In November 2004, I created a PowerPoint presentation on the John F. Kennedy assassination medical evidence for the JFK Lancer conference in Dallas. In 2005, I expanded this presentation and once again brought it to Dallas. In November 2005, I put this now book-length presentation online on a Mac page. Throughout 2006, I greatly expanded this presentation by adding sections on the Warren Commission and the eyewitnesses. I continue to add sections to this day. This expanded version begins below. The text should be a lot easier to read than on the Mac page. The images should also be clearer. I hope you find your time here worthwhile.
It all goes back to Mr. Ellis. The 80-year old caretaker of a walnut grove handed me a shiny new 50 cent piece. He said the man on the coin was a great President. He suggested that as a form of remembrance I should hold onto the coin and never spend it. This sounded a bit strange to me so I looked to my father. I was, after all, only three years old and "never spending" sounded like quite a long commitment. My father nodded his head in approval. This was 1964. Decades later I would learn that Rose Kennedy, the man on the coin's mother, was another to pass out Kennedy-halves, and I would reflect that somewhere in a small safe whose combination I'd forgotten sat the very Kennedy-half Mr. Ellis handed me, still waiting to be spent.
This investigation, then, is dedicated to Mr. Ellis, and all those like him, who fought foreign wars to defend democracy, only to see it snuffed out at home
11-22-63: Background and Foreword
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Although his death was investigated by a Presidential panel in 1964, and re-investigated by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the late 1970's, to most, the facts of his murder are still mystery. This presentation represents one individual's attempt to peel a layer or two from the mud surrounding that mystery.
Over the more than forty years since the President was shot to death while riding in an open-topped limousine through Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, there have been a multitude of theories proposed about the assassination, the most prominent one being that a 24 year-old ex-marine named Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, performed the shooting. This was, of course, the finding of the panel of seven prestigious Americans put together by Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, and headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren. This panel, commonly known as the Warren Commission, made the bulk of its evidence available to the public in an attempt to show there was nothing being held back. The 26 volumes of exhibits and testimony it released had the opposite effect, however, and many researchers, commonly called conspiracy theorists or conspiracy buffs, have used (some say abused) much of this evidence in order to question the Warren Commission's findings.
But some new evidence was uncovered as well. So much new evidence bubbled to the surface, in fact, that by 1976 it became necessary to re-open the investigation in the United States House of Representatives. The most damaging of this new evidence included: the admission that both the FBI and the CIA had failed to disclose to the Warren Commission that the CIA had been trying to murder Oswald's purported hero, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, with the help of organized crime; that the FBI had destroyed and concealed the existence of a purportedly threatening note from Oswald to one of its agents; that, in opposition to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's sworn testimony that "there had been no information that would have warranted our reporting him (Oswald) as a potential hazard to the security or the safety of the President," Hoover had secretly disciplined seventeen of his agents for failing to report Oswald to the Secret Service as a security risk; and that the pathologists who performed the President's autopsy recorded the location of his head wound incorrectly, were off by four inches, and had verified this incorrect wound location after reviewing the autopsy photos.
In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (the "HSCA") ended its investigation by confirming the Warren Commission's finding that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed the President. It did, however, disagree that he acted alone, and offered instead a scenario where a second shooter fired a shot that missed. It then referred the case to the Justice Department and asked it to identify this second shooter. The Justice Department refused to do this, however, and instead questioned the HSCA's belief that a recording of the assassination reflected more than the three shots Oswald was presumed to have been able to fire in the time frame established for the shooting. This time frame had been established by the careful study of a home movie of the assassination taken by dress manufacturer Abraham Zapruder. In 1982, the Justice Department declared that its experts disagreed with the HSCA's experts, and that there was no evidence for additional shots, and thus no need to follow-up on the findings of the HSCA.
In 1991 Oliver Stone released his film, JFK, and re-ignited the controversy. Stone insisted there was valid evidence that the government itself performed the assassination, setting Oswald up as a patsy. To support his position, he cited the fact that many of the HSCA's records were sealed for fifty years. Right before the 1992 election, however, President George Herbert Walker Bush surprised many by signing into law the JFK Records Act. This act created a government body, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), to review and de-classify hundreds of thousands of pages of documents related to the assassination. Many of these pages have still not been read or analyzed by the JFK research community that demanded their release.
Unfortunately, by then many of the conspiracy theorists had grown so cynical from the almost thirty years of government secrecy and deception that they disbelieved any evidence that pointed away from their now fervent belief that Kennedy was shot from in front of the limousine, from an area of the plaza known as the grassy knoll. Accordingly, they concluded that the President's autopsy photos, as presented in books such as Best Evidence and High Treason, were doctored to hide the true nature of his wounds. Ironically, many of the theorists even came to believe that the home movie of Abraham Zapruder, which depicted the President's head flying backwards after the fatal headshot and was subsequently responsible for convincing millions of Americans that the head shot came from the front, was also faked, as it showed the large exit wound on the President's skull near his temple, and not on the back of his head, where a shot fired from the grassy knoll would presumably have made its exit. This conviction that the accepted evidence had been faked became so widespread, in fact, that the prominent conspiracy writer Dr. David Mantik conceded in Murder in Dealey Plaza that "If the evidence in the JFK case is merely accepted at face value, then the conclusions are rather trivial. The rookie Scotland Yard inspector can easily solve this case--it was Oswald alone. The real challenge is to assess the credibility of the evidence."
With the fortieth anniversary of the assassination, in November 2003, ABC News and its anchor man Peter Jennings only added to the cynicism of the research community by broadcasting what was claimed to be an in-depth investigation of the assassination, but was, instead, a barely-scratch-the-surface over-view featuring a computer-generated cartoon depicting the killing of the President. Claiming this computer simulation, which grossly misrepresented the relationship between the President's back wound and his throat wound, as new conclusive evidence, ABC sought to close the case, once and for all. Sadly, this confirmed for many theorists what they'd always suspected--that the media was in league with the government in an ongoing conspiracy to cover-up the truth about of the assassination.
It was shortly before this broadcast that I began my own investigation. It was perplexing to me that such an important part of American history remained so clouded in mystery. And so I read virtually everything I could on the assassination, with a special emphasis on the medical evidence and medical testimony available on such websites as Rex Bradford's History-Matters.com. At first I was surprised to find that I agreed with the Warren Commission more often than not. I soon realized, however, that the medical evidence area of the case left little room for disagreement, whereby agreeing with the conspiracy theorists even 10% of the time still left you a conspiracy theorist. After a year or so of this immersion into all things assassination, and weary of my inability to reach a firm conclusion on just what I thought happened, I decided to run a test of sorts. Since it makes no sense for conspirators trying to cover up a conspiracy to fake evidence which indicates a conspiracy, I decided to disregard the opinions expressed in the many books I'd read, from Weisberg to Groden to Lifton to Mantik, and determine for myself if the autopsy photos now available on the internet represent solid evidence for a solo assassin firing from behind. Taking historian Stephen Ambrose's statement that "a single researcher, working alone, is always preferable to a committee" to heart, I sought to educate myself on forensic pathology, ballistics, and psycho-acoustics to an extent beyond that of most researchers. If it was true that the photos and x-rays were evidence for one shooter firing from behind, I was willing to conclude that the government's defenders were right after all, as I just couldn't accept so much evidence had been faked, and that so many "experts" had been deceived.
But what I found astounded me. I found that the autopsy photos, when studied along with the Zapruder film, suggested not one lone-nut assassin but two shooters firing from behind, and thus, a conspiracy. This left me as one of the few conspiracists on what many would consider the wrong side of "the great divide," which, according to Dr. Mantik, separates those who accept the medical evidence at face value from the "alterationists", who believe evidence was doctored to sell the American people there was one shooter firing from behind. Although I came to believe that the autopsy photos, x-rays, Zapruder film, etc., were all genuine and unaltered, I found myself in adamant disagreement with the conclusions of many of the experts hired by the government to interpret this evidence. Additionally, I developed an understanding of the assassination and its investigation that put me at odds with the majority of conspiracy theorists, as I came to believe that the incorrect conclusions of the government investigations had more to do with incompetence and institutional cowardice than with any conscious desire to conceal the truth. In some ways this was liberating, in that I could question men's judgment without identifying them as accessories after the fact in the murder of the president. In other ways it was restricting, however. The "worship of expertise" in American society is such that it is nearly impossible to question the "expert" opinions of doctors, rocket scientists and nuclear physicists with any credibility unless you counter them with the opinions of other doctors, rocket scientists and nuclear physicists. Accordingly, I'm hoping to include some "expert" responses to this presentation in the near future. Fingers crossed.
August, 2005, November, 2006, March 2007
P.S. Throughout 2006, I tried to acquire some "expert" responses. Despite repeated visits to radiology websites and the posting of multiple fliers at UCLA's Medical Center seeking advice, I was not able to find one medical professional willing to offer his or her expertise to help solve this crime. Some would defer to the opinions of other doctors without looking into the case themselves. An example of this sheep-like mindset can be found in Dr. Scott Christianson's 2006 book Bodies of Evidence, a book on forensic science. Christianson so admires Dr. Michael Baden, whom he describes as "one of the world's leading forensic pathologists" that he presents every single thing Baden has said about the Kennedy assassination, no matter how ill-informed, as fact. Included in the list of Baden's "non-fact facts" repeated by Christianson is that Kennedy's autopsy photographer was an FBI agent and that the "back and to the left" movement of Kennedy's head after the fatal head shot can be explained by the acceleration of the limousine. If nothing else, I hope my efforts will wake others up to the "fact fact" that you can't accept the works of men like Christianson and Baden as the ultimate sources on the assassination, no matter how many letters have been placed after their names.
In retrospect, I was probably naive to think that young doctors would step up to the plate. In 2004, a high-school acquaintance turned emergency room doctor assured me that the assassination was coffee talk among medical professionals, and that the consensus was that Kennedy's medical evidence was in conflict with the official story. Perhaps I should have realized then that the medical establishment's refusal to say something was not from a decisive lack of information, but from its decided lack of courage and concern.
Within the first half of this investigation we shall examine the history of the Warren Commission and the statements of the many witnesses in Dealey Plaza. Within the second half, we shall look at the autopsy photos, x-rays and assassination films to see if they support my conclusions regarding the eyewitness evidence. While I will not attempt to show who was behind the shooting, I shall acknowledge some of my suspicions and point out some of the circumstantial evidence that may lead the reader to his or her own suspicions. No matter how much you think you know about the assassination, I'm betting there will be arguments and evidence presented throughout this investigation that will challenge you and surprise you.
Any and all comments appreciated.