the ARRB in Rochester, NY. He recalls that a careful examination of the posterior head photographs was made, with the specific purpose of identifying matte insert lines or any other evidence of photographic alteration, but no evidence was seen. However, a complete re-photographing of all autopsy photographs could make it difficult detect such alteration. Perhaps this task was what kept Knudsen so busy, particularly if composite photographs had to be made. The fact that multiple trips to Anacostia did occur, over several days, is consistent with such a step-by-step process-perhaps even requiring several revisions until the end product was satisfactory, and then, finally, re-shooting the entire set.

An additional possibility is that some negatives were deliberately turned over in the dark room during the preparation of prints. (Liz Snyder first proposed this possibility to me in February 2000, in Monterey, California.) This process would have reversed left for right. For example, if an intact, left, rear scalp had existed in the original collection, and then such manipulation might have restored the right scalp. Furthermore, if the left back had been substituted for the right back (Figure 3), then a fake wound could more easily have been superimposed onto the back. Figure 3 does display several odd features:

1. The ruler is not aligned with the spine.

2. Although the letters and number are not reversed on the ruler, a drug (Tuinal) is advertised.

3. The pair of hands on the ruler cannot belong to the same person (the right hand is on top and the left hand is on the bottom)

4. The hand on the top of the right shoulder is a right hand (rather than the expected left hand)

5. There is a small dark area adjacent to the fourth finger of the left hand.

6. Across the midline from this latter site, almost at the mirror image site, is another dark area.

7. The site of the wound, based on the pathologists' actual measurements, has previously been displayed on this same photograph (Assassination Science 1998, p. 444-see the circled X). Also see nurse Diana Bowren's location of the back wound in Livingstone (1993, photograph opposite p. 368).

8. This photograph raises numerous questions, as follows:

9. Were parts of this image reversed?

10. Why is a Bethesda ruler not being used (the Bethesda medical personnel have suggested that it was)?

11. Was the real wound located near the left fourth finger-or possibly even at the mirror image site on the right?

12. Was the ruler (and perhaps also the hands) later added to the photograph?

13. What actual purpose is served by, the ruler in its present odd location?

14. Is the wound in the photograph really as far as 5 cm from the midline (as officially reported)?

[Authors note: James Thornton, M.D., a surgeon, has recently begun exploring the possibility that some photographs have been partly or completely reversed. It is curious that no one heretofore has examined this possibility.]

The autopsy camera is yet another unexpected paradox. The HSCA concluded that the only camera that the Navy could produce for the HSCA investigation, a camera that the Navy, in fact, considered to be the actual autopsy camera-could not have been used for taking the extant autopsy photographs!  [Editor's note: Gary Aguilar, M.D., elsewhere in this volume, discusses this point.]  Consider, however, that if all of the photographs had been re-shot, it would explain not one, but two, mysteries:

1. Why the photographs do not match the camera (they may have matched a different camera, possibly the Nikon used by Knudsen, an issue no one ever explored)

2. Why photographic alteration has been so difficult to detect.

If 'Knudsen had participated in this affair, who would have issued his orders? In his HSCA interview, he recalled following orders issued by Admiral Burkley, who, like Knudsen, was a Navy man. Several autopsy witnesses describe Burkley as controlling the autopsy itself. In oral interviews at the JFK Library in Boston, Burkley agreed that this was his role. If true, might he also have played a role in the alteration of the autopsy photographs? Since he was JFK's personal physician that weekend (Kathleen Cunningham, however, has noted that Janet Travell was listed as the official White House physician), since he had completed a death certificate for JFK, and because he was the only individual present both at Parkland and at Bethesda, his unaccountable absence from the Warren Commission remains quite inexplicable.

The recent interviews and releases by the ARRB have thoroughly altered our view of the medical evidence. It is no longer good enough merely to point to the back of the head photograph and conclude (as prior official reviews have done) that the headshot came from the rear and that the posterior skull was intact. Let us be honest about this: medical experts are not even required. Even the man in the street can guess that this red spot is supposed to be a wound-and probably even a wound of entry! But there has always been a problem with this convenient solution to the crime of the century; the three pathologists have persistently disagreed with this conclusion. Not only have they disagreed, but also they have disagreed vigorously. I suspect that they were right, that a bullet really did enter at the EOP, but that it was not the only headshot. In conclusion, with the introduction of the new witnesses suspicions about the accuracy, and even the authenticity, of the posterior head photographs have deepened considerably.

The Harper Bone Fragment 22

At 5:30 P.M. Saturday, November 23, a pre-med student, Billy Harper, found a fragment of skull bone (7HSCA123-124) on the grass south of Elm Street, not too far from where Jean Hill had been standing. (The exact site is not well defined, however.) Harper took it to his uncle, Jack C. Harper, M.D., who in turn showed it to A.B. Cairns, the chief pathologist at Methodist Hospital. A total of three Dallas pathologists examined the bone and they identified the site of origin as the occiput. (On 22 November 1992, on a Palm Springs radio talk show, I helped to interview one of these pathologists, Dr. Gerhard Noteboom, who reaffirmed that conclusion; he also recalled the lead deposit on the fragment.) The bone was then shipped to Admiral Burkley, who, in turn, gave it to the FBI, where it was lost. Fortunately, photographs were taken in Dallas (Figure 2A and Figure 2B). A ruler on the photograph permits an estimate of size: it is about 7 x 5.5 cm, and trapezoidal in shape.

Joe Riley, Ph.D., a neuroanatomist (formerly in academia), places this bone into the parietal area (Joe Riley, "Anatomy of the Harper Fragment," JFK Deep Politics Quarterly, April 1996). Riley and I have exchanged many (mostly e-mail) comments about this fragment. Although we succeeded modestly in reducing our disagreements, nonetheless, we still remained far apart, with Riley continuing to favor a parietal origin, while I favored an occipital origin. Having great respect for Riley's expertise, I put this question aside for several years. But, as I continued to review the X-rays, the mystery photograph F8 (the Postscript), the statements of the Dallas pathologists and the Bethesda pathologists, and the fragment itself, I remained convinced that it was (mostly) of occipital origin. I believe that Riley has overlooked much valuable evidence, and that his objections can be effectively countered. The employment of the X-rays and the proper orientation of F8 are a powerful combination that should not be overlooked, especially when coupled with information on the bone itself.

If I understand him correctly, Riley has primarily argued that the Harper fragment cannot be from the low occiput, as Groden shows it (1993, p. 83). In fact, I agree with Riley on this point because the fragment is actually (mostly) from the high occiput, but it includes a small portion of adjacent parietal bone as well, on both sides of midline. The exterior surface appears to show the junction of three suture lines. If this is true (Riley does not agree), then this bone should be fairly easy to place: there are few skull sites with such a trifurcate junction. One of them is the lambda point, the junction of the parietal and occipital bones, right at midline. Now it seemed to me that the shortest of these lines (the one going straight up to the top edge in the photograph) was the midsaggital suture, and the two lines going off to either side of these were the lambdoid sutures. But Riley argued that one of these was a fracture line, not a suture line, an issue that simply cannot be resolved with finality from a 2D image. I argued, however, that it was odd that such a fracture line was not apparent on the inside of the bone. Furthermore, it seemed to me that the supposed fracture line contained too many fine twists and turns. It looked much more like a suture line, unlike other real fracture lines that I could see on the X-rays or, for that matter, on the edge of the Harper fragment itself.

I had thought that Riley's fracture line was supposed to lie between sections F and G in Figure 2A, because it contained the smallest number of fine twists and turns. However, I was stunned when I saw that J. Lawrence Angel, Curator of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian, who was consulted by the HSCA about its significance, had totally ignored the line between sections E and F (without any explanation), which assuredly contains many tight curves, as one would expect for an authentic suture line. But then I realized why Angel had made this mistake. The faulty 'HSCA diagram' had probably misled him. (Figure 7) that showed no hole at the back of the skull. Since he had already placed the large, late arriving fragment anterior to the coronal suture (which may be correct), he had only one other site left, the gap in the parietal bone, which is where he put it.

The entire bone segment F (the upper right portion of the fragment as viewed from the exterior) appears whiter because it has little blood on it, whereas the two adjacent segments are bloodstained. It would appear that suture lines act as a barrier to the spreading of blood. I accidentally discovered evidence for this; when I was doing skull experiments with simulated brain material, I noticed that the dye in this material leaked from the inside of the skull to the outside, right along the suture lines, but only along such lines. In other words, these suture lines acted like miniature sinks, thus stopping blood from crossing over. An explanation therefore exists for why segment F might have remained unstained.

Both Angel and Riley argued for a parietal site based on the vascular grooves (curvilinear indentations) and the foramina (perforating holes for small vessels) on the inside surface. But I found it easy to demonstrate exactly these same features in the upper occipital bone on two genuine human skulls that I owned, and I could easily see them in multiple anatomy textbooks, extending over many decades, so I did not consider these arguments to be decisive. Moreover, the direction of the vascular grooves, although consistent with a parietal site, was also surprisingly consistent with an upper occipital site, which was also not hard to demonstrate. I could easily see these on my skulls (the grooves did go in the right direction) and it was not hard to find photographs in texts that were equally supportive. (I doubt that Angel ever did this exercise, since he automatically ruled out the back of the head, nor do I really know if Riley performed this exercise for the upper occiput, since he seemed so focused on the lower occiput.)

When I examined the triangular area of missing bone (see the small white triangle in the figure in the Postscript), near the low midline, on photo F8, I remembered that I had seen this empty triangle before on the X-rays. (Although I did not mention it in the Postscript, this argument, too, helped to persuade me of the correct orientation of F8.) I already knew, from naked eye viewing (with very myopic eyes, the best kind for the job) and from detailed OD measurements, that bone was absent in just this same triangular area on the frontal X-ray (approximately inside the lower left nose). I had not gone looking for this; I merely happened one day to notice it while at the Archives. Since no one had reported such missing bone from the left side of the skull, I was surprised and decided to explore it further with more OD measurements. Since I now knew the orientation of F8 and its dimensions (there is a ruler on F8) and because I could correlate identical objects on F8 with the photographs and because I already knew the dimensions on the skull (from my own measurements at the Archives), I could now estimate the size of this empty triangle on F8.

It was probably some time later, however, when I returned to this jigsaw puzzle, trying to imagine where the Harper fragment might fit into the skull. When I did, I realized that its left edge (on the exterior view) might fit into the empty triangle. In fact, it seemed to fit extremely well, so I proceeded to the other borders. In particular, I wanted to know how far it would extend towards the right, because the pathologists had placed their entry hole to the right of midline. As I measured this distance on F8 and compared it to the well-defined distance along the bottom edge of the Harper fragment, I realized that the right edge of the Harper fragment lay very close to the pathologists' EOP entry hole. But then it really hit me: after all of this, I had quite unexpectedly placed the lead debris (on the Harper fragment, described by the Dallas pathologists as possibly from a bullet, and still visible in the photograph) almost exactly where the pathologists had said the bullet had entered. I stared, almost too shocked to believe it. I returned to the X-rays looking for possible contradictions and found none. I reviewed all of the borders, to be sure that the X-rays permitted such a placement- and they did! In addition, the lambdoid sutures, one on each side of the skull, as examined on both the lateral and frontal X-rays, are also remarkably consistent with this interpretation.

The Harper fragment (H) is shown situated in the occiput in Figure 2C. Letters C and D identify bone fragments. Letter L denotes the site of lead on H. The 6.5 mm object is shown at about the 2 o'clock direction from the right upper edge of H; it also lies directly inferior to the letter D. The letters McC (for McClelland) identify the fracture that functioned as a hinge for a bone flap that could swing either open or closed. This movement has been the cause of much confusion about the status of the occiput: when the flap was open (as at Parkland) it produced an orange sized hole at the right rear, but when closed (as on the frontal X-ray) it seemed that there was no major hole at the right rear. I have named this hinge after McClelland, who actually described the bone flap. This fracture is also visible on the frontal X-ray. The area inferior to this flap is not well seen on the X-rays (it is obscured by overlying bone), but the OD measurements suggest that some bone is missing below this flap. This would be consistent with the eyewitnesses' recall of an orange-sized hole at this site. The semicircular notch, located on line BA and just inferior to letter C, is where Baden placed the exit wound.

The Harper fragment (H) is placed into the frontal skull X-ray in Figure 2D. In this figure the lambda point (the junction of the two lambdoid sutures and the saggital suture) lies slightly inferior to the top of the Harper fragment. Most of the lambdoid sutures can be seen on the frontal and lateral X-rays, at sites that are consistent with this interpretation. Furthermore, where these sutures are missing is exactly where the Harper fragment (not present at the autopsy) fits into the skull. Optical density measurements confirm that bone is indeed missing where the Harper fragment has been placed here. Baden's semicircular notch is not visible here, but must lie between bone fragment C and the top of the Harper fragment. The letter L denotes lead on the Harper fragment. Regarding Baden's notch, Roger McCarthy of Failure Analysis Associates has shown that beveling can occur from a gunshot even without an exit or an entrance wound as the direct cause (Livingstone 1995, p. 313).

This is the simplest, and the most complete, integration of all of the known evidence. Furthermore, after looking at genuine human skulls and textbooks, I see no real problem with the evidence on the bone itself, from either the inside or the outside. Finally, though, I would emphasize that, like the certainty of the three autopsy pathologists about the site of the entry wound, we should also take seriously the word of three Dallas pathologists who actually saw the real 3D bone. They all agreed that it was occipital, which is probably the best evidence we shall ever get on this question. I have merely found the only reasonable place at the back of the skull where it could possibly fit. Such a conclusion is, incidentally, yet one more proof that bone was indeed missing from the back of the head, as if more proof were really required on this point.

Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA)

Having once taught a course in nuclear physics (1971-72) while on the Michigan physics faculty I was naturally captivated by the statement that NAA had confirmed the SBT. I had even watched Robert Blakey declare on national television that NAA was the lynchpin of the SBT theory, for anyone who had the wherewithal to understand it. Since I thought that such a statement might include me, I determined to look into it. Several months later, when I finally obtained access to the NAA data in the HSCA volumes (at U.C-San Diego, while on vacation), I was surprised, on even a first reading, at how unconvincing it seemed.

This was a critical moment for me, a time when the lone assassin theory began to disintegrate; if a supposedly final, and indisputable, proof, from nuclear physics was so feeble, I could only imagine that other proofs of the lone assassin theory would be even more unreliable. Later, I had the pleasure of reading a detailed critique by Wallace Milam, which only further undermined the NAA evidence. More recently, a Stanford physicist, Art Snyder, Ph.D., has been exploring the statistics of NAA for these metal fragments in further detail. Just several months ago, I listened with gratification as Snyder explained his arguments in a lecture. By all reasonable measures, based first on the work of Milam, and now on the work of Snyder, the NAA does not support the SBT. Nor does it support conspiracy though: it is simply inconclusive, actually almost useless. I am hopeful that Snyder will eventually publish his work so that Blakey can explain his "lynchpin" one more time for us.

The Behavior of the Pathologists

The bedrock of the case against the pathologists is the trail of metallic debris, especially as seen on the lateral X-ray. This trail, lying high on the skull, must surely be related to a projectile passing nearby. Its great distance (actually more than 10 cm) from the pathologists' entry site (near the EOP) is impossible to reconcile with a single shot at the EOP. Since the pathologists saw this trail at the autopsy, while they simultaneously identified an EOP entry, they must have known, and understood all too well, exactly what it meant-a second shot to the head. Writing the official autopsy report within 24 hours, Humes certainly knew well enough where this trail lay, specifically that it laid nowhere near his EOP entry site. This is not a matter of professional competence or training-it requires only an elementary education, at best. I know for certain (because I tested him) that my now ninth grade son (who hopes some day to become a forensic scientist), given the information about the bullet trail and the EOP entry site, could have done better than this: he quickly recognized that this data set implied a second shot.

This was the moment of truth for James J. Humes. He could have described the trail correctly, which would always thereafter have invited the question of a second headshot (using exactly the argument that Cornwell had invoked). But he chose instead to follow the clear directions that he had received as the autopsy began (the sole gunman had shot from the rear and was already in custody). Because he chose to support the lone gunman theory, he had no choice but to displace this trail downwards by a huge distance. Because he did not have to review the autopsy X-rays, or even the photographs, for the Warren Commission, no questions were asked at that time about his dangerous maneuver.

When he next saw the X-rays, with the Clark Panel in 1967, he must surely have seen the curious 6.5 mm object (for the first time) and he was probably immediately suspicious. His comments were not recorded during this panel, however, but an official opportunity arose with the HSCA. Here, however, despite several opportunities to describe the unanticipated materialization of this object, he made no attempt to do so. Instead, he chose to agree with Cornwell that he had made a grievous error, an apology that he totally ignored when he next had a chance-during his JAMA interview.

The photographs of the posterior skull also offered an opportunity to raise questions of authenticity, particularly with respect to the red spot. Moreover, in excerpts from his ARRB testimony (included here) Humes actually stated that, even after all reconstruction attempts, the scalp remained open for several centimeters. Yet, even the briefest glance at Figure 1 reveals the paradox: the scalp is completely closed and the hair is all well manicured, not at all open by the several centimeters that Humes recalled. Humes was not directly asked to explain this obvious discrepancy, but he must surely have been aware of it.

The brain weight is yet another paradox. Standard textbooks give the upper limit of normal for the adult male brain at about 1400 grams. (I understand that Oliver Cromwell's was much larger, but he was not Jack Kennedy.) Yet Boswell during his ARRB interview admitted that 1/3 of the total brain was missing and Humes during his JAMA interview (1992, p. 2798) maintained that 2/3 of the right cerebrum was gone; this is also a huge percentage of the total. Although they both unabashedly insisted that they saw no inconsistency with the recorded brain weight of 1500 grams, they offered no rational explanation either. This is not the behavior of reasonable men, yet their entire careers bear clear testimony to their otherwise rational, and widely respected, professional behavior. It is only here in the JFK case that they seem to have lost their way.

The unexplained, even (apparently) egregious, omission of the fresh brain weight is beyond comprehension. Neither of them had any explanation for this. But Boswell's comments to Lifton (cited above) provide the answer. Almost certainly they had measured it, but the results (perhaps on Humes's lost notes and diagrams) had disappeared. Whether Humes immediately knew that this recorded brain weight had to be lost, or whether he only recognized it later, cannot be known, but ultimately it does not matter. The fact is that Humes's notes and diagrams did disappear, meaning that the fresh brain weight could never be used as an indisputable proof that a different brain had later been examined. If the real brain was buried with the body (on Monday, 25 November) as Humes claimed was planned in advance-he may have been aware of this possible snafu well before he submitted his final draft on Sunday, 24 November, and therefore might already have destroyed his notes and diagrams. His admissions to the ARRB seem consistent with exactly this behavior.

The entry wound in the right forehead is yet another issue. Given the trail of bullet debris on the X-rays, and an entry wound in the forehead (seen by O'Donnell in a photograph, and by others on the body), is it possible that the pathologists really did not know? Boswell's unexpected recall (35 years later) of the notch in the right forehead bone speaks volumes. Furthermore, Tom Robinson's unprompted recall of placing wax into just such a hole only increases the probability of the pathologists' feigned ignorance of this site. Even Kamei, who was only occasionally present at the autopsy, recalled this reconstruction work in the right forehead by Robinson, so how could the three principal pathologists have missed it?

Regarding their professed ignorance of the projectile wound to the throat, they stand on dangerously thin ice. Even Ebersole (in his conversation with me) recalled a telephone conversation with Dallas, from which they learned of this wound before the autopsy was over. Ebersole even recalled that certain logical consequences followed from this bit of intelligence: he stopped taking X-rays, because now the mystery (of the exit for the back wound) was solved. Kathy Cunningham's meticulous accounting of the many in the morgue who did know of this wound provides essentially irrefutable proof that the pathologists really did know. Moreover, Robert Livingston, M.D., then the Scientific Director of two NIH institutes (across the street from the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center) and who had extensive experience with gunshot wounds while serving in the Pacific 23, clearly described the throat wound directly to Humes by telephone just before the autopsy. Livingston had heard about the throat wound but was naturally puzzled because Oswald had supposedly fired from the rear. He therefore emphasized to Humes the importance of a careful dissection of the neck. [Editor's note: See Assassination Science 1998, pp. 161-163.] Livingston later recounted this episode under oath during Crenshaw's defamation suit against JAMA.

The pathologists' biopsies of the tracheotomy edges and the passing of probes through a supposedly simple tracheotomy make no sense at all, unless they either knew, or at least suspected, that a projectile had passed through the throat. Finally and remarkably, during his ARRB testimony, Boswell himself shamelessly admitted that he knew of the projectile wound in the throat while still at the autopsy, thus agreeing with one other autopsy physician, John Ebersole. In fact, only three years after the assassination, Boswell had told The Baltimore Sun (Richard H. Levine, 25 November 1966, front page article) that, before the autopsy began, the pathologists had been apprised of JFK's wounds and what had been done to him at Parkland. In particular, Boswell said: " We concluded that night that the bullet had, in fact, entered the back of the neck, traversed the neck and exited anteriorly." Yet, even after all of this, it must be emphasized that an entry wound to the throat is completely absent from the official report. There can be only one intelligible explanation: they understood all too well that such a small, smooth wound to the throat, honestly described, would immediately be recognized as an entrance wound. Furthermore, they also understood that, after all of their probing (especially through the tracheotomy), if this wound were connected to the back wound, it could not be reconciled with a shot from the so-called sniper's nest. 24

In his refusal to discuss JFK's adrenals, Humes had already displayed his willingness to conceal information, even after it had become almost common knowledge that JFK had Addison's disease. Even in front of his own forensic colleagues on the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, he refused all comment. 25 But we have learned more about Humes from the episode of the burned documents. We now know that he was quite willing to leave or even to create a misleading impression if it served his purpose. The preposterous story of the bloody, burned autopsy notes (which disguised the additional burning of the first draft) proves that he was willing to put out cover stories for his own actions.

If Humes and Boswell participated in the charade of a two-brain examination, in the process duping their associate Pierre Finck, they have indeed opened themselves to the most serious of charges. (It is an astonishing irony that another associate, the radiologist Ebersole, in tum probably duped them-by altering the X-rays.) By doing so, they not only covered up the most critical evidence, but they also abused the trust of an associate. The evidence that this dishonorable behavior occurred is, unfortunately, very powerful.

As Stringer so clearly stated, when ordered by Captain Stover (of Bethesda) to sign the Naval medical affirmation of 1 November 1966, he signed it-even though he knew it to be false. Can there be any doubt that the physicians, too, were placed under similar pressures to comply? Even Finck, in his testimony at the Garrison trial, admitted, under oath, that Humes was following orders during the autopsy and that he was not autonomous. Humes himself, on other occasions, clearly submitted to the wishes of Admiral Burkley. Humes granted his request for the prompt return of the brain, so that it could (presumably) be buried with the body, and Humes, by his own description, delivered all of the biological materials to Burkley.

In his ARRB deposition, Humes even suggested that he was writing the autopsy report for Burkley. Furthermore, Burkley's rank of Admiral placed him near the top of the military hierarchy, probably second (in this situation) only to the Surgeon General of the Navy, Admiral Edward Kenney, who was also at the autopsy. Humes's background in the military, and also his commitment to the Church, had provided ideal training for his role as obedient disciple. From the very outset, he must have seen the lay of the green. (Humes used a golfing metaphor to close his own testimony.) The pathologists had been told, before the autopsy began, that the sole suspect was already in custody, that he had fired from the rear, and that their job as pathologists was simple, they just had to find the bullet. 26

Even Finck, in more private moments, has expressed his own indignation at the entire affair. The overheard conversation at the AFIP cafeteria (see Aguilar's essay), which was recalled for the ARRB by biochemist Leonard Saslaw, is quite telling. Finck bitterly complained about the immediate disappearance of his autopsy notes, which he apparently never recovered, while he was still in the morgue. Cyril Wecht, M.D., J.D., personally encountered Finck at breakfast in February 1965, at the Drake Hotel in Chicago during their specialty meetings. Although he disclosed nothing specific, Finck was still ruminating about the autopsy, implying that he wished he could recount what had really happened, with the clear insinuation that the most extraordinary events had occurred.

On 29-31 January 1968, a Special Forces captain, John McCarthy, was convicted of murder in South Vietnam, in a case in which Pierre Finck participated in a cover-up (17 August 1995 interview with McCarthy by Jim DiEugenio). Finck controlled a file that contained exculpatory evidence, but whose existence he denied. In March 1970, just after McCarthy had been released from Leavenworth on military "bail," his attorney, Steward Davis, was having coffee in a Pentagon cafeteria, when a lawyer from the forensic pathology department approached him. This lawyer then escorted Davis to Finck's office, where he was shown the "nonexistent" file. He was told that a copy machine was just down the hall, and Davis was left alone. Inside the file was the recantation (of August 1968) of Captain Richard Mason, the expert witness who had testified against McCarthy (and who had remained in the courtroom after his testimony!).

Also included were letters from Finck (who was Mason's superior) to 'Mason suggesting that he get on board (with the .38 theory), and another letter, congratulating him on his recantation. The FBI file of 9 February 1968, with exculpatory evidence, was also present. Davis was therefore certain that both the FBI and Finck knew that exculpatory evidence existed and that nothing had been done about it. DiEugenio implies that the Pentagon was eager to convict a Special Forces man because they (the Pentagon) were not in charge of Special Forces operations. (McCarthy recalls outright glee within the Pentagon at the prospect of a court martial for a Special Forces captain in a case of premeditated murder.) My point in presenting this episode is to show that, like Humes (and probably like Boswell), Finck, too, could be persuaded to follow questionable directives from his superiors.

When Paul Hoch, interviewed Humes immediately after an appearance before the HSCA, he stated:

I wish they'd asked some more questions... I was surprised at the Committee members... They sort of had a golden opportunity, you know. I was there, but they didn't choose to-and it didn't bother me one-way or the other: whatever pleased them, pleased me (Lifton 1988, Chapter 24).

Gary Cornwell (the Deputy Chief Counsel for the HSCA), based on his own experiences, has described Humes's acquiescence to demands of authority (Real Answers 1998, pp. 71-74). Cornwell had decided (and apparently still believes) that Humes had not intentionally misreported the autopsy, but that he was merely incompetent. Based on this, he planned to confront Humes with the lateral X-ray evidence that shows the bullet trail lying nearer to the top of the skull than to the bottom. Cornwell understood well enough that, on national television, he could administer the coup de grace to Humes, so that Humes would have no choice but to admit his (supposed) faux pas in placing the entry wound far too low.

Cornwell, celebrating his unassailable strategy in advance, tipped his hand to a member of the Forensic Pathology Panel. This specialist, readily understanding the power of Cornwell's argument and its inevitable success, tried to dissuade him, on the basis that Humes was a respectable professional who should not be so manhandled. There the matter was dropped, but the next day, just before the session was to open, this same pathologist, acting now as a messenger from Humes, reported that Humes was now willing to confess to error in his autopsy report! Cornwell therefore met privately with Humes and confirmed that this was indeed true. As I observed on videotape (supplied by Wallace Milam) Humes thereupon did exactly that: he pointed to the much higher site on the lateral X-ray as the entry, thus nullifying his own autopsy report and also the entry site that he had previously drawn on a skull for the HSCA. Cornwell concludes by commending Humes for admitting his past mistakes. But then later Cornwell offers his own confession (pp. 188-189):

But I admit that I have not closely followed, much less been actively involved in, all of the continuing research and evaluation of "newly discovered" evidence...

Even though Cornwell's book was published in 1998 (the same y ear that the ARRB concluded its work) there is no mention of the ARRB's existence, or of it's over 60,000 newly released documents. Nor is there any mention of the JAMA articles (of 1992) in which Humes totally ignores his HSCA testimony (the one that had so pleased Cornwell) and in which he once again reverts to the low entry site! But my point is mainly about Humes, not about Cornwell. Humes was quite agreeable to changing his testimony under pressure-even though his conversion was obviously not authentic, nor was it long lasting. How likely is it then, that when under even greater pressure (such as at the autopsy), Humes would somehow have resisted such pressure and stoutly reported only the facts, without a trace of deviousness?

Unquestionably, the pathologists were under enormous pressure, the kind that most ordinary individuals never encounter. Their careers could well have been permanently jeopardized. From the comfort of a recliner nearly forty years later, it is all too easy to judge them by our own standards. They had been driven into an impossible cul-de-sac, whether to obey their own internal ethics, morality, and honesty (and to let the facts fall where they may) or to conform to the rigid, authoritarian structure that had nurtured and protected them for so many years. But this same structure now would tolerate only one answer: the lone assassin. We can only dream of the conflicts that seethed in their own conscious (and subconscious) minds, nor can we know with certainty how they resolved these issues for themselves as the years passed.

Like most of us, however, it is probable that, once a decision had been reached, second thoughts were few. Most likely, these became increasingly fewer as the years passed. Furthermore, as psychologists know so well, when something is believed for long enough, it begins to take on the texture of truth. So it is even possible, after a while, that the pathologists began to believe that only two shots had been fired from the rear. As memory experts know from countless experiences, the human mind is incredibly flexible, quite capable of adding hues and textures, not originally present, to the silver screens of human memory, especially as time overtakes us all.

Nevertheless, I still have some doubts about this scenario. Why, for example, did the pathologists take so long to agree to be interviewed by JAMA-by a fellow pathologist (George Lundberg, M.D.) no less, a former military man, and a friend of one of them (Humes)? Why did they dodge the press conference that Lundberg had to manage by himself in front of the AMA logo? Why did they simply not volunteer to come to the ARRB rather than actually requiring the delivery (for Humes and Boswell) of a subpoena for their final bow? Let me be quite honest. I suspect that they had not totally forgotten, that they really did recall some of the things they had done, and that such memories were still too sensitive to be publicly exposed. But perhaps I am wrong. About such things we can only speculate. But I still wonder.

Whenever possible, the pathologists told the truth, as they did regarding the EOP entry site. For this fact, their innate adamancy and professionalism rose to the fore. Their refusal to accept the red spot as an entry wound, their refusal to recognize the 6.5 mm object as present on the original frontal X-ray, and their insistence that they had taken photographs no longer in evidence-all of these attest to their honesty and competence.

But there is another side, too. Boswell agreed to elevate the back wound to comply with the SBT; Humes moved the metallic debris downward by over 10 cm (and ignored this obvious evidence for a second headshot); neither of them were willing to impeach the photographs of the back of the head (showing an impossibly intact scalp); Humes burned his first draft (or drafts) and put out a ridiculous cover story; Humes refused to be forthright with respect to the adrenals; all of them pretended, at least for awhile, that the throat wound was invisible at the autopsy; all ignored the evidence for a frontal headshot; Humes successively changed his opinion about the SBT (finally accepting it); he successively changed the width of the tracheotomy; and Humes (alone) even once agreed that the posterior entry wound lay high on the skull.

When the pathologists behaved irregularly, it was not out of malice or of caprice nor usually from incompetence, but because they had been boxed into a corner, where they really had little choice, either because of external constraints placed upon them, or because of internal constraints due to decisions they themselves had already made about the facts of the case. Having walked so far down this road, it was unlikely that they could ever, even to themselves, admit-or perhaps even recall, had they wished, the path that had carried them to their final destination. Their responses before the ARRB, as shown so clearly in the excerpts presented in the addenda, are more than sufficient proof of the state of their minds. It is unlikely that a frank confession of their misdeeds, as some of their critics would have desired, would ever have been forthcoming. We must instead be content with our present knowledge of what actually transpired during those critical hours and days, knowledge that is much fuller today than it was even five years ago.

Indeed, several other odd events are consistent with the above interpretation. During the Garrison trial, when Finck seemed to be saying a bit too much (as Boswell actually stated in his own ARRB deposition), Boswell was rushed to New Orleans to back Finck up as needed (or perhaps even to contradict him), but he was never called to the stand. It is certainly intriguing that Boswell was invited to supervise the autopsy of Martin Luther King (recounted in Boswell's ARRB deposition), an invitation he declined. Humes's involvement in LBJ's benign biopsy is also curious; some cynics have wondered if Humes's involvement was a reward for his work in the JFK matter.

A final comment seems appropriate. These Bethesda doctors are not the only physicians to adjust their sails to the political winds. The physicians at Parkland are hardly blameless, either. Recall that, although they initially agreed that shots had been fired from the front, when they testified before the Warren Commission, their stories changed. In fact, as Crenshaw reports (Palamara 1998, p. 31), following the visit of the Secret Service, which included a briefing about the official autopsy results, almost all talk among the physicians about the autopsy came to a halt. Most notably, Malcolm Perry, who had thrice described the throat wound as an entry wound during his press conference, later did a complete about face, now agreeing (despite seeing no objective new evidence) that it was an exit wound, after all. (Regarding Perry's quite different private comments, see the "Afterward" in Lifton (1988).)

So powerful was the social pressure over this issue, that several of the Parkland doctors, who had so clearly described cerebellum as extruding from the head wound (these summaries are actually in The Warren Report, many in the doctors' own handwriting), later changed their story and said that the cerebellum was now safely back inside the skull, even though, in the interim, they had seen no new physical evidence. When JAMA published its pathetic attempt to whitewash the government's account, his former colleagues convicted Crenshaw of publicity seeking, even though they agreed with Crenshaw about the wounds. 27 Crenshaw's colleagues had merely raised their fingers into the political breezes; to see which way the winds were blowing. They clearly did not wish to tack into any stormy seas.

That the physicians at both Bethesda and Parkland succumbed to authority should not have surprised us. As Robert Proctor recounted ("Racial Hygiene: The Collaboration of Medicine in Nazism," in Medicine, Ethics and the Third Reich, ed. John J. Michalczyk, 1994, p. 36), 3000 doctors (6% of the profession) joined the National Socialist Physicians' League by January 1933, before Hitler rose to power! Proctor states: "In fact, doctors joined the Nazi party earlier and in greater numbers than any other professional group. By 1942, more than 38,000 doctors had joined the Nazi party, representing about half of all doctors in the country."

F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom 1944, reprinted 1994, p. 209) also comments on this all-too-predictable behavior: "The way in which... with few exceptions, her [Germany's] scholars and scientists put themselves readily at the service of the new rulers is one of the most depressing and shameful spectacles in the whole history of the rise of National Socialism. It is well known that particularly the scientists and engineers, who had so loudly proclaimed to be the leaders on the march to a new and better world, submitted more readily than almost any other class to the new tyranny." Hayek also cites R. A. Brady (The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism) as concluding that the scientist is perhaps the most easily used and "coordinated" of all specialists in modem society.

Was G. Robert Blakey aware of these behavior patterns when he took control of the HSCA and promptly (and intensively) began to employ precisely these specialists?

A Summary of the Medical Evidence

Two headshots were fired, the first striking JFK low on the right rear, in agreement with the pathologists; the second struck later from the front, at the hairline, just above the outer border of the right eye socket. To be consistent with the metallic trail on the lateral skull X-ray, this must have occurred when JFK's head was erect, such as in Zapruder frame 321. This latter shot did not originate from the grassy knoll, but may have been fired from the storm drain on the north overpass, where so many bystanders gathered immediately afterwards.

The trail of metallic debris on the X-rays is consistent with this second headshot.

The 6.5 mm "metallic" object was later added to the frontal X-ray. Actually, a fresh X-ray film was double exposed in the darkroom, first with the image of the original X-ray and then with the 6.5 mm object. This resulted in an undetectably altered, new frontal X-ray. The original X-ray was then either deliberately lost or destroyed. This curious 6.5 mm object, being identical to the caliber of the Mannlicher-Carcano, was then used to tie Oswald to the crime.

A large orange-sized hole was present at the right rear of the skull, consistent with the exit of the frontal bullet.

Something struck the back (probably from the first shot fired), but did not penetrate. Besides a bullet, other possible projectiles include shrapnel, or even a piece of the street or sidewalk.

A projectile entered the throat, but did not exit. The nature of this projectile is still debated, with some (e.g., Lifton) arguing that it was a bullet that was (illegally) extracted before the autopsy, while I have here proposed a second possible projectile, namely, a glass fragment from the windshield. The available evidence does not permit a final choice. That the tracheotomy wound was enlarged, during a surreptitious search for such a projectile, is likely. Evidence also suggests that the head wounds were altered, probably in a search for bullets or bullet fragments.

Critical photographs were removed from the original autopsy collection, mostly those of the large posterior hole. Although it is not essential to an overall view of this case, I have concluded that photographs were altered, mostly to hide the large exit wound at the rear. In addition, the body itself (and at least one photograph seen by Joe O'Donnell) did show a right forehead/temple bullet entry. All of this evidence, if it ever existed, has long since been deeply buried, with the exception of the X-rays, which still contain surprising evidence for precisely such a frontal shot.

A second brain was substituted for the genuine brain. At the time of the official brain exam (of this different brain), the real brain may already have been buried with the body, although its actual whereabouts cannot be known with certainty (except perhaps by the Kennedy family).

The pathologists told the truth, insofar as they could, so long as it did not damage the lone assassin theory. What they themselves actually believed probably lies beyond our knowledge, but this no longer matters. When they could not tell the truth without traumatizing the lone assassin theory, they sometimes had no choice but to lie and to cover-up. I have tried, not always successfully, to sympathize with their almost unimaginable plight.

High government officials had to approve, and probably to transmit, orders for alteration of critical forensic evidence, e.g., photographs, X-rays, and the physical evidence. The Secret Service, led by James J. Rowley, held the critical autopsy materials. Possibly a small number of critically placed individuals tacitly understood what needed to be done, and few words were ever actually exchanged. Persons who might have warranted a grand jury investigation were:

1. Robert Knudsen, White House photographer;

2. James J. Rowley, Chief of the Secret Service;

3. Admiral (Dr.) George Burkley.

It is interesting that all three

a. Worked out of the White House

b. Retained their jobs during the LBJ administration (in which loyalty mattered)

c. Like LBJ, believed in a JFK conspiracy.

The effort to manipulate the physical evidence could easily constitute an entirely separate essay. The actual appearance of the largest metal fragment removed from the skull (still housed at the Archives, where I have examined it) compared to its supposed identical, but obviously different, appearance on the skull X-rays is merely one issue.

All of the official government inquires were hamstrung by the manipulated medical evidence, by the misrepresentations of the pathologists, and by these agencies' own surprising, and (apparently) naive, lack of suspicion. Given the state of the medical evidence, the (apparently) sincere testimony of many experts, was not necessarily wrong, it was merely irrelevant.

The efforts of political bodies of inquiry that are beholden to others (e.g., the Challenger disaster-see Richard P. Feynman, What Do You Care What Other People Think? (1988), not discussed here, is a remarkable example of this class) are inevitably emasculated by often, conflicting lines of loyalty. The exertions of the ARRB, which was not really an inquiry at all, but only an information gathering adventure, was, in many respects, a superior model for future panels. This board was beholden to no other entity (or individual). Although criticisms have inevitably been leveled at it-both by some of its staff and by those of us who mostly just observed-it is likely that its private citizens merely tried to do their best. It may be difficult to do better than that. It is possible, however, that future inquiries could build on this model. Perhaps the process should be divided into two stages:

The collecting of all possibly relevant evidence (modeled after the ARRB)

A subsequent panel totally unrelated to the first that actually makes decisions based upon all of the evidence (perhaps even employing a jury of ordinary citizens, when that is appropriate).

This suggestion is somewhat analogous to grand jury proceedings (at the first level), and the subsequent actual trial (at the second level), although for grand juries the same individuals may be involved at both levels.

Postscript: The Mystery Photograph F8

Posterior Head image

The mysterious skull photograph alongside Mantik's analysis of photograph F8

Autopsy photograph F8 (the label derives from the list of Fox photographs) has generated endless controversy. This view has been exceptionally difficult to orient, even for the pathologists. Line BA was interpreted by Michael Baden, M.D., of the HSCA as passing from left to right, with the visible bone lying immediately anterior to the coronal suture. In fact, point B lies deep in the occiput, while point A is situated toward the front of the skull. Line BA divides the skull into left and right. Point L identifies the lead deposit on the Harper fragment; its location on the skull is remarkably consistent with the pathologists' skull entry site. The small white triangle identifies a triangle discussed in the text. The black circumferential perimeter outlines the site of origin of the Harper fragment. Letters C and D identify small bone fragments that are also identified in Figures 4A and 7. In F8 the Harper fragment appears distorted because of the perspective offered by the camera. Beyond point A (in the photographs at the Archives) a tangential view of the chest and abdomen (with fat pads folded back) can be seen. I determined this by stereo viewing of two, nearly identical, color photographs of F8.

In this section I present proof that this photograph (B& W # 17, # 18 and color #44, #45 in the current collection) shows the posterior skull. Even Robert McClelland, M.D., insisted, after his visit to the Archives, that the collection included a view of the large hole as seen at Parkland Hospital. It must have been F8. During their initial inventory review (signed on 10 November 1966), the pathologists labeled this as a posterior view: "Missile Wound of Entrance in Posterior Skull, Following Reflection of Scalp." Furthermore, in his ARRB deposition (reported to me by Douglas Home), Humes located the entry wound (in the posterior skull) toward the bottom of this photograph (as oriented here). This agrees with my interpretation, but disagrees with Baden, who described it more as a view from the left side. At their ARRB depositions, none of the pathologists could orient this photograph. However, when the X-rays are used in conjunction with the photograph, then its orientation becomes unambiguous, as I describe here in stepwise fashion.

Note the remaining frontal bone (Figure 12), as determined from the frontal skull X-ray. This is consistent with Boswell's drawing at the autopsy (Figure 4A) and also with his drawing for the ARRB, as rendered by Home (Figure 9A-D). Note that the upper edge of the remaining frontal bone lies close to the hairline. Although not shown here, these drawings are also consistent with the drawings of Angel, the physical anthropologist, who served as an expert witness for the HSCA (7HSCA228-230). Giesecke (6H74) is one Parkland physician who did describe the large skull defect as extending from the occiput to the browline, in remarkable agreement with Boswell.

On the lateral skull X-ray (Figure 11B), I have indicated, with a line passing through the metallic debris, how the X-ray beam would have transited the skull when the frontal X-ray was taken. For confirmation of this X-ray trajectory note that (a) on the frontal X-ray (Figure 14) the metallic debris is closely bunched from top to bottom, as would be expected if the X-ray beam were traveling nearly parallel to this debris, (b) the transverse fracture just above the left eye (on the right side of the page) corresponds to the discontinuity at the rear of the lateral X-ray, and (c) the 7 x 2 mm metal fragment lies well above the right eye socket on both views. (There is additional evidence for this conclusion not given here.)

On the frontal X-ray, all of the bone is absent just above the trail of metallic debris.

In the HSCA interpretation of F8 (I have watched Baden demonstrate this on television), the segment BA runs from left to right across the skull at the coronal suture; therefore, according to the photograph, almost all of the bone anterior to this line segment was intact. This conclusion made some sense, because the largest, late arriving bone fragment had a suture line at one edge, which the HSCA took to be the coronal suture. Angel agreed that this was the coronal suture, but he placed this bone fragment anterior to the coronal suture, whereas Baden (in an unintended confirmation of the confusion that reigned over this issue) placed it posterior to the coronal suture. [What convinced Baden was the semicircular notch just below the letter C in the photograph) at the edge of the bone, which he took to be the exit site for the posterior bullet. Furthermore, this largest, late arriving bone fragment showed (on its X-ray image) multiple, tiny, metal particles, strongly suggestive of an exit site, meaning that it had to fit next to the notch (in Baden's view). The largest bone fragment can probably be placed anterior to the coronal suture (as Angel did), thus still permitting the actual exit site to lie at or near the coronal suture. (The X-ray's leave an irresolvable ambiguity about the orientation of the bone fragments: it is impossible to distinguish inside from outside-and, strangely enough, the pathologists said nothing to clarify this. No photographs were taken either.)

Notice, however, that we have now arrived at a reductio ad absurdum there is a fatal contradiction in Baden's interpretation: from the X-ray s, we know that bone must be missing all the way forward to the hairline, but Baden has just told us that it is present all the way back to the coronal suture! (On the lateral X-ray, this is where the skull is fractured at the skull vertex.) If the bone really were present to the coronal suture, then, on the frontal X-ray, we would see bone right at the very top on the right side of the skull, just as it is present on the left side. We can be certain of this because we know (from step 1) what the beam's eye view is, i.e., we know the direction that the X-ray beam traveled at the top of the skull during the taking of the frontal X-ray. Therefore, Baden's orientation of F8 is certainly wrong.

On the other hand, if F8 is the back of the head, then the line segment BA is the midsaggital line. There is further confirmation that this is the correct. While at the Archives, I viewed this photograph and its near twin (most views are pairs, taken with the camera slightly displaced in successive views) with a stereo viewer, which, for this view, is particularly illuminating. The bone surface (left of midline) was quite rounded, as would be expected for the occiput. In addition, the fractured bone islands at the right front (labeled C and D) could now be appreciated in 3D. After some staring, I realized that there were only two, and that they corresponded to the two bone islands on the frontal X-ray (also labeled C and D). Their sizes, shapes, and locations all fit perfectly. But one additional feature surprised me. In the color photographs at the Archives, there was more to see beyond the top edge of the film than is visible here. I finally realized that I was looking tangentially across the chest and abdomen. I could actually see a nipple (extending out into space in 3D) and the biggest surprise; I could see fat pads folded back from the abdominal incision.

There is a specimen bottle at the bottom left of this photograph (not well seen here), which seemed to suggest that Baden might have been right after all. However, now that I knew where parts of the body were located, I could conclude that the head had merely been rotated into a nonstandard orientation, no doubt to better expose the large, occipital hole for the camera, and that the specimen jar posed no special problem in interpretation.

Having concluded that the large defect extended all the way to the anterior hairline, Boswell's 13 cm measurement for the large hole fits better than it would for an anterior border at the coronal suture. This is further confirmation of my conclusion.

When questioned about this notch (on the bone edge) in F8 by the HSCA, Humes (7HSCA249) did not hesitate to say that the notch was not in the frontal bone, thus disagreeing with Baden's orientation!

In conclusion, the orientation described here is consistent with the historical orientation, with the X-rays, with Humes's comment about the notch, with Boswell's two drawings (one at the autopsy and one for the ARRB), and even with Angel's drawings-but not with Baden's orientation. From this photograph, we can be certain that the back of the head was blown out, quite dramatically in fact, just like all of the witnesses said. It is very difficult to escape the conclusion that a frontal headshot led to this injury. This deduction, of course, also corroborates the recollections of all of those new and old witnesses who saw autopsy photographs with such a massive defect, which, in turn, means that other photographs really have disappeared.


Harry Livingstone and David Lifton are justifiably recognized as primary trailblazers in the medical evidence. Their books served as invaluable guides during the period of my initiation. I later had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with both. By responding promptly to my initial letter of inquiry, Cyril Wecht, M.D., J.D., greatly encouraged my initial ideas; he has continued to be a bastion of support. An unintended consequence of JAMA's sorry attempt at journalism was my introduction to Gary Aguilar, M.D. and to James Fetzer. I owe much to both. My seemingly inevitable and uncanny agreement with Wallace Milam, on almost every issue, was a source of great encouragement. Kathy Cunningham often served as an inexhaustible resource, not just for me, but also for many others. I am also indebted to Roy Schaffer and Millicent Cranor for sharing their insights with me. These, and many others beside, have made my own work possible. For their contributions to the cause of truth, I hold them all in high regard-they have served their country well.


1 Spence (for the defense) and Vincent Bugliosi (for the prosecution) opposed one another in the television production, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald (London Weekend Television) and shown on Showtime (1986).

2 This is based on a personal conversation with Douglas Home (and Patricia L. James, M.D.) at the San Francisco airport on 12 March 2000.

3 Since I had set a deadline of 15 April 2000, I called Tunheim's office on 26 April. I was informed that the questionnaires had indeed been mailed out (on about 20 March 2000) but that no replies had been received. When this book went in press in June, still no responses had been received.

4 The traditional approach is well demonstrated in Cyril Wecht, Grave Secrets: A Leading Forensic Expert Reveals the Startling Truth About O.J. Simpson, David Koresh, Vincent Foster, and Other Sensational Cases (1996).

5 Perhaps because I have established that the X-rays have been altered, it is easier for me to surmount the emotional and psychological hurdles that obstruct belief in photographic alteration. There is nothing like personal experience to open one's eyes.

6 David Lifton has advised me that he first saw prints of the autopsy photographs in spring 1981, when he went with Mark Crouch to visit James K. Fox. Lifton obtained prints in December 1982 from Crouch, who had made copies from Fox's set. In that same month, and in January 1983, Lifton became the first person to show actual prints of the autopsy photographs to the Parkland medical personnel. As before, the images surprised them. Lifton has recounted his own experiences in the Afterword to Best Evidence (1988, p. 703). Malcolm Perry's surprised reaction to the tracheotomy makes for especially interesting reading.]

7 Groden (1993, pp. 83-84) illustrates the large hole. Although this is fairly accurate, the X-rays show that the large hole extends anteriorly to the hairline. A drawing of the posterior skull by autopsy lab technician, Paul O'Connor, is surprisingly accurate (Groden 1993, p. 87).

8 Blakey and Billings later wrote a conspiracy book in which they implicated the Mafia (G. Robert Blakey and Richard Billings, Fatal Hour: the Contract, the Killing, and the Cover-up 1981). Cornwell also authored a conspiracy book (Real Answers 1998).

9 Addresses and phone numbers are in my files.

10 Livingstone (High Treason 1998, pp. 501-536) reprinted Spencer's complete transcript. Livingstone also summarized the new medical evidence (pp. 403-543), a synopsis that was very useful for my own synthesis.

11 Roger Feinman, a former employee of CBS, graciously supplied this information. This CBS documentary of 25, 26, 27, 28 June 1967, with Walter Cronkite narrating, was critiqued in Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas (1967).

12 After listening to these interviews on audiotape, I was struck by how often, and with what great emphasis, all three family members stated that their father was highly secretive about anything related to the autopsy. For example, none of them knew for certain where he had gone to testify in 1988, and, although they seemed to understand that he did not accept the Warren Report, he had actually never stated his opinion directly. They clearly understood that he wanted to avoid any public discussion of this entire issue.

13 I am not at all persuaded, based merely on his description, that he saw the original film. What is more likely is that he saw a copy of the original that was distinctly different from any extant copy.

14 Dennis Breo, JAMA (27 May 1992), pp. 2794--2807.

15 Seth Kantor was a friend of Jack Ruby. He recalled seeing Ruby at Parkland Hospital shortly after the shooting, but the Warren Commission chose not to believe him. Kantor later published his own account of these events (Seth Kantor, Who Was Jack Ruby 1978), in which he described Ruby's ties to the FBI, the CIA, and to organized crime.

16 Charles Crenshaw, Conspiracy of Silence (1992); also see Assassination Science (1998), pp. 37-60.

17 It is probable that Stewart, like so many others in this case (including Robert Blakey, on a national talk show), has reversed left for right. Although this cannot now be known with certainty, Crenshaw's recollection of a right frontal entry wound would seem consistent with this interpretation. That Stewart, after discussing this issue with the other Parkland doctors, would still speak out publicly, some time later, on this matter is surely a demonstration, at the very least, of his true convictions.

18 For a detailed chronology of the tracheal wound and its varying descriptions over the years, see Lifton (1988, chapter 11). Lifton also notes that Baxter, at Parkland, placed the incision at the second ring (6H42), while the autopsy report placed it at the third and fourth rings.

19 His closest boyhood friend was Henry Zapruder, son of Abraham Zapruder.

20 See Vincent DiMaio, Gunshot Wounds (1985), pp. 80--85, and especially J. Thornton, "The Effects of Tempered Glass on Bullet Trajectory," AFTE Journal 15 (July 1983), p. 29.

21 For the behaviour of ricochet bullets, see DiMaio (1985), pp. 88-92.

22 See the discussion of the Harper fragment in Palamara 1998, pp. 74-75

23 Livingston and I have since become good friends, visiting at one another's homes, even taking a trip together, and he has consistently repeated this same story. It is certainly in character for him to have involved himself in such a matter. His prior presidency of Physicians for Social Responsibility (an organization that won a Nobel Peace Prize) speaks volumes about his willingness to take unusual responsibility upon himself.

24 Since the throat wound so obviously arose from a frontal projectile, I had predicted that JAMA would not have the courage to describe the physical characteristics of the throat wound, but that, instead, they would merely employ innuendo to impugn physicians such as Charles Crenshaw for saying that it was an entry wound. Unfortunately, I was right. As a result, JAMA later paid Crenshaw $213,000 in a legal settlement, a quite avoidable public relations faux pas. Astonishingly enough, the editors of my own journal lacked the courage even to admit their error to a fellow physician, Charles Crenshaw (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 37-60). As an AMA member, I felt that my professional dues had been abused during this disgraceful escapade. I later resigned from the AMA, in protest over its unethical behavior.

25 I discussed Humes's willingness to follow authority-and to do so with surprising tenacity (a trait I could not relate to) with a close friend who is a Catholic, a Notre Dame graduate, and a university affiliated psychiatrist. He explained to me that Humes's military background, his training as a Catholic, and his continued activity in the Church (even on Saturday morning, 23 November), provided perfect training for his obedience to authority figures. Gary Cornwell's book offers further insight into this side of Humes; for Cornwell's story, see my analysis of the pathologists' characters.

26 If they were really faced with a 6.5 mm bullet cross section (on the frontal X-ray), obeying their orders should have been simple-they had only to extract this object. That they so obviously failed even to search for this 6.5 mm object is striking.

27 When five Parkland doctors were deposed by the ARRB, Jeremy Gunn made exactly this point-the doctors really did agree about the wounds, after all.

Posterior Head image

[Editor's note: During the deposition (Appendix G), Gunn asks Humes whether the hair was cleaned before photographs were taken, because some of the alleged autopsy photographs (above) are inconsistent with others of the back of the head. They can't all be authentic, but like most of the evidence in this case, they can all be faked. For those who are familiar with the evidence and are not cognitively impaired, this case bristles with smoking guns. (See Robert Groden, The Killing of a President 1993, pp. 82-.85

The Zapruder Film Controversy

(Click images to enlarge)

David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.

[Editors note: In this essay, David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., who has undertaken the most extensive and detailed studies of its internal content and other properties, including comparisons of the film to other copies, of the film to other photographs and films, and of the film to eyewitness reports, in the history of the study of the assassination of JFK, provides a framework for understanding and exploring the questions raised by the lack of authenticity of the film, which has been extensively edited using highly sophisticated techniques. Those who wish to pursue this issue in greater detail should see the studies on this topic in Assassination Science (1998), including Mantik's transformational work.]

It is misleading to claim that scientific advances and scholarly experiments can cause all photo fakes to be unmasked. Questions about authenticity remain. Many photos that once were considered genuine have 'recently been determined to be faked. The authenticity of some is still being debated… -Dino Brugioni

A Visit to the South: Does History Repeat?

A regal couple traveled to the south of their own realm where they were intensely disliked by many. They were feted at a state dinner. An open motorcade was held for them in the morning. Surprisingly, the crowds were large and friendly. Suddenly, a bomb was thrown at them. It exploded behind the car and several were injured. The motorcade stopped momentarily, and then continued on to the Town Hall. After a brief reception there, the husband decided to visit the hospital to see those who had been injured. Unfortunately, the motorcade took the wrong route so the governor shouted at the driver to stop and turn around. As soon as the car stopped, the assassin, who stood within ten feet, fired several shots, one striking the husband and one the wife. The royal couple remained frozen and upright. Then the car leaped forward and the wife plunged backward against her husband. Both were soon dead. The date was Sunday, 28 June 1914. It was the feast of St. Vitus, a Serbian national holiday that celebrated two major Serbian battles symbols of Serbian independence. The city was Sarajevo, Bosnia. The husband was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne. The assassin was a high school student, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian conspirator who lost his arm in the resulting melee and who died a few years later of TB. His name meant "Bringer of Tidings." This event precipitated World War I.

Based on the sources cited below, the conspiracy was organized in Belgrade by the Black Hand with the connivance of Serbs in position of power, army officers and government officials, including frontier authorities. The Austro-Hungarian government suspected this and the Austrian authorities found evidence to prove most of this although they knew nothing of the Black Hand and mistakenly suspected the Narodna Obrana. In 1925 a Serbian politician, Jovanovich, who had been Minister of Education in the Serbian Cabinet, casually mentioned that the Cabinet knew of the plot and discussed it in May or early June. He recalled details of its organization. Although a colleague denied this, his denials were unsupported and Jovanovich's story was probably true. [Authors note: Sources included:

1. Francis Whiting Halsey, The Literary Digest: History of the World War (1919)

2. Emil Ludwig, July 1914 (1929)

3. S.L.A. Marshall, The American Heritage History of World War I (1964)

4. Laurence Lafore, The Long Fuse: An Interpretation of the Origins of World War I (1965)

5. Lee Davis, Assassination: 20 Assassinations That Changed History (1993).]

Does History Repeat? Some Analogies

The JFK and Ferdinand assassinations contain remarkable similarities; in both cases, the following statements can be made:

• The southern region was disaffected with the central government.

• The wife accompanied her husband.

• Murder occurred during a motorcade.

• Security was limited during the motorcade, despite rumors of possible assassination attempts. Ferdinand ridiculed an offer from Count Harrach to stand on the left footboard beside him. In Sarajevo, as in Dealey Plaza, the streets were unguarded.

• The motorcade stopped momentarily after the first loud sound and after the governor's shout.

• The governor turned around to look at the victim after the initial shooting.

• The fatal shot occurred either at or very close to the time that the vehicle stopped.

• Two or three shots were usually reported.

• The victim sat erect when the fatal shot hit.

• Death followed quickly.

• Evidence of a government conspiracy later emerged.

• Eyewitnesses were the source of the early reports.

My purpose in presenting this historical summary is not simply to note the existence of a conspiracy, moreover a probable government conspiracy in both cases, nor merely to draw engaging historical analogies, but, more importantly, to emphasize how the Zapruder film has affected our view of the JFK murder, in a manner that photography could not do for the Sarajevo assassination.

[Authors note: To avoid confusion between the out-of-camera original film and the current film in the Archives, which are not identical, in my view I shall use the term "extant" to describe the film currently held by the Archives.]

Without the Zapruder film, we would be forced to rely on the testimony of eyewitnesses. Their descriptions have been included in the above summary even when they disagreed with the Zapruder film. For example, witnesses who described the movement of the limousine almost uniformly recalled a limousine stop (albeit a very brief one) in Dealey Plaza, in direct contradiction to the extant Zapruder film. And those who described the position of JFK's head at the instant of the final headshot almost always reported that he was erect, also in distinct disagreement with the extant film. This particular issue has previously been discussed in some detail (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 273-274 and pp. 286-292).

The witnesses also disagree sharply with the extant film regarding the movement of JFK's head. They describe a slumping forward (probably on two successive occasions), including a forward slump immediately after the fatal headshot, the same moment when the film shows a violent backward snap of the head. It is also noteworthy that an early observer of the film (Zapruder's partner, Erwin Schwartz) failed to describe a head snap, and that both Dan Rather and Deke DeLoach (Cartha DeLoach, Hoovers FBI: The Inside Story by Hoovers Trusted Lieutenant 1995, p. 139) describe JFK going forward after the fatal head shot. DeLoach describes seeing the film on the evening of the assassination and Rather saw it within several days. None of these three described what is seen on the extant film, the head snap, which is at once both obvious and stunning.

If the Zapruder film is authentic, and yet displays such profound disagreement with the eyewitnesses (who speak with almost one voice), then deeply troubling questions arise about any historical event not recorded by a motion picture camera, even in those cases in which the eyewitnesses agree. If such radical cynicism about historical events is justified, then all historians should be put on notice that almost nothing in history can be certain, since eyewitnesses, no matter how high their level of agreement, would be essentially useless.

By way of illustration, without a confirmatory movie film of the Sarajevo assassination, we could not be certain how many shots were fired, what the governor did or said during the motorcade, where the victims were struck by bullets, or even what route was taken. Nevertheless, most of this information is recorded, and recorded consistently, in the early news bulletins (see the sources cited above) even though there are no photographs. The early newspaper articles are also in surprising agreement about the day's events. This agreement is sustained in subsequent books over a long time interval; those cited above range from 1919 to 1993.

If the extant Zapruder film is authentic, and the witnesses therefore so uniformly wrong, we ought to seriously doubt these Sarajevo witnesses, and all of the accounts based on them. If we adopted this extreme distrust of eyewitnesses, then all historical events before 1888 (Edison's Kinetograph) must be inherently not just unreliable but, in fact, flagrantly unreliable. Historians have rarely espoused such radical cynicism about what can be known (Edward Hallett Carr, What is History? The George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures 1965, pp. 3-35). Although history is filled with cases in which the facts are uncertain, this very uncertainty, especially when the facts are critical, is usually acknowledged explicitly by historians rather than silently concealed.

Although historians do sometimes disagree vigorously about the facts, such as the murder of Adolph Hitler by his own staff (Hugh Thomas, The Murder of Adolph Hitler: The Truth about the Bodies in the Bunker 1995), often the facts are not in dispute and yet there is disagreement about the interpretation of events. Henry Steele Commager (The Nature and the Study of History 1965, pp. 59-60) has described how views of Southern reconstruction changed dramatically between the early twentieth century and the post World War II era, becoming less harsh in the latter period. Likewise, C. Vann Woodward, former Sterling Professor of History at Yale, has concluded (Thinking Back: The Perils of Writing History 1986, p.112): "I doubt that revisionist scholarship has been more active in any field of American or Southern history than it has in Reconstruction historiography during the last generation."

Another example in which the facts are quite clear but the interpretation is in some doubt is the death of Meriwether Lewis: was he robbed and murdered as he slept alone in a cabin in central Tennessee while en route to Monticello? Or did he shoot himself during a severe depression (perhaps while deranged after weeks of serious drinking), once in the head and once in the chest, slash himself with his razor, and then [tongue-in-cheek] steal his own gold watch and money? (Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson, A Life 1993, p. 571.)

Advocates of Zapruder film authenticity seem oblivious to the logic of their own views. By ignoring the surprising agreement (actually, near unanimity) of the JFK witnesses, they must logically maintain an extremely pessimistic view of what can be known in history, a view not commonly embraced by professional historians (Robin Winks, editor, The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence 1968; David Hackett Fischer, Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought 1970).

In fact, this radical distrust of eyewitnesses, even when they strongly agree is so extreme that it frankly borders on historical nihilism. Such a view is close to that of the logical positivist, Ayer, who wondered (A.J. Ayer, Philosophical Essays 1965, p. 168): " ...whether we have sufficient ground for accepting any statement at all about the past, whether we are even justified in our belief that there has been a past." During his lifetime, Ayer won rather few followers; even fewer remain today (Ernst Breisach, Historiography 1983, p. 331).

[Editor's note: Frames of the Zapruder film may be viewed in books such as:

1. Robert Groden, The Killing of a President (1993)

2. Richard Trask, Pictures of the Pain (1994)

3. Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason (1997)

4. Stewart Galanor, Cover-Up (1998)

Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB)

As a result of Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) was established by Congress in 1992 and was signed into law by George Bush on 26 October 1992. Board members were nominated by Bill Clinton by September 1993 and sworn in on 11 April 1994. Congress finally appropriated funds by 1 October 1994. The ARRB submitted its final report on 30 September 1998 (Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, 1998). Due to the efforts of the ARRB, several controversial issues related to the Zapruder film have been resolved, or at least partially resolved. The work of Roland Zavada, a retired Kodak engineer with special expertise in film production (who was re-hired by Kodak to perform work for the ARRB), has contributed to several new insights.

The dark intersprocket area

When the movie is projected the image between the sprocket holes is not seen on the screen. The image in this intersprocket area can, however, be examined manually, frame-by-frame. Much of this area is then seen to be darker than the central (projected) image, particularly after about Z-235. Zavada shot film through several cameras of the same model as Zapruder's and discovered that a dark region was commonly seen over most of this intersprocket area. This dark intersprocket area occurred repeatedly with several cameras and was similar to Zapruder frames after about Z-235. Independently, Brian Edwards and Phil Giuliano performed similar simulations with identical model Bell & Howell cameras in Dealey Plaza. They have shared their films with me and frame-by-frame analysis has shown similar results in these films. (Zapruder used a Bell & Howell Model 414 P.D Director Series movie camera; P =power zoom; D =dual electric eye.)

Zavada concluded that the claw was responsible for this dark intersprocket area. The claw advances the film, frame by frame. It moves downward when the shutter is closed, then moves upward when the shutter is open; during this exposure the claw casts a partial shadow on the intersprocket area, enough to cause the darkening seen in the intersprocket images. Although this explanation has been touted by some as proof, in and of itself, of authenticity, in fact, such an image could persist even after film alteration. This could occur, for example, if the original frames had first been magnified and then re-shot through the same camera. If the new frames had been magnified enough, the intersprocket area could be entirely eliminated by excluding it from the captured image of the new film. Of course, all of the new frames would be magnified, but if this were done in a continuous manner it would be difficult to detect such uniform magnification.

Furthermore, if all of the new frames had been shot through the same camera, then the resulting intersprocket images would again exhibit a dark area just like the initial generation. (Oddly enough, Zapruder's camera was not returned to him from the FBI until several months after the assassination. Is it possible that it was used in the process of alteration?)

Or, if a different camera had copied the identical field of view but did not itself produce a claw shadow, then the new film would still exhibit a dark area in the intersprocket area (from the first generation film). This could be achieved, for example, by manual copying in a single frame mode (each frame would be advanced manually), in which case a claw would not be necessary. A more detailed discussion of this problem, including useful images, may be found at Anthony Marsh's web site:

In any case, the dark area in the intersprocket image need not be a direct by product of reframing; the claw movement most likely causes it. What is less clear though is why this dark area is difficult to see in frames before about Z-235. Its absence is especially obvious in the Life issue of 25 November 1966. Zavada did not address this paradox.

The ghost image inferior to the upper sprocket hole

In frames beginning at about Z-310, in the upper one third of the intersprocket area, there is a superimposed image of the front portion of a motorcycle. Why such a superposition occurs only at the time of the fatal head shot and nowhere else is peculiar. Zavada examined this image, found that it could be simulated in his laboratory experiments, and concluded that it was a double exposure from an adjacent frame. For example, during exposure of the (arbitrary) first frame, the lower portion of the field of view for that frame extends into the upper portion of the second (still unexposed) frame. This occurs because a hole in the aperture plate (for the claw mechanism) permits light to shine onto a small portion of the second frame. Only when the shutter is again opened is the full image for the second frame exposed.

However, this ghost image (from the first frame) can only be seen when the primary image in the second frame is dark. If the primary image in the second frame is too light the ghost image is difficult to detect against such a light background. Such double exposures were also seen in the Edwards and Giuliano films, often these ghost images did not display discrete objects but were simply lighter patches with well-defined borders. This area of overlap was reproduced at about the same site and with approximately the same size as the ghost images seen in the Zapruder film, thus confirming Zavada's hypothesis.

Although Zavada seemed satisfied with his explanation, it still appears to fall short of full clarification. Zavada repeatedly advised us that his primary task was to address technical issues. It was not his mandate to analyze the actual content of the images, e.g., he did not ask whether animation specialists had been at work on certain frames, or whether the content of one frame was consistent with that of other frames.

An astonishing example of such inconsistency is seen in the intersprocket image for Z-318; a good quality reproduction of this frame shows the limousine immediately behind the motorcycle, in the ghost image! According to Zavada, the ghost image in Z-318 was exposed at the same instant as the primary image of frame Z-317 (which also shows the limousine). But if Zavada is correct, then the limousine is in two different locations at the same instant! If Zavada was aware of this flagrant paradox he failed to comment on it.

Another line of evidence is the quality of the central image in the (arbitrary) first frame compared to the ghost image in the second frame. According to Zavada, they were formed at the same instant, and should therefore display similar features.

But this is not always the case: e.g., the central image in Z-319 is obviously blurred, whereas the ghost image in Z-320 is distinctly sharper. Since both images were formed at the same instant, according to Zavada, why do they show such different tracking characteristics? Again, Zavada offered no explanation.

Occasional doubled images

Poor tracking of a moving vehicle within a single frame can result in image doubling of background objects such a pedestrians. Such poor tracking also causes blurring of the moving vehicle. Frames immediately before and after such an event usually do not display such image doubling, so the tracking error must be very brief. Although none of Zavada's shots on Elm Street produced a double image, 1 'such events were occasionally seen in the simulated films of Edwards and Giuliano.

Limousine magnification and the grassy background opposite Zapruder

The Edwards and Giuliano simulations show limousine magnifications similar to the Zapruder film at about Z-313, i.e., the length of the limousine occupies about the same fraction of the entire frame width in both cases. These simulations also suggest that Main St. (beyond the top of these frames) probably lies outside the field of view, as is also the case in the Zapruder film. Whether the magnification in the Zapruder film changes (it should not) between the Stemmons freeway sign and the fatal head shot, however, may need further study.

It is also possible that some frames in the interval between the sign and Z-313 are composites i.e., normal foreground magnification and increased background magnification. In some of these frames there is little in the background to help decide this question. This question recurs below; Moorman's location in the Zapruder film, in particular, is most likely due to a composite image.

The Legal Status of Photographic Evidence

Millicent Cranor reminds us that, because of the possibilities of photographic tampering, eyewitnesses have legal priority over photographic evidence (Assassination Science 1998, p. 265). Such evidence cannot be accepted in court until eyewitnesses have vouched for it (McConnick on Evidence, 3rd ed., 1984, Section 214). Nonetheless, scores of lawyers in past government investigations of the JFK murder chose to ignore this rule. Eyewitnesses were regularly accused of seeing or hearing events that (supposedly) could not be true because they were inconsistent with the official conclusions. A search throughout the many volumes of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) reveals no reference to this fundamental principle.

The Chief Arguments for Authenticity

The chain of possession… Josiah Thompson summarized this argument during a debate at the JFK Lancer Conference in November 1998. [Editor's note: His talk was later reprinted as "Why the Zapruder Film Is Authentic," JFK Deep Politics Quarterly (April 1999).] Thompson's argument is that the film was always accounted for and could not have journeyed anywhere for alteration.

Recent releases by the ARRB, however, suggest otherwise. The Homer McMahon interviews, in particular, suggest a broken chain of possession. [Editor's note: See the NPIC reports by Douglas Home elsewhere in this volume.] McMahon was head of the color lab at the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) in 1963. He describes receiving the film (without a doubt, the Zapruder film) from a Secret Service agent who had flown it to Rochester for development before bringing it to the NPIC. McMahon's recollections were corroborated by one of his assistants, Bennett Hunter, who was also interviewed by the ARRB.

As best these two could recall, they received the film on the weekend immediately after the assassination (almost certainly before the funeral). McMahon recalls seeing the film projected at least 10 times that night. It was his opinion, based on this viewing, that JFK was shot 6 to 8 times from at least three directions, but the Secret Service agent told McMahon that there were just three shots, and that these all came from the Book Depository. McMahon and his assistant were told to keep their work secret and were prohibited even from telling their supervisors (who were not present).

The chain of possession argument relies critically on the memories of those who handled the film that day. Those skeptics who disparage the recollections of the Dealey Plaza witnesses nonetheless insist that the memories of the film handlers that day were flawless. Why those who handled the film that day can be trusted, while those who witnessed the assassination are not credible, is known only to disciples of film authenticity. Besides this reliance on the memory of the film handlers, however, the chain of evidence argument relies on sworn affidavits to the effect that only three copies of the film were made at the Jamieson laboratory on 22 November 1963.

For the credibility of these affidavits 2, ultimate reliance must be placed on human honesty; there is no movie film that documents the preparation of only three copies of the film. How do we know that the affidavits were honest, or even that the signatories were actually in a position to witness everything they claimed to see? Is it even possible that the affidavits were deliberately prepared, possibly at the suggestion of the Secret Service, merely to cover up the existence of additional copies? Paul Rothermel, head of security for H.L. Hunt (Twyman 1997, p. 552; Harrison Livingstone, Killing the Truth 1993, p. 522 and p. 533) has long claimed that he received a copy of the film on the day of the assassination.

More recently, William Reymond, a French journalist, claims to have seen a different film in France, which may be either Hunt's copy or a descendant of it. Was the original switched at the Jamieson laboratory for a copy and then given to the Secret Service for transportation to Rochester that same evening? Was Zapruder merely given a copy when he thought he had the original? If so, how would he have known the difference? The fact is that no documentary evidence, nor anyone's memory, can settle a question of this nature.

My purpose here is merely to emphasize that the chain of possession argument, like all historical issues, ultimately relies on human memory and human honesty. Wherever either of these is in doubt, the chain of possession argument fails. And these recent claims, by McMahon, by Hunter, and by Reymond, do raise questions about the chain of possession, questions that could not be raised just a few years ago. I would conclude, at the very least, that arguments for film authenticity require much more than a simple chain of possession argument to make their case.

If the film was altered, why leave in evidence that suggests a frontal shot? I have previously addressed this entirely sensible objection in some detail (Assassination Science 1998, p. 272), but it still provokes discussion and emotion, so several more comments may be useful. Based on a careful review of the eyewitnesses, JFK most likely slumped forward twice, once after the throat shot, and then immediately after the fatal headshot (a motion not seen in the extant film).

Between these two events, it is most likely that Jackie (slowly) lifted JFK to an erect position so that she could examine his face closely. In Erwin Schwartz's interview with Noel Twyman, this is exactly what he described in the film that initial weekend. It seems likely that this upward movement, in a later version of the film (unnaturally accelerated by excised frames), has come to be seen as the head snap.

If the limousine really did stop, what other options did the editors have? They could simply have left JFK leaning forward for the entire sequence, thus retaining only one episode of slumping forward. This would mean that his position would have changed little even after the fatal headshot. Such a choice would, however, have the distinct disadvantage of being rather too simple a sequence to coincide with the memory of any observer and would therefore have raised suspicions merely because of its odd simplicity. Once this option was excluded any other choice required that JFK come erect again, at one speed or another.

If the original speed of JFK's slow upward movement (i.e., no frame excision) were kept, then the limousine stop (or near stop) would still be visible. To eliminate the limousine stop, editing within frames would have been required. JFK's slow upward movement would have to be retained in most (or all) frames but the limousine movement would have to be altered. This would require composite frames, frames in which JFK's actions would be continuous but in which the limousine movement was accelerated by the editing process. This would have been no small task and would, in addition, have carried an associated risk of detection. Much easier than the composition of new frames would have been the simple excision of unaltered frames (at regular intervals) in order to hide the limousine stop. (Such frame excision might also have erased evidence for backward flying debris from the headshot.) Such frame excision would, of course, have accelerated JFK's backward movement, which is now seen as the head snap.

Wesley Liebeler, assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, recalled that the Warren Commission never paid much attention to the head snap. Furthermore, the film was hidden from public view until 1975 (twelve years later) and even then no official permission was granted to Geraldo Rivera for his public showing. Such reticence suggests that the editors were not eager to share their product with the public. Perhaps there was a genuine fear that the head snap would suggest a frontal shot, but because the editors were assured that the public would not see it, they may have decided that nothing further was necessary.

In conclusion, without knowing what the original film actually showed, we can only speculate on the difficulties faced by the forgers. Those who emphasize the self-defeating result of the head snap (as suggesting a shot from the front) must ask themselves what technical problems the forgers faced and also whether they were told that the public would not see the film. So long as these answers remain unknown, not too much emphasis can be placed on the head snap as a proof of authenticity. This is particularly so since the head snap was not spontaneously reported either by Dealey Plaza witnesses, or by early viewers of the film, such as Schwartz, Rather, and DeLoach. Finally, the reversal of the critical frames Z-314 and Z-315, when published by the Warren Commission, does suggest that the head snap was a concern even in 1964.

The final headshot most likely struck when JFK was sitting erect. This is based both on eyewitness testimony and on the lateral skull X-rays. The trail of metallic debris actually rises from front to back within the skull, a most unlikely trajectory for a frontal shot that occurred with JFK's head tilted forward as seen in Z-312. Supporters of two immediately successive headshots (at Z-312 and at Z-313, approximately) have never seriously faced this objection. On the contrary, the X-rays argue strongly for a headshot while JFK was sitting erect (or nearly erect) such as near the end of the head snap (at Z-321 in the extant film). Furthermore, those eyewitnesses who comment at all on this issue, especially the Secret Service agents who rode in the follow-up car, also recall that JFK was erect at the moment of the final headshot.

My own interpretation of all of the evidence is that JFK was hit first in the head from the rear while slumped forward such as in Z-312, then struck in the head for a second time (but from the front) while sitting erect. Such a posterior headshot has been strongly supported by the pathologists for over 35 years but they persistently ignored evidence for the second headshot. Only the second headshot produced a spray of blood; not enough blood could have accumulated before the first shot to give rise to such a visible spray. The bloody spray now seen at Z-313 was probably imported from the image of the second headshot (which is no longer seen in the film).

Technical challenges.

• It has been argued that:

• There was insufficient time for a tedious and lengthy editing task.

• No optical printers existed for enlarging 8 mm film and no precedent existed for such manipulation with 8 mm film,

• The available light sources were too weak to enlarge an 8 mm film.

• The multiple generations required for such a process, first enlargement from 8 mm, then film alteration, and then reduction again to 8 mm, would have yielded too much contrast build-up through multiple generations of copying, especially for a final copy on Kodachrome II

• Available film was not fast enough for such enlargement.

These are all serious objections, some of which admittedly cannot be answered easily or with finality:

1. Regarding the length of time required for the final product, my own view is that the editing went on for a long while. After the initial weekend, there is no record of a screening again until 25 February 1964. This provides a rather long time interval (two months) for completion of the alterations. It is not likely that the work was completed overnight, or even within a few days. It is even possible that no alteration was done within the first few days. Only several frames were published in Life magazine within the early weeks. These must have been retained unchanged, but most frames were not published at all in these early issues of Life.

2. We know from the testimony of Moses Weitzman, who for some time employed Robert Groden, that optical printers existed (at least by the late 1960's) that could enlarge 8 mm film. We also know now, contrary to Robert Groden's earlier protestations, that such a process could have captured the intersprocket image. To clinch this argument, the "home movie" portion of the Zapruder film, a known copy (not the original) does contain intersprocket images (although seriously degraded), thus proving that the intersprocket image could be copied. Although there may have been no precedent for enlargement of 8 mm film, the commercial firms in existence (Bob Colburn, Moses Weizman) were able to perform such enlargements, some of which were done for Life magazine within a few days; these latter may have been done by Colburn (Twyman 1997, p. 56).

3. Regarding the strength of available light sources, Homer McMahon told the ARRB that he produced 8'x10 still enlargements of single frames. It was apparently 'routine for NPIC to perform such blowups from very small negatives. If sufficiently powerful light sources were not available on standard optical or contact printers, is it possible that NPIC equipment (or similar equipment) was used for such blowups? Is it even possible that some of these 8'x10 frames created by McMahon were employed in the process of alteration? If so, construction of a custom optical (or contact) printer, used in a manual frame-by-frame mode, may have been required. It should also be recalled that the work required on the Zapruder film (about 25 seconds) is worlds away from a full Hollywood feature such as Mary Poppins (1964); for the extant Zapruder film, fewer than 500 frames exist, and many of these may have needed no alteration at all. Finally, Zavada's report (Study 3, p. 5) states that a 150-300 watt lamp was used on the Bell & Howell Model J printer (presumably used to make the first day copies). But this could be customized for higher output in order to increase printing speeds. If so, then perhaps its light output could also have been adjusted when working with 8 mm film.

4. From his own experiments, Zavada reported that copying showed "tremendously effective retention of resolution" through three generations of contact printing (using modem film and chemicals), although tones were off by the third generation. He also noted that the first 60 batches of Kodachrome II (from 1961, the batch used by Zapruder) had lower contrast and longer exposure latitude than later batches. This would have increased the possibility of copying in 1963 without building up excess contrast. Furthermore, the chemicals used at that time (not available at present) would have contributed to increased fidelity during copying. In other words, both the film and chemicals used in 1963 would have increased the probability of copying through multiple generations without detection. Zavada concluded (R.J. Zavada, "JFK Photographic Evidence," September 1998, p. 25): "The 1963 film process combination had a greater opportunity to yield good quality than our practical test. The Secret Service copies attest to this fact. One of our limitations was that the Kodak Qualex Laboratory ceased processing Kodachrome Movie film in 1997, requiring us to use a test process yielding slightly different toe characteristics." [Authors note: The word "toe" here refers to the left side of the characteristic curve of the film.]

5. Although there is merit to the argument that available film was not fast enough (for enlarging 8 mm film), what is not known is whether commercial printers were actually used. For example, if custom printers (perhaps in a manual mode) had been used with potent light sources (such as those employed by McMahon to produce the NPIC prints), then the argument becomes moot in this manual mode, longer exposure times could compensate for film speeds that were too slow.

Only after a good deal of effort did I discover that copying X-rays in 1963 was entirely different from today (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 120-137). In particular, the available film in 1963 made it quite easy to alter X-rays, and to do so without detection. Is it conceivable that the technical factors for Kodachrome II (both film and available chemicals) in 1963 made alteration easier then than it would be now? Zavada's statement implies that the answer is certainly yes. What is less certain is whether these factors were sufficiently different to make it fully feasible (as it was for the X-rays). In face of the current absence of 1963 film and chemicals, this question may never be answered.

Several observers have suggested that Kodachrome II film is distinctive and can be recognized at a glance by an expert. But others, Jamieson among them (and Jack White, too) say that it is not that simple, that a side-by-side comparison of the two would be required. In this case, of course, that is not possible: the out-of-camera film appears to be missing. The next best comparison would be the original home movie (taken on the same roll of film by Zapruder) vs. the extant film now stored in the National Archives. Unfortunately, and despite the efforts of the ARRB, the original home movie segment has never been located. If this were ever located, this comparison, using a full battery of chemical and physical tests, could put the question of authenticity finally to bed.

Psychological issues: altering the film for a cover-up is too great a risk for any reasonable person to take. Since this is a psychological argument no final answer is possible, but many lines of evidence suggest otherwise. What if this rational person were ordered to alter frames? To raise the ante, what if he were not told the significance of the particular step he was asked to perform, or perhaps was given a cover story that seemed credible? Then what would he do? Would our rational man decline to do such work, merely because he vaguely suspected foul play? And what would he do if his career were at risk?

Similar issues arise in the case of the photographs taken by the Dallas police of the Oswald evidence. John Armstrong has made a powerful case that these photographs were extensively altered. Why would anyone do this when they faced a serious risk if caught? This JFK case also contains convincing evidence of altered documents (items that emerged from the FBI). The paper bag that supposedly surrounded Oswald's rifle is a case in point: one FBI document reports that it matched the paper at the Book Depository while another reports the exact opposite. Logically, at least one of these is a probable forgery. So the same question arises: why would someone take this risk? Although the question cannot be answered specifically in these cases, it is nonetheless apparent that someone did take just such a risk.

The autopsy photographs and X-rays raise identical issues. Based on the recent ARRB interviews, both with the pathologists and with newly discovered witnesses, the evidence for photographic alteration is now very difficult to ignore. My own work on the X-rays (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 120-137), which was reviewed without suggested changes by Kodak's Director of Medical Physics, is still a powerful indictment of the X-rays. The ARRB directed precise questions about the X-rays at pathologists Humes and Boswell while they viewed them; their answers provide astonishing corroboration (often at great personal embarrassment for them) for X-ray alteration, just as I had predicted based on my own studies of the X-rays.

So the question is similar: if government employees were willing to alter autopsy X-rays and photographs, willing to alter Oswald evidence photographs and related documents, why would they be unwilling to alter a movie film? Particularly if provided with a cover story, would they truly choose this moment to dig their feet into some vaguely defined ethical ground? What is particularly ironic about this argument is that some individuals who advance it actually believe that the photographs and/or X-rays were altered, or that the Oswald evidence has been forged. Such a view is not logically consistent.

Secrecy of this sort is impossible; someone would have told by now. This statement assumes that no one has told, but that is probably not true. I have previously described a personal encounter (Assassination Science 1998, p. 341) in which a purported former CIA employee claimed contemporaneous knowledge of film alteration. His name is Oswald LeWinter and his association with the CIA was reported in 1998, both in American tabloids and in respectable European newspapers, regarding documents that may be germane to Princess Diana's death. I have also received a handwritten note from someone who claims to know the perpetrators' identities; the names of several suspects were even listed. [Editor's note: I received similar correspondence, which I forwarded to the Department of Justice. For my efforts, I received a form letter in reply.]

This information was also forwarded to Douglas P. Home at the ARRB. Based on a telephone call, he suspected that this trail led nowhere. Whether this is sufficient follow-up I do not know. More recently, the French journalist, William Reymond, has seen a clearly different version of the film in France. What is striking is his description of specific motorcade events that are not seen in the extant film (such as the tum at Houston and Elm), and the fact that eyewitnesses had previously reported these same events. Since Reymond apparently had not known about the eyewitness reports, his screening of this film becomes even more meaningful. All of these events at least raise doubts about whether the secrets have been kept.

The larger question, though, is whether major secrets can be kept for long intervals of time. Many lines of evidence suggest that this is not only possible, but for bureaucracies, is surprisingly common (John Ralston Paul, Voltaire's Bastards 1992). Gary L. Aguilar, M.D., has recently reminded us that Daniel Ells berg, who released the Pentagon Papers, recalls that in 1964 at least 100 people knew the same information that he disclosed in 1971, yet no one said anything about it before he did ("Ellsberg Remembers," The Nation (27 May 1997), p. 7).

On the morning that the first nuclear bomb was exploded in the New Mexico desert in 1945, Mrs. Leslie Groves received a telephone call. The caller suggested that she listen to the radio during the day since one of her family members would be in the news. Not knowing what to expect, and not even knowing which family member was meant, she was shocked to learn that her husband, General Leslie Groves, had been the military director of the Manhattan Project. Many others at Los Alamos, to say nothing of family and friends, honored this same state of secrecy. Neither the public nor the media knew any significant details of this project during the several years that it continued, or if they did know, they also kept the secret.

Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary tried (irresponsibly) to take credit for exposing the (unethical, by today's standards) radiation experiments that began in the 1940's. However, it was only through the persistent and courageous work of Eileen Welsome of The Albuquerque Tribune that this matter came to light ("The Plutonium Experiment," The Albuquerque Tribune 1993, Eileen Welsome). My files contain numerous examples of medical misbehavior over several decades about which no one ever said anything for many years. Without Welsome we may never have learned about the radiation experiments either. Furthermore, these experiments were performed at blue ribbon universities and institutions. In each of these cases the secret was kept for many years, and often kept by many.

Walter Goodman ("Mass Media: The Generation of the Lie," All Honorable Men 1963, Chapter 4) recalls the TV quiz shows of that era. Congressional hearings were conducted and participants (at all levels) were questioned under oath. New York County District Attorney Frank Hogan (interim HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Tanenbaum later worked in the same office) reported that of 150 contestants on Tic-Tac-Dough and Twenty-One, no fewer than 100 had lied about getting answers. Would we have known any of this without Herbert Stempel? Could we even, especially during that era have believed it? Nor can it be said that disclosure was inevitable, since the shows were losing popularity and their long-term survival was becoming less certain.

Eyewitnesses are unreliable. This claim has been repeated so often that scarcely anyone dares question it. Although the statement is often true there are, in fact, important exceptions. I have always granted the obvious: eyewitnesses are not very good at identifying a human face only briefly glimpsed (e.g., purported witnesses to Oswald sightings such as Howard Brennan and Helen Markham), nor are they reliable at recalling a complex sequence of events. The human brain is simply not programmed for such tasks. On the other hand, when a simple and important event occurs, humans can be quite remarkable for recalling it with consistency and with accuracy. In the heat of debate, it is precisely this fact that is forgotten.

As a physician who specializes in the treatment of cancer, I routinely take medical histories from patients and family members. If there is one thing I have learned in medicine over the decades it is simply to listen and let the patient tell his own story. Almost always, by the time he has finished, the diagnosis is obvious.

If humans are so unreliable as eyewitnesses, then how is it that they can be so reliable, and so consistent, when telling their own stories? The answer is simple: they really do recall these medical events, events that are usually uncomplicated and that are also very important to them. If eyewitnesses were so unreliable, then a patient's diagnosis should not typically be evident after a brief medical history but, in fact, it is.

As a sports fan, I occasionally reminisce about major sports events with friends or family. During these conversations I have never encountered an occasion where the precise details of what happened became a major issue-the kind that would send us scurrying to the sports history books or to a video replay. On the contrary, for an event that was significant for both of us, the facts were never in doubt; the conversation instead centered on what happened before and after the main event, but especially on the significance of the event. How is it possible that we could so easily agree on the central facts if eyewitnesses have such poor recall for events? The fact is that they don't, at least not for events that are reasonably simple and that are also significant in some way to the viewer.

The Lincoln assassination has long held interesting parallels to the Kennedy assassination (Richard Belzer, UFOs, JFK, and Elvis 1999, p. 92). In this case, the events at Ford's Theater, the pursuit of Booth, his capture, the subsequent hanging of conspirators, various authors mostly agree upon these primary details. And such agreement has persisted for many years, despite the absence of photographs of these events (aside from the hangings). How is this possible if eyewitnesses are so unreliable? Or are we merely simpletons to believe these tales?

Another striking example of eyewitness credibility has recently reached the media. During this very weekend (14-16 May 1999) the descendants of Sally Heming's have been invited to join Thomas Jefferson's descendants at a Monticello reunion. 3 This event, which would have been miraculous, only several years ago, has arisen due to DNA comparisons between a living descendent of Sally Heming's youngest son, Eston, and five acknowledged Jefferson family descendants ("Jefferson fathered slave's last child," Nature 396: 27; November 5, 1998). The same Y chromosome markers were found in each. This has led most scholars, even former skeptics, to concede that Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Heming's.

This is an astounding turnabout for professional historians, almost none of who had taken this relationship seriously. Dumas Malone, who spent 40 years writing a multi-volume biography (Jefferson, the Virginian 1948), had previously denounced this story as "filth" and "virtually unthinkable in a man of Jefferson's moral standards." Willard Sterne Randall (1993) called the story "one of America's most durable myths, unproven and unprovable." How Randall knew this story to be a myth if it could not be proved, or correspondingly disproved, he was too arrogant to explain. Jefferson's most recent biographer, Joseph J. Ellis, also originally rejected this liaison.

That these respected biographers could all reach the same wrong conclusion was possible at least partly because they all ignored a long standing oral tradition within the Heming's clan that Jefferson was indeed the father of some, if not all, of Sally's children. How many of these authors interviewed any of Sally's descendants, examined their photographs, or tried to trace the story in any way? Randall's biography does not even mention such possible avenues of research. This episode of gross ignorance also reminds us of the danger of believing authorities when evidence is lacking, no matter how often they speak, no matter their credentials, and no matter how many of them line up in a row. In this case their personal biases overcame their professional training as historians.

Eyewitnesses in the Professional Literature

Is there any evidence in the professional literature regarding witness reliability for items that are relatively simple and salient? For this answer we tum to a remarkable publication. Elizabeth Loftus has summarized this paper (Eyewitness Testimony 1996, p. 25); ironically, the dust jacket of her book questions the reliability of eyewitnesses. Contrary to the dust jacket, however, the original University of Michigan paper by Marshall, Marquis, and Oskamp (Harvard Law Review 84: 1620 (1971)) makes a startlingly powerful case for eyewitness reliability, providing that certain conditions are met.

Marshall et al. showed a two-minute, home made, color movie film with sound to 151 "witnesses." Within minutes of their viewing they gave a "free report," during which the interrogator said almost nothing. In individual interviews held in private rooms they were asked to be as accurate and complete as possible, with the understanding that the interviewer had not seen the movie. After this, they were examined using one of four types of questions:

1. Open-ended with moderate guidance.

2. Open-ended with high guidance.

3. Structured, multiple-choice questions.

4. Structured leading questions.

In addition, half of the witnesses encountered a supportive atmosphere whereas the other half met a hostile atmosphere. To assess salience of specific items, a second group (high school students and members of the survey staff) were asked to recall as many as possible of the 900 items in the movie; if more than 50% of these viewers reported a particular item it was labeled highly salient. The conclusions of this study are as follows.

The first surprise was that the experimental atmosphere, whether hostile or supportive, had no important effect on either the accuracy or completeness of the testimony. In the free report format, the accuracy of the witnesses was never less than 95% for any degree of salience, and it was 99% for highly salient items. And for these items, it made little difference how the questions were asked: the accuracy ranged from 96 to 99%.

The free report format yielded the lowest completeness, 70% for highly salient items. For these items, higher levels of completeness were found for moderate guidance (84%), high guidance (88%), multiple choice (98%), and leading (98%) questions. The greater the salience, the less was the effect of different types of interrogation on accuracy. Also, as salience increased there was only a small increase in completeness. The authors note that the trade-off between accuracy and completeness was much less than expected; in fact, coverage could increase a great deal while accuracy declined only slightly.

Accuracy and completeness were also assessed by type of item: person, action, sound, and object. In the free report, accuracy for sounds was 92%, while the other formats ranged from 78% to 90%. For actions, the most pertinent item for the JFK motorcade, accuracy remained high with moderate guidance (97%) or even with high guidance (94%). For actions, completeness was as follows: free report (28%), moderate guidance (38%), high guidance (42%), multiple choice (86%), and leading (87%). These researchers concluded: "Our witnesses were able to testify with impressive ability. For instance, those confronted with leading interrogation in a challenging atmosphere testified with approximately 83% accuracy and 84% coverage."

The astonishing reliability of these witnesses is quite remarkable: it is totally contrary to the traditional view of eyewitness unreliability. What made these witnesses so reliable? The authors note that an immediate interview is different from the usual courtroom situation, which often occurs months or even years after the event. This promptness, no doubt, improved the performances of the witnesses. The authors also add, however, that salience is a major factor and they emphasize that prior studies had often investigated non-salient items.4

What relevance does this have for the JFK assassination? It is highly relevant. Many of these witnesses recalled the motorcade events, not months or years later, but within a brief period, sometimes even within minutes, just as in the experiment. Even more importantly though they described salient actions, such as whether or not the motorcade stopped, or which direction JFK moved in the limousine at certain critical moments. And, finally, they described items that were rather simple, easily within the ability of the human brain to recall without great difficulty.

In fact, the events seen in the two-minute movie in the experiment were distinctly more complex than a simple question of whether the motorcade stopped, or whether JFK moved forward or backward with the final headshot. Therefore, contrary to what adherents of film authenticity have claimed, the Marshall experiment has shown convincingly that eyewitnesses (and ear witnesses, too) can accurately recall simple and important events. This Marshall study has taught us that a blanket statement of eyewitness unreliability is simple minded, we must instead ask what is being demanded of our witnesses. When the items are simple and salient, and recall is prompt, they can do remarkably well.

The Chief Arguments Against Authenticity

Time constraints prohibit a review of much germane evidence against authenticity that has accumulated during the past several years. I have selected the arguments presented here based on my perception of their strength as well on as my familiarity with them. Other critics of the film would doubtless have a somewhat different list.

The Dealey Plaza witnesses (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 273-275)

2In my prior essay I listed ten witnesses (of many eligible candidates) who reported a limousine stop. For this effort I was primarily criticized for using an indirect quote for Chaney (instead of a direct one). In reply, I would ask a more direct question: what did the ten closest witnesses report? First, did they describe the movement at all? Then secondly, what did they see? It is quite striking that each of these ten witnesses did describe what the limousine was doing; this would not have been expected if the limousine had traveled at a nearly uniform speed, as the Zapruder film suggests. This uniformity of the closest witnesses is also remarkable though because many Dealey Plaza witnesses are not known to have commented on the limousine. These latter, however, were uniformly farther from the limousine, some much farther away, and might therefore not have paid as close attention to the limousine as the closest witnesses.

But all ten of the closest witnesses did comment quite explicitly, and they all saw it either stop, or nearly stop. Their comments show no equivocation. These witnesses (in no particular order) and their statements follow. The Newman's are counted only once.

• Bobby Hargis: "At that time [just before a shot to the head] the Presidential car slowed down. I heard somebody say, 'Get going.' I felt blood hit me in the face and the Presidential car stopped immediately after that" (6H294). " ...I felt blood hit me in the face, and the Presidential car stopped immediately after that and stayed stopped about half a second, then took off at a high rate of speed.'' (Trask 1994, p. 209, who quotes from an interview with The Dallas Times Herald.)

• B.J. Martin: He saw the limousine stop for "...just for a moment." (Newcomb and Adams, Murder from Within 1974, unpublished, p. 71.)

• Douglas Jackson: "...the car just all but stopped ...just a moment."(Newcomb and Adams 1974, p. 71.)

• James Chaney: "...from the time the first shot rang out, the car stopped completely, pulled to the left and stopped" (2H44-45, 3H266). Marrion Baker, his fellow officer, attributed this quotation to Chaney. Mark Lane confirmed that Chaney had indeed said this (2H45) and Lane then added" ...[it] seemed to be so generally conceded by almost everyone that the automobile came to, almost came to a complete halt after the first shot, did not quite stop, but almost did."

• Bill Newman: "I believe Kennedy's car came to a full stop after the final shot." (Bill Sloan, Breaking the Silence 1993, p. 169.) "...I've maintained that they stopped. I still say they did. It was only a momentary stop, but..."

• (Newcomb and Adams 197 4, p. 96, who cite an interview by Mary Woodward in the Dallas Morning News, 11/23/63; also see Jim Marrs, Crossfire 1989, p. 70.)

• Mary Moorman: "She recalls that the President's automobile was moving at the time she took the second picture, and when she heard the shots, and has the impression that the car either stopped momentarily or hesitated and then drove off in a hurry." (22H838-839; Harold Weisberg, Photographic Whitewash 1967, p. 160.)

• Jean Hill: "...the motorcade came almost to a halt at the time the shots rang out... It [the limousine] was just almost stopped" (6H208-209).

• Charles Brehm: "...between the first and second shots the President's car only seemed to move some 10 or 12 feet. It seemed ... that the automobile almost came to a halt after the first shot ... "(22H837-838).

• Alan Smith: "The car was ten feet from me when a bullet hit the President in the forehead... the car went about five feet and stopped." (Newcomb and Adams 1974, p. 71, who cite The Chicago Tribune, 11/23/63, p. 9.)

• Mary Woodward: "Apparently the driver and occupants of the President's car had the same impression because instead of speeding up, the car came to a halt after the first shot." (2H43; Dallas Morning News, 11/23/63; also see Marrs 1989, p. 28.)

That all of these closest witnesses comment at all on the limousine movement, independent of the type of movement, is, by 'itself, extraordinary. In view of Marshall, these witnesses clearly considered the limousine movement to be a salient feature of the entire event. This is totally contrary to what devotees of film authenticity would have us believe about the motion of the limousine. Furthermore, the witnesses' actual words leave no room for a slight deceleration. Instead, they uniformly described a dramatic deceleration, and for many of them it was a literal stop. Furthermore, all four of the closest motorcyclists agreed that the limousine stopped; since they were riding immediately beside the limousine and trying to mimic its speed, they, of all people, should be reliable witnesses.

If witnesses can indeed recall simple and important events, this surely must be one of them. Why would all ten closest witnesses recall the same event in the same way, unless that was really what had happened? And why would all four of the closest motorcyclists invent such a stop if none existed? Readers who have watched the extant Zapruder film might ask themselves: would they have commented at all on the limousine speed? If so, what would they have said? Would they have reported either a stop (most unlikely) or even a near stop (unlikely)?

There are many more witnesses to the stop than those listed above ("59 Witnesses: Delay on Elm Street," The Dealey Plaza Echo 312, July 1999, Vince Palamara, pp. 1-7). [Editor's note: This study appears elsewhere in this volume.] In fact, virtually every witness who commented on the limousine movement recalled a stop or a near stop. Moreover, this stop was widely taken for granted at the time; it was reported contemporaneously in the media (Newsweek, 2 December 1963, p. 2 and Time, 29 November 1963, p. 23), by later biographers (UP/'s Four Days 1964; William Manchester, The Death of a President 1967; Jim Bishop, The Day Kennedy Was Shot 1968) and, much later, even by the media's current hero of lone assassin aficionados, Gerald Posner, who describes the limousine stop as follows: "Incredibly, Greer sensing that something was wrong in the back of the car slowed the vehicle to almost a standstill" (Case Closed 1993, p. 234). How Posner squares this astonishing statement with his presumed acceptance of the film he does not bother to explain.

The head snap was spontaneously described neither by the Dealey Plaza witnesses nor by early viewers of the film. In the recent past, moreover, the jet effect as an explanation for the head snap has been fully discredited in independent experiments performed by Arthur Snyder, Ph.D. and Doug DeSalles, M.D. It can no longer be offered as a viable explanation for the head snap. In addition, a long list of arguments against that particular explanation has been previously recounted (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 279-284). The other explanation offered by Warren Commission supporters, the neuromuscular reaction, has never received any credible support from appropriate experts in the neurosciences. The many arguments against it are also recounted in Assassination Science (1998, pp. 279-284). Nothing new has emerged to resuscitate this idea. Jackie's simultaneous head snap (originally noted by Itek; see Assassination Science 1998, p. 283) remains a mystery as well, unless film alteration is accepted. In summary, none of the traditional explanations can account for the head snap. By itself, this argument alone requires that film alteration be taken seriously.

The traditional Warren Commission critic, for years, has taken the head snap as an obvious proof of a frontal shot. 'ltek originally pointed out, however, that this simply could not work, mainly because it is not a simple matter of transferring energy from the bullet to the motion of the head. The problem is that JFK's head (and upper torso, too) must be lifted substantially against gravity. This requires a great deal of energy, energy that is no longer available for the kinetic energy of the head. These calculations demonstrate that the energy left over cannot reproduce the head snap of the Zapruder film.

I found this to be true even after I revised some of Itek's anatomic values. [Editor's note: This is one of many manifestations of the importance of the author's expertise in both medicine and physics.] Unfortunately, no one else, to my knowledge, has corroborated these calculations, even after all of these years. In summary, then, these arguments about the head snap leave believers of film authenticity in a very difficult position. They are left with no explanation for the most remarkable feature of the film, the head snap.

Many witnesses describe an erect posture at the instant of the final headshot, after which JFK is commonly described as slumping forward. Such witnesses, mostly Secret Service agents in the follow-up car, are Schwartz, Ault, Hargis, Hickey, Kinney, Landis (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 289-290) these descriptions of erect posture are totally inconsistent with the Zapruder film, in which the (single) headshot occurs when JFK is slumped forward and to the left. But when the question is raised (as it rarely is) about what posture the witnesses saw at the moment of the headshot, none of them describe JFK as slumped over. This issue, so striking when it is considered, has received almost no discussion whatsoever.

Those witnesses who do describe JFK's position at the moment of the headshot describe him as sitting erect. And most of these then go on to describe how JFK next slumped forward (probably for a second time). How is it possible for such a simple, and memorable event to be remembered so incorrectly (if authenticity devotees are correct) by so many relevant witnesses, especially in view of Marshall's research? This simple recollection should not tax the abilities of human memory, nor is it so inconsequential that it would be forgotten. In fact, it is just the kind of incident, one with simple actions and salient events according to Marshall, that witnesses would recall. In fact witnesses do recall these events with remarkable consistency. If there were no Zapruder film, how would the assassination be described in history books? It is likely that the Zapruder version would be unknown.

The early re-enactments

I will say rather little here about the first two reenactments, for which I previously cited (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 305-308) the meticulous articles by Daryll Weatherly (The Investigator, Winter 1994-95, p. 6) and Chuck Marler (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 249-261). Their work has, unfortunately, received little attention, but also little criticism. The point is simple, these re-enactments as well as associated documents and eyewitness statements, place the final head shot (the second, in my view) about 30 to 40 feet further down Elm Street than Z-313. Warren Commission data tables actually place the final shot at 294 ft. from the "sniper's" window, not the 265 ft. that corresponds to Z-313. This greater distance of about 294 ft. was actually identified in a photograph (Figure 1) printed in Newsweek (pp. 74-75) as recently as 22 November 1993. In summary, the data tables, documents, and figures from these early re-enactments remain powerful corroboration for the alteration of the film. The evidence is so powerful, in fact, that proponents of authenticity usually ignore it. There is little else for them to do.

Inconsistencies with other photographic evidence

This substantial area can be addressed only briefly here. Jack White has discovered new, and astonishingly robust, evidence, based on a simple reenactment he performed in Dealey Plaza. In the famous Moorman Polaroid, taken immediately after a headshot, Jack noticed the geometric pattern in the background arcade over JFK's head. He also noticed Zapruder's pedestal in the foreground and he recognized that, by lining up both of these features, it was possible to locate Moorman (actually Moorman's eye) very precisely at the moment she took her picture. Although her distance from the arcade remained uncertain, her lateral and vertical position could be determined quite exactly. [Editor's note: White's newer discoveries, some quite astonishing, appear elsewhere in this volume.]

When I attempted to reproduce this I was astonished. As I lined up one corner of the pedestal with a chosen point on the background arcade, I could immediately see that this technique was exquisitely sensitive to even slight head movements. The smallest movement of my head put it out of alignment. So I lined it up precisely and then placed a knife in the ground to mark the exact lateral position. Then I moved a short distance away, and without looking at the ground, attempted to reproduce what I had just done. To my amazement, I could do this repeatedly to within an inch, just as Jack had implied. Next I looked at the vertical location. It was immediately obvious that I had to crouch far down in the grass in order to reproduce the image seen in the Moorman photo. I stepped onto the street immediately adjacent to the curb, and discovered that I still had to crouch quite a lot.

On a subsequent visit, I was able to use as a model a young woman who was only slightly taller than Moorman. When standing on the grass south of Elm St. (Figure 2), she had to crouch a good deal in order for her eye to reproduce the background alignment of the Moorman photo. Next she stepped onto the street:

Newsweek image

Figure 1. This astonishing photograph, from Newsweek (22 November 1993), shows the final heads hot at 30-40 feet further down Elm Street than frame Z-313 (the supposed final headshot). This downhill location is strongly suggested by early re-enactments as well as data tables and documents, all of which the Warren Commission ignored.

Even here she had to crouch a bit (Figure 3). Jack White has determined that several, if not many, layers of blacktop have been added to Elm Street since 1963, thus raising it by several inches. These successive layers were obvious to me, too, when I looked for them. Now here is the paradox: the Zapruder film shows Moorman standing upright on the grass during her photo, with the camera held to her eye. Based on our reenactments this was impossible, she should have been crouching, in a rather obvious fashion, or the camera should have been held well below eye level. Jack was able to explain this however. By Moorman's own account, she was not standing on the grass when she took this photo she was on the street. In 1997, Mary Ann Moorman Krahmer was interviewed by KRLD; Debra Conway supplied the interview.

Moorman: Uh, just immediately before the presidential car came into view, we were, you know, there was just tremendous excitement. And my friend who was with me, we were right ready to take the picture. And she's not timid. She, as the car approached us, she did holler for the president, "Mr. President, look this way!" And I'd stepped out off the curb into the street to take the picture. And snapped it immediately. And that evidently was the first shot. You know, I could hear the 'sound and'...

Jones: Now when you heard the sound, did you immediately think 'rifle shot?'

Moorman: Oh no. 'A firecracker maybe. There was another one just immediately following, which I still thought was a firecracker. And then I stepped back up on to the grassy area. I guess just, people were falling around us, you know. Knowing something was wrong. I certainly didn't know what was wrong.

These are Moorman's own words; she stepped into the street to take her Polaroid picture. As if for emphasis, she also recalls not just stepping back onto the grass, but precisely when she did so. In fact, based on our re-enactments and without the additional layers of blacktop, it is likely that Moorman could have stood erect in the street, with the camera to her eye, while taking the photo, just as she recalled. It is unusual in this JFK case to make a prediction, and then later to have it verified so precisely by a statement directly from the mouth of the pertinent witness.

So what happened to Moorman in the Zapruder film? When these composite Zapruder frames were formed, the composition experts placed her on the grass, instead of in the street. Whether they moved her laterally (and, if so, why) is still confirmation that at least several composite frames were made. Anyone can go into Dealey Plaza and check this out independently, as I was able to do in a few seconds. To my knowledge, this argument remains un-refuted. (See Figures 2 and 3.)

Moorman standing image

Figure 2. This shows how Mary Moorman would have had to stoop during her famous photograph if the Zapruder film were authentic and she was standing on the grass.

Moorman standing image

Figure 3. Where Moorman actually stood, by her own words, although the road has been repaved multiple times in the interval. Without these additional layers, she could probably have stood erect, with the camera to her eye, just as she is shown in the Zapruder film.

Internal evidence: film maps of the extant film and the two SS copies. The following new information derives from an ARRB memorandum (dated 9 April 1997) by Douglas Horne,and also from observations made at the National Archives by Harry Livingstone 4 and Doug Mizzer. In the chain-of-custody affidavits that were signed in Dallas after the assassination, a Kodak laboratory official identified the out-of-camera film as perforated by the number 0183 (which was placed at the time of development). Unfortunately, the exact site of this perforation on the film was not identified in the affidavit. The extant film (i.e., the purported original film currently in the National Archives) does not contain any perforated number. But since this number 0183 was photographically copied (or printed) onto Secret Service (SS) copies # 1 and 2 after the home movie segment, this seemed to imply that 0183 originally was punched only after the home movie segment. If true, then the absence of 0183 from the extant film (which shows only the motorcade) would be expected. According to Zavada, standard Kodak practice was to punch this processing number after the last image on the second side. If this practice had been followed with the Zapruder film, then a 0183 should have appeared after the motorcade side. None of the remaining numbers (the image of 0183, the punched 0186) coincide with this practice. A review of the intact original home movie side might prove enlightening; unfortunately, it remains un-located.

The chain-of-custody affidavits (for reasons unknown) do not mention serial number 0184, which remains a mystery because it has never been located and because the Kodak lab has no record of any roll of film that would correspond to it (critics have suggested that this was the Hunt copy). They do state that the numbers 0185, 0186, and 0187 were punched (one per copy) through the three copies made at the Jamieson laboratory on 22 November 1963. While SS copy #1 has no perforated number in it, SS copy #2 does have the number 0186 perforated through its black leader. This is the only perforated number currently present in any of the two SS copies, or the extant film.

In SS copy #2, this perforated number (0186) precedes the first portion of the motorcade segment. Curiously though, the number 0186, while physically continuous with the beginning of the motorcade segment, is separated from the actual motorcade images by a photographically copied (i.e., printed) splice. This image of a splice occurs only 12 1/4 inches after a physical splice (according to Livingstone's film map, Zavada's report does not contain this information). This photographic splice suggests that a physical splice was present (for reasons unknown) in the source material, supposedly the original film. This enigma is only exacerbated by the knowledge that the original was processed intact without removing the four-foot leader; as the Zavada report reminds us. This expected four-foot leader is seen neither in the extant film nor in SS #2. Instead the extant film contains three (sic) separate leaders each followed by a splice, after which the motorcade begins. This motorcade sequence includes 6' 3" of images and 2'7" of black film, with no splice between them. These distances obviously cannot explain the 12-114" interval seen on SS #2. Since SS #2 has earmarks of authenticity (e.g., 0186 punched through it, loading fog, and the pre-motorcade images), we would expect to see an image of the four-foot leader. None is seen, however, which suggests either that:

1. The Zavada report is wrong about the leader.

2. SS #2 is not a first day copy, despite its apparently authenticating features.

Thus, while the presence of the perforated number 0186 on SS #2 is consistent with the chain-of-custody affidavits, the presence of the photographically printed splice raises questions about the source film: was the source film really the out-of-camera original? If so, why did this source film contain a physical splice? If so, how and why did it get there? Or was the source film not the out-of camera original?

Because film is unavoidably exposed to light when it is loaded into a camera, all developed film should contain loading fog, but none is seen before the motorcade sequence in the extant film. However, examination of SS copies #1 and #2 reveals an explanation for this: most (all but a few frames) of the pre-motorcade segment (a green chair and three bystanders in Dealey Plaza) that is seen in both SS copies is absent from the extant film. Thus, no loading fog is present in the extant film because the pre-motorcade segment is missing, it appears to have been cut off.

On SS #2, the second portion of the motorcade has been separated from the first portion and actually precedes it in the present configuration. Between these two segments lie four physical splices and three sections of leader. The reason for this odd arrangement is unknown. 5 Because of the dense concentration of information in these paragraphs, I have assembled the following table. The LMH copy (the Life copy), supposed by Zavada to be a first day copy, is included in this table, based on a recent report by Zavada (see the Addendum):

Evidence Item SS#1 SS#2 LMH Copy Extant Film
Perforated Number No 0186 (a) No No (e)
Initial Fog Yes (b) Yes (c) No (d) No (e)
Terminal Fog Yes (f) Yes (f) Yes (f) No (e)
Image of 0183 Yes (g) Yes (g) Yes (g) N/A (h)

Table I. The Film Maps

In the following, the letters "a" through "h" correlate with the above table.

a. The perforated number 0186 is separated from the motorcade by a photographic splice, thus suggesting that a physical splice existed (for reasons unknown) in the source film (supposedly the original). The perforated number 0186 lies at the beginning of the motorcade side, an obvious inconsistency with the image of 0183, which lies at the end of the home movie side.

b. Initial fog is separated from the motorcade by a physical splice. Therefore earmarks of authenticity are not available. On the home movie side (for SS #1, SS #2, and LMH), no initial fog is seen, this portion has probably been cut off in each of the three copies.

c. Initial fog is followed by the pre-motorcade images (the green chair and three bystanders) and then the motorcade. Except for the photographic splice this sequence seems normal. An additional inconsistency, however, is the absence of an image of a four-foot leader; Zavada clearly states that this leader was not removed from the out-of-camera film before it was copied on the first day. If a four-foot leader was attached to the original film while it was copied, where is its image on the copy? Zavada does not address this additional conundrum.

d. Nothing before Z-214 exists in this copy.

e. Both the initial and terminal portion has been removed from the extant film.

f. Terminal fog follows the home movie segment.

g. The photographic image of 0183 follows the terminal fog on the home movie side.

h. This entry does not apply to the extant film, which should contain a punched number 0183 but no image of a number; an image of 0183 would only be expected in subsequent generations.

If the extant film and the two SS copies were authentic there should be no oddities in the above table. In fact there are many, as listed here.

1. Uninterrupted (i.e., no physical or photographic splices) loading fog does not precede the motorcade segment in SS #1, SS #2, or in the extant film.

2. In SS #2, fogged film and a perforated number 0186 are both present, which would ordinarily be earmarks of authenticity. However, a photographic splice is present where none should exist. Furthermore, an image of the four-foot leader (which was attached to the original film, according to Zavada) is missing. In addition, because this is the sole, normal, fogged sequence on any of the films, another question may be raised: rather than representing an image of fog from the original film, was this fog on SS # 1 caused by light striking SS # 1 directly? If so, this fog would provide no support for authenticity at all.

3. No perforated processing number (0183, 0185, 0186, and 0187) is continuous (i.e., no intervening physical or photographic splices) with the motorcade in any of the three copies or in the extant film...

4. Although the perforated number 0186 appears at the beginning of the motorcade side, the photographic image of 0183 appears at the end of the home movie side in SS #1, SS #2, and LMH.

5. The Zavada report states that the perforated number (e.g., 0183) omits photographic image, would ordinarily appear after the last image of the second side (the motorcade side). In fact, it appears at the end of the last image on the first side (the home movie side).

Internal evidence: in the Zapruder film, the intersprocket images extend to the left edge. 6 Zavada shot film through identical model cameras, using his wife as a model (see Zavada, page 33 of part 4, particularly Figure 4-26), and found that the intersprocket image did not extend nearly to the left edge. What is particularly relevant here is that Zavada's test camera was set on full telephoto, the same setting that Zapruder used throughout the motorcade. Most importantly, this particular photograph of Mrs. Zavada, standing in front of a garage door, was taken in full sunlight. The sequence that immediately follows shows a light colored garage door in the immediate background fully illuminated by sunlight. Such full illumination is critical because it increases the penetration of the image into the intersprocket area (as Zavada determined).

Why is it so critical that Zavada's intersprocket image does not extend all the way to the edge? Because the intersprocket images in the extant Zapruder film extend much farther, nearly to the very edge. An excellent example is frame Z-312, in which Jean Hill can be seen at the very edge, in clear disagreement with Zavada's simulation. This discrepancy between the Zapruder film and Zavada's simulation is consistent with the suggestion that some frames (at least) in the extant film have resulted from re-shooting, by using a magnified original as the image source. In particular, it would be possible to magnify the original image just enough so that the intersprocket image (from the original film) remained just outside of the captured image for the new film. As a result, of course, all objects in the new frame would be larger than they were in the original. If a composite image were formed, however, then some objects could have been returned to their original size (or any size desired by these specialists).

Such a re-shooting has the distinct merit of overcoming one major, and possibly otherwise insurmountable hurdle, the elimination of the telltale edge prints on the left side of the original film. Two such overlapping sets of edge prints, as a copy would otherwise unavoidably contain, would be prima facie proof that the altered film was a copy. These edge prints are placed at the time of manufacture and inevitably show up after development on all film.

But even more evidence exists on this score. When Zavada shot additional film of a gray wall through an identical model camera (again at full telephoto), this time using graduated f-stop settings, he found once again that the intersprocket images extended only partially to the left, not as far as in the extant Zapruder film (see Zavada's report, page 34 of part 4, including Figure 4 27). Zavada also determined that the penetration of the image into the intersprocket area depended on the aperture of the camera, i.e. on how wide open the iris was. The smaller the aperture (or the brighter the ambient light), the greater was the penetration.

Yet even Zavada (part 4, page 35) acknowledged: "Overexposure will show an increase in image penetration and extreme overexposure [emphasis added] can produce full penetration is possible (sic)." It hardly needs to be said-and no one has claimed that Zapruder's film shows such extreme overexposure (it does not). Despite this, however, the Zapruder film does show intersprocket images going to the edge of the film, in clear disagreement with Zavada's simulation. This evidence, therefore, constitutes compelling and independent evidence of film alteration. It would seem either that Zavada missed the significance of this evidence or that he was reluctant to address it.

Internal evidence: first frame overexposure (this issue was first raised by Doug Mizzer). Zavada addressed this issue by using several Bell & Howell cameras of the same model as Zapruder's camera. When the camera is stopped and then restarted it takes a finite amount of time for the motor to get up to normal speed. This, in tum, means that for a brief interval the frames will advance slower than normally. Because the frames are advancing slower, the exposure time will be longer for these frames and the images will appear lighter than usual (overexposure). At three separate occasions during the home movie sequence (supposedly on the same film as the motorcade sequence) this actually occurs, and at each occasion such overexposure is visible.

However, on the one occasion when the camera apparently stops during the motorcade just before the limousine appears) an overexposure is not visible. This inconsistency is remarkable and should normally have raised the question of whether the camera actually did stop, or whether the effect is absent because frames had been excised at this juncture. However, Zavada gives no hint of recognizing this central question of authenticity. He recognizes that there is no overexposure when the limousine appears, but he makes no attempt to explain it. (In his research, to give him some credit, however, he finds that not all tested Bell & Howell cameras showed this overexposure effect.)

Internal evidence: the differences among the three supposed copies of the film made by Jamieson on 22 November 1963. Two of these supposed copies are now held by the National Archives and listed as Secret Service copies# 1 and 2. I had previously described (Assassination Science 1998, p. 325) the differences in density between these two copies: Secret Service copy #1 is much darker than copy #2. Zavada confirmed this observation and tried to explain it. He proposed that exposure bracketing different exposures for each of the three copies-was used by Jamieson as a technique to assure that at least one of the three copies would show good fidelity.

There are two problems with this explanation:

1. The density difference between the two Secret Service copies is too large for such bracketing (this is actually stated in the Zavada report)

2. There is no documentation that such bracketing was done. In fact, the exact opposite is the case: Jamieson seemed quite sure that such exposure bracketing was not done, he recalled that the same printer light and filter pack were used for all three copies.

Greer's rapid head turn. This has been summarized well by Noel Twyman (Bloody Treason 1997). The driver's turn is far too rapid. Furthermore, as Twyman notes, the absence of blurring during such a rapid turn is often overlooked. Such absent blurring is, by itself, a powerful indictment of the film. All of this remains unexplained.

Toni Foster's peculiar stop: Z-321 to Z-322. Foster is the pedestrian in the background grass. Her lateral separation from the adjacent (ghost) motorcycle image is constant between these two frames. Because the camera is tracking the limousine, her image should undergo a regular and steadily growing displacement from the motorcycle image. It is obvious from preceding and following frames that this is exactly what happens, but it does not happen for these two frames. It's also apparent from nearby frames that Foster is not jumping to and fro within single frame intervals, so as to appear stationary between these two frames (1118 second), a physical impossibility in any case.

For all nearby frames, the motorcycle, the limousine, and other objects advance uniformly across the field of view, as they should, but Foster remains quite stuck for these two frames. She retains almost exactly the same lateral position. To the tracking camera she seems to stop within 1/18 second, and then immediately to resume her regular frame-to-frame displacement within the next 1/18 second. This physical impossibility cries out for an explanation, but none has been forthcoming from devotees of authenticity.

The trail of debris on the skull X-ray

This trail is totally inconsistent with a frontal head shot at Z-312 or Z-313. When JFK's head is tilted far forward, a shot from the knoll or from the storm drain on the north overpass (the latter is more likely) could not produce a bullet trail that rises from front to back with respect to the skull while JFK is tilted so far forward. Rather, such a shot should descend with respect to the skull (from front to back) in radical disagreement with the trail seen on the lateral skull X-ray. Only when the head is tilted back (e.g., at Z-321) could such a frontal shot produce such a trail. Obstinate adherents of the frontal shot (at about Z-313), as an explanation for the head snap prefer to ignore this paradox from the X-rays, just as they ignore the Itek arguments against a frontal shot as an explanation for the head snap.

Blur analysis by Weatherly.

Daryll Weatherly notes that many frames show a seemingly impossible paradox between the 'camera tracking as predicted by:

• The image content at the right side of two successive frames.

• The image clarity actually seen on the second of these frames.

("A New Look at the 'Film of the Century'," Harrison Livingstone, Killing Kennedy 1995, Appendix.) These paradoxes exist for both moving and stationary objects. Not only are the predictions of image clarity often wrong, but also sometimes they are exactly opposite to what is seen. Such paradoxes recur in many, many Zapruder frames but were not seen in the Giuliano and Edwards simulations in Dealey Plaza during my brief review. Aside from the proposal of film alteration, these blur analysis paradoxes remain unexplained. Zavada did not address this issue; for him, this required an analysis of film content, a subject that lay outside his technically limited mandate. My own analysis of many additional frames (unpublished) also frequently yields startling discrepancies. This is true for blurring seen both horizontally and vertically. One of Weatherly's examples is discussed next.

The right edge of the image is the same in Z-302 and Z-303; also, the highlights on the roll bar in both images are well defined, although they are somewhat sharper in the latter frame. These observations are consistent, they both indicate that the camera was tracking well. Therefore all moving objects (the limousine and motorcycle) should be well defined, which is the case. All is well so far. It should also be noted, however, that the background figures in the grass are also well defined in Z-303. Between Z-303 and Z-304 the camera falls slightly behind the limousine: in Z-304, more of the front of the limousine has been cut off. Therefore the tracking is not accurate, the camera has slowed down slightly. Since the camera is moving more slowly now, the background (stationary) observers should be seen more clearly (the camera is moving slower with respect to them than in the prior frame). But what is seen is not consistent with this, in fact, the background observers are obviously much less clear in Z-304 than in Z-303. No logical explanation has been offered for such singular features.

What Other Proofs of Inauthenticity Might Be Possible?

One possible proof would be the discovery of a film that shows (or even suggests) the leftover work of the forgers. There may actually be a candidate for this role, the odd 8 mm film given to me by David Lifton (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 321). Although this film, of uncertain ancestry, employs only frames from the extant film, many show a superposition of images or other odd features. For example, when Clint Hill tries to climb onto the back of the limousine, the curb can be seen through his leg. It is particularly striking that the manufacturing date of this film, based on the symbols in the edge prints, is 1941, 1961, or 1981.

The possibility that this film is left over from the actual forgery is conceivable for two reasons:

1. It is an 8 mm film.

2. The film could well have been manufactured in 1961, the same date as the extant film (both contain two triangles that identify the date of manufacture).

Proponents of authenticity have argued that it was difficult-perhaps even impossible for alterations to be made to an 8 mm film. But here is just such a film, it is in 8 mm format and it does contain irrefutable anomalies that may be proof of alteration. Furthermore, the film was almost certainly manufactured in 1961, so this copy could have been prepared as early as 1963. That this copy was made soon after the assassination is also supported by the manufacturer's date code (the year was 1963) on SS # 1, SS #2 and the LMH copy. Why would the date code of 1961 on this odd film precede the date on the Secret Service copies (especially if they really were first day copies)? On the other hand, if Lifton's copy were produced in 1981 (the next consistent date code) or later, what purpose would be served by making such an odd copy at such a late date?

Discovery of a film that shows more frames than the extant film (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 298-300)

A surprising number of individuals claim to have seen just such a film. The Zavada report itself, indirectly, raises this very question. Early on 23 November 1963, two FBI agents came to Kodak to view the film for about one hour. They counted frames, cursed the sign, and exclaimed when bullets (plural) impacted between JFK's flinches. Such precision, even to the point of counting frames, is certainly not simple based on the extant film. To complete all of this in one hour, using the extant film would actually be a remarkable achievement. If they truly succeeded in this on the original film, then the subsequent jiggle analyses would have been unnecessary, one could instead simply have counted JFK's flinches. Such an achievement raises the possibility that they were viewing a different film. One of the Kodak staff members, interviewed for the Zavada report, also recalled that he (and Zapruder, too) could see three distinct jumps by JFK, from which they concluded that at least three shots had been fired. That conclusion would be very difficult to draw from the extant film. Furthermore, three successful shots, and one missed shot (that hit James Tague) would immediately require a second gunman. If three shots were indeed seen in the original, then that, by itself, may have been sufficient reason for the forgers to alter the film.

More recently, several additional witnesses (including Joe O'Donnell, see my essay, "The Medical Evidence Decoded") have recalled a different film. Three times over 25 years, Rich Della Rosa has seen a different film; he describes this film as high quality and he saw Greer make a wide turn onto Elm Street, an event not seen on the extant film. He also saw the limousine stop briefly on Elm Street, an event not seen today. It is remarkable that William Reymond also saw these same events in the film that he recently saw in France.

Finally, Scott Myers has also seen a film that is distinctly different from the extant film and which may have been the same version that Della Rosa (and possibly Reymond) saw. This has led to a peculiar situation, in which a small number of individuals know from personal experience that the extant film has been altered, but devotees of authenticity obviously do not regard these individuals, as credible, but no one has explained why they are not credible.


Like most concerned citizens, I, too, find it difficult at times to believe, at a deep emotional level, that anyone would deliberately and illegally falsify a movie film of such significance. Unfortunately, this issue cannot be decided by emotion alone, precedence must be given to the evidence. Just as most of our media now find it easier to ignore the enormous weight of evidence for conspiracy in the JFK assassination, some of our fellow critics now find it easier to believe in a more limited conspiracy, one that is too conservative to alter a movie film. But if the extant film is authentic, why then has so much suspicious evidence accumulated to the contrary? If the extant film were genuine, almost none of the evidence discussed here should exist.

As a specific example, in the Zapruder film why doesn't Moorman appear in the street where she must have stood, based both on the evidence of her own Polaroid and on her own recollections? Why does Foster stop so abruptly at Z-321 and then resume her regular displacement so quickly again? Why is there an image of the limousine in the intersprocket area of Z-318? Why do the first two re-enactments disagree so radically with the extant film? Why do various observers, over many years, report seeing a different film, starting as early as 22 November 1963, with Deke DeLoach of all people? Why do the Dealey Plaza witnesses (including the ten closest) disagree so fundamentally with the film? Why does Weatherly's blur analysis yield so much contradictory information? Why is the traditional critic's frontal head shot at about Z-313 in such arresting disagreement with the trail of metal debris on the lateral X-ray film?

For all of these questions, and many more besides, there are no easy answers, except that of film alteration. Although the easy road is to circumnavigate this mountain of evidence, the honest approach is to sift and weigh the evidence as a whole. And if we still cannot agree after all of this, then perhaps a re-reading of Ronald White's essay, "Apologists and Critics of the Lone Gunman Theory: Assassination Science and Experts in Post-Modem America," (Assassination Science 1998, pp. 377-410) will assist us at least in understanding the chasm that divides the "realists," like myself, who consider the authenticity of the film to be a theory that has been falsified, from the "relativists," like Josiah Thompson, who consider the theory to be a paradigm laden with anomalies, burdened but unbroken.


I am indebted to our editor, Jim Fetzer, for constantly encouraging my research and specifically for arranging a conference at the University of Minnesota where I presented an earlier version of this study.  Special thanks must also go to Doug Home, David Lifton, Jack White, Noel Twyman, Doug Mizzer, Harry Livingstone, Phil Giuliano, Roy Schaffer, Millicent Cranor, and Brian Edwards for their inestimable contributions to this cause. I apologize in 'advance to those I should have mentioned', but have failed to recognize, it was not deliberate. A surprising number of unnamed, but very interested private investigators have contributed both stimulating ideas and clues.

I am often plied with tantalizing hints that time constraints prohibit me from pursuing as thoroughly as I would wish. I hope that these investigators will understand that my sometimes-slow responses do not reflect a lack of interest. If anything, the opposite is typically true-I wish that I had more time for them. So I strongly encourage them to pursue their original ideas vigorously. Eventually, I believe, the growing trove of evidence will persuade most serious students that the Zapruder film has indeed been altered.

Addendum: LMH "First Day copy"

In 1999, Roland J. Zavada examined the LMH Co. "First Day Copy" (hereafter described as LMHFDC) and published a report: "Addendum to Technical Report #318420P: Analysis of Selected Motion Picture Photographic Evidence." In this report Zavada claims that the third copy made by Jamieson on 22 November 1963 is the LMH copy (also known as the Life copy). In an unrelated matter, but still one of great interest, Zavada also reports (letter to Douglas P. Home, 14 March 2000) that the Zapruder family transferred their copyright and complete inventory of films to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

Zavada's chief new finding is that the optical density of LMHFDC lies between SS #1 (a dark copy) and SS #2 (a light copy). New measurements show that the LMHFDC density is closer to SS #2, and Zavada advances technical arguments for why this is a reasonable expectation, although he did not predict it. He claims that this result proves that Jamieson bracketed the printing exposure level in order to achieve at least one good copy. Critics, on the other hand, might well argue that, since Jamieson had initially denied that such bracketing was done, these new results only constitute further proof that the bracketing of these films (SS # 1, SS #2, LMHFDC) was done at a later date and at some other site. In other words, since Jamieson reportedly did not use bracketing, he could not have made these copies.

LMHFDC begins at about Z-214, when the limousine is near the Stemmons freeway sign. Therefore, nothing can be said about initial loading fog or the perforated number supposedly placed during developing. However, as in SS #1 and SS #2, terminal fog, and then an image of 0183, appears after the final image (of a scene) on the home movie side.

Zavada again claims (as he did in his initial September 1998 report) that the septum line is characteristic of the Jamieson printer. He also adds that the line is the same in each of SS #1, SS #2, and LMHFDC. In his September 1998 report, however, Zavada had stated: 'Tm sure the reader is aware that our attempt to exactly replicate the 1963 JAMIESON [printer to] produce [a] septum line has not been successful." (What he should have said is that his attempt to match the septum line on the home movie sequence was not successful-he merely assumes that these copies were made on the Jamieson printer, but this is exactly what is being questioned.) Doug Mizzer (in a memo to Harry Livingstone) summarized this evidence: the septum line on the SS copies is about 0.036 inches wide, whereas the line on the filmstrip cited by Zavada and that produced on the Bell & Howell Model J Printer in 1959 was only 0.020 to 0.025 inches wide, a large, and easily visible, difference. This means that Jamieson's printer might very well not have made these purported first day copies.

This question of the septum line is not trivial. It is Zavada's hypothesis that the intersprocket images on the home movie side were produced by a separate light source that also produced the septum line. But if the septum line is not authentic, then Zavada's explanation for the intersprocket images (on the home movie side) is also in doubt. In fact, Zavada reports on his trial with an old Model J printer that used an independent tungsten lamp. He concludes: "A trial print was made to determine the extent and penetration of the light along the perforation edge [intersprocket area] of the film. The results showed that although edge illumination was achieved, no light penetrated between the perforations."

To make the above negative result even worse, Jamieson quotes Robert Colley (Jamieson letter of 21 October 1997 to Zavada), a printer operator who was actually in the lab on 22 November: " order to retain the original edge numbers, the B-Wind originals were printed FULL APERATURE [sic] (pix and sound area) from TAILS." Despite this clear statement, however, Zavada concludes exactly the opposite (Study 3, p. 3): " ...the initial belief that the prints were printed 'full aperture,' picture plus sound, also proved incorrect based on the examination of the images of the resulting prints." In my view, this is a perfect example of circular reasoning the question is whether the copies in question are indeed first day copies, but Zavada merely assumes that they are, and then proceeds to draw conclusions based on his assumption.

Based on the above data, Doug Mizzer argues that because the SS copies do have edge printing, then, if they were made on the Jamieson printer, they should not have a septum line (on the home movie side). Therefore, since both SS copies do have a septum line and edge printing, they could not have been made on Jamieson's printer. The reverse statement is this (quoting Mizzer): " ...if the copies were made on Jamieson's printer in the pix only mode, there would be a septum line on both sides of the film [i.e., the motorcade side, too], but there would be NO EDGE PRINTING." (Author's note: In fact, both sides contain edge printing and the motorcade side in the SS copies has no septum line.)

To further confound matters, Zavada received a letter from Herb Farmer (1 August 1998) of the USC School of Cinema and Television. Farmer, who had four old Model J's, stated: "None of our model J printers have had any modification for edge marking printing at the picture printing aperture." Furthermore, he then added: "If I were faced with the original printing problem, I would probably have printed the film on the model J with the printing aperture wide open which would expose everything from the inside edge of the sprocket hole on the printing sprocket side to the opposite edge of the film (the picture and track area)." In other words, both Robert Colley and Herb Farmer have implied that the motorcade side (for the first day copies) should contain intersprocket images, but, in fact, none are seen.

In view of all of the above, many of Zavada's conclusions must remain in grave doubt. Unfortunately, he seemed quite unable to conceive of the possibility that the present three copies are not Jamieson copies. Instead, he obviously preferred to accept what he had been told, namely that these three are authentic first day copies. There is a distinct sense of 'deja vu here, this is the same mental state that so hampered prior investigations of the medical evidence. (See my essay, "The Medical Evidence Decoded," elsewhere in this volume.)


The opening quotation for this essay is from the Preface to Dino A. Brugioni, Photo fakery: The History and Techniques of Photographic Deception and Manipulation (1999). Brugioni, a founder of the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center, examines many methods for faking and for detecting faked photographs.

1. In a letter to me (26 February 2000) Douglas P. Horne noted that Zavada actually had not seen any such double images during his shooting experiments in Dealey Plaza.

2. Regarding such written affirmations, four autopsy personnel (Humes, Boswell, Ebersole, and Stringer) signed a document entitled, "Report of inspection by naval medical staff on November 1, 1996, at the National Archives of X-rays and photographs of autopsy of President John F. Kennedy." Nonetheless, subsequent comments by several of these signatories made it clear that the closing assurances in this document were false: contrary to their statements, not all of the autopsy photographs were included in the collection. Therefore, there already exists in this JFK case a demonstration of how little reliance can be placed on written affirmations prepared by attorneys for the signature of others.

3. Subsequently, the foundation that owns Monticello also acknowledged that Jefferson was the father of one, if not all six, of Sally's children (San Bernardino County Sun, 27 January 2000, p. All)

4. Even the ARRB, in its final report, disparaged eyewitness testimony in general. In particular, their report seems to mock a Parkland physician for describing Jackie as dressed in white (instead of pink) surely a non-salient item!

5. Livingstone has recently published a series of five articles ("The Zapruder Film: A Study in Deception," The Fourth Decade, May 1999 through January 2000). Livingstone's energy and passion have greatly advanced the discussion of Zapruder film authenticity. His work also initially ignited my own interest in this complex issue.

6. Douglas P. Horne has reviewed the factual content of the preceding paragraphs (regarding the film maps) and has confirmed their accuracy.


Since I had missed the full implications of this issue in my initial reading of the Zavada report, I am greatly indebted to Douglas Horne for bringing it to my attention again.

Douglas Horne made these comments in a letter to me (26 February 2000). In view of Zavada's own test results, this decision seems shortsighted. I also spoke by telephone, and sent a certified letter, to the Department of Justice before they paid $16,000,000 for the film (which price did not include the copyright). My letter strongly recommended one simple test: just shoot some film through Zapruder's camera. Department of Justice never responded to my letter and this undemanding test has never been done.

[Editor's note: Mantik's letter to Department of Justice , which appears on the following page, was one of a series of communications between the editor, David W. Mantik, and Jack White with Leslie Batchelor, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, who was representing the ARRB in negotiations over compensation for the government taking possession of the Zapruder film as an "assassination document." The question of authenticity not only affects the film's value as an historical artifact but even extends to the question of copyright, since presumably the copyright privilege would attach only to the original "out of camera" version shot by Abraham Zapruder on 22 November 1963 and not to any subsequently altered version. (See Appendix B.)]

August 14 1998

Ms. Leslie Batchelor Civil Division

Department of Justice, Room 3736

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Re: Authenticity of the Zapruder film

Dear Ms. Batchelor:

Thank you for your courteous response to me today on the telephone.

I think no one in the JFK assassination research community could ask for much more than a film (or films) shot through the original Zapruder camera. Such an experiment has already been done within the past year with a virtually identical camera with nearly the same serial number. I have seen these films. This experiment has succeeded only in raising even more questions. It is critical that this experiment be repeated with the original camera, which, I am told, has been on display at the Sixth floor Museum in Dallas, Texas.

There has been serious speculation that the images on the extant Zapruder film have been magnified in the process of alteration and therefore cannot be the original. I have personally calculated the expected angle of view from the known optical parameters of this camera. Using known sized objects in the actual field of view (e.g., the limousine, the background buildings) it is also possible to calculate the angle of view that is actually seen in the film. The disagreement between these two numbers is larger than I would expect at the full zoom (telephoto) setting that Zapruder said he used. And if the camera had actually been set at less than full zoom, the mismatch is even worse. The direction of this disagreement does suggest that the extant images are too large, as has been implied previously. Furthermore, I did not find this problem for the Nix film.

It is absolutely critical that the actual angle of view be determined for the original camera when set at full zoom. This will be trivial for any expert to do. I suggest, however, that one simple additional step be taken. To satisfy the critics, some well-known object should be filmed from a well-known position (e.g. the Lincoln Memorial as seen from the Washington Monument). This will allow anyone afterwards to do his or her own measurements of size and distance and to calculate the angle of view, which can then be compared to the actual film. If these simple steps are taken, they will go a long way toward satisfying the questions of many chronic students of this case.

My understanding is that the Assassination Records and Review Board has been reluctant to engage in investigations of this type, apparently interpreting such steps as beyond their charter. However, I note that the FBI will soon be examining material found on one of the bullets discovered in JFK's limousine. That is obviously an investigation, so, if that can be justified, then surely shooting film through the original Zapruder camera can also be justified.

Thank you again for your attention to this matter. I am very pleased that you are positioned to assist in a matter that is so central to our national history.

Sincerely yours,

David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D. (Physics)

Letter of 14 August 1998 from David W Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., to Leslie Batchelor, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, proposing that the authenticity of the film be tested by taking new images with the original camera, which might server to settle many important questions. The Department of Justice, however, declined to accept this recommendation and, as a consequence, these questions remain unsettled.

Date: Thu, 03 Sep 1998 16:11:05-0500

To: Ms. Leslie Batchelor US Department of Justice

Dear Ms. Batchelor:

Let me introduce myself. I am Jack White, historical researcher of the JFK case for 35 years. My specialties are the JFK photographic evidence and the identity of Lee Harvey Oswald. I was a photographic consultant to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 70's.

Dr. James Fetzer has asked me to send you on a regular basis the results of ongoing studies of the Z film and the MPI video for consideration in the Justice Department assessment of the Zapruder film. This is an ongoing study by Dr. Fetzer, Dr. David Mantik, me, and about a half dozen other qualified researchers. This is message number 1.

I will be sending you additional email messages the next few days or weeks, covering the following:

1. A listing of possible anomalies observed in the film.

2. A listing of possible anomalies observed in the MPI video/DVD version.

3. Various graphic depictions of anomalies as computer attachments. I am attaching to this message one of the graphics which I believe clearly shows tampering.

Please respond by email as soon as possible IF you receive this graphic. Many of my explanations will depend on your ability to receive photos on your computer screen, so I need to know as soon as possible so I may proceed.

Please let me know by return email if you receive the attachment. It is a photo I took in Dealey Plaza in July from the Z pedestal. Overlaid is Z frame 304, showing Jean Hill and Mary Moorman in their exact position and sized as closely as possible to actuality.

Clearly the Z frame shows much more area than is seen from the Z viewpoint. I plan to re-shoot the July scene with far greater accuracy, using an 8-foot pole marked in feet for exact scale. I will describe each graphic I send, and will answer any questions, which may occur to you.

I have many VERY CONVINCING exhibits indicating tampering.

After I hear back from you I will start sending study results.


Jack White

An email of 3 September 1998 from Jack White to Leslie Batchelor, Assistant Deputy: Attorney General volunteering to submit evidence of alteration of the original Zapruder film at her request. He has received no response from the Department of Justice in this matter.

Humes & Boswell Depositions

Deposition of J. Thornton Boswell, M.D., before the AARB on 26 February 1996

[Editor's note: Although he was not a forensic pathologist and had never performed an autopsy on a gunshot victim before, J. Thornton Boswell, M.D., was one of the three medical pathologists who conducted the autopsy on President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. When it became evident that he would be deposed by the 'ARRB, Gary Aguilar, M.D., David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., and others suggested some of the questions that might be asked of him. As it happened 'he was deposed by Jeremy Gunn, who asked many of the questions that Aguilar, Mantik, and others had proposed, with some rather surprising results.]

Jeremy Gunn, with Douglas P. Horne in attendance, deposed J. Thornton Boswell, assistant JFK pathologist, on 26 February 1996. The following are excerpts from his deposition. Gunn begins by asking about the throat wound:

Gunn: When you referred to the wound in the anterior neck, what was your first impression?

Boswell: ...oh, we thought they had done a tracheotomy, and whether or not that was a bullet wound, we weren't sure, initially. It was after we found the entrance wound * and then the blood external to the pleura [inside the chest] that we had a track, and that proved to be the exit wound; but it was so distorted by the incision, initially we just assumed it to be a tracheotomy.

[Mantik note: * he probably means the back wound]

Gunn: Did you reach the conclusion that there had been a transit wound through the neck during the course of the autopsy itself?

Boswell: Oh, yes…

[Mantik note: This is truly arresting, because it conflicts so grossly with what all the pathologists have said over all these years, but also because the FBI report knows nothing about this. Most conspicuously, this transit wound is not described in the official autopsy report! Boswell here is contradicting the entire story told by the pathologists over many decades. It is impossible to know if these are now his (possibly) honest recollections, and that he has simply forgotten the official cover story. In any case, his statements are totally unexpected.]

Gunn (p.44): ...Do you recall thinking that ...that the anterior neck may have been a wound of some sort?

Boswell: I think it was pretty obvious ...that it was a tracheotomy wound. Then, as the evening progressed, the question became whether it was both an exit wound and a tracheotomy wound, because right in the middle there was what appeared to be the exit wound through which they had cut.

[Mantik note: Again, this is a striking admission totally at odds with the story that Humes told until his death in 1999, and that the other pathologists supported. Humes always insisted that he knew nothing about a projectile wound in the throat until he spoke to Dr. Perry (who had performed the tracheotomy) on Saturday morning. How Boswell can admit to seeing this projectile wound at the autopsy when it is not mentioned at all in the official autopsy report, only demonstrates his remarkable flexibility of mind.]

Gunn (p. 49): Do you remember whether the fresh brain was weighed?

Boswell: I doubt that it was weighed... Well, I shouldn't say that. It was formalin fixed. We floated them in formalin and a piece of cloth, and it was taken, and it probably was weighed. Why the weight is not down here, I do not know.

[Mantik note: Boswell is here referring to his own autopsy diagram. Humes has admitted that he had one, too, but that he (most likely) burned it. It is quite possible that Humes's (never officially seen) diagram contained the fresh brain weight. The reason that the fresh brain weight was destined for the dustbin becomes obvious in Home's article about the two brains.]

Gunn: Wouldn't it be a fairly important thing to weigh if there were a gunshot wound to the head?

Boswell: Especially with some of it missing, that's true... We had a neuropathologist from the AFIP that came over, and we took it out of the formalin after it was fixed a couple of day's in fact, on Monday...

[Mantik note: This date becomes critical in Home's proposal of two separate brain examinations. Boswell's memory here, too, must be wrong. There is no record of any AFIP pathologist ever examining the brain; Richard Davis, the primary candidate from the AFIP has denied this.]

Boswell: But we elected not to cut the brain because the trauma was evident on the surface…

[Mantik note: this must be the brain in the extant photographs, it does show an obvious track on the surface]

Boswell: …without having to cut it, and we thought that it might be important to preserve... And we put it back in the formalin, and it was delivered to Admiral Burkley in a bucket. …And then we never saw it again.

Gunn: When was it delivered to Admiral Burkley?

Boswell: I believe it was on Monday, but I'm not sure, because we wrote up an addendum to the autopsy, I think on Monday, after we had examined the brain. And I had read the slides on Sunday, so... and I think [Humes] took the slides with the brain and the addendum to Admiral Burkley on Monday. But I'm not absolutely sure. I'll rely on Jim's memory for that.

[Mantik note: This date becomes important in the two-brain scenario.]

Gunn (p. 90): ...what portions of the scalp were missing when you first began the autopsy?

Boswell: Actually, very little... The morticians were able to cover this defect completely by using some sort of plastic to cover the brain cavity, because there wasn't much bone to replace the brain cavity. But they were able to use his scalp to almost completely close the wound.

[Humes also agrees with this, although he admits that the scalp actually could not be completely closed. Based upon all of the evidence, the scalp was almost all there, but not enough to close it. Therefore, the posterior scalp photographs (since they show entirely intact scalp, contrary to what both pathologists recalled) cannot be authentic.]

Gunn: So it would be fair to say that, although there was a very large piece of skull missing, there was very little scalp missing.

Boswell: Right.

Gunn (p. 123): Was a [microscopic] section made of the wound of entrance on the neck or back?

Boswell: Both.

[Mantik note: This is yet one more confirmation of the pathologists' knowledge at the autopsy of the bullet wound in the throat. There would be no reason to take tissue from a simple tracheotomy incision. Cyril Wecht (telephone conversation of 4-19-2000) agrees that no forensic pathologist would sample an uncomplicated tracheotomy incision.]

Gunn later quizzes him on the location of the back wound.

Boswell (p. 155): Well, it's certainly not as low as T4 [the fourth thoracic vertebra]. I would say at the lowest it might be T2. I would say around T2. [Even this is much too low for the SBT.]

Gunn (p. 190): And approximately what percentage of President Kennedy's brain had been destroyed or removed?

Boswell: ...Less than a third…

Gunn: A third of the 'right hemisphere' or a third of the 'total…

Boswell: A third of the total.

Gunn (p. 193): Was it possible to determine the course of the bullet through the skull by an examination of the brain?

Boswell: Not 'of the brain. It was a little bit easier by examination of the skull, but the right hemisphere of the brain is just so torn up, and there's no way of determining a track.

Posterior Head image

[Mantik note: The drawings of the brain (Figure 8) suggest a fairly obvious track. At this moment, however, Boswell is recalling the authentic brain. Just about a half page above this Boswell has stated the opposite, namely that the trauma was evident on the surface. He cannot have it both ways. But both were true for him, because he saw two quite different brains at two different dates.]

Gunn next begins to quiz him on the 6.5 mm object on the frontal X-ray.

Gunn: Let me draw your attention to a white semicircular marking in what appears to be in the right orbit. ...Do you know what that object is?

Boswell: No.

Gunn: Do you know whether that is an artifact... as part... of the developing process or whether that is a missile fragment?

Boswell: No, I can't tell you that. I don't remember the interpretation. I see a lot of metallic looking debris, X-ray-opaque material, at the site of the injury.

[Mantik note: This statement is strange, because this debris is more than 10 cm above the occipital entry site that the pathologists cited for the bullet entry. It is nowhere near the "site of injury" that they described.]

Boswell: And I remember that there were a lot of fragments around the right eye, and the rest of these could be from bullet fragments as well. I'm not sure-we found a couple of very minute metal fragments, but I do not relate them to the X-ray (sic).

[Mantik note: Boswell has evaded the question that Gunn asked, so Gunn tries again.]

Gunn: Can you relate that, again, apparently large [6.5 mm] object to any of the fragments that you removed?

Boswell: No. We did not find one that large. I'm sure of that.

[Mantik note: With this admission, Boswell confirmed my proposal that this object was not on the frontal X-ray during the autopsy. Neither Humes nor Finck could recall it, either. Quite strikingly, when I asked the autopsy radiologist, Ebersole about it, he abruptly, and forever, stopped the conversation.  How likely is it that all three pathologists, the radiologist, and all of the other autopsy personnel, too, could have missed this most important object at the autopsy? I have seen no reasonable answer to this question in the vast assassination literature, and I predict that there will never be one simply because this object was not there. Furthermore, anyone who accepts this conclusion (that it was not there) immediately concurs that there was a post assassination cover-up of considerable magnitude, so that this is extremely hazardous terrain for lone assassin advocates.]

Gunn (p. 204): Are the minute fragments referenced in the autopsy protocol [the official report] those fragments that go along the top of the [frontal X-ray]?

Boswell: Right.

Gunn: And I would just note that it says that, "They're aligned corresponding with the line joining the above described small occipital wound [the EOP wound] and the right supraorbital ridge [the bony ridge above the right eye]." To me, it appears as if the line does not correspond with an entrance wound, but would be elsewhere.

[Mantik note: Now he is telling the truth.]

Boswell: Is that from the autopsy?

Gunn: This is the autopsy protocol... But the question for you is: Is what you are seeing on the [lateral] X-ray itself what is being referred to in the portion of the autopsy protocol that I just quoted?

Boswell: Right. Although I interpret it differently now…

[Mantik note: by more than four inches]

Boswell: …than whoever (sic) did that, I see the line here, but it doesn't connect with the wound of entry, although they (sic) say it does there. And apparently we (sic) gave this to the cops [FBI], O'Neill and Sibert.

Gunn (p. 206): Was there any other X-ray that you now recall having seen that showed a line of metallic fragments connecting to the small wound of entry?

Boswell: Not 'of the head.

Gunn: Is the fragment trail that you see ...does that correspond to what you saw on the night of the autopsy, as best you recall?

Boswell: Yes.

[Mantik note: So Boswell, like Humes, can offer no explanation for this egregious misrepresentation of the medical evidence, the deliberate displacement of the bullet trail by four inches. This is so gross, in fact, that Boswell has attempted to distance himself from it by saying that "they" did it. He implies it is Humes's fault, yet, at the same time, he claims-again like Humes-that the X-rays are authentic. He cannot have it both ways.]

Gunn: OK. I think that's it for the X-rays.

After Boswell describes how he was asked to help with the autopsy on Martin Luther King, which he declined to do, Gunn returns to the entry wound at the back of the head.

Gunn: Did you understand or did you ever come to believe that the Clark Panel located the entrance wound at a point superior [at the red spot] to where you had identified the entrance wound in the autopsy protocol?

Boswell: I never believed this. I think Jim [Humes] at one point came to believe this, because he testified before the House commission (sic) to that effect.

[Mantik note: I have verified the truth of this statement about Humes; when Humes stood before an enormous blow-up of the lateral skull X-ray before the HSCA, he pointed directly at the higher entry site-the one that the Clark panel, and the HSCA, too, had selected. Wallace Milam gave me a videotape of this interrogation, so I am now certain that, on this sole occasion, Humes really did point at the upper site (near the red spot). Without this videotape, there would have been lingering doubt.]

The deposition closes with Boswell drawing, albeit very reluctantly, on a model skull, to illustrate the large hole in the skull. I present and discuss this drawing (as copied by Douglas Horne from the ARRB skull) in the X-ray section of my essay above. It is consistent with the X-rays, and, even more remarkably, it is consistent with the eyewitnesses. It is, however, in gross disagreement with the intact scalp seen on the back of the head (Figure I). This drawing is an extraordinary and permanent contribution to the entire case, and finally puts many critical issues to bed.

Deposition of James J. Humes, M.D., before the AARB on 13 February 1996

[Editor's note: Although he also was not a forensic pathologist and had never performed an autopsy on a gunshot victim before, James J. Humes, M.D., was selected to head the team of three medical pathologists who conducted the autopsy on President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. When it became evident that he would be deposed by the 'ARRB, Gary Aguilar, M.D., David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D, and others suggested some of the questions that might be asked of him. As it happened, he was deposed by Jeremy Gunn, whose asked many of the questions that Aguilar, Mantik, and others had proposed, with some rather surprising results. For discussion, see the studies by Aguilar and Mantik elsewhere in this volume.]

Chief Pathologist James J. Humes was deposed on 13 February 1996. The 'transcript is 250 pages long, only selected portions are reproduced here. The questioner was Jeremy Gunn, with Douglas P. Home in attendance. The brain is the first topic presented here.

Gunn (p. 74): Was the fresh brain weighed?

Humes: I don't recall. I don't recall. It's as simple as that.

[Mantik note: FBI agent O'Neill, who took notes at the autopsy, recalls that it was weighed. Boswell, independently, once admitted that he, too, recalled this event (cited elsewhere in this essay). It may have appeared on Humes's notes, which never appeared in any official record.]

Gunn: Would it be standard practice for a gunshot wound in the head to have the brain weighed?

Humes: Yeah, we weigh it with a gunshot wound... Normally we weigh the brain when we remove it. I can't recall why, I don't know, one, whether it was weighed or not, or two, why it doesn't show here. I have no explanation for that...

Gunn: OK. For the thyroid over on the right column...

Humes: There's no weight there... It probably wasn't removed. I don't know. Let me go back for one minute. I was told to find out what killed the man. My focus was on his wounds. I didn't approach it like it was a medical death due to some disease… or whatever. I was focusing primarily and almost exclusively on the wounds. So I don't know. I don't know if I weighed the thyroid or not...

[Mantik note: a curious comment since JFK was rumored to have had Addison's disease, a diagnosis that might have been determined at the autopsy]

Gunn: And there was a gunshot wound to the neck, wasn't there?

Humes: ...There was a bullet wound in the back above the scapula.

[Mantik note: This is a long distance from the neck, to where Gerald Ford elevated it, without any medical or forensic input.]

Gunn next introduces the [woefully inadequate] autopsy diagram, prepared by Boswell. Gunn has just asked about the meaning of the mysterious number 10 on the diagram. [We must remember that Humes's diagram-which he admitted to JAMA that he had made, and Finck's, too (see Slauson's comments on what happened to Finck's in the essay by Gary Aguilar, M.D., elsewhere in this volume), have never been made public. In Boswell's defense, it is possible that one or both of these lost diagrams were more complete and more comprehensible, but were lost because they were not consistent with the single assassin theory.]

Humes (p. 87): ...but your guess is as good as mine, to tell you the truth.

Gunn: Up at the top of the skull, there is...  I assume 3 centimeters. Do you see that?

Humes: Yes.

Gunn: Do you have any knowledge about what that would mean?

Humes: I certainly don't...

Gunn then asks Humes about the fracture lines in the skull.

Humes: ...I didn't detail all those for the reasons that I stated in the protocol [the autopsy report]. They're going this way and they're going that way, and, you know, that's the way it goes (sic)...

Gunn: ...there are numbers written at the bottom, a 4, and a 3, over a 6. Do you see those?

Humes: Yeah.

Gunn: Do you know what those signify?

Humes: No.

Gunn (p. 89): Was scalp missing?

Humes: There was some scalp missing, but we were able to pretty much close the scalp, skin, when we finished everything...

Gunn: So there was no scalp that came to the autopsy room?

[Mantik note: The absence of such late arriving scalp is confirmation that Humes is probably right, that most of the scalp was there, although several centimeters may have been missing, as he soon recalls.]

Humes: No.

Gunn: When the embalming process was completed, approximately how much scalp was missing?

Humes: Oh, I don't know. Maybe three or four centimeters, something 'like that. Not much...

[Mantik note: Without seeming to be conscious of it, Humes is telling us quite directly that the photographs of the back of the head cannot be accurate. This is because they show the entire scalp present none at all is missing.]

Gunn: Approximately where was the missing scalp as of the time that the embalming process was completed?

Humes: You got me (sic)...

Gunn moves on to the X-rays.

Gunn (p. 100): So all of the X-rays of the cranium were taken before ...any metal fragments were removed?

Humes: Exactly.

Gunn: Do you have any recollection now about the shapes of the fragments that were removed?

Humes: They were small and irregular. That's all I can tell you.

Gunn: Long and sliver like or roundish or any recollection?

Humes: Flat, irregular, two or three millimeters…

[Mantik note: The suspicious object on the frontal X-ray is 6.5 mm and almost circular; it is hardly irregular.]

Gunn (p. 107) then returns to the brain.

Humes: ...But the brain was damaged, and it didn't lend itself well to infusing it like we normally do. So we placed it in a very generous quantity of 10% formalin…

[Mantik note: The elimination of perfusion, which Humes clearly implies here, means that the brain would gain rather little additional mass during the fixation process. Therefore, the argument of some that the large brain mass is due to fixation, becomes quite untenable.]

Gunn (p. 110): And the whole circumference of the entry wound was visible without any reconstruction of the skull?

Humes: Oh, yeah, sure.

[Mantik note: No one else has ever said this, nor had Humes ever said this before! Such a central finding is conspicuously absent from the autopsy report, and from all other comments by each of the three pathologists. This conclusion is also not supported by the X-rays or by the prior reviews of any other specialist. Furthermore, such a circumferential hole, if present, surely ought to be visible somewhere in the photographic collection, but it is not. Despite Humes's apparent certainty about this question, his statement is categorically wrong. This comment by him is simply inexplicable.]

Gunn: In which bone was the entrance wound?

Humes: Occipital bone...

Gunn then turns to the back wound.

Gunn (p. 141): You see that Dr. Burkley identifies the posterior back [wound] at about the level of the third thoracic vertebra?

[Mantik note: in the death certificate that he prepared as JFK's physician]

Humes: Yes.

Gunn: Was that correct?

[Mantik note: This is critical to the SBT, it should be much higher in order to sustain the SBT.]

Humes: I don't know (sic). I didn't measure from which vertebra it was (sic). It's sometimes hard to decide which vertebra, to tell you the truth, by palpation. Maybe you can do it accurately because the first and second, did I say third? Oh, he says third thoracic. I think that's much lower than it actually was. I think it's much lower than it actually… you have seven cervical vertebrae. I don't know. I mean, he's got a right to say anything he wants, but I never saw it before, and I don't have an opinion about it (sic).

[Mantik note: If it really was the first or second vertebra, Humes, by his own words here, has no excuse for not documenting this, since T1 and T2 can usually be identified without much difficulty. The HSCA chose Tl. It probably was no higher than T1 or T2, but it may have been lower.]

Gunn: Did you ever discuss which vertebra?

Humes: I never discussed anything about it with George Burkley, period, or anybody else. I mean, with all due respect, you seem to have come to me from left field (sic). You know, I just, they're not things which I'm aware of (sic)...

Gunn then asks about the date of the brain examination.

Humes (p. 146): I don't know, Monday or Tuesday [November 25 or 26] or some day at the beginning of the week.

Gunn: Earlier in the deposition today, you made reference to a sectioning of the brain. If I understood correctly, that took place one or two days afterwards.

Humes: Yeah.

[Mantik note: This is an astonishing confession, since there are no photographs of such sections, even though Stringer recalls taking them. In fact, until this moment, the pathologists had officially insisted that the brain was not sectioned. In view of Douglas Home's proposal of two separate brain examinations (on two different dates with two different brains), it is quite certain that Humes is here recalling the one occasion at which the authentic brain actually was sectioned, but for which no official records remain.]

Gunn: Did that happen within one or two days after?

Humes: Yes, shortly after. I can't tell you what day now.

[Mantik note: There is no documentary evidence for this early date, but Humes is recalling the examination of JFK's brain on (probably) the morning of the funeral (Monday), whereas the substitute brain, described in the official report, was examined about a week later (possibly on another Monday). This chronology fits with all of the evidence; see Home's article for more on these issues. These apparent slips of memory by Humes actually provide further corroboration for Horne's proposal.]

Gunn refuses to abandon this issue and he asks Humes again for the date.

Humes (p. 149): A couple of days after Sunday [November 24], after they were delivered. I don't know… In that week some day… I don't really know. It didn't seem to be important to me at the time, and still doesn't, quite candidly (sic).

[Mantik note: Anyone who wanted to know where the brain went would take great exception to this eccentric, or possibly feigned lack of interest by Humes. If the brain had been buried with the body on Monday, November 25, then any examination after this could not be of JFK's brain, despite Humes's indifference. That such a misleading, later examination occurred is Douglas Horne's (highly probable) proposal.]

Gunn: Did you ask [Admiral Burkley] or wonder how they would be able to inter the brain if the President had already been buried?

Humes: No, I didn't worry about it one way or another (sic)...

In view of the great paradoxes about the back of the head photograph (Figure 1) Gunn next wants to know if the hair was cleaned before the photographs were taken.

Gunn (p. 156): No cleaning, no combing of the hair or anything or that sort?

Humes: No, no, no, no, no.

Gunn later returns to the question of whether any occipital bone was missing.

Gunn (p. 171): So on the scalp of President Kennedy here, still in View No. 4 [see Figure 1], that underneath the scalp the bone was all intact with the exception of the puncture wound…

Humes: Yeah...

Posterior Head image

[Mantik note: This is flagrantly at odds with the X-rays, and even with Humes's own diagram for the Warren Commission (Figure 5), and even with Humes's own autopsy report. Once again, Humes is behaving in a totally incomprehensible fashion.]

Gunn then turns to the "entry" wound on the posterior head photograph (Figure 1); he is inquiring about the red spot, high on the back of the head.

Gunn (p. 177): Dr. Humes are you able to identify what you have described previously as an entrance wound in the posterior skull of President Kennedy on photographs in View 6?

Humes: This is the same problem I had at the [HSCA] committee hearings. ...I had difficulty trying to see which was which among these things, between here and there (sic) ...I mean, they threw these up on a great big screen and said which is what, and I really had difficulty. I couldn't be sure. I 'm disappointed. I was disappointed in that regard. I still have trouble with it.

Gunn: Are you able to identify on View 6 the entrance wound?

Humes: Not with certainty, I'm sorry to tell you.

Gunn next refers to the small white spot just above the hairline (Figure 1) on the right rear of the skull. This is more than 10 cm below the red spot.

Gunn (p. 180): that where you now would identify what you believe to be the entrance wound in the skull?

Humes: I cannot flat-footedly say that. I have trouble with it. The head is turned toward one side I don't know. It's very difficult, very difficult. It's an educated guess, to be perfectly honest.

[Mantik note: only slightly, not enough to matter].

Gunn: For that marking that is towards the bottom near the hairline [the white spot], what is your best understanding of what that designates?

Humes: I don't have the foggiest idea (sic). See what's important is where is the wound in the bone. You can't tell from these pictures.

[Mantik note: Humes is right, it is the bone that really matters; unfortunately for Humes, and for history, too, no unambiguous photographs of this bone exist. However, see my discussion in the Postscript, in which precisely such a photograph, from the current official set, is identified.]

Gunn (p. 181): Did you have any difficulty identifying the scalp entry wound during the time of the autopsy?

Humes: No, I didn't at the time of the autopsy...

[Mantik note: This is one of the most damning statements of his testimony. He had already made the same statement to JAMA. No doubt, the three pathologists could identify the wound, both in the skull and in the scalp. However, the only obvious wound in the photographs (the red spot) was not seen by anyone at either Parkland or at Bethesda. The three pathologists (and the two photographers and the radiologist, too) certainly did not give any importance to the red spot, unequivocally denying that it represented an entry site. The only individuals to give any importance to it had not seen the body.]

Gunn next turns to my questions about the metal fragments. They begin by looking at the frontal X-ray.

Gunn (p. 183): Could you examine the B&W photographs and see if they help?

Humes: They don't help me. You can't even see any wound in the upper area of this (sic)...

Gunn then turns to the mysterious skull photograph F8. See the Postscript, where, with the assistance of the X-rays, I demonstrate that this is the sole remaining photograph that does indeed show the authentic large hole at the right rear of the skull. Recall also that Robert McClelland, after returning from the Archives, volunteered that the current collection does contain such a photograph. F8 is the one. Once this is granted, then such a large hole immediately implies a frontal headshot. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that additional photographs, which would have properly oriented this wound, have been deliberately lost.

Gunn (p. 185): The first question for you would be whether you can orient those photos so as to describe what is being represented in the photographs.

Humes: Boy, it's difficult. I can't. I just can't put them together. I can't tell you what…

Gunn: Can you identify whether that is even posterior or frontal or parietal?

Humes: No, I can't...

Humes's troubles don't stop there; he has the same problems with the brain photographs, as follows.

Gunn (p. 203): ...If you can just look at the basilar view [from underneath] of the brain, if you could describe what that view shows...

Humes: Boy, I have trouble with this. I don't know which end is up (sic). I don't know what happened here…

[Mantik note: Having seen these at the Archives, I know that this is really not so difficult as Humes implies.]

Gunn (p. 213): Did you notice that what at least appears to be a radio-opaque fragment during the autopsy [the mysterious 6.5 mm object]?

Humes: Well, I told you we ...retrieved one or two, and of course, you get distortion in the X-ray as far as size goes.

[Mantik note: That is not true in this case; there is actually very little image magnification, as I have determined from detailed measurements on the X-rays at the Archives; Humes is merely buying time for his answer here.]

Humes: The ones we retrieved I didn't think were of the same size as this would lead you to believe.

[Mantik note: That is certainly true of those metal fragments now in the Archives, as I discovered when I examined them. The most striking finding is actually the discrepancy in shape (of these metal fragments in the Archives) when compared to the fragments seen in the X-rays: the larger one is not 7x2 mm, as seen above the right frontal sinus in the X-rays, but (in the Archives collection) it is rather pancake shaped. None of the tests performed on this object should have changed its shape. This paradoxical shape, by itself, is a bizarre situation and has never been examined or discussed by any official body.]

Gunn: Did you think they were larger or smaller?

Humes: Smaller. Smaller, considerably smaller... But I don't remember retrieving anything of this size.

[Mantik note: This confession was the best possible confirmation of my X-ray work. Humes has no memory of the 6.5 mm object, the same one that I concluded was actually not on the X-ray during the autopsy. The other two pathologists agreed, and the radiologist, when asked this question, abruptly terminated the entire conversation, which was never resumed. The entire purpose of the X-rays was to locate such metal objects. The invisibility of this object to the pathologists, and to all other autopsy observers, as well and its absence from the forensic record is surely one of the deepest mysteries of this entire case. I believe that this mystery has now been solved with the proposal of selectively (and critically) altered X-rays, i.e., the 6.5 mm object was superimposed on the original X-ray by a simple dark room technique which I have both discussed and demonstrated. In 1963, this was surprisingly easy to do; my prior essay (Assassination Science, 1998, pp. 120-137) even cites recipes from contemporaneous textbooks that could have been employed in precisely such an undertaking. I have been able, using current duplicating film, to produce astonishing figures, such as a scissors (made of air) lying entirely inside a skull, or a pterodactyl flying around inside a human skull. I have shown these actual composite X-rays (not just pictures of them) at public lectures. For an early description of my work, see Anthony and Robbyn Summers, "The Ghosts of November;" Vanity Fair (December 1994), p. 97.]

Gunn: Well, that was going to be a question, whether you had identified that as a possible fragment and then removed it?

Humes: Truthfully, I don't remember anything that size when I looked at these films. They all were more of the size of these others.

[Notice that he does not claim a loss of memory about this object. He clearly implies that he does remember, and that it simply was not there.]

Gunn: What we're referring to is a fragment that appears to be semicircular.

Posterior Head image

Humes: Yeah...

Gunn then asks about the dark frontal area on the lateral skull X-ray (Figure l A-B), an area that appears to contain almost no tissue at all, despite that fact that the body and brain photographs suggest little or no missing tissue at this same site.

Humes (p. 216): What seems to be the frontal portion of it. I don't understand why that is [so dark]. You'd have to have some radiologist tell me about that (sic). I can't make that out... I don't understand this great void there [the dark area at the front]. I don't know what that's all about.

Gunn (p. 218): I had another question for you about the lateral X-ray... And that is whether you can identify the particles that you made reference to before and where they appear in this photograph.

Posterior Head image

[Mantik note: He is asking about the trail of metallic debris (see Figure 11A-B).]

Humes: Well, you see, there's nothing in this projection [the lateral view] that appears to be of the size of the one that appeared to be above and behind the eye [the 6.5 mm object] on the other one [the frontal view]. But that could be positional or the other thing is an artifact (sic). I don't know what...

[Mantik note: Actually the object at the rear of the lateral skull, that should correspond to the 6.5 mm object, is quite easy to see on the X-rays in the Archives. It was even described by Sibert and O'Neill in their FBI report. It spatially correlates with the 6.5 mm object on the frontal X-ray. It is the right size, almost exactly 6.5 mm high. These comments by Humes are simply inexplicable. I do not know whether he is being deliberately obtuse or whether he truly does not understand the X-rays.]

Gunn: Do those metal fragments, or do those radio-opaque objects help you in any way identify entrance or exit wounds?

Humes: No. No, they really don't.

Gunn: Is there any relationship or correlation between those metal fragments and the bullet wound?

Humes: Not that I can make out at all, no. They seem to be random.

[Mantik note: Most likely, they represent the trail of a frontal bullet, as is discussed elsewhere in my essay above.]

Gunn: OK. Dr. Humes, I'd like to show you ...the autopsy [report], and ask if you would read the paragraph on page 4...

[Mantik note: This is about the bone fragments that were received late in the autopsy from Dallas.]

Humes: ...And then we got these [bone] fragments, at one margin of it there's something that seemed to match up with that fragment that was still in the skull. My memory's pretty good (sic). I said we had three. That's what we have, I guess. I described several metallic fragments along the line [on the lateral X-ray] ...joining the occipital wound with the right supraorbital ridge [above the right eye]

Gunn (p. 221): Could you point out for me [on the lateral X-ray] where the minute particles of metal in the bone are in relationship to the small occipital wound and the right supraorbital ridge?

Humes: Well, they don't relate at all in this picture, as far as I'm concerned.

Gunn: "This picture" being [the lateral X-ray]

Humes: Yeah. I don't know where I got that, but there's the occipital wound would never be up that high... There's nothing up there (sic)...

Gunn (p. 222): Do you see any fragments that correspond with a small occipital wound?

Humes: No.

[Mantik note: I have confirmed this on the X-rays in the Archives; there is no metallic debris near the low occipital site that the pathologists identify as the entry site, although that does not necessarily disqualify it as an entry site.]

Gunn: Do you recall having seen an X-ray previously that had fragments corresponding to a small occipital wound?

Humes: Well, I reported that I did, so I must have (sic). But I don't see it now (sic)... All I know is that I wrote it down. I didn't write it down out of whole cloth (sic). I wrote down what I saw.

[Mantik note: No X-ray of JFK shows such a trail near the occipital entry site. This reply by Humes is preposterous. On one hand, he claims that the X-rays are authentic, but, on the other hand, he says that, in 1963, he actually saw a metallic trail extending from low on the skull, near his entry site, to the supraorbital area. This is sheer, unassailable nonsense, and Humes must surely know it. Gunn probably took this line of questioning as far as he could go. Any further questions, I am told by Douglas Horne, might have propelled Humes straight out of the room. Humes has been caught in the fundamental lie of the X-rays. For those who like smoking guns, this is as close as anything gets in this case.]

Gunn: Does that raise any question in your mind about the authenticity of the X-ray that you're looking at now in terms of being an X-ray of President Kennedy?

Humes: Well, there are aspects of it I don't understand. I don't understand this big void up maybe a radiologist could explain it. I don't know what this big... [Dark area at the front of the lateral X-ray] that takes up half of the skull here I don't understand that.

Gunn: Do remember seeing that on the night of the autopsy?

Humes: No, I don't…

[Mantik note: Nonetheless, he has still claimed that the X-rays are authentic.]

Gunn soon after wants to know whether Humes ever met President Johnson.

Humes (p. 236): I met with President Johnson, but not in any way connected with this. In fact, I'm wearing a pair of cuff links that he gave me today. I was able to report to him that the nodule we took out of his larynx was benign, and he was very happy.

Gunn: I can imagine. I would be, too. You don't wish your cuff links to be part of the exhibit (sic)

Humes: Oh, I think we ought to just take that out of the report, if you don't mind. I shouldn't have mentioned it, I suppose. But not everybody has a pair of these presidential cuff links (sic).

Before closing the deposition, Gunn asks the one question that should routinely be asked of all witnesses, but which, given the straitjacket donned by the legal set, was almost never asked by the Warren Commission or by the HSCA.

Gunn (p. 236): ...[can you] think of any additional information that would ... help provide a better understanding of either what happened during the autopsy or the wounds that were inflicted on President Kennedy?

Humes: I have trouble conjuring up; I wish that the photographs were more graphic and more specifically helpful than they are. I'm 'disappointed by that, and I didn't find that out with certainty, really, until I got to that House Select Committee hearing. I had difficulty. There were a lot of people around, and they were showing and throwing these up, and I really didn't have the time that I had even today. I was even more confused at that point. But, you know, that's spilled milk...

Gunn: Are there any additional comments that you'd like to make? I told you I'd give you that opportunity.

Humes: No. I'm still somewhat vague on the precise bottom line of all your efforts to do these things. ...But if you ask a person enough questions often enough, you're going to confuse themselves sooner or later and not say the same thing twice I'm concerned that we've got so much information put together that we, well, there's an expression in golf. You get paralysis of analysis. You know, you get more information than you can usefully put together. But that's for your, I mean, that's for you to decide, not me. I can't tell…

Humes's summary

Besides reading the transcript, I have listened to the actual tape of this deposition (as well as many others listed here). What struck me (and what is not evident in the transcript) is how quickly, and how unhesitatingly, Humes affirmed the authenticity of both the X-rays and the photographs (of both the brain and the body). Yet he cannot identify several critical features in the posterior head photograph (such as his supposedly obvious entry wound that did not require any shaving of the head, as he stated to JAMA), nor can he orient either the brain photographs or the mystery F8 photograph of the skull, nor does he understand (or even recall) the large dark area at the front of the lateral skull X-ray, nor can he (even remotely) explain why the trail of bullet debris disagrees by four inches with his official report, nor can he explain why the most important object on the extant X-rays, the largest "metal" fragment was neither seen nor removed during the autopsy. After all of this (apparent) ineptitude, and despite forthrightly (and often) admitting confusion and uncertainty during his interrogation, he nonetheless insists that there is one point about which he is still certain, the photographs and the X-rays are authentic. As the deposition with Humes closed, he avowed that he would rather not undergo such questioning every day.

As I pondered this, I could not but think of Lyndon Johnson's first address to Congress (27 November 1963):

"All I have I would have given gladly not to be standing here today."

Article from The New York Times (1 August 1998, p. A9)

Posterior Head image

The Warren Commission and The Warren Report both ignored or suppressed what was opposed to the predetermined conclusion that Oswald alone was the assassin.

This meant that the destruction, alteration and manipulation of evidence had to be "overlooked."It was.

This meant that impossible testimony from preposterous witnesses had to be credited.It was.

This meant that invalid reconstructions had to be made.They were.

This meant that valuable evidence available to the Commission had to be avoided. It was.

This meant that the incontrovertible proofs in the photographs had to be replaced by elaborate and invalid re-enactments which, in turn, had to be based upon inaccuracies, misinformation and misrepresentation, which is what was done.

-Harold Weisberg

Fiester on Trial—Primordial Questions That Still Fester

David W. Mantik October 7, 2017

NOTE: Page citations are for Enemy of the Truth, by Sherry P. Fiester

Mantik Abstract. Fiester’s chief hypothesis is this: Only one headshot struck JFK—it was frontal, and it occurred at Z-312 (with results seen in Z-313). The issues raised here in my truncated review are all quite devastating for this hypothesis. On the contrary, at least one more (successful) headshot occurred a short time later—and this cannot be from Fiester’s proposed site of origin.

  • Fiester’s Chief Hypothesis: Z-312 is the only headshot—and there is no headshot after this. On the number of headshots, she insists:

  • Current forensic research supports a single gunshot originating in front of the President, and front is not the Grassy Knoll. All other explanations and are myths [sic] and are to be discounted as such.

  • Unfortunately, a very long list of witnesses disagrees with her. And listen to Clint Hill—most likely Fiester did not. Even Josiah Thompson (Last Second in Dallas) claims a shot well after Z-312.

  • Fiester’s Figure 14: It excludes an entry near the right ear—a site confirmed by many witnesses. If Figure 14 is your primary hypothesis, then you will never find a Grassy Knoll shooter. Finally, none of her arguments can exclude a shot that missed--but she never addresses this possibility.

  • Secret Service photographs were taken shortly after the assassination. Traffic cones marked three shots on Elm Street, but the final cone lay well beyond Z-313 (Harold Weisberg, Whitewash II (1966), p. 248). Fiester persistently avoided these photographs.<

  • Here is the image prepared by the FBI (recently resurrected by David Josephs ), which shows the final shot, well after Z-313. It is located nearly at the bottom of the stairs, precisely as many witnesses recalled. (A shot near Z-313 is also shown.)

  • Warren Commission Map image

  • So, where was the entry wound? According to Fiester;

  • However, there is no credible evidence to support identification of a specific, definitive point of entry or exit wound to the head (p. 169);

  • On the contrary, the X-ray trail of metallic debris across the top of JFK's skull strongly suggests a bullet trajectory, i.e., an entry from the front. In fact, the entry site can be rather well defined via consistent use of the AP and lateral X-rays. To assist us, we also have the forehead laceration in the autopsy photographs. Furthermore, we now also have (since Fiester’s book) the inspired observations of Michael Chesser, MD, who closely inspected a lateral X-ray while at NARA; he saw a hole in the forehead at this same site—and he saw tiny metallic particles clustered near this same site. All of this supports a forehead entry. Astoundingly, all these data coincide precisely with the autopsy photo seen by Quentin Schwinn (as discussed, and illustrated, in my e-book, JFK’s Head Wounds). After a while such a symphony of facts becomes irresistible evidence for a hairline entry site.

  • But now we come to a moment of truth: Is this trail of metallic debris on the X-rays even consistent with a frontal shot at Z-312? Recall Fiester’s fundamental–and never-questioned–assumption throughout the book: there was only one headshot, and it struck at Z-312. But here is what is truly disturbing: This X-ray trail cannot derive from a frontal shot at Z-312!

    And here is why. First notice JFK's head orientation in Z-312. See Fiester (p. 178) – but also see Figure 5 here (excerpted from my full review). Then compare Fiester’s trajectory to the trail of metallic debris on the X-rays: they are grossly inconsistent! This is now not merely a paradox, but rather a bone-crunching clincher: a headshot at Z-312 cannot explain the metallic trail on the X-rays. The explanation for Fiester’s impasse is absurdly simple—she simply ignored the X-rays. So, the bottom line is this: Fiester’s primary hypothesis of one, and only one, headshot at Z-312 cannot possibly be correct—and this shocking denouement throws her entire book into a deep, dark shadow.

    Warren Commission Map image

    There is even more trouble with that trail of debris. Let us agree that this trail (yellow arrow—Figure 5 above) suggests a bullet trajectory. This trail is inconsistent with several other fundamental pieces of data in this JFK case, as follows:

  • It is inconsistent with the large occipital hole that was so widely reported, both at Parkland and at Bethesda. The trail of metallic particles on the X-rays just simply dissipates (without exiting) and—it is far too superior to explain that hole.

  • It is totally incompatible with the location of the 7x2 mm fragment above JFK's right eye (the fragment that Humes removed). Since Fiester routinely ignored most of the X-ray evidence, she never even tried to explain the odd location of thismm fragment. (See my e-book for further discussion of this issue.)

It disagrees utterly with the beveled skull site near the EOP that the pathologists interpreted as the entry for a posterior bullet. The debris trail is simply far too superior to explain this EOP site. Although she closes her mind to a posterior headshot, such a shot could nonetheless explain several critical items, which are otherwise inexplicable: the pathologists’ report of just such a shot, debris on the hood ornament (way too far forward for back spatter from a frontal bullet), the dent in the windshield chrome (inside the limousine), the location of the 7x2 fragment (above JFK’s right orbit), the leftward (i.e., counterclockwise) head jerk—reported by early viewers of the Z-film, and the location of the metallic smear on the Harper Fragment (also discussed in my e-book). None of these issues merited the slightest attention from her.

1. Like a skilled tightrope acrobat, Fiester always adeptly evaded any discussion of these many issues. These thorny problems (including images) were addressed in my previous review:

2. These many witnesses (who all recalled a shot after Z-313) include Mary Moorman (19H487), Jean Hill (6H206 and 6H214), Charles Brehm (22H837), George Hickey (18H762), both Connallys (4H133 and 4H147), Chief Curry 4H161), Sheriff Decker (9H458), James Foster (CD897), Royce Skelton (19H496), and Mrs. Phillip Willis (CD1245). Even Dan Rather reported that the second shot (of three total) struck JFK’s head.

3. Clint Hill reached the limousine at Z-328, and only then did he hear his “third” (and final) shot, at which time he (finally) saw the “gaping hole in his head” (

4. Nearly a full deck of witnesses saw a shot near the right ear: both Newmans, Abe Zapruder, Roy Kellerman, Thomas Robinson, Clint Hill, James Jenkins, Quentin Schwinn, Herschel Jacks, Seth Kantor, Douglas Jackson, an NBC broadcast, the NY Times—and possibly even Pierre Finck. We might also recall the Belmont memo that described a bullet behind the ear. This shot cannot possibly be the same as the forehead shot that is discussed here. See my e-book for a compete discussion of this vexing issue.

5. A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what gives. The drunk says he lost his keys, so they both look together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here, and the drunk replies, “No, I lost them in the park.” So the policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk replies, "This is where the light is” (David H. Freedman (2010). Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-02378-7).

6. See my full review (footnote 1 above) for these images. In addition, I personally recall a meeting at Harry Livingstone’s house in Baltimore (during the Houston Rockets’ run to the NBA title—over 20 years ago now), where Daryll Weatherly had pointed out the absurd disagreements between Z-313 and the WC tables.


8. See my full review (footnote 1 above) for these images.

9. This laceration was not seen at Parkland, but a bullet entry was apparently seen at this site by Crenshaw, McClelland, Kilduff, David, Robinson, O’Donnell, Custer, Knudsen, and Schwinn.

10. For well over 15 years now, I have claimed that the metallic trail on the X-rays was grossly incompatible with a shot at Z-312, due to JFK’s forward orientation during that time interval. Much later, it was quite striking for me to learn that James Altgens agreed with me about this. In June 1967 he had told CBS that JFK was “upright” when struck ( But Fiester never noticed this.

11. No one has seriously challenged the authenticity of these metallic particles; furthermore, I have observed this trail many times at the Archives and it certainly seems authentic. Moreover, Larry Sturdivan told the HSCA that tiny fragments would remain very near the initial trail due to their great “tissue drag” as compared to larger fragments (

John F. Kennedy's Head Wounds A new Book by Dr David Mantik

A New book published by Dr David Mantik is available here UK or USA

Posterior Head image