«NOVEMBER 22, 1963 (Friday) 12:00 AM (Nov. 22, 1963) Nine Secret Service agents drinking at Pat Kirkwood’s bar the “Cellar Door” in Fort Worth, ...»
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That conclusion has been challenged ever since. “One of the many tragedies of the assassination of President Kennedy has been the incompleteness of the autopsy record and the suspicion caused by the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded the records that do exist,” said the Assassination Records Review Board, which made the new testimony public. The board, created by Congress to collect all pertinent records concerning Kennedy’s murder, said the doctors who conducted the autopsy may have had the best of intentions -- protecting the privacy of the Kennedy family. But “the legacy of such secrecy ultimately has caused distrust and suspicion,” the board said. One set of autopsy photographs, now at the National Archives, has been known to exist for years, and some of the pictures have been widely published. But the new testimony documents the existence of another set. In 1997, the review board located Saundra K. Spencer, who worked at the Naval Photographic Center in 1963. She was shown the archives’ autopsy photos and concluded they were not the pictures she had helped process. Those she had worked with, she said, had “no blood or opening cavities.” They were “quite reverent in how they handled it,” she said. She theorized that a second photographer took pictures of a cleaned-up corpse and speculated that was done at the request of the Kennedy family in case autopsy pictures had to be made public. “The only thing I can think of is that a second set of autopsy pictures was shot for public release, if necessary.” The film was brought in, she said, by an agent she believed was with the FBI. “When he gave us the material to process, he said that they had been shot at Bethesda and they were autopsy pictures.” She was told, she said: “Process them and try not to observe too much, don’t peruse.” Knudsen’s widow, Gloria, told the review board that her husband told her that photographing the dead president was “the hardest thing he had ever had to do in his life.” He appeared before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which in the late 1970s reopened the official investigation into the killings of both Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and his widow said he later told her that four or five of the pictures the committee showed him did not represent what he saw or photographed that night and that one of them had been altered. “His son Bob said that his father told him that ‘hair had been drawn in’ on one photo to conceal a missing portion of the top-back of President Kennedy’s head,” according to a review board memo about a meeting with Knudsen’s family. Gerald Posner, author of Case Closed, a 1993 book that argues that the Warren Commission’s central conclusion -- that Oswald alone killed Kennedy -- is correct, [said] the new information was important and would “give grist to the conspiracy theorists for the next two generations.” “There’s such controversy over the wounds on President Kennedy and the discussion over what the autopsy doctors have discussed and said and what the autopsy photos show that the existence of any additional photographs could be significant,” he said. Added David Lifton, author of Best Evidence, a 1981 book concerning medical evidence about the assassination, “It’s of tremendous significance that there’s another camera and its existence and its product have been concealed all these years,’ Lifton said. “We’ve got a credible paper trail about another camera and film but no pictures.” August 2, 1998 (By George Lardner Jr. - Washington Post) Notes taken at the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy by one of the examining physicians apparently disappeared that night, and the whereabouts of previously unknown photographs of Kennedy’s wounds remain a mystery, according to medical records and testimony. The Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board made the documents public Friday with an extraordinary staff report underscoring the shortcomings of the autopsy performed on Kennedy at Bethesda Naval Hospital on Nov. 22, 1963. Kennedy was killed hours earlier in Dallas that day and his body was brought to Washington after a vain effort to save him at Dallas’s Parkland Memorial Hospital. Three doctors performed the autopsy at Bethesda without calling the treating physicians in Texas for guidance. “One of the many tragedies of the assassination of President Kennedy has been the incompleteness of the autopsy record and the suspicion caused by the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded the records that do exist,” the review board said in the staff report. “[T]he legacy of such secrecy ultimately has caused distrust and suspicion.” In an effort to compile a more complete record of the autopsy, the review board sought out additional witnesses and found, among others, Leonard D. Saslaw, a biochemist who recalled a loud lunchroom conversation between one of the autopsy physicians, Pierre A. Finck, and colleagues at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, days after the assassination. Saslaw, who was sitting at the next table, said, “Dr. Finck was loudly lamenting the fact that the notes he had taken during the course of the autopsy on President Kennedy had disappeared, and that he had been forced to reconstruct his notes from memory. “Dr. Finck complained,” Saslaw told the board in an April 1996 interview, “that immediately after cleaning up following the conclusion of the autopsy, he looked for his notes and could not find them anywhere; and that even though others who had been at the autopsy had helped him search, that they could not be found.” Saslaw remembered Finck going on to say in angry tones that he had been forced as a result to reconstruct his notes from memory after the autopsy was over. Saslaw said he was struck by the conversation because he was well aware as a scientist that “any observations which are not written down contemporaneously, but reconstructed from memory after the fact, are not likely to be as accurate or complete.” Asked about the lunchroom episode in a May 1996 deposition, Finck said he did not remember it. He was also vague about how many notes he took during the autopsy but confirmed that “after the autopsy I also wrote notes” and that he turned over whatever notes he had to the chief autopsy physician, James J. Humes. It has long been known that Humes destroyed some original autopsy papers in a fireplace at his home on Nov. 24, 1963. He told the Warren Commission that what he burned was an original draft of his autopsy report. Under persistent questioning at a February 1996 deposition by the Review Board, Humes said he destroyed the draft and his “original notes.” Asked whether he remembered Finck taking any notes during the autopsy, Humes said: “I do not. I don’t say he didn’t, but I don’t recall that he did.” “This is bizarre,” said assassination researcher and author David Lifton, whose work led the board to Saslaw. “All these papers disappearing or destroyed.” Other new witnesses dealt with photographs believed to have been taken at Bethesda by the late White House photographer Robert L. Knudsen, perhaps after the autopsy had been concluded and the embalming procedure had begun. Saundra K.
Spencer, who worked for Knudsen in “the White House lab” at the Naval Photographic Center in 1963, said she helped develop color negatives from film brought to her by an agent she thought was with the FBI. “He said that they had been shot at Bethesda and they were autopsy pictures,” Spencer testified in a June 1997 deposition. The agent told “us to process them and try to not observe too much, don’t peruse.” Shown official autopsy photographs of Kennedy from the National Archives, Spencer said they were not the ones she helped process and were printed on different paper. She said “there was no blood or opening cavities” and the wounds were much smaller in the pictures she worked on, unlike in usual autopsy photos. “It was quite reverent in how they handled it.” Knudsen’s widow, Gloria, and two of his children said he told them he had “photographed the autopsy of President Kennedy” and that “it was the hardest thing he ever had to do in his life.” He also told them that “the Secret Service took the film from him as soon as he had exposed” it. John T. Stringer, who said he was the only one to take photos during the autopsy itself, said some of those were missing as well. He said that pictures he took of Kennedy’s brain at a “supplementary autopsy” were different from the official set that was shown to him. Stringer said he “gave everything” he photographed during the brain examination to Humes who then gave the film to Kennedy’s personal physician, the late Adm. George Burkley. According to Humes, Burkley left the hospital with Kennedy’s brain, saying that he was going to “deliver it to [Attorney General] Robert Kennedy,” presumably for burial.
August 7, 1998 Aline Mosby dies today. She interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald shortly after he arrived in Moscow.
n Part of the interview as told by the Warren Commission: “I’m a Marxist,.... I became interested about the age of 15. From an ideological viewpoint. An old lady handed me a pamphlet about saving the Rosenbergs..... I looked at that paper and I still remember it for some reason, I don’t know why.” [SAN DIEGO (AP)] - Aline Mosby, a journalist who covered everything from Hollywood gossip to world affairs for more than 50 years, died Aug. 7. She was 76. Although she contributed stories to various publications, Miss Mosby did most of her writing for United Press International. She covered the Kremlin and later Beijing. A native of Missoula, Mont., Miss Mosby earned a journalism degree at the University of Montana. She joined UP in Seattle in 1943. She retired from UPI in 1984 and continued to freelance for various magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, for several years. She is survived by a sister, Mary Jane Bader.
August 14, 1998 (By Michael Dorman/Newsday) Almost 35 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, federal agencies disclosed plans yesterday to conduct new, highly unusual scientific tests on evidence obtained from a bullet nose found in Kennedy’s limousine. And one source with knowledge of the planned tests said it is conceivable they could show that a second gunman fired at Kennedy’s motorcade. The belated tests - no matter what their outcome - were expected to stir new speculation by assassination theorists who contend that a conspiracy was responsible for the murder. FBI laboratory examiners in Washington, D.C., have been designated to conduct the tests, initially requested by the Justice Department, for the National Archives and the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board. After the 1963 assassination in Dallas, five fragments making up the bullet nose were recovered from a seat of the limousine in which Kennedy was riding. The largest fragment still has “fibrous-plant debris” embedded in it, the National Archives said. Nobody has ever explained what the debris is and why it was there, although there has been discussion of it in investigations over the years. Archivist of the United States John Carlin, the custodian of Kennedy assassination evidence and records, said the testing “to complete this unfinished business is in the public interest.” The source who suggested the possibility of a second gunman said the new tests could show that four shots were fired at the presidential motorcade - not the three described by the Warren Commission. Since the commission determined that a single gunman could not have fired the rifle identified as the murder weapon more than three times in the available time, this source said, the inescapable conclusion would be that there were two gunmen. Only one other bullet was recovered, the so-called “magic bullet” the Warren Commission concluded had hit Kennedy in the back, passed through his body and wounded Texas Gov. John Connally - and still was found in almost pristine condition on a hospital stretcher. A third bullet, the commission said, missed the limousine. Investigators say the logical assumption about the bullet fragments found in the limousine is that they must have come from the fatal bullet that struck Kennedy in the back of the head. “There is no known reason why this fiber should be embedded in that bullet fragment,” the source said. “If tests show the fiber came, say, from Kennedy’s necktie, that would upset all the assumptions made for years.” One of the assumptions was that a nick in Kennedy’s tie was made by the “magic bullet” after it passed through his body. But if the fragment with the fiber shows that another bullet hit the tie, the source said, that would indicate a fourth bullet. National Archives officials said the fibrous material on the bullet may have come from Kennedy’s clothing, from material in which the bullet was wrapped after the assassination - or the tests may be inconclusive. The tests will be conducted only on the fibrous debris and on the four smaller bullet fragments. The largest fragment has previously been examined. Archivist Carlin said the Archives were initially reluctant to engage in any testing that might alter an item of evidence. “I was persuaded to the contrary by the review board’s finding that the testing of the fiber was recommended by the firearms examination panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979,” Carlin said. “This recommendation was not in the published final report of the committee and thus the testing was never done.” The Justice Department, noting that the tests recommended by the House committee panel were never carried out, recently requested that they be performed now. The review board said it will choose one or more independent observers for the testing.
September 20, 1998 (Newsday) “Most American assassins and would-be assassins are not necessarily motivated by deep political convictions. Nor do most of them suffer from serious mental ailments, a new study reports.” (i.e.: Lone-nut theory) Twenty-three imprisoned assassins cooperated in this 5-year study conducted by the Secret Service. The study emphasizes that assassination is not a spur-of-the-moment crime. “The notion of attacking the president does not leap fully formed into the mind of a person standing at a political rally attended by the president,” it says. Ideas of assassination develop over weeks, months, even years. The study examined the lives of all 83 people who attempted lethal attacks on U.S. political figures or celebrities over the past half-century.
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