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"Best Evidence" - 25 years on


Alan Kent
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2005 marks the 25th anniversay of the publication of David Lifton's "Best Evidence." The basic theory propounded by Lifton, that President Kennedy's body was intercepted prior to autopsy and that the original wounds he sustained in Dallas were altered, has become a kind of orphan in the JFK research community. It does not blend neatly into most of the proposed scenarios that have been wrestled around over the years.

I think that it would be of value to solicit a cross-section of opinion on the following questions:

1. What do you consider to be the most persuasive evidence that Kennedy's body was illegally intercepted between Parkland and Bethesda?

2. What do you consider the strongest evidence that President Kennedy's original wounds were altered prior to autopsy?

3. What are the most effective counter-arguments that have been leveled against Lifton's thesis?

4. Lifton theorizes that the assassination plot was conceived as a "designer shooting": shots were fired only from the front with the intent of creating false rear entry wounds during the process of retrieving bullets/large fragments. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this concept, and is this "trajectory reversal" idea integral to Lifton's case?

5. If body alteration is accepted as a probability, was it (as Lifton believes) part of the original plan , or could it have been part of a reactive, post-assassination cover-up?

6. The ARRB, in the course of their search for assassination-related records, inquired deeply into the medical evidence of the Kennedy assassination, and greatly expanded the database. How does the evidentiary material they entered into the record affect the plausibility of Lifton's case?

7. If Kennedy's corpse was tampered with as part of a pre-assassination plot, who were the likely planners of this operation, and what can we logically assume about their aims? How did they conceptualize the likely results of this evidence alteration?

8. How does a plot to alter Kennedy's wounds and/or to remove ballistically identifiable fragments "fit in" with various theories about the President's murder that have been put forward within the research community over the years? Or does it fit ANY of them?

Inasmuch as I am asking these questions, I have obviously been grappling with them for quite a long time myself. I have numerous opinions, but I would like to hear as many views as possible from the members of this forum. I'll respond shortly and, hopefully, we can begin a fruitful discussion of issues that may well cut to the core of this case.

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2005 marks the 25th anniversay of the publication of David Lifton's "Best Evidence." The basic theory propounded by Lifton, that President Kennedy's body was intercepted prior to autopsy and that the original wounds he sustained in Dallas were altered, has become a kind of orphan in the JFK research community. It does not blend neatly into most of the proposed scenarios that have been wrestled around over the years.

I think that it would be of value to solicit a cross-section of opinion on the following questions:

1. What do you consider to be the most persuasive evidence that Kennedy's body was illegally intercepted between Parkland and Bethesda?

2. What do you consider the strongest evidence that President Kennedy's original wounds were altered prior to autopsy?

3. What are the most effective counter-arguments that have been leveled against Lifton's thesis?

4. Lifton theorizes that the assassination plot was conceived as a "designer shooting": shots were fired only from the front with the intent of creating false rear entry wounds during the process of retrieving bullets/large fragments. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this concept, and is this "trajectory reversal" idea integral to Lifton's case?

5. If body alteration is accepted as a probability, was it (as Lifton believes) part of the original plan , or could it have been part of a reactive, post-assassination cover-up?

6. The ARRB, in the course of their search for assassination-related records, inquired deeply into the medical evidence of the Kennedy assassination, and greatly expanded the database. How does the evidentiary material they entered into the record affect the plausibility of Lifton's case?

7. If Kennedy's corpse was tampered with as part of a pre-assassination plot, who were the likely planners of this operation, and what can we logically assume about their aims? How did they conceptualize the likely results of this evidence alteration?

8. How does a plot to alter Kennedy's wounds and/or to remove ballistically identifiable fragments "fit in" with various theories about the President's murder that have been put forward within the research community over the years? Or does it fit ANY of them?

Inasmuch as I am asking these questions, I have obviously been grappling with them for quite a long time myself. I have numerous opinions, but I would like to hear as many views as possible from the members of this forum. I'll respond shortly and, hopefully, we can begin a fruitful discussion of issues that may well cut to the core of this case.

Welcome to the Forum. A very good set of questions. This is outside my field of expertise and I am unable to answer your questions. However, I am sure we have plenty of members who will be able to do this.

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I don't buy Lifton's theory. He began working on it in the sixties. He was trying to explain the divergent descriptions of Kennedy's wounds, without calling anyone a xxxx. This was admirable. Once the Clark Panel and HSCA revealed that the autopsy doctors DID misrepresent the wounds, however, he should have incorporated that into his theory. With the ARRB's release of the HSCA Bethesda personnel interviews, and the retractions of a number of statements made by the Parkland and Bethesda staff, it is obvious there is NO clear-cut difference of opinion between those in Dallas and those in Bethesda. Consequently, his alteration theory seems unlikely.

Human memories are just a lot more fragile than people want to believe.

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and the retractions of a number of statements made by the Parkland and Bethesda staff, it is obvious there is NO clear-cut difference of opinion between those in Dallas and those in Bethesda.

Pat: I am not aware that any of the Parkland drs. ever changed their statements on the throat wound (entrance) or head wound (size, placement). This is not an area of expertise for me, so could you be more specific here. Thanks.

Lifton's book made a lot of sense to me when I first read it in 81, but I felt it was WAY too long. Too much of his own personal daay to day stuff. I remember thinking this book would be great if it was trimmed down to the evidence he's presented of two caskets, and body alteration. It provided the only explanation , to me, of the incredible difference between the evidence that the Parkland personnell saw and recorded vs. the autopsy pictures, especially the pic where the damn president's head is PUT back together.

I am not a Lifton loyalist because he's burned a lot of people in the case (I have been told this, no personal negative experience with him) but I think his theory advanced the case.

Dawn

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Dawn wrote:

I am not a Lifton loyalist...but I think his theory advanced the case.

While I don't necessarily agree with Lifton's conclusions, I agree with Dawn's assertion that his theory DID advance the case. Folks who weren't primarily oriented toward examining the medical evidence began to do so...some attempting to prove Lifton right, and others trying to make his claims sound ridiculous. In that respect, Lifton provided a valuable service: he caused people to think about areas they possibly hadn't considered before.

If not for folks like Lifton, I doubt that anyone would've taken Mantik seriously. [iIRC, it was Mantik who espoused the theory that the problems with the examination of the head wounds wasn't the evidence being examined, but it was the orientation of that evidence that called some of the conclusions of the WC and others into question].

So, while Lifton's theories of body snatchers and wound alteration may not have stood the test of time in the eyes of many researchers, they did cause many folks to take a second look at an area they may not have been so inclined to do so...and so Lifton's work has proved to be valuable.

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I'm sorry if I gave the impression I thought Lifton's work was a waste of time. His work was very important; it was just too prominent. By focusing everyone's attention on body alteration, the actual evidence displayed in the autopsy photos was over-looked. Dr. Mantik makes this same mistake, and even implies that the autopsy evidence taken at face value would signify an open-and-shut case. Nothing could be further from the truth. The autopsy photos and x-rays are clear-cut evidence for a conspiracy. Ironically, I came to this conclusion after a number of visits to the same UCLA bio-med stacks Lifton once haunted.

Edited by Pat Speer
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I'm sorry if I gave the impression I thought Lifton's work was a waste of time.  His work was very important; it was just too prominent.  By focusing everyone's attention on body alteration, the actual evidence displayed in the autopsy photos was over-looked.  Dr. Mantik makes this same mistake, and even implies that the autopsy evidence taken at face value would signify an open-and-shut case. Nothing could be further from the truth.  The autopsy photos and x-rays are clear-cut evidence for a conspiracy.  Ironically, I came to this conclusion after a number of visits to the same UCLA bio-med stacks Lifton once haunted.

Hello Pat,

There's a few of us here on this forum that know both David's, a few - quite well! DLifton is known to re-visit those UCLA book stacks, as well as holedup up in a nearby Starbucks! It might interest a few to know that David Mantik along with his M.D. degree, also holds a Ph.D. in Physics. There aren't many smarter, more knowledgable and just plain nice guys than those two David's. He's [Mantik] spent many hours at NARA reviewing actual evidence regarding the JFK case. I'm proud to have them as friends...

David Healy

Edited by David G. Healy
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David Lifton....... went with his studies in his book,"First Evidence" where no researcher had searched before, and exposed much information that brought all to the attention of those who bothered to study..and find out for themselves..

The Dr.s at Parkland never changed their descriptions nor information they gave re the wounds seen on Nov. 22/63.. However when concluding that area of the HSCA......Blakely, stated that their information concurred with their findings, it did not, they had not changed their testimony...read the HSCA...

The wounds at Parkland were very clearly described by many medical personal,

the wounds as shown and described at Bethesda do not concur..the autopsy photos and xrays being faked, do not show the same wounds as they were described at Parkland that day...

The Secret Service, were in charge of the President from the landing at Love field, through the motorocade, except when he needed them most ....with the exception of Hill ..they stayed with him at Parkland, and left with him, to Love,and on to AF1, they arrived at Bethesda and still remained with him, the autopsy was done at Bethesda by the Military with the SS present, the body was then released finally to the SS, who then drove such to the White House...no one else, had charge of his body..except the SS and the Military....If interested the newest book to read for information on the disclosures in the medical evidence at Bethesda...is William Law's, a well respected researcher of many years. "In The Eye of History"....it is in the witnesses actual words..the interviews with FBI James Sibert and FBI Frank O'Neill, who finally agreed to go on record...are most enlightening..

Dr.David W..Mantik MD,PHD..has written the foreword..

Right now, we are most fortunate to have one of the most brilliant medical brains helping us along the way, in this area of research Dr.David W.Mantik....

David Lifton may have had some areas that have been shown with time to not have been absolutely correct.... in his book, 25 years ago.....but he opened a whole new area of research, as did many of the first researchers..I try never to throw the baby out with the bathwater....there is some fine information in his research and it should be appreciated as so..and nothing personal should ever come into research, that is gossip, and we do not know if it is true or not, and IMO should not even be mentioned nor referred to....and BTW in what book is there not an error...or errors, as later are found or in an article ??? Are we not constantly updating..??

No I am not a Lifton Loyalist, whatever that is.....?? I am just after the truth.. however I do appreciate much of the information that he brought forth that still stands today....as well as so many others, there is much knowledge still to be found amongst the older books, as well as the new....there were undoubtably errors made by the early researchers along the way as well as to-days newest as we will find over time... that is how we learn..

But do your own research and read and come to your own conclusions...don't listen to me..nor to anyone else..IMO..

B :lol:

Edited by Bernice Moore
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Hi Alan & welcome,

I'm a fan of Liton & I love his work, not only that but, I still believe in the wound alteration theory, so without doubt I'm a "loyalist". /cheer

I'm unable to answer all your questions but maybe others here could supply you with an email address to talk directly to the man himself.

Although, as you probably know, he's working on his new book so...... .

I'd recommend also to grab a copy of "The Great Zapruda Film Hoax" Liftons chapter in that book looks more to the the photographic evidence & his dealings with it, which were & are many, & so is very detailed & obvIously like BE an excellent read.

1.

IMO the most persuasive evidence is Humes description of the state of the skull when he recieved the body.

Also, how he was able to remove the brain without any surgery.

Isn't it also now assumed fact that the casket came in the ambulance with Jackie but the body came in the decoy ambulance that went straight to the rear of Bethesda?

2.

Once again, the state of the skull according to Humes & how he was apparently able to lift the brain out of the head with next to no effort.

I've not heard this rebutted anywhere as yet but then I've not read everthing.

Maybe Bernice could tell us what William Law & Dr Mantik say about this. :D

3.

I'd hope for others to answer this or you Alan

4.

Hmm, I saw ths one asked @ JFKLancer sometime back & the main stickler was the one that hit Connally, that came from behind & Lifton does not account for this.

Could it be that Connally was hit on purpose with the Carcano from the Sixth floor?

Then what of the Tague bullet??

I would like to hear Lifton talk about this concept now, I personally think it did not go as simply as that.

I do however still believe in the back wound as false but 'm pretty much alone on that.

Hope that helps a little.

Keep the faith

Alan:)

Edited by Alan Healy
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4.

Hmm, I saw ths one asked @ JFKLancer sometime back & the main stickler was  the one that hit Connally, that came from behind & Lifton does not account for this.

Could it be that Connally was hit on purpose with the Carcano from the Sixth floor?

Then what of the Tague bullet??

I would like to hear Lifton talk about this concept now, I personally think it did not go as simply as that.

I do however still  believe in the back wound as false but 'm pretty much alone on that.

Hope that helps a little.

Keep the faith

Alan:)

One of my many problems with the alteration theory is the position of the back wound. If the back wound was created to try and sell a SBT explanation for the throat wound, why oh why did these ultra-sneaky alterationists create the wound too low for the trajectory to make sense? If they had placed the wound only two inches higher, then they could have sold a lot more subscriptions to the SBT quarterly.

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Hello Pat,

There's a few of us here on this forum that know both David's, a few - quite well! DLifton is known to re-visit those UCLA book stacks, as well as holedup up in a nearby Starbucks! It might interest a few to know that David Mantik along with his M.D. degree, also holds a Ph.D. in Physics. There aren't many smarter, more knowledgable and just plain nice guys than those two David's. He's [Mantik] spent many hours at NARA reviewing actual evidence regarding the JFK case. I'm proud to have them as friends...

David Healy

I found out recently that the wife of one of my long-time friends (who is not part of the JFK community, by the way) is Lifton's niece, so the world is not as big as one might think.

While reading Lifton and Mantik has taught me a lot, I'm perplexed by Mantik's assertions that the JFK evidence, if not altered, indicates an open-and-shut case for one shooter firing from behind. This indicates he believes that a SBT involving the back wound in the autopsy photos imakes sense, which he KNOWS is not true due to his CT studies. These studies showed that a bullet entering the back anywhere near the location shown in the photos and exiting from the front of the throat would pass through the spine. I can only speculate from this that Mantik was seduced by the evidence for alteration and consequently over-stated its importance to the case.

I believe one can prove conspiracy without insisting that the Z-film, x-rays or photos have been altered. If either of the Davids want to debate me on this issue, and thereby defend the SBT and the contention that the red spot in the cowlick represents a bullet hole, I'm game.

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Hello Pat,

There's a few of us here on this forum that know both David's, a few - quite well! DLifton is known to re-visit those UCLA book stacks, as well as holedup up in a nearby Starbucks! It might interest a few to know that David Mantik along with his M.D. degree, also holds a Ph.D. in Physics. There aren't many smarter, more knowledgable and just plain nice guys than those two David's. He's [Mantik] spent many hours at NARA reviewing actual evidence regarding the JFK case. I'm proud to have them as friends...

David Healy

I found out recently that the wife of one of my long-time friends (who is not part of the JFK community, by the way) is Lifton's niece, so the world is not as big as one might think.

While reading Lifton and Mantik has taught me a lot, I'm perplexed by Mantik's assertions that the JFK evidence, if not altered, indicates an open-and-shut case for one shooter firing from behind. This indicates he believes that a SBT involving the back wound in the autopsy photos imakes sense, which he KNOWS is not true due to his CT studies. These studies showed that a bullet entering the back anywhere near the location shown in the photos and exiting from the front of the throat would pass through the spine. I can only speculate from this that Mantik was seduced by the evidence for alteration and consequently over-stated its importance to the case.

I believe one can prove conspiracy without insisting that the Z-film, x-rays or photos have been altered. If either of the Davids want to debate me on this issue, and thereby defend the SBT and the contention that the red spot in the cowlick represents a bullet hole, I'm game.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that debate. Why perplexed by the assertion "if evidence is NOT altered..." The Warrenistas and Commission - Report has spouted same forever...

Personally, I think its 2 shooters from the rear, 1 the front and some assassination related evidence appears altered -- the question is WHY alter the evidence?

I'll be speaking with both David's in the near future - I pass on your remarks...

David Healy

Edited by David G. Healy
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One of my many problems with the alteration theory is the position of the back wound.  If the back wound was created to try and sell a SBT explanation for the throat wound, why oh why did these ultra-sneaky alterationists create the wound too low for the trajectory to make sense?  If they had placed the wound only two inches higher, then they could have sold a lot more subscriptions to the SBT quarterly.

Obvously, I can only give my opinion, but

the back "wound" had little to do with the one in the throat if & when it was created that night.

With this wound in place it makes it clear that he was indeed shot from behind & strongly suggests that the other wounds on the body also were created by bullets from the same source, since there was "only one shooter".

I believe at the time there was only evidence on the body of shots from the front.

That evidence was disguised or, in the case of the head wound, obliterated.

Critics of this theory seem to often say that these guys must of been perfect, or had it all planned out, I think the opposite is true.

They had no idea what they would find when the got ahold of the body & they did the best they could, in what little time they had.

They kidnapped the body at Parkland & seperated him from the ever present Jackie, by force(the "swearng in") & later, Humes describes the skull as in pieces, with the brain loose in the cranium, & with all tendons that keep it inside the head severered.

After seeing this, is it any wonder that Humes was suspicous of the back wound?

Does anyone have an explanation other than "pre-autopsy surgery" for the massive damage to the skull that greeted Humes & does anyone dissagree that the brain was removed by him & his team without surgery?

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Doug Horne is one of the most knowledgeable and important commentators on Lifton's " Best Evidence" Below is an excerpt from John Simkin's site which conveys some idea of how important Lifton's work has been (and will be) in solving this murder mystery.

"(2) Douglas Horne, The Assassination of JFK (2004)

David Lifton's thesis in his 1981 book "Best Evidence" has been validated by the work of the ARRB staff. Our unsworn interviews and depositions of Dallas (Parkland Hospital) medical personnel and Bethesda autopsy participants confirm that the President's body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in a markedly different condition than it was in when seen at Parkland for life-saving treatment. My conclusion is that wounds were indeed altered and bullets were indeed removed prior to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

This procedure altered the autopsy conclusions and presented a false picture of how the shooting took place. In most essential details, David Lifton "got it right" in his 1981 bestseller. (He has modified his views since his book was published on the "when" and "where," and I concur with his changes, which he will publish at a later date.) "

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Doug Horne is one of the most knowledgeable and important commentators on Lifton's " Best Evidence" Below is an excerpt from John Simkin's site which conveys some idea of how important Lifton's work has been (and will be) in solving this murder mystery.

"(2) Douglas Horne, The Assassination of JFK (2004)

David Lifton's thesis in his 1981 book "Best Evidence" has been validated by the work of the ARRB staff. Our unsworn interviews and depositions of Dallas (Parkland Hospital) medical personnel and Bethesda autopsy participants confirm that the President's body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in a markedly different condition than it was in when seen at Parkland for life-saving treatment. My conclusion is that wounds were indeed altered and bullets were indeed removed prior to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

This procedure altered the autopsy conclusions and presented a false picture of how the shooting took place. In most essential details, David Lifton "got it right" in his 1981 bestseller. (He has modified his views since his book was published on the "when" and "where," and I concur with his changes, which he will publish at a later date.) "

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