Monday, November 18, 2013

Body of Evidence

In the 1980 book "Best Evidence" author David S. Lifton concentrates on the physical evidence of the Kennedy murder. The "best evidence" in any murder case is the body of the victim. Once you determine how someone died you work backwards to means, weapon, motive, then suspect.  There is no question that the autopsy of John Kennedy's body was botched.  Lifton's book is over 700 pages long and goes into meticulous medical detail deconstructing the Kennedy autopsy with all the countless flaws.  If you like those details you should read it.  However, don't expect it to play out like a CSI episode. 
First of all in 1963 it was not a federal crime to kill a president. It was just a murder to be handled like any other crime by the local police. The law in Dallas was clear that an autopsy of a murder victim be done by local medical examiners. The Secret Service, under orders from Lyndon Johnson, effectively stole the body from Dallas Police custody in what some witnesses described as tug of war with the Presidents casket. 
One hour and thirty minutes after Kennedy was shot and thirty minutes after he was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital, Kennedy's body was loaded onto Airforce One at Love Field and flown to Washington. The plan was that the body be autopsied by Walter Reed Hospital Army doctors. 
After the arrival in Washington the chain of custody for the "best evidence" is unclear and contradictory. Although the television audience sees Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy get in the ambulance with the body they do not stay with it.  The presidents body was actually taken by helicopter to the Hospital.   Lifton suggests the body is taken to Walter Reed Hospital where an autopsy was begun. But Robert Kennedy and the First Lady pointed out that John Kennedy was a Navy man. Walter Reed is an Army Hospital.  Bethesda is a Naval Hospital and the family insists the body be taken there for the autopsy.
The Bethesda autopsy is performed by Commander James J. Humes, MC, USN: director of laboratories of the National Medical School, Naval Medical Center, Bethesda. He was not experienced in gun shot wounds.  He was not a forensic pathologist nor medical examiner.  He had never performed an autopsy for a murder investigation. Instead of trying to find out what the evidence was telling him, he was listening to what people in the operating room were saying happened.  
The official version of the autopsy report is not the original.  Dr. Humes burned his original notes in his fireplace before submitting a revised version. It seems he was pressured into changing his statement on the trajectory of the head wound. If the Presidents head wound did not go back to front then there was a problem with the lone assassin theory. The case was already solved by the Dallas police, they had their lone gunman in custody.  The autopsy had to show that the bullet came from the back for that case to stand. 
The most stunning information in the Lifton book is a reprint of the autopsy transcript taken directly from the Warren Commission Report.  Dr. Humes states the time of day and says, "We are beginning the autopsy of President John Kennedy. Visual observation shows there has been surgery to the top of the Presidents head". He continues, describing the incisions he is making. But wait..."Surgery to the top of the Presidents head?" When and by whom? David Lifton finds no record that Parkland did any "surgery" to the Presidents head wound.  They distorted the Presidents throat wound when they performed a tracheotomy but nothing to his head wound. Witnesses at Bethesda say the President's body arrived in an aluminum army transport casket, not the ceremonial casket from Dallas, the one seen loaded and unloaded from the plane. 
Writer Lifton goes on to postulate a theory that the "best evidence" was altered to fit a pre-determined script at Walter Reed.  When all you have is a tainted autopsy report anything can be assumed. 
The  brain of President Kennedy has vanished from the National Archives so there won't be any further investigation or re-examination of that evidence.  There's not just one big thing about the Kennedy Murder Mystery that smacks of conspiracy and coverup there are so many little things.  Nothing seems to ring true and it is for sure we will never know the truth.
As you were,

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