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The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 9


The Kennedy Assassination Series:

The Kennedy Casket Conspiracy, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Shot That Killed Kennedy, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 1, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 2, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 3, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 4, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 5, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 6 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 7 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 8 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 9 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 10 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 11 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 12 by Jacob G. Hornberger


On the surface of things, the federal governments conduct with respect to the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy makes no sense at all. Indeed, much of how the government handled the aftermath of the assassination doesn’t fit in with how we would ordinarily expect the government to react in such an extraordinary crisis.

Lets recap. Someone has just assassinated the president of the United States. Lee Harvey Oswald has been arrested as a prime suspect in the murder. The case against Oswald seems persuasive. He works in the building from which people heard shots being fired. A rifle supposedly belonging to him is found on the same floor on which he worked. A snipers nest is also found there, along with shell casings from the rifle.

Such being the case, how would we expect law-enforcement to react, especially when some federal official has just been murdered? Ordinarily, we would expect government at all levels to do two things: (1) do everything possible to marshal and preserve the evidence against the person they’ve arrested for the crime, and (2) conduct a massive investigation, leaving no stone unturned, into whether there were other people involved in the assassination.

Yet in the Kennedy assassination, the exact opposite was done in both respects. That simply makes no sense.

Lets consider some of the anomalies the things that just don’t fit together with how we ordinarily would expect the government to react to this type of crisis.

Why would the government be so insistent on preventing the Dallas medical examiner from conducting the autopsy on the presidents body? Why would the Secret Service be so intent on removing the body from the hospital and delivering it to Air Force One? The Secret Service was told that Texas law required the autopsy. The Secret Service also had to know that the autopsy report would play a critical role in the criminal prosecution of the person charged with the murder.

Why forcibly remove the body? Why brandish guns in the process? Why jeopardize the later criminal prosecution of the person charged with the murder? Why not instead cooperate with the Texas authorities? Why not work together to get the accused convicted of the crime?

After all, its not as though the body was sitting in some foreign country, and its not as though the autopsy would take weeks or months to conduct. The autopsy would be conducted in Texas and would take no more than three or four hours. The new president, Lyndon Johnson, could have immediately flown back to Washington, allowing Mrs.Kennedy to return a few hours later on Air Force Two with her husbands body.

Isnt that the way we would ordinarily expect the government to conduct itself?

Indeed, why would Johnson be sitting out on the tarmac in Air Force One instead of immediately flying out of Dallas, especially since he himself had already raised the specter of a foreign attack on the United States? Wouldn’t you expect him to get into the air immediately and return to Washington? Indeed, why would he take the time to change planes, from Air Force Two to Air Force One and even the time to shift the luggage between the two planes? Why would he wait for a Dallas federal judge to drive to Love Field to swear him in as president? Does that make any sense at all, especially since nuclear missiles might be launched against the United States at any moment?

Why place the autopsy in the hands of the U.S. military? What in the world did the military have to do with it? This is ostensibly a civilian country, one that is run by civilians. The nation wasn’t at war. The president was presumed to have been shot by a lone nut, not by some enemy nation-state with which the United States was at war. Why was it necessary to have the military conduct the autopsy rather than the Dallas civilian authorities or even a civilian medical examiner in Washington, D.C.?

Why was it necessary to remove the presidents body from the Dallas casket and secretly deliver it into the Bethesda morgue at 6:30p.m., more than an hour and a half before the formal autopsy began? Why was it necessary to deceive Mrs.Kennedy, the presidents brother Robert Kennedy, and most of the rest of the world into thinking that the casket they were escorting from Andrews Air Force Base to Bethesda Naval Hospital had the presidents body in it? Why was it necessary to engage in the secret body-shifting from casket to casket?

Why do the recollections of the Dallas physicians with respect to the wounds of the president differ so markedly from what the official autopsy photographs reveal? Why did the Dallas doctors distinctly remember a large hole in the back of Kennedy’s head, indicating a shot from the front and an exit wound in the back of the head?

Why were the Dallas doctors insistent that the bullet hole in Kennedy’s throat indicated a separate shot from the front, when the autopsy report ultimately reflected that it was an exit wound from a shot to the back of the neck, from a bullet that seemed to have magical qualities? Indeed, how was it that the Bethesda autopsy physicians initially came up with a wound in the back of Kennedy’s shoulder, which later evolved into a wound at the back on his neck?

Why were there unidentified people in suits at the autopsy giving orders as to how the autopsy should proceed and obstructing the proper conduct of the autopsy?

Why did the official autopsy photographer say that he didn’t take photographs that are in the official autopsy records?

Why all the machinations with the so-called magic bullet?

Why did autopsy physician James Humes burn his notes and earlier drafts of the official autopsy report?

Why were there two separate brain examinations, the second one involving a brain that failed to reflect the massive damage to Kennedy’s brain caused by the head-shot that ended his life?

Why were the military autopsy personnel totally unconcerned with the possibility of having to testify about their findings in a criminal prosecution of the person charged with the offense? After all, don’t forget the autopsy occurred while Oswald was still alive.

Why were autopsy personnel ordered to keep secret for the rest of their lives what they had witnessed during the autopsy? Why were they required to sign secrecy oaths, on pain of court-martial and severe punishment for violation? Why did the military years later resist releasing autopsy personnel from their oaths of secrecy?

Indeed, why did the government order most of its records in the Kennedy investigation, including the autopsy records, be kept secret from the American people for 75 years? What national-security concern could possibly warrant that type of secrecy, especially given that the case simply involved, supposedly, just a lone nut who it was thought had assassinated the president?

Does that make any sense? There are just too many anomalies, too many questions, too many strange things, given the paradigm under which we operating: that a lone nut assassinated Kennedy.

There is an alternative paradigm, however, one in which all the anomalies, all the mysterious occurrences, and all the weirdness disappear. It is a paradigm in which everything the government did becomes reasonable, rational, logical, and normal.

Lets examine that alternative paradigm.

Assume that soon after the assassination, the governments objective became to hide all evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of Kennedy. Assume that its aim was to place the entire responsibility of the murder on Lee Harvey Oswald.

For the time being, set aside any questions about why the government would do that. For now, just focus on the strict parameters of this alternative paradigm that the governments aim was to hide any evidence of a conspiracy.

A major part of that objective would necessarily involve hiding any evidence of shots coming from the front of the presidents motorcade. If even one shot was fired from the front, that would indicate that Oswald had at least one confederate helping him with the assassination.

Thus, to achieve the objective under this alternative paradigm, the government would necessarily have to hide any evidence that shots had been fired from the front, e.g., from the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza.

That would mean that taking control over the autopsy would be of critical importance. If the president had been shot from the front, the autopsy report and supporting photographs and X?rays would reveal that. Indeed, that’s the purpose of an autopsy in a homicide case. It would thus be necessary to take control over the autopsy to ensure that such evidence would be suppressed.

Notice, now, that under this alternative paradigm, everything that before seemed strange and unusual now appears perfectly normal and natural.

The Secret Service knows that it has to get the presidents body out of the hands of the Dallas medical examiner to prevent him from performing an honest autopsy. The matter is so important that the Secret Service uses force, even implicitly threatening the use of deadly force, to get the body out of Parkland Hospital and delivered to Air Force One.

It now makes sense that Johnson would wait for the body, to eliminate the possibility that something could go wrong, such as Texas law-enforcement agents stopping the ambulance that was transporting the presidents body to Love Field and preventing it from being removed from the state before the legally required autopsy had been performed. If things went wrong, Johnson would still be there in Dallas to make some emergency calls to clear things up, perhaps to the Dallas County district attorney or to other officials with whom he was friends.

It also now makes sense that Johnson would deliver the body into the hands of the military. The military could be ordered to do whatever was necessary to hide evidence of shots from the front during the autopsy. The entire matter could be classified top-secret. Military personnel could be relied on to keep classified matters secret, especially when ordered to do so and after signing an express secrecy oath.

It now makes sense that the presidents body would be secretly removed from the Dallas casket, placed into the cheap shipping casket, and delivered into the morgue more than an hour and a half before the formal autopsy finally began. The autopsy physicians would have needed the time to make a careful pre-autopsy inspection of the body and to make any necessary alterations to the body in preparation for the autopsy.

Under our alternative paradigm, it now makes sense that there would have been unidentified experts at the autopsy supervising and monitoring it to ensure that everything needed to cover up shots from the front would be conducted properly, including falsification of the wounds, the photographs, and the X?rays.

The machinations with the magic bullet now make sense, given the need to match the number of shots fired with the maximum number of shots that Oswald could have fired.

As Douglas Horne details in his five-volume work Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, and as author David Lifton theorized in 1981 in his book Best Evidence, there is substantial evidence that the autopsy physicians engaged in pre-autopsy surgery to obscure evidence of shots from the front, something that would normally be considered extraordinarily unusual, but not under our alternative paradigm.

Recall that the Dallas physicians had observed a big hole at the back of Kennedy’s head, a hole that would indicate an exit wound, meaning that a shot came from the front. Recall also that the official autopsy photos show the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact.

So where do government officials say the bullet entered and exited? Their position is that Oswald, the supposed lone-nut assassin, fired a bullet that hit Kennedy in the back of the head and exited from the top of the head, producing a massive exit wound on the top of Kennedy’s head.

Where was the entry point exactly under the governments version? Well, that’s a good question. The autopsy doctors could never get their stories straight on that. At one point they said that it was near the bottom of the back of the head, which obviously would create problems for a bullet that was supposed to have exited from the top of the head. So their later version, one adopted long after the body had been buried, was that the entry hole was actually several inches higher on the head.

By the same token, the Dallas physicians had not observed the large wound that encompassed much of the top of Kennedy’s head, which government officials maintained was the real exit wound, one that reflected a shot from the back. How is that possible? Why wouldn’t treating physicians at one of the finest trauma centers in the country have seen a giant exit wound on the top of the presidents head?

The answer might well lie in pre-autopsy surgery that altered the condition of the body. Consider, for example, this excerpt from the official report of the two FBI agents who attended the autopsy, Francis X. O’Neill, Jr. and James W. Sibert, which is what caused Lifton to begin exploring the possibility of pre-autopsy surgery:

Following the removal of the wrapping, it was ascertained that the Presidents clothing had been removed and it was also apparent that a tracheotomy had been performed, as well as surgery of the head area, namely, in the top of the skull.

Ordinarily, pre-autopsy surgery would be considered bizarre. Under our alternative paradigm, however a paradigm under which the governments aim is to hide any evidence of a shot from the front such pre-autopsy surgery would be perfectly normal and rational, given the governments aim of obscuring evidence of shots from the front and producing evidence of shots from the back.

The obvious question arises, Why would the government do all that? Why would federal officials engage in a plan to cover up evidence of a conspiracy in the assassination of President Kennedy? Why would orders be given to the U.S. military to falsify the autopsy results on the presidents body in an attempt to hide any evidence of shots fired from the front? Why would the military personnel follow such orders and swear on their oath to never reveal what they had done?

The answer lies in the two most important words in the lives of the American people in our lifetime: national security. Well examine how in the next segment.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.