Mixed-up Confusion

Once one gets past the shocking fact that the HSCA pathology panel couldn’t tell the back of Kennedy’s head from his forehead, one can begin to understand the incredibly confusing tangle of contradictory information that was the HSCA’s discussion and depiction of President Kennedy's head wounds. 

But just begin... You see, beyond the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel--which was supposed to establish the locations of Kennedy's and Connally's wounds--the HSCA hired a trajectory analyst from NASA, Thomas Canning, and asked him to plot out the alignment of these wounds at the moment they were acquired and project them back to their point of origin. 

Now, Canning's analysis was not exactly embraced by the other consultants to the committee. 

No, far from it. Larry Sturdivan, the HSCA’s wound ballistics consultant, has written: “the odd-shaped piece of a bullet is inevitably unstable and will develop some degree of lift that will curve its trajectory in tissue…Of the thousands of examples of yawed, deformed, and broken rifle bullets fired into gelatin tissue stimulant at the Biophysics Division lab and other similar facilities, none had a perfectly straight trajectory. Few are even close…The wound locations have no value in reconstructing the exit trajectory of a yawed or deformed bullet or bullet fragments.”

And this wasn't a sermon from the Church of Latter-Day Complaints. In his testimony before the HSCA, Sturdivan was equally dismissive of using the head wounds to project back towards the sniper’s nest. He told them “no bullet goes straight when it enters a solid mass.” 

And Sturdivan wasn't alone. In their final report, the pathology panel concurred with Sturdivan, doubting their ability to accurately reconstruct the paths of intact bullets as well as fragments: “The panel is concerned as to the degree of accuracy attainable in determining the missile trajectory based on backward extension of a bullet track from within the body, particularly if precision within the range of a few degrees is required. An intermediate or high velocity bullet creates a temporary bullet track relatively larger than that of the bullet itself. This precludes reconstruction within the required degree of accuracy.” 

Should one wonder if there were legitimate reasons for the HSCA to perform this trajectory analysis, however, one need only compare two exhibits presented in the testimony of Dr. Michael Baden on 9-7-78. When one compares drawing F-66, a depiction of the bullet's passage through Kennedy's skull, with F-58, a lateral view of Kennedy depicting his wound locations, and rotates F-66 the 27 degrees necessary to present Kennedy’s nose even with his EOP (i.e. in the anatomic position) one finds that the bullet ascends 7 degrees in Kennedy’s skull in F-66, but descends 3 degrees in Kennedy’s skull in F-58. This means there is a 10 degree discrepancy between the two drawings. Equally disturbing is that, while both entrances are the same distance from the lamda suture at the back of Kennedy’s head (where the parietal bone meets the occipital bone), the entrance on F-66 is lower. The suture moved with it. While one might counter that F-66 was drawn in haste and even depicted Kennedy’s ear and nose in the wrong position in comparison to the back of his head, this doesn’t really help support the accuracy of F-58, or any other exhibit published by the panel. 

One might only hope, then, that the exhibits created for Canning and his trajectory analysis would be more credible.

Such hope would, sadly, be misplaced.

Tell-Tale Art

When one looks through HSCA's exhibits, one gets the distinct feeling one is walking through a house of mirrors. Unlike the Warren Commission's exhibits, which, while occasionally misleading—let’s not forget the Rydberg drawings—were at least for the most part consistent with one another, many of the HSCA's exhibits are not only in complete disagreement with the Zapruder film and autopsy photos, but with other exhibits created for the committee. 

When one looks at Exhibit F-66--which was created for the pathology panel--for example, one can quickly observe that it is also at odds with the autopsy photos and Zapruder film. (While Zapruder frame 313 shows the explosion of Kennedy’s skull occurring above his ear and the front half of his skull, F-66 shows it to begin behind his ear, at the rear of his skull.)  

It should be acknowledged, however, that this exhibit is absolutely correct on one pertinent detail: the drawing replicates Zapruder frame 312 and depicts Kennedy leaning forward 27 degrees at the moment of the bullet's impact. Since the drawing has the bullet descending 20 degrees, one can take from this that the bullet ascended 7 degrees in Kennedy’s skull. If one projects 20 degrees backwards from Kennedy’s position at Z-312, moreover, one can create a trajectory that hits the school book depository within 20 feet of the sniper’s nest. This would be close enough for most not already skeptical.

But the HSCA wanted something more precise. They hired Canning and pressured him to really nail this down. 

And yet, as demonstrated on Exhibit F-141, above, when Canning looked at Zapruder frame 312, he came to the incredible conclusion Kennedy was leaning but 11 degrees forward.

Something strange was afoot at the HSCA...


Forward Lean Comparison

Canning's mistake regarding the forward lean of Kennedy (or deception, let's be real) is made even more obvious by comparing Exhibit F-46 from the testimony of Dr. Baden on behalf of the pathology panel, with Exhibit F-141 from Canning's testimony. Exhibit F-46, depicting the forward lean required for the single-bullet theory to work, depicted the president leaning twice as far forward as he was in the Croft photo, which Canning said supported the theory. 

And that's just the half of it, or less. More embarrassing by far is that the forward lean in Exhibit F-46 is also much greater than the forward lean in Canning's Exhibit F-141, a "calibration photo" purportedly matching Kennedy's position at Z-312, that bares little resemblance to Kennedy's position at Z-312. 

Yes, that's right. You got it. The exhibit created by the HSCA to depict the trajectory of the back wound created before Kennedy leaned forward in the Zapruder film, was more accurate as to Kennedy's position after he leaned over than the exhibit created by a NASA rocket scientist showing Kennedy's position after he leaned over. What's left is right. What's black is white. 

Canning's Believe It or Not!

Yes, when one compares the various exhibits prepared by the HSCA, and Canning’s final conclusions, the HSCA house of cards meets a hurricane. While Canning found that Kennedy was leaning forward anywhere between 11 and 18 degrees (from the road surface, which was descending at 3 degrees across the plaza) at frame 190 of the Zapruder film, he was quite insistent Kennedy’s head was leaning forward at precisely 11 degrees (from Zapruder, who was standing on a flat pedestal, and thus 8 degrees from the road surface) at frame 313. Since he decided to go with a forward lean of 14 degrees for frame 190, based upon the previously mentioned 11 to 18 degrees he interpreted as Kennedy’s forward lean in the Croft photo taken at Z-161, moreover, this meant then that he believed Kennedy was leaning slightly forward at frame 190, was hit in the back, and then sat up before being hit in the skull at 313. 

Huh. This is exactly the opposite of what the Zapruder film reveals. ANYONE who has seen the film can tell you that Kennedy reaches towards his neck, slumps forward, and then gets shot in the head. Since the eyewitness testimony is filled with references to Kennedy slumping after first being hit, moreover, it would appear Canning believed Kennedy somehow slumped upwards in his seat. 

The Croft photo and Z-312--which Canning used to determine Kennedy's forward lean at Z-313--are presented on the slide above. First, there is the Croft photo--the western edge of the school book depository can be seen in the background, and Kennedy's back is in line with it, and not leaning forward from it. And second, there's Z-312, in which Kennedy is clearly both bent forward from the waist, and bent over at the neck. Is it possible that single-assassin theorists, including historian John McAdams, who promote Canning’s conclusions, honestly believe Kennedy was leaning further forward in the Croft photo than in frame 312? The mind boggles. 

While one might rightly point out that my comparison of 14 degrees to 8 degrees (from the road surface) or 17 degrees and 11 degrees (in 3-D space) reflects a comparison of the forward lean of Kennedy’s torso versus the forward lean of his head, it is obvious that Kennedy’s head is bent far more forward of his body at Z-312 than in the Croft photo. Since this is so, well, then, in order for Kennedy’s head to be leaning forward but 8 degrees from the street at Z-312, after having had his torso leaning forward 14 degrees at Z-161, it would mean he'd either had his head tilted back in the Croft photo, or had thrown his head back between frames 161 and 312.  

This didn't happen. As a result, one can only conclude Canning was either incompetent, insane, or a liar.


When one re-reads Canning's report with an eye on this issue--the forward lean of Kennedy at the moment he was first hit versus the forward lean of Kennedy when struck in the skull, moreover, it's hard not to come away with the feeling he was using doublespeak...that he was being deliberately vague and confusing...that he was trying to hide the uncomfortable fact his findings indicated Kennedy was leaning forward before being hit, then sat up slightly, only to be struck in the head (IOW, the exact opposite of what is shown in the Zapruder film). 

Two excerpts from Canning's conclusions are presented on the slide above. Note that he uses terms such as "true vertical", which would seem to be in line with "as viewed by Zapruder", but which is not, as "true vertical" does not include the slope of the street, while "as viewed by Zapruder" does include the slope of the street. Note that he never comes out and says the panel concluded Kennedy is leaning forward 14 degrees against the street in the Croft photo, and instead offers that when one adds in the 4 degrees of the downward slope of the trajectory within the body, and the 3 degrees of the downward slope of the street, that he was leaning forward 18 to 25 degrees and that the panel decided to use 21 degrees. 

Yes, my friends, 1984 arrived early...in 1978. 

So...how did this happen? Let us now reveal...

How a single bag of bullshit became Bandini Mountain

Let's go back. 

While Canning is first mentioned in a 1-5-78 memo, a 2-27-78 HSCA executive session transcript reveals that chief counsel Robert Blakey was at that time pushing for the usage of the Rochester Institute of Technology at USC to not only test the photographs, but “to give us the measurements that we worried about—that is, where Kennedy was. They are very confident that they can reconstruct the President’s skull and project in whatever direction back from the head the projectory (sic—trajectory) analysis.” 

This didn't pan out. Presumably, Blakey then turned to NASA, and Canning. 

And yet, even so, Canning is listed as a "photographer" on a list of people present during the medical panel's interview of Dr. Ebersole less than two weeks later (on 3-11-78). Well, this suggests that Canning's role was greatly expanded from its original conception.

And that this rubbed some the wrong way... Jim DiEugenio, in his chapter on the HSCA in The Assassinations (2003), noted that May 2 and May 23 1978 memos from HSCA staff members Jane Downey and Andy Purdy, respectively, described Canning's difficulty in working with Dr. Baden, and his opening up a back channel to Dr.s Loquvam and Weston. A 7-24-78 memo from Mark Flanagan (180-10071-10261) goes even further, and reports that Baden and Canning had split into "two schools of thought" on the location of the fatal bullet's exit from Kennedy's skull.  

Here 's Canning himself, in a 7-25-78 tape-recorded memo to committee staffer Jane Downey brought to my attention by John Hunt (RIF#180-10116-10289): 

"The elevation, the slope up that trajectory from the President's head back to where the gun was is one point that I still have not worked out. We have all the data but I have not gone through it yet, and my thought is, just privately to you people, is that that is likely to appear, likely to come out quite high relative to the School Book Depository window, but since I haven't really gone through the arithmetic before mailing you this little set of notes and tape, don't take my concern too seriously. We'll have to live with whatever comes up, though, because I have just tremendous confidence in the location of those wounds. Probably they are known to within less than a centimeter in all directions, and if I were to tell what I really think it might be on the order of half-a-centimeter in any given direction. Oddly enough, I now feel that we have the position of the outshoot wound which has been wandering around from analysis to analysis nailed down more accurately than we have the inshoot wound."

Well, it seems clear from this that Canning's confidence in this project was rooted in his unwarranted confidence “we” had properly placed the wound locations. 

But who was this “we”? As we've seen, HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel leader Michael Baden and HSCA forensic anthropology consultant Lawrence Angel had, from their first viewing of the autopsy materials, widely divergent impressions of the exit wound location, with Baden placing it at the right top side of the head along the coronal suture and Angel placing it on the frontal bone above the right eye.

It is fortunate, then, that we have an answer as to which “we” Canning was relying upon. From the first page of the transcript of Canning's 7-25-78  memo: “...the key photograph to be described will be the one showing the inside of Kennedy’s skull after removal of the brain, where the scalp has been folded forward to show the semi-circular margin of the outshoot wound in the frontal bone of the skull.”

So, on 7-25-78, less than two months before his public testimony regarding the fatal-bullet’s trajectory through President Kennedy’s skull, HSCA trajectory consultant Thomas Canning, relying upon Dr. Lawrence Angel’s interpretation of the “mystery photo” showing Kennedy’s skull with the brain removed, felt confident the fatal bullet exited from President Kennedy’s forehead, where no one but no one observed an exit wound. 

It should be noted, moreover, that the exit location proposed by Angel was lower on the skull than the exit location proposed by Baden, and still lower than the supposed entrance on the back of Kennedy’s head, and that a bullet exiting this location from this supposed entrance would, when projected rearwards back through these wound locations at the time of the fatal headshot, be headed up into the clouds. 

It would appear to be no coincidence, then, that Canning warned Downey the use of these wound locations would lead to a location “quite high relative to the School Book Depository window”?

This apparently wouldn't do. An 8-3-78 report on a Canning phone call to Downey (180-10075-10158) reveals that she has left a message with Dr. Angel because Canning "wants to talk with him regarding two interpretations of placement of large bone chips of skull as it effects head wound location."

And talk they did. An 8-8-78 report on a Canning phone call to Downey (RIF# 180-10088-10039) reflects that Canning "just talked with Dr. Angel regarding bone fragment placement for outshoot wound location. Dr Angel had independently concluded some time ago that fragment is part of frontal bone." The memo then reveals "Medical Panel now agrees with Canning on head wound placement for trajectory analysis."

But this is confusing, or worse. At first glance, this suggests there are no longer two schools of thought regarding the outshoot location--that Canning agrees with Angel, and that the Medical Panel has signed on to their interpretation. 

But this is hard to be believe. Angel placed the large triangular fragment at the rearmost part of the frontal bone--which rests forward of the coronal suture. The beveled exit on intact bone apparent in the "mystery photo" (taken before the recovery of this fragment) must thereby (in Angel's interpretation) be mid-frontal bone--inches forward of the coronal suture. 

Well, the medical panel placed the exit wound on the coronal suture. 

So where did Canning place this outshoot?

Here, see for yourself. The following drawings were created under Canning's guidance and sent to Downey on 8-9-78.

Now this is curious. Although Canning is purportedly under Angel's sway, he has placed the exit defect along the coronal suture. 

How could this be?

On 8-18-78, thank goodness, some clarity was provided. Mark Flanagan's report on a phone call with Dr. Angel (RIF# 180-10083-10111) reveals that in Angel's interpretation there was "not one exit wound." It reveals, furthermore, that Angel believes the entrance wound was 1.8 cm to the right of midline of the skull, and that one of the exits was on or near the coronal suture 4.4 cm to the right of the midline, and 1.2 cm above the entrance wound. 

Now, this would appear to be an attempt at a compromise. Presumably, this exit was deduced from Angel's interpretation of the large triangular fragment. As we've seen, he felt this exit did not correlate with the beveled exit on intact skull apparent in the "mystery photo." But it appears that, nevertheless, he was willing to accept this exit as the one to be used by Canning in his trajectory analysis. 

And so Canning revised his drawings to match Angel's interpretation of this wound location. He moved the in-shoot from 2.5 cm to the right of midline to 1.8 cm to the right of midline. He moved the outshoot from 5.5 cm to the right of midline to 4.4 cm to the right of midline. And he lifted this exit 1.2 cm above the inshoot. (RIF# 180-10083-10113).

Here, see for yourself.

Now here's where things get tricky. When Canning mailed these sketches in to the committee from his office in Florida, he included a comment that must have scared them a bit. He reported that, even though it now appeared a compromise had been reached regarding the outshoot location, that his "discussion of outshoot wound interpretation will still cover the difficulties and variability of the results."

Well, this was not what the committee wanted. They wanted hard science proving hard facts.

In any event, an 8-20-78 report by Andy Purdy reveals that he has called Dr. Baden regarding a "review and comparison of autopsy sketches with original photographs and x-rays." It reports further that Baden will be talking to Dr. Angel and then he'll call Canning. (RIF# 180-10082-10118)

It appears this paid off. A 9-1-78 outside contact report by HSCA staffer Mark Flanagan reveals that Dr. Angel has met with Dr. Baden and the HSCA staff "to review skull reconstruction drawings" (presumably F-66) and now agrees that the drawings are "fair and accurate representations" of his conclusions, as his "original report stating that the largest fragment depicted in original autopsy x-ray #6 was frontal bone was in error." (RIF# 180-10083-10106)

Dr. Angel's interpretation of the "mystery photo" had led him to suggest there was more than one exit, and that one of these exits did not align with the sniper's nest. The HSCA medical panel tried to ignore this. Thomas Canning then threatened to mention this in his testimony and report. Dr. Angel was then brought in line.

Now, he may have had a sincere change in his interpretation of this fragment. 

It is suspicious, however, that there is no paper trail citing the reasons for Angel's change of interpretation. He was a consultant, after all. He was supposed to explain his interpretations, and not just throw up his hands and say "Oops, I was wrong!" 

We can assume, then, that Angel wasn't sincere in his submission. Let's recall here that shortly before this call, Dr. Baden placed paper cut-outs of the skull fragments onto a skull model, and concluded Angel was not only wrong about the orientation of the "largest fragment" (which Baden proposed was parietal and not frontal), but the Harper fragment (which Baden proposed was from the side of the head and not the top of the head). It bears repeating that this was Angel's area of expertise. And yet he was second-guessed and over-ruled by Baden, who was by no means an expert on this matter. It's hard to believe Angel was cool with this. And the lack of paper trail showing Angel had changed his interpretations suggests he was not, in fact, cool with this. 

And when researcher John Hunt talked to Thomas Canning in 2001, he found out that Canning, most assuredly, was not cool with this.

Even so, here is how Canning depicted JFK's skull wounds in his 9-12-78 testimony before the committee. 

He has moved the outshoot back to its former location! 

And here is Canning's depiction of these wounds in his final report, which was issued the next year.

Well, you guessed it, he moved the outshoot again. 

But that's just the beginning of Canning's symphony of errors. Here is the lateral view of the skull in Canning's report beside the skull above, matched up by the vertical position of the inshoot and outshoot.

Yikes!  When matched up by the skull wounds, the skull in II-6 is much too small.

So let's match the skulls up as best we can, and see where this places the wounds.

Yikes again. The inshoot and outshoot are much higher on the frontal view (II-7) than they are on the lateral view (II-6). In fact, the inshoot on the lateral view is now higher than the outshoot on the frontal view. 

Something's wrong. After looking at this off an on for years, moreover, I figured out just what. 

Here's Canning's testimony about F-137 and F-147, which ended up in his report (with some slightly different calculations) as exhibits II-6 and II-7.

Mr. GOLDSMITH. At this time I would ask that the witness be given an opportunity to examine what has been marked as JFK No. 147 and JFK No. 137. I should correct myself. That is F-147 and F-137. Mr. Canning, examining these two exhibits, one of which is marked "Location of Head Wounds in President Kennedy," actually they are both marked the same way. They just show it from a different perspective. I would ask you whether the wounds are accurately represented in these exhibits in the manner that you used them in your trajectory analysis.
Mr. CANNING. Yes, the positions are accurately represented there as I used them.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Are these diagrams drawn to scale?
Mr. CANNING. The diagram on the left is actually generated from a tracing of a premortem X-ray that had been taken of the President's head, so that one is a true scale representation of the President's skull.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. That is the one that shows the right lateral view?
Mr. CANNING. That is the right lateral view; correct.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. And what about the one on the right, sir?
Mr. CANNING. The diagram on the right is based on a tracing taken from a textbook; the actual measured positions of the wounds are indicated by the dimensions shown in the diagram.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Which textbook was that drawing taken from?
Mr. CANNING. That was drawn from Gray's Anatomy.

So...The right lateral drawing was taken from a pre-mortem x-ray of Kennedy, and the frontal view was taken from a standard textbook of a skull that may not in fact have similar proportions as Kennedy's skull. 

Well, that's just...weird.

But there's another less obvious problem with II-6.

Although the outshoot location is at a lower point along the coronal suture (which runs across the skull at an angle) than it was in F-147, it remains 5.5 cm to the right of the midline of the skull. 

Well, this is impossible, unless, unless...

We have now reached the voodoo portion of our discussion. 

Shrunken Head Analysis

When Thomas Canning testified before the HSCA on September 12, 1978, he presented them with HSCA Exhibit F-137, and told them “The diagram on the left is actually generated from a tracing of a pre-mortem x-ray that had been taken of the President’s head, so that one is a true scale representation of the President’s skull.” Six months later, when he submitted his final report, however, he presented them with a nearly identical diagram. Nearly identical but not identical. 

Either this second diagram is a complete sham or Canning lied in his testimony.

In F-137, Canning depicted a flat trajectory through the skull. Since Dr. Michael Baden had presented F-58, with a slight trajectory through the skull, to the committee only days before, it is embarrassing but not suspicious that Canning might present his exhibits as planned, and then make a few changes in his final report. A footnote on page 35 of the HSCA trajectory analysis addresses this issue: “The interpretation of the head wounds used in defining trajectory reported in testimony on September 12, 1978 differs from this report because the final illustration from the Forensic Pathology Panel showed the exit wound to be 1 centimeter lower than the entrance, rather than level with it as had been concluded earlier. Thus, the resulting trajectory is somewhat steeper.”  Fair enough. 

The problem is with the other footnote on that page: “The above conclusions differ to some extent from the testimony given by Thomas N. Canning…In each case, the differences reflect new information or analysis resulting from work concluded subsequent to the presentation of preliminary findings at the hearing.”  Well, as Dr. Michael Baden submitted F-58, depicting a slight descent within Kennedy’s skull, 5 days before Canning testified, this footnote would appear to be a lie.    

But it gets worse. Since the pathology panel determined that the bullet descended 1 cm in Kennedy’s skull, and since they decided it exited on the coronal suture connecting the frontal and parietal bones, which cuts across the skull at an angle, this meant the bullet would have to have been heading on a greater left to right trajectory through the skull. As the coronal suture, viewed from the front, runs at roughly a 55 degree angle in this stretch, an exit 1 cm lower and on the suture would also be an exit slightly more forward and approximately 8 mm further to the right on the skull. This meant that Canning would have to recalculate both his vertical and horizontal trajectories. The 5 degree greater decline in Kennedy should have made Canning lift his trajectory circle pointing back to the school book depository by 20 feet or more. And a 4-6 degree greater left to right angle should have led him to move the circle considerably to the east, perhaps as much as 24 feet. This mere 1 cm movement of the exit wound, then, should have forced Canning to move the center of his trajectory circle across the street to the top floor of the Dal-Tex Building, roughly three windows north of Elm and Houston. 

Instead, well, he found a way to keep the bullet on its former trajectory.

He shrank Kennedy’s skull! On Figure II-6 of Canning's final report the length of the bullet’s passage through the skull is identical to its length in Exhibit F-137, even though it exits further forward on the skull. A comparison of F-137 and II-6 in which the 11 cm passage through the skull is made to match demonstrates that the skull in II-6 is indeed 6.67% smaller. What’s worse, since the distance from the EOP to the in-shoot supposedly remained 9 cm, this would indicate Kennedy’s skull was not only shrunk, it was shrunk in but one direction, as the reduction in size occurred laterally, but not vertically.  

So much for preserving the “true scale representation of the President’s skull” …

But that's not the only problem. Canning also testified that exhibit F-147, showing the frontal view of the skull, was traced from a skull drawing in Gray's Anatomy. 

And yet he changed it for his final report! 

Yep, the proof Canning knew he changed the dimensions of the skull between his testimony and his report is right there in Exhibit II-7, the lateral view of the skull. The outshoot, let's remember, has been lowered on the skull. And yet it is still on the coronal suture! Well, this means the suture has been lowered in comparison to the top of the skull. And this means Canning has deliberately altered his skull tracing from Gray's Anatomy in order to make things add up. 

But do they? Add up? 

Here is a picture of 

The Big OOPS

When one looks at still more exhibits presented by Canning in his testimony and report, one can only be amazed so many take his trajectory analysis seriously. Seriously flawed, yes, but serious evidence that the shots all came from the school book depository? Afraid not. We've already mentioned F-137. In his testimony, Canning described this exhibit as follows: “If one draws a line straight from the in-shoot wound in the right lateral projection, it turns out to be very close to 90 degrees relative to the external facial axis…” From this it’s obvious this exhibit was supposed to depict a flat trajectory through a skull in the upright position. The problem is that the trajectory was neither flat nor the skull in the upright position. That the skull in the diagram was not upright is made clear by comparing it with the calibration photo created by Canning to represent Zapruder frame 312 and the supposed position of Kennedy’s skull at the time of the headshot. The slope of the top of the head is so similar on the two exhibits that at first I thought F-137 was designed to represent the skull at Z-312. A close reading of Canning’s testimony, however, reveals that F-137 is supposed to be an upright skull while the head in the calibration photo is supposed to be pitched forward 11 degrees. That the forward pitch is indistinguishable between the two should have alerted someone that something was wrong.

But that’s just the beginning. When one considers that a flat trajectory through a skull pitched forward 11 degrees would project backwards at an 11 degree angle through the air, one can’t help but wonder why Exhibit F-139 depicting the head wound trajectory displays a 13 ½ degree descent through Kennedy’s head on the close-up insert. Even worse, it has a 17 degree descent from the window next to the sniper’s nest into the car on the longer view. As the FBI measured a 15 degree angle from the sniper’s nest to Kennedy for the Warren Commission, one should wonder how Canning could project an 11 or 17 degree angle to the adjacent window.  

That something is wrong becomes even more clear when one looks at Figure II-12 in Canning’s final report. Let's recall that Canning lowered the exit on the skull for this exhibit, and that this created a 5 degree descent within the skull. Apparently realizing that a 5 degree descent through a skull pitched forward 11 degrees would project back 16 degrees to just above the sniper’s nest, he failed to lift the rear projection of the trajectory the 5 degrees one would expect on Figure II-12. Inexplicably, he lifted it just one degree from 17 to 18. The close-up trajectory of 13 ½ degrees through the head stayed the same. Since neither the 17 degrees in F-139 nor the 18 degrees in II-12 are mentioned in Canning’s testimony or report, it seems possible these were just mistakes related to his using drawings not properly made to scale. That these were not made to scale can be demonstrated by comparing the official measurements of the headshot from the sniper’s nest—265 feet through the air from a 60 foot elevation (for a ratio of 4.4 to 1), with the drawing in F-139, which has a distance to elevation ratio of only 3.7 to 1, even though the trajectory led back within a few yards of the sniper’s nest. Disturbingly, when asked in his testimony if the diagram was made to scale, Canning said “yes.” While I hesitate to accuse the man of deliberate mischief, that he changed the backwards trajectory from Kennedy’s wounds from 11 degrees in his testimony to 16 degrees in his report and had the point at which this trajectory hit the face of the school book depository change by only 10 feet or so in the exhibits he submitted to the committee, smells like a dead rat left inside a gym locker over summer vacation. The 5 degree increase in slope should have raised this location by over 20 feet. 

When one looks at the HSCA Final Assassinations Report published by Bantam Books, one finds additional cause for concern. In this report, which, prior to the internet, was the only work by the HSCA widely available to the public, exhibits F-122 and 139 were re-printed, even though Canning had since modified the trajectories on display. (F-122 was a photo of school book depository with overlapping trajectory circles.) Presumably, no one noticed that Canning had updated his trajectories. Or maybe someone, like the parade of fans stalking Woody Allen in his film Stardust Memories, just liked the early ones better. 

Perhaps it should be noted here that I spoke to HSCA Chief Counsel G. Robert Blakey at the 2014 COPA conference in Bethesda, Maryland, and that he agreed to look over my material regarding the work of Thomas Canning. He even provided me his private email. When I sent him material proving Canning's placement of Kennedy at the time of the shooting had him sitting up after first being shot, instead of slouching down, however, I received no response. That Blakey had either failed to read or understand what I had sent him, or was a total liar, was demonstrated during a 10-29-18 discussion of the case at The Sixth Floor Museum, moreover. Of the much-maligned single-bullet theory, he said: "In fact, it's true." Then, he cited Canning's trajectory rings--based upon his demonstrably false interpretations of Kennedy's body's position at the time of the shots--as evidence the fatal shots were fired from the sniper's nest! And while he did this--EEGADS--he showed his audience F-122, the photo with the overlapping circles entered into evidence in Canning's 1978 testimony, that was based on information disowned by Canning in his report. 

It seems likely, then, that the person responsible for putting the outdated F-122 into the HSCA's report (and the Canning fan preferring his early work, so to speak) was none other than HSCA Chief Counsel G. Robert Blakey!

I mean, let's be clear. The final report of Canning's panel (contained within Volume 6 of the HSCA appendices), and presumably accepted by Blakey, held that the largest circle, a trajectory circle based around a line connecting the exit and entrance wounds on Kennedy's skull, intersects "the Texas School Book Depository at a point approximately 11 feet west of the southeast corner of the building and 15 feet above the sixth floor windowsills." Well, that's not what's shown above. Such a circle would be centered on the seventh floor and include the depository roof as well as the upper floors and roof of the Dal-Tex Building, across the street. 

The Ten Degrees of Misinformation

After noting that both F-66, the Ida Dox Drawing depicting the bullet trajectory through the skull, and F-137, the trajectory analysis depiction of this same passage (which was modified for its final report as Figure II-6, shown above), were pitched forward 10 degrees when compared to the other exhibits, I was at a loss. After all, both the HSCA’s exhibit F-58, and the drawing of Dr. Lawrence Angel, a renowned expert on the human skull, presented the skull in a basically upright manner, with the bump at the back of the head (the EOP) in line with the end of the nose. Both of these exhibits appeared anatomically correct, for that matter, in line with other depictions of skulls online and in anatomy books. So why are exhibits F-66 and F-137 (and subsequently Figure II-6) not in line with these drawings? While I was immediately suspicious, I was unable to determine how and why such a mistake could be made. 

Upon re-reading the testimony of both Canning and Ms. Dox, however, I found an answer to the first part of my question—the how. It seems President Kennedy's lateral x-rays were used in the creation of both F-66 and F-137. Upon close inspection, furthermore, I discovered that the skull in these x-rays was already pitched forward ten degrees (or more). Larry Sturdivan, in an online review of the autopsy materials created after his 2004 trip to the archives, said that his measurements of the President’s teeth in the un-cropped postmortem x-ray indicated that “the head is tilted forward about 5 degrees in the published lateral view.” So I’m not alone in my assertion that the lateral isn't upright.   

Ironically, this led me to be less suspicious about the second part of the question—the why. Presenting Kennedy's skull on a 10 degree forward rotation on exhibits showing a lateral view of the entrance and exit wounds served to lower the exit in comparison to the entrance. Well, think about it. A flat trajectory through the skull on such an exhibit would thereby indicate the bullet ascended 10 degrees through the skull. Perhaps this was not acceptable to those overseeing Canning's analysis...even though it made a heckuva lot more sense than what he ultimately came up with, seeing as Kennedy's head was leaning sharply forward when struck. 

Let's do the math. If Kennedy's head was leaning forward 27 degrees at frame 312, as presumed by myself, and as previously proposed by, yikes, Dale Myers, and the skull in F-137 is incorrectly rotated 10 degrees forward, and the bullet traveled on a flat trajectory within the skull, well, then, the source of the shots would be about 17 degrees above the skull in F-137, in the vicinity of the sniper's nest. No mumbo jumbo.  

In other words, the incorrect positioning of the skull on Canning's exhibits did nothing to help sell the single-assassin theory. It actually distracted from it. 

So perhaps it was all just a miscue. 

That there was a screw-up, and a colossal one at that, can be demonstrated, moreover, by presenting Canning's calibration photo, Figure II-9--purported to show Kennedy pitched forward 11 degrees--beside Figure II-6, the drawing taken from Kennedy's x-rays purported to show a five degree descent of a bullet in Kennedy's skull. If Figure II-6 is pitched forward 10 degrees, as I have presumed, the two should have a similar appearance. 

But before we can look at that, we need to look at this.

This is a typical anatomy drawing, found online. I've added a red line to demonstrate the level of the top of the occipital bone. And I've added a blue line to demonstrate the approximate level of the EOP.

Now here's II-6 by II-9. 

The lines at the upper margin of the occipital bone and EOP are at the expected positions on the back of the heads in II-6 and II-9, but too high on the front of the heads. This shows that II-6 is closely matched up with II-9, and that II-6 is not a skull in the anatomic position.

Now, look what happens if you assume the drawing in II-6 represents a 5 degree descent in the skull, a la Canning, and then lean the skull forward 11 degrees to match it up with the 11 degree forward pitch in the calibration photo.

Well, I'll be doggone. The lines at the levels of the occipital bone and EOP on II-6 are now far too high on both the back and front of the head on II-9. And the forehead on II-6 slopes forward. IF the skull in II-6 was in the anatomic position, an 11 degree rotation should have brought it roughly in line with the head in II-9. But it's not even close.

This proves it then. The x-ray used by Canning to establish the relative locations of Kennedy's wounds was not taken with his head in the anatomic position, and Canning's subsequent conclusions regarding the trajectory of the bullet within the skull are not worth squat.

But it's worse than that. If it was a simple matter of an improper rotation, one could fix the rotation and come up with something worthwhile.

But look what happens when you make the the measurements match up on II-6 and II-7, and rotate II-6 back 10 degrees.

It's a mess. The skull on II-6 is far too small, and the eye sockets are totally out of alignment. 

Okay, then, let us now match the skulls up based upon the eye sockets.

Now this is a bit better. The skull is longer than it is wide, and the EOP is in the proper position. 

Uh, oh. This means the measurements and orientation of Canning's exhibits were screwed up. And that the inshoot is an inch or so lower on II-6 than II-7.  

Now let's see what happens should we assume, just for kicks, that Canning's placement of this wound was accurate.

The skull in figure II-6 is pitched forward 10 degrees. It purports to show a 5 degree descent within the skull. It follows then that, when corrected, this skull will show a 5 degree ascent within the skull. IF JFK's head was pitched forward 27 degrees at frame 312 (as seems reasonable), and the bullet ascended 5 degrees within the skull, well, then a rear projection through his head wounds would place the shooter 22 degrees above Kennedy, well above the sniper's nest. Now, this is precisely as Canning admitted in his 7-25 memo to Downey. 

So this raises another question. Was Canning actually fooled by the improper orientation of the skull on his exhibits? Or was this a brilliant mistake designed to hide that they were hiding.

I mean, he admits his initial conclusions are that the head wound trajectories don't point to the sniper's nest. And then starts working on a drawing that fools him into thinking the entrance wound was at the same level or above the exit wound. And then testifies that the wounds point back to the sniper's nest. 

When one starts looking for shadows, moreover, one can find them everywhere. 

When one looks at Kennedy's pre-mortem x-ray, which was entered into evidence as Exhibit F-297, one can’t help but notice the crop. The face and jaw have been removed. Now, this was supposedly done for the Kennedy family’s privacy. Since Kennedy’s face is viewable on the A-P x-rays, and these were entered into evidence, however, this makes little sense. What’s more, since the x-rays of Kennedy’s jaw and teeth were used to confirm the authenticity of the x-rays, and were released as public exhibits during the testimony of Dr. Lowell Levine, the decision to crop the x-rays is indeed curious. Could the x-rays have been cropped in order to confuse those most likely to study them, the conspiracy "buffs" so despised by the "experts"? 

Or was the cropping of the x-rays just a dumb idea, that inadvertently prevented those studying the x-rays, like Canning, from realizing that the skull in his trajectory drawings had a forward pitch in comparison to a skull in the anatomic position?

I'm currently leaning towards this last possibility. It turns out that the proper positioning of a skull in a lateral x-ray has little correlation to the anatomically correct position used by illustrators in anatomy books. According to Medical Radiographic Technic, an x-ray machine guidebook put out by General Electric in 1943, the central ray of a lateral x-ray is centered on the mid-point between the frontal bone and occipital protuberance, and the interorbital line (an imaginary line connecting the eye sockets) is made vertical. In other words, the head is situated to get as pure a profile shot as possible. NOTHING is said about framing the x-ray so that the skull on the film appears in an anatomically upright position. It could very well be then that Canning and Dox assumed this was done and created their exhibits under an incorrect assumption. And we all know what happens when we assume things…

The Forgotten Angle

Should one still have trouble believing that the HSCA trajectory analysis, performed jointly with NASA, was a complete sham, one need only look at the Moorman photo taken just after Kennedy was struck in the head and reflect on Kennedy’s severe pitch to his left. While Canning’s interpretation of the calibration photo acknowledged Kennedy was leaning 15 degrees to his left, a careful reading of Canning’s report reveals that this 15 degrees was 15 degrees from Zapruder, and that Zapruder was elevated 10 degrees from Kennedy, standing on a flat pedestal. This indicates that Kennedy was actually leaning 25 degrees to his left when compared to true vertical. Now, a few degrees of this might have been caused by the road surface, which appears to be slanted ever so slightly towards the middle of the plaza. (If someone has measured this, please let me know.) In any case, this 25 degree lean is supported by Kennedy’s appearance in the Moorman photo. 

The problems associated with this lean become clear when one looks back at the frontal views of the head wounds. Since Canning initially testified that the bullet headed left to right and that the entrance and exit of the bullet were on the same level, a 25 degree rotation to the left will lift the exit to a point above the entrance. Considerably above the entrance. A quick measurement using Canning’s own diagram tells us that the exit in F-147, once adjusted for the leftward lean, was in fact 1.6 cm above the entrance. Based upon Canning’s own calculations that a 1 cm drop within the skull represented a descent of 5 degrees, this meant that the bullet causing the wounds in F-147 in fact ascended 8 degrees within the skull. 

Only not so fast... The calculation cited above was correct under the presumption Kennedy was staring straight forward when struck. But Canning made no such presumption. No, he claimed Kennedy's head was pitched forward 11 degrees at the time it was struck. Well, think about it, the forward lean of Kennedy's head would lower the exit wound on the front of his head, and the leftward lean would raise this exit back up somewhat. 

But we've forgotten something, haven't we? Kennedy wasn't looking straight forward when struck. His head was turned to the left. 

This would tend to bring the exit wound more in line with the right-left trajectory of the bullet. But did it? And did the head-shrinker Canning accurately assess the degree to which the shrunken head was turned?

Calibration Photo/Z312 Comparison

When one looks at the calibration photo prepared for Thomas Canning to demonstrate the President’s actual position at frame 312, one can sense how desperate Canning was to find a position for the President’s skull where a trajectory would point back to the school book depository.  

On the calibration photo, most noticeably, the President’s right shoulder is lifted far off the back seat of the limo, resulting in a turn of his whole body sharply to its left. That this 27 degree turn makes it possible for a bullet traveling 8 degrees right to left to enter near the mid-line of the President’s skull and exit from the right side of his head at the location picked by the pathology panel would have to be taken as more than a coincidence. That this turn is greatly exaggerated can be demonstrated by simply projecting Mrs. Kennedy into the calibration photo. When one creates a comparison where the heads are the same size one can see that while the President in Z-312 is looking just to the right of the first lady, the President in the calibration photo is looking just to the left.

An interesting point about this photo. On one of the footnotes in his report, Canning defends the changes from his testimony by re-stating his demonstrably false claim that the doctors moved the wounds on him after his testimony. He goes on to write “The remaining revisions resulted from the availability of a superior enhanced reproduction of Zapruder frame 312 for comparison with the calibration photographs.” This undoubtedly indicates he changed his interpretation of the calibration photo between his testimony and his report. The numbers given in each instance, however, were exactly the same. In both cases, Canning asserted that Kennedy was turned 25 degrees from Zapruder, was tilted 11 degrees forward, and was leaning 15 degrees to his left. This footnote makes me wonder then if someone has changed Canning’s testimony. If Canning originally said the calibration photo demonstrated Kennedy to be leaning forward 15 degrees, for instance, this might explain both the strange footnote cited above and the failure of F-139 to match the 11 degree descent implied in Canning’s testimony. In any event, Canning’s interpretation of Zapruder frame 312 is clearly, and incredibly, wrong...

Dale Myers is another writer/researcher who rejects the accuracy of this calibration photo. While creating his computer simulation/cartoon he ignored Canning and developed his own interpretation of the President’s position at Z-312. When he projected backwards from the HSCA outshoot back through the in-shoot in the cowlick, however, Myers found that the trajectory led back to someone hanging in space, well above the Dal-Tex Building. He determined from this that there was no clear outshoot and acknowledges on his website that his depiction of the head-shot is not based upon a precise alignment of the wounds. 

ABC, of course, failed to point this out in their Beyond Conspiracy special presenting Myers’ work.

And, incredibly, they weren't the first to play this game with Myers' animation... In 1998, Gus Russo, author of Live By the Sword, made similar use of Myers' animation, and, was even less honest re Myers' conclusions about the head wound trajectory. Despite the fact that Myers claimed the head wound trajectory could not be accurately identified, and pointed high up in the air, Russo not only cited the HSCA study--which Myers acknowledges is bogus--as evidence the head shot was fired from the sniper's nest, he told his readers that "Myers' work is conclusive that the wounds track back to the sixth floor window..."


But I digress. 


A Nose is a Nose Analysis 

When Congressman Christopher Dodd pointed out to Canning during his testimony that the calibration photo depicted Kennedy turned far more sharply to his left than in Z-312, Canning delivered a surprising response: “I can assure you the images play games with you…For instance, the dark lapel of Mrs. Kennedy’s blue blouse has a notch which is in close juxtaposition with the President’s nose.  The notch makes it look as if the President’s nose extends much further than it really does…On the other hand, when we account for where other pink and blue elements are and behind the President’s face we conclude that his facial profile is well to the left of its apparent position when only a cursory examination is the basis.”

According to the book Mortal Error, Canning said much the same thing to ballistician Howard Donahue when he contacted Canning and questioned his analysis.

When one looks at the whole Zapruder film, however, and keeps their eye on Kennedy’s nose, one can see that Kennedy’s nose is exactly where it is in Z-312 for many frames beforehand, and that it would be very hard to confuse his nose for Jackie’s ever-moving clothing. From this it would seem obvious that Canning spent too much time staring at Kennedy's nose in Z-312 and talked himself into believing he was looking at Jackie’s clothing. Perhaps he realized that if it was Kennedy’s nose he was looking at, then Kennedy wasn’t turned far enough to his left to allow a bullet to enter his cowlick and exit his right forehead on a straight trajectory from the sniper’s nest. Indeed, it seems Canning himself knew his interpretation of Z-312 would be controversial, for the last section of his report reads like a pre-planned alibi: “Serious impediments to accurate interpretation of the photograph (Z-312) were occasioned by the extremely complicated background to the President’s face resulting from Mrs. Kennedy’s pink suit and dark blue blouse and by the interior surface of the left side of the limousine. These problems were overcome in part by a computer-enhanced version of Zapruder frame 312.”

Well, there it is. In his final report, Canning said two pieces of information led him to revise his findings from his original testimony: revised measurements he received from the medical panel, and a computer enhanced version of Z-312. And here he admits that this computer-enhanced version of Z-312 led him to re-interpret what he thought was Kennedy's nose as being Jackie's clothing. 

And this, even though his final calibration photograph presents Kennedy's nose in the same position as it is in Z-312!

While it’s tempting to say that if Canning really believed the nose in Z-312 was Jackie’s blouse, then he must have swallowed the Kool-Aid, I will refrain from taking such a cheap shot. Due to his NASA background, one might logically assume instead that Canning swallowed the TANG.


Mary Moorman Photograph Analysis

When one looks at the Polaroid photograph taken by eyewitness Mary Moorman just after the headshot one finds further reason to disbelieve the HSCA’s trajectory analysis. While Moorman’s photo clearly reveals the back of Kennedy’s head, the HSCA’s analysis is clear that her photo should have shown the side of Kennedy’s head. 

The HSCA exhibits show that they concluded the limousine was turned 8 degrees to the right of a straight line coming from the sniper’s nest at the time of the fatal headshot. The calibration photo reflects that Kennedy was turned roughly 27 degrees to his left. From this the HSCA could conclude that a bullet fired from the sniper’s nest and entering near the middle of the back of Kennedy’s head and exiting near his temple would be traveling roughly 19 degrees to his right. Canning’s trajectory analysis backed this up, stating that the left to right angle across Kennedy’s skull connecting his wounds was 18.6 degrees. All the ducks seemed to be in a row. 

But what if it can be demonstrated that Kennedy was not turned 26.6 degrees to his left?

Since Mary Moorman’s photograph shows Kennedy in line with the back tire of the limo and the stairs on the grassy knoll, one can fairly accurately place both her position on the grass and the timing of her photograph. Consequently, most have her taking her photograph between Z-315 and Z-316. Ironically, she can be seen in the Zapruder film snapping her photograph in the far left area of the sprocket holes in frame Z-315. The limousine has scarcely passed her. Since the limousine was heading away from Moorman at 40 degrees left of her view, and since Kennedy was supposedly turned 27 degrees from the direction of the limousine, this means that In Canning’s analysis, Kennedy should have been only 23 degrees removed from profile to Moorman. As you can’t even see his face in the photograph, it would appear he wasn’t really turned that far.

But what if he’d changed his head position between 312 and 315?


More Moorman Photo Analysis

To be sure the angle of Kennedy’s head hadn’t changed between Z-312 and Z-315, one need only to look at the photos side by side and note the position of his ear. A turn to the left or the right would change the position of his ear relative to the rest of his head. As there appears to be little change, one can assume his head did not turn upon immediate impact of the bullet.  

This pretty much demolishes the so-called “jet effect” theory, as proposed by Nobel prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez. The “jet effect” holds that the force of brain matter exploding from Kennedy’s pressurized skull was significant enough to fling his whole body backwards, as seen in the frames following Z-313. Well, if the “jet effect” from matter exploding from the right temple of Kennedy’s head was strong enough to push his body it should also have been strong enough to turn his head. If you turn your head slightly to your left and apply the slightest pressure to your right temple area it will turn your head further to the left. And yet there is little change in Kennedy’s position between Z-312 and Z-315. Even worse, for Alvarez’ theory, the Moorman photos show Kennedy’s head is turned too far to its right, when compared to the HSCA’s trajectories. If there really was a “jet effect” it would mean then that Kennedy had started out looking nearly straight ahead, but if he’d been looking straight ahead, a bullet entering near the midline of his skull on an 8 degree right to left trajectory would have exited out near his left eye, and not his right temple. If anyone knows of any reason why the “jet effect” would fail to move the skull until after all the ejected brain matter was long gone, I’d appreciate the explanation.

When one turns a skull 23 degrees from profile, the perspective of Moorman on Kennedy should he really have had his head turned 27 degrees to the left within the limousine at Z-312, one can see that the skull is not far from profile, with the ear almost in the middle and the left side of the face visible.  When one turns the skull the degree from profile I theorize Kennedy was actually turned, 36 degrees, the ear moves closer to the face and more of the right side of the head becomes visible. When one realizes none of Kennedy’s face is visible in the Moorman photo, due at least in part to Kennedy’s hair being draped to his left, it becomes clear that this new perspective makes a lot more visual sense than Canning’s trajectory analysis. A quick measurement of the relative positions of the ear within the two theories is convincing, assuming the anatomic models used are similar to Kennedy. While Zapruder frame 312, after the frame is rotated 30 degrees so that his skull is made upright, depicts the back of Kennedy’s ear at roughly 50% the horizontal distance between the tip of his nose and the far back of his head, and our new perspective is in close agreement, the Canning perspective depicts the ear at only 39% of the distance. The head is turned too far to the left.  

If one should continue to doubt that a NASA scientist could screw up to such a degree, one should focus on the fact that by deciding Kennedy’s head was turned 27 degrees to his left at frame 312, Canning had decided that Kennedy was turned only 23 degrees from profile at the time of Moorman's photograph. Since, as part of this same analysis the HSCA determined Kennedy was turned from Abraham Zapruder by approximately 25 degrees at frame 312, this means the HSCA determined that Kennedy was turned further away from Zapruder at frame 312, where he’s almost in profile, than he was from Moorman at the time of her photograph, which doesn’t even show his face! 

When one considers that the limousine was still heading towards Zapruder at 312, and reached exact profile around 315, this means that Kennedy was turned an additional two degrees away from Zapruder at 315, or 27 degrees. And yet Kennedy’s horribly-damaged head in the Zapruder film at 315 is still obviously more in profile than in the Moorman photo, even though it should be turned 4 degrees further away! 

So...yeah. Canning's claim Kennedy was turned 26.6 degrees to his left at frame 312 of the Zapruder film was yet another load of bullshit added to a steaming mountain.  

Whenever the trajectories run into a problem, some sleight-of-hand bullshit makes it go away. The back wound and throat wound fail to align with a shot from the sniper's nest? Easy. Say he was leaning forward. The inshoot and outshoot on the skull fail to align as well? Easy. Say he was not leaning very far forward. But that he was turned sharply to his left. 

Well, heck. If you have to cram a square peg into a round hole over and over again, it's probably because you're using the wrong set of pegs!

Still, this is all a bit curious. If the HSCA had hired Canning in order to move things around and make a case for Oswald as a lone assassin, why did the Committee turn around and find a conspiracy was likely?"

There's no easy answer, but let me take a shot. Canning’s frustration with the medical panel has been previously addressed and is confirmed by his January 1979 letter to chief counsel Robert Blakey. In this letter, Canning complained of the adversarial staff lawyers and the difficulty of getting “quantitative data—and even consistent descriptions—from the forensic pathologists.” That Canning was not diabolical, but simply sloppy, seems to be confirmed by this letter, as Canning recorded the date as 1978 when it was in fact 1979.  

Further understanding of Canning and his errors comes from studying his testimony. First of all, Blakey introduced Canning by telling the audience that “the trajectory analysis itself was a joint effort between the committee and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. An engineer with NASA Space Project Division, Tom Canning, constructed the final product from information provided by the committee from its various panels.” Hmm, so the man has no experience with wound ballistics but has nevertheless been tasked by a government agency dependent on congress for survival with creating “product,” based on information given to him by the committee. Doesn’t exactly sound like an independent search for truth, now does it? 

Canning’s own words tell the rest of the story: when asked by Congressman (later Senator) Dodd, about the small size of his trajectory circles (the area from which a shot was most likely fired--derived through rear-projection of a path between two known wound locations), Canning admitted his circles were much smaller than would normally be created by a forensic pathologist, whom he described as overly “conservative.” This indicates that Canning felt he had a new bold approach whereby he could accurately pinpoint the location of a shooter to a far greater degree than any of his more-experienced colleagues. One wonders then if this “boldness” was a factor in Canning’s employment, if not a prerequisite, since it clearly was not his experience. Just as troubling as Canning’s over-playing his hand is that Dodd’s request for more “conservative” exhibits, which included the areas of the Dal-Tex Building which fell within the trajectory circles, went unheeded. The final report was printed and distributed using Canning’s admittedly bold exhibits, without any conservative or thorough exhibits for balance.

An overall view of the HSCA may also be enlightening. While the HSCA eventually found for a conspiracy, this was largely based on last-minute testimony that a recording of the assassination revealed more shots than Oswald could have fired alone, and a subsequent confirmation of this testimony from a separate group of experts. This means that until the last minute, as late as December, 1978, three months after the public hearings, the HSCA was heading towards the conclusion that Oswald acted alone. 

Is it any wonder then that the medical exhibits and trajectory exhibits, most prepared for testimony many months before the final report, were so bold in their attempts to show there was only one shooter? The men who prepared these exhibits had reason to believe that this was what the HSCA was looking for: convincing proof that Oswald acted alone. 

No one wanted another investigation. No one wanted what comes next.   

Windshield Fragment Trajectory

Yet another reason to doubt the HSCA's trajectory analysis comes from a close inspection of the Warren Commission and HSCA exhibits depicting the fatal head shot. Significantly, they all place Kennedy near the middle of the limousine, directly contradicting the Zapruder film, which shows Kennedy, sitting on the far right side of the limousine, slumped slightly to his left. 

It is Mrs. Kennedy that moves towards the President, and not the President who moves closer to Mrs. Kennedy.

This confused me until I began to wonder if this movement placed the exit wound more in line with the crack found on the windshield. Since the bullet fragment found in the seat directly below the crack was the nose of the bullet believed to have hit Kennedy in the skull, this only made sense.

This led me to wonder what would happen if one projected back from the windshield fragment itself, at the 8 degrees which would presumably lead back to the school book depository. This trajectory led back to the President’s position several inches closer to the door than depicted by the HSCA, or as re-enacted by the FBI for the Warren Commission. 

So why had they moved him further to his left than I'd presumed necessary?

I then realized that this movement of Kennedy’s body to its left by a foot or so along with Canning’s excessive turn of Kennedy’s head to its left allowed for the nose of the bullet to traverse the right side of the President’s skull and continue on to hit the windshield, in a straight line. 

A proper placement of Kennedy in his seat, taking into account a slight slump to his left, however, reveals that the trajectory from the position of Kennedy’s wound to the crack on the windshield was greater than the 8 degrees of the bullet coming from the TSBD. This means the bullet, if it had come from the TSBD, was slightly deflected to its left upon exit, which makes little sense if it had indeed traveled through the President’s skull in a straight line, as Canning maintained.

Even worse, the bullet as tracked by Canning would leave Kennedy’s skull still heading 16 degrees downwards, which makes no sense considering that the nose of the bullet ended up hitting the windshield at the same level or slightly higher than its supposed exit from Kennedy’s skull. Not that this bothered Canning all that much. He told the HSCA: “I noted qualitatively that damage to the windshield of the car appeared to be in reasonable directional alignment but did not appear to be particularly in good slope alignment. But I did no quantitative work in that line.”

Adding to the significance of this fragment’s hitting the windshield is that there was a second bullet fragment, a portion of the copper jacket including the copper base, which landed in the front seat after striking a metal strip above the windshield. The discovery of this fragment is a problem for the official story for several reasons. The book Medicolegal Investigation of Death, by the Clark Panel’s Dr. Russell Fisher and the HSCA’s Dr. Werner Spitz, discussed the separation of a copper jacket from its lead core as follows: “Sometimes the jacket of a bullet separates from the core upon impact…In such cases the jacket and the core each assume separate paths. Whereas the core may leave the body, the jacket very seldom does.” 

So, if a copper jacket fragment “very seldom” traverses a body, why should we conclude one not only traversed a skull heading downwards, but that it changed direction upon exit?   

We shouldn't. Perhaps then this is an indication the bullet didn't actually traverse the skull...but that it instead struck the top of the skull and exploded... 

And that two of its fragments then hit the windshield and windshield frame.  

But this possibility has a glaring problem, right? It ignores the bullet trajectory through the brain.

Or does it?