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Vincent Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History": A Crime Scene Between Two Hard Covers

by Milicent Cranor, 7 Aug 2007


If you ever want to witness a crime with your own eyes, you need only look at certain pages of the official record on the murder of John F. Kennedy. The crime is perjury. But unless you know a great deal about the case, you may not recognize it. There is, however, another crime scene you can visit that is easier to evaluate. Here, the crime is fraud, six pounds of it: “Reclaiming History,” by Vincent Bugliosi.

This book is infested with fraud from cover to cover, but you might never know it unless you were to compare (a) the actual record with (b) what Bugliosi says is on record. You would also need to know (a) what else is on record that is relevant and significant, and (b) whether Bugliosi included this information.

This essay contains only a few samples of Bugliosi’s highly selective, and sometimes outright false reporting on the medical-ballistics in this case.

If this is how Bugliosi reports simple, physical information, imagine what he does with more complex issues.

The Throat Wound

Misrepresenting Parkland

Was the wound in Kennedy’s throat an entrance or an exit? The wound itself can no longer tell us. No samples of the perimeter of the wound in the skin were preserved on slides. The only known photos of the wound were taken from too far away and are of poor quality. Words describing the wound have been preserved, but often they can be used to fit either situation.

All of the doctors at Parkland Hospital agreed the wound was relatively small. Four of six doctors who saw the wound said the edges were not ragged. Two other doctors and one nurse said the opposite. (See below for actual quotes and references.) All of these words are suggestive but not definitive. The problem:

Exit wounds can be small.

Entrance wounds can be slightly ragged, or show “tattering” (Journal of Trauma 1963 (March) 3(2):120-128.) But words describing the little irregularities along the border of a round wound should not be confused with words indicating a jagged or star-shaped (stellate) wound — i.e., a typical exit wound.

You will never learn of these ambiguities in Vincent Bugliosi’s book. Bugliosi wants you to believe that (a) the wound was “ragged,” and (b) this proves it was an exit.

You will not learn from Bugliosi that the majority of Parkland doctors said the wound was not ragged. What is more seriously deceptive is that Bugliosi put these words — “ragged edges” — into the mouths of doctors who in fact said the opposite.

Specimen 1:

The light flashes on for Humes when Dr. Perry tells him that he performed his surgery on an existing wound there, a small, round perforation with ragged edges. “Of course,” Humes realizes, “that explains it.”1069 (Bugliosi, p.207)


Reference 1069 only documents Humes’s questionable claim that, from Malcolm O. Perry, he learned for the first time JFK had a bullet wound in his throat. But Perry never told Humes or anyone else that the wound had “ragged edges.”

Significant omission: Perry implied the wound was definitely not ragged:

“I indicated that the neck wound appeared like an entrance wound, and I based this mainly on its size and the fact that exit wounds in general tend to be somewhat ragged…” (7 HSCA 312)

Elsewhere, Perry told the WC that the edges were “neither ragged nor were they punched out, but rather clean.” (3 WCH 372). To the HSCA, he said he did not inspect the wound closely, that he did not clean the blood off of it. Yet, he also told the HSCA the wound was “neither ragged nor clean cut ... roughly round, the edges were bruised and a little blurred.” (7 HSCA 302)

Specimen 2:

Although Carrico was unable to determine whether the throat wound was an entrance or exit wound, he did observe that the wound was “ragged,”202 virtually a sure sign of an exit wound as opposed to an entrance wound, which is usually round and devoid of ragged edges.” (Bugliosi, p.413)


Bugliosi’s reference for the above is page 517 of the Warren Report where Charles J. Carrico described a “ragged wound of the trachea,” (emphasis mine). Yet, in the above context, Bugliosi seems to want the reader to assume “the wound” refers to the one in the skin -- the only kind that counts in the context of entrance versus exit. (Almost any wound in a trachea would be ragged because of the stiffness of cartilage.) Elsewhere, in a different context, Bugliosi mentions Carrico’s description of the raggedness of the trachea (Bugliosi, p.60), and so it is unlikely that he has confused this with the wound in the skin.

Significant omission: Carrico testified in at least two places the wound was “rather round and there were no jagged edges or stellate lacerations.” (6 WCH 3); “fairly round, had no jagged edges.” (3 WCH 362)

Specimen 3:

We...did not determine at that time whether this represented an entry or an exit wound. Judging from the caliber of the rifle that [was] later found...this would more resemble a wound of entry. However...depending upon what a bullet of such caliber would pass through, the tissues it would pass through on the way to the [throat], I think that the wound could well represent either an exit or entry wound.212 (Bugliosi, p.414)


Significant omission: The statement, by Charles R. Baxter, that came immediately before the above selection: “It did not appear to be a jagged wound such as one would expect with a very high velocity rifle bullet.” (Emphasis mine.) (6 WCH 42)

Specimen 4:

[The] small hole in anterior midline of neck [was] thought to be a bullet entrance wound.215 (Bugliosi, p.414)


Significant omission: The reason given by Ronald C. Jones, quoted above, for believing it to be an entrance wound: “relatively smooth edges.” (6 WCH 54) After discrediting the ability of these doctors to determine whether the wound was an entrance, it does no good to provide their opinions without the reasons underlying those opinions.

When it came to reporting physical details of the wound, Bugliosi omitted what the majority — four of six doctors — had to say, the same four whose words could not be used to suggest the wound was an exit.

On the other hand, he did report physical details if they fit Bugliosi’s ignorant idea of an exit wound: from one doctor who only saw the wound after it had been deformed by the tracheotomy, Gene C. Akin, who said its edges were “slightly ragged” (6 WCH 65), and from another doctor, the late Marion T. Jenkins, a well-known confabulator who has said just about everything he could to promote the findings of the Warren Commission, and stopped just short of claiming to have seen Oswald fire the shots. (For details, please see my essay, The Wandering Wounds, http://www.assassinationweb.com/cranrev.htm) Jenkins said the throat wound was “not...clearly demarcated, round [or] punctate.” (6 WCH 48) Malcolm Perry, who seemed to doubt Jenkins had arrived early enough to see the wound untouched, even went so far as to say, “I know he did not examine the wound per se.” (3 WCH 381) [Bugliosi did not mention Margaret M. Henchcliffe, a nurse who said the wound was “jagged a little bit.” (6 WCH 141)]

The only definitive way to determine the nature of an ambiguous wound is to examine it under magnification. Bullet holes in the skin, as in the skull, have a pattern of “cratering” that reveals their nature; the dermis and epidermis tell the same tales as the inner and outer tables of the skull. (Jones, Nancy L. Atlas of Forensic Pathology, New York: Igaku-Shoin, 1966, p.77) And there are other microscopic signs. The pathologists who performed JFK’s autopsy claimed they were unaware of a wound in the throat until the next day, after the body was taken away. Consequently, as far as we know, they never looked at this wound under magnification.

Bugliosi has, however, put the word “ragged” under great magnification and declares it “a sure sign of an exit.”


Blurry Autopsy Photo: Wound Caused by Oswald’s Exiting Bullet

The Clark Panel and HSCA claimed they could determine -- from poor quality photographs taken at a distance — the nature of Kennedy’s throat wound.

Specimen 5:

Looking at black-and-white photographs of the wound to the throat (which were sharper and clearer than similar color photographs), the nine-member panel of forensic pathologists for the HSCA noticed “a semicircular missile defect near the center of the lower margin of the tracheotomy incision.” The committee said it was an “exit defect.”188 Dr. Baden, who headed up the HSCA panel, said, “The semicircular defect was caused by the exiting bullet. I saw it right away in the photographs, even though they weren’t of the best quality.”189 The four-member 1968 Clark Panel of physicians and pathologists also saw a portion of the exit wound that was not obliterated by the tracheotomy.190 (Bugliosi, p.411)


Although Bugliosi is a layman, one would think he would notice an absolutely stunning omission from the reports of both of these investigations: reasons, i.e., specific evidence on which they based their conclusion that this small wound, so typical of an entrance even to the naked eye, was an exit.

Where is the requisite list of details that distinguished this “exit” wound from an entrance? Not one of the specialists on either medical panel followed the principles as stated by the most prominent member of the Clark Panel, Alan R. Moritz, M.D. From his article, “Classical Mistakes in Forensic Pathology,” American Journal of Clinical Pathology 1956; vol.26, p.1383.

“Although it would seem to be obvious that the location, dimensions, shape, depth, and special features of every wound should be described, such information is frequently inadequately recorded on protocols that are prepared by pathologists who perform only occasional medicolegal autopsies.”

NOTE: Many of the doctors on the Clark and HSCA panels, including the head of the latter, Michael Baden, are not among the pathologists who perform “only occasional medicolegal autopsies.” And while these doctors did not perform Kennedy’s autopsy itself, the principles described are conspicuously relevant to a review of autopsy materials: give reasons for making conclusions. Continuing with Dr. Moritz’s cogent remarks:

“In the protocol of a medicolegal autopsy, it is better to describe 10 findings that prove to be of no significance than to omit one that might be critical...

“The purpose of a protocol is twofold. One is to record a sufficiently detailed, factual, and noninterpretive description of the observed conditions, in order that a competent reader may form his own opinions in regard to the significance of the changes described. (Emphasis mine.) Thus, a region of dark blue discoloration in the... may or may not be a bruise. To refer to it as a contusion in the descriptive part of the protocol is to substitute an interpretation for a description, and this is as unwarranted as it may be misleading... (Emphasis mine.)

And this is exactly what the Clark Panel and HSCA did with respect to the throat wound: “substituted an interpretation for a description.”

Ah, but when it comes to the interpretation of the throat wound, it is enough that Michael Baden “saw it right away.” (Further below, you can watch Michael Baden stretch a lie.)


Bullet Hole in Connally’s Lapel

Specimen 6:

Lattimer knew from his previous experiments that the test bullet would almost certainly ‘tumble” after passing through the simulated neck (just as the bullet did during the assassination) and strike the mock-up of the governor’s “back” … The flying fragments of rib and soft tissue, which were blown out by the tumbling bullet, ripped a large ragged hole in both the shirt and the jacket, just as Oswald’s bullet had done in Dealey Plaza.” (Bugliosi, Endnotes, p.326) (Emphases mine.)


In fact, the hole in the lapel of Governor John Connally’s jacket was small (3/8ths of an inch in diameter) and “circular.” (5 WCH 63)

The hole in the front of the governor’s shirt was large, no doubt due to exiting rib fragments, but the hole in the front of the jacket was created only by the bullet, and the small size of this hole indicates the bullet exited straight on, i.e., not sideways, and thus it was not tumbling.

Why would Bugliosi lie about the hole in Connally’s jacket? Why would he want it to appear as though the bullet had exited tumbling?

(1) The alleged tumbling is allegedly caused by the bullet’s alleged journey through JFK.
(2) The alleged tumbling is allegedly associated with the outward movement of Connally’s jacket lapel.

On the Zapruder film, at a moment when lone assassin theorists claim Kennedy and Connally both are being struck by the same bullet, Connally’s lapel appears to bulge outward. (Never mind the correlation between the lapel bulge and the movement of Connally’s right arm, and never mind Connally's reaction to a bullet several seconds after JFK’s.)

According to the questionable experiments described below (and referenced in the Bugliosi quote above), only a tumbling bullet can push out rib fragments to the extent that they cause the lapel to flare outward.

Background. The false evidence concerning the actual size of the hole in Connally’s jacket was manufactured by the late John K. Lattimer, M.D., a well known urologist with powerful connections who wrote several articles, all hard sell and soft science — infomercials, really — that promoted the many aspects of the lone assassin theory. Lattimer’s disinformation on the ballistics of the single bullet theory was based on experiments using mock-ups of Kennedy and Connally (reference #4 below). Lattimer presumably shot Carcano bullets through these mock-ups, then presented various bits of data from the experiments, including the size of the mock torso’s back wound, and the experiment’s jacket lapel — both used to prove the bullet was tumbling.

Lattimer then falsely claimed that the bullet holes in the experiments matched those in the actual case. The similarity of these lies is interesting, expressed here in millimeters for easy comparison:

TABLE I

Back wound, actual size: 15mm1    Size per Lattimer: 30mm2
Hole in lapel, actual size: 9mm3    Size per Lattimer: 30mm4

1 4 WCH 104, 107; 6 WCH 85, 86
2 Medical Times 1974: 102 (November): 33-56; Kennedy and Lincoln, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1980, JAMA 1993; 269(12):1544-1547
3 5 WCH 63
4 J Am Coll Surg 1994;178:517-522


Lattimer put together crudely deceptive exhibits designed to sell the public on the size of Connally’s back wound. Please see my illustrated essay “Big Lie About a Small Wound” at www.history-matters.com. You will not find this particular lie in Reclaiming History. Bugliosi and I have a mutual acquaintance who quietly implied that people working for him have seen the article and, for that reason, stayed away from this more obvious fraud. I have no way of verifying this behind-the-scenes story.

Getting back to the fraud concerning the hole in the lapel, Bugliosi carefully avoided repeating Lattimer’s lie that the hole in the experiment’s lapel was 30mm — the exact length of the Carcano bullet. Instead he was vague, calling it “large,” and, apparently in an effort to nail it down as an exit, even though this is not in dispute, he added the word “ragged” to its description. (See Specimen #5.)

Bugliosi was also very careful in the way he reported a second set of experiments performed by Lattimer to complement the first. When Lattimer fired directly at the simulated torso alone, with no intervening target representing Kennedy’s neck, the mock-up ribs did not push out the lapel, the bullet did not exit tumbling — it came out straight, and the hole in the experimental jacket lapel was small. In Lattimer’s own words, “The jacket did not bulge out and the lapel did not turn over...With the bullet going straight ahead, wounds to the rib, shirt and jacket were punctate...” But look how Bugliosi avoids the significant details of this experiment:

Specimen 7:

Of particular importance is the fact that subsequent test rounds that were fired directly into the mock-up of the governor without first passing through the mock-up of Kennedy’s neck produced no bulge of the jacket. Without the tumble caused by the bullet’s passage through the simulated neck, there was no billowing of the jacket. (Bugliosi, Endnotes, p.327)


Significant omission: Not one word from Bugliosi on the size of the hole in the front of the jacket used in the experiment.

Another table, though redundant, may make all this easier to digest:

TABLE II

Experiment: Bullet Through Both Neck and Torso Mock-ups:

Lapel hole per Lattimer:    30mm1
Lapel hole per Bugliosi:    “large, ragged”2

Experiment: Bullet Through Torso Alone:

Lapel hole per Lattimer:    SMALL (“punctate”1)
Lapel hole per Bugliosi:    Not mentioned2

Actual Hole in Connally’s Jacket:

Per Lattimer:    30mm1
Per Bugliosi:    “large, ragged”2
Per FBI:    SMALL (3/8th inch, or 9mm3)

1 J Am Coll Surg 1994;178:517-522
2 Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi, Endnotes, p.327
3 5 WCH 63


Readers of Reclaiming History would have to do a lot of digging into primary source material to discover Bugliosi lies, revisions, and omissions. It’s interesting that the facts that Bugliosi tried to hide could actually be used to show that Connally was shot by a separate bullet, but there is glaring evidence the experiments were rigged: How could Lattimer’s mock-up of a “neck” cause a bullet to tumble, while the thicker “torso,” complete with ribs (one of which was hit by the bullet) did not interfere with the bullet’s flight at all?


Michael Baden: Another Unsanitary Source

Michael M. Baden, M.D., at the time, Chief Medical Examiner, New York City, and Chairman of the HSCA Medical Panel, was one of Bugliosi’s main sources of interpretation of the medical evidence, mentioned in the book no fewer than 92 times, including references — and is himself a specimen.

Before you take what he says seriously, no matter how authoritative it sounds, you should take a good look at what he is capable of. You have heard the expression “stretching the truth,” but here is an instance of stretching a lie. In this case, the lie he stretches came from John Lattimer. (See above section, and, for more details, see “Big Lie about a Small Wound” at www.history-matters.com)

As mentioned earlier, Lattimer doubled the length of the back wound (from 15 to 30mm) so that it matched the length of a Carcano bullet. Baden, knowing that the wound’s scar had to be larger than the wound itself, revised what he reported earlier — and doubled the size of the scar!

Baden’s report to the HSCA:

On removing his shirt, it was readily apparent that at the site of gunshot perforation of the upper right back there is now a 1 1/8-inch long horizontal pale well healed…” (7 HSCA 143-144; 240) (Emphasis added.)

Baden’s report to the Public:

According to Connally’s medical records, the bullet struck him nose first in the back and left a vertical scar. I thought the records were wrong. If it was the same magic bullet, it would have gone in sideways…I needed to examine Connally...

He removed his shirt. There it was — a two-inch long sideways entrance scar in the back. He had not been shot by a second shooter but by the same flattened bullet that went through Kennedy. (Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner, Random House 1989, p.20) (Emphasis added.)

Two inches versus one and one-eighth. Quite a contribution to the single bullet theory. How could Bugliosi trust anything Michael Baden says about anything?


The Head Wounds

Background

The damage to John Kennedy’s head remains as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. Too many revisions in the evidence, and too many pseudoscientific explanations for these revisions, make it impossible to know what, or whom, to believe.

The word “discrepancy” is inadequate to explain the extreme contrast among some of the different versions of the wounds.

First, it was Parkland (large defect representing an exit wound in the rear of the skull) versus Bethesda (entrance wound in the rear); then it was Bethesda (entrance low) versus the Clark Panel and HSCA (entrance four inches higher); then it was Parkland 1963 (large defect in the rear) versus Parkland 1990’s (didn’t see any defect; misunderstood what they saw), and so on.

The Parkland doctors in Dallas, including the Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, William Kemp Clark, described a large defect in the bone at the right rear of the head, evidence of an exit wound they thought — from a bullet fired from the front.

Dr. Clark and others defined the types of bone along the perimeter of the hole and noted that some of the bone was “avulsed,” that is, thrust outward. Inside and out, they saw both cerebrum and cerebellum (brain tissue with distinctly different texture that lies below the cerebrum). Cerebellum (unlike ubiquitous cerebrum) exuding from the defect was considered strongly suggestive of an exit in the rear.

Dr. Clark did not record his observations for merely academic reasons. He had to look carefully into the defect to assess what was left of the brain in order to make a decision on whether to stop resuscitation efforts. He did not try to assess the full extent of the defect.

Late in the evening of the autopsy, three skull fragments, found in the limousine, were delivered. One of those fragments presumably fit into the defect in the rear of the head. It had a semicircular notch on its edge, said to be part of a hole created by an entering bullet.

The alleged entrance wound was defined by a notch on the edge of the skull, put together with a notch on the edge of the bone fragment. The two semicircular notches together made one full circle — oval in shape — representing a bullet hole. (For the sake of brevity, I’m omitting all the contradictory testimony on this issue.)

Now consider the location of the completed bullet hole: the pathologists said it was “just above” the EOP (external occipital protuberance) a landmark bump — low in the rear of the head. This necessarily means that the defect — and the fragment that filled it — also had to begin low in the rear of the head.

Gary L. Aguilar, M.D. has proven, with great elegance, that what Bethesda reported was not so different from what Parkland reported: a large defect in the rear of the head. Please see How Five Investigations Got it Wrong at www.history-matters.com. He was the first to report the significance of the pathologists’ measurements of the defect and the fragments — what these figures meant with respect to the damage in the rear, and what Parkland had reported.

The language used by the pathologists was vague. They said the defect was “somewhat” into the occiput while emphasizing the damage in the front of the head. And their diagrams suggested the bullet hole was much lower than the lowest edge of the defect. (They explained that the diagrams only showed the hole in the scalp as opposed to the bone underneath.) The main Parkland-Bethesda controversy then is not whether there was a defect in the rear — there was — but whether a bullet entered, or exited, from that area.

Getting back to Dallas, in the 1990’s, some of the Parkland doctors said they never saw any defect; they said the back of the head was hidden by a curtain of gore-drenched hair that misled them into thinking a wound was under it. They also revised what they said about the brain: what they thought was cerebellum was just damaged cerebrum.

There is a big problem with this explanation: these doctors also reported seeing damaged cerebrum, tissue which they did not mistake for cerebellum. Obviously they made a distinction between the two. And some of the exposed cerebellum was sufficiently intact to exhibit grossly visible, definable characteristics. Dr. Clark, a distinguished neurosurgeon and the most qualified of all the physicians who saw the head damage, never changed his story.

Michael Baden, to whom Bugliosi often turned for advice, has also made good use of the hair-curtain explanation. He used it to explain how on-lookers at the autopsy could be so “wrong” about the greater defect in the skull. He even used it to explain why the pathologists were “wrong” about where the skull entrance wound was. Baden gives new meaning to the expression “pulling the wool over one’s eyes.”

Few medical professionals would be fooled by such an explanation. Anyone who has dealt with trauma knows that even the least serious little wound in the highly vascularized scalp can cause a great blood bath. Even brain injuries can look worse than they are. Doctors and nurses always look under the mess for its source.

Another source of the controversy: an object on the skull X-ray (frontal view), presumed to be a bullet fragment. The pathologists, the acting radiologist, and other autopsy witnesses described the largest fragment as just a sliver, shaped like a matchstick, located in the front of the head, right behind the right eye. They confirmed its location in the brain, and extracted it.

The frontal X-ray shows something quite different: a shiny round object with the same diameter as the Carcano bullet, imbedded in the rear of the head. It shows through the eye socket, as obvious as a candle in a pumpkin. And all skull X-rays show the new location of the entrance, four inches higher. (Army experiments on skulls performed in 1964, after the autopsy report was written, showed that the lower entrance resulted in an exit that was also too low. A reason to relocate the entrance?)

Below you will find a few specimens that reflect Bugliosi’s attempts to deal with these controversies. There are many more that I have not reported for lack of time.


Autopsy Protocol

Cerebellum

Specimen 8:

But although the autopsy report notes that “the major portion” of the right cerebrum was “exuding” from the large defect on the right side of the president’s head, there isn’t one word in the report indicating that any part of the cerebellum was missing or even lacerated.148 (Bugliosi, p.404)

Specimen 9:

It bears repeating that the autopsy report only mentioned damage to the cerebrum, not the cerebellum. (Bugliosi, p.405)

Specimen 10:

Dr. Boswell, in response to Parkland doctor Kemp Clark’s claiming to have seen “exposed… cerebellar tissue,” told Dr. Gary Aguilar, “He was wrong. The right side of the cerebrum was so fragmented. I think what he saw and misinterpreted as cerebellum was that.” (Bugliosi, p.405)


Significant omission: What Bugliosi does not report is that there is not one word, one way or the other, on the appearance of the cerebellum in the main Autopsy Report or in the Supplemental Autopsy Report, where a description of the organ belonged, under the heading “Gross Description of the Brain.” (A significant omission from the autopsy protocol itself, and from Bugliosi’s description of it.)

Another significant omission: Bugliosi does not report that in the section on the Microscopic specimens, the cerebellum (item “f. From the right cerebellar cortex”) is indeed mentioned as having “significant abnormalities… directly related to the recent trauma.” The entire quote:

“Multiple sections from representative areas as noted above are examined. All sections are essentially similar and show extensive disruption of brain tissue with associated hemorrhage. In none of the sections examined are there significant abnormalities other than those directly related to the recent trauma.” (CE 391, page 2, ARRB MD4)

It is not likely the typist mistook “cerebrum” for “cerebellum.” Individual parts of the cerebrum were listed: the right parietal lobe, the right frontal lobe, the left fronto-parietal cortex — all parts of the cerebrum. The pathologists clearly described both types of brain tissue.

It is standard to mention all normal parts of an organ adjacent to the abnormal parts, and the exclusion of the cerebellum from the Gross Description of the Brain, and its inclusion in the Microscopic Examination, is intriguing indeed.

Occiput

Specimen 11:

Cerebellum certainly wouldn’t likely have been expelled from any defect in the right front of the president’s head, where the Warren Commission and the autopsy surgeons concluded the exit wound was. (Bugliosi, p.405)

Specimen 12:

Baden: “But clearly, from the autopsy X-rays and photographs and the observations of the autopsy surgeons, the exit wound and defect was not in the occipital area. There was no defect or wound to the rear of Kennedy’s head other than the entrance wound in the upper right part of his head.” (Bugliosi, p.408)


As a matter of fact, the autopsy surgeons said the great defect was chiefly in the parietal area but “extended somewhat into the temporal and occipital regions.” (Autopsy Protocol, p.3) (Emphasis mine.) (And do not confuse the location of the defect with that of the exit.)


Cerebellum “Mistaken” for Cerebrum

Specimen 13:

Dr. Jenkins wrote that “the cerebellum had protruded from the [head] wound”... However, Jenkins changed his mind after seeing autopsy photographs in 1988, telling author Gerald Posner that “the photos showed the President’s brain was crenelated from the trauma, and it resembled cerebellum, but it was not cerebellar tissue.” (Bugliosi, p.405)

Specimen 14:

[Quoting Dr. Carrico] “Looking at the shredded pieces of brain on the gurney, it looked like some of it had the characteristics of cerebellum, which kind of has a wavy surface. But because these brain pieces were shredded, this could easily have led to confusion as to whether it was all cerebrum — which has broader bands across the surface — or some cerebellum.” (Bugliosi, p.405)


As Bugliosi reports, several other Parkland doctors revised their statements, but I repeat: there is a big problem with this explanation. These doctors also reported seeing damaged cerebrum, tissue which they did not mistake for cerebellum. Obviously they made a distinction between the two. Some of the exposed cerebellum was sufficiently intact to exhibit grossly visible, definable characteristics. (And it is strange that Bugliosi gives credence to anything said by Marion T. Jenkins, considering this doctor’s ability to confabulate. For details, please see my essay, “The Wandering Wounds,” at http://www.assassinationweb.com/cranrev.htm)


The Great Hair Curtain

Hair Hides Wound from Parkland?

Specimen 15:

[W]hat is the explanation for several of the other Parkland doctors erroneously thinking that the large exit wound was to the right rear of the President’s head as opposed to the right frontal region, where all the medical and scientific evidence proved it to be? Dr. Michael Baden...has what I believe to be the answer... ”The head exit wound was not in the parietal-occipital area, as the Parkland doctors said. They were wrong...That’s why we have autopsies, photographs, and X-rays to determine things like this. Since the thick growth of hair on Kennedy’s head hadn’t been shaved at Parkland, there’s no way for the doctors to have seen the margins of the wound in the skin of the scalp. All they saw was blood and brain tissue adhering to the hair. And that may have been mostly in the occipital area because he was lying on his back and gravity would push his hair, blood, and brain tissue backward... (Bugliosi, p.407-408) (Emphases his.)


Bugliosi quotes several Parkland doctors who now say the wound was obscured by hair, “confirming” Baden’s explanation. But how could Bugliosi accept this without question even though he has shown he is familiar with testimony that contradicts it — that these doctors looked beneath the hair, and saw a defect in bone? Doctors and nurses always look under the mess for its source. Among the following quotes, notice all the references to bone:

“[A] large wound beginning in the right occiput extending into the parietal region. Much of the skull appeared gone.” (17 WCH 10, CE 392) “This was a large, gaping wound in the right posterior part, with cerebral and cerebellar tissue being damaged and exposed.” (6 WCH 20) “The loss the right occipital and probably part of the right parietal lobes would have been of specific importance. (6 WCH 26). William Kemp Clark

“The wound...was a large gaping wound, located in the right occipitoparietal area...about 5 to 7 cm. in size, more or less circular, with avulsions of the calvarium and scalp tissue.” (6 WCH 6) Carrico

“It seemed to me that in the right occipitalparietal area that there was a large defect. There appeared to be bone loss and brain loss in the area.” (6 WCH 71) Peters

“There was a great laceration on the right side of the head (temporal and occipital), causing a great defect.” (17 WCH 15, CE 392) “I really think part of the cerebellum, as I recognized it, was herniated from the wound.” (6 WCH 48) Jenkins

“I noted a large avulsive wound of the right parietal occipital area, in which both scalp and portions of skull were absent, and there was severe laceration of underlying brain tissue.” (3 WCH 372) Perry

“[T]he parietal bone was protruded up through the scalp and seemed to be fractured almost along its right posterior half, as well as some of the occipital bone being fractured in its lateral half, and this sprung open the bones that I mentioned in such a way that you could actually look down into the skull cavity itself and see that probably a third or so, at least, of the brain tissue, posterior cerebral tissue and some of the cerebellar tissue had been blasted out. (6 WCH 33) McClelland

Hair Hides Wound from Autopsy Onlookers?

Specimen 16:

Baden said that Kennedy’s head wasn’t even shaved of its hair at the time of the autopsy, and hence, any observations by onlookers of the autopsy (as opposed, he said, to the autopsy surgeons themselves, who were working directly with the president’s head) would likely have been skewed. (Bugliosi, footnote on p.408)


A small hole revealed by shaving the scalp is probably the one thing observers at a distance would not be able to appreciate. But these onlookers observed the scalp being reflected back to show the damage in the actual bone. Some described the brain being removed, and made other very specific observations that were based on a view of naked bone. (These witness statements have been reported so extensively by so many researchers I shall not repeat them here.) Baden apparently wishes to imply these observers saw not much more than what shows in the gory, messy photos taken before the autopsy began. Ridiculous as the comment in Specimen 15 is, Baden has topped it! See next section.

Hair Hides Wound from Prosectors who Performed Autopsy?

Significant omission. Bugliosi knew better than to repeat what Baden said about the four-inch discrepancy in the location of the entrance wound. In Specimen 15, Baden at least admitted that the autopsy surgeons working directly with Kennedy’s head had a better view. But you would never know it from this comment which appears in a book Baden wrote for the public:

“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.” (Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner, Random House, 1989, p.16)

As Baden knew very well, the pathologists folded back the scalp to observe the skull directly and, they said, they looked at what was left of the hole from the inside of the skull.


Bugliosi Blames Baden’s Co-Author

Bugliosi admitted there were “errors” in Baden’s book, and he mentioned a few, giving the greatest space to the one concerning Pierre Finck’s background. Baden had said, falsely, that Finck had never performed an autopsy on a victim of a gunshot wound before. But Bugliosi never mentioned the two outrageous assertions from Baden’s book that I have quoted in this essay. And the excuses he makes for Baden are just not credible.

Specimen 17:

Baden, one of the top forensic pathologists in the nation, is an extremely busy man, and if I were to wager, he coauthored this book on the run, leaving much of the detail to his coauthor [Judith Adler Hennessee], who is not a doctor. (Bugliosi, Endnote #5, p.219)


“Detail.” The “errors” that are the most embarrassing — the ones Bugliosi does not mention — do not concern “detail.” They are assertions concerning facts and logic treated as linchpins in proving the lone assassin theory.

“An extremely busy man.” The chapter on the Kennedy assassination was quite small — just a few pages long — in a small book. Baden was too busy to review statements made in his name on the Crime of the Century? (Maybe he had hair in his eyes and couldn’t see the print?)

“If I were to wager.” As if he had to guess. As if Baden were not available to ask directly. Considering all the direct personal contact Bugliosi had had with Baden as documented extensively in this book, you would think Bugliosi would have asked Baden himself about all of these strange statements. But, then, maybe they both were too busy.


No Co-Author to Blame for This One

When it came to explaining the four-inch discrepancy to Congress, Michael Baden told a different story:

“[P]reparing the autopsy report 24 hours after the autopsy was completed and after the body had been removed, may have contributed to the more significant mistake of placing the gunshot wound of entrance 4 inches lower than it actually was. The description of the size and shape of the entry wound is correct, but the location is incorrect perhaps due to reliance on memory.” (Emphasis mine.) (1 HSCA 306)

The location was incorrect “perhaps due to reliance on memory?” None of the congressmen questioned this. Apparently they were unaware of the notes and diagrams made during the autopsy and used in the preparation of the autopsy report. The wound, as depicted in the drawing on the autopsy descriptive sheet (ARRB MD #1), looks to be precisely at the EOP (external occipital protuberance) – low, far below another memorable landmark, the cowlick. (Baden's Congressional testimony took place before the growth of the Hair Curtain.)


Authenticating the Skull X-rays

Many of us are skeptical about the authenticity of the skull X-rays because what they show is just too different from what was described by the closest and most qualified witnesses. We are especially skeptical of the shiny new fragment — the perfect slice of a 6.5 Carcano bullet — that no one reported in 1964.

David Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., a radiologist and physicist, has provided highly technical reasons for believing the X-rays are counterfeit. Bugliosi cannot deal with these concepts, and turns to wound ballistics expert Larry M. Sturdivan (BS in Physics, MS in statistics) and Dr. Chad Zimmerman for help in rebutting Mantik’s theories. What Zimmerman said about the fragment itself contradicts the opinion of the HSCA’s expert radiologist.

Specimen 18:

[Quoting Zimmerman] Personally, I think it may actually have been a bullet fragment that was stuck in the hair or on the skin and later fell off...I feel it is real because of the lack of film grid lines in the surrounding area, which, in my opinion, are an absolute must...in order for it to be a post-autopsy forgery. (Bugliosi, Endnotes, p.222)


According to Gerald McDonnel, the HSCA expert radiologist, the metal fragment was imbedded on the inside of the scalp (7 HSCA 133). If McDonnel is right, it could not have been “stuck in the hair or on the skin” as Zimmerman muses.

In any case, this does not explain why no one, including the acting radiologist at the autopsy, saw this obvious fragment on the X-ray.

As for his opinion on what makes a forgery, what are his qualifications? Chad Zimmerman has provided Bugliosi and others with his opinions on several aspects of this case – ballistics, acoustics, neurology, radiology and photography, all promoting the lone assassin theory. He does not provide references from scholarly sources for his opinions; does this mean that he himself is a recognized scholarly source?

With all due respect, who is Chad Zimmerman to disagree with Gerald McDonnel? He is a Doctor of Chiropractic. (Bugliosi, Endnotes, p. 327) According to his advertisements, he offers massage therapy. This case has had quite enough massage therapy.


They Will Say Anything

One thing is clear, if nothing else: there are people who will say anything to promote the lone assassin theory.

It would be nice if you could just cast aside all the words and look at the images, the X-rays for instance. But here, again, you need words — the words of the people who authenticated them.

Would McDonnel et al have the sophistication to spot the signs of a sophisticated forgery? Who is qualified to do that? The very people who have the expertise may be the least credible, considering their close association with the government. The relationship between Kodak and the often deceptive CIA is well established.

Would they, too, say anything, true or not?

How would you know?

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