Behind the Scenes of the HSCA's Investigation
For reasons beyond my grasp, the first image in each chapter sometimes
fails to appear. If there's nothing up above, don't despair; you can still see the image here
Fox Autopsy Photo/HSCA Figure 25 Comparison
Since the photograph taken from behind the President’s skull showing the empty cranium seems to confirm the autopsy doctors' description of an entrance wound in the hairline, it’s important to try and establish if this photo is authentic.
Unfortunately, there is no record of a photo of the brain cavity taken from behind on the list prepared by the autopsy doctors for the Justice Department on January 26, 1967; nor is there one on the list of photos in the Clark report, nor in the HSCA report. There is, however, a record of photos taken of the President’s brainless skull from the front and from above.
When one looks at a blow-up of one of these photos purportedly depicting the “exit defect in the margin of the fracture fragment of the right parietal region,” the outshoot above the Presidents’ temple, moreover, one realizes that an awful mistake has been made, as this blow-up was obviously blown-up from one of the photos taken from behind.
What’s going on here?
Only adding to the strangeness is that Figure 25 was blown up from photo #44, which the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel Report describes (along with black and white photo #17) as “close-ups of the margins of the fracture line in the right front-parietal region after reflection of scalp.” Since elsewhere in the HSCA Report, and in several earlier government reports, it is acknowledged that photographs 17 and 18 were the black and white photos depicting an open cranium, and photos 44 and 45 the color photos depicting the same, this brings up the question of whether photos 18 and 45 were even shown to the Forensic Pathology Panel. When they discussed the photos with Dr.s Boswell and Humes in 1977, they only showed them photos 17 and 44. This led me to question for a moment if photos 18 and 45 were withheld for some reason. It seems the answer is no, however, as the panel’s Dr. Petty, when discussing the beveling on the skull with Humes and Boswell, informed them that “this is shown more clearly on the black and white photographs Nos. 17 and 18, probably best in No. 17.” Well, then why did they use #44 in their final report? I must admit I’m perplexed.
When one looks closely at the supposed exit defect in Figure 25, one can’t help but be even more confused. This exit defect doesn’t appear as round and beveled as the defect in the Fox photos available online. So why wouldn’t the photo available online, which would presumably be either #17 or #18, have been used instead of photo # 44? Why did the HSCA use an inferior photograph? Was there something in #17 or #18 that the doctors were trying to hide from the committee? Or was it simply a matter of the pathology panel screwing up and picking the wrong photo to demonstrate the beveling?
Even more to the point, how could the Forensic Pathology
Panel possibly believe this photo was taken of Kennedy’s “right
frontal-parietal region”--his forehead?
Are we through the looking glass here or what?
To answer that last question--that of whether or not we are through the looking glass here--let me be concise: yes. Not only did the HSCA pathology panel improperly decide that the photo was of the forehead, they did so while disagreeing with the interpretations of all the previous doctors to say so, including a world expert on skulls brought in by the panel to help them interpret the photograph.
Let's remember that the autopsy doctors determined that this photo was taken of the forehead in the 1967 report written for the Justice Department. Even so, they claimed the photo reinforced their conclusion the bullet impacted near the EOP, 4 inches lower than the entrance proposed by the HSCA panel. So they didn't exactly agree with the HSCA panel's interpretation.
Now let's reveal that the 1968 secret panel to study the medical evidence, the Clark Panel, led by Russell Fisher, a close colleague to a number of the men on the HSCA's panel, failed to note that a beveled exit defect was visible in the photos, and described the open-cranium photographs as follows “Due to lack of contrast of structures portrayed and lack of clarity of detail in these photographs, the only conclusion reached by The Panel from study of this series was that there was no existing bullet defect in the supra-orbital region of the skull.” (Supra-orbital means the forehead!!!) As if to stress this point, the Panel's report later repeats "The photographs do not disclose where this bullet emerged from the head although those showing the interior of the cranium with the brain removed indicate that it did not emerge from the supra-orbital region." Well, this is mighty curious, isn't it? Why does this panel repeatedly insist there was no exit from the supra-orbital region visible in the photos?
Particularly when the consultant on skulls to the HSCA's pathology panel, Dr. Lawrence Angel, insisted that this is precisely what they show? Yes, you got that right. Dr. Angel's 10-24-77 report to the panel claimed "The exit area through the right frontal above the boss can account for the small semi-circular notch 35 mm above the right orbit, the radiopaque mark near this, and at the upper right part of the track can explain the radiopaque markings on the triangular frontal fragment just in front of the coronal suture above stephanion." While his words might seem confusing Dr. Angel created a drawing to depict this conclusion, and it is not at all confusing. It is clearly taken directly from the "mystery photo" of our discussion. And it clearly shows the exit defect to be exactly where the Clark Panel said it was not, 35 mm (about 1 1/2 inches) above the eye socket in the supra-orbital region. This is indeed strange since not one witness observed an exit wound on Kennedy’s forehead. Also problematic is that when one matches the beveled outshoot and nearby
fractures of the open-cranium photo to Angel’s drawing, it becomes clear that
Kennedy’s eye sockets should be apparent in the photograph. Yet they are not. Even worse, when one looks at the
previously discussed bullet entrance near the hairline in the photo, and looks at the photo in Angel's orientation, the obvious entrance is now on the forehead, and unacknowledged. Something is indeed wrong with Angel's interpretation.
Now let's inject that Dr. Angel was Curator of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institute, and a noted lecturer on Anatomy, Anthropology, and Forensic Science at George Washington University and the John Hopkins School of Public Health. Although it is clearly incorrect, one would think Angel's interpretation of the photo would trump that of all others.
But the HSCA panel, perhaps concerned for the reputation of their colleagues on the Clark Panel--who had repeatedly proclaimed that there'd been no exit on the forehead visible in the photo, and who had failed to mention any other exit location--refused to confirm Angel's findings, and claimed instead that the photo did indeed show an exit, as claimed by Angel, just not one on the forehead! When the HSCA trajectory report published a depiction of the outshoot on a skull, it depicted an exit defect inches above and to the side the exit defect in Angel’s drawing.
And not only did the HSCA ignore Dr. Angel's interpretation of the exit location, they dismissed Angel's finding that the triangular
frontal bone fragment had come from in front of the coronal suture, and
asserted instead that it was parietal and had come from behind the coronal
suture. (This will be shown in Exhibit F-66, a few slides below).
Should we not take the pathology panel's rejection of Angel's report as a possible indication something is indeed wrong with the orientation of the photograph used in their mutual study? And, while we're at it, might we not take the Clark Panel's insistence there was no exit on the forehead, and Angel's subsequent assertion that the photos show precisely that, as an indication that the Clark Panel knew the photos showed as much, but were reluctant to come to any conclusion saying as much, since they knew this would be in clear conflict with the statements of not just the autopsy doctors, but the statements of everyone to see Kennedy's body after the shooting?
While there are
those in the media who focus on the more outlandish conspiracy theorists and
seek to discredit all conspiracy theorists by pointing out their lack of
consistency, they fail to notice the horrific lack of consistency demonstrated
by those representing the government. To my knowledge, there has not been ONE news story or report to ever point out
that Angel placed the exit on the President’s forehead, and that many single-assassin theorists have come to agree with him, even though not ONE eyewitness saw an
exit on the forehead and no official panel has ever considered such a thing.
Baden Testimony Comparison
On September 7,
1978, Dr. Michael Baden testified before the HSCA and presented the
findings of the Forensic Pathology Panel. His testimony was long and thorough,
and frequently mind-boggling. At one
point he presented Exhibit F-60, explaining “the semicircular defect that I am
pointing to corresponds with the black dot present on the previous exhibit”
(which was F-58). A quick look at F-60,
however, reveals that it is a close-up of the beveled bone at the back of the
head in the open cranium photo (previously discussed as Figure 15) What is
suspicious once again, though, is that it was presented in the report not
turned the way Baden purports to interpret it, but
sideways from his interpretation, as if it was indeed a picture of the back of
the head and not the forehead. It’s also
a bit odd that, even though this blow-up was taken from one of four photographs--two
black and white and two color--that demonstrate the open cranium, Baden
made a point of telling the commission it was taken from “the only photograph
that shows any internal structure of the President.” When one compares the open-cranium photo to
F-58, and follows Baden’s interpretation of the
outshoot, moreover, one can easily discern something is wrong. When one lifts the exit defect in the photo
to the level of the defect in the drawing, and makes the size of the defects
match, one can see that there is entirely too much forehead in the photograph above the
defect, and that it clearly is not angled the way the skull would be near the
defect in the drawing. There is also the problem, already noted, that in this orientation the obvious bullet entrance in the photo is now on Kennedy's left forehead, and unexplained.
While the autopsy doctors have never voiced their disagreement with Baden's interpretation of the photo, it is nevertheless enlightening that they have repeatedly made statements indicating they remembered taking photographs depicting the bullet entrance on the back of the head, both from the outside and from the inside. Not once in all their statements, moreover, have they stated they took a photograph of a beveled outshoot at or near the President’s forehead. In Dr. Humes’ testimony before the Warren Commission, for example, he specifically denied there was such an outshoot, and said the only beveling indicating an outshoot discovered at the autopsy was on a large bone fragment discovered in the limousine by the Secret Service. He testified “A careful examination of the margins of the large bone defect at this point failed to disclose a portion of the skull bearing again a wound of--a point of impact on the skull of this fragment of the missile, remembering, of course, that this area was devoid of any scalp or skull at this present time. We did not have the bone” and stressed “the thing which we considered of importance about these three fragments of bone (the ones brought in by the Secret Service towards the end of the autopsy) was that at the margins of one of them which was roughly pyramidal in shape, there was a portion of the circumference of what we interpreted as a missile wound.” When discussing this large bone fragment before the HSCA, however, Dr. Baden told a new and improved story, a story that, not surprisingly, supported his contention the beveled bone apparent in the photo was part of his proposed exit defect. He testified: “The doctors looked at the bone fragments, took x-rays of the bone fragments, inserted this particular bone fragment against this semi-circle and concluded that they matched and fitted together.” If they did, it was news to them.
And news to Baden's panel. When
discussing the autopsy protocol’s description of the large exit, the report of Baden's panel claims: “The
description of the bone fails to recognize either the semi-circular defect or
any beveling in the bone fragments still attached to the head.” The report then quotes a
February 1965 letter by Dr. Finck to his superior General Blumberg. It records Finck's thoughts as he first
inspected the large defect, and relates “No exit wound
is identifiable at this time in the skull, but close to midnight portions of cranial vault are received from Dallas,
Texas. X-ray films of these bone specimens reveal numerous metallic
fragments. Two of the bone specimens, 50
millimeters in diameter, reveal beveling when viewed from the external aspect,
thus indicating a wound of exit.” Thus,
both Humes and Finck claimed there was no apparent beveling on the intact
part of the skull. While Dr. Boswell was less clear on this matter, he told researcher Josiah Thompson on 1-11-67 that
the direction of the bullet in the skull was determined by the beveling
at entrance, the destruction within the brain, and the beveling on the
recovered skull fragment. Thus, he too confirmed there was
NO beveled exit on the intact skull!
Is it reasonable then to believe all three doctors failed to note this beveled exit, when it was
really on the edge of the exit defect? Or should we look for another explanation?
Only adding to the weirdness of the pathology panel’s report is that, while the autopsy doctors have never been able to identify the photo of the bullet entrance taken from inside Kennedy’s skull, the HSCA forensic pathology report, when discussing the bullet entrance, states, “Stereoscopic visualization of the inside of the cranial cavity at its depth, after removal of the brain, reveals a semicircular beveled defect in the posterior parietal area to the right of the midline, from which fracture lines radiate corresponding to the entrance perforation indicated in the skull x-rays.” Since Dr. Baden testified that F-60 was a detail of the “only photograph that shows any internal structures of the President at the time of the autopsy” and since there is no photograph showing the entrance wound from the inside listed in any of the photographic reports of the HSCA, it’s clear that this reference to stereographic visualization is a reference to looking at photos 44 and 45 at the same time. Well, where is this entrance? More pointedly, why didn't Dr. Baden point this entrance out in his testimony? Or his panel in their report? They had exhibit F-60 to work with. The entrance would have to be in there somewhere. Why didn't they show it to the committee?
one dives further in the report, and reads the section entitled "Course
of the Missile Through the Head," it becomes clear the panel didn't
spend much time on this photo because they lacked confidence it was
really as claimed. While discussing photos 17, 18, 44, and 45, the
report reads "The lens was focused on the interior-posterior deepest
portion of the wound, apparently in an attempt to depict the
interior of the bullet perforation of the posterior region of the
skull. In the photograph prepared from color transparency No. 45, the
exterior bone fragment with the semicircular defect is more in focus
than the base of the skull in the depth of the picture which is out of
focus. In the photographs prepared from positive color transparency No.
45, the exterior fragment is out of focus, but the depth of the
photograph is in sharper focus. The photographs, also studied using the
computer-assisted enhancement technique, show a possible portion
of the beveled inner table corresponding to the semicircular margin of
the entrance wound at the back of the head in the right posterior
parietal bone." What was formerly a revelation was now just a
While some researchers believe they see an entrance in the far back of the skull (which I interpret as the base of the skull) in the autopsy photo in question, NONE have described this entrance as “a semi-circular beveled defect in the parietal area” nor has anyone noted fracture lines corresponding to the skull x-rays. As strange as it may sound, the description of this defect as both “semi-circular” and “beveled” makes me suspect that Baden and/or the writers of the pathology panel's report, Dr.s Loquvam and Weston, were trying to portray the same beveled piece of bone Baden testified was an exit in front of Kennedy’s right ear as an entrance high on the back of his head!
But it gets weirder. In April 2006, I was able to obtain some footage of Dr. Baden’s testimony. What I saw made my jaw drop. When the blow-up of the purported exit on Kennedy’s skull, HSCA Exhibit F-60, was brought out and placed on the exhibit stand, it was placed the same way it was printed in the HSCA report, with the bone stretching vertically. Dr. Baden, however, immediately sought to correct this “mistake.” With the photo in his hand displaying the ridge of bone horizontally, and with the defect at the top of this ridge, he grabbed the exhibit and began to turn it to match the photo in his hand.
A World Upside Down
After beginning to turn the blow-up of the small beveled exit to match the photo in his hand, however, something led Dr. Baden to stop and turn it back the other way, so that the large skull defect was now beneath the small beveled exit, which was, in turn, beneath some intact bone. Since this large defect was the opening through which Kennedy’s brain had been removed, it made no sense to portray this defect as one strictly on Kennedy’s right side. (That this is, in fact, an error, is demonstrated by Exhibit F-66, presented only moments after Exhibit F-60. F-66 portrays the large defect as above and behind a beveled exit on the frontal bone, with NO bone directly above the exit.)
Unfortunately, Dr. Baden’s testimony compounded his error: (Image 1, Baden pointing at the skull above the defect in the photos): “This is the front part of the skull of the President (Image 2) in this area” (Image 3) “and this semi-circular defect that I’m pointing to corresponds (Image 4) with the black dot on the previous exhibit and shows a portion of a gunshot wound of exit as determined by the panel, by viewing, by being able to see beveling, that is the breaking of bone away in a certain pattern as a BB does when it goes through plate glass, causing a beveling on the glass in the direction to which the BB would proceed. This happens when a bullet enters and exits skull bones and other bones and this was a conclusion of the panel that this was an exit perforation.”
Now compare this to the published transcript (with notable changes italicized): “The photograph shows the front right part of the skull of the President and the semi-circular defect that I am pointing to corresponds with the black dot present on the previous exhibit. This is a portion of a gunshot wound of exit as determined by the panel because of the beveling of the outer layer of bone visible in the photographs, which is also described in the autopsy report. Beveling refers to the breaking away of bone in a concave pattern as when a BB goes through plate glass causing a concavity in the glass in the direction in which the BB is proceeding. This also happens when a bullet enters and exits skull bone and other bones. It is the conclusion of the panel that this is unquestionably an exit perforation.”
After noticing the changes in Dr. Baden’s testimony, and commenting online, I received word from someone who testified before the HSCA that everyone who testified was given a transcript of their testimony and given the opportunity to change their public testimony. While I was well aware that witnesses are allowed to change their statements and depositions in the pre-trial phase of court proceedings it was news to me that anyone could go back and change the transcripts of their public testimony. Since not all of Dr. Baden’s changes were grammatical—the first italicized section conceals that he was pointing to the skull, the second italicized section is new and misleading testimony (as discussed, the autopsy report made no reference whatsoever to a beveled exit on the intact skull, and Dr. Humes' testimony specifically dismissed that such an exit was apparent), and the third italicized section reflects a degree of certainty not communicated in Baden's actual testimony—one should rightly wonder to what degree the testimony of other witnesses has been changed. If anyone has all the public hearings on tape, and is willing to sit down and record the changes made in the transcripts, it would undoubtedly prove fascinating. While I would like to think Committee members were informed whenever testimony was changed, I don’t think we should make such an assumption. Accordingly, if anyone knows the standard procedures involved in changing public testimony before congress, and whether the HSCA staff followed these procedures, I will include their comments in my next update.
Baden's Reign of Error
Once one realizes that the head of the HSCA's forensic pathology panel testified with one of his key exhibits upside down, of course, one should rightly wonder why. Was he really so befuddled by the head wounds? If so, then we shouldn’t place much stock in his assertion that the bone in the mystery photo is forehead. If not, then we need to figure out why he would deliberately testify in a manner that could only sow confusion among the Committee.
On 7-16-07, researcher Barb Junkkarinen related something on the alt.assassination.jfk newsgroup that feeds into the possibility Baden simply couldn't understand the photograph. She comforted single-assassin theorist extraordinaire David Von Pein, who'd been honest enough to admit he couldn't make sense of the photograph, by telling him "Baden by the way, turned my 8x10 glossy of that photo round and round then thrust his hand holding the pic in the air and shrugged his shoulders when I asked him to orient it for me at a little private lunch meeting 6 or 7 of us were able to have with Wecht and Baden in Monterey, Calif a few years ago. He didn't have a clue how it should be either."
If the photograph was so difficult for Baden to understand, then why did he testify about it, and use it as evidence the shots came from behind? Perhaps he answers this himself. In his 2001 book Dead Reckoning, he writes: "Physicians may be the worst witnesses. They are often swayed by whoever asked them to be an expert. If that lawyer is smart enough to ask their advice, they conclude, he must know what he is doing. That being the case, physicians therefore adopt whatever the lawyer tells them as the facts of the case and become, if only subconsciously, an advocate for the lawyer rather than an independent adviser."
Of course, Baden considers himself beyond such seduction. In his 1989 book Unnatural Death, he recounts how disgusted he was with HSCA
chief counsel Robert Blakey when Blakey came to him at the last minute and
asked for his help in finding medical evidence for a conspiracy. Naturally, he
told Blakey he couldn’t do such a thing. This pillar of decency, of course, also disapproves of the widespread
availability of the autopsy photos. In
his book Dead Reckoning, he writes: “It is a shame. This is not a procedure that should be viewed
by anyone other than those who need to know the details in the pursuit of
light of this statement, one might think he'd shy from using the photos
for his own profit. But one would be wrong. On January 9, 2008, an
episode of Dr. Baden's HBO series Autopsy featured several of Kennedy's
autopsy photos, some in full color. Presumably, Baden thought that
placing black lines over Kennedy's eyes made the photos fit for
broadcast, and that it was better for him to make money off these
slightly edited photos than have somebody else put them up on the
internet for educational purposes, and for free.
If it sounds like I'm annoyed with Baden, it's only cause I am. Beyond his testifying with his exhibit upside down, he's spread more misinformation about the Kennedy assassination than just about anyone alive. Someone so out of touch with the case should not be permitted to pass himself off as an expert. Consider...
Baden's Reign of Error 2008
In the 1-09-08 episode of Autopsy, Dr. Baden's program on HBO, he reviewed the evidence in the Kennedy assassination, and made a number of bizarre claims. Here is a healthy sample.
- When discussing the initial press conference given by Kennedy's emergency room doctors. Dr. Baden proclaimed "In fact, the doctors down in Texas, where the shooting occurred, indicated he'd been shot in the back and in the front." (The doctors, in fact, indicated no such thing. They described an entrance in Kennedy's throat and a large wound on the back of his head. They presumed this to be an exit for the bullet entering his throat. They said nothing to indicate the bullet causing this wound came from behind Kennedy.)
- When discussing the initial autopsy, the program's narrator asserted: "Because the pathologist's notes were stained with blood, he burned them. After he found out that a tracheotomy had been performed in Dallas, he tried to reconstitute his notes, based on what he could remember." (This is nonsense. Dr. Humes, the pathologist in question, testified in 1996 that he burned his notes only after copying them, and that he burned these notes the day after he found out about the tracheotomy. He'd made similar claims to Dr. Baden and the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel in 1977, and the Warren Commission in 1964. The implication that the initial autopsy report was in error because Dr. Humes couldn't remember what he saw is thus unjustified and deceptive. Is it a coincidence, then, that this misrepresentation feeds Dr. Baden's eventual conclusion that the autopsy report was riddled with errors, but that these errors were somehow "innocent." One suspects not.)
- Shortly thereafter, when discussing the autopsy photos, Dr. Baden repeated the story of Floyd Riebe, a navy photographer whose camera was confiscated by the Secret Service. He then explained what he considers to be the poor quality of the photos by stating "The only one who was taking photographs was a Secret Service person who'd never taken autopsy photos before." (This is frighteningly inaccurate. The remaining autopsy photographer was John Stringer, the Navy's top autopsy photographer, and Riebe's superior. In Unnatural Death, published nearly 20 years before making this statement, Baden claimed the lone photographer was an FBI photographer. This incensed the original autopsists, Dr. James Humes and Dr. J. Thornton Boswell, so much that they made a point of debunking Baden's claim in a 1992 interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. One would have thought that Dr. Baden would remember his getting schooled in such a fashion, and have not repeated this mistake, but apparently Dr. Baden is correction-proof. )
- When complaining about the autopsy report, Dr. Baden claimed that the autopsy doctors "did not make proper measurements of the bullet holes, did not properly describe the bullet holes as to entrance and exit." (This last statement is a puzzle. The 1978 pathology panel led by Dr. Baden came to the exact same conclusions as the autopsy report, as to which holes were entrance and exit. Perhaps he was thinking of the original conclusions of the doctors on the night of the autopsy, as opposed to the report they signed two days later.)
- Later, Baden pronounced his support for the conclusion that Oswald acted alone and that the timing problems raised by the Zapruder film could be explained by the "fact" that the first shot missed. He said: "There was only one shooter, Oswald. The Zapruder film on close analysis shows the first bullet miss and hit the curb of the road that the car was traveling." (This is only the most ill-informed statement ever uttered by a supposed expert on the case. Not one analysis of the film, including those performed by the most zealous single-assassin theorists proposing Oswald acted alone, has claimed that a bullet strike on the curb is visible. Those holding that a first shot miss is detectable base their claims upon blurs on the film thought to coincide with rifle shots, and the behavior of a few of the witnesses. None have insinuated they could see the bullet hit a curb. Baden's contention therefore is a dead giveaway that he was making this stuff up as he went along, based on what he could remember, and that NO ONE at HBO thought to run this show by anyone with the slightest smidgen of genuine knowledge about the case.)
- But Baden wasn't done. To combat the argument that Kennedy's back-and-to-the-left motion after the head shot indicated a shot was fired from the front, Baden argued: "Subsequent experiments show, and subsequent experience with people being shot do show that when someone is shot from the front they can go front or back--sometimes front, sometimes back. It isn't predictable what way the body is gonna go." (If anyone knows what "experiments" he is talking about, please bring these "experiments" to my attention. In the meantime, we can suspect that Dr. Baden was thinking of the tests performed by Dr. Olivier, and discussed in his testimony for the Rockefeller Commission. Olivier related that in tests where goats were shot in the head, the bodies of the goats fell to the ground in an almost random pattern. Baden overlooked that Dr. Olivier also related that when he'd fired upon human skulls, "The skulls that we shot invariably rolled away from the gun." This suggests that the back-and-to-the-left motion of a head would not be so random.)
Baden's Reign of Error 2004
On November 22, 2004, Dr. Baden made a brief appearance on the cable TV program Investigating History: The JFK Assassination. This afforded him just enough time to make two false statements.
- When discussing the flaws in the autopsy, Baden claimed "The autopsy had not been done by pathologists who'd been trained in gunshot wounds. It was done by hospital pathologists." (This was not true. Dr. Pierre Finck was a forensic pathologist and an expert in gunshot wounds employed by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in 1963. When testifying before the Warren Commission on 3-16-64, he asserted "I was certified in pathology anatomy by the American
Board of Pathology in 1956, and by the same American Board of Pathology
in the field of forensic pathology in 1961."
When questioned by Baden and his forensic pathology panel on 3-12-78, moreover, Finck actually expanded on this point. He asserted: "being in charge of the Wound Ballistics Pathology Branch I reviewed most
missile wounds sent to the AFIP for several years so I must have -- I
did not keep track by weapon or the number of injuries that I have
reviewed but in my experience I have (studied) a great variety of injuries
produced by a great variety of missiles from a great variety of weapons.")
- Shortly thereafter, Baden added "There was the regular autopsy photographer there, taking pictures, and he was confronted, I believe, by an FBI person...They kicked him out. they opened up his camera and exposed all the film." (For this program, anyhow, Baden stopped short and did not make the related claim that the photos in the archives were taken instead by an FBI agent, and that that is why these photos lack clarity. But that's clearly where he was headed...)
Baden's Reign of Error 2003
November 2003, Dr. Baden spoke at the Wecht Conference at Duquesne
University. In attendance at this conference, and in his audience, were
a number of his fellow forensic pathologists. There were also dozens of
amateur experts on the Kennedy medical evidence. While one might think
that Baden did a little studying before his appearance, in order to
avoid embarrassment, one would be wrong. Here, as on HBO, he appears to
be "winging" it.
- When discussing the autopsy report, he
Humes also took notes and he destroyed the notes before he wrote his
report, which is one of the reasons his measurements were off." (As
previously discussed, this is nonsense. Dr. Humes clarified this issue
in 1996 by asserting he destroyed his notes only after writing his
preliminary report. While Dr. Baden may wish to believe Humes burned
his notes before copying them, as that offers him an explanation for
what he believes to be Humes' mistaken impression of the entrance
location on the the back of Kennedy's head, there is really nothing to
support this. )
telling the story of Floyd Riebe, the Navy cameraman whose camera was
confiscated by the Secret Service, Baden asserted: "Other, somebody
else, took the photographs for
the Secret Service, for the FBI, who had not taken such photos before.
We have those photos. They are blurry. They are not the proper
photos." (As previously discussed, the photographs were taken by Riebe's
boss, John Stringer, the Navy's top autopsy photographer, who'd taken
thousands of "such photos" before.)
- Baden then discussed the autopsy photo of the empty cranium.
He stated: "There is enough to show in the bullet wound
of the inside of the cranial cavity an entrance perforation through
bone in the back of the head..." He then asks them to put an x-ray on
screen. He points out the level of the EOP entrance. He points out the
level of the cowlick entrance. He then stated: "Clearly when
we look into the cavity on the photograph, the internal beveling is
here." A bit later, when he returned to a discussion of the entry wound
described at autopsy, he re-affirmed his assertion that an entry wound
is visible on the interior aspect of the "mystery photo." He said:
"They described it as four inches too low, and it doesn't match the
x-rays; it doesn't match the one interior view of the skull that's
useful." Still later, when confronted on this point during a panel
discussion, he claimed: "There was inward beveling that we could see in
one of the photographs--in fact the one that you showed up there. When
you look at it closely, we all 8 of us--I think Cyril agreed also--that
there was inward beveling on the upper portion of the back of the
skull. There was no occipital bone entrance." (This is quite
interesting. While the pathology panel's report did indeed assert there
was "a semicircular beveled defect in the posterior parietal
area to the right of the midline, from which fracture lines radiate
corresponding to the entrance perforation indicated in the skull" there
is no exhibit in the report to demonstrate this entrance. Dr. Baden
never mentioned it in his testimony. Nor did he show it in this
presentation, or point it out to others when its existence was
challenged. It seems clear from this that Baden never really had any confidence that what he saw was an entrance, and was only pretending he was confident, hoping no one would call him on his bluff. Far from Dr.
Baden's assertion, moreover, that when one studies the photo, a beveled
entrance on the "upper portion of the back of the skull" becomes
apparent, most who've studied this photo have concluded there is no
bone at all in the location of Baden's purported entrance.)
- While trying to explain the autopsists' mistakes, Baden then cited the March 1978 testimony of Pierre Finck. He said: "Pierre Finck says to us, when he testified, 'For 20 years I've been looking at autopsy reports; I never did an autopsy in a gunshot wound case.'" (This is 100% wrong. When Dr. Finck testified before Baden's pathology panel on 3-11-78, Baden asked him if he'd ever personally performed an autopsy on a gunshot victim. Finck's job in 1963 was reviewing autopsies performed by others on behalf of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Finck responded "Well, I was not always at the AFIP. I had duties as well where I performed autopsies of gunshot wounds before 1959.")
discussing Dr. Humes' original impression of the back wound, he stated:
"Humes looks in the back,
sees the wound in the back, doesn't appreciate there's an exit wound in
the front, so he says, and then later denies, but the Secret Service
guys have it in writing while they're taking down every word he says,
that uh, the bullet must have gone in, stopped, turned around, and came
out the same entrance." (This passage includes a number of mistakes.
First of all, no one took down Dr. Humes' every word at the autopsy.
Second of all, it was FBI agents Sibert and O'Neil who wrote the report
to which Dr. Baden refers. Third of all, there is nothing in their
report indicating that Dr. Humes felt the bullet turned around inside
Kennedy. It asserts instead that Humes felt "the bullet had worked its
way back out of the point of entry" during external cardiac massage.)
proposing that the single-bullet theory still works, even though his
panel found that the back wound was below the throat wound, he
described Kennedy's position at the time of the shot: "He's leaning
forward enough to make a 20
degree angle or so." (As he said this Baden leaned far further forward
than Kennedy appears to be leaning during the period Baden proposes
Kennedy was shot.)
then threw in "And
remember he has Addison's disease--he's taking steroids for the
Addison's disease. He has a little hump on his back from the fat that
steroids cause." (This is a clear reference to Dr. Lattimer and his
somewhat deranged suggestion that Kennedy was a hunchback, and that his
hunch deflected the bullet down his neck. Dr. Baden doesn't seem to
realize that this explanation was offered by Lattimer to explain why
the back entrance appeared to be below the throat wound, when it was
not. As Dr. Baden believes the back wound really was below the throat
wound, and traveled upwards in the neck, the hump is completely
irrelevant to his point. That he cannot see this only demonstrates his
- He then repeated another Lattimer myth already discussed. While discussing Connally's back wound, he claimed: "The bullet entered sideways, not straight on. It had to have hit something first--an intermediary target. The intermediary target was the President." (As previously discussed, Connally's doctor, Robert Shaw, insisted that the bullet was not traveling sideways upon contact with the skin, nor in its approach to his rib.)
under questioning, when asked about the single-bullet theory, he
asserted: "Mrs Connally states in her new book
that Governor Connally heard the first shot--that's the one that we
concluded hit the curbside--you can see that in the Zapruder film." (This is a pre-cursor to his latter statement on HBO. It is, of course,
ludicrous. No one can see a bullet strike a curb in the Zapruder film. )
then discussed the shot at frame 313 of the Zapruder film: "That
bullet then strikes the President in the head, narrowly missing Mrs.
Kennedy, and breaks apart when it strikes the strut in the windshield,
and is found in the windshield." Later, when asked how he could explain
the different behaviors of the two bullets--one that goes through both
Kennedy and Connally, and is barely damaged, and another that seems to
explode upon impact, he repeated: "The bullet striking
President Kennedy in the back of the head, causes this tremendous
explosion in the right side, when that bullet leaves...it then strikes
the metal frame in the center of the windshield, and that's when it
breaks apart. It doesn't break apart--and that's why both pieces are
found right underneath the metal strut in the front of the vehicle." (This ignores that there were two impacts on the front the limo, one on the inside of the windshield and one on the inside of the windshield strut, and that this suggests the two pieces, one the nose of the bullet, and one the base of the bullet, exited separately from the skull. By asserting that the bullet passed through the skull intact, moreover, Baden was exposing himself as a single-assassin theorist unconcerned with the available evidence. The
Warren Commission's wound ballistics expert Dr. Olivier, after all, had not only testified that the bones of the skull were "enough to deform the end of this bullet," but had presented bullet fragments recovered from the cotton waste behind his test skulls that were "quite similar" to the fragments found in the front seat of the limo. His report and subsequent statements, moreover, specified that the "nose of the bullet erupted on" the back of nine of the ten skulls fired upon. And he wasn't the only one to note this tendency. Dr. Lattimer, after performing his own tests of the ammunition, similarly reported, in a 1976
article in Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics, that the bullets in his
test firings "always broke up on striking the skull and then diverged,
making a larger wound of exit." That the bullet broke up on impact with the skull, and not after its exit, is so clear, in fact, that Dr. Russell Fisher, Baden's mentor, had no problem saying as much in the Clark Panel's report, writing "The projectile fragmented on entering the skull, one major
section leaving a trail of fine metallic debris as it passed forward
and laterally to explosively fracture the right frontal and parietal
- While this marked the end of Baden's presentation, he received an opportunity to explain this last point further during a subsequent panel discussion. When asked why the bullets behaved so differently, Dr. Baden said of the bullet striking Kennedy's skull: "It doesn't fragment. It strikes the strut in the window, and the two portions..." Dr. Randy Robertson interrupted him here and pointed out the fragments in the brain, to which Baden replied "It's lead coming out from the back of the bullet, back of that bullet, and when it strikes the strut in the window is when it breaks apart. And the two portions are collected from the vehicle." Here Robertson again interjected that the bullet would have to have fragmented to leave that trail. Baden responded: "It squeezed out the back, what happens with full-metal jacket bullets." (Here, Baden's refusal to make sense is once again made clear. Somehow, he actually forgot that a circular fragment of the bullet striking Kennedy in the skull was determined by his panel to have come to rest on or in the back of Kennedy's skull. This fragment, moreover, was reportedly 6.5 mm wide--the width of the rifle's ammunition. This undoubtedly implies this fragment was a slice from the middle of the bullet. This makes his assertion that the fragments in the skull were nothing but lead that had squeezed out the back of the bullet bizarre, to say the least. It is also inconsistent with his testimony before congress, as he told them that the supposedly 6.5 mm fragment was a piece of metal that "rubbed off from the bullet on entering the skull and was deposited at the entrance site." Being rubbed off from a bullet is not the same as being squeezed out the back of a bullet. Not in this universe. That Baden's fellow pathologists on the HSCA panel did not share his strange assertion that all the lead in the skull, including the 6.5 mm fragment, was squeezed out of the back of the bullet was made more than clear, moreover, in the panel's final report, which claimed "The small missile fragment present at the margin of the entrance wound was probably a portion of the missile jacket...")
On 2-20-2000, Dr. Baden met with a number of JFK assassination researchers, including Dr. Gary Aguilar and Dr. David Mantik, for an extended lunch and discussion of the case. While this was designed as an informal discussion, Dr. Baden has, both prior to this meeting, and after, presented himself as an expert on the case. As a result, the mistakes he made in this discussion are worth noting and his bogus claims worth quoting.
- First of all, it's important to note that, during the discussion of the autopsy photos, Dr. Baden repeatedly cited the Riebe story and tried to claim the photos had been taken by a Secret Service agent or FBI agent with no experience. He was corrected on this point, also repeatedly, by Dr. Gary Aguilar, and told the photos were taken by John Stringer, the Navy's top autopsy photographer. This, then, proves that Baden should have known better when he subsequently repeated the Riebe story and claimed the photos were taken by an "agent" of some sort.
- Second of all, it's important to note that, during the discussion of the x-rays, Dr. Baden refused to argue with Dr. Mantik over the location of the supposed 6.5 mm bullet fragment supposedly found on the back of Kennedy's head. He insisted, first, that you couldn't tell where the large fragment on the A-P x-ray was located on the lateral x-ray. After being told by Mantik that the HSCA's radiologists--the radiologists whose reports Dr. Baden placed into evidence--had claimed that, yes, indeed, this fragment was on the back of Kennedy's head, Baden then backed down, insisting he had no recollection of their claiming as much in their reports, and no explanation for a fragment on the back of Kennedy's head. This, of course, is in opposition to his testimony, where he claimed part of the bullet rubbed off upon entrance. Perhaps more problematic, however, is this: if Baden had been reminded of the radiology reports in 2000, why did he go back to ignoring them when speaking at the Wecht conference in 2003? Had he grown to disavow the reports he'd once placed into evidence? Or did he fail to respect the doctors with whom he'd been speaking in 2000, and forget everything they'd told him the minute he was out the door?
- Baden's contempt for the original autopsists is also apparent. Here, he claimed that Dr. Humes destroyed the notes containing the autopsy measurements before writing the autopsy protocol, and that Humes just guessed at the measurements in the protocol. Humes had testified to writing the autopsy protocol on Saturday. He'd testified to burning his blood-stained notes on Sunday. Baden's claim was therefore without merit. Baden then used this total fabrication about Humes' purported fabrication to explain how Humes could be so wrong about the entrance wound location.
- There is a problem with this, of course. Dr. Finck, a forensic pathologist with some experience with gunshot wounds, repeatedly confirmed that the entrance wound was by the EOP, where Dr. Humes claimed it was, and not 10 cm higher on the skull, where Dr. Baden's mentor Dr. Fisher had claimed it to have actually been located. This made Dr. Finck an obstacle to be overcome. It's disappointing but not surprising, then, that in this discussion, Dr. Baden repeatedly misrepresented Dr. Finck's 1978 testimony to Dr. Baden's panel. Dr. Baden said Finck had had told him "I'd never done a God damn autopsy!" and that Finck "just
stood and watched. That's what he testified to. He said 'I had no
expertise to tell anybody what to do.' He had never done a gunshot wound
autopsy before. He didn't know what to do." Dr. Baden then asserted that the blood in Kennedy's hair had confused poor Finck, and had led him to believe the entrance wound was 4 inches lower on Kennedy's head than it really was. A transcript exists, of course, of Dr. Finck's testimony before the HSCA. He said nothing remotely similar to what Dr. Baden told the researchers Finck had told him. In fact, the transcript proves Baden to be mistaken on most every point. Not only had Finck told Baden he'd performed gunshot wound autopsies before, he'd told him he'd arrived at the autopsy after Kennedy's scalp and hair had been reflected from Kennedy's skull. So much, then, for Baden's claim he'd been confused by Kennedy's hair. Finck told Baden, moreover, that he then stepped up and inspected Kennedy's wounds and made sure certain photos were taken of the entrance wound low on Kennedy's skull. Well, this completely destroys Dr. Baden's claim Finck told him he'd "just watched" as well.
It seems more than a coincidence, for that matter, that the recording of Dr. Baden's interview of Finck proves both that Finck held his ground with Baden--by refusing to concede that the entrance wound was really in the cowlick--and that Dr. Baden subsequently misrepresented Finck's statements in a manner suggesting Finck had acquiesced and admitted his incompetence. Dr. Baden's "mistakes" in this discussion, then, suggest that he is either a brazen liar, or somewhat delusional, and capable of believing whatever he'd like to believe.
Or maybe he was just old... He was 65 in January, 2000, scarcely a dinosaur but most definitely a senior...
Nope, not going for it. A quick review of Baden's 9-7-78 HSCA testimony shows that he'd told the House Committee: "Some people assume authority and upon others authority is thrust as happened to Dr. Humes. He was later to become president of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. A well experienced hospital pathologist in the scheme of things, he had not been exposed to many gunshot wounds and had not performed autopsies in deaths due to shooting previously: neither had the other autopsy pathologists present. So they were required to do an autopsy that by experience and by the way our society is structured in the United States, is reserved for forensic pathologists and coroner's pathologists. As a result of that, certain things didn't happen."
He had thereby testified before congress that Dr. Finck had never performed an autopsy for a death due to shooting, and that Finck was not a forensic pathologist on 11-22-63. Well, as we've seen, this just wasn't true. Even worse, Baden knew this wasn't true when taking Finck's testimony on 3-12-78, less than 6 months before testifying before congress and telling them the opposite. Hmmm... Could it be that Baden's latter-day mistakes are not just reflections of his having a bad long-term memory, but are, instead, reflections of his never having grasped the facts in the first place?
Let's keep digging and see...
Baden's Reign of Error 1994
A January 16, 1994 column in the Schenectady New York Daily Gazette on the premiere of Dr. Baden's upcoming HBO program "Autopsy" offers a few choice comments by Baden on his experience with the HSCA. Amazingly, Baden claims that although numerous mistakes marred Kennedy's autopsy, "what we found was that the mistakes made in the Kennedy autopsy were ones that were commonly made in all autopsies in 1963." This is incredible. He can't possibly believe it was "common" for a team of doctors, including a forensic pathologist, to claim a bullet entered low on the skull, when it really entered 4 inches higher, and then repeat this claim TWICE after reviewing the autopsy photos and x-rays. He can't possibly believe, furthermore, that it was "common" for such an incorrect claim to be confirmed by a number of other witnesses to the autopsy, and for not one witness to recall seeing a bullet entrance where he claims it to have actually been located. It's also hard to believe Baden honestly believes it was "common" for pathologists to describe a wound as an exit in their autopsy report that they never even probed, or recognized as a bullet wound--as was done with Kennedy's throat wound. Perhaps then Dr. Baden was thinking of the autopsists' errors of omission--such as their not removing the neck organs, or their failure to weigh the brain before the supplemental autopsy--when he said the mistakes at Kennedy's autopsy were "common." If he was really trying to push that it was "common" for a team of doctors to misrepresent a wound's location to the extent he believes the entrance on the back of Kennedy's head was misrepresented, after all, one is left with the unsettling probability Dr. Baden was blowing smoke and trying to deceive the public.
Baden's Reign of Error 1993
A January 24, 1993 AP article (found in the New York Daily Gazette) shows that Dr. Baden had just made an appearance at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and had decided to take the opportunity to publicly denounce Oliver Stone's film JFK. He is quoted as saying "The bottom line is: the Warren Commission got it right...It was two bullets from behind, and only two bullets that struck the President. Oliver Stone got it wrong." He also, however, took this opportunity to trounce those performing Kennedy's autopsy. The article continued: "Baden said the congressional panel found that the doctors who did the autopsy of Kennedy had never done a gunshot autopsy before." Well, this, as we've seen, wasn't true. But it gets worse. The article continued "'A lot of things were done wrong' in the Kennedy autopsy, Baden said. 'They made a lot of foolish mistakes.' Those mistakes included inaccurate measurements and drawings and initial confusion over whether the bullet wounds were exit wounds or entrance wounds. That confusion fueled much of the speculation that the president had to have been shot by more than one gunman, Baden said."
Well, that's just hooey. The autopsists' initial appraisal of the wounds as to entrance and exit were the same as Baden's final conclusions. Perhaps, then, he was confusing the autopsists at Bethesda with the emergency room doctors at Parkland Hospital. And what "measurements and drawings" was he talking about? If he meant those regarding the head wound, well, then, he was at least being consistent with the findings of his panel. But, if he was alluding to the government's former position holding that the location of the back wound on the face sheet had been in error, and had innocently contributed to the belief there was a conspiracy, well, then, he was repeating a factoid long pushed by men like Fisher and Lattimer, and had in the process disputed his own finding supporting that the location of the mark on the face sheet was accurate.
That Baden was more interested in pushing his own agenda, and selling his own wares, than in making accurate statements, moreover, is suggested by another passage in the article: "Baden said he doesn't believe that the incompetence of the original medical examination of Kennedy was part of a cover-up. 'As much error as there was, that's still what's going on in this country in most murder cases,' he said. 'The tragedy to me about JFK isn't that this was a sinister plot that's been covered over, but that the way the investigation was done is the usual way murder investigations are done in this country.'"
It's interesting that here, in 1993, Dr. Baden told a crowd that the mistakes made by Kennedy's autopsists were the usual kind of mistakes still made in this country, and that the next year, in 1994, he specified that the mistakes made by Kennedy's autopsists were common mistakes in 1963. Perhaps, then, he'd realized that his earlier statement had been a gross overstatement. Or maybe, just maybe, he'd actually believed there had been a tremendous improvement in the quality of autopsies performed in the year 1993. With him, it's hard to say.
Baden's Reign of Error 1989
In his first book, Unnatural Death, published 1989, Dr. Baden presented a chapter on the Kennedy assassination. One might think that Dr. Baden, concerned about his reputation, would be sure to make his book as accurate as possible, and review the reports and findings of the House Select Committee before committing his thoughts for posterity. But one would be wrong. Among Baden’s claims:
- Those who believe the back-and-to-the-left movement of Kennedy's head after frame 313 indicates the shot came from the front are mistaken because "They left out of their calculations the acceleration of the car Kennedy was riding in. Beyond that, the body simply does not react that way. The force of the bullet would just as likely cause Kennedy's head to move forward as backward. It's not predictable." (A quick look at the Zapruder and Nix films shows that the acceleration of the limousine came after the back-and-to the-left movement of the President’s head. This is not just the opinion of conspiracy theorists. Dr. John Lattimer noted as much in his 1976 article in Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics. In addition, Baden's claim that the movement of a head is unpredictable is either something he just made up because it sounded good...or was a misrepresentation of Dr. Olivier's testimony for the Rockefeller Commission, in which he claimed that the direction in which a goat's body fell after being shot in the head is unpredictable.)
forensic pathologist has ever examined the body of the President." (As we've seen, one
of the three doctors performing Kennedy's autopsy, Colonel Pierre
Finck, was a licensed forensic pathologist on November 22, 1963.)
- "Colonel Finck, it turned out, had never done an autopsy involving a gunshot wound, either." (As we've seen, Dr. Finck testified about his prior experience on 3-11-78. As a direct response to a question from Dr. Baden, Finck said he'd performed autopsies on gunshot wound victims prior to 1959. Apparently, Dr. Baden didn't note his answer.)
- "The FBI photographer, who had clearance, was in the same quandary as Humes. He had never taken autopsy pictures before and was untrained in photographing gunshot wounds." (As previously discussed, John Stringer, the actual photographer, was a civilian working for the Navy, and had been Bethesda Naval Hospital’s chief autopsy photographer for years. His work had been featured in textbooks.)
- "The Kennedy head bullet was found on the floor of Kennedy's car in front. It had struck the windshield strut and broken in two." (Since bullet fragments are smaller and lose their energy much more rapidly than intact bullets, it seems doubtful that two fragments of a bullet breaking up upon entrance on the back of the skull would traverse the skull and exit with the force necessary to crack a windshield and dent a windshield strut. This is in keeping, moreover, with the report of Baden's pathology panel, which observed that the large defect apparent at the supposed exit suggested the exit of a fragment the combined size of the recovered fragments. So it's not exactly surprising that Baden would try and claim the bullet exited intact and broke up after striking the windshield strut. The problem, as discussed above, is that HE SHOULD KNOW THIS ISN'T TRUE. Not only does he overlook that a fragment struck and cracked the windshield in addition to the strut, but he ignores that the two fragments found in the front seat were the nose and base of the bullet, and that they comprised only about half of the bullet. As much of the middle of this bullet was supposedly left in the skull, including the “slice” of bullet seen on the x-rays and interpreted by Baden and his panel to be on the back of the head by the bullet's entrance, it follows then like night from day that these fragments exited separately and did not break in two upon impact with the windshield strut. Baden's pretending that it did and that the "slice" just fell out the back of the bullet and clung to the back of the skull is bizarre beyond belief.)
- Dr. Humes burned his notes on November 23, the day after the shooting, before talking to Dr. Perry and finding out the tracheotomy incision had been cut through a bullet wound, and before starting work on the autopsy report. (This may be Baden's most egregious "mistake." Its existence reveals that as early as 1989 he was looking for ways to explain to his readers how Humes could be so mistaken about the location of the entrance wound on the back of Kennedy's head--and that he was willing to make stuff up to do this. There is simply no evidence supporting Baden's version of these events. Humes testified before the Warren Commission that he called Dr. Perry on the morning of the 23rd, began working on the autopsy report later that evening, and burned his notes the next day. He repeated this testimony, moreover, to Baden himself, when meeting with members of Baden's panel on 9-16-77. Shame, shame, shame.)
- The Cortisone that Kennedy was taking for his Addison’s disease "causes odd fat deposits--an upper back hump, full cheeks. Kennedy had them both, but Addison's disease is not mentioned in the autopsy report." (As discussed, the "back hump" or "hunchback" story is a disgusting fairy tale started by Dr. Lattimer to help explain how a descending bullet could enter Kennedy’s shirt and jacket inches below his shirt collar and still exit from his throat.)
- “Perhaps the most egregious error was the four-inch miscalculation.
The head is only five inches long from crown to neck, but Humes was
confused by a little piece of brain tissue that had adhered to the
scalp. He placed the head wound four inches lower than it actually was,
near the neck instead of the cowlick.” (This, of course, is nonsense. Baden must have known that Dr.s Humes and Boswell didn't just observe this wound on the scalp, but on the skull after the scalp had been peeled back. He also would have to have known their observation was confirmed by Dr. Pierre Finck, arriving after the beginning of the autopsy. He also should have known their "too low" location was confirmed by several other witnesses to the autopsy, including autopsy photographer John Stringer. His attempt, then, to make this "egregious error" appear to be the error of one man, and not many, and his failure to tell his readers that these witnesses verified this location numerous times, can only be viewed as deceptive.)
- "For the head wound, we enhanced the x-rays and saw the entrance perforation on top of the cowlick." (This would be news to the HSCA's radiology consultants, Dr.s McDonnell and Davis. Neither of them noted such an entrance in their reports. While they both concluded there was an entrance in this location, they did so based upon their observation of fractures and fragments in the area, NOT because they saw an entrance perforation. This distinction is an important one that Baden should not have forgotten.)
- That when inspecting the photos of the head wound "Pictures of the wound yielded more when viewed through a stereopticon. In three dimensions they showed the oblique lines (beveling) on the bone in the back of the skull that an entering bullet makes." (As discussed, this was never mentioned in Baden's testimony before the HSCA. It was mentioned but not demonstrated in his panel's report. Despite plentiful opportunities, no one has demonstrated it in all the years since.)
- "The trace metal content in the bullet found on the stretcher and the fragment from Connally's wrist match perfectly. It was a copper-jacketed military bullet with a core of 99 percent lead and insignificant amounts of strontium, arsenic, nickel, platinum, and silver. As small as they are, these traces are like fingerprints." (The magic bullet and the wrist fragment failed to match on copper, and barely matched on antimony. It also matched on silver, as did half the bullets tested. Protocols of the time dictated that, if a sample failed to match on one of these three, the samples did not match. Therefore there was no match, let alone a perfect match. None of the other elements listed by Baden were even tested.)
- That when he inspected Governor
Connally's back wound he saw "a two-inch long sideways entrance on his
back. He had not been shot by a second shooter but by the same
flattened bullet that went through Kennedy." (Dr. Baden wrote a memo on
this inspection for the HSCA. At that time he reported Connally's scar
as 1 1/8 inches long. His description of CE 399 as "flattened" is
another exaggeration. Only the base of the bullet was slightly
As you can see, this trip down the
lane of Baden's memory reveals that, over time, he's latched onto a lot
of myths, and forgotten a lot of evidence. He repeats the same old
canards over and over. "So what?" you might say. "By 2008 Baden was an
old man. By 1989, when Unnatural Death was published, he'd already
been away from the case for ten years. Of course, he made some
mistakes. What does that have to do with the accuracy or inaccuracy of
his initial investigation for the HSCA?" Well, what if the evidence
suggests that Baden didn't forget all that much about the case, and
that the real problem is that he never KNEW that much about the case?
That's right. Beyond his testifying with his autopsy photo upside down,
beyond his falsely testifying that Dr. Humes had testified to finding a beveled exit on the intact skull, beyond his falsely testifying that Dr. Finck was not a forensic pathologist and had never performed an autopsy on a gunshot victim, there's additional evidence that he was simply
ignorant of the basic facts he was charged with investigating.
Baden's Reign of Error 1980
In January 2008, on the JFK Lancer website, researcher Randy Owen posted a transcript of a seminar conducted by Dr. Baden in Toronto, Ontario, in November, 1980. November 1980 was but 2 years after Dr. Baden testified before the HSCA, and but a year and some months after the printing of his panel's report. He was but 46 years old, discussing a case he had worked on from when he was 42 until he was 44. And yet...he was already making tremendous mistakes.
- When discussing Abraham Zapruder and his film, he stated: "He's retired on the proceeds of the few seconds of film taking." (While Zapruder made a nice sum from the selling of his film to Time/Life, he was already a successful businessman before selling his film. Furthermore, he'd been dead since 1970. This was the kind of fact that was common knowledge to those with a genuine interest in the case.)
- When discussing the President's movements after the head shot, he stated "Interestingly, the Secret Service people indicate that immediately, as soon as they heard the first shot, they speeded up the car. This became a problem because in the whole analysis, it did appear that if he did speed up his car immediately, it had significance." (The limo's driver never said he sped up after the first shot. He said he looked back after what he thought was the second shot. The films reveal that the car slowed as he looked back, and only accelerated after Kennedy had been hit by the head shot.)
- Baden then attacked the lack of specificity in the autopsy report, noting: "The doctors who attended the President made a note that 'the injuries to the skull and brain are so complex that they defy description and we will rely on photographs taken to better describe the injury.'" (The statement to which he refers makes NO mention of the brain at all. It reads "The complexity of these fractures and the fragments thus produced tax satisfactory verbal description and are better appreciated in photographs and roentgenograms which are prepared." Could Baden really have forgotten that the doctors, while failing to section the brain and inspect the missile paths within the brain, nevertheless described in detail the apparent damage to the surface of the brain in their Supplemental Autopsy Report of 12-6-63? If not, was it a coincidence that Baden failed to acknowledge that the damage described in this report was inconsistent with his re-interpretation of the President's wounds?)
- He then explained why the doctors' reliance on the photographs made his
job so much harder. He claimed: "It turns out the photographs taken
were out of focus and are of little value because they were not done by
medical photographers but by government officials who had never taken
autopsy photographs before." (Holy smokes! The autopsy photographer
was, according to Baden, a "government official" in 1980, an FBI
photographer in 1989, "somebody else" in 2003, and a Secret Service
photographer in 2008. What will he be in 10 more years, an IRS agent
performing an audit? Baden's inability to grasp or admit that the pictures were
taken by John Stringer, the Navy's top autopsy photographer in 1963 and
a man interviewed for the HSCA on August 17, 1977 by HSCA counsel Andy
Purdy, Baden's contact with the committee, demonstrates beyond any
doubt that he never quite got a handle on the evidence he was tasked
- Baden then explained that it's not a doctors' job to decide who did it. He then told the audience who did it, injecting: "Oswald had the gun, it was his, there were his fingerprints on it, he pulled the trigger." (Of course, there'd been but one identifiable print found on the rifle--Oswald's palm print--and it was found on the barrel of the rifle, in a part that was only exposed when the rifle was disassembled. Furthermore, the only man to see this print on the rifle, Dallas detective J.C. Day, felt sure that this print was an old print. Thus, there was no scientific evidence that Oswald had "pulled the trigger".)
- Baden finally ended his presentation by pointing out the convergence of factors leading to the disappearance of Kennedy's brain before it could be studied. Not surprisingly, he found a way to blame it on the Kennedy family. He asserted "the x-rays, the specimens, all remained in custody of the Kennedy family. Like somebody is shot in Toronto or New York and the next of kin, who may be the perpetrator, says 'I want my pathologist to come in and do the autopsy. You take the pictures but give me the pictures so I can hold onto them.' And they kept the whole thing. This was done with good intent and all that..." (He completely left out, if he even knew, that the autopsy materials were not given to the Kennedy family until 1965, long after the Warren Commission had completed its investigation. He also omitted that the Johnson Administration, when it asked for the return of the materials in 1966, only asked for the autopsy photos and x-rays, and never requested the return of the brain for study.)
From all these mistakes it seems clear that Baden was never truly an expert on the case. Not even close.
But, to be fair, neither were the other members of his panel.
The Remarkable Dr. Spitz
Let's take, for example, Dr. Werner Spitz. Dr. Spitz had not only co-authored a prominent forensic pathology textbook, Medicolegal Investigation of Death, with Dr. Fisher of the Clark Panel, but he'd been Dr. Fisher's protege at the Maryland State Medical Examiner's office, and had been a colleague of the Clark Panel's Dr. Morgan at John Hopkins University. He'd also been a member of the Rockefeller Commission's medical panel, and had confirmed Fisher and Morgan's findings. His subsequent show of support for the Clark Panel's findings through the conclusions of the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, and through his subsequent comments, should then come as no surprise.
His appearance on the HSCA Panel, however, was a bit of a surprise at the time. According to an extensive article on the HSCA's investigation, published in the July 1979 issue of Gallery, the HSCA had specifically requested that members of the pathology panel be "noncontroversial." This was almost certainly a dig at Dr. Thomas Noguchi, a "coroner to the stars" in Los Angeles, who'd been heavily criticized and investigated. But this should also have meant Spitz's banishment, seeing as he'd spent much of the 2 years between his stints on the Rockefeller Commission Panel and HSCA Panel at the center of a criminal investigation, which, while not leading to an indictment, nevertheless confirmed that he'd 1) set up a private medical institute while working as Wayne County, Michigan's Chief Medical Examiner, which operated from the county's morgue, and used county employees and equipment, without reimbursement; 2) removed 7,000 pituitary glands from cadavers passing through the county's morgue, which he resold at a profit to his institute; 3) resold blood, brains, and urine from a number of cadavers in the morgue, at a profit to his institute, 4) conducted autopsies on infants as part of a state-wide study on crib death, which were reimbursed by the state to his institute, even though county employees and equipment were used; and 5) fired weapons on cadavers in the county morgue in order to test their wounding patterns, without receiving permission from the families of the cadavers, or the county.
It is presumed then that someone, almost certainly Dr. Baden, intervened on his behalf.
They certainly appear to be birds of a feather. Since his stint on the HSCA panel, Spitz, as Baden, has made numerous suspicious and inaccurate statements about the Kennedy assassination medical evidence. These mistakes, moreover, suggest that Spitz, as Fisher, was less than forthcoming on what the evidence suggests, and that Spitz, as Baden, never took the time to study the case.
In his book's chapter on gunshot wounds, Spitz claims "In the case of a
high-powered rifle, the external appearance of the entrance wound does
not materially differ from that of a gunshot wound inflicted with a
handgun or an ordinary rifle." To demonstrate this point, he makes
reference to a photo showing a small entrance wound on the back of a
head, closely resembling the supposed entrance near the cowlick on the back of Kennedy's head. Notably, he does not identify the type of rifle fired nor the
distance from which it was fired. He then proceeds to describe the
massive internal damage created by such a bullet. For this he makes
reference to another photo. Only this one shows a massive wound on the top of the head, closely resembling what is supposedly
the exit on Kennedy's head. The caption for this photo, however, explains "Shot from a
.30-.30 rifle fired from about 60 feet. The wound of entrance is indicated by arrows." The large size of this entrance, of course, DOES "materially differ" from that of a gunshot wound inflicted by a handgun, and this, in turn, raises the question of why the distance of the shot in the first photo was not noted.
Spitz's caginess on this issue is no one-time thing, mind you. On 11-17-88 Dr. Spitz defended the Warren Commission's findings on Detroit radio station WXYT. When asked about the President's head wounds, he was most forthcoming. He asserted: "The right upper quadrant of the head was more or less demolished. It is not unusual for a high-powered rifle to do this. A mistake was made insofar that the the back of the head was never shaved. There is every reason to believe that the entrance wound was up toward the top of the head namely in the area of the cowlick. The hair in that area, due to the peculiar way in which the hair turned like in a whirlpool--the skin is a little bit more visible in that area than in other parts where the hair is combed over. That bullet hole--if it is a bullet hole--looked very very suggestive of a regular usual bullet wound of entrance like we see thousands of. It is known--and we have seen this many many times--that high-powered rifles, whereas they cause lots of damage at the exit, cause a bullet wound of entrance which does not look any different from any other bullet wound of entrance, even from a small caliber handgun."
Well, my gosh, by gosh... This is utter hogwash! Spitz's suggestion that the entrance wounds created by high-velocity rifle bullets on the skull at distances as short as 100 yards are identical in appearance to the entrance wounds created by low-velocity small-caliber handgun bullets on the skull is only refuted by most every book or article on wound ballistics ever written (save his own).
I mean, something is just strange here. Spitz does not designate "high-powered rifles when firing military ammunition" or any such thing. He says simply "high-powered rifles." The explosive effects of hunting ammunition at both entrance and at exit when fired by a high-powered rifles has long been noted. Spitz, furthermore, would have been far more familiar with this kind of high-velocity rifle wound than he would have been with the wounds normally created by Oswald's rifle. There is simply no way he could have forgotten the nastiness of such a wound, or be of the belief that small-caliber handguns when fired from a distance could create wounds equally as nasty. The high-powered rifle firing soft-nosed hunting ammunition tested in The Discovery Channel's 2008 program JFK: Inside the Target Car, we should remember, completely exploded the first simulated human head fired upon in the program, and severed it from its neck.
Let's reflect... Handbook of Legal Medicine, by Dr. Alan R. Moritz, the mentor to Dr. Spitz's mentor, Dr. Fisher, and a member of the Clark Panel, reports: "Rifles or carbines manufactured for big game hunting or as military weapons ordinarily use ammunition with a large powder charge to ensure high velocity and long carrying distance. The kinetic energy of such a projectile may be so great as to have an explosive effect on impact quite different than that produced by most pistols or revolvers or by rifles designed for small game hunting. Regardless of the range of fire, the explosive effect of such a bullet at the site of entrance may be great enough to make it difficult to recognize just where the bullet struck and whether it was entering or leaving the body at that place."
And Dr. Moritz was far from alone. Forensic Pathology, a Handbook for Pathologists, edited by Spitz's close colleagues Dr. Fisher and Dr. Petty, confirms: "Wounds from revolvers, pistols, and rifles will have characteristics which vary depending on the velocity of the bullet (which is the largest factor determining the destructive energy)...Increasing the velocity of projectiles increases geometrically the quantity of energy produced and this produces perforating wounds with unusual features: bone may literally be pulverized, soft tissue laceration may be widespread and at considerable distance from the track of the projectile, lacerations may be observed within the intima of arteries; exit wounds may be unusually large."
As these "unusual features" are related to the velocity of the bullet, and the velocity of the bullet is greatest at entrance, it makes no sense whatsoever for Spitz to imply these features would go unnoticed at entrance.
There's also this... The HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, of which Spitz was a senior member, concluded that a high-velocity bullet had struck Kennedy high on the back of his skull. To this end, when discussing Kennedy's x-rays and an obviously displaced section of the rear of his skull, the panel's report described: "embedded in the skull in the lower region of this defect is a radiopaque shadow which, in the opinion of the panel, is a fragment of the missile." As the nose and base of this bullet were found on the front seat of the limousine, moreover, it follows that this fragment could only have come from the middle of the bullet. This means that, in the panel's expert opinion, the bullet broke up upon entrance. (Dr. Baden, of course, made several statements indicating that he thought the "radiopaque shadow" rubbed off the base of the bullet, and that the bullet itself broke up upon hitting the windshield strut, but this makes no sense whatsoever, and one cannot reasonably presume the rest of the panel was as daft as he on this issue.)
If a high-velocity bullet had
broken up upon entrance to the skull, well, it only makes sense that the
appearance of this entrance would not be that of a "regular usual wound of
I mean, this isn't just some layman making stuff up; this is what EVERY doctor to write about gunshot wounds, including Spitz's colleagues, has claimed.
So why did Spitz, regularly and repeatedly, imply
that the entrance of a rifle bullet on the skull looks like the entrance of a handgun bullet on the
skull? Was he trying to cover up that the supposed entrance to
Kennedy's skull in the cowlick could pass for being a handgun wound,
but bore scant resemblance to the kind of massive wound one would expect from a high-velocity bullet, fired from less than a hundred yards away, and fragmenting on the skull?
Perhaps Spitz was just confused. Perhaps he had remembered that, under certain circumstances, a handgun wound can give the appearance of a rifle wound. According to Moritz, "If the muzzle of the gun was in close contact with the skin at the moment of firing, a large entrance wound may be produced by the explosive effects of the expanding gases in the tissues. Similar destructive effects may result from the impact of a high velocity bullet such as those fired from most military rifles, machine guns, and some sporting guns." Unfortunately for Spitz, though, this is a one-way street. While holding a muzzle to the body can make a handgun wound look like a rifle wound, there is no reason, outside the bullet's having been fired from hundreds (or in some circumstances, thousands) of yards away, that a high-velocity rifle wound of the skull would look like the "regular usual" wound made by a handgun of small caliber.
Or perhaps Spitz was ill-informed. By the 1980's, much had been made of the M-16's mechanism of wounding, whereby it left small wounds at entrance on the body but created massive internal damage as a consequence of the bullet's tumbling and breaking up inside the body. Perhaps Spitz was of the misguided belief then that the impact of a 160 grain bullet on a skull would bear the same resemblance to a small caliber handgun bullet on a skull as the impact of a 55 grain M-16 bullet would on a body to a small caliber handgun bullet on a body. Perhaps Spitz, who in daily life had seen far more handgun wounds and shotgun wounds than rifle wounds--by a ratio of probably 100 to 1--had simply failed to realize that the bullet striking Kennedy was far larger, and would have behaved much differently, than the M-16 bullet of so much discussion.
Or perhaps, just perhaps, Dr. Spitz was being deliberately deceptive about the nature of high-powered rifle wounds to conceal that the entrance wound proposed by his friend Fisher, and confirmed by not one but two panels on which he himself resided, was most certainly not the entrance of a high-velocity bullet fragmenting on the back of the head. Dr. Spitz had, after all, told the Rockefeller Commission in 1975 that he'd performed "high velocity rifle test firings for the sake of learning their effect," but that he had never published his results. The possibility that Dr. Spitz was being deliberately deceptive is supported as well by the strange fact that he subsequently published a drawing of the autopsy photo of the back of the head in his book, and that this drawing not only failed to depict the small dark shape present in the entrance location described by Dr. Humes, but the surprising wing of scalp apparent by Kennedy's temple, signifying the supposed exit of the bullet.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...
But Spitz's apparent failure to appreciate or acknowledge that the entrance wound on the back of Kennedy's head should not have appeared to be a "regular usual wound" was not his only "mistake." Nor his strangest...
As hard as it may be to believe, in recent editions of Medicolegal Investigation of Death, Spitz makes an even stranger mistake. He writes "One of the gravest errors made in the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy was the fact that the back of the head was never shaved. Thus, to this day, speculation and innuendos persist regarding the exact location of the wound, and some even claim that this shot came from the front or the grassy knoll, at the right side of the President's motorcade, suggesting a conspiracy by at least two assassins."
Well, this is, as promised, strange. The "speculation and innuendos" holding that Kennedy was shot from the front have nothing to do with the failure of the autopsy doctors to shave the back of Kennedy's head, and have everything to do with the statements of the emergency room doctors in Dallas. I mean, does Spitz really mean to imply that the autopsy doctors might have found the wound on the back of the head described by the emergency room doctors, if only they'd shaved Kennedy's head? The only doctor in Dallas to inspect the head wound, Dr. Clark, specified that there was no scalp over this large gaping wound, so how could there be hair?
The thought occurs then that Dr. Spitz knew full well that the failure to shave Kennedy's head had nothing to do with the widespread belief the head shot was fired from the front, but was being cute about it. Was he trying to avoid mentioning that the descriptions of the head wound by the doctors in Dallas placed it in a different location than the descriptions of the head wound by the doctors in Bethesda, and that the panel on which he served concluded that each of these groups of doctors incorrectly recalled the location of the wounds they observed?
Perhaps. An article on Spitz found on the Wayne State University website confirms his feeling that the failure to cut JFK's hair led to some major mistakes. The author of this article, Amy DiCresce, explains "Part of the confusion and chaos over Kennedy's death was the inaccurate original autopsy report, but Dr. Spitz says there's a simple explanation for that. Kennedy was autopsied by a pathologist who had never done a gunshot autopsy before. Furthermore, he points to his head saying, 'To this day, we don’t know if the bullet entered exactly here or here. The wound was never shaven. You should never make a determination on a bullet wound without cleaning it and photographing it properly. It’s the only way you can see the details.'"
Well, this is better, but still not good. While in his book Spitz insinuated that the failure to shave Kennedy's head had prevented the autopsy doctors from convincing others there was no exit on the back of the head, he at least now acknowledges that this failure, if anything, led to Dr. Humes inaccurately measuring the entrance wound location. But who is he kidding? The failure to shave Kennedy's hair could never in a million years have led Dr. Humes--and his entire autopsy team--to think the top of Kennedy's skull--where Spitz claims the wound was actually located--was the BOTTOM of Kennedy's skull--where Humes and his entire autopsy team claimed the wound was located. No, the only ones actually confused by Humes' failure to shave Kennedy's head were those tasked with subsequently studying the autopsy photos--men like Dr. Fisher...and Dr. Spitz.
And Spitz is well aware of this... Let's recall that he told his radio audience in 1988 that "There is every reason to believe that the entrance wound was up toward the top of the head namely in the area of the cowlick. The hair in that area, due to the peculiar way in which the hair turned like in a whirlpool--the skin is a little bit more visible in that area than in other parts where the hair is combed over. That bullet hole--if it is a bullet hole--looked very very suggestive of a regular usual bullet wound of entrance like we see thousands of."
"That bullet hole--if it is a bullet hole..." Spitz had thereby let it slip that he wasn't exactly sure about the so-called cowlick entrance and, in the process, had suggested that his anger toward the autopsists for not shaving JFK's head was related as much to his own difficulty in interpreting the autopsy photos as anything else.
An April 3, 2005 article in the Macomb Daily, based on an interview with Spitz, supports this speculation, and suggests that Dr. Spitz continues to search for someone--anyone--to blame for his frustration. The article quotes him as follows: "Jackie was upstairs in the hospital and sent down an order not to cut any hair."
Hmm, this detail about the First Lady is quite a revelation... but is apparently untrue. In 1992, when interviewed in the Journal of the American Medical Association and given the chance to explain all the shortcomings of Kennedy's autopsy, head autopsist Dr. James Humes proclaimed "The wounds were so obvious that there was no need to shave the hair before photographs were taken." As far as can be determined, Humes never wavered on this point. As a result, we can only suspect the story about Mrs. Kennedy ordering the hair not be shaved was someone's invention. Someone named Dr. Werner Spitz...
But, as awful as this is, this is not the worst of Spitz's mistakes, and is not the only thing he has apparently made up for his convenience. In the three editions of Medicolegal Investigation of Death released subsequent to his stint with the HSCA, (in 1980, 1993, and 2006) Spitz repeatedly claims "The wound in the front of JFK's neck was circumferentially abraded, resembling an entrance wound to inexperienced examiners at the autopsy."
Yikes. Feel free to read that again... Could Spitz really be suggesting that the autopsy doctors mistakenly concluded the throat wound was an entrance?
Amazingly, yes. A May 13, 2006 article in The Journal Gazette reports that Spitz, while explaining why so many people are of the mistaken belief shots came from the front, "contended that the original autopsy – done under extreme pressure – erroneously concluded an exit wound in Kennedy’s neck was an entry wound because of an abrasion around the wound. That abrasion was likely caused by the knot of the former president’s tie, Spitz said, adding that it is not uncommon for clothes pressed tightly against the skin to cause such an abrasion."
Uhhh, WOW. There's just a few huge problems with this. One is that the original autopsy did not conclude Kennedy's throat wound was an entrance wound. That Spitz not only makes this mistake, but has repeatedly and consistently made this mistake since 1980, furthermore, suggests that HE HAS NEVER ACTUALLY READ THE AUTOPSY REPORT. Two is that there was no abrasion ring around the throat wound noted at autopsy. The autopsy doctors saw only a tracheotomy incision during the autopsy, and thought it was just that, a tracheotomy incision. This suggests, furthermore, that Spitz HAS NEVER EVEN READ THE TESTIMONY OF THE AUTOPSY DOCTORS.
Even worse, the doctors at Parkland Hospital, who did think the wound resembled an entrance before cutting through it with a tracheotomy incision, thought so primarily because of its extremely small size, and never mentioned an abrasion ring in their testimony. This suggests again that Spitz HAS NEVER EVEN READ THE TESTIMONY OF THE PARKLAND HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTORS. This indicates that Spitz was, well....just making stuff up.
That Spitz refused to actually study the evidence, and preferred to make stuff up, is suggested, furthermore, by his earliest interviews on the subject. The June 2, 1975 edition of Medical World News, written just after Spitz first viewed the evidence for the Rockefeller Commission, boasts on article on the medical evidence, with input from Dr.s Fisher, Spitz, and Wecht. While discussing the fatal head shot, Dr. Spitz claims: "One bullet entered from the rear of his skull and exited near his right eye." Near his right eye? As the exit location later identified by the HSCA's Panel is at least three inches from the right eye, this suggests Dr. Spitz was so ill-informed regarding the specifics of the assassination in 1975 that he, as Dr. Angel a few years later, just ASSUMED the "mystery photo" was taken directly from the front, and that the beveled exit in the photo was therefore directly above the eye. He never realized that none of the doctors inspecting Kennedy's body on the day of his death noticed such a wound. And he never realized this because HE NEVER READ THE REPORTS AND TESTIMONY OF THE AUTOPSY DOCTORS AND NEVER READ THE REPORTS AND TESTIMONY OF THE PARKLAND HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTORS. (Sorry about all the caps...)
One might rightly suspect then that Spitz, as Baden, is simply unreliable, and equally as likely as Baden to repeat half-baked nonsense when discussing the assassination...and assassinations....
Sadly, this suspicion was recently confirmed....
Trust Us, We're The Experts
On 12-27-2007, seven Pakistani doctors examined the body of their country's former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, who'd been assassinated only hours before. Their report on her wounds reads as follows:
- Details OF THE WOUND AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
- There was wound in right Temporoparietal region. Shape was irregularly oval, measuring about 5 x 3 cms, just above the pinna of right ear. Edges were irregular. No surrounding wounds or blackening was seen. There was a big boggy swelling around the wound. Blood was continuously trickling down and whitish material that looked like brain matter was seen in the wound and in the surrounding hair. Sharp bone edges were felt in wound. No foreign body was felt in the wound.
- Wound was not further explored. Generate aseptic dressing was used to cover the wound.
- Bleeding from both the ears was seen, more so from the right ear. Slight trickle of Blood was seen from right nostril also. Blood mixed with secretions was seen in the oral cavity also.
- Detailed external examination of the body did not reveal any other external injury.
- X-rays of the skull AP and Lateral views were done after she had been declared dead. Findings are as below:-
- Comminuted depressed skull fracture involving right temoroparietal bone is observed with inwards depressed fracture fragment measuring approx. 35 mm (on-X-ray measurement). Depressed fracture fragment distant from intact bony skull measures 12 mm from outer to outer skull table & 12 mm from inner to inner skull table. Two to three tiny radio-densities underneath fracture segment are observed on both projections. Associated scalp soft tissue swelling & moderate degree of pneumocephalus is observed. Rest of the bony skull is intact. Radio-opaque dental fillings are evident.
- CAUSE OF DEATH
- Open head injury with depressed skull fracture, leading to Cardiopulmonary arrest.
A Pakistani government spokesman took from this that Ms. Bhutto had hit her head on a handle of her open-topped security vehicle while reacting to the explosion of a nearby suicide bomber. This explanation satisfied almost no one, however. Within days, a number of top American forensic pathologists had joined a growing chorus of doubt and dismay. They couldn't understand why no autopsy had been performed on Ms. Bhutto. They couldn't understand how Ms. Bhutto could incur such a wound, simply by bumping her head. On 12-31-2007, an article appeared in the New York Times, expressing both the doubts of these doctors, and their own theories on the cause of Ms. Bhutto's death. It read, in part:
- "Dr. Baden said he suspected that Ms. Bhutto died from a bullet that
left two or three tiny fragments seen on X-rays before it exited the
skull through a wound that the Pakistani doctors did not notice in part
because they apparently did not shave the bloodied thick scalp hair." (Note: by conjuring up an imaginary wound of exit, Dr. Baden was acknowledging that he felt the 5 cm by 3 cm wound described by the doctors was most logically an entrance. As it would make little sense for a bullet entrance of such dimension to lead to a bullet exit so small it could be hidden in the hair, moreover, he was giving us yet another reason to doubt his common sense.)
Werner U. Spitz, former chief medical examiner in Detroit, said he
could not understand why the government did not try to quench “the
thirst of the Pakistani people to know the facts, because they are all
angry, and if you confronted them with the facts, maybe the anger”
would disappear." (Note: this is quite a line coming from a man who participated in not one but two highly-secretive forensic pathology panels investigating the death of President Kennedy.)
- "Dr. Spitz said he suspected that Ms. Bhutto died after being hit by a bullet fired from a high-powered rifle." (Note: you've got to be kidding. In 1988, when discussing JFK's head wounds, Spitz suggested that the small oval shape by the cowlick in the autopsy photos was precisely the kind of wound one would expect from a high-powered rifle. Now, here, with a wound ONE HUNDRED TIMES as large as the entrance wound measured at the autopsy of JFK, he immediately jumps to "hmm, looks like a high-powered rifle wound to me..." Spitz, by the way, would go on to testify on behalf of Phil Spector in his murder trial, and help accused child-killer Casey Anthony obtain her release after floating that the duct tape found on her daughter's skull was applied after decomposition, and not before.)
- "Dr. Vincent J. DiMaio, a former chief medical examiner in San Antonio,
who also deplored the lack of an autopsy in Ms. Bhutto’s case, said he
suspected that a fragment that was propelled against her head was a
more likely explanation for her death than a bullet wound." (Note: while not himself a member of the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, Dr. DiMaio, along with Dr. Henry Lee, was asked by the ARRB in 1998 to review the newly digitized autopsy photos and determine if there was anything that could be seen in the photos that would lead them to think forming a new pathology panel might prove useful. As Dr. DiMaio had studied under the Clark Panel's Dr. Russell Fisher, and was a long-time colleague of Dr. Spitz, and had co-written articles with Spitz going back at least as far as 1972, and as he had also publicly praised the work of single-assassin theorist Dr. Lattimer as far back as 1973, his selection for this task was highly questionable. According to Doug Horne, who interviewed DiMaio for the ARRB, Dr. DiMaio made it clear before even looking at the photos that he felt the Clark Panel, Rockefeller Commission Panel, and HSCA panel had gotten it right, and "declared with great certainty" that the red spot in the cowlick "was a classic bullet entry wound." Horne's notes on his meeting with Lee and DiMaio, not surprisingly, reflect further that both Lee, who, along with Baden, had been a well-paid member of O.J. Simpson's defense team, and DiMaio "felt any visual information now available was not sufficient that a panel would be able to reach any conclusions with a sufficient degree of scientific certainty." In other words, they refused to give anyone the opportunity to second guess their friends and colleagues, Dr.s Baden and Spitz. Flash forward to 2007. Dr. Baden's wife is one of Phil Spector's attorneys. Not surprisingly, Dr. Baden is a highly-paid witness for his defense. Also not surprisingly, Dr.s Lee and DiMaio--who is reported to have charged $400 an hour for his efforts--join him on the team, and Dr. Spitz jumps on the money train for the second trial.)
A video of Bhutto's assassination soon surfaced. It showed a man firing a pistol at Ms. Bhutto as she fell into the car,
and a violent explosion after she'd already fallen inside. It indicated she was not shot by a rifle, or hit by any shrapnel. Most watching the film believe she is in fact shot by the pistol. Some even go further and speculate that this bullet entered the back of
her neck before exiting from the 5 cm by 3 cm defect described in the
report of the doctors. A study performed by Scotland Yard, however, failed to support this. It claimed instead that the shots fired at Ms. Bhutto had missed and that, as originally surmised by the Pakistani official, Ms. Bhutto had died after hitting her head. The controversy continues.
The controversy over Ms. Bhutto's death is nevertheless informative. It shows that you can get a report signed by seven doctors that many experts will believe is wrong. It shows as well that you can get three opinions, from three experts, in which the conclusions of these doctors are disputed, and that they also can be wrong. And, finally, it shows that some experts, particularly those affiliated with the HSCA forensic pathology panel, are more than willing to offer up their opinions on controversial cases before obtaining the relevant evidence.
Spitz and Baden were simply wrong about Kennedy, then, it should not be all that
surprising. There is simply no evidence the doctors on the HSCA panel ever
thought of themselves as anything but consultants. A consultant will tell
you, for a price, what he knows or thinks he knows. An investigator, which is what
the committee needed, will tell you what he's discovered after reading
everything relevant to the case, and conducting actual research.
A brief study of the events leading up to Baden's testimony suggests that the members of the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel were just consultants, and low-paid consultants at that. In an article available on the Wayne University website, in which Dr. Spitz discusses his work for the HSCA, he complains "You know how much I got for that opinion? I got $121, which paid for the airplane ticket to Washington and back. Otherwise, they didn’t give me anything."
If he was understating his pay, it wasn't by much. On 9-28-78, in the statements of Chairman Louis Stokes before the HSCA (found in the FBI files on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website), at the close of their public hearings, he discussed the finances of the committee. He noted that they'd paid $25,000 for 101 man-days to their pathology consultants. That's total. For nine top pathologists and a number of radiologists. 101 man-days. That's less than 10 days apiece. This pales in comparison to the $75,850 and 198 man-days devoted to studying the dicta-belt evidence, and re-enacting the shooting in Dealey Plaza. This is less than half the $50,000 and 270 man-days spent studying and enhancing the photographs. To put this small number of man-days in proper perspective, one need only consider that, by Stokes' own account, the creation of medical illustrations for the committee took 78 man-days. Since by quick count only seven illustrations were created, this means that the pathology consultants spent approximately as much time evaluating, discussing, and writing about the evidence, per person, as it took the committee's medical illustrator, Ida Dox, to create one drawing.
And what did the pathology consultants do on
their 101 man-days, less than 10 days apiece?
Well, they were good
enough to tell us in their report. The doctors who'd never seen the
autopsy photos and x-rays before, including Dr. Baden, got together at
a House of Representatives office on 9-15-77. At this meeting, a number
of documents related to the assassination, including official reports,
Warren Commission testimony, and articles on the assassination were
"made available." These documents, mind you, which are listed in the
report's addendum A, and which would take a normal person at least a
week to read and comprehend, should have been required reading BEFORE
the panelists had even set foot in Washington. And yet, they were only
"made available." There's no mention of photo-copies being passed out
for home study. Not that there was much time for home study. They
re-convened at the National Archives the next day to inspect the
autopsy evidence. On the 17th, they spent some more time with the
evidence and met with Dr.s Humes, Boswell, and Angel as well. This is
the meeting where Dr. Humes said the "cowlick" entry appeared to be
dried blood. This is the meeting where Dr. Angel said the exit was on the frontal bone. (Both of these statements were
ignored by the Panel.) On the 18th, this panel re-convened at the House
Office Building, to "discuss the individual findings and commit to
writing its opinions relative to the evidence viewed." Their report
explains: "At that meeting, it became apparent that the members were in
substantial agreement with respect to the interpretation to the
evidence." Note that there was no radiologist present to help them
analyze the x-rays. Note also that these doctors were civilians and
that none of them had studied military rifle wounds, let alone the
wounds caused by Mannlicher-Carcano rifles. Note further that the
Warren Commission testimony of Dr. Alfred Olivier, who'd studied the
wound ballistics of the rifle, and the 1965 report he'd written on his
studies, were not included in addendum A, although "Rockefeller panel
reports", presumably including Dr. Olivier's own brief report to the
Rockefeller Commission in 1975, were included. While Dr. Baden, in his
1980 Toronto speech, would admit that his panel "knew very little
about" Mannlicher-Carcano ammunition (a fact confirmed in 1986 by panel member Charles Petty, who admitted during testimony in a televised mock trial that he'd never inspected a single wound of its making), and while Baden would later admit to the 2003 Wecht conference audience that "medical examiners
as well as neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons, we don't see much in the
way of military rifle ammunition" and illustrate this by admitting that a New York City
coroner inspecting "1200 gunshot murder victims" would probably find
that "none of
them" were by military rifles, he didn't see fit to bring a doctor familiar with
this ammunition onto his panel. Instead, as Dr. Baden admitted in 1980,
he contacted someone named Tom Marshall to find out more, but failed to
provide Marshall the specifics of the case. There is no mention,
moreover, of Marshall's opinions in the HSCA's files.
selected Dr. Loquvam to write a report on their findings.
The other sub-panel, made-up of Dr.s Wecht, Spitz, and Weston, who'd previously viewed the autopsy materials, met at the House Office Building on 9-22-77, went to the Archives on 9-23, and re-convened at the House Office Building on the 24th. The panel's report notes that "The material listed in addendum A was made available to this sub-panel at this initial meeting. The material listed in addendum B was made available at the second meeting at the National Archives. All members of both sub-panels were allowed unlimited access to these materials for individual examination." This confirms that the materials in addendum A, which should have been required reading, were merely present in the room, and not handed out for study. On the 24th, Dr. Wecht offered a dissenting opinion on the evidence to this panel. As with the other sub-panel, no radiologists or military wounds experts were present during their analysis and discussion. This panel selected Dr. Weston to write a report, reflecting their views.
In retrospect, it
certainly seems more than a little suspicious that Dr. Wecht, whose
disagreement with the single-bullet theory had long been established,
was disenfranchised by the structure of the panel. By having 6 doctors
meet and come to a conclusion without his being present, and then
having him meet as one of a trio of doctors--where the other two had
already committed themselves to supporting the single-bullet theory and
that there was evidence for only one gunman--his influence on the
panel's conclusions had undoubtedly been minimized. This structure
also prevented him from meeting Dr.s Humes and Boswell on 9-17-77, and
asking them the questions he'd felt needed to be asked.
3-10-78, Dr.s Loquvam, Weston, and Baden met at the Archives to look at
some photographic evidence, after which all panel members met with the
photographic panel. The next day, the full panel deposed Dr.s Ebersole
and Finck, and met with members of other panels to compare findings.
Apparently, this was the first time they met with Larry Sturdivan, the
HSCA's wound ballistics expert, who just so happened to have been a
subordinate to Dr. Alfred Olivier, the Warren Commission's wound
ballistics expert. The next day, 3-12-78, they again talked with Dr.
Finck. This is the meeting in which Dr. Baden tried to pressure Dr.
Finck to agree that the entrance on the skull was in the cowlick.
Afterwards, the panel discussed their findings. In Dr. Wecht's
dissenting opinion, contained within volume 7 of the HSCA report, he
notes that although the report of the first sub-panel claimed they were
in "substantial agreement with respect to the interpretation to the
evidence" after their first inspection of the evidence the previous
September, that, during this subsequent meeting, with Wecht in
attendance, "other members of the overall FPP expressed strong
differences of opinion." If so, these differences of opinion were not
reflected anywhere in the final report. Instead, the final report holds
that the panel came to a number of agreements during this discussion:
they agreed that either Dr. Coe or Dr. Petty would continue to work
with with the photography panel; they agreed that Dr. Weston would
represent the panel at a preliminary review of the enhanced photographs
and x-rays; and they agreed that Dr. Weston would combine his and
Loquvam's reports into a final report. (HSCA Chief Counsel Robert
Blakey would later admit to Vincent Bugliosi that Weston's final report
was in fact far from final, and that Weston's report was reviewed and
re-written by Dr. Baden and HSCA staff members Andy Purdy and Mark
Flanagan before undergoing further review and re-writing by Blakey and
Dick Billings, a long-time Life Magazine employee hired by Blakey to
assist in the writing of the report.)
That's it. This confirms that the bulk of the panel never saw the enhanced photos or x-rays before coming to their conclusions. This confirms that the bulk of the panel never saw the reports of the HSCA's radiology consultants, Dr.s McDonnel (dated 8-4-78) and Davis (dated 8-23-78 and 12-22-78) before coming to their conclusions. This confirms as well that, when Dr. Baden testified in September 1978, it had been six months since he'd discussed the evidence with the bulk of the forensic pathology panel.
While Baden's lack of familiarity with the case is not a crime, one should expect a lot more from the HSCA's top medical expert, and the man to whom Vincent Bugliosi turned to answer his questions about the medical evidence. One might hold that Baden is a nice man, even a great doctor. But his work on the Kennedy assassination has been, in my opinion, an embarrassment to his profession.
I'm not the first to question his competence. Dr. Baden was asked to head the HSCA panel in 1977. At that time he was but a deputy medical examiner. In August 1978, just before his testimony, however, he was appointed Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York. He held on to this position all through the hearings. By the next summer, however, around the time the HSCA's report was published, Mayor Ed Koch decided to relieve him of his duty. Early articles on this action reflect that Dr. Baden was accused of, among other things, presenting sordid details on the death of former Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller during a February 3, 1979 lecture at a local hospital. (Baden was reported to have claimed that Rocky had died while fornicating with an aide.) Baden was also accused of losing evidence and being impolite to assistant district attorneys. One early article, in the August 1, 1979 L.A. Times, reflects that Baden conceded that there had been "personality" problems on four cases, and that "In two, evidence problems of a minor nature developed." Baden then turned around and sued both Mayor Koch and the City of New York for his reinstatement. This fight went all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals, with the Court deciding that Baden's demotion was within his probationary period, and that he was thus not entitled to a hearing before his dismissal. While the ruling on his appeal, available online, makes note of Baden's claim that he was "removed from his position because of the exercise, by him and members of his family, of their right of free speech," a 10-30-87 New York Times article, also found online, claims only that Koch removed Baden "after receiving negative reports from Dr. Reinaldo A. Ferrer, then the city's Health Commissioner, and from Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan District Attorney" and that they "contended, among other things, that Dr. Baden had lost important evidence in homicide cases and had been unresponsive to requests from superiors." A July 9, 1982, New York Times article on Dr. Baden's trial, furthermore, affirms that this was the official reason for his dismissal and quotes Baden's own assessment of his reputation following the revelation of these charges: ''I became overnight almost a pariah in my profession because of the nature of the charges against me,'' he said. He added that the charges had damaged his credibility and ''immediately affected my ability to testify in court'' as an expert in major homicide cases."
In the interests of fairness, it should be noted here that Dr. Baden, in his 1989 book Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner, offers a defense against these charges. He does so, however, at the cost of his profession, and the credibility of his work with the HSCA Pathology Panel. When discussing the difficulties he had getting along with a big city DA like Morgenthau, he writes "What is really wanted is an elastic man, one who will stretch and bend his findings to suit the DA's needs and the political climate. Truth and excellence play no part in this arrangement. Numbers are what count, getting convictions for the DA, and the ME's office exists for that purpose. Its own purposes are always subordinate to somebody else's agenda." He then describes the specific pressure put on Medical Examiners (ME's) to twist the evidence and say that murdered women have also been raped; he reports, to the detriment of the credibility of his fellow pathologists, that "Most ME's do it." He then discusses a number of cases where political pressure influenced the findings of the ME. He later concludes, to the detriment of his profession, that: "In murder, medical examiners who can't figure out the cause of death tend to go along with the police theory. Instead of arriving at their own independent conclusions, ME's just become rubber stamps. There is nothing deliberately dishonest about this. The police want to solve the murder, and the ME, mistakenly thinking he is there to serve them, adopts their theory." Baden offers no compelling reason for his readers to believe the investigation of a president's murder would be less pressure-packed than the investigation of a possible rape, and no compelling reason to believe the pathologists on the HSCA panel would be less eager to please the powers that be than the ME's described in his book. Perhaps, then, he was trying to tell us something.
Baden's subsequent career has been no less controversial. The 2006
book Postmortem, by Stefan Timmermans, explores the sociology of
medical examiners. It received a rave review from the Journal of the
American Medical Association. In a chapter on the importance of witness
credibility, Timmermans discusses Baden's 1997 testimony in defense of
Louise Woodward, a nanny accused of shaking an 8-month-old to death.
Timmermans recounts how Baden testified on behalf of Woodward that the
infant's injuries were not necessarily caused by shaking and may have
been older fractures caused by a fall or impact. He testified: "Shaken
doesn't explain anything about the autopsy or pathology. That is just
speculation. An impact would cause all those injuries." The prosecution
was prepared for this, however, and countered Baden's testimony by
reading into the record Baden's testimony from a previous trial before
the very same judge. When representing the prosecution at this earlier
trial, Baden had claimed "from a medical examiner-pathology point of
view, it was the hemorrhaging about the brain and eyes that are
characteristic and pathognomonic of shaken-baby syndrome." By claiming
there were injuries characteristic of shaken-baby syndrome when
testifying on behalf of the prosecution in the earlier case, and then
claiming there were no injuries characteristic of shaken-baby syndrome
when testifying in defense of Woodward, Baden had demonstrated that his
opinions lacked substance and changed with the weather. Having thus
damaged Baden's credibility, the prosecutor then pressured him on every
element of his testimony, gaining Baden's admission that he'd not
reached his "expert" opinions independently, but had followed the
interpretive lead of other doctors involved in the case. In the end,
according to Timmermans, the prosecutor "not only managed to show that
Dr. Baden might be expressing opinions about evidence he did not
completely grasp but also allowed him to contradict himself and others"
and had "so reduced his credibility that any difference of opinion he
might have with a colleague would reflect not superior knowledge but
Dr. Baden has embarrassed his profession in other ways as well. At times, Dr. Baden has collected exorbitant fees from defendants of widely-presumed guilt, and offered extremely speculative testimony in return. This has helped create the impression that his testimony--and the testimony of other celebrity pathologists, as well--was for sale, and could be obtained by the highest bidder. In the most notorious example, Dr. Baden collected approximately $165,000 for his assistance to O.J. Simpson during his trial. This culminated in his telling jurors that in his expert opinion either more than one knife was used to kill Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown, or that a specially constructed double-edged knife had been used. He also claimed it would have taken Ron Goldman 15 minutes to die, which stretched out the time of the killings, and cast doubt on Simpson's guilt. He then suggested that Nicole Brown Simpson had had a late snack, and that this was why the amount of food in her stomach at autopsy suggested she'd been killed closer to the prosecution's estimated time of death of 10:15-10:30 than the defense's proposed time for her death, 11:00, when Mr. Simpson had an alibi. At one point in his testimony, things grew so heated between prosecutor Brian Kelberg and Baden that Kelberg demanded to know if Baden's opinions could be backed up by any scientific studies, and Baden replied that people can't be studied "like worms" and that "We can't do control studies of feeding somebody and killing them."
Baden also received a reported $110,000 from Phil Spector
during his first trial (in which Baden's wife functioned as
Spector's attorney). In a dramatic and controversial twist to the case,
Baden told jurors that the blood spatter on Spector's jacket didn't
necessarily mean he was near his purported victim at the moment she was
shot, but perhaps only reflected that she'd coughed blood on him after
she'd shot herself, with her last breath. He even got his old HSCA
colleague, Dr. Werner Spitz, to back him up on this.
The precise exchange between prosecutor Alan Jackson and Spitz on 7-26-07 (found in an online blog, which I'm assuming is reasonably accurate) is most informative, as it reveals not only the depths to which Baden and Spitz would go for a paying client, but the contempt they hold for those with expertise they do not share, and whose opinions are in opposition to their own.
Jackson: “So, and you are not an expert in blood spatter, but in your opinion, even if there was no blood found *anywhere* beyond the hem of Lana Clarkson’s skirt -there was no blood on her thighs, no blood on her calves, no blood on her feet or her shoes or the carpet underneath her – even so, the jacket can still be six feet away and have blood on the left side of it?”
Spitz: “Yes, that’s what I am saying, because the velocity of the blood – you wouldn’t expect to have it close by the source – you would expect it to be farther away.”
Jackson: “So, the spray came out of Lana Clarkson’s mouth, and Phillip Spector was just *so* unlucky that here he was, 6 feet away from her, and all of this spray ended up on his jacket – but nowhere else – not behind him or in front of him or below him or above him – Just on Him??”
Spitz: “Well, when you say all of it – you make it sound like you have a bucket full – he has all of 18 spots on him, which includes some spots that have been described as transfers.”
Jackson: “So in your opinion , doctor, and you agree that all of the experts – even the defense experts – they all say that Lana has spatter on her dress – and what you are telling this jury is that when the gun went off, spatter came out her mouth, and some landed on her dress, but the rest of this spatter – it jumped and skipped her thighs and her knees and her calves and her shoes and jumped and missed the carpet and all of this spatter landed on Phillip Spector’s jacket?”
Spitz: “You are probably correct in that description – but it didn’t have to jump, the amount of spray she had was quite small – it came out of her mouth and a little dripped down some spray onto the hem of her dress…”
Jackson: “So it changed trajectory? It went down on her dress and then completely made a 180 degree turn and flew across the room 6 feet to get onto the jacket?”
Spitz: “Well, now you are making it sound like those people who criticized the so called magic bullet theory in the Kennedy assassination …”
(So here we have Spitz trying to hide behind his purported expertise, and insinuate that those questioning his and Baden's new nonsense are as out to lunch as those questioning their old nonsense. The irony of his response seems lost on him. He seems totally unaware that the majority of Americans--and thus the majority of jurors on the panel--who've looked into the Kennedy assassination for more than a moment have come to dismiss the "magic bullet" theory he finds so compelling. And this was no momentary brain fart, mind you. While testifying for the prosecution in a hearing regarding convicted murderer Larry Swearingen in March 2012, and recounting his vast experience, Spitz defended his findings on the JFK case by claiming that "By far, the majority of Americans today believe" that Kennedy was not shot at from two directions, but shot from behind by "Mr. Oswald." I mean, really, where does he get this stuff?)
Jackson: “You are aware, doctor, are you not, that Stuart James, a paid defense expert, a man highly regarded in his field, completely disagrees with you. He says, in fact, that the spatter pattern on the jacket, which is millimeter and sub millimeter in size, is consistent with a high velocity spatter. Are you aware of that?”
Spitz: “I did not discuss that with him”.
Jackson: “Doctor, I don’t care what you discussed with other witnesses outside of this courtroom – are you aware that this was his testimony before the jury?”
Spitz: “No, I am not aware of that.”
Jackson: “Would you defer to those experts in other areas and sciences that have more expertise than you?”
Spitz: “At this point, I don’t know what I’m deferring and not deferring – all I know is that if I saw something for myself, I would not defer, and I know that this can happen.”
Jackson: “Really? How many times have you seen blood spatter come out and then skip all these targets and find another target and then change trajectory and find another target?”
Spitz: “Not spray that deliberately as you put it changes trajectory – you are assigning volition to something that has no volition…”
Jackson: “Doctor, isn’t it a more reasonable inference just that simply put Phillip Spector’s jacket was closer in proximity to the blood letting event?”
Spitz: “No – because he would have more than 18 little spots on him – you would have a different density – you would have a large amount of tissue…:”
Jackson: “Doctor, didn’t you say yesterday that there was very little blood spatter in this case?”
Spitz: “I don’t remember saying that.”
Jackson: “Well, wouldn’t you agree that the blood spatter in this case would be limited?”
Spitz: “It would be limited to that which would occur from a wound by a .38 caliber missile into an area that is highly vasculated and under arterial pressure – and this is like a garden hose, these arteries, and when these arteries are cut, the blood can be like a garden hose under pressure and the blood can easily reach a ceiling 12 feet high.”
Jackson: ”Well Doctor, she didn’t cut an artery, so that is irrelevant.”
Spitz: “It is not irrelevant at all – no, she didn’t cut the jugular or the carotid, but every artery is under the same pressure.”
Jackson: “So where is all the blood on the ceiling? Where is the blood on the carpet?”
Spitz: “Her head wasn’t pointing at the ceiling.”
Yes, you read that right. Spitz contradicted himself. In the beginning of his testimony he'd pushed that a fine spray of blood could have been coughed up by the victim, or splashed back from the victim, only to land on Spector's jacket six feet away. Under intense questioning, however, he'd changed course and suddenly started claiming that a bullet passing a bunch of arteries--even if it missed the jugular and carotid arteries--would create a wound in which blood spewed out like a garden hose. Well, have you ever seen water squirt from a garden hose with such velocity and precision that none of it lands between the nozzle and the plant being watered, six feet away? It bears noting, moreover, that Spitz readily accepted that a high-velocity bullet passed through Kennedy's neck, within millimeters of his arteries, and that blood did not spew from Kennedy's neck like a garden hose.
Exchanges like the one above, in which it is readily obvious Spitz was presenting a defense for his client (a man he admitted was paying him 5,000 dollars a day), whether the evidence supported him or not, makes me wonder if the term "pathological liar" is a reference to someone who can't help but lie, for pathological reasons, or a reference to someone who lies so readily they could have a successful career as a pathologist. I'm serious.
When one studies the Spector case, in fact, it's hard to come to any conclusion other than that Baden and Spitz knowingly lied for money. At another point
in the case, a former member of the defense team testified that Dr.
Baden had been handed a piece of the victim's tooth at the crime scene,
and that he'd failed to present this evidence to the authorities. Dr.
Baden, of course, vehemently denied these charges. Even if one assumes Dr. Baden was telling the truth on this matter, however, and assumes further that Dr.s Baden and Spitz both sincerely believed their testimony, it's impossible to believe they would have testified as they did if they'd been hired by the
prosecution. One can only wonder then what Dr. Baden and the HSCA
Forensic Pathology Panel could have come up with had they been told
that Lee Harvey Oswald was their sole client, and that they were to
receive six-figure bonuses for providing him a solid defense.
One final note on Baden and his questionable expertise... After I brought Baden’s testifying with the autopsy photo upside down to the attention of Marquette University Professor John McAdams on November 22, 2006, McAdams, an HSCA defender, had an interesting response. He said “Baden clearly knows how the photo is oriented, since he correctly says that the top of the photo is the front of Kennedy’s head.” This was like saying that a captain commanding a ship from Cannes to Cairo who washed ashore in Capetown clearly knew what he was doing since he came to port in Africa.
And from there it only got weirder. By 2010, McAdams, apparently incapable of admitting any error by anyone whose "expertise" he needs to rely upon to shore up his single-assassin conclusion, started claiming the belief Baden testified with his exhibit upside down was a false one. On 10-1-10, on his alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, he claimed:
pointer to *correctly* point to the forehead.
This is just a silly factoid.
The orientation that Baden used is the one that Stringer would have
seen through his viewfinder.
Well, this is just nonsense. Anyone who'd actually watched a video of Baden's testimony would know that Baden pointed to an area ABOVE the purported exit on the photo, and said it corresponded to an area ABOVE the purported exit on the drawing of Kennedy. This PROVES he thought he put the photo right-side up on the easel.
McAdams' refusal to acknowledge this, and his invention of the ridiculous "factoid" that Baden was trying to show the committee the photographer's viewpoint, furthermore, reveals both the irrational nature of many JFK "researchers"...
and that the "cult of expertise" lives on.
V-Shaped Notch Comparison.
That the official way to look at the “mystery photo” is sideways is confirmed yet again by the HSCA Report of Dr.s Ellis L. Kerley and Clyde C. Snow, anthropology consultants tasked with determining the authenticity and consistency of the autopsy photos and x-rays. Their report states “The photographs of group 5 (Note: group 5 is described as “Anterior-superior”--from the front and from above), which show the cranial cavity with the brain removed, are somewhat more difficult to evaluate. One feature of interest is the outline of the fractured margin of the frontal bone that is partially visible in the foreground of these photographs. A deep V-shaped irregularity in this margin is also visible in photographs of group 1 in which the scalp is partially reflected to expose the underlying bone.” (Note: they can't even get the group numbers right. Group 1 is the left lateral view, which shows no defect. They clearly mean group 2, the right lateral view)
Amazingly, the doctors’ impression, while in basic agreement with Dr. Angel’s impression, is at odds with the impressions of the pathology panel itself, whose findings their report was supposedly supporting. The pathology panel, after all, held that the bullet exiting Kennedy's frontal bone had exited along the coronal suture, at a point roughly halfway between his ear and the top of his head. The "v-shaped irregularity" on the right lateral photos, on the other hand, was on Kennedy's forehead, barely an inch above his eye. Additionally, while the v-shaped scalp tear on the lateral view would appear to have come as a result of the “wing” section of bone near the President’s temple exploding downwards across his face, as demonstrated in Zapruder frame 337, the forensic anthropology report implies it was caused by an underlying fracture. This is a bit strange since the report acknowledges the scalp in the lateral view is partially reflected to expose the underlying bone, bone which reveals no such fracture.
The HSCA’s ballistics expert Larry Sturdivan has shared his current interpretation of the wounds in his book, The JFK Myths, and on the website of Paul Seaton. Surprisingly, he not only now feels the entrance was near the EOP a la the autopsy doctors, but that the purported beveled exit was on the forehead a la Angel, Kerley and Snow. This makes him unique. The autopsy doctors, whose impression of the entrance wound is now shared by Sturdivan, were most adamant that there was no missile exit in the frontal bone. This is demonstrated by the following exchange between Dr. Humes and Dr. Angel before the HSCA pathology panel.
Dr. Humes: “This is not frontal bone where that semi-circle is—it’s either temporal or parietal bone, Dr. Angel.
Dr. Angel: "I don't see how it can be. That's what it looks like to me."
Dr. Humes: "That's exactly what it is."
Besides the problem that not one witness noticed an exit wound in Kennedy’s forehead, the problem with Sturdivan’s impression of the photo is that it presents the large defect cutting diagonally across the frontal bone. This is in disagreement with both the autopsy photos and x-rays. While Sturdivan gets around the first problem by questioning whether the piece of beveled bone in the photo really represents an exit, he is yet to explain the second.
What’s truly disturbing, however, is that the HSCA’s own wound ballistics expert now repudiates their location for both the entrance of the fatal bullet on the back of Kennedy’s head, and its exit toward the front of his head, and that no one in the national media has noticed his change of opinion or thought it worthy of bringing to the public’s attention.