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Response to MrMickeysMom (Reply #13)

Mon Oct 21, 2013, 08:54 PM

14. Nice try:


From the report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Volume VII. (Emphasis added.)

(153) The various accounts of the nature of the wounds to the President differ significantly. As revealed in Section 2 of this volume, "Performance of the Autopsy," eyewitness descriptions of the wounds, as described by staff at Parkland
Memorial Hospital, differed from those in the autopsy report, as well as from what appears in the autopsy photographs and X-rays.
(1) Further, the reports of FBI agents Silbert and O'Neill referred to "surgery" of the head area being evident when the body arrived for the autopsy, (2) yet no surgery of the head area was known to have been performed. Finally, the Clark panel--the panel of experts assembled in 1968 by then-Acting Attorney General Ramsey Clark--said the entrance wound in the President's head was 10 centimeters (almost 4 inches) higher than was described by the autopsy pathologists. (3)

(154) Critics of the Warren Commission's medical evidence findings have focussed on the observations recorded by the Parkland Hospital doctors. (4) They believe it is unlikely that trained medical personnel could be so consistently in error regarding the nature of the wounds, even though their recollections were not based on careful examinations of the wounds.

(155) In disagreement with the observations of the Parkland doctors are the 26 people present at the autopsy. All of those
interviewed who attended the autopsy corroborated the general location of the wounds as depicted in the photographs; none had
differing accounts. (5) Further, in 1967 the autopsy pathologists, Drs. Humes, Boswell, and Finck, as well as Dr. James H. Ebersole, the acting chief of radiology, and one of the autopsy photographers, John Thomas Stringer, viewed the autopsy photographs or X-rays, or both, and verified them as accurately portraying the wounds of President Kennedy. (6)

(156) Aside from using scientific analysis to determine authenticity and verify that no alterations had been made, the committee also considered what reasonably might have happened. It assumed that if the Parkland doctors are correct, particularly with respect to the gaping hole in the back of the President's head, then it would mean: (1) The autopsy photographs and X-rays had been doctored to conceal this hole; (2) the body itself had been altered, either before its arrival at Bethesda or during the autopsy so that the hole was not obvious in the photographs and X-rays; or (3) the photographs and X-rays were not of President Kennedy. Further, if the Parkland doctors are correct, then the autopsy personnel are incorrect and either lying or mistaken.

(157) It did not seem plausible to the committee that 26 persons would be lying or, if they were, that, they could provide such a consistent account of the wounds almost 15 years later. Second, it is less likely that the autopsy personnel would be mistaken in their general observations, given their detailed and thorough examination of the body. Consequently, it seems reasonable to assume that the autopsy personnel were correct.

(158) If the autopsy doctors are correct, then the Parkland doctors are incorrect and either lying or mistaken. It does not
seem probable that they are lying, because it would be difficult to maintain a conspiracy of lying among the approximately 14 persons involved for 15 years. On the other hand, it does seem possible, that the Parkland personnel could be mistaken, given their cursory observations of the wounds, the brief period of time they examined the President, and their function at the time: To administer emergency procedures to save the life of the President, rather than to document the nature and location of his wounds.

(159) The theoretical possibility also exists that both Parkland and the autopsy personnel are correct in their observations and that the autopsy photographs and X-rays accurately reflect the observations of the autopsy personnel. This could have occurred if someone had altered the body while in transit from Parkland Memorial Hospital to Bethesda Naval Hospital. This possibility however, is highly unlikely or even impossible. Secret Service agents maintained constant vigilance over the body from Parkland to Bethesda and stated that no one alter the body. (7) Second, if such alterations did occur, it seems likely that the people present at the autopsy would have noticed them; in which case they are now lying about their observations. As stated previously, this does not appear likely.

(160) A further complicating factor could be the possibility that all persons are somewhat mistaken in their observations or their memories of them and that the autopsy photographs and X-rays do not portray the wounds in sufficient detail to resolve the matter. This possibility would not, however, account for the major disagreement between the Parkland and autopsy personnel: A large, gaping wound in the rear of the head.

(161) Consequently, without considering any scientific analysis to evaluate authenticity and any possibility of the autopsy photographs and X-rays having been altered, appears more probable that the observations of the Parkland doctors are incorrect.


(162) As mentioned, the committee did, however, subject the autopsy photographs and X-rays to scientific analysis. These
examinations by the committee's consultants established the inaccuracy of the Parkland observations. The experts concluded
that the autopsy photographs and X-rays were authentic and unaltered, confirming the observations of the autopsy personnel and providing additional support for the conclusions of the medical consultants.

(163) From the beginning, the committee's investigative approach in the medical evidence area was to assume nothing about
the authenticity of the photographs and X-rays. To conduct the analyses to determine whether the photographs and X-rays could be
identified as being of the President and whether they were altered, the committee retained experts in the following areas: Anthropology, forensic dentistry, photographic interpretation, forensic pathology, and radiology.

(164) Anthropologists studied the autopsy photographs in an attempt to verify the consistency of the subject matter
specifically, whether the photographs of the rear of the head could be identified as being consistent with photographs of other
views of the head in which the President's facial features are recognizable. The anthropologists determined that the posterior
photographic views of the head are identifiable as part of the same head as is visible in the side or front views and hence
concluded that the posterior views are photographs of President Kennedy. (8)

(165) The anthropologists also studied the autopsy X-rays in comparison with premortem X-rays of President Kennedy, obtained from the Kennedy Library in Waltham, Mass. (9) The premortem X-rays had been collected by the Library from a number of different sources (10) over a period of a couple of years.(11)

(166) By studying the premortem X-rays, the anthropologists were able to observe a number of unique anatomic characteristics
whose absence or presence among the autopsy X-rays would, in their opinion, be determinative of whether the two sets of X-rays
were of the same person. (12) Some of the anatomic characteristics they noted included turcica, cranial sutures, vascular grooves and the air cells of the mastoid bone. (13) The anthropologists were able to observe enough of these anatomical features among the autopsy X-rays to conclude that the autopsy and premortem X-rays were taken of the same individual. (14)

(167) The committee also retained an expert in dental comparison, Dr. Lowell Levine, a forensic odontologist (15) experienced in the identification of victims of unnatural death, including, for example, individuals killed in airplane crashes. Dr. Levine also compared premortem X-rays with the autopsy X-rays. He was confident in his conclusion that the three autopsy skull X-rays are identifiable as being of the same person as the premortem dental X-rays of President Kennedy. (16) Dr. Levine presented his conclusions in his public testimony before the committee on September 7, 1978.

(168) Once it was determined that the autopsy photographs and X-rays were of the President, the committee used relevant
scientific expertise to look for evidence of alteration. Different techniques were used for studying the photographs and X-rays.

(169) Members of the committee's photographic panel carefully studied the autopsy photographs, negatives and transparencies.(17) There were a number of features the panel members noticed that were relevant to the issue of authenticity, including: emulsion numbers on the films, a pentagonal shaped light spot, and a number of sets of photographic stereo pairs.(18)

(170) On April 8, 1978, David Eisendrath contacted Kodak to determine what information, if any, could be gleaned from the numbers visible on the autopsy films. (19) David Greenlaw responded for Kodak on June 8, 1978, providing information that indicated the numbers matched emulsion batches produced in 1963 and, in one film type, an operator number which was discontinued in 1969.(20)

(171) Several stereo pairs which the panel observed among the autopsy photographs were suitable for stereoscopic viewing. A stereo pair is created when the photographer takes two pictures of a particular scene with either the camera or the object in slightly different position. According to Scott, (21)
A pair of stereo pairs enables one to see the scene in three dimensions; stereo pictures add depth to the perception of the
photographed scene in much the same way as a pair of human eyes, separated from one another in space, can perceive depth.

(172) Also according to Scott, stereoscopic viewing heightens the ability of the human eye to perceive differences between the two photographs of a stereo pair:
To successfully avoid detection of picture alteration requires that each picture of a pair of pictures be altered identically, which is essentially impossible, particularly with a stereo pair * * * Any nonidentical alteration of the pictures of a pair is
readily noted when pairs are viewed stereoscopically or microscopically. (22)

(173) Fortunately, the autopsy photographer had taken two or more pictures of each scene, some of which were stereo pairs
because of slight differences. (23)

(174) Scott believed there were pairs of autopsy photographs that provided sufficient stereoscopic viewing quality to permit the conclusion of authenticity, including: The back of the head (Nos. 42 and 43), top of the head (Nos. 32 and 33, and Nos. 34 and 37), the large skull defect (Nos. 44 and 45), and the head from the front right (Nos. 26 and 28).(24)

(175) Scott said that in these he "* * * did not find any indication or evidence that any of the pictures were altered * *
*" and thus concluded that the photographs for which there were stereo pairs "* * * are authentic photograph." (25)

(176) Calvin McCamy, a photogrammetrist, testified in public session of the select committee on September 7, 1978, on behalf of the photographic evidence panel on the issue of the authenticity of autopsy photographs. He agreed with Scott's assessment of the authenticity of the stereophotographic views and added that in his analysis, he found additional stereo pairs permitting the additional conclusions that the photographs of the back wound (Nos. 38 and 39) and of the anterior neck wound (Nos.40 and 41) are authentic.(26)

(177) Dr. Gerald McDonnel examined the premortem and postmortem X-rays for evidence of alteration.(27) He reported
that an alteration of the images "* * * should be readily * * *"discernible in a number of ways:
a. Observation of a difference in density of the images,
b. Discontinuity of anatomical structures,
c. Alteration of continuity of an abnormal pattern, or
d. Production of an image which is not anatomical or an image of an impossible pathologic process.(28)

(178) Dr. McDonnel concluded that "[t]he radiologic images both ante mortem and post mortem, have not been altered in any
fashion ..." except for two small areas of thermal damage and "minor * * * discoloration of the images due to incomplete processing of the film * * *." Neither of these conditions affected the conclusion that the images were not altered "* * *to provide a false image * * *" nor "* * * to produce misinformation and therefore improper conclusions." (29)

For further explanation of the authenticity of the autopsy photographs and X-rays, see paragraphs 512-604 of the Report of the Photographic Evidence Panel.


(179) From the reports of the experts' analyses of the autopsy photographs and X-rays, the evidence indicates that the
autopsy photographs and X-rays were taken of President Kennedy at the time of his autopsy and that they had not been altered in any manner.


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