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Baden blithers on

Pat Speer

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One of Bugliosi's biggest mistakes is his using the reports of "experts" to support his claims, even when these "experts" are certifiably out of touch with reality. Tonight, on HBO, Bugliosi's top expert on the medical evidence, Dr. Michael Baden, proved once again why his words are not to be trusted, and why Bugliosi was truly negligent in trusting his words.

In a segment on the Kennedy assassination produced for the HBO program Autopsy, Dr. Michael Baden made a number of claims that were certifiably false and/or extremely doubtful. Here are but a sampling of them:

1. At roughly 3 minutes into the program, Baden discusses the initial press conference given by Kennedy's emergency room doctors. Baden says "In fact, the doctors down in Texas, where the shooting occurred, indicated he'd been shot in the back and in the front." The doctors, in fact, indicated no such thing. They described an entrance in Kennedy's throat and a large wound on the back of his head. They presumed this to be an exit for the bullet entering his throat. They said nothing to indicate the bullet causing this wound came from behind Kennedy.

2. A few minutes later, the program's narrator discusses the initial autopsy and states "Because the pathologist's notes were stained with blood, he burned them. After he found out that tracheotomy had been performed in Dallas, he tried to reconstitute his notes, based on what he could remember." This is nonsense. Dr. Humes, the pathologist in question, testified that he burned his notes only after copying them, and that he burned these notes after he found out about the tracheotomy. The implication that the initial autopsy report was in error because Dr. Humes couldn't remember what he saw is unjustified and undoubtedly deceptive, feeding into Dr. Baden's eventual conclusion that the mistakes in the autopsy report were all "innocent."

3. Shortly thereafter, when discussing the autopsy photos, Dr. Baden repeats the story of Floyd Riebe, a navy photographer whose camera was confiscated by the Secret Service. He then explains what he considers to be the poor quality of the photos by stating "The only one who was taking photographs was a Secret Service person who'd never taken autopsy photos before." This is frighteningly inaccurate. The lone autopsy photographer was John Stringer, the navy's top autopsy photographer, and Riebe's superior. In his memoirs, published nearly 20 years ago, Baden claimed the lone photographer was an FBI photographer. This incensed the original autopsists, Dr. James Humes and Dr. J. Thornton Boswell, to such an extent that they made a point of debunking Baden's claim and discussed Stringer's qualifications and abilities in a 1992 interview in the Journal of the American Medical Association. One would think Dr. Baden would remember his getting schooled in such a public fashion.

4. When complaining about the autopsy report, Dr. Baden goes on to claim that the autopsy doctors "did not make proper measurements of the bullet holes, did not properly describe the bullet holes as to entrance and exit." This last statement is a puzzle. The 1978 pathology panel led by Dr. Baden came to the exact same conclusions as the autopsy report, as to which holes were entrance and exit. Perhaps he was thinking of the original conclusions of the doctors on the night of the autopsy, as opposed to the report signed two days later.

5. When discussing the subsequent disappearance of Kennedy's brain, he injects "All the tissues from the autopsy...were all put into a steamer trunk and were given to Evelyn Lincoln, who was the President and Bobby Kennedy's secretary." This is a simple factual error. Evelyn Lincoln was never Robert Kennedy's secretary. Angie Novello was Robert Kennedy's secretary.

6. He compounds his error moments later, however, by discussing the subsequent moving of Kennedy's crypt and asserting "I later learned there was a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery around midnight, after the gravediggers were gone...at which time the brain and other tissues were placed next to the casket." This is pure moonshine. He "learned" of no such thing. While pictures have been published of a small box placed near the casket, researchers have demonstrated that this box most probably bore the remains of Kennedy's daughter, miscarried in the fifties, who was re-buried next to her father.

7. The program then moves on to Dr. Baden's 1978 testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations. When asked "Did the panel unanimously conclude that a bullet entered the upper right back of the President and exit from his neck?" in the testimony footage, Baden replies "Every member of the panel so concluded." This question and answer are deliberately deceptive, as they are meant to imply that everyone on the panel subscribed to the single-bullet theory. In fact, one of the panel's members, Dr. Cyril Wecht, staked his reputation that the single-bullet theory was false, and defied his colleagues to find one bullet purported to create as much damage as was purportedly created by the "magic" bullet, and has had no takers.

8. Finally, the segment of the show on the Kennedy assassination nears its conclusion. Baden pronounces: "There was only one shooter, Oswald. The Zapruder film on close analysis shows the first bullet miss and hit the curb of the road that the car was traveling." This is only the most IDIOTIC statement ever uttered by a supposed expert on the case. Not one analysis of the film, including those performed by the most zealot single-assassin theorists proposing Oswald acted alone, has claimed that a bullet strike on the curb is visible. Those holding that a first shot miss is detectable base their claims upon blurs on the film thought to coincide with rifle shots, and the behavior of a few of the witnesses. None have insinuated they could see the bullet hit a curb. Baden's contention therefore is indicative that he was making this stuff up as he went along, based on what he could remember, and that NO ONE at HBO thought to run this show by anyone with even a smidgen of knowledge about the case.

9. But he wasn't done. To combat the argument that Kennedy's back-and-to-the-left motion after the head shot indicated a shot was fired from the front, Baden argues "Subsequent experiments show, and subsequent experience with people being shot do show that when someone is shot from the front they can go front or back--sometimes front, sometimes back. It isn't predictable what way the body is gonna go." Now I've read up on this issue extensively, and have not heard of any such experiments. As a result, I suspect Baden is just making it up. (If the reader is aware of such a study please bring it to my attention.) Perhaps Dr. Baden was thinking of the experiments conducted by Dr. John Lattimer, which showed that skulls shot off of ladders flew back towards the shooter. Many single-assassin theorists cite this to refute the frequent argument that the back-and-to-the-left movement indicates a shot came from the front. The problem is that this experiment was subsequently performed with the skulls nailed to the ladders, to eliminate the possibility they were recoiling off the ladders, and the skulls and ladders thereafter always fell forward.

In short, Dr. Baden's latest attempt at closing the case was pathetic and embarrassing. Only adding to the circus-like atmosphere of the program was that he followed his examination of the Kennedy case with his examination of his role in the O.J. Simpson trial. In this segment, he spoke eloquently about the need for the government to prove its case beyond all shadow of a doubt, and how everyone deserves a fair trial. Perhaps if he'd received the hundred thousand dollars paid to him by Simpson from the Oswald family he'd have come to see how the government has failed to prove its case against Oswald, far more than it ever failed to prove its case against Simpson.

Edited by Pat Speer
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I have not trusted a word Michael Baden said since his absurd lying testimony before HSCA.

So Pat your post did not surprise me in the least. He's a WC whore.

Most recently he was an expert for the defense in the Phil Specter murder case, where his wife was one of the lead attorneys. Guess he's never heard of conflict of interest rules.


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People like Baden and Bugliosi make me wonder what percentage of the overall population have no conscience. Outside of any personal acquaintances, we only know of those that achieve a certain amount of fame, and the JFK field certainly seems to have its share.

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