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Evgenia Plotnikova-Doumerc

Student's question: Autopsy photos

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The Warren Commission DID NOT look at the autopsy photos.

In June 1967, Warren Commission member John J. McCloy, "in his first public comment on the investigation," said that he thinks "the commission should have studied the photographs and X-rays taken of President Kennedy after his assassination."

"He said that the Warren Commission had ‘all the facilities we needed’ and made its own choice not to subpoena the photographs."

[New York Times, 6-29-67, page 18]

He said they made the decision not to because “we were perhaps a little oversensitive to what we understood were the sensitivities of the Kennedy family,” as though it made sense that in the course of investigating a Presidential assassination, they would refrain from looking at the photographs and X-rays based on such bizarre logic. (An army pathologist refrained from dissecting Kennedy’s neck to trace the path of the bullet because “the family wanted no examination of the neck organs,” as if within ten or twelve hours of President Kennedy’s horridly violent and bloody assassination, the Kennedy family actually said something about not wanting the neck organs examined.)

“Mr. McCloy, a lawyer and diplomat, nevertheless insists that the seven man commission ‘had the best evidence; the pathology in respect to the President’s wounds.’”

Tony

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Regarding the alleged "autopsy photos" that are widely circulated . . .

In the mid-1990s, I called the office of Congressman Louis Stokes, Chairman of the House Assassinations Committee in the 1970s, and ask4ed about the autopsy photos. They referred me to Robert Blakey at Notre Dame Law School. Mr. Blakey was the assassination committee’s general counsel.

I called Mr. Blakey at Notre Dame and asked him when the autopsy photos were first made public. He stated that they’ve never been made public, so I queried him on the publicly circulated photos and he stated that they were “stolen documents.”

I asked him if that meant they haven’t been authenticated in any way and he said that was correct, stressing that they were stolen documents.

Further research into news articles revealed that when the House Assassinations Committee was investigating President Kennedy’s assassination, Regis Blahut, a CIA officer who had been detailed to “assist” the committee, broke into a combination safe at the committee’s offices. The break-in was reported in the news several months after the House Assassinations Committee actually disbanded.

“The safe was reserved for physical evidence of President Kennedy’s assassination, including the autopsy photos, X-rays, and other articles, such as the so-called ‘magic bullet’ that wounded both Kennedy and Texas Governor John B. Connally.”

“Autopsy photos of the head shot that killed Kennedy had been taken out of their cases and were left in disarray inside the three drawer safe . . . There was no doubt that the files in the safe had been tampered with . . . ‘It looked as though someone had just run out.’”

Blahut’s fingerprints “were all over the place, on the photos, inside the safe, and on all sorts of different packages.”

“The CIA acknowledged that it has dismissed the individual in question. ‘We’re satisfied it was just a matter of curiosity,’ said CIA spokesman Herbert Hetu.”

(Blahut obviously made sure that the break-in would be noticed and that the autopsy photos were in disarray. That’s because the CIA does things for a reason, and if the CIA spokesman were to be believed, what he was really saying was, “Yes, the agent we assigned to assist the House Assassinations Committee broke into their safe, but that’s only because he was curious. In fact, we fired him. We’re satisfied.”)

“In a telephone interview with the Washington Post, Blahut denied any wrongdoing. He insisted that there was an innocent explanation. He refused, however, to say what that was.” (The Post got its responses from the CIA and Blahut when they publicized the break-in.)

Blahut said he worked for the CIA’s Office of Security and he stated, “There’s other things that are involved that are detrimental to other things,” and he refused to elaborate when asked what he meant by that.

Blahut went on to say, “I signed an oath of secrecy. I cannot discuss it any further. . . . I’ve already defended myself to my employers. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all cleared up.” He also claimed to have passed CIA lie detector tests over the matter. (It doesn’t sound like he’d been fired. And why did the CIA have an agent with their Office of Security assigned to “assist” the House Assassinations Committee?)

A couple of months after the Washington Post publicized that the Committee’s safe had been broken into, a man named Harrison Livingstone claimed that he was selling photographs from President Kennedy’s autopsy.

At that time, Robert Blakey had said, “There are two things possible here. Either it’s a fraud, or it’s an attempt to sell stolen property.”

Harrison Livingstone responded at that time by saying that they weren’t stolen, but the day after he made his claim about trying to sell the photographs, he said he was taking them off the market, still claiming that they weren’t stolen but allegedly claiming that he feared the Justice Department would take action against him.

Photographs ultimately surfaced that show a bullet-size hole in the back of President Kennedy’s skull and the public has accepted that they are from President Kennedy’s autopsy.

The CIA was obviously the source of the photographs and they undoubtedly had the sloppy break-in perpetrated to make the photos seem as though they were authentic autopsy photos. No wonder the spokesman said the CIA was “satisfied.”

Tony

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[...]

A couple of months after the Washington Post publicized that the Committee’s safe had been broken into, a man named Harrison Livingstone claimed that he was selling photographs from President Kennedy’s autopsy.

At that time, Robert Blakey had said, “There are two things possible here. Either it’s a fraud, or it’s an attempt to sell stolen property.”

Harrison Livingstone responded at that time by saying that they weren’t stolen, but the day after he made his claim about trying to sell the photographs, he said he was taking them off the market, still claiming that they weren’t stolen but allegedly claiming that he feared the Justice Department would take action against him.

Photographs ultimately surfaced that show a bullet-size hole in the back of President Kennedy’s skull and the public has accepted that they are from President Kennedy’s autopsy.

[...]

dgh01: Might want to check Robert Groden regarding: a source of "autopsy photos". He was queried about the pics and how he obtained them - I believe David Lifton discussed this in HOAX, in any case his [Groden's] testimony is in the public record.

David Healy

-------------

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Q2) Autopsy photos:

As I recall, (other panel members may have a more accurate statements about this) the Warren Commission decided not to include the autopsy photos (or the analysis thereof) in their report. If they had included them they would have become published and available. Their decision, I believe, was based on the same reason which caused the actual autopsy of the President to fail aswell; the sensitivity of the issue at hand and their consideration of the feelings of the Kennedy family.

But maybe the real autopsy photos would have sparked more questions than provided answers, maybe they would have debunked the entire autopsy report. Instead the WC had drawings made (by Rydberg at Bethesda Medical School) which were based on the photos??

According to some reports, during the HSCA investigation, someone broke into a safe that contained the evidence (including the autopsy photos) and apparently stole the photos which were being used by the HSCA, and made copies of them. Some, of these photos have been floating around since about 1980. Some black and white photos were available to researchers in the 1960's.

Here's a little something about the photos from the Lancer site:

http://www.jfklancer.com/aphotos.html

Note: On November 23, 1963, James K. Fox, the Secret Service photographic expert, was given the autopsy film holders by JFK's personal physician, Admiral George Burkley, and told to develop them. At that time he made three sets of black and white autopsy photo prints at the Secret Service lab. On November 27, 1963, additional official copies were made at the Naval Processing Center. Copies of these photos were later given to JFK assassination researcher Mark Crouch who then made them available to JFK researchers. In 1992, the autopsy photos were specifically exempted from the JFK Records Act. ARRB Senior Staffer Doug Horne stated at the JFK Lancer 1998 Conference that these unofficial photos are cropped differently and are not as clear as the originals in the National Archives. Viewing the "Fox Set" is the only way this evidence available to the public.

Note: The color photos were obtained by researcher and consultant Robert Groden during the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The X-rays are exhibits from the HSCA hearings and were obtained by JFK Lancer from the National Archives.

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Were the autopsy photos actually published? And if yes, were they analysed by any other organisations except the Warren Commission?

Officially, the autopsy photographs and X-rays remain classified, and are only available for examination by researchers who have Kennedy family permission to examine them. This has been only a trickle over the years.

Unofficially, some autopsy photos have leaked out, and have been published. Robert Groden published five color autopsy photos. Mark Crouch obtained ten black and white copies of autopsy photos from retired Secret Service agent James Fox in 1982. Some of these were first published by David Lifton in an edition of his book Best Evidence in 1988, and have since been published in other books. The set is also available from the research journal JFK/Deep Poliltics Quarterly, as photos or on a CD-ROM.

Officially, the Warren Commission never saw the autopsy photos, though reportedly Earl Warren looked at them and decided not to make them a part of the record. The photos were examined by the Clark Panel in 1968, a Justice Department-appointed panel, and later by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which published portions of some of the photos, and drawings based on some of the photos.

Martin Shackelford

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Sorry for my mistake! I simply assumed that the Warren commission should have seen the photos and I was wrong. So, do I understand right that even if the reasearches do analyse these ''stolen photos'', there is no guarantee that the results are realiable, because there is no guarantee that the pictures themselves are a reliable source of information?

Mr Shackelford wrote that ''Officially, the autopsy photographs and X-rays remain classified, and are only available for examination by researchers who have Kennedy family permission to examine them. This has been only a trickle over the years.'' Where do those officially available photos come from? And what were conclusions of those researchers who looked at them?

Thank you :lol:

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Were the autopsy photos actually published? And if yes, were they analysed by any other organisations except the Warren Commission?

Officially, the autopsy photographs and X-rays remain classified, and are only available for examination by researchers who have Kennedy family permission to examine them. This has been only a trickle over the years.

Unofficially, some autopsy photos have leaked out, and have been published. Robert Groden published five color autopsy photos. Mark Crouch obtained ten black and white copies of autopsy photos from retired Secret Service agent James Fox in 1982. Some of these were first published by David Lifton in an edition of his book Best Evidence in 1988, and have since been published in other books. The set is also available from the research journal JFK/Deep Poliltics Quarterly, as photos or on a CD-ROM.

Officially, the Warren Commission never saw the autopsy photos, though reportedly Earl Warren looked at them and decided not to make them a part of the record. The photos were examined by the Clark Panel in 1968, a Justice Department-appointed panel, and later by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which published portions of some of the photos, and drawings based on some of the photos.

Martin Shackelford

Thanks, Martin...that is a very accurate and concise summary.

Jack White :lol:

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The autopsy photographs have never been published by the USG. (The Warren Commission should have published them, but unfortunately decided not to introduce them as evidence, supposedly for reasons of "taste." Whether this was the real reason or not, their decision was inexcusable and has resulted in major controversy and charges of cover-up.)

However, certain representative views have been published in various researcher books over the years, starting in 1988 in the trade paperback reissue of David Lifton's monumental tome "Best Evidence." They have also appeared in some of Harrison Livingstone's books, and in Robert Groden's "coffee table" book on the assassination, "The Killing of a President."

The sources of the so-called "bootleg" autopsy photographs are twofold:

(1) Secret Service Agent James K. Fox---now deceased---made an unauthorized set of black and white prints in 1963; these prints were loaned to researchers in the early 1980s, and the researchers photographed the black and white prints before returning them. It is this set---the "Fox Set"---that ended up in Lifton's 1988 trade paperback version of "Best Evidence."

(2) Amateur photographer Robert Groden served as an unpaid photographic consultant to the HSCA from 1976-78; he surreptitiously photographed color prints in the possession of the HSCA staff. When you see color autopsy images in books---such as in Groden's own book cited above---the source are the color images he took of the prints while the HSCA temporarily had possession of them.

The only images in the autopsy collection that have not been "bootlegged" are the brain images. (The HSCA produced an artist's rendition of one of the brain photographs in volume 7 of its report.)

All images of the body published in the researcher books cited above do indeed represent actual autopsy images...but they are degraded to a greater or lesser extent, and suffer from contrast buildup, which is what happens when you make multi-generational photographic copies. Most of them are also cropped and do not show the entire field of view.

Be very careful---and by this I mean very skeptical---of what researchers say about the photographs in their books; they are giving you personal interpretations about what the images appear to show, and as a former ARRB staff member I can tell you that even the "experts" disagree about what the photographs show or do not show. I have viewed the original collection 15 or 16 times...we showed them to some experts to obtain their impressions/opinions, and also used them during our 10 depositions of autopsy witnesses and participants.

First, about format: the "original" images in the archives consist of 4" X 5" black and white negatives, and 4" X 5" color positive transparencies (both on duplex film). The brain B & W images are also 4" X 5" in size, but were taken with a press pack, not duplex film.

The ARRB staff (namely, my boss, General Counsel Jeremy Gunn, with me assisting) asked many, many interpretive questions about the autopsy photographs of autopsy witnesses and participants, while they were under oath. Those questions, and the answers received, are all recorded in the ARRB deposition transcripts of the following persons (located in the JFK Collection in the National Archives of the United States):

Pathologists James J. Humes, J. Thornton Boswell, and Pierre Finck; photographer and assistant photographer John Stringer and Floyd Riebe; X-Ray technicians Jerrol Custer and Edward Reed; FBI agents James Sibert and Francis X. O'Neill; and Navy photographer's mate Saundra Spencer.

Although individual answers to the same question often varied from witness to witness, some patterns did emerge:

(1) some photographs definitely taken at the autopsy are "missing"---that is, are not in the official collection, and never have been;

(2) some individuals developed post mortem film images on types of film (color negatives, for example) that are not, repeat NOT, in the official collection;

(3) some photographs seen by developers are NOT in the official collection;

(4) the nature of the head wound (as well as the size of the tracheotomy) is markedly different in the autopsy images than what is remembered by Dallas treatment physicians and nurses at Parkland hospital.

This is a very complex subject, but one major conclusion can be stated here: many more photographs were taken than are in the official collection; the collection has been "culled." My personal opinion, representing 3 years of work on the staff of the ARRB (including 10 autopsy-related depositions), is that additional photographs were taken during the reconstruction process following the embalming---that is, during the post-mortem restorative process. Some of those images have been intermingled with actual autopsy photos to create a false and misleading impression of the nature of the damage to the President's head. Specifically, both FBI agents told the ARRB under oath that there was a large hole in the right rear of President Kennedy's head at autopsy, and were quite perplexed when they saw images of an apparently intact back-of-the-head in the autopsy collection. Agent O'Neill said it looked like the head (not the images themselves) had been "doctored" or fixed up; Agent Sibert said the photographs of the intact back-of-the-head looked like a "reconstruction." This is indirect corroboration from 2 expert witnesses of the numerous Dallas reports from Parkland Hospital of a blow-out, or exit, in the back of the head.

So this is a complex subject, and unlike a normal murder case, one cannot obtain a good sense of what happened from viewing the autosy photos. In fact, one will very likely be deceived.

My boss at the ARRB, Jeremy Gunn, often said that to him, the autopsy photo collection was intended "to conceal, rather than to reveal."

I believe David Lifton is correct in "Best Evidence" when he posits that the President's body was altered after it left Parkland and prior to the start of the autopsy, in order to remove evidence and change wounds. This was never proven conclusively because:

(1) The Warren Commission did not show the autopsy images to the Dallas doctors (who had the "before" view in their memories) when they testified in the Spring of 1964;

(2) The HSCA never showed the autopsy images to the Dallas doctors in spite of being asked to do so by several researchers;

(3) The ARRB blew it, and never showed the autopsy images to the Dallas doctors during their depositions, in spite of me pleading for this to happen for 3 years. Why? The Archives refused to cooperate and ship the photos to Texas for the depositions, and the ARRB failed to insist that the Dallas physicians come to Washington (where the photos are), as they could and should have.

The Photographic Alteration Issue:

Many researchers, for years, assumed that the photographs had been altered, thus explaining the differences between the Dallas observations during treatment, and the wounds shown by the photos today. Buy neither Kodak, nor I, found any evidence of photographic alteration in these images, in spite of looking for such evidence when the images were digitally preserved in Rochester, New York. For this reason, as well as others, I have concluded that the reason the autopsy photos do not match the Dallas descriptions of the head wound is because many of the photos in the collection represent a "partial reconstruction" (of the head) performed during the embalming and restorative process on 11/23.

I also concluded, for many reasons (as highlighted in a 32-page research paper I wrote while on the ARRB staff), that the brain photographs in the autopsy collection are not photos of President Kennedy's brain; rather, they are photos of someone else's brain designed to fool history (and any prospective audience of future investigators) into believing that a man in a building shot a man in a car.

This conclusion of mine---that the autopsy photographic collection is an official fraud designed to support the "lone nut" assassin scenario (of an assailant shooting from above and behind)---is one of the major "smoking gun" legacies of the ARRB, and yet most Americans do not know about this because of limited and spotty press coverage about the ARRB's work.

I will be happy to answer additional questions on this issue, and make some of my major medical research memos available to the web site, if requested. END

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I will be happy to answer additional questions on this issue, and make some of my major medical research memos available to the web site, if requested. END

On the Groden superior photo of the autopsy what do you think of the surgical-looking wound at the right temporal area? Was this an attempt to find bullet fragments as surely this cannot be just a bullet wound? And what do you think is the cause of the flap just above and behind the right ear?

Yes, can you make your medical research memos available on this site?

Gerry Greenstone

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I will be happy to answer additional questions on this issue, and make some of my major medical research memos available to the web site, if requested. END

On the Groden superior photo of the autopsy what do you think of the surgical-looking wound at the right temporal area? Was this an attempt to find bullet fragments as surely this cannot be just a bullet wound? And what do you think is the cause of the flap just above and behind the right ear?

Yes, can you make your medical research memos available on this site?

Gerry Greenstone

Gerry,

I think what you are looking at is evidence of post-mortem surgery...evidence tampering, if you will. You and I and numerous others are convinced the damage above the right eye in this photo represents part of an incision; Dr. Peters (a Dallas treating physician who did not see any such damage at Parkland) agreed that it was an incision on the NOVA program in 1988. The extensive damage to the right side and top of the head in the Groden "right-superior profile," and the extensive damage to the top of the head in two other autopsy photos, are also, in my view, blatant evidence of post-mortem surgery which was conducted to (1) remove bullets/bullet fragments, and (2) to change the size and location of the apparent exit wound, and therefore to support the official shooting scenario.

Along with me, my boss at the ARRB, Jeremy Gunn(General Counsel) interviewed Nurse Audrey Bell and Dr. Charles Crenshaw in 1997 in Texas. (They had been missed, or overlooked, by the Warren Commission.) Both independently drew, on different days and in different cities, a localized occipital head wound---interpreted by them as an exit---behind the right ear on a blank skull diagram from Grant's Anatomy, and both vociferously and firmly denied that there was any apparent damage to either the top of the skull, or the right side of the skull, at Parkland. Their interview comments were striking, and corroborative of the Dallas doctor same-day reports from 11/22/63, and their testimony to the Warren Commission in 1964.

Did you receive my answers yesterday to your 5 questions? I sent 5 replies (one to each question), but cannot see them posted.

I will make my key memos available to John Simkin.

Doug Horne

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Questions and Answers

Hello Doug Horne,

I am a family doc with a great interest in the medical aspects of the JFK murder. I was very intrigued to read some of your work on the Net. In particular I was fascinated to learn about the two different brain exams of JFK. With so much conflicting reports it's very hard for someone like me to know what is true and what is fabricated with X-rays, photos etc. I hope you don't mind a few questions:

1) Was the brain actually sectioned at some point or not and what were the findings?

2) Was there any other evidence of bullet fragment trails other than the one on the lateral Xray showing a trail across the top of the skull?

3) Do you think Dr Finck was a true conspirator and/or cover-upper from the outset or did he get drawn into it by Humes and Boswell?

4) Do you believe what I read that Jerrol Custer (xray tech) actually did see bullet fragments related to the neck shot and an occipital blow-out wound on the skull films? Do you know of anyone else who has reported actually seeing these things?

5) What do you think the trajectory of the frontal shot was -- did it traverse the right cortex and out the right occiput OR did it follow that upper bullet trail and break up into fragments?

Thank you.

Gerry Greenstone

Gerry,

Thanks for the interest.

Here goes:

(1) I am absolutely convinced that the real brain was indeed sectioned on Monday, Nov 25th, as John Stringer has so vividly described. Finck was not present at this (first) exam, and Humes and Boswell have lied about it when they have repeatedly stated that the brain was not sectioned. All they will admit to is taking "small pieces of tissue" from the brain during the (second) exam, and say they left it "basically intact." Certainly the brain at the second exam was basically intact, with little tissue missing...just badly disrupted in the area of the right cerebral cortex. The photographs of this sectioning (of the first brain examined) have disappeared, and the (real) brain has been disposed of (probably by Robert Kennedy). The brain from the 2nd exam is missing too, of course.

(2) There is no evidence in the x-ray record (that I know of) of any fragment trail other than that near the top of the skull in the 2 lateral head x-rays. Trouble is, Humes described the trail INACCURATELY, as going from the entrance wound near the EOP, toward the orbit of the right eye!!! He could not at all explain this major discrepancy during his ARRB deposition...in fact, I thought he was going to melt down at that point. This is the point at which he "almost cracked," in my opinion.

(3) I do not think Finck was a true conspirator at the outset...and perhaps never. Remember, he arrived late at the autopsy after the brain, heart and lungs had been removed. Stringer, the photographer, told me off the record after his depositon that he thought the reason Finck was not invited to the (first) brain exam was because "he caused too much trouble at the autopsy." Also, Finck was essentially a dupe of Humes and Boswell, who invited him to the second (i.e., false) brain exam simply to be a witness to the inspection and photography of a fraudulent organ whose damage pattern roughly supported the official scenario. Finck also complained bitterly during the weeks after the assassination that his notes disappeared the night of the autopsy after the proceeding was over, and that he had to "reconstruct them from memory!" The witness on this score was very credible...although Finck denied this himself when we asked him about it.

(5) I believe the blowout in the back of the head was in the "high occiput," and by this I mean very close to occipital-parietal, definitely behind the right ear, but starting about halfway up the right ear and ending level with or above the level of the upper ear. I think it can be seen in the Moorman photo (the polaroid that has been reproduced in many books). If it is geometrically impossible for the fragment trail in the upper skull to be spinoff or detritus from that shot as it disintegrated along its path, then I suppose it could just as well be from another bullet as well. I have an open mind on that. There are many "unknowables" that we will never know, and this is one of them.

(4) I believe Jerrol Custer when he says he clearly saw the occipital blowout in one of the head x-rays. That x-ray, of course, is not in the collection. I am totally persuaded by Dr. David Mantik's optical density research on the head x-rays...he's a radiation oncologist and a PhD in physics who says that the 2 lateral x-rays are forged composite copy films (with the occipital blowout patched over and VERY dense...much denser than it should be), and that the A-P is also a forged composite copy film (with the so-called 6.5 mm bullet fragment a superimposed artifact). I do not recall what Custer said about the neck wound. The problem with Custer is that in his later years he was enjoying being a celebrity a little too much, and really did seem to be spinning some tall tales. But his early interviews with Lifton (before other researchers got ahold of him) support this matter of the occipital blowout.

Thanks again for the interest.

Doug

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The photo of the star shaped right side head wound is supporting evidence for the theory put forth in the A&E series The men who killed Kennedy - that someone did extensive surgical work to remove lead and or mercury from the cranium, and alter the evidence to conform to a simple "lone gunman from the rear" scenario.

Groden insisted that the back of the head photos did not pass "stereo-optical" tests, by comparing two photos from slightly different angles, a 3D effect was gained, but not where the Dallas medical team had said the back of the head was missing.

This is the only part of the film evidence I believe was "faked" - to hide the front-to-back impact implicit in the remarks of Bethesda and Dallas post-mortem witnesses; i.e, the photos show the extensive surgical work and hide the large exit wound in the back of the head. Government agencies, even under FOIA, rarely release ANY photographic intelligence, and the JFK post-mortems are highly compromised, but informative in their own way.

Shanet

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The autopsy photographs have never been published by the USG. (The Warren Commission should have published them, but unfortunately decided not to introduce them as evidence, supposedly for reasons of "taste." Whether this was the real reason or not, their decision was inexcusable and has resulted in major controversy and charges of cover-up.)

However, certain representative views have been published in various researcher books over the years, starting in 1988 in the trade paperback reissue of David Lifton's monumental tome "Best Evidence." They have also appeared in some of Harrison Livingstone's books, and in Robert Groden's "coffee table" book on the assassination, "The Killing of a President."

The sources of the so-called "bootleg" autopsy photographs are twofold:

(1) Secret Service Agent James K. Fox---now deceased---made an unauthorized set of black and white prints in 1963; these prints were loaned to researchers in the early 1980s, and the researchers photographed the black and white prints before returning them. It is this set---the "Fox Set"---that ended up in Lifton's 1988 trade paperback version of "Best Evidence."

(2) Amateur photographer Robert Groden served as an unpaid photographic consultant to the HSCA from 1976-78; he surreptitiously photographed color prints in the possession of the HSCA staff. When you see color autopsy images in books---such as in Groden's own book cited above---the source are the color images he took of the prints while the HSCA temporarily had possession of them.

The only images in the autopsy collection that have not been "bootlegged" are the brain images. (The HSCA produced an artist's rendition of one of the brain photographs in volume 7 of its report.)

All images of the body published in the researcher books cited above do indeed represent actual autopsy images...but they are degraded to a greater or lesser extent, and suffer from contrast buildup, which is what happens when you make multi-generational photographic copies. Most of them are also cropped and do not show the entire field of view.

Be very careful---and by this I mean very skeptical---of what researchers say about the photographs in their books; they are giving you personal interpretations about what the images appear to show, and as a former ARRB staff member I can tell you that even the "experts" disagree about what the photographs show or do not show. I have viewed the original collection 15 or 16 times...we showed them to some experts to obtain their impressions/opinions, and also used them during our 10 depositions of autopsy witnesses and participants.

First, about format: the "original" images in the archives consist of 4" X 5" black and white negatives, and 4" X 5" color positive transparencies (both on duplex film). The brain B & W images are also 4" X 5" in size, but were taken with a press pack, not duplex film.

The ARRB staff (namely, my boss, General Counsel Jeremy Gunn, with me assisting) asked many, many interpretive questions about the autopsy photographs of autopsy witnesses and participants, while they were under oath. Those questions, and the answers received, are all recorded in the ARRB deposition transcripts of the following persons (located in the JFK Collection in the National Archives of the United States):

Pathologists James J. Humes, J. Thornton Boswell, and Pierre Finck; photographer and assistant photographer John Stringer and Floyd Riebe; X-Ray technicians Jerrol Custer and Edward Reed; FBI agents James Sibert and Francis X. O'Neill; and Navy photographer's mate Saundra Spencer.

Although individual answers to the same question often varied from witness to witness, some patterns did emerge:

(1) some photographs definitely taken at the autopsy are "missing"---that is, are not in the official collection, and never have been;

(2) some individuals developed post mortem film images on types of film (color negatives, for example) that are not, repeat NOT, in the official collection;

(3) some photographs seen by developers are NOT in the official collection;

(4) the nature of the head wound (as well as the size of the tracheotomy) is markedly different in the autopsy images than what is remembered by Dallas treatment physicians and nurses at Parkland hospital.

This is a very complex subject, but one major conclusion can be stated here: many more photographs were taken than are in the official collection; the collection has been "culled." My personal opinion, representing 3 years of work on the staff of the ARRB (including 10 autopsy-related depositions), is that additional photographs were taken during the reconstruction process following the embalming---that is, during the post-mortem restorative process. Some of those images have been intermingled with actual autopsy photos to create a false and misleading impression of the nature of the damage to the President's head. Specifically, both FBI agents told the ARRB under oath that there was a large hole in the right rear of President Kennedy's head at autopsy, and were quite perplexed when they saw images of an apparently intact back-of-the-head in the autopsy collection. Agent O'Neill said it looked like the head (not the images themselves) had been "doctored" or fixed up; Agent Sibert said the photographs of the intact back-of-the-head looked like a "reconstruction." This is indirect corroboration from 2 expert witnesses of the numerous Dallas reports from Parkland Hospital of a blow-out, or exit, in the back of the head.

So this is a complex subject, and unlike a normal murder case, one cannot obtain a good sense of what happened from viewing the autosy photos. In fact, one will very likely be deceived.

My boss at the ARRB, Jeremy Gunn, often said that to him, the autopsy photo collection was intended "to conceal, rather than to reveal."

I believe David Lifton is correct in "Best Evidence" when he posits that the President's body was altered after it left Parkland and prior to the start of the autopsy, in order to remove evidence and change wounds. This was never proven conclusively because:

(1) The Warren Commission did not show the autopsy images to the Dallas doctors (who had the "before" view in their memories) when they testified in the Spring of 1964;

(2) The HSCA never showed the autopsy images to the Dallas doctors in spite of being asked to do so by several researchers;

(3) The ARRB blew it, and never showed the autopsy images to the Dallas doctors during their depositions, in spite of me pleading for this to happen for 3 years. Why? The Archives refused to cooperate and ship the photos to Texas for the depositions, and the ARRB failed to insist that the Dallas physicians come to Washington (where the photos are), as they could and should have.

The Photographic Alteration Issue:

Many researchers, for years, assumed that the photographs had been altered, thus explaining the differences between the Dallas observations during treatment, and the wounds shown by the photos today. Buy neither Kodak, nor I, found any evidence of photographic alteration in these images, in spite of looking for such evidence when the images were digitally preserved in Rochester, New York. For this reason, as well as others, I have concluded that the reason the autopsy photos do not match the Dallas descriptions of the head wound is because many of the photos in the collection represent a "partial reconstruction" (of the head) performed during the embalming and restorative process on 11/23.

I also concluded, for many reasons (as highlighted in a 32-page research paper I wrote while on the ARRB staff), that the brain photographs in the autopsy collection are not photos of President Kennedy's brain; rather, they are photos of someone else's brain designed to fool history (and any prospective audience of future investigators) into believing that a man in a building shot a man in a car.

This conclusion of mine---that the autopsy photographic collection is an official fraud designed to support the "lone nut" assassin scenario (of an assailant shooting from above and behind)---is one of the major "smoking gun" legacies of the ARRB, and yet most Americans do not know about this because of limited and spotty press coverage about the ARRB's work.

I will be happy to answer additional questions on this issue, and make some of my major medical research memos available to the web site, if requested. END

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