Originally published in 1995, and in the same classic investigative style of Whitewash and Case Open, Harold Weisberg turns his sharp investigative eye towards the events surrounding the autopsy of John F. Kennedy. Inside Never Again! you’ll find:
- The specific truths regarding the autopsy of John F. Kennedy—truths that have for thirty years been buried, distorted, or ignored not only by the government but also by the national press
- The blatant errors and calculated deceit of the Journal of the American Medical Association in their 1992 reports on the Kennedy autopsy
- The path of conspiracy leading from the Navy Hospital in Bethesda through the corridors of the FBI to the Justice Department, into the office of the attorney general and eventually that of the president
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In all the long history of powerful and influential persons and forces going out of their way to defend the Report of the President's Commission of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, none is as surprising, as unusual, or as improper as that by the American Medical Association.
Announcing its support at a press conference in New York City on May 19, 1992, the AMA intended to publicize the May 27 issue of its prestigious Journal, one of the most important if not the most important medical publications in the world.
Although the Journal's editor, Dr. George Lundberg, distributed advance copies of the articles, by an embargo the media were prohibited from using them for a week. So the media were limited to using what Lundberg said of what was in those articles.
And what he said was shockingly inaccurate and false. It was overtly political. It was propaganda, not medical news. It made the national association of doctors a partisan in the lingering controversy over that assassination and its official investigations.
When the President was shot at about 12:30 P.M. local time in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, he was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital. He was in fact dead at the moment of the shooting because a large part of the right side of his head, including much of that hemisphere of the brain, had exploded and was missing.
The Dallas doctors did all that was possible before pronouncing him dead. That was delayed so a priest could administer last rites.
It then was not a federal crime to kill a president, although it was to kill a postman. Therefore the only applicable law regarding murder was Texas law. Under Texas law it was required that an autopsy be performed on the body of the victim in Texas.
While the autopsy or postmortem examination of the body is to determine the medical cause of death, it is not limited to that. What it involves also includes examination of the vital organs and establishing any medical facts relating to the crime.
The competent and respected Dallas county coroner, Dr. Earl Rose, was prevented from performing the autopsy. The Secret Service kidnapped the casketed corpse, rushing it to Love Field inside the city of Dallas and onto the presidential airplane, Air Force One, to be taken to Washington. Departure was delayed slightly until Sarah Hughes, federal judge for whose appointment Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson had been responsible, came to swear him to the oath of office.
Almost as soon as the plane was airborne, Admiral George G. Burkley, physician to the President, conferred with Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, and on his recommendation she decided to have the autopsy performed at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, just north of Washington.
After Air Force One landed at Bolling Field, an Air Force base just southeast of Washington, the casket was transferred into a Naval ambulance and taken in a motorcade to Bethesda.
There the hospital's two ranking pathologists, Commander James J. Humes and Commander J. Thornton Boswell, had been assigned to make the autopsy examination. They asked Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, chief of the Wounds Ballistic Branch of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at the Army's Walter Reed Hospital, to join them. He did at about 8:30 P.M., after the examination had began.
All three were eminently qualified as hospital pathologists, but none had any real experience in forensic pathology — and that is what is required in a murder investigation.
Few elements of evidence are more significant in a murder investigation than the report of the forensic pathologists. These three were just not up to that.
Whether or not other factors or forces or influences were involved, the report on the autopsy performed on the President was bad, atrociously bad.
It was so incredibly bad that I, a layman with no medical experience or knowledge, was able to pinpoint most of what was wrong with it in Whitewash, which was completed only three months after the twenty-six volumes of appendix published in support of the Warren Report were first available, in November 1964.
Later I published six additional books on the JFK assassination and its investigations. My 1975 book, Post Mortem, extensively documents what I regarded as relevant to the botched autopsy.
The Warren Commission's "solution" to the crime — and what is little understood is that its "solution" is only a theory — is that Lee Harvey Oswald, alone and unassisted, fired three bullets within 5.6 seconds from a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano carbine left over from World War II from the easternmost window on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building, where he worked. The first of three bullets entered the back of President Kennedy's neck, exited its front, then entered Texas Governor John F. Connally's chest under his right armpit, smashing four inches of his fifth rib before exiting under his right nipple, after which it shattered his right wrist before coming to rest in his left thigh, having penetrated it for about two inches, parallel to his thigh bone. The second bullet missed the motorcade entirely, striking the curve of the upper surface of a curbstone at the opposite end of Dealey Plaza and inflicting a minor wound on the face of a bystander, James T. Tague, with a spray of concrete from the impact. The third bullet entered the back of the President's head and exploded out of its right side, taking pieces of scalp, of skull bone, and much of the tissue of the right half of the brain with it.
The FBI and the Secret Service never agreed to the Commission's theorized solution.
Each organization was just as determined to hold that there had not been any conspiracy, that Oswald was the lone assassin. But each also knew that the career the Commission invented for its first shot was absolutely impossible.
The FBI's instant theory, and again it is only a theory, is that the first bullet hit the President only, inflicting all his nonfatal wounds; that the second hit Connally and no one else; and that the third was the fatal shot to the President's head.
The Secret Service agrees with the FBI's theory. I have seen no record of either agency changing its adherence to this theory.
Both agencies just ignored the wounding of Jim Tague.
The Commission began with the FBI's theory, which it got from the FBI, but soon realized that it could not ignore Tague's wound, so it adopted the "solution" of its assistant counsel, Arlen Specter, that the first bullet was supermagical.
Both agencies and the Commission, as well as the AMA, ignore the fact that nobody in the entire world has been able to duplicate the fantastic shooting attributed to the duffer Oswald.
As I wrote earlier, the Commission got the best shots the National Rifle Association could provide. Under vastly easier conditions they were unsuccessful in their attempts to duplicate the shooting attributed to Oswald.
With 912 pages for its Report, the Commission found no space for this definitive testing of the theory it presented to the nation as fact, as its solution to the most terrible and subversive of crimes.
Profound in his ignorance, which is the kindest comment Lundberg's intrusion into the assassination controversy permits, he proclaimed the correctness of the Warren Commission's theorized conclusions and told the world that his interviews of the two autopsy pathologists prove them.
Lundberg actually said that because Humes and Boswell say they were right, they were right, and nothing else makes any difference.
This he said in his own name, in that of the American Medical Association, and in that of its Journal.
Lundberg quotes Humes and Boswell as currently insisting that the single-bullet theory is not a theory, but is an established fact. To do this, he had to ignore all the great amount of official information that proves it is not a fact. That information is at least as authoritative as the two pathologists.
As an editor and as a pathologist it is wrong for Lundberg to ignore all the available official information relating to the so-called investigations and all the readily available facts relevant to the assassination and its investigations.
Personally or professionally he could not, with honest intentions, arrange for the largest audience possible, ignoring all this information and pretending it does not exist, and state to this great audience that the Warren Report is correct because — and only because — Humes and Boswell repeated to him some of what they told the Warren Commission twenty-eight years earlier!
His proclamation that Humes and Boswell prove they were correct twenty-eight years ago by the mere repetition to him of what they had said is absurd. They offer no evidence; he presents no evidence; and some of the supermarket tabloids would not go for the ridiculousness he published in JAMA. An uncritical media assisted him in this monstrous fraud perpetrated on the country.
Even if Lundberg were entirely ignorant of anything at all about the assassination other than what Humes and Boswell repeated to him, he should have had enough common sense to realize that their saying they were right does not prove they were proven right.
If he had followed the traditional standards of forensic pathology, he should have said nothing and formed no opinions, without first consulting any other relevant information available. Out of all the great amount of factual, official information that was available, a forensic pathologist would have had more than a passing interest in testing.
Of the tests (the results of which were public and readily available in great quantity), he should have looked immediately for the reenactment test to determine whether or not the shooting was within the capability of a man who had not handled a rifle in years and had been a lousy shot. If he had met this absolutely minimum investigative requirement, he would have known that the best shots in the country, under greatly improved conditions, had found it impossible to duplicate the feat attributed to Oswald.
If he had consulted only the Commission's records available in the National Archives, he would have found the FBI's disbelief of the magic-bullet theory recorded in various ways. He would have begun with the Commission's first numbered record, Commission Document 1, the five-volume report LBJ ordered the FBI to make as soon as he returned to Washington from Dallas on November 22, 1963.
If he had consulted the well-known factual literature, he would have seen the relevant FBI statements reprinted in facsimile in my Whitewash: The Report on the Warren Report, on page 195. This still-available book is the standard source of the basic material for researchers on the subject.
If he knew anything at all about the facts of the crime and the most basic conclusion of the Warren Report — and neither the fact that he interviewed the autopsy pathologists nor that he staged his very successful press conference indicates that he has any such factual knowledge or interest at all — he certainly would have known that the Commission's own tests proved that the shooting it theorized in order to reach its lone-assassin, nonconspiracy conclusion in fact proved that there had been a conspiracy. This is because that shooting was proven to be impossible for any one person.
With this "Elementary, my dear Watson" fact beyond question, Sherlock Lundberg ignored it, or worse, was ignorant of it.
And with so many more of the available official records proving the same thing, there is the obvious question for any legitimate Sherlock: How could the presidential Commission, most of whose investigating was done for it by the FBI, conclude the opposite?
In assessing what Lundberg did, which means what he used the Journal of the American Medical Association for, with or without the approval of the AMA, it is necessary to understand how the official records he ignored answer this basic question.
We shall do what Lundberg should have done and did not do: Examine a definitive selection of the official dirty linen of the JFK assassination.
The records of the Commission, of the Department of Justice, and of its FBI that were once withheld — records for which officialdom expected perpetual secrecy and were generated before there was the FOIA — are painfully clear: The crime itself was never investigated officially and was never intended to be investigated officially.
This is our evidence of a time when the government was supposed to investigate the most serious and subversive of crimes, the assassination of a president!
That I and the authors of the books that followed mine did not wind up in mental wards or gulags and that we have no Official Secrets Act does not mean there was no official opposition to criticism of the official solutions to the JFK assassination. There were leaks and staged official actions that were designed to convey the notion that nothing was being hidden. This was the opposite of the truth.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which dominated the Commission from the moment of its appointment, larded its records with the most prejudicial allegations against us. These ranged from distortions of fact to overt fabrications. It then found its own ways of getting this misinformation and disinformation circulated in secret, where it counted.
The CIA was more successful in withholding its relevant records.
But both agencies did all they could to frustrate publication of books critical of the Warren Report. This extended to efforts to ruin the books after they were published. Several such FBI efforts against me had the opposite effect.
The FBI did not eschew blackmail. It planned to blackmail those who criticized the Warren Report, those who wrote it, and even the members of the Commission itself. While this police-state abusiveness was more modest than that of some foreign states, in principle it was similar.
There was modest criticism of the FBI in the Warren Report, but the FBI would not abide it. No matter how justified it was, the FBI regarded none as justified — especially when the criticism was of its founding director, J. Edgar Hoover.
Its preparations for blackmail are hidden from the files it disclosed under compulsion, but it let one slip out that I regard as a damage-control tickler. It will be directly quoted later.
All of the FBI's internal JFK assassination records that I've seen — and through lawsuits brought under the Freedom of Information Act, I've gotten about .25 million pages of them — are laced with defamatory references to those of us who dared criticize the Warren Report, which, to the FBI, also meant criticizing it.
Each time our names were mentioned in these records, which the FBI believed nobody would ever see, there are slurs and characterizations that were intended to influence all the apparatchiks who saw those records, namely Hoover.
The FBI knew I was not and had never been a Communist, but it never missed an opportunity to suggest that I had been one and still was. Its most effective dirty trick of this nature was a complete fabrication. It was inspired by a White House request for information on seven of us who had written critically about the Report. What the FBI sent the White House effectively killed any interest, if there had been any, in learning what the criticisms were.
Coinciding with official effort to convince the country that the government had hidden nothing about the JFK assassination, Marvin Watson, a special assistant to LBJ, asked the FBI for information, in the words of its November 8, 1966, response, "regarding the authors of books dealing with the assassination of President Kennedy." The FBI attached a "summary memoranda setting forth pertinent information contained in FBI files concerning" seven of us (FBIHQ File 62-109060–4250).
The memorandum on me, headed by the title of my first book and my name, was classified SECRET. Under this claim to secrecy three paragraphs are redacted. Of the six that remain, all include outright lies, complete fabrications, distortions, and misrepresentations save for the last. The last says, in full, "Weisberg has no known arrest record." That was and remains true. That alone.
One paragraph that I will quote in full typifies the police-state practice of the FBI when it wants to influence others in the government:
In 1956, it was alleged that Weisberg had an annual celebration of the Russian Revolution. This celebration involved a picnic at his residence and was attended by twenty-five to thirty unknown people. It was believed this affair was in commemoration of the Russian Revolution inasmuch as it was held on the day when the Communists celebrate all over the world.
When I saw this record for the first time about twenty years after the letter was written, I could not recall any time we had twenty-five to thirty guests. My wife finally figured out what it was.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Never Again!"
Copyright © 2007 Harold Weisberg.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 An Introduction,
Chapter 2 Dirty Linen,
Chapter 3 What a Stench!,
Chapter 4 What Did JAMA Do and How Did JAMA Do It? And Why?,
Chapter 5 AMA as Flack,
Chapter 6 Twenty-eight Years of Silence,
Chapter 7 The Muck That Was Not Raked,
Chapter 8 Truth Forever on the Scaffold, Wrong Forever on the Throne,
Chapter 9 The Record That Speaks for Itself,
Chapter 10 "The Least Secret Autopsy in the History of the World" — James J. Humes,
Chapter 11 Into and Partly Out of the Memory Hole,
Chapter 12 To Set the Record Straight?,
Chapter 13 If It Isn't Written Down, It Wasn't Done,
Chapter 14 JAMA's Four,
Chapter 15 Specter's Bastard,
Chapter 16 The Nitty-gritty,
Chapter 17 The Gritty,
Chapter 18 "Truth Is Our Only Client" — Chief Justice Earl Warren,
Chapter 19 The President's Clothes — Or the Emperor's of the Commission?,
Chapter 20 Michael Baden,
Chapter 21 The Commission Deceived Its Own Dissenting Members!,
Chapter 22 Pictures Worth More Than Ten Thousand Words 235,
Chapter 23 Was the FBI Witting? Yes!,
Chapter 24 Lundberg and JAMA as Malice in Blunderland 263,
Chapter 25 "It Is Over. No More Questions" — Pierre A. Finck,
Chapter 26 Was There a Military Conspiracy?,
Chapter 27 The Army Protected the Conspiracy. Why?,
Chapter 28 Finck in New Orleans,
Chapter 29 "There May Have Been Other Gunshots" — George D. Lundberg,
Chapter 30 How Much the FBI Does Not — or Maybe Does — Love Me,
Chapter 31 Rosetta Stones,
Chapter 32 Waketh the Watchman,
Chapter 33 Never Again!,
Bibliography and Bibliographical Essay,
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Well documented and insightful.