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The movement of the head wound entrance

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Since Jim Fetzer has never bothered to read anything I've written on the medical evidence, beyond what I've posted on this forum, and is now demanding Jim D and I show him why the rear entrance wound would be moved in 1968, I've decided to post the relevant section of my webpage in this thread. For those of you who haven't read it before, ENJOY.


While the early critics of the Warren Commission focused on discrediting the single-bullet theory, and using the location of the back wound on the clothing and face sheet to achieve this goal, Josiah Thompson exploded on the scene in 1967 and questioned the official interpretations of the head wounds as well. Among the many arguments in Thompson's breakthrough work Six Seconds in Dallas was one that was particularly convincing. Thompson placed frame 312 of the Zapruder film, the last frame before Kennedy's skull exploded, on the same page with the Warren Commission exhibit depicting the supposed path of the bullet through Kennedy's skull, CE 388. The effect was devastating. From a comparison of these two images it was obvious that Kennedy's head was bent further forward in the drawing than in the film and that, when the drawing was corrected to the actual forward tilt of Kennedy's head, the path back from his exit wound through his entrance wound led to the rear trunk of the limousine, a long, long way from the supposed sniper's nest. This proved that either the bullet fired from above and striking Kennedy low in the back of his head suddenly and illogically exploded upwards, or that the entrance wound was not as reported.

With perspective, it’s easy to see that there was something suspicious about the head wounds from the beginning. To prepare for their testimony before the Warren Commission, the doctors were told to prepare drawings depicting the trajectory of the bullet through the President’s skull. They did this by verbally describing the locations of the entrance and exit on the skull to medical illustrator Skip Rydberg, who then drew Kennedy bent over in the manner required so that his wounds could be connected by a straight line from above and behind. This drawing became Exhibit 388. What is wrong with this scenario is that the Warren Commission had blown up prints from the Zapruder film at their disposal, and Rydberg could have been given these in order to make his drawing as accurate as possible. Instead, the ever-wiley Specter flashed Dr. Humes the prints of Zapruder 312 and 313 in the middle of his testimony, after 388 was already entered into evidence, and asked him if the prints depicted Kennedy’s head in “approximately the same position” as it had been in 388, to which Dr. Humes replied “yes, sir.” As if to drive home the Commission’s lack of concern for accuracy, Commissioner Dulles continued in this vein moments later by asking Humes, who was never swore in as a photographic expert, by the way, if the posture of Kennedy’s head was “roughly the inclination that you think the President’s head had at the time,” to which Humes responded, again, with a “yes, sir.” Amazingly, there is no evidence anyone on the Commission thought to compare the drawing to the photos themselves.

Dr. Finck’s Warren Commission testimony was also a bit strange in this regard. As the wound ballistics expert on the autopsy team, his testimony was needed to shore up that the bullets came from above and behind. As the drawings presented by the doctors depicted the back wound much higher than the exit in the throat, it was not hard for him to say as much regarding those wounds. As the skull entrance was, by the doctors’ own admission, lower than the exit at the top of the skull, however, there was no way he could reasonably assert that the fatal bullet would have to have come from above. When Finck testified that the exit wound was “so large that we can only give an approximate angle. In my opinion, the angle was within 45 degrees from the horizontal plane,” Specter immediately saw that this opened the door for a shot from someplace other than the sniper’s nest, even someplace on the ground. He immediately interjected “Is that to say that there was a 45 degree of declination from the point of origin…” to which Finck ultimately responded “I think I can only state, sir, that he was shot from above and behind.” This echoed the autopsy protocol’s over-zealous statement that “the projectiles were fired from a point behind and somewhat above the level of the deceased.” On what purely medical basis could these claims be made? If one ignores the eyewitnesses, the Zapruder film, and the rifle found in the school book depository, none of which belonged in the testimony of a doctor unfamiliar with such evidence, there was no reason for Finck to say the fatal bullet came from above. That Finck himself was uncomfortable with his testimony on this point can be inferred from the fact his report to his superior officer General Blumberg stated simply “I testified that Kennedy was shot from behind.”

But the lack of evidence indicating that the shot came from above didn't stop it from becoming part of the official myth, mind you, or the script repeated ad nauseum by Warren Commission defenders. In late 1966, as a response to Mark Lane's best seller Rush to Judgment, former Warren Commission Counsel Wesley J. Liebeler took to the lecture circuit. An October 19, 1966 article in the L.A. Times, however, suggests that, in defense of the Commission, Liebeler, a UCLA Law Professor, was willing to also assault the truth. Liebeler was reported to have told 650 students at a Stanford University law forum that "autopsy X rays of assassinated President John F. Kennedy showed 'all shots' fired at him were 'from behind and above.'" Well, if Liebeler actually said such a thing, he was full of malarkey. The X rays gave no indication whatsoever that the shots were fired from above. No one testified to as much; in fact, Dr. Humes discussed a trail of fragments leading from low on the back of the head to high on the head, suggesting the exact opposite. So what was Liebeler talking about? Not only had the radiologist present at the autopsy. Dr. John Ebersole, not been asked to testify before the commission, but the doctors who were asked to testify were prevented from reviewing the X rays beforehand. Such was the secrecy regarding these X rays, in fact, that the doctors were not even allowed to study them while writing the autopsy report. By October, 1966, moreover, NO ONE had studied the X rays beyond looking at them in hopes of finding missing bullet fragments. One can only conclude then that Liebeler was either grossly misquoted, or desperately making stuff up. I propose we suspect the latter.

But I digress. The point that I've been trying to reach is that, while few had questioned the head wound trajectory before Thompson's book reached its publisher, it wasn't long before even the government began questioning the trajectory. In early 1968, even though it had been barely a year since the autopsy doctors had signed a report saying the wounds in the drawings matched the wounds in the autopsy photos, a four-man secret panel supposedly made of random experts but actually made of close colleagues (Dr. Alan Moritz had been a mentor to the panel's leader, Russell Fisher, at Harvard, and Dr.s Morgan and Carnes had been professors together at John Hopkins University) re-reviewed the photos and x-rays on behalf of Attorney General Ramsey Clark, supposedly at the urging of the autopsy doctors themselves. (Dr. Boswell's testimony before the ARRB suggests that he was, in fact, manipulated by Clark's assistant Carl Eardley into making such a request).

This panel, commonly called the Clark Panel, then, not only made tremendous mistakes in its assessment of Kennedy's back wound location, which served to support the then-under-fire single-bullet theory, but also "found" a wound of entrance high on the back of Kennedy's head that had apparently been missed by everyone who saw the President in Dallas and Bethesda, including the autopsy doctors. This new "find," moreover, made Thompson's comparison irrelevant. One might wish to think this a coincidence.

That this was not a coincidence was confirmed, however, by Clark panel ring-leader Russell S. Fisher when he told the Maryland State Medical Journal in March 1977 that Attorney General Ramsey Clark had seen the proofs of Six Seconds in Dallas, which included a comparison of Warren Commission Exhibit 388 and Zapruder frame 312, and that the Clark panel report was released "partly to refute some of the junk" in the book. Apparently, their way of "refuting" Thompson's comparison of CE-388 and Z-312 was by confirming he was right and by declaring instead that their esteemed colleagues, Humes, Boswell and Finck were badly mistaken as to the actual location and measurements of the entrance wound on the back of Kennedy's skull, and were off by almost 4 inches! Even more amazing, Fisher told the Maryland State Medical Journal that this was only a “minor error.” What the??? One ponders what Fisher would consider a "major error" in such circumstances...

Or if he was just blowing smoke... When one considers that, in the March 13 1970 edition of Medical World News, in which it was noted that the Clark Panel was convened "to allay public suspicion over the Warren Report," Fisher ran down a laundry list of excuses for the "errors" made at the autopsy, it seems likely he was more concerned about these "errors" than he would subsequently acknowledge. These excuses, moreover, were not real excuses, but entirely false ones made up from either Fisher's incredible ignorance, or his fertile imagination. He told the medical world that, among the reasons for the "confusion" at the autopsy, were:

* "The original x-rays and photos were not seen by the autopsy team in Washington or even by the Warren Commission until the time that our committee was convened..." (While it's true the doctors were unable to look at the x-rays and photos while writing the autopsy report, they had inspected the x-rays and photos in November 1966 and January 1967, prior to the Clark Panel's inspection, and had publicly proclaimed that these inspections had confirmed both the findings of their report, and the testimony and exhibits provided the Warren Commission. As Warren Commission counsel Arlen Specter had similarly admitted in both U.S. News (in 1966) and the Saturday Evening Post (in 1967) to seeing a photo of Kennedy's back wound on the day of the assassination re-enactment, furthermore, Fisher was doubly in error.)

* "skull fragments found on the street, which would have permitted a more accurate reconstruction of the skull and hence a clearer notion of the path of the bullet, were not seen by the Washington examiners..." (This claim is equally bogus. The recovered skull fragments seen by Fisher were x-rays taken at the autopsy of fragments studied and handled by the doctors during the autopsy. It was beveling on the largest fragment, moreover, that convinced the autopsy doctors the bullet exited from the top of the head--the exact same conclusion reached by Fisher. While there were two fragments found in Dealey Plaza not returned in time for the autopsy, one being the Harper fragment, neither of these fragments were seen by the Clark Panel, and neither of these could have convinced the autopsy doctors a bullet entered high on the back of Kennedy's head, where Fisher claimed it had entered, as they'd both come from further forward on the skull.)

* "for several hours the local coroner was not told that a tracheostomy had been performed at the place where one bullet emerged, and this helped to cloud the issue of how many bullets had been fired and from what direction." (This claim is just strange. The confusion was not caused by the emergency room doctors' failure to tell Dallas coroner Earl Rose about the tracheostomy, but the autopsy doctors' failure to call the emergency room doctors prior to commencement of the autopsy, and the failure of anyone present at the autopsy to tell the autopsy doctors that, oh yeah, by the way, the emergency room doctors called a press conference this afternoon and told the world the president had a small bullet wound in his throat that appeared to be an entrance.)

In any event, the Clark Panel's findings were written on February 26 and 27, 1968, but not made public until January 16 of the next year, just in time to throw a monkey wrench in Jim Garrison's trial of Clay Shaw. The print media’s ineptness and distaste for the whole matter is revealed in their headlines regarding the release of the panel's report, e.g. “JFK Autopsy Facts Bared; Findings Claimed Correct;” “Autopsy Report Backs JFK Data.” I have yet to find one newspaper article about the release of this report that mentioned the amazing migration of the head wound.

This was apparently by design. In Harold Weisberg's 1975 book Post Mortem, he discusses the Clark Panel report in great detail, and re-prints a number of internal government memos he received in response to his many Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. One of these is a Jan 18, 1969 memo from Frank Wozencraft, of the Office of Legal Counsel, to archivist Marion Johnson of the National Archives. It is entitled "Authentication of Autopsy Pictures," and provides Johnson with a statement he is to give any member of the news media inquiring whether the photos and x-rays studied by the Clark Panel have been authenticated by the autopsists. The statement itself is not surprising, as it refers back to the November '66 inventory, and the signed statements by Humes, Boswell, Ebersole, and Stringer, that none of the photos or x-rays are missing. What is surprising, however, is the final paragraph, which reads:

"In addition, requests to see any documents which contain descriptions of the autopsy pictures should be denied on the ground that we agreed with Burke Marshall not to disclose such descriptions, for much the same reasons that the pictures themselves are not available for non-official access at this time."

This statement is quite interesting.There is nothing in the signed agreement between Burke Marshall, the Kennedy family's representative, and the government prohibiting the dissemination of descriptions of the autopsy photos. Such a provision, if actually considered, would have been of questionable legality anyhow. I mean, just think about it. Nellie Connally has testified to Mrs. Kennedy's holding President Kennedy's brains in her hands. Dr. Humes has testified to tearing Kennedy's skull apart in order to remove his brain. The autopsy report, in which the President's wounds are discussed in detail, has been part of the public record for years. So how can anyone justify withholding reports in which mere photos of the President's wounds are described?

They can't. So what was Wozencraft up to? Well, unfortunately the probability is that what he was up to was no good... Here, but a few days before the end of the Johnson Administration, is one of Johnson's top legal advisers pressuring the National Archives to withhold reports from the press in which the autopsy photos are discussed...under the guise that this would somehow be in poor taste. Never mind that these same legal advisers--the Office of Legal Counsel--have just released a new and improved report--the Clark Panel Report, in which these very photos are discussed in gruesome detail.

This, to me, is highly suspicious, and leads me to suspect that Wozencraft, and by extension the Johnson Administration Justice Department, were trying to keep from the press that the earlier descriptions of the photos both claimed a bullet entrance low on the back of the head was readily apparent...and that the Clark Panel reported no such wound, and was now claiming there was a wound high on the back of the head.

Incredibly, it was more than 3 years before this news was reported. This second series of articles was written as a response to an address by Dr. Russell Morgan, the Clark Panel's radiologist, to a conference of fellow radiologists, and indirectly confirm the role of Thompson's book in the formation and conclusions of the panel. The articles below were found in the August 18, 1972 Denver Post and the August 19, 1972 New Orleans States-Item, respectively. This was but a few days before Dr. Cyril Wecht was to become the first Warren Commission critic to view the autopsy materials. Perhaps Morgan wanted to lessen the impact should Wecht come out of the Archives and announce that the autopsy x-rays didn't show what the Clark Panel claimed, by putting on the record that they were over-developed and hard to read. Perhaps not. In a letter to researcher Harold Weisberg, Morgan claimed "I do not know why the press picked up my talk as a news item at this time. Apparently, they have nothing better to print."

(Sections indicating that Morgan in particular, and the Clark Panel in general, were far from unbiased in their analysis and were actually single-assassin theorists with a clear-cut agenda to refute Thompson and derail Jim Garrison's trial of Clay Shaw are highlighted in bold.)


A radiologist who examined the X-rays of President Kennedy's fatal head wound said in Denver Friday they prove conclusively that only one bullet--fired from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository building in Dallas--caused his death.

Dr. Russell H. Morgan, dean of the medical school at John Hopkins University, said the films--could they be released by the Kennedy family--would effectively remove all doubt and controversy that the assassination may have been the result of shots from more than one direction.

However, because the films haven't been released for publication and because a report on their examination wasn't included in the Warren Commission study, the controversy has continued, Dr. Morgan said.

The medical school dean made his remarks in an interview prior to speaking to some 300 physicians, attending the 34th annual mid-summer meeting of the Rocky Mountain Radiological Society in the Brown Palace Hotel. The meeting, which began Thursday, continues through Saturday.

Dr. Morgan was the only radiologist on a panel of four persons asked by then Attorney Gen. Ramsey Clark to review the X rays because of controversies surrounding the autopsy report.

But because the panel's report, released in April 1968, largely supported the conclusions of the Warren Report. Morgan said, it failed to receive much circulation. His talk here Friday on the subject was the first outside University organizations. The other members of the panel, all pathologists, have never spoken on the matter.


He said the X rays in conjunction with an analysis of the movie shot by amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder, show "rather conclusively" that the path of the fatal bullet--because the President's head was bowed and tilted to one side--was consistent with being fired from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository building.

Further, he said, the X rays show the path of the bullet was strewn with thousands of bone fragments and that no other bullets entered from either the right or left sides of the skull, as some critics of the Warren Report have maintained.

Had other bullets entered the right or left side of the skull, they would have left paths of bone fragments, and no such paths were indicated. In addition, the entrance of a bullet is small, the exit point much larger, the doctor added, and both the entrance and the exit of the fatal bullet are characterized by this fact.


Morgan said his study of the X rays and the movie film also disprove the theory that another shot struck Kennedy from an overpass under which the president's car was preparing to pass.

The Zapruder film shows Kennedy's body lurching forward from one shot and then lurching backward, as though from a second.

Morgan said the backward lurch was a reflex action of Kennedy's shattered brain, which caused the president's muscles to tense, and react in a spasm. It was this sudden straightening of the body which was interpreted as being the result of a second shot, he declared.

The fatal bullet killed Kennedy instantly, Morgan said, and the subsequent emergency action at Parkland Memorial Hospital was in response to purely reflex activity.


Morgan speculated that the reason the X rays weren't included in the Warren Commission Report is that when doctors first examined Kennedy, they thought the bullet entered lower in Kennedy's head.

Had their assumption been correct, the bullet would have to have been fired from below the level of the presidential limousine, he said.

Morgan said the X rays can now be studied with permission of the Kennedy family, though the photographs of the injury, which he described as "pretty gory," are still closed to examination. He said he feels publication of the X rays has been prohibited because the Kennedy family equates them with the photographs.


To date, he said, the X rays have been studied by only one person since being released for study last November, and that was by a urologist from Columbia University interested in the phenomenon of assassination.

Should the X rays ever be released for publication, he explained, great care and special techniques would be required before they would show the conclusive evidence, because they were produced in a hurry under extremely trying conditions and were over-exposed.


(AP) — A leading medical expert says a four-inch mistake by a pathologist who examined the body of John F. Kennedy after he was shot to death in Dallas produced a series of false speculations about the assassination.

Dr. Russell H. Morgan said the bullet actually entered the president's skull some four inches higher than initially reported, but the Warren Commission's detailed report on the assassination failed to clarify this point.

Morgan, dean of the medical school at Johns Hopkins University, is the only radiologist to examine the X-ray photographs of the slain president's skull.

The matter became an issue of great importance in New Orleans between 1967 and 1969 when Dist. Atty. Jim Garrison was attempting to prove that the slaying of Kennedy was plotted here.

Garrison contended that Kennedy was shot from the front, rather than from behind as the Warren Report concluded, and that the X-rays would prove it. He made many legal attempts to gain access to the X-rays examined by Dr. Morgan, but failed.

The D.A.'s probe died after Clay L. Shaw was acquitted March 1, 1969, of charges of conspiring to kill the president, though legal maneuvering continued long after that and only recently did the U.S. Supreme Court uphold an injunction prohibiting further prosecution of Shaw by Garrison.

In an address to the 34th midsummer conference of the Rocky Mountain Radiological Society here, he gave X-rays the credit for finally revealing the pathologist's error and disproving many of the more extreme speculations spawned by the mistake, which is included in the Warren Commission report.

Morgan's four-year investigation of the photographs and the Abraham Zapruder film of the assassination led him to several conclusions, he said.

The most important finding was that one of the pathologists who examined Kennedy's body in Washington the night of the assassination erred in saying the fatal bullet entered the "occipital protuberance," or the bulge at the lower section of the back of the skull.

This statement, which Morgan said later proved to be false, was included in the Warren report. Critics of the report immediately noted a major inconsistency between that alleged entry point and several features of the Zapruder film which showed a frame-by-frame sequence of the shooting. Critics said the film showed the president's head in a near vertical position when the bullet hit and also showed him lurching backward, leading to speculation the bullet came from the front.

The angle of the bullet became controversial. Some contended it couldn't have been fired from Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle in the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and entered the skull where the pathologist said it did.

Morgan said Friday the Warren Commission, which named Oswald as the assassin, made no effort to explain the contradiction, allowing it to provide controversy for several years.

When he was given two days to examine the X-ray photographs, Morgan found them of poor quality, severely over-exposed. Of the 14, he said, only three were of the head wound. He said one had pencil marks on the negative itself showing "where somebody thought the bullet had gone."

(The remaining paragraphs were found in the version of the article published by the Galveston Daily News the next day.)

The penciled line corresponded to the mistaken pathologists' conclusion that the bullet entered the base of the skull and exited at an upward angle out of the right of the forehead. But Morgan said he found the actual entry wound was 120 millimeters away from the penciled line, more than four inches higher on the back of the head.

The lurching of the president's body backward, he said, was caused by body spasms after the massive wound was inflicted.

Morgan said the Zapruder film, the ballistics tests, the projected line of fire and the angle of entry of the fatal bullet all were consistent with the explanation that a single shot fired from above and behind killed the president.

"The Warren Commission's diagnosis was correct," he, said, "even though the evidence cited was inconsistent."

Such was the Justice Department's own skepticism of the Clark Panel's conclusions, however, that Carl Eardley, who'd been working with the doctors on their reviews and reports for years, and who'd been one of the driving forces behind the Clark Panel, asked Dr. Boswell to participate in the autopsy of Dr. Martin Luther King. This was April 4, 1968, but 5 weeks after the Clark Panel had viewed the autopsy materials, and had questioned the competence of Boswell and his colleagues. Boswell, to his credit, refused. While one could make the argument that Eardley remained ignorant of the Clark Panel's findings until after it had been written up, reviewed, and signed, and that the last signature on the report was dated April 9, that still doesn't explain why Boswell's equally discredited colleague Dr. Finck was allowed to participate in the autopsy of Senator Robert F. Kennedy two months later, with no objection from the Justice Department. This also fails to explain why, even after the release of the panel's report, both Finck and Boswell were asked to help the government in the defense of Clay Shaw, and defend the Clark Panel's findings. Unless the government failed to fully trust the Clark Panel, there is a huge question as to why the government would continue to use Boswell and Finck as experts long after the Panel, in an official government report prepared on behalf of the Attorney General, had made them out to be total incompetents. For how else can one describe a doctor who mistakenly records a head wound high on the back of a man's skull as low on the back of his skull, creates a face sheet and autopsy protocol affirming this location, and then confirms this location again after reviewing the man’s autopsy photos...TWICE?

The possibility that Eardley and the Justice Department thought the autopsy doctors competent, but grossly mistaken on the location of the entrance into the skull, simply makes no sense in light of the doctor's subsequent reports claiming the autopsy photos supported their original findings. That is...unless...Eardley knew the subsequent reports were created for political reasons and not to be taken seriously. Hmmm...

An article in the 2-24-69 Manchester Union Leader helps shed some light on Eardley's mindset. During a hearing in which New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison sought access to the JFK assassination autopsy materials for use in his trial of Clay Shaw, in which Dr. Cyril Wecht cited the recently released Clark Panel report to question the competence of the original autopsy, Eardley reportedly snapped: "But you weren't at the autopsy, were you? Have you ever attended the autopsy of a famous person like the President? You never have been surrounded by Treasury Agents, FBI agents, Admirals, and doctors, all asking to have this thing over with? It makes a difference, doesn't it?"

I'll give you a second to get over that one. Yep, the Justice Department, which from 1963-1969--the entire span of Lyndon Johnson's presidency--had insisted that Kennedy had received both an adequate and accurate autopsy, IMMEDIATELY changed tone after Johnson left office, and began touting that not only had the original autopsists made mistakes, but that these mistakes WERE NOT THEIR FAULT, but the fault of the Johnson Administration, which had failed to insure the doctors were allowed the peace, quiet, and solitude necessary to distinguish a bullet entrance near the top of the head from one four inches away. What disgusting nonsense!!!

Of course, the Justice Department was not alone in pretending that one could both claim the original autopsy was authoritative and that the head wound location was incorrectly recorded, and off by four inches. They had plenty of support from an unsurprising source...former counsel for the Warren Commission. In May 1975, former Warren Commission counsel W. David Slawson and Richard M. Mosk wrote an article for the L.A. Times arguing that any re-investigation of the assassination be restricted to the behavior of the FBI and CIA, and that there was no need to re-investigate the actual crime. This was a flip from Slawson's position in 1966 that a re-investigation of the medical evidence could prevent an investigation of the behavior of the FBI and CIA. Anyhow, in this article the dynamic duo made the amazing claim that "The evidence concerning the wounds conclusively dispels the idea of shots from the front...The wounds both slanted downward from Kennedy's back. This is clear beyond doubt from the autopsy and from the photographs and X rays of the body...to doubt the evidence of the wounds is to label as liars the doctors who examined the body, the pictures and the X rays for the commission."

Well, this was more disgusting nonsense. Pure crud... 1) The wounds did not both slant downward. The head wound, as originally interpreted, slanted upwards. The wound was then re-interpreted, and re-located, so that the wound could slant downwards. 2) Claiming that doubting the medical evidence is to label the autopsy doctors "liars" is hypocrisy at its worst. Did Slawson and Mosk forget that the government itself doubted the interpretations of the autopsy doctors, and embraced a review of their work in which it was declared they'd incorrectly recorded and remembered the location of the fatal head wound? If not, then why did they not only not denounce this outrage, but embrace the review themselves, by claiming the head wound slanted downward? 3) Slawson and Mosk knew DAMN WELL that the doctors were forbidden from examining the body, pictures and X rays for the commission, and their pretending they were not is offensive. No, more than offensive. The rapid fire assault on the truth by these men is so brazen, in fact, that their own words label themselves as "liars" and hypocrites, for then and evermore.

And they were far from alone... The March 1977 article on Dr. Fisher in the Maryland State Medical Journal and a March 22 1977 article on Dr. Lattimer carried by the Ridder News Service revealed that although they each had come to conclusions contrary to those of the autopsy doctors while performing their own limited examinations of the medical evidence, they felt no further investigation was necessary. Even more disturbing, a September 17, 1977 article distributed by UPI reported that Dr. Russell Morgan had just spoken at Michigan State University, and had told reporters that "Mr. Kennedy's X-rays showed conclusively that a single-bullet fired from behind was the cause of death" and that "Congressional investigators should concentrate on other elements in their inquiry into the assassination."

Well, this is quite interesting. The last time Dr. Morgan had been quoted in the press about the assassination was but days before Dr. Cyril Wecht was to become the first non-government-affiliated pathologist to view the assassination materials at the archives, and in effect review his findings. And now, but 6 days before 6 members of the HSCA pathology panel were to review his findings, on behalf the government, no less, he re-appears, urging that no re-investigation be conducted. Should everyone to look at the autopsy materials in between these two appearances have confirmed his findings, that would be one thing...but in 1975, Dr. Fred Hodges, a Professor of Radiology at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, where Morgan served as Dean, was asked to study Kennedy's X-rays on behalf the Rockefeller Commission, and had provided them a report which directly contradicted Morgan's re-interpretation of the head wound location. Yes, in a little discussed report long withheld from the public, in a passage rarely if ever quoted before I started broadcasting it all over the internet, Hodges refuted the findings of the Clark Panel, noting instead that "a small round hole visible from the intracranial side after the brain was removed is described in the autopsy report in the right occipital bone, and many of the linear fracture lines converge on the described site." Even worse, for Morgan, was the next line: "The appearance is in keeping with the colored photographs showing a large, compound, comminuted injury in the right frontal region, and a small round soft tissue wound in the occipital region." Morgan, of course, had claimed there was no wound in the occipital bone on the X-rays or photographs, and had pushed the Clark Panel into concluding the wound was actually four inches or more higher on the back of Kennedy's skull, in the parietal bone.

Hodges' then still-secret report was thus bad news for Morgan. And seeing as Morgan was Hodges' boss, it was bad news that Morgan would almost certainly have discovered. It follows then that Morgan's urging congressional investigators to forget about the X-rays and focus on other matters may not have been so innocent, and was instead a plea designed to protect his own reputation. While this might seem a little harsh, let's remember Morgan's viewpoint but five years earlier. While he once was reportedly of the opinion that the X-rays were "produced in a hurry under extremely trying conditions" and were of "poor quality" and "severely over-exposed.," and that "great care and special techniques would be required before they would show the conclusive evidence," he now claimed they "showed conclusively that a single-bullet fired from behind was the cause of death" and that no further investigation was necessary. Perhaps he'd simply changed his mind and no longer felt the cowlick entrance he'd thought he'd "discovered" was a necessary ingredient to the single-assassin conclusion, and worth verifying. Or perhaps he simply didn't care if Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy or not, as long as his own reputation was protected.

While one might assume from all this that Morgan and the Clark Panel, in their zeal to refute Thompson, had made a mistake in moving the head wound, the HSCA pathology panel, which corrected the Clark Panel's misrepresentation of the back wound when compared to the neck wound, nevertheless confirmed the Clark Panel's new and improved location for the head wound.

This amazing migration is still much-discussed among students of the assassination...and largely ignored by most everyone else. Vincent Bugliosi, in his monster tome Reclaiming History, repeats without comment the claim by Dr. Werner Spitz, a colleague of Dr. Fisher's who served on both the Rockefeller and House Select Committee panels, that "It's just a red herring. We know from the autopsy photos and X-rays that there was only one entrance wound to the back of the president's head . The only significance this matter has is academic. If the bullet had entered where the autopsy surgeons said it did—and we know from the photos and X-rays they were wrong—it would have been an unusual deflection for the bullet to have exited where it did. This was a military-type bullet and it is unlikely that it would be deflected so sharply upwards." That Bugliosi--who prides himself on his cool-headed logic--lets Spitz get away with such nonsense is embarrassing. I mean, shouldn't he have noticed that Spitz, as Fisher and the Clark Panel before him, was working backwards--that his conclusion that the trajectory for a single bullet entering low on the head and exiting high on the head didn't work had led him to believe the bullet must have entered higher on the head, and reject the statements of everyone who'd actually seen the entrance? I mean, really, is it actually possible Bugliosi thinks such a massive dispute over the president's wound locations is merely "academic"? Of course not. It follows then that he was blowing smoke at his readers in his lawyerly manner and hoping they wouldn't notice that "Hey, something's wrong here!"

But at least Bugliosi talked to a doctor before claiming the migration was meaningless. In 2006, former detective Mark Fuhrman wrote a much-publicized book, A Simple Act of Murder, in which he investigated and dismissed the single-bullet theory using arguments similar to those provided in the previous chapters. He concluded, nevertheless, that Oswald acted alone. While barely dealing with the head wounds, Fuhrman mentioned in passing that the HSCA forensic medical panel, after viewing the autopsy photos and x-rays, concluded that the entrance wound on Kennedy's skull was “four inches higher than originally believed by the Warren Commission.” In what has become a typical gesture among those claiming Oswald acted alone, however, he made up an excuse for this, and claimed that the Warren Commission had not actually seen the autopsy materials. This, of course, was nonsense. Not only had Justice Warren admitted viewing the materials, but the autopsy doctors had twice viewed the materials and confirmed the entrance wound location prior to Morgan and the Clark Panel's re-interpreting the wound location. Fuhrman’s treatment of the head wounds was thus shallow and deceptive.

Which was pretty much par for the course...

Edited by Pat Speer
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