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Final thoughts on Vincent Guinn and his 1978 testimony


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While I have long concluded that Vincent Guinn's analysis and HSCA testimony supporting the single-bullet theory were incorrect, I was on the fence as to whether he was just mistaken, or whether he lied. I have recently come across a chapter written by him in a book entitled Chemistry and Crime. I noticed much that was suspicious. This led me to go back and read some of his other articles.

As a result, I now believe his testimony to have been deliberately misleading.

From patspeer.com, chapter 11:

Recent developments in bullet lead analysis have alerted me to much that is suspicious with Guinn’s analysis...beyond his incorrect conclusions. On September 1, 2005, the FBI announced they would no longer analyze bullet lead. Their decision was spurred on by a February 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences questioning the value of bullet lead analysis, particularly in light that it had never been tested by scientists outside those whose careers depended on its presumed worth, including Vincent Guinn. Surprisingly, this study was performed by the Academy on behalf of the FBI itself, after a former FBI metallurgist named William Tobin began writing articles critical of the probative value of bullet lead analysis. Shockingly, this study even spurred one-time HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey, the man who'd pushed Guinn's findings on the House Committee, to reverse himself and publicly denounce Guinn's findings as "junk science."

Among the reports written by Mr. Tobin and members of the Academy, I found at least three good reasons to suspect that Guinn knew his HSCA testimony was questionable.

1. Although bullet lead analysis was conducted by the FBI for over 30 years, the FBI would not allow its employees to testify beyond that a bullet (usually found within a body) was likely to have come from the same box as bullets found somewhere else (usually in the home of a suspect). The FBI's Cortlandt Cunningham, then Chief of the Firearms section of the FBI Crime Lab, testified in court on February 24, 1977, only months before Guinn's tests, that his agents could only testify that a bullet "could have come from that source or another source with that same composition" and could not identify a fragment as having come from a particular bullet. Guinn’s testimony that it was “highly probable” the wrist fragments and the magic bullet were parts of the same bullet is therefore perhaps the only time in history someone has testified to such a degree. Since the National Academy has now found that “The available data do not support any statement that a crime bullet came from, or is likely to have come from, a particular box of ammunition,” and that the possible existence of coincidentally indistinguishable bullets “should be acknowledged in the laboratory report and by the expert witness” it would seem apparent that Guinn’s expert opinion went well beyond what was warranted.

2. While Guinn said his opinion was based on the results of three elements, antimony, silver, and copper, the FBI at that time was using antimony, copper, and arsenic. Even when Guinn expanded his test to seven elements, arsenic was not included. This forces one to consider the possibility that Guinn tested arsenic, found it did not match, and excluded it from his results. Since silver, which the FBI started using as one of its seven elements in 1990, is reported to have little value, as most bullets are within a small range in parts per million, and are considered to match, its propping up by Guinn as the second most valuable element is also intriguing. Guinn’s own results, where more than half of the test bullets matched the wrist fragment in silver, with many of them closer in parts per million than the “magic” bullet determined by Guinn to be identical, support that such a match is not really much of a match.

3. It seems Guinn himself was skeptical of any conclusions based on only three elements. In 1970, Forensic Neutron Activation Analysis of Bullet Lead Specimens, a report prepared by Guinn and three other scientists for the Atomic Energy Commission, concluded “two bullets with the same pattern of only three identification points are not usually definitively identified as having a common source, Matching concentrations of all three elements does not indicate that two bullets came from the same lot.” Since the FBI began using seven elements 20 years later, and since it was necessary for a bullet to match on all three elements tested up until that time, and all seven elements afterwards, before the FBI would even find that a bullet was likely to have come from the same box as another bullet, it seems clear that, due to the problems with copper, at no time in its history would the FBI have testified that the wrist fragments and the magic bullet matched. In fact, when given the opportunity to do so, in 1964, without even testing copper, the FBI ruled their tests inconclusive and kept them from the public. The question then is not only why Guinn testified in the manner he testified, in contradiction to his previous reports and the accepted standards of the FBI, but whether the FBI was deliberately removed from the process.

Should one suspect I'm exaggerating the vast divide between Guinn's methodology and that of the FBI's crime lab, one need but read The Basis for Compositional Lead Comparisons, an article by Charles Peters of the FBI's Materials Analysis Unit, published in the July, 2002 issue of Forensic Science Communications, and available on the FBI's website. Peters explains: "Years of analysis in the FBI Laboratory have demonstrated that the distinctiveness of a melt is defined not only by the number of elements measured but also by the relative scarcity of other alloys in that melt. Not all measured elements are equally effective at discriminating among lead sources, however. In general, for most lead products, the relative source discrimination power of the measured elements decreases in the following order: copper, arsenic, antimony, bismuth, and silver (Peele et al. 1991). Tin is not included in this list because in many lead sources it is not present at detectable levels. However, when tin is present, it provides excellent discrimination among melts of lead. Antimony, specified by the ammunition manufacturers, is alloyed with lead in order to harden the bullets. The other elements are present in trace amounts and can vary from one product to another." Note that Peters considers both copper, which Guinn found did not match, and arsenic, which Guinn inexplicably failed to test, more reliable indicators than antimony, which Guinn upheld as the only element that mattered. From this it seems clear that, should they have been forced to testify, and encouraged to tell the truth, the FBI's crime lab employees would have told the HSCA that the stretcher bullet and wrist fragments did not match, and that the single-bullet theory, which their former Director J. Edgar Hoover never believed anyhow, was bunkum. This brings us back to the question of why Guinn and Guinn alone was called.

Arsenic Poisoning

Should one think I'm being a nit-picker, and assume that Guinn had found his own reasons not to trust arsenic as an indicator, and his own reasons to think a single true match was sufficient to pronounce that two fragments were highly probable to have come from the same bullet, let alone the same source, one should read the words of Guinn himself. The tests described in Guinn's 1970 report to the AEC were for antimony, copper, and arsenic. In Chemistry and Crime, an anthology published by the American Chemical Society in 1983, moreover, Guinn claimed that "small samples of bullet lead can be analyzed rapidly, quantitatively, and non-destructively for their concentrations of antimony, silver, copper, arsenic, and sometimes tin." He then explained that antimony, silver, and copper can be tested via a rapid screening method, but that the test for tin takes slightly longer, and the test for arsenic even longer. He then declared "if the rapid screening procedure reveals marked differences in the elemental composition (antimony, silver, and copper concentrations) of two bullet lead samples (e.g. a sample from a fatal bullet, and one from a cartridge found in the possession of a suspect) it is apparent they were not produced from the same homogeneous melt of lead, and hence, no further analysis is necessary. If, however, the two samples being compared are analytically indistinguishable from one another in their antimony, silver, and copper concentrations, it is desirable to also compare them via their arsenic concentrations by using the longer procedure to provide four points of comparison instead of just three. In crucial cases, it is even worthwhile to use a third (intermediate) INAA procedure, in an effort to detect and measure a fifth element, tin."

Well, hell, seeing as neither arsenic nor tin were (at least officially) tested, are we to assume that Guinn didn't consider the murder of a president a crucial case?

And it's not as if this was the only time Guinn touted the benefits of arsenic...

In Activation Analysis Vol.2 , published 1990, the arsenic poisoning of Guinn's credibility approaches a lethal dose. While discussing the best way to test bullet lead, he proposed that one first test his three favorites (antimony, silver, and copper). He then declared: "If this fast method clearly shows that none of the victim specimens match any of the specimens associated with a suspect, in elemental composition, no further analyses are needed. However, if one or more of the victim specimens appears to match one or more of the suspect samples, an additional analysis is called for...to add a fourth element (AS-arsenic) to the comparison." He then discussed other elements that can be tested, including tin. Later, in this chapter, Guinn trumpeted that his bullet lead testing procedures had "been used to advantage in many hundreds of criminal cases...including some very well known cases (e.g. the President John F. Kennedy assassination)."

Sorry, but I have to ask--to whose advantage, exactly?

In Nuclear Analytical Methods in the Life Sciences, published 1991, moreover, Guinn once again pushed arsenic and tin. There, he asserted: "Applications of the NAA method in the field of forensic chemistry--such as the detection of primer gunshot residue (detecting barium and antimony), and the analysis of evidence specimens of bullet lead and shotshell pellets (for antimony, arsenic, silver, copper, and tin)--are special to the author and used on a large scale in the investigation of gunshot homicide criminal cases, especially by the FBI Laboratory. In 1977, as part of the reinvestigation of the President Kennedy assassination, the author's reanalysis of all the bullet-lead evidence specimens, by INAA, produced decisive results."

So, should we assume that in 1978, when Guinn testified before the HSCA, he just didn't have the appreciation for the importance of arsenic and tin he would later develop?

When asked if there were other elements found in bullets beyond antimony, silver, and copper, after all, he'd testified: "Well, many times in bullets, under the conditions that we normally use, you will just see those three. Very often, unless you very carefully clean them, you will find a little bit of sodium and a little bit of chlorine, coming from salt, which may be from perspiration if anybody has handled the specimens, or salt spray in the air if it is anywhere near the ocean, for example. Often you will find a little trace of manganese... The main reason for using the activation analysis method is that it is an extremely sensitive method. it will detect very small concentrations, but it doesn't have the same sensitivity for all elements. Some are far more sensitive than others. So we sometimes see a little manganese, occasionally a little aluminum, once in a while some arsenic or tin. That about covers all of the elements that we have ever seen in all bullet leads."

"Once in a while some arsenic or tin..." Was Guinn deliberately downplaying the importance of arsenic? Or did he simply not see it as important?

If so, it's hard to see how. Guinn had tested arsenic as far back as the 1960's. An article in the May 2004 issue of Analytical Chemistry credits him with pioneering its use. Forensic Neutron Activation Analysis of Bullet Lead Specimens, the 1970 report co-written by Guinn describing his tests for antimony, arsenic, and copper in bullet lead, had suggested that more elements be added into the mix, not that arsenic be dropped. In Application for Nuclear Science in Crime Investigation, a paper written for the Annual Review of Nuclear Science in 1974, moreover, Guinn was still presenting tests for antimony, arsenic, and copper as the usual procedure.

So what happened?

Well, in Chemistry and Crime, 1983, Guinn explained that while the FBI still used the longer procedure he'd helped pioneer, and tested antimony, arsenic, and copper, he now preferred a rapid-screening procedure for antimony, silver and copper. He then explained why he dropped arsenic from the big three. He declared "many samples are too low in arsenic for very precise measurement." But he didn't stop there. He then admitted "that bullet fragments and samples taken from mashed bullets often have bits of copper jacket imbedded or buried in them (if the bullet was a copper jacketed bullet), thus resulting in spuriously high copper concentrations. Of course, such jacket contamination of the sample also produces erroneously high copper values in the rapid-screening INAA procedure. Whenever such useless copper values are encountered, the longer INAA procedure reduces to just two elements (antimony and arsenic, if the arsenic concentration is high enough) and the rapid-screening INAA procedure also reduces to just two useful elements (antimony and silver). In such cases of copper contamination, it is especially desirable to use both INAA procedures to determine a possible total of three useful comparison elements (antimony, silver, and arsenic)."

Well, that's as good as a confession, don't you think? Guinn knew full well he based his conclusions regarding the assassination on two elements, and yet here he is admitting to his colleagues that he really needed to test anther element--arsenic--before coming to such a conclusion.

So why didn't he test it?

Hmmm. In Guinn's chapter in Activation Analysis Vol. 2, he spelled out that the content of bullet lead impurities normally ranges from 1 to 100 ppm for silver, 1 to 1500 ppm for copper, 1 to 2000 ppm for tin, and 1 to 2500 ppm for arsenic. This suggests that the likelihood of random matches for arsenic and tin was much less than the likelihood of random matches for silver, and slightly less than copper. (The levels of copper in the stretcher bullet and wrist fragment, of course, didn't match). This, of course, but strengthens my suspicion Guinn tested arsenic and perhaps even tin, but didn't like his results, and flushed them down the memory hole. While ultimately bragging that his tests produced "decisive results," Guinn didn't, after all, tell us what decision these results helped produce.

Of Alchemists and Liars

But that's being snotty. While I'd like to have left it at that, I have discovered a number of other reasons to distrust Guinn, which I would be remiss not to mention. In Chemistry and Crime, for starters, he not only discussed his testing of the fatal fragments, he provided his readers some background on the assassination and his role in solving the crime...and was totally deceptive in doing so...

For example, after stating that Oswald killed Kennedy and Tippit as a fact, Guinn further revealed his bias by claiming "The consensus of opinion among witnesses was that three rifle shots emanated from that room (NOTE: he means the 6th floor of the depository) when the President and Texas Governor John Connally were hit." This, of course, was nonsense. While some thought some shots came from the general direction of the depository, very few could identify what room the shots came from, let alone form an opinion as to whether all three shots came from there.

He then discussed the Warren Commission, and his work with the HSCA. While doing so, however, he overstated the case by claiming that his testing of the bullet fragments clearly revealed the presence of two and only two bullets. He based this on the fact that the mean or average values of the brain and limo fragments tested were "markedly lower" in antimony than the average values of the magic bullet and wrist fragment (622 vs. 815), and "somewhat lower" in silver (8.07 vs. 9.3).

This last point caught me by surprise. Guinn's HSCA testimony and report reflect that the magic bullet and wrist fragment were measured at 7.9 ppm and 9.8 ppm silver, respectively. That's a mean of 8.85, not 9.3. This led me to take another look at the April 1979 article in Analytical Chemistry in which Guinn first reported his results to the public. Here he claimed the magic bullet was measured at 8.8 ppm silver (plus or minus 0.5 ppm). Well, that explained the 9.3. But how in the heck did 7.9 (plus or minus 1.4) ppm silver in September 1978 become 8.8 (plus or minus 0.5) ppm silver in April 1979? I then noticed a footnote in Guinn's 1978 report at the bottom of Appendix B, where he presented his findings. It explained that silver and aluminum were measured twice for each sample, and that the uncertainty measurements for the test of these elements--which were more than twice as large for the magic bullet (plus or minus 1.4 ppm) than any other sample--reflected either the standard deviation taken from the counting statistics (a number obtained from a formula estimating the accuracy of the test) or "the spread of the two values," whichever was larger. Well, hell, this suggested that one of the two measurements for silver on the magic bullet was even lower than the 7.9 ppm Guinn reported, possibly much lower.

Heck.. if I'm understanding this correctly Guinn's measurement of 7.9 ppm silver (plus or minus 1.4 ppm) for the magic bullet meant that his actual measurements were 9.3 ppm and 6.5 ppm, and that he'd averaged them out, and assumed the distance to his actual results was the range. If so, well then it seems likely that his measurement of 9.8 ppm silver (plus or minus 0.5 ppm) for the wrist fragment means that his actual results were 10.3 and 9.3. If this is true, however, it means that Guinn knew that the silver value for the magic bullet may actually have been a bit smaller than 6.5 ppm (when one subtracted the standard deviation taken from the counting statistics) and that the silver value for the wrist fragment may actually have been a bit larger than 10.3 ppm. Well, then, no wonder he ignored the counting statistics! No wonder he measured his samples twice and averaged them out! As shown on the slide above, there is no way anyone can consider a silver value of 10.3 ppm a match for a silver value of 6.5 ppm. As more than half the Mannlicher-Carcano ammunition samples tested fell within this range, it is at best inconclusive. If the test for silver was inconclusive, of course, Guinn had little choice beyond admitting that there was insufficient evidence to claim the magic bullet and wrist fragments matched. Perhaps then this was why Guinn reconfigured this number months later, and changed a 7.9 into an 8.8... Perhaps he'd realized that if he'd presented the measurement for silver as 7.9 (plus or minus 1.4 ppm), questions might arise in the minds of his fellow scientists. A wrist fragment measurement of 7.9 ppm silver, after all, would suggest that the wrist fragment and magic bullet were closer in composition to the brain and limo fragments than they actually were to each other. And this, in turn, would pretty much sink Guinn's claim that his tests revealed two readily distinguishable bullets.

So why not just change a number or two? I mean, if you're gonna fudge your numbers you might as well make it a good fudge.

Guinn's treatment of the copper test in Chemistry and Crime was even more curious. While acknowledging that the wrist fragment had far more copper than the other fragments, he claimed this indicated it was "probably contaminated with imbedded copper jacket material," and that this invalidated the test. He discusses this on pages 74-75. Well, on pages 70-71, he claims that in the FBI Laboratory specimens "are examined under magnification to ascertain whether there is any visible evidence of adhering jacket material. If there is, one attempts to remove the jacket material with a surgical scalpel." He then proceeds "In our laboratory, such samples are then further processed by immersing each sample in concentrated nitric acid for 10 minutes at room temperature. This procedure will dissolve away any specks of adhering jacket material without dissolving any measurable amount of the lead material. However, even this acid treatment procedure fails if there are jacket particles completely imbedded in the lead and inaccessible to attack by the nitric acid." Now, the largest wrist fragment, the only one tested, was tiny, only 16.4 mg. (It would take 632 fragments of this size to make a 160 grain bullet like the one purportedly killing Kennedy.) This tiny fragment, moreover, supposedly fell from the bullet as it traversed Connally's wrist. There was no copper missing, at least that anyone described, from the tail end of the bullet. So how, presuming Guinn actually performed the inspection described both above and in his September 1978 report to the HSCA, did copper get "imbedded" within the lead of this tiny fragment?

Well, on page 76 he offers up a theory. Sort of. Basically, he throws out a little fact (which turns out not to be a fact) which those reading his chapter can then use to make sense of the copper mystery. He writes that the so-called magic bullet "left no particles along the wound track in either the President or the Governor, and hence was not damaged (even though it broke one of the Governor's ribs with a glancing blow) until it struck the Governor's right wrist. Here, it suffered a dent in its nose and lost about 1% of its lead." Yep, he proposed, albeit in a roundabout way, that the copper imbedded in the wrist fragment came from the nose of the so-called magic bullet. Well, there's two problems with this: 1) the dent on the bullet nose was created by the FBI subsequent to the shooting, and 2) he knew the lead in the wrist fragment came from the back of the bullet. Yes, when asked in his HSCA testimony if it was his testimony that the magic bullet and wrist fragments came from the same bullet, he testified "Yes. One, of course, is almost a complete bullet so it means that the (wrist) fragments came from, in this case, the base of the bullet."

SO...my gosh, it appears from this that Guinn was trying to sell that a nearly pristine bullet hit Connally's wrist, and lost some copper from its nose, and that this copper then somehow got imbedded within a tiny speck of lead squeezed from the base of the bullet upon impact, so much so that the copper was imperceptible to the human eye... even under magnification. Yeah, okay... We have a magic bullet and now we have a magic fragment from this bullet.

Let's note here that in Chemistry and Crime Guinn admitted that he'd studied Mannlicher-Carcano bullet lead even before being hired by the HSCA, and that he'd found the range of copper among this lead to be from 10 to 370 ppm. Let's note as well that in Activation Analysis Vol. 2, he admitted that he'd studied the lead of other bullets as well, and had found the range for copper to be between 1 and 1500 ppm. Now, let's recall that the wrist fragment was 994 ppm copper. This means that Guinn knew, as soon as he'd performed his test, that he'd PROVED the wrist fragment did not derive from the magic bullet, or any other bullet fired from Oswald's rifle, and that the single-bullet and single-assassin theories he'd clearly subscribed to were thereby kaput...UNLESS he could find some reason--any reason--to invalidate his own test.

Well, the quickest way to do that was to claim jacket material had thrown off his count for copper. So far, so good. But there was no copper missing, as far as could be determined, from the base of the bullet. Well, that's okay, there was a dent on the bullet nose; perhaps it came from there. Only the FBI admitted they'd made the mark on the nose while performing spectrographic tests in the FBI Crime Lab...

Now, is it reasonable to assume Guinn didn't know this? I don't think so. It seems hard to believe that in his many discussions with the HSCA he would never have inquired about the nick on the bullet nose, and have been informed it had been created by the FBI.

Well, then, is it possible he just...lied? Yes, I now think so. The final paragraph of Guinn's chapter in Chemistry and Crime reads not like the conclusions of a serious scientist, but the bragging of a politician. He writes: "My findings, of course, neither prove nor disprove the various conspiracy speculations, such as someone, in addition to Oswald, firing from some other location such as the 'grassy knoll.' They do show that if any other persons were firing, they did not hit anyone or anything in the President's limousine." Now, this, of course, is nonsense. Even if one accepts Guinn's analysis of the bullet fragments, his findings "showed" no such thing. Could he really have forgotten he'd found no evidence suggesting the magic bullet had created Kennedy's back wound? Or throat wound? Could he really have forgotten that at least one of the bullets was never found? Well, then, how could he claim that tests never performed on this bullet proved it hadn't hit Kennedy, or anything else in the limo for that matter?

He couldn't, and what's worse, he knew he couldn't. Here is how he summed up his findings in Analytical Chemistry, but 4 years before: "The new results can not prove the Warren Commission's theory that the stretcher bullet is the one that caused the President's back wound and all of the Governor's wounds, but the results are indeed consistent with this theory."

This suggests to me that Guinn knowingly misrepresented his test results to the HSCA, knew it was only a matter of time before his fellow scientists caught on, and attempted to obfuscate the issue by further misrepresenting the case for a single-assassin in articles like the one in Analytical Chemistry, and books such as Chemistry and Crime.

Guinn v Guinn

But that's just me. Now, has any expert on bullet lead analysis supported this conclusion? No, not directly. There is one expert on the subject, however, whose writings demonstrate beyond any doubt that Dr. Guinn's conclusions were inappropriate, and far beyond what was warranted. And that expert, as you no doubt have figured out, is Dr. Guinn himself.

When asked during his 9-8-78 HSCA testimony the degree of certainty he'd attached to his conclusion the Connally wrist fragment derived from the magic bullet, that is, whether he felt it was merely more probable than not or highly probable, after all, Dr. Guinn testified: "I would say highly probable, yes. I would not want to say how high, whether it was 99 percent or 90 percent or 99.9 percent. I can't make a calculation like that."

Hmmm... Well, what are we to make of this? He wouldn't give a number, but said it was "highly probable." Was this a deliberate use of the term?

Yes, sure enough, in the final paragraph of his final report on the fragments, entered into evidence during his testimony, and published on page 533 of HSCA Appendix Vol. 1, Guinn uses the term again. Here, he asserts: "It is highly probable that the specimen tested from Q1 (the stretcher bullet) and the specimen tested from Q9 (the wrist fragment) came from the same bullet."

So, make no mistake about it, here was a man of science throwing the full weight of his expertise behind his conclusion the stretcher (or magic) bullet and wrist fragment were one.

Now look at how he handled this issue in Chemistry and Crime five years later. He admits: "Because of an inadequate background file of bullet-lead compositions and for other reasons, it is not possible to make an accurate calculation of the mathematical probability that two scientifically indistinguishable bullet-lead samples were produced from the same homogenous melt of lead. Instead one must resort to more qualitative expressions, such as 'probably' (if only three elements were measured), 'very probably' (if four elements were measured), or 'highly probably' (if five elements were measured). Depending in individual cases on how relatively common or uncommon the observed concentrations are (among the whole population of bullet leads) and on how accurately and precisely each concentration was measured, these three qualitative expressions of probability of a common melt origin may correspond, respectively, to probabilities to the order of 99, 99.9, and 99.99%."

Yes, you got it. While Guinn used the term "highly probable" in his HSCA testimony, and implied that this term could be used to describe a 90% probability that two samples having two matches, antimony and silver, came from the same bullet, he later reserved the term "highly probable" for the 99.99% probability that two samples having five matches came from the same melt.

Now look at how he backs this up in Activation Analysis, Vol. 2, published 1991. He now claimed: "If one is to conclude that two BL (bullet lead) or SSP specimens "match" one another to the extent that, to a high degree of probability, they had a common lead-melt origin, they must "match" one another in their concentrations of each of a number of elements measured to a respectable precision, and not exhibit any significant mismatches... For a variety of reasons, it is presently not possible to calculate a numerical probability that any two specimens had a common lead-melt origin. Instead, assuming that they do not mismatch in any element, but only match one another in one or two measured elements, one usually merely states that they might have had a common origin; with three matching elements, that they probably had a common origin; and with four, five, or six matching elements, that there is a very high probability (approaching "certainty") that they had a common origin."

So, ask yourself, is it a coincidence that Guinn testified that the apparent match between the wrist fragment and magic bullet on two elements made it "highly probable" they came from the same bullet, when he later claimed such a match meant merely that they "might" have come from the same melt, and reserved the term "highly probable" for samples matching on four or more elements?

I think not. In Neutron Activation Analysis in Scientific Crime Investigation, a 1990 paper by Guinn found on the International Atomic Energy Agency website, he noted that a one ton melt of lead can be made into 1,870 boxes of 50 bullets each, or 93,400 bullets. And this was chicken-feed. A May 2004 article by Wilder Smith in Analytical Chemistry notes further that a compositionally indistinguishable volume of lead can be used to make 12 thousand bullets, on the low end, and 35 million, on the high. How can Guinn have claimed, then, that it's "highly probable" two samples matching on two elements in the Kennedy case are the exact same bullet, when he elsewhere said the most one can say about two samples matching on two elements is that they "might" be from the same batch of 93,400 bullets, or more? I mean, who was he trying to fool?

Apparently everyone. Not only had Guinn become far more conservative in his use of the term "highly probable" after his HSCA testimony, he'd become much more liberal with its use for his testimony. Not only had Guinn, in 1970, co-authored a study proposing that seven elements be studied before one could conclude two bullet lead samples matched, he saw bullet lead analysis more as a tool by which bullets could be proven not to match, than match.

Yes, here is how he summed it up in the Annual Review of Nuclear Science in 1974, just three years before he conducted his tests for the HSCA: "the antimony concentration itself proves to be a fairly effective means of deciding whether two specimens of bullet lead do not have a common origin. Measurements of the levels of a few additional elements that can be detected, e.g. aluminum, copper, arsenic, silver, tin, can lead to at best only a moderately strong probability of common origin...The purely instrumental NAA approach can readily indicate two specimens do not have a common origin, but it cannot yet establish very high probabilities of common origin."

So what changed? Did Guinn make some major break-through just prior to his HSCA testimony?

Not that I've discovered... No, it appears instead that Guinn changed. Had Guinn's 1977-era methodology have been far superior to previously methodology, after all, he wouldn't have said the FBI was wrong when they claimed their 1964 test results were inconclusive, and he wouldn't have presented their results as support for his conclusions. But he did...

This leads me to conclude, then, that it's highly probable Dr. Vincent Guinn deliberately skewed his conclusions to support the single-bullet theory during his 1978 HSCA testimony, and that he deliberately lied about it afterward.

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it's highly probable Dr. Vincent Guinn deliberately skewed his conclusions to support the single-bullet theory during his 1978 HSCA testimony, and that he deliberately lied about it afterward.

He also lied DURING his HSCA testimony when he swore

that he had never worked for the FBI.

Several years later he admitted to Henry Hurt

that he had been an informal consultant to the FBI

for many years before his HSCA appearance.

I did a presentation on Guinn at Fredonia in 1996

and ended with this song, to the tune of Tannheusar

O doctor Guinn, O doctor Guinn

to tell a lie it is a sin

when you take an oath

the Lord will know,

and he could send you

down below.

I guess you had to be there.

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it's highly probable Dr. Vincent Guinn deliberately skewed his conclusions to support the single-bullet theory during his 1978 HSCA testimony, and that he deliberately lied about it afterward.

He also lied DURING his HSCA testimony when he swore

that he had never worked for the FBI.

Several years later he admitted to Henry Hurt

that he had been an informal consultant to the FBI

for many years before his HSCA appearance.

I did a presentation on Guinn at Fredonia in 1996

and ended with this song, to the tune of Tannheusar

O doctor Guinn, O doctor Guinn

to tell a lie it is a sin

when you take an oath

the Lord will know,

and he could send you

down below.

I guess you had to be there.

I got to the bottom of that matter while writing my chapter on the paraffin tests. Guinn insisted until the end that he was quoted out of context by a newsman in August 1964 when the newsman reported that he'd been working with the FBI and WC.

Well, Guinn was telling the truth. Sort of. It was decided in December 63, without the knowledge of the Warren Commission, that the tests upon the paraffin casts would be split in half. Guinn would use rifles like Oswald's and find out IF gun shot residue should be apparent on the paraffin casts of Oswald's cheek and hands, IF Oswald had actually fired one or more weapons. And the FBI would perform tests on the casts to determine if there was such residue on the actual casts, and use the assassination rifle to confirm Guinn's results.

This compartmentalization, then, kept Guinn in the dark. He performed his tests and reported them to the FBI's John Gallagher, as an adviser. It was a one-way flow of information. He was never paid by the FBI. Per the wink-wink agreement worked out in December 63, without the knowledge of the WC, moreover, he was paid by the AEC, the Atomic Energy Commission.

Well, that was their mistake. I realized that, if he got paid, he would have to have made a report on his tests. Sure enough, I found it a few years back, bought a copy from the government, and reported his results on my webpage.

They were quite damaging to the Oswald-did-it scenario, as they suggested both the possibility Oswald never fired his rifle and that someone had tampered with the tests trying to make him look guilty. That was my take anyhow.

In any event, the manner in which Guinn was used by the FBI as a consultant, and hidden from the Warren Commission, so that he wouldn't be called to testify, is all the proof of a cover-up one really needs to see.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Why Guinn was every hired escapes me since he was not a metallurgist. ANd he did not work with one.

Basically, there were two groups of people conducting NAA tests on bullet lead in 1977. The first group was the FBI. The second was Guinn and his colleagues at UC Irvine. That was it.

Since the FBI had concluded the tests were inconclusive in 1964, it made some sense for the HSCA to contact Guinn and see if he would give it a shot, particularly in that he'd been in contact with Nichols and Weisberg, and had shown an interest. Wecht, if I recall, was another pushing for his involvement.

In any event, Guinn fooled everyone (or did he? Weisberg was never able to find out just who hired Guinn and why) by coming to a conclusion it seems clear the FBI would never have come to--and supported the SBT. As stated, I've been on the fence for years as to whether he got overly excited when it looked like antimony matched, and threw everything else out the window, or just lied. I now suspect he lied.

The tipping point for me, I suppose, was his latter day assertion the nose of the bullet had a dent. It seems clear to me he said this to try and explain how copper got "imbedded" within the tiny wrist fragment. He ought to have known that wasn't true. His post-testimony change of his measurement for silver is even more suspicious. (After I noticed this, I googled it to see if anyone else had ever noticed this, and it turned out that Wallace Milam had caught this in the early 90's. This comes as no surprise.)

Edited by Pat Speer
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In my search for articles on the same topic I found a 2007 piece written by David Von Pein, where he concluded--based on his analysis of Guinn's NAA tests--that it was an "ironclad and indisputable" "fact" that two bullets came out of Lee Oswald's rifle, and compared the accuracy of NAA to the accuracy of DNA testing:

DAVID VON PEIN (2007): "Just based on ordinary common sense, aren't we talking "O.J. DNA" type numbers here (i.e., odds that are overwhelmingly in favor of such a multi-gun scenario having NOT occurred in Dealey Plaza at all on November 22, 1963)?

In my opinion, yes....we are talking those kind of crazy kind of odds here.

The problem with the comparison above is that DNA typing is an extremely accurate and well-regarded technique while NAA is neither. In his article, Mr. Von Pein did not mention any of the following important things:

-The NAS report dealing a blow to NAA

-The HSCA Chief calling NAA "junk science."

-Articles written by Tobin of the FBI, cited by Speer, dealing a blow to NAA.

-The fact that the FBI stopped using NAA in court.

Edited by Andric Perez
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In my search for articles on the same topic I found a 2007 piece written by David Von Pein, where he concluded--based on his analysis of Guinn's NAA tests--that it was an "ironclad and indisputable" "fact" that two bullets came out of Lee Oswald's rifle, and compared the accuracy of NAA to the accuracy of DNA testing.

Mr. Perez has totally misrepresented what I said in that article he linked to earlier. I certainly did not claim that Guinn's NAA analysis was "ironclad and indisputable". Mr. Perez has inserted those words to his own liking. Here's precisely what I said, which is a 100% fact regarding the bullets:

"And given the fact (which is ironclad and indisputable) that among these 5 bullet specimens examined by Guinn there are positively TWO distinguishable bullets that definitely came out of Lee Oswald's rifle (CE139)....it's, therefore, rather easy to do the math from that point on."

I wasn't saying there that Guinn's work was 100% ironclad. In fact, I put all kinds of qualifiers in that article regarding NAA analysis, like this one for example:

"The more-recent NAA tests suggest that Guinn's analysis might not be as definitive or exacting as originally thought. I certainly cannot deny that fact."

But nobody on this Earth could be silly enough to argue with my main #1 point that I was making in that article -- with that point being:

"How on this Earth did the multiple shooters (shooting at President Kennedy with multiple rifles) manage to get THAT LUCKY if bullet specimens that really came from multiple weapons were examined by Dr. Guinn and yet still (via 1970s technology) have all five specimens miraculously determined to have come (per Guinn) from just TWO Western Cartridge/Mannlicher-Carcano bullets from Lee Oswald's rifle?

Just based on ordinary common sense, aren't we talking "O.J. DNA" type numbers here (i.e., odds that are overwhelmingly in favor of such a multi-gun scenario having NOT occurred in Dealey Plaza at all on November 22, 1963)? ....

In addition...What do you think the chances are that a multi-gun conspiracy took place in Dealey Plaza, with bullets from more than just a single rifle striking the victims in President Kennedy's car....and yet, after the bullets stopped flying and the fragments and/or whole bullets were examined, NOT A SINGLE BULLET OR FRAGMENT from any non-Oswald gun turned out to be large enough to be tested in order to positively eliminate Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle as the source for ALL of the bullets and fragments that hit any of the victims on Elm Street?

Short of conspiracy theorists coming right out and calling Vincent Guinn a bald-faced xxxx when he revealed his NAA results in 1978 (and even taking into account the newer NAA studies that have been done since '78 that have cast doubt on the exactitude of Guinn's determinations), I cannot see how the conspiracists of the world can fight the above-mentioned "odds" problem." -- DVP; 2007

Edited by David Von Pein
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Mr. Von Pein said the following:

Mr. Perez has totally misrepresented what I said in that article he linked to earlier. I certainly did not claim that Guinn's NAA analysis was "ironclad and indisputable". Mr. Perez has inserted those words to his own liking. Here's precisely what I said, which is a 100% fact regarding the bullets:

"And given the fact (which is ironclad and indisputable) that among these 5 bullet specimens examined by Guinn there are positively TWO distinguishable bullets that definitely came out of Lee Oswald's rifle (CE139)....it's, therefore, rather easy to do the math from that point on."

I did not say that you claimed that Guinn's NAA analysis was "ironclad and indisputable." I said that based on his analysis, you thought that it was an ironclad and indisputable fact that two bullets came from CE-139. Here is my quote again, with the relevant portion in bold this time:

In my search for articles on the same topic I found a 2007 piece written by David Von Pein, where he concluded--based on his analysis of Guinn's NAA tests--that it was an "ironclad and indisputable" "fact" that two bullets came out of Lee Oswald's rifle, and compared the accuracy of NAA to the accuracy of DNA testing.

The statement in bold refers more specifically to your statement that "there are positively TWO distinguishable bullets that definitely came out of Lee Oswald's rifle," which was proved in your opinion (correct me if I'm wrong) by Guinn's analysis, which you deem to be super accurate like DNA matching.

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In my search for articles on the same topic I found a 2007 piece written by David Von Pein, where he concluded--based on his analysis of Guinn's NAA tests--that it was an "ironclad and indisputable" "fact" that two bullets came out of Lee Oswald's rifle, and compared the accuracy of NAA to the accuracy of DNA testing.

Mr. Perez has totally misrepresented what I said in that article he linked to earlier. I certainly did not claim that Guinn's NAA analysis was "ironclad and indisputable". Mr. Perez has inserted those words to his own liking. Here's precisely what I said, which is a 100% fact regarding the bullets:

"And given the fact (which is ironclad and indisputable) that among these 5 bullet specimens examined by Guinn there are positively TWO distinguishable bullets that definitely came out of Lee Oswald's rifle (CE139)....it's, therefore, rather easy to do the math from that point on."

I wasn't saying there that Guinn's work was 100% ironclad. In fact, I put all kinds of qualifiers in that article regarding NAA analysis, like this one for example:

"The more-recent NAA tests suggest that Guinn's analysis might not be as definitive or exacting as originally thought. I certainly cannot deny that fact."

But nobody on this Earth could be silly enough to argue with my main #1 point that I was making in that article -- with that point being:

"How on this Earth did the multiple shooters (shooting at President Kennedy with multiple rifles) manage to get THAT LUCKY if bullet specimens that really came from multiple weapons were examined by Dr. Guinn and yet still (via 1970s technology) have all five specimens miraculously determined to have come (per Guinn) from just TWO Western Cartridge/Mannlicher-Carcano bullets from Lee Oswald's rifle?

Just based on ordinary common sense, aren't we talking "O.J. DNA" type numbers here (i.e., odds that are overwhelmingly in favor of such a multi-gun scenario having NOT occurred in Dealey Plaza at all on November 22, 1963)? ....

In addition...What do you think the chances are that a multi-gun conspiracy took place in Dealey Plaza, with bullets from more than just a single rifle striking the victims in President Kennedy's car....and yet, after the bullets stopped flying and the fragments and/or whole bullets were examined, NOT A SINGLE BULLET OR FRAGMENT from any non-Oswald gun turned out to be large enough to be tested in order to positively eliminate Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle as the source for ALL of the bullets and fragments that hit any of the victims on Elm Street?

Short of conspiracy theorists coming right out and calling Vincent Guinn a bald-faced xxxx when he revealed his NAA results in 1978 (and even taking into account the newer NAA studies that have been done since '78 that have cast doubt on the exactitude of Guinn's determinations), I cannot see how the conspiracists of the world can fight the above-mentioned "odds" problem." -- DVP; 2007

How ironic, David. I watched Guinn's 1986 mock trial testimony on your channel last night, and was horrified to see that my conclusions were ironclad. Guinn was a xxxx. And your man Bugliosi knew this, and suborned perjury.

He asked Guinn if his tests proved that "only bullets fired from Oswald's rifle hit the President." He had to have known Guinn's tests showed no such thing. As pointed out by Spence, Guinn tested only two of the many fragments on the x-rays of Kennedy's skull. And Guinn's tests proved nothing as to what kind of bullets created Kennedy's other injuries. And yet Guinn readily snapped, in clearly rehearsed testimony, "That's correct!"

This is how Guinn concluded his 1979 article in Analytical Chemistry: ""The new results can not prove the Warren Commission's theory that the stretcher bullet is the one that caused the President's back wound and all of the Governor's wounds, but the results are indeed consistent with this theory."

That's a smoking gun, David. Guinn lied, clearly and flagrantly. And Bugliosi, who almost certainly knew Guinn was lying, took his testimony.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Guinn lied, clearly and flagrantly. And Bugliosi, who almost certainly knew Guinn was lying, took his testimony.

Total nonsense, Pat.

Guinn didn't lie. And neither did Bugliosi.

Based on Guinn's NAA analysis (which was a bit more solid in 1986 than it is today, granted), Bugliosi merely brought out the fact that [quoting Bugliosi] "there may have been fifty people firing at President Kennedy that day, but if there were--they all missed--ONLY bullets from Oswald's Carcano rifle hit the President, is that correct?"

To which Dr. Guinn answered: "That's a correct statement, yes."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFAvJaMYbuU

Complete Trial: http://dvp-potpourri.blogspot.com/2009/12/on-trial-lee-harvey-oswald-1986.html

Edited by David Von Pein
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Better look again, Andric. You misrepresented my "ironclad" remark, which was ONLY referring to the "ironclad" fact that among the five specimens examined by Guinn, two of those five positively came from LHO's gun.

That conclusion would be "ironclad," only if NAA were not "junk science." the HSCA Chief Counsel once called Guinn's testimony the " 'linchpin' which held the single-bullet theory together," http://www.assassinationweb.com/linchpin1.htm ... Years later, the same guy would call NAA "junk science." Isn't it an understatement to say that NAA was "a bit" more solid in 1986 t han it is now, in light of the analysis conducted during the 21st century exposing its flaws?

Edited by Andric Perez
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Guinn lied, clearly and flagrantly. And Bugliosi, who almost certainly knew Guinn was lying, took his testimony.

Total nonsense, Pat.

Guinn didn't lie. And neither did Bugliosi.

Based on Guinn's NAA analysis (which was a bit more solid in 1986 than it is today, granted), Bugliosi merely brought out the fact that [quoting Bugliosi] "there may have been fifty people firing at President Kennedy that day, but if there were--they all missed--ONLY bullets from Oswald's Carcano rifle hit the President, is that correct?"

To which Dr. Guinn answered: "That's a correct statement, yes."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFAvJaMYbuU

Complete Trial: http://dvp-potpourri.blogspot.com/2009/12/on-trial-lee-harvey-oswald-1986.html

Thanks, David, for posting the link and proving my point. (I always suspected you were a closet CT, ha).

Here is how Guinn testified in 1978:

"These results only show that the CE 399 "pristine" bullet, or so-called stretcher bullet, matches the fragments in his wrist. They give you no information whatsoever about whether that bullet first went through President Kennedy's body, since it left no track of fragments and, for that matter, it doesn't even say that it went through Governor Connally--through his back, that is--because it left no track of fragments there. At least I have never seen or heard of any recovered lead fragments from either of those wounds. The results merely say that the stretcher bullet matches the fragments in the wrist, and that indicates indeed that that particular bullet did fracture the wrist. It unfortunately can't tell you anything else because there were no other bits and pieces along the other wounds."

And here is what he wrote the next year, in Analytical Chemistry:

"The new results can not prove the Warren Commission's theory that the stretcher bullet is the one that caused the President's back wound and all of the Governor's wounds, but the results are indeed consistent with this theory."

And here is what he claimed his his results proved in 1986, after rehearsing his testimony with Bugliosi:

"ONLY bullets from Oswald's Carcano rifle hit the President."

This is both a total refutation of his former testimony, and a lie. And Bugliosi most certainly knew this.

Edited by Pat Speer
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As pointed out by Spence, Guinn tested only two of the many fragments on the x-rays of Kennedy's skull.

So? What difference does it make how many he examined?

Guinn examined two of the skull fragments, and since Dr. Guinn knew beyond all doubt that ONLY ONE BULLET hit Kennedy in the head (based on other information, such as the autopsy report and the testimony of all three autopsy surgeons), he therefore doesn't need to examine every single head fragment--because he knew that only ONE bullet was involved in the head shot.

Which, of course, is exactly why he answered Spence's question the way he did when he was asked about the other fragments that he (Guinn) did not examine. Guinn, utilizing some common sense, said he knew what the composition of those other head fragments was, and the reason he could state such a thing is because he knew that those unexamined fragments had NO CHOICE but to match the composition of the two fragments he did examine--because, again, he knew only one bullet hit the President in the head.

And Guinn's tests proved nothing as to what kind of bullets created Kennedy's other injuries.

But Dr. Guinn, nonetheless, most certainly did know what kind of bullets created the President's other injuries. Guinn knew that CE399 had, indeed, passed through JFK's body (per the HSCA determination on this matter; was he supposed to pretend that some OTHER bullet went through JFK, even after his own HSCA said that 399 did pass through Kennedy?).

And Guinn examined CE399. And no other bullet hit Kennedy in the neck or back region. So, yes, Guinn positively knew what kind of bullets caused ALL of JFK's injuries--the ONE head-shot bullet (of which he examined two fragments), and CE399.

No lying by Guinn at all. Merely his own analysis of the TWO and only two bullets that struck President Kennedy. And the HSCA, on which Guinn served, declared that ONLY TWO BULLETS struck JFK's body. So, please tell the world, Pat, how this amounts to Dr. Vincent Perry Guinn telling a bunch of lies at the 1986 television docu-trial in London?

Edited by David Von Pein
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Andric,

You just don't get it, do you? My "ironclad" remark does not refer to NAA at all (whether it be "junk science" or not). Read it again. I was talking about the two specimens that Guinn examined that were proven in an "ironclad" manner (i.e., via non-NAA testing) to have been fired from Oswald's rifle (CE399 & CE567).

You surely aren't suggesting that NAA analysis in any way enters into the mix when making a determination of whether CE399 & CE567 were fired from LHO's gun--are you? If that's what you're saying, you're residing on the planet Venus.

Edited by David Von Pein
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Andric,

You just don't get it, do you? My "ironclad" remark does not refer to NAA at all (whether it be "junk science" or not). Read it again. I was talking about the two specimens that Guinn examined that were proven in an "ironclad" manner (i.e., via non-NAA testing) to have been fired from Oswald's rifle (CE399 & CE567).

You surely aren't suggesting that NAA analysis in any way enters into the mix when making a determination of whether CE399 & CE567 were fired from LHO's gun--are you? If that's what you're saying, you're residing on the planet Venus.

I think you finally made your point clear. In your article about NAA, you based your conclusions on outside evidence (i.e. the autopsy) that has nothing to do with the NAA technique. I never thought anyone would follow that train of thought so it did not cross my mind that you were using that kind of logic. I assume you were going to do what Speer did: Analyze NAA tests in a NAA-related thread.

You mentioned the HSCA conclusion about the two bullets, but don't you remember that Blakey said Guinn's tests were the "linchpin" of the single bullet theory? There's even a book titled, "Blakey's "Linchpin" ~ Dr Guinn, Neutron Activation Analysis, and the Single Bullet Theory": http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blakeys-Linchpin-Neutron-Activation-Analysis/dp/B001DU5IIA

And don't you remember that this "linchpin" then became "junk science" according to the chief counsel of HSCA?

Edited by Andric Perez
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